Ryan Fischer/The Herald-Dispatch Reenactor Sue Little talks about the fruits and vegetables the Shawnee Native Americans had access to as the Mary Ingles Trail Associates presents a historical camp and reenactment of the life of Mary Draper Ingles on Sunday, September 15, 2019, at Beech Fork State Park in Barboursville.

BARBOURSVILLE — Mary Ingles Trail Associates (MITA) wrapped up its weekend-long, historical encampment and live historical re-enactment based on research of the life of Mary Draper Ingles on Sunday at Beech Fork State Park in Barboursville.

"I have learned a great deal of history that I didn't know before," said Pam Coleman of Ona, who brought her two grandchildren, Brennan and Keir, on Sunday. "We came out Saturday as well, and they were building a Native American Indian encampment, and so we want to see what it looked like when it was finished."

This year marks the 264th anniversary of Mary Ingles' odyssey in 1755 as she was captured by, and escaped from, Shawnee Native Americans.

Doug Wood portrayed one of those Shawnee Native Americans for the event.

"When I got started 30 years ago or so, there weren't many people doing American Indian personas, but I had a family interest in doing it because of my Cherokee ancestry," Wood said. "It's been a very rewarding hobby. I have learned a lot of customs and native life ways that I didn't know before."

The activities began Friday offering tours for school groups, and continued Saturday and Sunday with encampment activities and presentations that were open to the public without charge.

Scott Fairchild, event manager - or booshway - said everything planned for the weekend celebration eventually circles back around to the time period when Ingles lived and set out on her journey.

"This annual event is always the second weekend after Labor Day," Fairchild explained. "We run the event for three days, and it's all centered on her life skills and her story of desire to get back to her family. We've had several different demonstrations throughout the weekend of skills she would have needed to use throughout her life."

Some of those demonstrations include fire starting, writing with quills, yarn work, Native American flute playing, fabric dyeing, building encampments and work with arrowheads and spearheads.

Fairchild and his 14-year-old son, Carl, put on a fabric dyeing demonstration using black walnuts.

"Both Native Americans and American settlers used this dyeing technique to darken clothing to blend in with the outdoors, maybe when planning an ambush or when hunting," Fairchild said.

According to information on the West Virginia State Parks website, in 1755, during the French and Indian War, Ingles was a 23-year-old frontier wife living with her extended family at Drapers Meadow, near present-day Blacksburg, Virginia, when a Shawnee war party attacked the settlement. The pioneer woman's mother was among those killed in the raid, while Ingles, her two sons and a sister-in-law were among the settlers captured.

Ingles was separated from her boys and taken to a Shawnee settlement near the site of present-day Portsmouth, Ohio, and then on to Big Bone Lick in north-central Kentucky.

There, she and a captive from another settlement managed to escape and follow the Ohio, Kanawha and New rivers back to Drapers Meadow in a 40-day, 500-mile trek.

Sue Little put on a display of the types of food Ingles was familiar with and grew with her family before being captured as well as what she may have eaten on her long journey back home.

"She would have been familiar with the zucchini, yellow squash, potatoes, apples, plums, cucumbers, pears, celery, corn and maybe an orange that would have been a special treat for Mary," Little said.

This year marked the 30th annual MITA event at Beech Fork State Park.

"This event gives everyone a chance to educate themselves on the real history of Mary Ingels and the history of that time period," Fairchild said.

He estimated that more then 250 individuals and families attended the three-day long event.

Follow reporter Fred Pace at Facebook.com/FredPaceHD and via Twitter at @FredPaceHD.


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