Reviving history

Area historians
unite to share
Missouri’s tales
Tuesday, September 2, 2003 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 12:07 a.m. CDT, Sunday, July 20, 2008

Bob Bauer has always had an interest in doing things the old way. Known as Dragonfly, Bauer embraces every aspect of his Native American heritage and the history of his ancestors. Cutting firewood and carrying fresh water from the spring were among his daily chores while he grew up in a log cabin. Today, authenticity remains his forte.

Dragonfly showed up Monday at Boone’s Lick State Historic Site for the Boonslick Folk Festival dressed as a longhunter or trapper, who, like Daniel Boone, spent long periods of time in the wilderness.

Pulling off a leather pouch filled with tools and equipment like those used by the longhunter, Bauer said, “If I wanted to spend three or four days in the woods, I have everything I’d need in this shooting bag.” Bauer’s rifle, a Tennessee Poorboy, sparked the interest of small children and elderly men alike.

Bauer, 59, has been teaching others as a traditional-living historian for about 40 years. He visits festivals and schools, where he tells stories and answers questions in an effort to get children to read and take interest in their history.

“If you wanna rush off and be a modern kid, just go,” he told one antsy young boy who asked about the rifle. When the boy decided to stay, Bauer showed him how the gun is loaded and fired.

Bill and Mary Hobbs of Columbia came out to Boonslick to see what it was all about. Bill Hobbs said he considered the trip worthwhile — if for no other reason than the chance to talk with Dragonfly.

But there were plenty of other interesting folk at the festival, all dressed in period clothes. They were experts on everything from medicinal native plants to mountain dulcimers to harmonica waltzes.

There was even a blacksmith who gave an exhibition on making horseshoes.

Ann Fray spins linen thread flax on an old-time spinner at historical festivals around the state. She noted that there are many events like the Boonslick Folk Festival, although none are at historic sites that date back to 1804, which was when Lewis and Clark passed through the Boonslick area on their famous expedition.

“I love to come out and help because I can just sit and spin all day,” Fray said. “Plus it’s educational, and it’s good for families and kids.”

Amanda Himmelberg, a longtime resident of nearby Glasgow, said she had never been down to see the Boonslick historic site. She brought her two daughters along for the festival.

“It’s nice to see something down here, because they haven’t done anything like this that I can remember,” Himmelberg said.

Connie Shay, festival coordinator, was delighted that families like the Himmelbergs showed up for the event despite the dreary weather.

Alhough it rained through much of the morning, Shay said that she came from an old line of pioneers and that the show must go on.

The show did go on, with the parking area continuing to fill up through early afternoon. Shay estimates that nearly 300 people came to the festival.

“I’m amazed with the success,” she said. “We’re gonna do it again.”

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