Private history center gives Ashland-region students a look beyond textbooks into life in "pioneer days;" re-enactors show the time of Daniel Boone

The Independent, Ashland, Sept. 12, 2015

Students travel back in time at Wolfpen Woods
Area school groups get chance to re-live pioneer days

WOLFPEN WOODS -- As gunshots and cannons rang down a narrow path to Daniel Boone’s cabin, students from Russell McDowell took off running back to the village yelling “The Indians are coming! The Indians are coming!”

On Friday students from schools around the region went back in time and attended Pioneer Days at Wolfpen Woods for a hands-on experience of what it was like to live during that time period. Students quickly sat down at each reenactment station, eagerly waiting to listen to the next presenter.

“This is how we collect straw. Does anyone know what this is called?” said a presenter as students raised their hands to try and make a guess.

After a few guesses she told them it was called a cradle as she demonstrated how it would be used to collect straw from the fields.

Other presenters also demonstrated artifacts and tools that were used during the late 1700s to early 1800s and dressed in period clothing to give students the full effect of the time period they had just warped into.

“We like to call this Kentucky’s best-kept secret,” said Roland Burns, owner of Wolfpen Woods.

Burns and his family have been hosting reenactments of pioneers for more than 10 years, inviting students from around the region to come and learn about local history.

“There is not many places like this that really focus on our local Kentucky history,” he said.

Burns, who is a retired professor at Morehead State University, has spent many days and nights researching the history and ancestry of the area, and formed the pioneer days to teach kids about their own history.

“We have a character with the last name Farley who has many connects to Farleys in Elliot County,” he said As children sat down to eat their lunches, conversation could be heard from students about the history they just learned and what their favorite reenactment was so far in the day.

“I really liked the pottery station and how they make it,” said Russell McDowell student Arnav Dharmagadda. “It was interesting to learn how they lived back then.”

Many students were also entertained by the punishment motheds from the pioneer days, like when someone would be placed in the middle of the town with their hands and head locked between two pieces of wood for all in the town to see.

T.K. Ellis from Louisa Elementary bravely volunteered to be locked up to show other classmates what it was like.

“My head started hurting after a few minutes,” she said after being released.

Many other students got the chance to volunteer during the day — holding saws, shooting rifles and trying bread that was made in fireburning ovens. “We are all very passionate about this and enjoy teaching the kids about their history,” said Burns.

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