Life & Times of Col. Daniel Boone
by Cecil B. Harley
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Life of Daniel Boone, the Great Western Hunter and Pioneer, Comprising an Account of His Early History; His Daring and Remarkable Career as the First Settler of Kentucky; His Thrilling Adventures with the Indians, and His Wonderful Skill, Coolness and Sagacity under All the Hazardous and Trying Circumstances of Western Border Life

To Which Is Added His Autobiography Complete as Dictated by Himself, and Showing His Own Belief That He Was an Instrument Ordained to Settle the Wilderness




The subject of the following biography, the celebrated Colonel Daniel Boone, is one of the most remarkable men which this country has produced. His character is marked with originality, and his actions were important and influential in one of the most interesting periods of our history—that of the early settlement of Kentucky. Boone is generally acknowledged as the founder of that State. His having explored it alone to a considerable extent; his leading the earliest bands of settlers; his founding Boonesborough, the nucleus of the future State; his having defended this and other stations successfully against the attacks of the Indians; and the prominent part which he took in military affairs at this period of distress and peril, certainly render his claims to the distinguished honor of founding Kentucky very strong.

But Boone, personally, reaped very little benefit from his patriotic and disinterested exertions. The lands which he had first cultivated and defended, were taken from him by the chicanery of the law; other lands granted to him by the Spanish government were lost by his inattention to legal forms; and in his old age he was without an acre of land which he could call his own. A few years before his death a small tract, such as any other settler in Missouri was entitled to, was granted him by Congress. But he has left to his numerous posterity a nobler inheritance—that of an imperishable fame in the annals of his country!



The family of Daniel Boone—His grandfather emigrates to America, and settles in Bucks County, Pennsylvania—Family of Daniel Boone's father—Account of Exeter, the birth-place of Boone—Birth of Daniel Boone—Religion of his family—Boone's boyhood—Goes to school—Anecdote—Summary termination of his schooling.


Removal of Boone's father and family to North Carolina—Location on the Yadkin River—Character of the country and the people—Byron's description of the Backwoodsmen—Daniel Boone marries Rebecca Bryan—His farmer life in North Carolina—State of the country—Political troubles foreshadowed—Illegal fees and taxes—Probable effect of this state of things on Boone's mind—Signs of movement.


The Seven Years' War—Cherokee War—Period of Boone's first long Excursion to the West—Extract from Wheeler's History of Tennessee—Indian accounts of the Western country—Indian traders—Their Reports—Western travelers—Doherty—Adair—Proceedings of the traders—Hunters—Scotch traders—Hunters accompany the traders to the West—Their reports concerning the country—Other adventurers—Dr. Walker's expedition—Settlements in South-western Virginia—Indian hostilities—Pendleton purchase—Dr. Walker's second expedition—Hunting company of Walker and others—Boone travels with them—Curious monument left by him.


Political and social condition of North Carolina—Taxes—Lawsuits—Ostentation and extravagance of foreigners and government officers—Oppression of the people—Murmurs—Open resistance—The Regulators—Willingness of Daniel Boone and others to migrate, and their reasons—John Finley's expedition to the West—His report to Boone—He determines to join Finley in his next hunting tour—New company formed, with Boone for leader—Preparations for starting—The party sets out—Travels for a month through the wilderness—First sight of Kentucky—Forming a camp—Hunting buffaloes and other game—Capture of Boone and Stuart by the Indians—Prudent dissimulation—Escape from the Indians—Return to the old camp—Their companions lost—Boone and Stuart renew their hunting.


Arrival of Squire Boone and a companion at the camp of Daniel Boone—Joyful meeting—News from home, and hunting resumed—Daniel Boone and Stuart surprised by the Indians—Stuart killed—Escape of Boone, and his return to camp—Squire Boone's companion lost in the woods—Residence of Daniel Boone and Squire Boone in the wilderness—Squire returns to North Carolina, obtains a fresh supply of ammunition, and again rejoins his brother at the old camp—Daniel Boone's own account of this remarkable period of his life—His return to North Carolina—His determination to settle in Kentucky—Other Western adventurers—the Long hunters—Washington in Kentucky—Bullitt's party—Floyd's party—Thompson's survey—First settlement of Tennessee.


Daniel Boone remains two years in North Carolina after his return from the West—He prepares to emigrate to Kentucky—Character of the early settlers to Kentucky—The first class, hunters—The second class, small farmers—The third class, men of wealth and government officers.


Daniel Boone sets out for Kentucky with his family and his brother, Squire Boone—Is joined by five families and forty men at Powell's Valley—The party is attacked by Indians, and Daniel Boone's oldest son is killed—The party return to the settlements on Clinch River—Boone, at the request of Governor Dunmore, goes to the West and conducts a party of surveyors to Virginia—Boone receives the command of three garrisons and the commission of Captain—He takes a part in the Dunmore war—Battle of Point Pleasant and termination of the war.


The militia discharged—Captain Boone returns to his family—Henderson's company—Various companies of emigrants to Kentucky—Bounty lands—Harrod's party builds the first log-cabin erected in Kentucky, and founds Harrodsburg—Proceedings of Henderson's company—Agency of Captain Boone—He leads a company to open a road to Kentucky River—Conflicts with the Indians—Captain Boone founds Boonesborough—His own account of this expedition—His letter to Henderson—Account of Colonel Henderson and the Transylvania Company—Failure of the scheme—Probability of Boone having been several years in the service of Henderson.


Description of the Old Fort at Boonesborough—Usual methods of fortifications against the Indians—Arrival of more settlers at Boonesborough—Captain Boone returns to the Clinch River to bring out his family—He enlists new emigrants and starts for Kentucky—Reinforced by a large party at Powel's Valley—Arrival at Boonesborough—Arrival of many new settlers at Boonesborough and Harrod's settlement—Arrival of Kenton, Floyd, the McAfees, and other distinguished persons—Arrival of Colonel Richard Callaway.


Disturbed state of the country in 1775—Breaking out of the Revolutionary war—Exposed situation of the Kentucky settlements—Hostility of the Indians excited by the British—First political convention in the West—Capture of Boone's daughter and the daughters of Colonel Callaway by the Indians—Their rescue by a party led by Boone and Callaway—Increased caution of the colonists at Boonesborough—Alarm and desertion of the Colonies in the West by land speculators and other adventurers—A reinforcement of forty-five men from North Carolina arrive at Boonesborough—Indian attack on Boonesborough in April—Another attack in July—Attack on Logan's Fort, and siege—Attack on Harrodsburg.


Arrival of George Rogers Clark in Kentucky—Anecdote of his conversation with Ray—Clark and Jones chosen as delegates for the Colonies to the Virginia Legislature—Clark's important services in obtaining a political organization for Kentucky, and an abundant supply of gunpowder from the government of Virginia—Great labor and difficulty in bringing the powder to Harrodstown—Clark's expedition against Kaskaskias—Surprise and capture of their fort—Perilous and difficult march to Vincennes—Surprise and capture of that place—Extension of the Virginian settlements—Erection of Fort Jefferson.


Scarcity of salt at Boonesborough—Boone goes to Blue Licks to make salt, and is captured by the Indians—Taken to Chilicothe—Affects contentment, and deceives the Indians—Taken to Detroit—Kindness of the British officers to him—Returns to Chilicothe—Adopted into an Indian family—Ceremonies of adoption—Boone sees a large force of Indians destined to attack Boonesborough—Escapes, and gives the alarm, and strengthens the fortifications at Boonesborough—News of delay by the Indians on account of Boone's escape—Boone goes on an expedition to the Scioto—Has a fight with a party of Indians—Returns to Boonesborough, which is immediately besieged by Captain Duquesne with five hundred Indians—Summons to surrender—Time gained—Attack commenced—Brave defense—Mines and countermines—Siege raised—Boone brings his family once more back to Boonesborough, and resumes farming.


Captain Boone tried by court-martial—Honorably acquitted and promoted—Loses a large sum of money—His losses by law-suits and disputes about land—Defeat of Colonel Rogers's party—Colonel Bowman's expedition to Chilicothe—Arrival near the town—Colonel Logan attacks the town—Ordered by Colonel Bowman to retreat—Failure of the expedition—Consequences to Bowman and to Logan.


Invasion of Kentucky by Captain Byrd's party—He captures the garrisons at Ruddle's Station and Martin's Fort—Colonel Clark's invasion of the Indian country—He ravages the Indian towns—Adventure of Alexander McConnell—Skirmish at Pickaway—Result of the expedition—Boone goes to the Blue Licks with his brother—Attacked by the Indians—Boone's brother killed—Boone promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel—Clark's galley—Squire Boone's Station removed to Bear's Creek—Attack by the Indians—Colonel Floyd's defeat—Affair of the McAfees—Attack on McAfee's Station repelled—Fort Jefferson evacuated—Attack on Montgomery Station—Rescue by General Logan.


