On our grand trip a few months ago one of our stops was at Fort Boonesborough, KY. It’s one of the places Daniel Boone settled at during his life. Being a bit of a nomad, he actually settled several places during his life, but this is the most famous place, and they’ve got a great living history museum here.
We actually stopped there on a whim because we saw the sign announcing it as we were driving by, and I’m so glad we did because it’s one of the better living history museums I’ve seen.
Being a homeschooler, and a history fan, I of course turned this little field trip into our history lesson for the day (who says you don’t learn anything on vacation?).
When you start up your homestead you pay a fee to the state and are giving a grant to settle a plot of land. You have to make a permanent building, live on it, and clear a portion of the land within five years time. In that five years the settler would often make a couple of different homes.
First they’d make the lean-to you see in the top left-hand corner. It will protect them from the worst of the weather, but isn’t very stable, and does not count as a permanent settlement.
Next they’ll make the top right-hand picture, that’s the typical log cabin we’ve heard about, and they’d often use animal skins to cover windows because they weren’t transporting glass over those non-existent roads then.
After their first cabin, they’d make more improvements, and add on to include room for kids that were now coming along. They also would probably have some more amenities inside, and it would be made more sound during this time.
Finally they might add on a second floor, or if they were living in the village transition into a store/home. This was fairly common in the time period, people would build a ground level store, and live up above it for security and to make it easier to heat in the winter.
You couldn’t actually go inside the houses and touch the materials at Fort Boonesborough, but we could see inside, and the difference in the rooms is fascinating to see. The first room is very bare bones, the chairs are stumps they’ve smoothed over, the bed is very rough. The second room is a bit more “civilized” they’ve imported a few things, the bed is more comfortable, but it’s still fairly plain. The third and fourth rooms are what the houses were like when the whole area was more settled, there were roads coming close by so you could bring in a spinning wheel, and finer things to help you survive.
We don’t really think about it, but those first pioneers were incredibly brave. They went out into the unknown and trusted they would be able to make a go of it. I don’t know if I would be willing to do what they did.
Well, after spending a good long time looking at the houses, we got over to the tradesmen, that day we could talk to a carpenter, a housewife making soap, and a candle-maker.
We spent quite a lot of time with all of the tradesmen, but I was fascinated by the candle maker and how she went about making the candles, all of the intricate steps to do it. It was fascinating to learn they often made candles from bear fat because that’s what they had, but it gave off a strange light and probably smelled very bad. Her candles were made from beeswax and from paraffin, which the settlers wouldn’t have had access to.
All in all we spent 2 hours at Fort Boonesborough, and might have spent longer if my Mom hadn’t come in wondering what happened to us and why we hadn’t left yet. the carpenter has me wanting to invent an excuse to come back in September because they’re going to re-enact the siege of Fort Boonesborough. Wouldn’t that be cool to go see? I’m thinking of telling some of my homeschooling friends from iHomeschool Network they NEED to go see this, and take lots of pictures for me. I think that might work, what do you think? I really want to see this re-enactment.