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Shelby County woman has a long run with the Long Run Massacre

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Cummings has been involved since event’s beginning, but loves to help ‘Teach history.’

By Todd Martin

When the Long Run Massacre and Floyd’s Defeat re-enactment begins today, it will mark the 15th year of the historical event, and Kathy Cummings has seen each one of them.

Cummings, who is now the president of the Painted Stone Settlers, Inc., has been with the group since it started.

“I think I’m the only existing member that been here all fifteen years,” she said Wednesday while taking a moment’s break from working on this year’s production. “But it’s really a group effort. It takes everyone to pull this off every year. There are so many people behind the scenes that help out – like the park providing us the space. And our vice president, Dickie Phillips, and Helen McKinney, our school day coordinator, they do such a terrific job.”

Cummings said there is so much to be learned by being a part of the re-enactment and living in the 18th Century for a weekend.

“It’s a really good time,” she said. “People ask us all the time: Why do you do this? Dress up like this and act like this? But when you put your self in that setting, it makes you realize why everything they have is like it is. You realize why they dress this way, work this way – everything has a purpose.

“It’s funny, because as hard as they had to work, there’s a lot of down time. Think about if it rains. We just grab our umbrella and turn our wipers on and go about our business, but some things like that would just stop them in their tracks.”

She also noted how hard it must have been to be a parent on the frontier.

“People were very anxious back then,” she said. “There could be an Indian behind every tree. And their stress level, oh my gosh. If you had a child on the frontier and just sent them to get water, you may never see them again.

“You always hear people talk about simpler times. Yeah it was, but it took so much more for just everyday work, I mean, just to make a meal. How many times do we get in a hurry and think, ‘Oh, I’ll just drive through McDonald’s.’ But for them, if you didn’t feel like baking bread that morning, then no one eats.”

And that’s just some of the information that Cummings and the others involved hope they can share with the visitors this weekend.

“From the time you come through those gates, we want you to feel like you’re in the 18th Century,” she said.

The group will have several camps set up to show visitors what life was like – including an Indian camp, yarn spinning, weaving, log splitting, blacksmithing, fire starting and cooking.

“There are also some fun things,” she said. “Like we have a colonial magician, and there is an area with frontier toys. It’s pretty neat to see these kids who like to play video games and with their iPads look at these toys that are pretty much just sticks and balls. But really, they’re pretty fascinated by them.”

Cummings, however, is charged with making sure the 21st Century doesn’t show through.

“I do the narration of the battle on both Saturday and Sunday, so behind the scenes we have to set up some audio equipment and a few other things, so, hopefully, you won’t see them.”

The school day event begins today with buses arriving around 9 a.m., and Cummings said working with the students is her favorite day.

“That’s really why were out here, to teach history,” she said. “It’s really fun to share these things and this time frame with the school children.”

There are 750 students lined up to attend this year’s Long Run Massacre.

Saturday and Sunday’s festivities will begin at 10 a.m. and finish at 5 p.m. Saturday, and 4 p.m. Sunday.