Students get living history lesson at Appalachian Days

Aaron K. Nelson anelson@civitasmedia.com

April 24, 2014

PRESTONSBURG — Hundreds of fourth- and fifth-grade students from Betsy Layne Elementary and Allen Elementary were treated to the sights, sounds and even tastes of 19th century living at the third annual Appalachian Days at Big Sandy Community and Technical College on Wednesday.

Lisa Stumbo, director of ECHO (Embracing Cultural Heritage Opportunities) and Tina Terry with the BSCTC regional office of cultural diversity put together the event with the Friends of Middle Creek. The lawns outside the East Kentucky Science Center make an appropriate setting, as same fields were once farmland used for drilling Confederate soldiers—land that belonged to the Samuel May House, Prestonsburg’s oldest home.

On Wednesday, children got to see Jim Bordwine, of Saltville, Va., demonstrating the process of boiling down salt over a smouldering fire. They tasted samples, although even just a pinch of the highly pure salt was too much for some to keep from spitting out.

Debbie Manuel showed the kids the dress and etiquette required of a lady of the period: replete with silk gown, parasol, fan, and mouse ear purse. She explained how women of the day worked to avoid getting a tan, so as not to appear like the working class, and how ladies employed the fan in their flirting rituals.

At the third station, Floyd Davis taught the students about Kentucky’s role in the Civil war and the local battles fought near Prestonsburg. Giselle Smith and Michael Warrix showed off typical confederate uniforms, gear, and weaponry—including Smith cracking the morning air with a few blank shots of powder from a period rifle.

Anyone interested in joining the reenactments and helping preserve Prestonsburg’s rich history can visit friendsofmiddlecreek.org or find the Appalachian Guard on Facebook.