Playing pioneers

225th anniversary marks
historic event in Shelby County

Painted Stone Settlers to re-enact 1781 battle

By Helen E. McKinney
Contributing Writer

SHELBYVILLE, Ky. (September 2006) – Shelby County, Ky., has a 225-year-old history that not many people know about. An event that took place in 1781 sparked the interest of a group of living history re-enactors and led them to undertake a large event at their own expense.

Long Run Massacre

Photos provided by Graphic Enterprises

Indians slaughter pioneers in the annual
re-enactment of the Long Run Massacre
in Shelbyville, Ky.

The Painted Stone Settlers are in their eighth year of holding the Long Run Massacre and Floyd’s Defeat. This year, the event takes on special meaning, since it is the 225th anniversary of this historical incident.
There are many historical “225th” anniversaries popping up all over, such as a large one at Yorktown, Va., on Oct. 18-22. One reason for this is to mark the end of the Revolutionary War, a historic moment in itself. But what makes this one so special is that it is literally in many residents’ backyard. This unique history is right under their noses and has been waiting 225 years to be retold.
The story of Squire Boone’s Painted Stone Station is not just another retelling of a vanished fort that was attacked by Native Americans; not just another vague mention of something that once existed somewhere in the county or was home briefly to a group of nameless people now long gone.
It is a story of real people, many of whom have descendants still living in and around Shelby County. Their story has lain dormant for some time but comes alive for one unforgettable weekend every September.
On Friday, Sept. 15, a special School Day Program will be presented for local students. The Kentucky Historymobile, a sort of museum on wheels, will be on hand as a teaching tool. The current exhibit is on Daniel Boone.
From 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sept. 16-17, the Long Run Massacre and Floyd’s Defeat will be presented. Re-enactors travel from many states to take part in this event.
Scheduled throughout the day are activities such as an 18th century wedding, a roving colonial magician, cannon demonstrations, and a prisoner exchange with the main battle re-enactment at 2 p.m. both days. A special night ambush will be presented at dusk on Saturday.
Danny Hinton will provide a special Kentucky Humanities Council Chautauqua performance of Dr. Thomas Walker at 12:30 p.m. Saturday. At 12:30 p.m. Sunday, Mike Rumping will portray Squire Boone, founder of Painted Stone Station.
“Squire Boone, in many ways, might have been Daniel’s better,” said Rumping of Daniel Boone’s younger brother. Squire Boone was a farmer, explorer, carpenter, accomplished gun maker, a preacher credited with performing the first wedding in Kentucky, builder of the first gristmill in Indiana and the first Baptist Church in Indiana.
The year of the massacre, Boone was in the House of Delegates from Jefferson County, Va., appealing for aid for the frontier families. As a member of the Virginia State Legislature he was honored and accepted in Virginia. “Squire’s life during that time was centered around the welfare of the settlers on the frontier,” said Rumping.
Squire was more than a sidekick to his famous brother. He had been in almost every major battle in Kentucky and was wounded an astonishing 11 times. He was with Daniel during the early exploration of Kentucky, the forging of the Wilderness Road, the building of Fort Boonesborough and the Siege of the Fort in 1778.
Yet, while researching Squire, Rumping found “mention of Squire many times in my research on Daniel, but little is actually written on Squire alone.” But Squire’s signature rests on many courthouse documents in Shelby County and on land deeds where he sold land to the Low Dutch Colony in nearby Henry County.
Rumping is assisted in his performance by his wife Nancy, who portrays Squire’s wife Jane VanCleave Boone. “I think our presentation encompasses the abilities of many of the early settlers who came to the western frontier called Kentucky,” said Rumping. The lives of such “men and women are unknown, because they didn’t have someone writing down their stories. We hope our presentation helps in bringing some notoriety to a true frontiersman.”
The retelling of the story of Squire Boone and his Painted Stone Station gives spectators goose bumps as they witness the recreation of the actual event. Guns fire and smoke, children scream, animals run, and men and women fall dead as Eastern Woodland Indians descend upon them in an ambush.
The crowd can feel the panic and pandemonium that must have been in the air as settlers faced their adversary and triumphed, or fought till the end. It would have been hard for a mother to decide upon saving herself, or succumbing to the enemy to save her children.
This is the sort of history that re-enactors take seriously. The goal of the Painted Stone Settlers is to educate and preserve their knowledge about the Revolutionary War period. Through documented dress, manners and speech they portray life in the 18th century as authentically as possible.
Many Kentucky authors will be on hand to sell and sign their books. The list includes Lynwood Montell, Neal O. Hamon, Richard Taylor, Ellen Eslinger, Robert Pelton, Dale Payne and members of the Shelby County Historical Society.
The Painted Stone Settlers are a non-profit group that presents this outdoor drama with the aid of grants and contributions from the City of Shelbyville and the Shelby County Fiscal Court. And even though they foot the rest of the bill with out-of-pocket expenses, the end result is worth the sacrifice.
The best comment I ever received came at a holiday parade a few years ago, said member Kathy Cummings. A little boy came up to her, pointed and said, "I know you! I read about you in my history book in school.”
"It doesn’t get any better than that," said Cummings.

• For more information, visit: www.paintedstonesettlers.org or www.graphicenterprises.net. For more information on the School Day Program call (502) 738-9435 or email: hlnmck@aol.com" hlnmck@aol.com.

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