News of Cornwallis's surrender—Its effects—Captain Estill's defeat—Grand army of Indians raised for the conquest of Kentucky—Simon Girty's speech—Attack on Hoy's Station—Investment of Bryant's Station—Expedient of the besieged to obtain water—Grand attack on the fort—Repulse—Regular siege commenced—Messengers sent to Lexington—Reinforcements obtained—Arrival near the fort—Ambushed and attacked—They enter the fort—Narrow escape of Girty—He proposes a capitulation—Parley—Reynolds' answer to Girty—The siege raised—Retreat of the Indians.


Arrival of Reinforcements at Bryant's Station—Colonel Daniel Boone, his son and brother among them—Colonels Trigg, Todd, and others—Consultation—Apprehensions of Boone and others—Arrival at the Blue Licks—Rash conduct of Major McGary—Battle of Blue Licks—Israel Boone, Colonels Todd and Trigg, and Majors Harland and McBride killed—Retreat of the whites—Colonel Boone nearly surrounded by Indians—Bravery of Netherland—Noble conduct of Reynolds—The fugitives meet Colonel Logan with his party—Return to the field of battle—Logan returns to Bryant's Station.


The Indians return home from the Blue Licks—They attack the settlements in Jefferson County—Affair at Simpson's Creek—General Clark's expedition to the Indian country—Colonel Boone joins it—Its effect—Attack of the Indians on the Crab Orchard settlement—Rumor of intended invasion by the Cherokees—Difficulties about the treaty with Great Britain—Hostilities of the Indians generally stimulated by renegade whites—Simon Girty—Causes of his hatred of the whites—Girty insulted by General Lewis—Joins the Indians at the battle of Point Pleasant—Story of his rescuing Simon Kenton—Crawford's expedition, and the burning of Crawford—Close of Girty's career.


Season of repose—Colonel Boone buys land—Builds a log house and goes to farming—Kentucky organized on a new basis—Colonel Boone surprised by Indians—Escapes—Manners and customs of the settlers—The autumn hunt—The house-warming.


Condition of the early settlers as it respects the mechanic arts—Throwing the tomahawk—Athletic sports—Dancing—Shooting at marks—Scarcity of Iron—Costume—Dwellings—Furniture—Employments—The women—Their character—Diet—Indian corn.


Indian hostilities resumed—Expedition of Davis, Caffre, and McClure—Attack on Captain Ward's boat—Affair near Scagg's Creek—Growth of Kentucky—Population—Trade—General Logan calls a meeting at Danville—Convention called—Separation from Virginia proposed—Virginia consents—Kentucky admitted as an independent State of the Union—Indian hostilities—Expedition and death of Colonel Christian—Expedition of General Clark—Expedition of General Logan—Success of Captain Hardin—Defeat of Hargrove—Exploits of Simon Kenton—Affairs at the Elkhorn settlements—Treaty—Barman's expedition.


Colonel Boone meets with the loss of all his land in Kentucky, and emigrates to Virginia—Resides on the Kenhawa, near Point Pleasant—Emigrates to Missouri—Is appointed commandant of a district—Mr. Audubon's narrative of a night passed with Boone.


Colonel Boone receives a large grant of land from the Spanish Government of Upper Louisiana—He loses it—Sketch of the history of Missouri—Colonel Boone's hunting—He pays his debts by the sale of furs—Taken sick in his hunting camp—Colonel Boone applies to Congress to recover his land—The Legislature of Kentucky supports his claim—Death of Mrs. Boone—Results of the application to Congress—Occupations of his declining years—Mr. Harding paints his portrait.


Last illness, and death of Colonel Boone—His funeral—Account of his family—His remains and those of his wife removed from Missouri, and reinterred in the new cemetery in Frankfort, Kentucky—Character of Colonel Boone.



The family of Daniel Boone—His grandfather emigrates to America, and settles in Bucks County, Pennsylvania—Family of Daniel Boone's father—Account of Exeter, the birth-place of Boone—Birth of Daniel Boone—Religion of his family—Boone's boyhood—Goes to School—Anecdote—Summary termination of his schooling.

The immediate ancestors and near relations of the American Boone family, resided at Bradwinch about eight miles from Exeter, England. George Boone the grandfather of Daniel, emigrated to America and arrived, with Mary his wife, at Philadelphia, on the 10th of October, 1717. They brought with them eleven children, two daughters and nine sons. The names of three of the sons have come down to us, John, James, and Squire. The last of these, Squire Boone, was the father of Daniel.

George Boone, immediately after his arrival in America, purchased a large tract of land in what is now Bucks County, which he settled, and called it Exeter, after the city near which he was born. The records distinguish it only as the township of Exeter, without any county. He purchased also various other tracts in Maryland and Virginia; and our tradition says, among others, the ground on which Georgetown, District of Columbia, now stands, and that he laid the town out, and gave it his own name. His sons John and James lived and died on the Exeter purchase.[1]

Daniel Boone's father, Squire Boone, had seven sons and four daughters, viz.: James,[2] Samuel, Jonathan, Daniel, George, Squire, Edward, Sarah, Elizabeth, Mary, and Hannah.

Exeter Township is situated in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, and now has a population of over two thousand. Here Daniel Boone was born, on the 11th of February, 1735.[3]

The maiden name of Boone's mother was Sarah Morgan. Some dispute has arisen respecting the religious persuasion of the Boone family. It would appear, on a review of the whole controversy, that before their removal to this country, the Boones were Episcopalians; but during their residence in Pennsylvania they permitted themselves to be considered Quakers. What sort of a Quaker Daniel Boone himself was, will be apparent in the course of our narrative.

Exeter, the native place of Daniel Boone, was at this period a small frontier settlement, consisting of log-houses, surrounded with woods, which abounded with game of various kinds and were occasionally infested with hostile Indians. It is not surprising that Daniel, passing the period of his boyhood in such a place, should have acquired at an early age the accomplishments of a hunter and woodsman. From a mere child it was his chief delight to roam in the woods, to observe the wild haunts of Nature, and to pursue the wild animals which were then so abundant.

Of the boyhood of Daniel Boone, one of his biographers gives the following account. Speaking of the residence of the family at Exeter, he says:[4]

"Here they lived for ten years; and it was during this time that their son Daniel began to show his passion for hunting. He was scarcely able to carry a gun when he was shooting all the squirrels, raccoons, and even wild-cats (it is said), that he could find in that region. As he grew older, his courage increased, and then we find him amusing himself with higher game. Other lads in the neighborhood were soon taught by him the use of the rifle, and were then able to join him in his adventures. On one occasion, they all started out for a hunt, and, after amusing themselves till it was almost dark, were returning homeward, when suddenly a wild cry was heard in the woods. The boys screamed out, 'A panther! A panther!' and ran off as fast as they could. Boone stood firmly, looking around for the animal. It was a panther indeed. His eye lighted upon him just in the act of springing toward him: in an instant he leveled his rifle, and shot him through the heart."

"But this sort of sport was not enough for him. He seemed resolved to go away from men, and live in the forests with these animals. One morning he started off as usual, with his rifle and dog. Night came on, but Daniel did not return to his home. Another day and night passed away, and still the boy did not make his appearance. His parents were now greatly alarmed. The neighbors joined them in making search for the lad. After wandering about a great while, they at length saw smoke rising from a cabin in the distance. Upon reaching it, they found the boy. The floor of the cabin was covered with the skins of such animals as he had slain, and pieces of meat were roasting before the fire for his supper. Here, at a distance of three miles from any settlement, he had built his cabin of sods and branches, and sheltered himself in the wilderness."

