The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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September 7, 2013

Celebrating the Legacy of Mary Ingles

Looking for an escape from the hustle and bustle of the 21st century? Families can be transported to the primitive setting of a bygone era at Beech Fork State Park in Barboursville Sept. 12-15, as the park is hosting the Legacy of Mary Ingles: 18th Century Living History Educational Encampment.

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the fun and educational time-portal experience, where guests will find themselves thrust back into the 18th century, surrounded by Native Americans and early settlers practicing their trades, such as blacksmithing, spinning and weaving, hide tanning and tomahawk throwing.

Similar to a small-scale version of Colonial Williamsburg, Va., this live history re-enactment introduces visitors to the ways of life as shared by our pioneering ancestors, particularly those of Mary Ingles.

Children often learn of Ingles in U.S. history classes, as she was an early settler of western Virginia that was taken captive by Indians in 1755 to later escape servitude, afterward traveling 500 miles along the Ohio, Kanawha and New Rivers to reach home after a harrowing journey. The Mary Ingles story is revered as one of the great survival stories of American history.

The course of the four-day event will boast a variety of pioneer educational demonstrations, including salt making, deciphering edible native plants, candle making, cricket playing, soap making and frontier cooking, among many others. Daily demonstrations will be based on the availability of individual interpreters.

“Our goal is to accurately replicate the details of that era,” said Matt Yeager, Beech Fork State Park superintendent. “It is meant to be an educational experience, but it’s really entertaining as well.”

The educational encampment will be open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Thursday and Friday. However, the camp will reopen from 6 to 9 p.m. on Friday for a special 18th century wedding event. The public will be able to attend all events on Thursday and Friday, but Yeager advised that they will also be hosting several school field trips on those days, potentially making them more crowded.

The living history encampment will continue on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The public is also invited to attend an outdoor church service and communion at 10 a.m. on Sunday, after which the encampment activities will resume from noon to 3 p.m.

It’s been 258 years since Ingles made her brave trek through the Kanawha Valley and along the New River toward home, and her remarkable story holds deep roots in Appalachian culture. Her unique story will be woven throughout each day of activities at the rustic educational encampment.

For more information on the event, visit or call 304-528-5794.

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