Battle of Blue Licks

Welcome to the Blue Licks Gazette. This page of the web site will be to post news and information from the staff of the park, the Blue Licks Commemorative Committee Incorporated along with articles and stories from the local press. To submit information to this page contact the Webmaster.

Faces of the Frontier
By Jim Cummings

On March 12,2011 Blue Licks Battlefield put on it’s first Faces of the Frontier Program. With budgets cut and gas prices at $3.60 per gallon a group of around 40 attended the program.

For those attending it was a close encounter with the performers. It made for great question and answer sessions between the audience and the performers. If you weren’t able to attend this program you sure missed a a great event.

Mike Schweandau, park manager and Paul Tierney, park naturalist worked hard to put the weekend together and did a great job pulling it off.  The program started at 1 PM on Saturday with a walk of the battlefield by Naturalist Paul Tierney. This battle was where Kentucky frontiersman like Daniel Boone, John Todd, Stephen Trigg and Hugh McGary fought in what is known as the last battle of the American Revolution.

It was a crucial time in the history of Kentucky as almost 70 frontier leaders were lost in a few short moments on August 19, 1782. It is also where Daniel Boone lost his son Israel - an event that many said changed Boone immeasurably.

After the battlefield walk, it was on to tour the Pioneer Museum. At 2:30 the first speaker, Native Interpreter, Ron Pinson, took center stage. His presentation was entitled “The Native American on the Frontier.” Pinson is from Michigan and expounded on many of the Great Lakes tribes.

He took the vistors on a journey of the the daily life of a native. He had many items available for “show and tell” and did a great job of explaining the purpose and use of each item. The audience also got a first hand experience in touching many of the items he had brought for display.


After a short break Mad Anne Bailey as portrayed by Suzanne Larner joined the group, following an introduction by her 12 year old daughter Katie Rose. And wow, what a performance. I’ve seen this performance about 6 times and each time there is something new added in. With great emotion Suzanne tells the story of the live and hardships that the early frontier woman had to endure. Her research on Mad Anne has been thorough and in her question and answer period she addresses additional information that may or may not be true. Mad Anne was

a storyteller and was not beyond embellishing tales about herself as well as those about others.

Suzanne herself adopted the character of Mad Anne Bailey because her interests parallel those of the pioneer.

Ron Pinson

She is an avid black powder shooter, hunter and can skin and tan a deer hide with the best of them.  Learn more about Mad Anne Bailey at

Suzanne Dennis

At 5:30 it was time for a dinner break at The Hidden Waters Restaurant located in the park lodge, where the evening’s buffet was called “A Roast Buffalo Buffet.” The chef and his staff put on a feast that would surely have pleased Simon Kenton and Daniel Boone. There was a buffalo roast that was tender and sweet, buffalo meatloaf and the pièce de résistance was the buffalo stew. My compliments to the dining room staff for their great service, as always and for making diners feel like part of the family.


From 7-8 there was a social in The Daniel Boone Room with great music by Jon Hagee. The final presenter of the evening was Albert Roberts - Gentleman Physician. Unfortunately, due to prior commitments we couldn’t stay for his presentation, but heard afterward that it was one of his best. Roberts puts a light touch on one of the frontier’s hardest trades. Learn more about him at

All in all it was a great program at Blue Licks Battlefield State Resort Park. Where else can you enjoy history in the comfort of a beautiful lodge and campground in a park system that is considered “the nation’s finest”. Like all park systems around the country there have been budget cuts in Kentucky’s State Parks and it was great to see the staff at Blue Licks put on this fine program.

Tanner Station Rifle Frolic

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By Steve White

Tanner Station rifle frolic is a celebration of the Kentucky flintlock rifle. Now in its fourth year, this premier shooting event is drawing the best traditional flintlock shooters to Kentucky’s historic Blue Lick’s Battlefield State Park.  The offhand championship on Saturday November 6th is composed of ten timed matches. Targets range from 20 to 200 yards, loading will be from the pouch. Rifles are to have fixed sights with a wooden ramrod that fits his or her rifle thimbles. This year’s top shooter will earn a custom smoothbore made by noted maker Bud Diehl. Other prizes include hand made knives, powder horns, tomahawks, shot bags, priming horns and art prints by noted artist and makers.

