couple make items
for re-enactors, collectors of guns, etc.
Helen E. McKinney
MT. WASHINGTON, Ky. (November 2002) Cathy Elfgen
had to learn to love history. The ironic thing about this is that she
became a living history interpreter, often traveling to rendezvous and
setting up camp alone.
To Elfgen, history used to be only endless lists of meaningless names
and dates until she realized that it all fits together to bring
us where we are today, she said.
Elfgen and her husband, Joe, recently opened their own business at 120
Bardstown Rd, in Mt. Washington, Ky. The couple agrees that if they
cant personally make an item for a customer, theyll find
someone who can.
& Joe Elfgen
A native of Fern Creek, Ky., she previously had a similar
store in Bardstown, Ky. She and her business partner then moved their
business to Brown County, Ind. When her partner grew homesick for Kentucky,
they dissolved the business and she moved to Mt. Washington four years
Upon returning to Kentucky, Elfgen did not immediately reopen the business.
But as she sat looking over the many pictures she had taken regarding
her work one day, she realized just how much she missed it.
She said she knew then that this was what she should be doing, so when
store space became available she opened Cantuckee Primitive Arts &
The store caters to pioneer and Civil War re-enactors, carries a variety
of Native American items, black powder guns, knives, and related period
Elfgen said her future goals include the addition of primitive furniture
when more store space becomes available. She would also like to stock
cowboy-related items, she said.
While her business was located in Bardstown, Elfgen worked with the
county extension office on a program she took into the local schools.
She would often set up a tepee inside a school building, and surround
it with a complete Native American campsite.
Dressed in Native American attire, Elfgen said she would teach children
the importance of treating the Earth with respect. She researched the
stories she told the schoolchildren, authenticity an important part
of each presentation.
Elfgen and her husband continue to educate interested clientele by teaching
seminars for those wishing to learn certain aspects of period life,
such as how to tan a deer hide.
The couple are believers in self-education. You have to educate
yourself first, said Elfgen, before teaching others about period
Joe, who has native Cherokee Indian ancestors, said he spent time with
a Hopi elder learning all he could about the Hopi tribe.
This opportunity provided him with a glimpse into the Native American
culture that most people are not able to experience.
For more information, call (502) 538-4749.
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