BARBOURSVILLE, W.Va. – Now in its 22nd year, The Mary Ingles Trail Associates (MITA) will present its 18th century living history weekend, “The Legacy of Mary Ingles,” at Beech Fork State Park on Sept. 24-26. The weekend will include an encampment and frontier-life demonstrations, all open and free to the public.
Embroiled in the turmoil of the French & Indian War, Mary was captured by the Shawnee Indians in July of 1755 and, after several months, she escaped and made her way back home by walking more than 500 miles, including through the Kanawha Valley.
“This is an opportunity for the park to introduce visitors and guests to the ways of our pioneering ancestors as well as for MITA to have a setting for the portrayal and demonstration of life in 1755 that Mary Ingles lived and encountered,” said Park Supt. Matt Yeager.
“It’s been 255 years since Ingles made her trek through the Kanawha Valley and New River area, and her remarkable story is woven throughout the demonstrations and in conversation, “said MITA President Scott Fairchild.
“The Legacy of Mary Ingles” encampment is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. for three days, Sept. 24, 25 and 26, at Beech Fork State Park. Parking is free. Individuals or groups should park at the administration building. Signs will be posted to direct attendees to the encampments and demonstrations. The site is accessible by wheelchair with the understanding some level grassy areas are off of the paved path.
Home schooled field trips are welcome and encouraged to attend on Friday, Sept. 24. Groups should contact Sarah Dyson at 606-694-5336 or firstname.lastname@example.org to determine arrival times and parking considerations, or e-mail email@example.com with any questions or attendance notification. This event is on the recreation side of Beech Fork Lake and not on the Army Corps of Engineers side at Lavelette.
Beech Fork State Park is located near Barboursville. It features 275-campsites, hiking trails, picnicking, fishing and an Olympic-sized swimming pool during the summer season. Beech Fork also has vacation rental cabins that are open year-round, accessible, and offers various packages and stay rates. For information about Beech Fork State Park activities, maps, and facilities, call 304-528-5794 or visit www.beechforksp.com.
Living History – An Interactive Reflection of the Time
The presentations are not lecture-style, according to MITA President Scott Fairchild. “The three-day encampment, will have more than 20 interpreters and tradesmen and women staged in primitive encampment settings. The interpreters engage those attending throughout the course of the day in conversation and with ongoing action and work life. Reading about history helps us to understand our past, becoming involved in any part of a pioneering life-skill or a way of life, makes history real. It is history alive.”
Some of the life skills and demonstrations planned over the course of the three-day event include: the importance of trade, animal care, spinning and weaving, music, salt making, medicinal and edible native plants as early healthcare, finger weaving, blacksmithing, candle making, lye soap making, hunting skills, tomahawk throwing, plant dyes, toys and games, wood working, hide tanning, Indian pictographs, women’s and men’s roles, and frontier cooking and foods.
“The presentations are limited only by the public’s interest in a particular topic,” said Fairchild. “We hope people come and join us for the entire day and depart with a greater understanding of pioneering and frontier life. The more questions people ask, the greater the demonstrations and interaction becomes.
Robert Weiford will have a special presentation at 3 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 25, and again 1 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 26. Portraying Dr. John P. Hale, Weiford will recall history from the viewpoint as the great-grandson of Mary Ingles. Dr. Hale was an early Kanawha Valley resident and entrepreneur. Weiford, part of community theater circles for many years, has been involved with this legacy weekend every year since its inception.
“The harsh reality of the (West) Virginia frontier and an even greater understanding of the remarkable journey of this woman in America’s history makes the weekend at Beech Fork State Park a true learning experience,” said Supt. Matt Yeager. “It’s wonderful to look at our past and come away with a broader appreciation of our present way of life. I’m all for children, families and friends getting outdoors. To learn something about our history when you're visiting a park and outdoors, makes it all the better.”
Matt Yeager, Superintendent, Beech Fork State Park or Scott Fairchild, President, Mary Ingles Trail Associates
304-528-5794 or 304-382-1399