The frolic was founded to revitalize shooting skills with a traditional Kentucky rifle used during the Kentucky settlement period, and the efficient use of a shot pouch and powder horn. All matches were researched from sources found in historical documents describing shooting events of the 18th Century and accounts of shots that were made by historical figures. At Tanner Station modern shooting skills are compared to historical records to see how the best modern shooters stand up to those in the past.

Sunday’s  November 7th  team event is open to any three men.  Matches are timed and loading blocks are allowed in both days’ events. No shaders please. Shooting will begin at 10:00 a.m. each day.

The original Tanner Station site was founded by David Tanner in 1784 to protect salt makers as they boiled salt water for salt, which was obtained from a nearby spring.  Tanner used 12 men in the protection of the station and all had to use sign and counter sings to enter the stockade. Tanner was paid with a portion of the salt. 

The station was also located ¼ mile from the site of the 1782 battle of Blue Lick’s. 182 Kentucky militiamen were ambushed and routed by 300 Indians led by British Captain William Caldwell and Simon Girty. This battle was noted as the last battle of the American Revolution.

In keeping with these historical events on this location the founding members encourage participants to come ready to shoot in clothing that was worn during the Kentucky settlement period of 1784. Participants should appear in clothing that they have researched for the occasion. Speakers on various subjects concerning correct clothing and accoutrements of the period will be on hand to answer questions. This information is presented for the general public, newcomer and seasoned living historian.

The members of Tanner Station are raffling a hand made shot pouch and powder horn strap made by Calvin Tanner, a descendent of David Tanner. Tickets can be purchased for $1.00 or 6 for $5.00 from the Tanner Station members. The winning ticket will be drawn on Sunday, November 7th.

Period camping for vendors and participants is available on the grounds near the fort and stockade. Early set up begins on Wednesday November 3rd.  Modern camping and rooms are available at Blue Lick’s Battlefield State Park, which is adjacent to Tanner Station.

Contact: Bud Diehl at 1-502- 744-5661, Steve White at 606-564- 4887, or Blue Lick’s Battlefield State Resort Park at 1-859-289-5507

Read Past Stories from The Maysville Ledger Independent about the 2007 Anniversary Battle, The Museum and this website.

White Hawks Primitive Riflemen
ready for big reenactment

Sunday, August 5, 2007 7:29 PM EDT
By WENDY MITCHELL Staff Writer, Maysville Ledger Independent

BLUE LICKS BATTLEFIELD STATE RESORT PARK -- For nearly 25 years, members of the White Hawks Primitive Riflemen have gathered one weekend in August at the site of the Battle of Blue Licks to host a reenactment of the battle which etched the rural Kentucky location in the history books.

"None of this would be possible without the dedication of reenactors," said Paul Tierney, park naturalist at Blue Licks Battlefield State Resort Park.

History is the sinew lace that ties the members together, said Larry Stricklett, a White Hawk also known as Little Turtle when he is wearing his Native American leathers and green and black face paint.

"reenactors are as diversified as weeds ... most are really laid back and from every walk of life but we all have a love of history." said Stricklett.

Research is part of achieving as authentic a character for reenactments as possible.

"When we are not at different battle sites there is usually a lot of reading going on." said Stricklett, who is employed as a mechanical trades instructor at Ohio Valley Community Technical Center, in West Union, Ohio.

Hundreds of reenactors, including the White Hawk group, have been invited to participate in the 225th Anniversary Commemoration of the Battle of Blue Licks, Aug. 18-19.

"The first year I was in the battle at Blue Licks, about 1982, there were only 10-12 of us and about five camps. We needed more bodies for the reenactment so we enlisted some local kids to play Indians in the battle. Then there was one year in there that the park hired another group to host the event, but somebody supposedly blew themselves up and they all left. We have hosted it since then, I believe," said Stricklett.