"It was while his father was living on the head-waters of the Schuylkill that young Boone received so far as we know, all his education. Short indeed were his schoolboy days. It happened that an Irish schoolmaster strolled into the settlement, and, by the advice of Mr. Boone and other parents, opened a school in the neighborhood. It was not then as it is now. Good school-houses were not scattered over the land; nor were schoolmasters always able to teach their pupils. The school-house where the boys of this settlement went was a log-cabin, built in the midst of the woods. The schoolmaster was a strange man; sometimes good-humored, and then indulging the lads; sometimes surly and ill-natured, and then beating them severely. It was his usual custom, after hearing the first lessons of the morning, to allow the children to be out for a half hour at play, during which time he strolled off to refresh himself from his labors. He always walked in the same direction, and the boys thought that after his return, when they were called in, he was generally more cruel than ever. They were whipped more severely, and oftentimes without any cause. They observed this, but did not know the meaning of it One morning young Boone asked that he might go out, and had scarcely left the school-room when he saw a squirrel running over the trunk of a fallen tree. True to his nature, he instantly gave chase, until at last the squirrel darted into a bower of vines and branches. Boone thrust his hand in, and, to his surprise, laid hold of a bottle of whiskey. This was in the direction of his master's morning walks, and he thought now that he understood the secret of much of his ill-nature. He returned to the school-room; but, when they were dismissed for that day, he told some of the larger boys of his discovery. Their plan was soon arranged. Early the next morning a bottle of whiskey, having tartar emetic in it, was placed in the bower, and the other bottle thrown away. At the usual hour, the lads were sent out to play, and the master started on his walk. But their play was to come afterward; they longed for the master to return. At length they were called in, and in a little time saw the success of their experiment. The master began to look pale and sick, yet still went on with his work. Several boys were called up, one after the other, to recite lessons, and all whipped soundly, whether right or wrong. At last young Boone was called out to answer questions in arithmetic. He came forward with his slate and pencil, and the master began: 'If you subtract six from nine, what remains?' said he. 'Three, sir,' said Boone. 'Very good,' said the master; 'now let us come to fractions. If you take three-quarters from a whole number, what remains?' 'The whole, sir,' answered Boone. 'You blockhead!' cried the master, beating him; 'you stupid little fool, how can you show that?' 'If I take one bottle of whiskey,' said Boone, 'and put in its place another in which I have mixed an emetic, the whole will remain if nobody drinks it!' The Irishman, dreadfully sick, was now doubly enraged. He seized Boone, and commenced beating him; the children shouted and roared; the scuffle continued until Boone knocked the master down upon the floor, and rushed out of the room. It was a day of freedom now for the lads. The story soon ran through the neighborhood; Boone was rebuked by his parents, but the schoolmaster was dismissed, and thus ended the boy's education."

"Thus freed from school, he now returned more ardently than ever to his favorite pursuit. His dog and rifle were his constant companions, and day after day he started from home, only to roam through the forests. Hunting seemed to be the only business of his life; and he was never so happy as when at night he came home laden with game. He was an untiring wanderer."

Perhaps it was not a very serious misfortune for Daniel Boone that his school instruction was so scanty, for, "in another kind of education," says Mr. Peck,[5] "not unfrequent in the wilds of the West, he was an adept. No Indian could poise the rifle, find his way through the pathless forest, or search out the retreats of game, more readily than Daniel Boone. In all that related to Indian sagacity, border life, or the tactics of the skillful hunter, he excelled. The successful training of a hunter, or woodsman, is a kind of education of mental discipline, differing from that of the school-room, but not less effective in giving vigor to the mind, quickness of apprehension, and habits of close observation. Boone was regularly trained in all that made him a successful backwoodsman. Indolence and imbecility never produced a Simon Kenton, a Tecumthe, or a Daniel Boone. To gain the skill of an accomplished hunter requires talents, patience, perseverance, sagacity, and habits of thinking. Amongst other qualifications, knowledge of human nature, and especially of Indian character is indispensable to the pioneer of a wilderness. Add to these, self-possession, self-control, and promptness in execution. Persons who are unaccustomed to a frontier residence know not how much, in the preservation of life, and in obtaining subsistence, depends on such characteristics!"

In the woods surrounding the little settlement of Exeter, Boone had ample opportunity for perfecting himself in this species of mental discipline, and of gaining that physical training of the limbs and muscles so necessary in the pursuits of the active hunter and pioneer. We have no record of his ever having encountered the Indians during his residence in Pennsylvania. His knowledge of their peculiar modes of hunting and war was to be attained not less thoroughly at a somewhat later period of life.

[Footnote 1: "Pittsburg Gazette," quoted by Peck.]

[Footnote 2: The eldest, James, was killed by the Indians in 1773, and his son Israel was killed at the battle of Blue Licks, August 19th, 1782.]

[Footnote 3: Bogant gives 11th of February, 1735. Peck, February, 1735. Another account gives 1746 as the year of his birth, and Bucks County as his birth-place. The family record, in the hand writing of Daniel Boone's uncle, James, who was a school master, gives the 14th of July, 1732.]

[Footnote 4: "Adventures of Daniel Boone, the Kentucky Rifleman." By the author of "Uncle Philip's Conversations."]

[Footnote 5: "Life of Daniel Boone" By John M. Peck.]


Removal of Boone's father and family to North Carolina—Location on the Yadkin River—Character of the country and the people—Byron's description of the backwoodsman—Daniel Boone marries Rebecca Bryan—His farmer life in North Carolina—State of the country—Political troubles foreshadowed—Illegal fees and taxes—Probable effect of this state of things on Boone's mind—Signs of movement.

When Daniel Boone was still a youth, his father emigrated to North Carolina. The precise date of this removal of the family residence is not known. Mr. Peck, an excellent authority, says it took place when Daniel was about eighteen years old. This would make it about the year 1752.

The new residence of Squire Boone, Daniel's father, was near Holman's Ford, on the Yadkin River, about eight miles from Wilkesboro'. The fact of the great backwoodsman having passed many years of his life there is still remembered with pride by the inhabitants of that region. The capital of Watauga County, which was formed in 1849, is named Boone, in honor of Daniel Boone. The historian of North Carolina[6] is disposed to claim him as a son of the State. He says: "In North Carolina Daniel Boone was reared. Here his youthful days were spent; and here that bold spirit was trained, which so fearlessly encountered the perils through which he passed in after life. His fame is part of her property, and she has inscribed his name on a town in the region where his youth was spent."

"The character of Boone is so peculiar," says Mr. Wheeler, "that it marks the age in which he lived; and his name is celebrated in the verses of the immortal Byron:"

"Of all men— Who passes for in life and death most lucky, Of the great names which in our faces stare, Is Daniel Boone, backwoodsman of Kentucky."

* * * * *

"Crime came not near him—she is not the child Of Solitude. Health shrank not from him, for Her home is in the rarely-trodden wild."

* * * * *

"And tall and strong and swift of foot are they, Beyond the dwarfing city's pale abortions, Because their thoughts had never been the prey Of care or gain; the green woods were their portions: No sinking spirits told them they grew gray, No fashions made them apes of her distortions. Simple they were, not savage; and their rifles, Though very true, were not yet used for trifles."

"Motion was in their days, rest in their slumbers, And cheerfulness the handmaid of their toil. Nor yet too many nor too few their numbers; Corruption could not make their hearts her soil; The lust which stings, the splendor which encumbers, With the free foresters divide no spoil; Serene, not sullen, were the solitudes Of this unsighing people of the woods.'"

We quote these beautiful lines, because they so aptly and forcibly describe the peculiar character of Boone; and to a certain extent, as Mr. Wheeler intimates, his character was that of his times and of his associates.

It was during the residence of the family on the banks of the Yadkin, that Boone formed the acquaintance of Rebecca Bryan, whom he married.[7] The marriage appears, by comparison of dates, to have taken place in the year 1755. "One almost regrets," says Mr. Peck, "to spoil so beautiful a romance, as that which has had such extensive circulation in the various 'Lives of Boone,' and which represents him as mistaking the bright eyes of this young lady, in the dark, for those of a deer; a mistake that nearly proved fatal from the unerring rifle of the young hunter. Yet in truth, we are bound to say, that no such mistake ever happened. Our backwoods swains never make such mistakes."

The next five years after his marriage, Daniel Boone passed in the quiet pursuits of a farmer's life, varied occasionally by hunting excursions in the woods. The most quiet and careless of the citizens of North Carolina were not unobservant, however, of the political aspect of the times. During this period the people, by their representatives in the Legislature, began that opposition to the Royal authority, which was in after years to signalize North Carolina as one of the leading Colonies in the Revolutionary struggle.

The newly-appointed Royal Governor, Arthur Dobbs, arrived at Newbern in the autumn of 1754. "Governor Dobbs's administration of ten years," says the historian Wheeler, "was a continued contest between himself and the Legislature, on matters frivolous and unimportant. A high-toned temper for Royal prerogatives on his part, and an indomitable resistance of the Colonists ... The people were much oppressed by Lord Grenville's agents. They seized Corbin, his agent, who lived below Edenton, and brought him to Enfield, where he was compelled to give bond and security to produce his books and disgorge his illegal fees."

This matter of illegal fees was part of a system of oppression, kindred to the famous Stamp Act—a system which was destined to grow more and more intolerable under Governor Tryon's administration, and to lead to the formation of the famous company of Regulators, whose resistance of taxation and tyranny was soon to convulse the whole State.

