Scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m. at the settlement school's Laurel House, the Chautauqua presentation, presented free to the public by the Kentucky Humanities Council, will relay Walker's journey into the mountains of eastern Kentucky, what he saw and what he experienced.
“This should be a delightful evening for history buffs, or anybody who's interested in Kentucky heritage,” said Mary Dresser, assistant director of Pine Mountain Settlement School. “We wanted to host this event because of the role Dr. Thomas Walker played in our natural history.”
The reenactment was originally scheduled to entertain groups that are currently boarding at the settlement school, but Dresser said the public is more than welcome to attend Thursday night's special presentation. Currently, participants of the Lucy Braun naturalist workshop are at the settlement school, along with members of the Pine Mountain Trail Conference.
“But we would love for other people to come out to this event,” Dresser said. “It will be an evening to only celebrate our heritage and to learn more about our history, but to have good fellowship, as well.”
Walker, along with five companions, left Virginia in March 1750, and on April 13 crossed the Cumberland Gap into the territory that would become the state of Kentucky 42 years later.
A politically well-connected physician, Walker was also a land speculator. He led the first organized English expedition into Kentucky in search of farmland ripe for settlement. Never quite making it out of the hills of eastern Kentucky into the bluegrass region, Walker found only forested mountains teeming with game. Good for hunting, he noted in his journal, but not for farming.
After three months, Walker and his party returned home to Virginia. He considered his Kentucky expedition a failure. It was Daniel Boone's explorations, beginning almost two decades later, that led to the settlement of Kentucky.
Walker returned to the area several times, most notably in 1779-80 as head of the surveying party that extended the Virginia-North Carolina line, which is the southern border of the future commonwealth, to the Tennessee River. By that time, settlers were streaming into Kentucky, and the unspoiled wilderness Walker first saw would soon be lost forever.
Hinton, Walker's reenactor, is an experienced actor and living history presenter with a special interest in early American life. Hinton has researched the exploration and settlement of Kentucky and has appeared in films and television programs depicting early Kentucky history.
A toolmaker by trade, Hinton is also a musician and lives in Rockcastle County.