Depending on the number of participants, the battle sometimes became more complicated, said Mary Cottrell, White Hawk secretary.

"Before there were so many participating, sometimes the guys said they would get shot, fall down and die, then get up and join the battle again in another spot," said Cottrell.

Stricklett likes to portray Little Turtle, but occasionally dons the garb of an Eastern Longhunter.

"I like being an Indian at Blue Licks because we get to win that one," said Stricklett. "My friend Phillip Rose is also a member of the Shawnee Alliance."

Other members also dress in Eastern Longhunter or Mountain Man period attire.

"Most of us stick to a time period prior to the American Civil War," said Stricklett.

Being a reenactor, where gunpowder is used in flintlock riffles, comes with some safety concerns.

"They don't work in the rain and I think we all have some powder marks on our backs from when someone fires a gun too close. I broke my nose once," said Stricklett.

It wasn't the hand-to-hand battle that caused the injury but a tree root.

"I tripped an went face first into the tree," said Stricklett.

Stricklett has been a White Hawk member since 1982. Others have been in the group longer.
"I think Butch Alexander, of Carlisle is the only remaining original member. He is the president of the group," said Stricklett.

Members come and go; gas prices cut into tight budgets or participation is limited by other obligations, said Stricklett.

In recent years a change in back to school schedules may have put a damper in participation by some reenactors, said Stricklett.

"A lot of reenactors liked to involve the whole family. It (Blue Licks reenactment) use to be the last one before kids had to go back to school. Now some schools are in session in early August so some folks don't make it to this one," said Stricklett.
White Hawks are not the official hosts of the event this year. Preparations are being handled in a different way, through on line registrations and a large committee coordinated by the Kentucky Department of Parks, officials said.

"We can enjoy not being in charge this year," said Stricklett.

Reenactors will get to sample the talents of the White Hawks in a setting befitting a 1782 frontier. This year the pioneer encampment will be set up near Tanner Station, on Blue Licks State Resort Park property across from the main park along U.S. 68. Volunteer White Hawk members began building the station a few years ago and with the addition of a roof and stockade the station has attracted visitors of its own for over a year.

"Even though the event is being done in a different way I think it will be providing a better event for the reenactors and visitors," said Tierney. "If the numbers are an indicator, estimating that about 30 percent of the reenactors are taking advantage of pre-registration on the internet, and the rest will probably just show up, things are looking good. We have several groups, some from as far away as Canada and Detroit, planning to participate."

Pioneer Museum gets $150,000 facelift

Monday, July 30, 2007 11:42 PM EDT

BLUE LICKS BATTLEFIELD STATE RESORT PARK -- It took a man with a vision, a historic battle and mastodon bones to begin William Curtis' idea of a place to preserve the pioneer history of the area near Blue Licks salt spring.

In 1934, Curtis, who is buried on the knoll near the museum, built a stone structure to house a collection of local artifacts; a year later a larger addition was built and the Pioneer Museum became a focal point of visitors to the site of what historians call the last battle of the Revolutionary War.

A grand re-opening of the museum will be held Saturday, Aug. 18, on the eve of the 225th commemoration of the battle.

After $150,000 in renovations to the museum, park officials gave the media and other dignitaries a sneak peak of the improvements, Monday.

For those who had previously visited the museum and observed the same displays year after year, the change was immediately noticeable.

"Wow, this is fantastic," said Mount Olivet Mayor Karen Beagle. "This was the first place I came to when I moved here 25 years ago. I just can't get over the difference."

Easy to view displays of artifacts depicting ancient history, complete with a mastodon tooth, information on the original battle of Blue Licks and a history of the salt spring that gave the area its name, are first seen in an atrium that can be freely viewed by visitors before getting to the beginning of the paid admission portion of the museum.