We are by no means to suppose that Daniel Boone was an unobservant spectator of what was passing even at the time we are speaking of, nor that the doings of the tax-gatherers had nothing to do with his subsequent movements. He not only hated oppression, but he hated also strife and disturbance; and already began to long for a new migration into the distant woods and quiet intervals, where politics and the tax-gatherer should not intrude.

The population in his neighborhood was increasing, and new settlements were being formed along the Yadkin and its tributary streams, and explorations were made to the northwest on the banks of the Holston and Clinch Rivers. The times were already beginning to exhibit symptoms of restlessness and stir among the people, which was soon to result in the formation of new States and the settlement of the far West.

[Footnote 6: John H. Wheeler. "Historical Sketches of North Carolina."]

[Footnote 7: The children by this marriage were nine in number. Sons: James, born in 1756, Israel, Jesse, Daniel, and Nathan. Daughters: Susan, Jemima, Lavinia, and Rebecca. The eldest, James, was killed, as will appear in our subsequent narrative, by the Indians, in 1773; and Israel fell in the battle of Blue Licks, May 17th, 1782. In 1846, Nathan, a captain in the United States service, was the only surviving son.]


The Seven Years' War—Cherokee war—Period of Boone's first long excursions to the West—Extract from Wheeler's History of Tennessee—Indian accounts of the western country—Indian traders—Their reports—Western travelers—Doherty—Adair—Proceedings of the traders—Hunters—Scotch traders—Hunters accompany the traders to the West—Their reports concerning the country—Other adventurers—Dr. Walker's expedition—Settlements in South-western Virginia—Indian hostilities—Pendleton purchase—Dr. Walker's second expedition—Hunting company of Walker and others—Boone travels with them—Curious monument left by him.

The reader will recollect that the period referred to in the last chapter, comprehended the latter years of the celebrated Seven Years' War. During the chief portion of this period, the neighboring Colony of Virginia suffered all the horrors of Indian war on its western frontier—horrors from which even the ability, courage, and patriotism of Washington were for a long time unable to protect them. The war was virtually terminated by the campaign of 1759, when Quebec was taken. The next year Canada was ceded to England; and a Cherokee war, which had disturbed the border setters of North Carolina, was terminated. Daniel Boone's biographers all agree that it was about this time when he first began to make long excursions toward the West; but it is difficult to fix exactly the date of his first long journey through the woods in this direction. It is generally dated in 1771 or 1772, We now make a quotation from Ramsay's Annals of Tennessee, which shows, beyond the possibility of a doubt, that he hunted on the Wataga River in 1760, and renders it probable that he was in the West at an earlier date. Our readers will excuse the length of this quotation, as the first part of it gives so graphic a picture of the hunter and pioneer life of the times of Daniel Boone, and also shows what had been done by others in western explorations before Boone's expeditions commenced.

"The Colonists of the Carolinas and of Virginia had been steadily advancing to the West, and we have traced their approaches in the direction of our eastern boundary,[8] to the base of the great Appalachian range."

Of the country beyond it, little was positively known or accurately understood. A wandering Indian would imperfectly delineate upon the sand, a feeble outline of its more prominent physical features—its magnificent rivers, with their numerous tributaries—its lofty mountains, its dark forests, its extended plains and its vast extent. A voyage in a canoe, from the source of the Hogohegee[9] to the Wabash,[10] required for its performance, in their figurative language, 'two paddles, two warriors, three moons.' The Ohio itself was but a tributary of a still larger river, of whose source, size and direction, no intelligible account could be communicated or understood. The Muscle Shoals and the obstructions in the river above them, were represented as mighty cataracts and fearful whirlpools, and the Suck, as an awful vortex. The wild beasts with which the illimitable forests abounded, were numbered by pointing to the leaves upon the trees, or the stars in a cloudless sky.

"These glowing descriptions of the West seemed rather to stimulate than to satisfy the intense curiosity of the approaching settlers. Information more reliable, and more minute, was, from time to time, furnished from other sources. In the Atlantic cities, accounts had been received from French and Spanish traders, of the unparalleled beauty and fertility of the western interior. These reports, highly colored and amplified, were soon received and known upon the frontier. Besides, persons engaged in the interior traffic with the south-western Indian tribes had, in times of peace, penetrated their territories—traded with and resided amongst the natives—and upon their return to the white settlements, confirmed what had been previously reported in favor of the distant countries they had seen. As early as 1690, Doherty, a trader from Virginia, had visited the Cherokees and afterward lived among them a number of years. In 1730, Adair, from South Carolina, had traveled, not only through the towns of this tribe, but had extended his tour to most of the nations south and west of them. He was not only an enterprising trader but an intelligent tourist. To his observations upon the several tribes which he visited, we are indebted for most that is known of their earlier history. They were published in London in 1775.

"In 1740 other traders went among the Cherokees from Virginia. They employed Mr Vaughan as a packman, to transport their goods. West of Amelia County, the country was then thinly inhabited; the last hunter's cabin that he saw was on Otter River, a branch of the Staunton, now in Bedford County, Va. The route pursued was along the Great Path to the centre of the Cherokee nation. The traders and pack-men generally confined themselves to this path till it crossed the Little Tennessee River, then spreading themselves out among the several Cherokee villages west of the mountain, continued their traffic as low down the Great Tennessee as the Indian settlements upon Occochappo or Bear Creek, below the Muscle Shoals, and there encountered the competition of other traders, who were supplied from New Orleans and Mobile. They returned heavily laden with peltries, to Charleston, or the more northern markets, where they were sold at highly remunerating prices. A hatchet, a pocket looking-glass, a piece of scarlet cloth, a trinket, and other articles of little value, which at Williamsburg could be bought for a few shillings, would command from an Indian hunter on the Hiwasse or Tennessee peltries amounting in value to double the number of pounds sterling. Exchanges were necessarily slow, but the profits realized from the operation were immensely large. In times of peace this traffic attracted the attention of many adventurous traders. It became mutually advantageous to the Indian not less than to the white man. The trap and the rifle, thus bartered for, procured, in one day, more game to the Cherokee hunter than his bow and arrow and his dead-fall would have secured during a month of toilsome hunting. Other advantages resulted from it to the whites. They became thus acquainted with the great avenues leading through the hunting grounds and to the occupied country of the neighboring tribes—an important circumstance in the condition of either war or peace. Further, the traders were an exact thermometer of the pacific or hostile intention and feelings of the Indians with whom they traded. Generally, they were foreigners, most frequently Scotchmen, who had not been long in the country, or upon the frontier, who, having experienced none of the cruelties, depredation or aggressions of the Indians, cherished none of the resentment and spirit of retaliation born with, and everywhere manifested, by the American settler. Thus, free from animosity against the aborigines, the trader was allowed to remain in the village where he traded unmolested, even when its warriors were singing the war song or brandishing the war club, preparatory to an invasion or massacre of the whites. Timely warning was thus often given by a returning packman to a feeble and unsuspecting settlement, of the perfidy and cruelty meditated against it.

"This gainful commerce was, for a time, engrossed by the traders; but the monopoly was not allowed to continue long. Their rapid accumulations soon excited the cupidity of another class of adventurers; and the hunter, in his turn, became a co-pioneer with the trader, in the march of civilization to the wilds of the West. As the agricultural population approached the eastern base of the Alleghanies, the game became scarce, and was to be found by severe toil in almost inaccessible recesses and coves of the mountain. Packmen, returning from their trading expeditions, carried with them evidences, not only of the abundance of game across the mountains, but of the facility with which it was procured. Hunters began to accompany the traders to the Indian towns; but, unable to brook the tedious delay of procuring peltries by traffic, and impatient of restraint, they struck boldly into the wilderness, and western-like, to use a western phrase, set up for themselves. The reports of their return, and of their successful enterprise, stimulated other adventurers to a similar undertaking. 'As early as 1748 Doctor Thomas Walker, of Virginia, in company with Colonels Wood, Patton and Buchanan, and Captain Charles Campbell, and a number of hunters, made an exploring tour upon the western waters. Passing Powel's valley, he gave the name of 'Cumberland' to the lofty range of mountains on the west. Tracing this range in a south-western direction, he came to a remarkable depression in the chain: through this he passed, calling it 'Cumberland Gap.' On the western side of the range he found a beautiful mountain stream, which he named 'Cumberland River,' all in honor of the Duke of Cumberland, then prime minister of England.[11] These names have ever since been retained, and, with Loudon, are believed to be the only names in Tennessee of English origin."

