“Pioneer Days”, an annual two-day celebration of pioneer life at the Daniel Boone Home and Boonesfield Village, set the stage for visitors and reenactors to experience what pioneer life was like in the picturesque Femme Osage Valley at Defiance, Missouri.
On a warm Saturday afternoon, September 30, young children and their parents watched numerous craftsmen and artisans demonstrate their skills in wood carving, metalworking, braiding wool rugs, open hearth cooking, blacksmithing, colonial gardening, dying and soapmaking.
Many historic enthusiasts enjoyed peeking into the Squire Boone Stone House, built in 1800 – 1802 by Daniel Boone’s brother or stopping by the Schluersburg Post Office. As visitors walked along a dirt path, a donkey and pony at the Borgmann Dual Stone Barley Huller Gristmill, Vinegar Press, called out to other horses pulling period wagons and carriages.
During Pioneer Days, tents were setup throughout the Village with reenactors sharing conversation as they performed chores and answering questions about what life might have been like in the 19th century.
Reenactor Jerry Senior, Edwardsville, IL, works as a maintenance engineer for a dairy in St. Louis but his real love is history. He said that being a reenactor gave him the opportunity to learn more about what people did during that period.
“You get interested and wondering just how much trouble it was and you learn,” said Senior. “We like to call it experimental archeology,” he laughed.
Senior said that reenacting is like being a Boy Scout all over again, but much better. “You can do anything you want and go any place you want. We now travel to places we wouldn’t have when we were younger.”
“I went all the way through Eagle Scouting and didn’t know anything about historical reenactments. Civil War things just didn’t interest me. But the more that I travel with these people, the further back I go. I started out reenacting the mountain men of the 1830’s, then moved to the Revolution era and now I’m back past the French and Indian war,” said Senior.
Senior, who now prefers portraying a hunting pioneer, said that the concept of being a reenactor is growing. “We have a large number of people that are getting into it. As young adults, they get out of it, but when they get a little older, they come back strong and bring their families,” said Senior.
Reenactor Charles Kemp, an architect with HBE, delighted in demonstrating a period activity involving reducing bear fat. While stirring the oil in the kettle, Kemp explained how it was used in black powder shooting. “I shoot competitively at these reenactments,” said Kemp. He noted that both he and Senior belonged to a gun club that shoots exclusively black powder when hunting.
Kemp and Senior also participated in the Corps of Discovery and spent time reenacting the travels of Lewis and Clark. “We were the hired French rivermen that Chouteau recruited to help take the keelboat and two smaller boats called pirogues up to North Dakota.”
Boonesfield Village now features a dozen authentic buildings including a Woodworker’s Shop, Stone Smoke House, General Store, Springhouse, Mount Hope Log School House, Millenary Shop and a summer kitchen, smokehouse and woodshed. For more information, call 636-798-2005.