"It shows them what they want to know," said Park Naturalist Paul Tierney, who guided the tour, bedecked in traditional pioneer garb.

Displays in the paid area of the museum were neatly organized with informational panels explaining to visitors what they were seeing and the historic relationship to the area.

With volunteer help from Raleigh Hatfield and the Engineering Department at Morehead State University, a topographic model of the area from the Licking River to Indian Creek was created which gives visitors a visual perspective of the terrain and vantage points Daniel Boone and those who fought the battle may have had on the morning of Aug. 19, 1782.

"I am very excited about this display. It is exactly what I had visualized," said Tierney.

The display is also meant to be a focal point for discussions. Some guests asked about battle positioning while others asked where the salt spring was in relation to U.S. 68.

"They followed the same path the mastodons took when they built the road. The site of the spring is about 10 yards from the road," said Tierney, now able to point to the approximate location on the display.

"I have heard Paul (Tierney) describe the battle numerous times, but this puts everything into perspective in such a way I really understand now," said Gil Lawson, Department of Parks spokesperson. "I think people will enjoy it."

Displays organized with a motive and a flow give visitors a visual guide into the original museum, now set up in a manner to show what pioneer settlers may have had or brought with them to survive in the wilds of what was then the American west.

Not only arrowheads and axes, but pottery pieces, tools and Native American elements of the area were all given prominent space among the chronological history presented in reverse historical order, beginning at the time of the battle of Blue Licks.

"It has a very impressive and professional look," said Karen Miller, director of marketing for the parks department.

In the lower level of the museum, a diorama accents a mural of a herd of bison on a grassy savanna. Future plans include making the location appear to allow visitors to walk onto the savanna.

"Our funding is tight, but we have the Blue Licks Commemorative Committee working on fund-raising activities, including "An Evening with Friends," that will hopefully turn this support post into a tree and change the flooring to match the display," said Stefanie Gaither, park manager.

A seating and video presentation area has been organized in the other half of the lower level.

"We plan to have exhibits here change every few months, so visitors will have something new to see each time they visit," said Tierney. "The area will also have a video and demonstration area we can use."

While future plans also include adding a lower level handicapped access, the renovations include an upper level video monitor system that allows handicapped visitors to view the lower level displays and activities there, said Gaither.

"We want everyone to have the entire experience," said Gaither.

"An Evening with Friends," special meal and tour is scheduled for Aug. 17; for information and reservations call 859-289-8339.

For information on Blue Licks Battlefield 225th commemoration go to For more area news, go to Contact Wendy Mitchell at or call 564-9091, ext. 276

Blue Licks State Park gets
new Web site for anniversary

Friday, June 15, 2007 12:16 AM EDT

BLUE LICKS BATTLEFIELD STATE RESORT PARK -- Trying to coordinate troop movements and ceremonial pomp in anticipation of the 225th commemoration of the Battle of Blue Licks means organizers have enlisted the help of Kentucky State Park personnel, local businesses and the private sector for the August event in Robertson County.

"This will be an event that sets the precedent for what is to come in the future," said Stefanie Gaither, park manager. "I appreciate all that these people do in helping coordinate everything. Cynthia Howard-Cottongim has been a tremendous help."

During a planning meeting on Thursday, the formation of Blue Licks Commemorative Committee Incorporated was announced, as well as the appointment of former state representative Adrian Arnold as the organization's president.

"I worked with Rep. Pete Worthington on improvements to the park. Then Jock Conley called me about the committee ... the next thing I know they made me president," joked Arnold. "I'm glad to be on board."


Kentucky State Park Historian John Downs said a new Web site dedicated to the park and the battle re-enactment will be premiering in the Internet today.

"The Web site is to go on line (today). Registration (for re-enactors) will be open and on-line at the site," said Downs.

Jim and Kathy Cummings of Graphic Enterprises, who also operate Pioneer Times Webnews, created the site, in part to help get more re-enactors to participate in the event.