"Although Fort Loudon was erected as early as 1756, upon the Tennessee, yet it was in advance of any white settlements nearly one hundred and fifty miles, and was destroyed in 1760. The fort, too, at Long Island, within the boundaries of the present State of Tennessee, were erected in 1758, but no permanent settlements had yet been formed near it. Still occasional settlers had begun to fix their habitations in the south-western section of Virginia, and as early as 1754, six families were residing west of New River. 'On the breaking out of the French war, the Indians, in alliance with the French, made an irruption into these settlements, and massacred Burke and his family. The other families, finding their situation too perilous to be maintained, returned to the eastern side of New River; and the renewal of the attempt to carry the white settlements further west, was not made until after the close of that war.'"[12]

[Sidenote: 1756]

"Under a mistaken impression that the Virginia line, when extended west, would embrace it, a grant of land was this year made, by the authorities of Virginia, to Edmund Pendleton, for three thousand acres of land, lying in Augusta County, on a branch of the middle fork of the Indian river called West Creek,[13] now Sullivan County, Tennessee."

[Sidenote: 1760]

In this year, Doctor Walker again passed over Clinch and Powell's River, on a tour of exploration into what is now Kentucky.

[Sidenote: 1761]

'The Cherokees were now at peace with the whites, and hunters from the back settlements began with safety to penetrate deeper and further into the wilderness of Tennessee. Several of them, chiefly from Virginia, hearing of the abundance of game with which the woods were stocked, and allured by the prospects of gain, which might be drawn from this source, formed themselves into a company, composed of Wallen, Scaggs, Blevins, Cox, and fifteen others, and came into the valley since known as Carter's Valley, in Hawkins County, Tennessee. They hunted eighteen mouths upon Clinch and Powell's Rivers. Wallen's Creek and Wallen's Ridge received their name from the leader of the company; as also did the station which they erected in the present Lee County, Virginia, the name of Wallen's station. They penetrated as far north as Laurel Mountain, in Kentucky, where they terminated their journey, having met with a body of Indians, whom they supposed to be Shawnees. At the head of one of the companies that visited the West this year 'came Daniel Boon, from the Yadkin, in North Carolina, and traveled with them as low as the place where Abingdon now stands, and there left them.'

"This is the first time the advent of Daniel Boon to the western wilds has been mentioned by historians, or by the several biographers of that distinguished pioneer and hunter. There is reason, however, to believe that he had hunted upon Watauga earlier. The writer is indebted to N. Gammon, Esq., formerly of Jonesboro, now a citizen of Knoxville, for the following inscription, still to be seen upon a beech tree, standing in sight and east of the present stage-road, leading from Jonesboro to Blountsville, and in the valley of Boon's Creek, a tributary of Watauga:"

D. Boon CillED A. BAR On Tree in ThE yEAR 1760

"Boon was eighty-six years old when he died, which was September, 1820. He was thus twenty-six years old when the inscription was made. When he left the company of hunters in 1761, as mentioned above by Haywood, it is probable that he did so to revisit the theatre of a former hunt upon the creek that still bears his name, and where his camp is still pointed out near its banks. It is not improbable, indeed, that he belonged to, or accompanied, the party of Doctor Walker, on his first, or certainly on his second, tour of exploration in 1760. The inscription is sufficient authority, as this writer conceives, to date the arrival of Boon in Tennessee as early as its date, 1760, thus preceding the permanent settlement of the country nearly ten years."

It will be observed that the historian in this extract, spells Boon without the final e, following the orthography of the hunter, in his inscription on the tree. This orthography Boone used at a later period, as we shall show. But the present received mode of spelling the name is the one which we have adopted in this work.

On a subsequent page of Wheeler's history, we find the following memorandum:

"Daniel Boone, who still lived on the Yadkin, though he had previously hunted on the Western waters, came again this year to explore the country, being employed for this purpose by Henderson & Company. With him came Samuel Callaway, his kinsman, and the ancestor of the respectable family of that name, pioneers of Tennessee, Kentucky, and Missouri. Callaway was at the side of Boon when, approaching the spurs of the Cumberland Mountain, and in view of the vast herds of buffalo grazing in the valleys between them, he exclaimed, 'I am richer than the man mentioned in Scripture, who owned the cattle on a thousand hills; I own the wild beasts of more than a thousand valleys.'"

After Boone and Callaway, came another hunter, Henry Scaggins, who was also employed by Henderson. He extended his explorations to the Lower Cumberland, and fixed his station at Mansco's Lick.

We shall have occasion to speak more particularly of Henderson's company and Boone's connection with it; but we will first call the reader's attention to the state of affairs in North Carolina at this period, and their probable influence on the course pursued by Daniel Boone.

[Footnote 8: That is, the eastern boundary of Tennessee, which was then a part of North Carolina.]

[Footnote 9: Holston.]

[Footnote 10: The Ohio was known many years by this name.]

[Footnote 11: Monette. The Indian name of this range was Wasioto, and of the river, Shawnee.]

[Footnote 12: Howe.]

[Footnote 13: The original patent, signed by Governor Dinwiddie, and now in the possession of the writer, was presented to him by T.A.R. Nelson, Esq., of Jonesboro, Tennessee. It is probably the oldest grant in the State.]


Political and social condition of North Carolina—Taxes—Lawsuits—Ostentation and extravagance of foreigners and government officers—Oppression of the people—Murmurs—Open resistance—The Regulators—Willingness of Daniel Boone and others to migrate, and their reasons—John Finley's expedition to the West—His report to Boone—He determines to join Finley in his next hunting tour—New company formed, with Boone for leader—Preparations for starting—The party sets out—Travels for a month through the wilderness—First sight of Kentucky—Forming a camp—Hunting buffaloes and other game—Capture of Boone and Stuart by the Indians—Prudent dissimulation—Escape from the Indians—Return to the old camp—Their companions lost—Boone and Stuart renew their hunting.

There were many circumstances in the social and political condition of the State of North Carolina, during the period of Daniel Boone's residence on the banks of the Yadkin, which were calculated to render him restless and quite willing to seek a home in the Western wilderness. Customs and fashions were changing. The Scotch traders, to whom we have referred in the last chapter, and others of the same class were introducing an ostentatious and expensive style of living, quite inappropriate to the rural population of the colony. In dress and equipage, they far surpassed the farmers and planters; and they were not backward in taking upon themselves airs of superiority on this account. In this they were imitated by the officers and agents of the Royal government of the colony, who were not less fond of luxury and show. To support their extravagant style of living, these minions of power, magistrates, lawyers, clerks of court, and tax-gatherers, demanded exorbitant fees for their services. The Episcopal clergy, supported by a legalized tax on the people, were not content with their salaries, but charged enormous fees for their occasional services. A fee of fifteen dollars was exacted from the poor farmer for performing the marriage service. The collection of taxes was enforced by suits at law, with enormous expense; and executions, levies, and distresses were of every-day occurrence. All sums exceeding forty shillings were sued for and executions obtained in the courts, the original debt being saddled with extortionate bills of cost. Sheriffs demanded more than was due, under threats of sheriff's sales; and they applied the gains thus made to their own use. Money, as is always the case in a new country, was exceedingly scarce, and the sufferings of the people were intolerable.

Petitions to the Legislature for a redress of grievances were treated with contempt. The people assembled and formed themselves into an association for regulating public grievances and abuse of power. Hence the name given to them of Regulators. They resolved "to pay only such taxes as were agreeable to law and applied to the purpose therein named, to pay no officer more than his legal fees." The subsequent proceedings of the Regulators, such as forcible resistance to officers and acts of personal violence toward them, at length brought on an actual collision between them and an armed force led by the Royal Governor, Tryon (May 16 1771,) at Alamanance, in which the Regulators were defeated; and the grievances continued with scarcely abated force till the Revolution brought relief.

Under these circumstances, it is not surprising that Daniel Boone and others were quite willing to migrate to the West, if it were only to enjoy a quiet life; the dangers of Indian aggression being less dreaded than the visits of the tax-gather and the sheriff; and the solitude of the forest and prairie being preferred to the society of insolent foreigners; flaunting in the luxury and ostentation purchased by the spoils of fraud and oppression.

Among the hunters and traders who pursued their avocations in the Western wilds was John Finley, or Findley, who led a party of hunters in 1767 to the neighborhood of the Louisa River, as the Kentucky River was then called, and spent the season in hunting and trapping. On his return, he visited Daniel Boone, and gave him a most glowing description of the country which he had visited—a country abounding in the richest and most fertile land, intersected by noble rivers, and teeming with herds of deer and buffaloes and numerous flocks of wild turkeys, to say nothing of the smaller game. To these descriptions Boone lent a willing ear. He resolved to accompany Finley in his next hunting expedition, and to see this terrestrial paradise with his own eyes, doubtless with the intention of ultimately seeking a home in that delightful region.

Accordingly, a company of six persons was formed for a new expedition to the West, and Boone was chosen as leader. The names of the other members of this party were John Finley, John Stuart, Joseph Holden, James Moncey, and William Cool.

Much preparation seems to have been required. Boone's wife, who was one of the best of housekeepers and managers, had to fit out his clothes, and to make arrangements for house-keeping during his expected long absence. His sons were now old enough to assist their mother in the management of the farm, but, doubtless, they had to be supplied with money and other necessaries before the father could venture to leave home; so that it was not till the 1st of May, 1769, that the party were able to set out, as Boone, in his autobiography, expresses it, "in quest of the country of Kentucky."

It was more than a month before these adventurers came in sight of the promised land. We quote from Mr. Peck's excellent work the description which undoubtedly formed the authority on which the artist has relied in painting the accompanying engraving of "Daniel Boone's first view of Kentucky." It is as follows:

"It was on the 7th of June, 1769, that six men, weary and wayworn, were seen winding their way up the steep side of a rugged mountain in the wilderness of Kentucky. Their dress was of the description usually worn at that period by all forest rangers. The outside garment was a hunting shirt, or loose open frock, made of dressed deer skins. Leggings or drawers, of the same material, covered the lower extremities, to which was appended a pair of moccasins for the feet. The cape or collar of the hunting shirt, and the seams of the leggings, were adorned with fringes. The under garments were of coarse cotton. A leather belt encircled the body; on the right side was suspended the tomahawk, to be used as a hatchet: on the left side was the hunting-knife, powder-horn, bullet-pouch, and other appendages indispensable for a hunter. Each person bore his trusty rifle; and, as the party slowly made their toilsome way amid the shrubs, and over the logs and loose rocks that accident had thrown into the obscure trail which they were following, each man kept a sharp look-out, as though danger or a lurking enemy was near. Their garments were soiled and rent, the unavoidable result of long traveling and exposure to the heavy rains that had fallen; for the weather had been stormy and most uncomfortable, and they had traversed a mountainous wilderness for several hundred miles. The leader of the party was of full size, with a hardy, robust, sinewy frame, and keen, piercing, hazel eyes, that glanced with quickness at every object as they passed on, now cast forward in the direction they were traveling for signs of an old trail, and in the next moment directed askance into the dense thicket, or into the deep ravine, as if watching some concealed enemy. The reader will recognize in this man the pioneer Boone, at the head of his companions."

"Toward the time of the setting sun, the party had reached the summit of the mountain range, up which they had toiled for some three or four hours, and which had bounded their prospect to the west during the day. Here new and indescribable scenery opened to their view. Before them, for an immense distance, as if spread out on a map, lay the rich and beautiful vales watered by the Kentucky River; for they had now reached one of its northern branches. The country immediately before them, to use a Western phrase, was 'rolling,' and, in places, abruptly hilly; but far in the vista was seen a beautiful expanse of level country, over which the buffalo, deer, and other forest animals, roamed unmolested while they fed on the luxuriant herbage of the forest. The countenances of the party lighted up with pleasure, congratulations were exchanged, the romantic tales of Finley were confirmed by ocular demonstration, and orders were given to encamp for the night in a neighboring ravine. In a deep gorge of the mountain a large tree had fallen, surrounded with a dense thicket, and hidden from observation by the abrupt and precipitous hills. This tree lay in a convenient position for the back of their camp. Logs were placed on the right and left, leaving the front open, where fire might be kindled against another log; and for shelter from the rains and heavy dews, bark was peeled from the linden tree."

This rude structure appears to have been the head-quarters of the hunters through the whole summer and autumn, till late in December. During this time, they hunted the deer, the bear, and especially the buffalo. The buffaloes were found in great numbers, feeding on the leaves of the cane, and the rich and spontaneous fields of clover.

During this long period, they saw no Indians. That part of the country was not inhabited by any tribe at that time, although it was used occasionally as a hunting ground by the Shawanese, the Cherokees and the Chickesaws. The land at that time belonged to the colony of Virginia, which then included what is now called Kentucky. The title to the ground was acquired by a treaty with the Indians, Oct. 5th, 1770. The Iroquois, at the treaty of Fort Stanwix, in 1768, had already ceded their doubtful claim to the land south of the Ohio River, to Great Britain; so that Boone's company of hunters were not trespassing upon Indian territory at this time.[14] But they were destined nevertheless to be treated as intruders.

On the 22d of December, Boone and John Stuart, one of his companions, left their encampment, and following one of the numerous paths which the buffalo had made through the cane, they plunged boldly into the interior of the forest. They had as yet, as we have already stated, seen no Indians, and the country had been reported as totally uninhabited. This was true in a strict sense, for although, as we have seen, the southern and northwestern tribes were in the habit of hunting here as upon neutral ground, yet not a single wigwam had been erected, nor did the land bear the slightest mark of having ever been cultivated.

The different tribes would fall in with each other and from the fierce conflicts which generally followed these casual rencounters, the country had been known among them by the name of 'the dark and bloody ground!'

The two adventurers soon learned the additional danger to which they were exposed. While roving carelessly from canebrake to canebrake, and admiring the rank growth of vegetation, and the variety of timber which marked the fertility of the soil, they were suddenly alarmed by the appearance of a party of Indians, who, springing from their place of concealment, rushed upon them with a rapidity which rendered escape impossible.

They were almost instantly seized, disarmed, and made prisoners. Their feelings may be readily imagined. They were in the hands of an enemy who knew no alternative between adoption and torture; and the numbers and fleetness of their captors, rendered escape by open means impossible, while their jealous vigilance seemed equally fatal to any secret attempt.

Boone, however, was possessed of a temper admirably adapted to the circumstances in which he was placed. Of a cold and saturnine, rather than an arden disposition, he was never either so much elevated by good fortune or depressed by bad, as to lose for an instant the full possession of all his faculties. He saw that immediate escape was impossible, but he encouraged his companion, and constrained himself to accompany the Indians in all their excursions, with so calm and contented an air, that their vigilance insensibly began to relax.

On the seventh evening of their captivity, they encamped in a thick canebrake, and having built a large fire, lay down to rest. The party whose duty it was to watch, were weary and negligent, and about midnight, Boone, who had not closed an eye, ascertained from the deep breathing all around him, that the whole party, including Stuart, was in a deep sleep.

Gently and gradually extricating himself from the Indians who lay around him, he walked cautiously to the spot where Stuart lay, and having succeeded in awakening him, without alarming the rest, he briefly informed him of his determination, and exhorted him to arise, make no noise, and follow him. Stuart, although ignorant of the design, and suddenly roused from sleep, fortunately obeyed with equal silence and celerity, and within a few minutes they were beyond hearing.

Rapidly traversing the forest, by the light of the stars and the bark of the trees, they ascertained the direction in which the camp lay, but upon reaching it on the next day, to their great grief, they found it plundered and deserted, with nothing remaining to show the fate of their companions: and even to the day of his death, Boone knew not whether they had been killed or taken, or had voluntarily abandoned their cabin and returned.[15]

Indeed it has never been ascertained what became of Finley and the rest of Boone's party of hunters. If Finley himself had returned to Carolina, so remarkable a person would undoubtedly have left some trace of himself in the history of his time; but no trace exists of any of the party who were left at the old camp by Boone and Stuart. Boone and Stuart resumed their hunting, although their ammunition was running low, and they were compelled, by the now well-known danger of Indian hostilities, to seek for more secret and secure hiding-places at night than their old encampment in the ravine.

The only kind of firearms used by the backwoods hunter is the rifle. In the use of this weapon Boone was exceedingly skillful. The following anecdote, related by the celebrated naturalist, Audubon,[16] shows that he retained his wonderful precision of aim till a late period of his life.