"We are really excited about the site. It will also contain a newspaper within a Web site, the Blue Licks Gazette is a place readers can submit articles and photographs," said Jim Cummings.

Having re-enactment registration on-line is new for the park; organizers hope participants will take the time to let Park Naturalist Paul Tierney know they will be attending the event.

"Historically, even with requests for pre-registration, people who have traditionally attended the event will just show up," said Tierney.

Downs said because of the new design of the event, which spans both sides of U.S. 68, including utilization of the representational reconstruction of Tanner Station and park grounds, coordination of activities from parking to crowd and troop movements is a must.

One key ingredient was to make sure the event was attractive to visitors and re-enactors, necessities such as portable restrooms and water resources to first aid stations were also discussed.

With so much going on between Aug. 14-19, including pre-event set-up, volunteers are being asked to step forward to help with greeting visitors and assist where needed during the event.

"We are creating commemorative event T-shirts with STAFF on the back to give those who do sign on to help," said Howard-Cottongim.

For information on the BLBSRP 225th go to

For volunteer information call 1-859-289-5507

For more area news, go to

Contact Wendy Mitchell at or call 564-9091, ext. 276.


Used with permission from


 Brandon Fryman and Savannah Mains made sure no light got through the logs by daubing between them.

Bracken Cub Scouts lend a hand (and feet) at Blue Licks park
Friday, October 6, 2006 10:40 PM EDT

BLUE LICKS -- School may have been out for the day, but a group of Bracken County Cub Scouts and family members were still learning Friday.

After some hot chocolate at Blue Licks Battlefield State Resort Park lodge and a tour of the Pioneer Museum it was time to get down and dirty for more than a dozen Scouts from Pack 217.

From tall to small, there was a job for everybody at the historic representation of David Tanner's Station in the field nearby, as the children took turns at a variety of tasks.

In 1784, thick logs and shake roof were some protection against attacks and the weather, but daubing, filling the spaces between the cracks with clay or mud helped keep out the cold of an 18th century winter.

To help qualify for a merit badge and for the fun of it, the Scouts offered to help with daubing the blockhouse at the corner of the recreated stockaded station.

To avoid trampling each other, project coordinator for the day Jesse Mains split the group into four sections, and gave each a traditional task done by children of the 1700s. First the smallest children had the task of finding crickets, for fishing bait, under the rocks inside the stockade.

"Are we doing your chores," some of the young Scouts asked, bringing a laugh from the adults and Mains.

Others searched for firewood with the help of Pat Green, also known as Skinner, a former member of the White Hawk's Primitive Riflemen, who helped begin construction on the reproduction log station.

"I want to see it finished," said Green.

Green led his miniature troops out to the wood pile and returned with armload after armload of wood for a lunchtime fire in the blockhouse fireplace.

"They did a really good job," said Green.

The remaining Scouts and family members took turns mixing straw into a pit of blue clay, a readily available source of daubing that may have been what Tanner used when he built the original station, said Mains.

"Rooster (Mitchell) has figured out the right consistency of straw, water and clay, so follow his lead," said Mains as he showed the remaining Scouts how to take the processed material and fill the spaces.

Mixing the clay was not for those who were afraid to get dirty. Off came the shoes and socks, and into the pit of clay, straw and water went the feet of the Scouts to mix in the old fashion way. Ironically, though muddied to their knees, the mixers requested rubber gloves.

"I think they want them to warm up their hands, the clay gets cool when it is out of the sun," said Mitchell, a park employee who had prepared the walls by filling the spaces with wooden chinking to give the daub something to grip besides the smooth logs.

Asked if they were having fun, the children shouted "Yes," although they admitted they wouldn't want the job as a daily chore.

Later, a special treat was in store for the Scouts and helpers. Each was presented with a token of appreciation from Green, and a Battle of Blue Licks Badge from the leaders.

"They are really into this, it is something they will remember for a long time," said Tonya Hughes, Den Master.

For more area news, go to

Contact Wendy Mitchell at or call 564-9091, ext. 276.





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