"Barking off squirrels is delightful sport, and, in my opinion, requires a greater degree of accuracy than any other. I first witnessed this manner of procuring squirrels whilst near the town of Frankfort. The performer was the celebrated Daniel Boone. We walked out together, and followed the rocky margins of the Kentucky River, until we reached a piece of flat land thickly covered with black walnuts, oaks, and hickories. As the general mast was a good one that year, squirrels were seen gamboling on every tree around us. My companion, a stout, hale, and athletic man, dressed in a homespun hunting-shirt, bare-legged and moccasined, carried a long and heavy rifle, which, as he was loading it, he said had proved efficient in all his former undertakings, and which he hoped would not fail on this occasion, as he felt proud to show me his skill. The gun was wiped, the powder measured, the ball patched with six-hundred-thread linen, and the charge sent home with a hickory rod. We moved not a step from the place, for the squirrels were so numerous that it was unnecessary to go after them. Boone pointed to one of these animals which had observed us, and was crouched on a branch about fifty paces distant, and bade me mark well the spot where the ball should hit. He raised his piece gradually, until the bead (that being the name given by the Kentuckians to the sight) of the barrel was brought to a line with the spot which he intended to hit. The whip-like report resounded through the woods and along the hills in repeated echoes. Judge of my surprise, when I perceived that the ball had hit the piece of the bark immediately beneath the squirrel, and shivered it into splinters, the concussion produced by which had killed the animal, and sent it whirling through the air, as if it had been blown up by the explosion of a powder magazine. Boone kept up his firing, and before many hours had elapsed, we had procured as many squirrels as we wished; for you must know that to load a rifle requires only a moment, and that if it is wiped once after each shot, it will do duty for hours. Since that first interview with our veteran Boone, I have seen many other individuals perform the same feat."

[Footnote 14: Peck. Life of Boone.]

[Footnote 15: McClung. "Western Adventures."]

[Footnote 16: Ornithological Biography, pp. 293-4.]


Arrival of Squire Boone and a companion at the camp of Daniel Boone—Joyful meeting—News from home, and hunting resumed—Daniel Boone and Stuart surprised by the Indians, Stuart killed—Escape of Boone, and his return to camp—Squire Boone's companion lost in the woods—Residence of Daniel Boone and Squire Boone in the wilderness—Squire returns to North Carolina, obtains a fresh supply of ammunition, and again rejoins his brother at the old camp—Daniel Boone's own account of this remarkable period of his life—His return to North Carolina—His determination to settle in Kentucky—Other Western adventurers—The Long hunters—Washington in Kentucky—Bullitt's party—Floyd's party—Thompson's survey—First settlement of Tennessee.

In the early part of the month of January, 1770, Boone and Stuart were agreeably surprised by the arrival of Squire Boone, the younger brother of Daniel, accompanied by another man, whose name has not been handed down. The meeting took place as they were hunting in the woods. The new-comers were hailed at a distance with the usual greeting, "'Holloa! strangers, who are you?" to which they answered, "White men and friends." And friends indeed they were—friends in need; for they brought a supply of ammunition, and news from Daniel Boone's home and family on the Yadkin. They had had a weary journey through the wilderness, and although they had met with no Indians on their way, they had frequently come upon their traces in passing through the woods. Their purpose in undertaking this formidable journey had been to learn the fate of Boone and his party, whose safety was nearly despaired of by his friends in North Carolina, to hunt for themselves, and to convey a supply of ammunition to Boone. It is difficult to conceive the joy with which their opportune arrival was welcomed. They informed Boone that they had just seen the last night's encampment of Stuart and himself, so that the joyful meeting was not wholly unanticipated by them.

Thus reinforced, the party, now consisting of four skillful hunters, might reasonably hope for increased security, and a fortunate issue to their protracted hunting tour. But they hunted in separate parties; and in one of these Daniel Boone and Stuart fell in with a party of Indians, who fired upon them. Stuart was shot dead and scalped by the Indians, but Boone escaped in the forest, and rejoined his brother and the remaining hunter of the party.

A few days afterward this hunter was lost in the woods, and did not return as usual to the camp. Daniel and Squire made a long and anxious search for him; but it was all in vain. Years afterward a skeleton was discovered in the woods, which was supposed to be that of the lost hunter.

The two brothers were thus left in the wilderness alone, separated by several hundred miles from home, surrounded by hostile Indians, and destitute of every thing but their rifles. After having had such melancholy experience of the dangers to which they were exposed, we would naturally suppose that their fortitude would have given way, and that they would instantly have returned to the settlements. But the most remarkable feature in Boone's character was a calm and cold equanimity which rarely rose to enthusiasm and never sunk to despondence.

His courage undervalued the danger to which he was exposed, and his presence of mind, which never forsook him, enabled him, on all occasions to take the best means of avoiding it. The wilderness, with all its dangers and privations, had a charm for him, which is scarcely conceivable by one brought up in a city; and he determined to remain alone while his brother returned to Carolina for an additional supply of ammunition, as their original supply was nearly exhausted. His situation we should now suppose in the highest degree gloomy and dispiriting. The dangers which attended his brother on his return were nearly equal to his own; and each had left a wife and children, which Boone acknowledged cost him many an anxious thought.

But the wild and solitary grandeur of the country around him, where not a tree had been cut, nor a house erected, was to him an inexhaustible source of admiration and delight; and he says to himself, that some of the most rapturous moments of his life were spent in those lonely rambles. The utmost caution was necessary to avoid the savages, and scarcely less to escape the ravenous hunger of the wolves that prowled nightly around him in immense numbers. He was compelled frequently to shift his lodging, and by undoubted signs, saw that the Indians had repeatedly visited his hut during his absence. He some times lay in canebrakes without fire, and heard the yells of the Indians around him. Fortunately, however, he never encountered them.[17]

Mr. Perkins, in his Annals of the West, speaking of this sojourn of the brothers in the wilderness, says: And now commenced that most extraordinary life on the part of these two men which has, in a great measure, served to give celebrity to their names; we refer to their residence, entirely alone, for more than a year, in a land filled with the most subtle and unsparing enemies, and under the influence of no other motive, apparently, than a love of adventure, of Nature, and of solitude. Nor were they, during this time, always together. For three months, Daniel remained amid the forest utterly by himself, while his brother, with courage and capacity equal to his own, returned to North Carolina for a supply of powder and lead; with which he succeeded in rejoining the roamer of the wilderness in safety in July, 1770.

It is almost impossible to conceive of the skill, coolness, and sagacity which enabled Daniel Boone to spend so many weeks in the midst of the Indians, and yet undiscovered by them. He appears to have changed his position continually—to have explored the whole centre of what forms now the State of Kentucky, and in so doing must have exposed himself to many different parties of the natives. A reader of Mr. Cooper's Last of the Mohicans may comprehend, in some measure, the arts by which he was preserved; but, after all, a natural gift seems to lie at the basis of such consummate woodcraft; an instinct, rather than any exercise of intellect, appears to have guided Boone in such matters, and made him pre-eminent among those who were most accomplished in the knowledge of forest life. Then we are to remember the week's captivity of the previous year; it was the first practical acquaintance that the pioneer had with the Western Indians, and we may be assured he spent that week in noting carefully the whole method of his captors. Indeed, we think it probable he remained in captivity so long that he might learn their arts, stratagems, and modes of concealment. We are, moreover, to keep in mind this fact: the woods of Kentucky were at that period filled with a species of nettle of such a character that, being once bent down, it did not recover itself, but remained prostrate, thus retaining the impression of a foot almost like snow—even a turkey might be tracked in it with perfect ease. This weed Boone would carefully avoid, but the natives, numerous and fearless, would commonly pay no regard to it, so that the white hunter was sure to have palpable signs of the presence of his enemies, and the direction they had taken. Considering these circumstances, it is even more remarkable that his brother should have returned in safety, with his loaded horses, than that he remained alone unharmed; though in the escape of both from captivity or death from January, 1770, until their return to the Atlantic rivers in March, 1771, there is something so wonderful that the old pioneer's phrase, that he was "an instrument ordained to settle the wilderness," seems entirely proper.

Daniel Boone's own account of this period of his life, contained in his autobiography, is highly characteristic. It is as follows:

"Thus situated, many hundred miles from our families in the howling wilderness, I believe few would have equally enjoyed the happiness we experienced. I often observed to my brother, 'You see now how little nature requires to be satisfied. Felicity, the companion of content, is rather found in our own breasts than in the enjoyment of external things; and I firmly believe it requires but a little philosophy to make a man happy in whatsoever state he is. This consists in a full resignation to Providence, and a resigned soul finds pleasure in a path strewed with briers and thorns.'

"We continued not in a state of indolence, but hunted every day, and prepared a little cottage to defend us from the winter storms. We remained there undisturbed during the winter; and on the first of May, 1770, my brother returned home to the settlement by himself for a new recruit of horses and ammunition, leaving me by myself, without bread, salt, or sugar, without company of my fellow-creatures, or even a horse or dog. I confess I never before was under greater necessity of exercising philosophy and fortitude. A few days I passed uncomfortably. The idea of a beloved wife and family, and their anxiety on account of my absence and exposed situation, made sensible impressions on my heart. A thousand dreadful apprehensions presented themselves to my view, and had undoubtedly disposed me to melancholy if further indulged.

"One day I undertook a tour through the country, and the diversity and beauties of Nature I met with in this charming season expelled every gloomy and vexatious thought. Just at the close of day the gentle gales retired, and left the place to the disposal of a profound calm. Not a breeze shook the most tremulous leaf. I had gained the summit of a commanding ridge, and, looking round with astonishing delight, beheld the ample plains, the beauteous tracts below. On the other hand, I surveyed the famous river Ohio, that rolled in silent dignity, marking the western boundary of Kentucky with inconceivable grandeur. At a vast distance I beheld the mountains lift their venerable brows, and penetrate the clouds. All things were still. I kindled a fire near a fountain of sweet water, and feasted on the loin of a buck, which a few hours before I had killed. The fallen shades of night soon overspread the whole hemisphere, and the earth seemed to gape after the hovering moisture. My roving excursion this day had fatigued my body, and diverted my imagination. I laid me down to sleep, and I awoke not until the sun had chased away the night. I continued this tour, and in a few days explored a considerable part of the country, each day equally pleased as the first. I returned to my old camp, which was not disturbed in my absence. I did not confine my lodging to it, but often reposed in thick canebrakes to avoid the savages, who, I believe, often visited my camp, but fortunately for me in my absence. In this situation I was constantly exposed to danger and death. How unhappy such a situation for a man tormented with fear, which is vain if no danger comes, and, if it does, only augments the pain. It was my happiness to be destitute of this afflicting passion, with which I had the greatest reason to be affected. The prowling wolves diverted my nocturnal hours with perpetual howlings; and the various species of animals in this vast forest in the daytime were continually in my view.

"Thus I was surrounded with plenty in the midst of want. I was happy in the midst of dangers and inconveniences. In such a diversity it was impossible I should be disposed to melancholy. No populous city, with all the varieties of commerce and stately structures, could afford so much pleasure to my mind as the beauties of Nature I found here.

"Thus, through an uninterrupted scene of sylvan pleasures, I spent the time until the 27th day of July following, when my brother, to my great felicity, met me according to appointment, at our old camp. Shortly after we left this place, not thinking it safe to stay there any longer, and proceeded to Cumberland River, reconnoitering that part of the country until March, 1771, and giving names to the different waters.

"Soon after, I returned home to my family, with a determination to bring them as soon as possible to live in Kentucky, which I esteemed a second paradise, at the risk of my life and fortune.

"I returned safe to my old habitation, and found my family in happy circumstances."

This extract is taken from the autobiography of Daniel Boone, written from his own dictation by John Filson, and published in 1784. Some writers have censured this production as inflated and bombastic. To us it seems simple and natural; and we have no doubt that the very words of Boone are given for the most part. The use of glowing imagery and strong figures is by no means confined to highly-educated persons. Those who are illiterate, as Boone certainly was, often indulge in this style. Even the Indians are remarkably fond of bold metaphors and other rhetorical figures, as is abundantly proved by their speeches and legends.

While Boone had been engaged in his late hunting tour, other adventurers were examining the rich lands south of the Ohio.[18] Even in 1770, while Boone was wandering solitary in those Kentucky forests, a band of forty hunters, led by Colonel James Knox, had gathered from the valleys of New River, Clinch, and Holston, to chase the buffaloes of the West; nine of the forty had crossed the mountains, penetrated the desert and almost impassable country about the heads of the Cumberland, and explored the region on the borders of Kentucky and Tennessee. This hunting party, from the length of time it was absent, is known in the traditions of the West as the party of the Long Hunters. While these bold men were penetrating the valley of the Ohio, in the region of the Cumberland Gap, others came from Virginia and Pennsylvania, by the river; among them, and in the same year, that the Long Hunters were abroad, (1770), came no less noted a person than George Washington. His attention, as we have before said, had been turned to the lands along the Ohio, at a very early period; he had himself large claims, as well as far-reaching plans of settlement, and he wished with his own eyes to examine the Western lands, especially those about the mouth of the Kanawha. From the journal of his expedition, published by Mr. Sparks, in the Appendix to the second volume of his Washington Papers, we learn some valuable facts in reference to the position of affairs in the Ohio valley at that time. We learn, for instance, that the Virginians were rapidly surveying and settling the lands south of the river as far down as the Kanawhas; and that the Indians, notwithstanding the treaty of Fort Stanwix, were jealous and angry at this constant invasion of their hunting-grounds.

"This jealousy and anger were not supposed to cool during the years next succeeding, and when Thomas Bullitt and his party descended the Ohio in the summer of 1773, he found that no settlements would be tolerated south of the river, unless the Indian hunting-grounds were left undisturbed. To leave them undisturbed was, however, no part of the plan of these white men.

"This very party, which Bullitt led, and in which were the two McAfees, Hancock, Taylor, Drennon and others, separated, and while part went up the Kentucky River, explored the banks, and made important surveys, including the valley in which Frankfort stands, the remainder went on to the Falls, and laid out, in behalf of John Campbell and John Connolly, the plan of Louisville. All this took place in the summer of 1773; and in the autumn of that year, or early in the next, John Floyd, the deputy of Colonel William Preston, the surveyor of Fincastle County, Virginia, in which it was claimed that Kentucky was comprehended, also crossed the mountains; while General Thompson of Pennsylvania, made surveys upon the north fork of the Licking. When Boone, therefore, in September, commenced his march for the West, (as we shall presently relate), the choice regions which he had examined three years before, were known to numbers, and settlers were preparing to desecrate the silent and beautiful woods. Nor did the prospects of the English colonists stop with the settlements of Kentucky. In 1773, General Lyman, with a number of military adventurers, went to Natchez and laid out several townships in that vicinity; to which point emigration set so strongly, that we are told, four hundred families passed down the Ohio on their way thither, during six weeks of the summer of that year."[19]

[Footnote 17: McClung.]

[Footnote 18: Perkins. "Annals of the West."]

[Footnote 19: Perkins, "Annals of the West."]


Daniel Boone remains two years in North Carolina after his return from the West—He prepares to emigrate to Kentucky—Character of the early settlers to Kentucky—The first class, hunters—The second class, small farmers—The third class, men of wealth and government officers.

Daniel Boone had now returned to his home on the banks of the Yadkin, after an absence of no less than two years, during which time he had not tasted, as he remarks in his autobiography, either salt, sugar, or bread. He must have enjoyed, in no ordinary degree, the comforts of home. Carolina, however, was to be his home but for a short time. He had fully determined to go with his family to Kentucky, and settle in that lovely region. He was destined to found a State.

After Boone's return to North Carolina, more than two years passed away before he could complete the arrangements necessary for removing his family to Kentucky. He sold his farm on the Yadkin, which had been for many years under cultivation, and no doubt brought him a sum amply sufficient for the expenses of his journey and the furnishing of a new home in the promised land. He had, of course, to overcome the natural repugnance of his wife and children to leave the home which had become dear to them; and he had also to enlist other adventurers to accompany him. And here we deem it proper, before entering upon the account of his departure, to quote from a contemporary,[20] some general remarks on the character of the early settlers of Kentucky.

"Throughout the United States, generally, the most erroneous notions prevail with respect to the character of the first settlers of Kentucky; and by several of the American novelists, the most ridiculous uses have been made of the fine materials for fiction which lie scattered over nearly the whole extent of that region of daring adventure and romantic incident. The common idea seems to be, that the first wanderers to Kentucky were a simple, ignorant, low-bred, good-for-nothing set of fellows, who left the frontiers and sterile places of the old States, where a considerable amount of labor was necessary to secure a livelihood, and sought the new and fertile country southeast of the Ohio River and northwest of the Cumberland Mountains, where corn would produce bread for them with simply the labor of planting, and where the achievements of their guns would supply them with meat and clothing; a set of men who, with that instinct which belongs to the beaver, built a number of log cabins on the banks of some secluded stream, which they surrounded with palisades for the better protection of their wives and children, and then went wandering about, with guns on their shoulders, or traps under their arms, leading a solitary, listless, ruminating life, till aroused by the appearance of danger, or a sudden attack from unseen enemies, when instantly they approved themselves the bravest of warriors, and the most expert of strategists. The romancers who have attempted to describe their habits of life and delineate their characters, catching this last idea, and imagining things probable of the country they were in, have drawn the one in lines the most grotesque and absurd, and colored the other with a pencil dipped in all hues but the right. To them the early pioneers appear to have been people of a character demi-devil, demi-savage, not only with out the remains of former civilization, but without even the recollection that they had been born and bred where people were, at the least, measurably sane, somewhat religiously inclined, and, for the most, civilly behaved.

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