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The Adventures of Daniel Boone: the Kentucky rifleman By Francis L. Hawks Characters: 20732

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:03

HEN Squire Boone had told his brother all the news of home, it became his turn to be a listener, while Daniel talked to him of all that happened since they parted. After telling him of the beautiful country, and their happy freedom as they wandered through it for six months, then came the story of his captivity and escape. That escape was but just now made, and with a full heart he dwelt upon this part of his story. It would not have been strange if Squire had now felt alarmed; but his disposition was much like his brother's: he loved the woods, and was afraid of nothing.

In a little time, the four were once more hunting freely through the forests. Signs of Indians were to be seen around, however; possibly they were the very Indians who had captured them. In their wanderings, therefore, they kept together usually, for self-protection. One day, they started out upon a buffalo-hunt. As they came upon a herd of these animals, Stewart lodged his ball in one of them, without bringing him down. The buffalo went tearing through the forest; and Daniel Boone, with Stewart, forgetful of everything else, went chasing after him. Naturally enough, like excited men, they had no idea how far they had travelled, until their very weariness reminded them that it was time to turn back. Tired as he was, a harder race was now before Boone. They had scarcely started on their return, when a party of Indians rushed from the canebrake, and let fly their arrows. Stewart fell dead on the spot. Boone would have fired his rifle, but he felt it was useless: he could kill but one man; his only chance of escape was in flight. With Indian yells and arrows close behind him, he leaped forward, and, by tremendous exertions, at last distanced his pursuers. When he reached the camp, he fell, completely exhausted.

The party, now cut down to three, was in a little time reduced to two. From some cause or other, they could not tell what-possibly the sad story of Stewart's death, and the fear of like troubles-the companion who had come out with Squire Boone determined upon returning to North Carolina. Very soon, therefore, he left them alone in the wilderness. [2]

It is not strange that, being thus deserted, Squire Boone felt restless and dissatisfied; the wonder is, that Daniel was not dissatisfied likewise. But he was happy and contented, and often struggled to call up the same feelings in his brother. "You see," he would often say, "how little nature requires, to be satisfied. Happiness, the companion of content, is rather found in our own breasts than in the enjoyment of external things. 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 the will of Providence; and a resigned soul finds pleasure in a path strewed with briars and thorns." This was good counsel, my young friends, and I hope you will bear it with you through life. It will serve to comfort you as much as it did Squire Boone.

To be idle, was to allow time for this melancholy, and Daniel Boone kept his brother constantly busy. The Indians, they were certain, knew where their present camp was, and therefore they resolved to make another. After choosing their spot, they employed themselves industriously in erecting another cabin, which might serve to shelter them through the coming winter. This being finished, they went to their old sport, wandering through the woods, admiring the country, and bringing down now and then a buffalo or a deer with their rifles. At night, they would return to their camp, raise a fire, cook their supper, and sit till long after midnight, talking of their old home on the Yadkin. Squire forgot his loneliness, and became quite satisfied. In this way time rolled off until the winter had passed away, and spring appeared. Strangely enough, they had been undisturbed; they had met not even with one Indian.

They had learned in the wilderness to dispense well nigh with all comforts; food and sleep were all they expected. But their powder and shot were now beginning to run low, and without these they could not long procure food. It was necessary, therefore, to make some arrangement whereby they might obtain a fresh supply. Their plan was soon settled: Squire Boone was to go back to North Carolina, and return with ammunition. They supposed horses would be valuable, also, and he was likewise to bring with him two of these. Perilous as the plan was, Squire agreed to bear his part in it, and Daniel as cheerfully consented to his. Accordingly, on the first day of May, Squire set off for the Yadkin; and, as if nothing was to be wanting to leave Daniel in perfect loneliness, their only dog followed Squire as he started.

Here, then, Daniel Boone was left entirely alone. Here he was a sort of Robinson Crusoe in the wilderness-with this difference, that Robinson was shipwrecked, and had no choice; while Boone chose the wilderness as his home. He was now completely the "man of the woods"-far away, hundreds of miles from any white settlement. For the first time in his life, according to his own confession, he felt lonely. His mind was filled with the remembrance of his wife and children, and the thought that he should never see them again. He knew, however, that sad thoughts, when indulged in, will grow very rapidly, and therefore dismissed them.

For safety's sake now, he changed his camp every night, that he might avoid the Indians. Sometimes he slept in the canebrake; sometimes he laid himself by the side of a stream; sometimes in the caves of the rocks. By day he was surrounded by his old companions the buffaloes and deer, and at night was not unfrequently disturbed by the howling of the wolves. He roamed over many a beautiful tract of country. Now he would ascend a hill, and look down upon the scene spread like a map before him; now he would trace some stream to its source, or, following the well-tramped roads of the buffaloes, would find some spring bubbling in the forest. In this way he moved over a large part of the country. At one time, he struck the Ohio river, and wandered for days on the banks of that noble stream. It is said, that in his rambles, he one day stood upon the spot where the city of Louisville now stands. He learned to love the woods more than ever. Long after this, he used to declare, that "no crowded city, with all its commerce and noble buildings, could give him as much pleasure as the beauty of Kentucky at that time afforded him."

Fortunately, he met no Indians. At one time he came in sight of a roving party, but managed to escape from them. The mode in which he escaped will show you his perfect self-possession. He had stopped one day to rest under the shade of a tree, when suddenly he spied the party in the distance. This was enough for him. He immediately commenced his course through the forest, hoping that they had not seen him, and therefore would not pursue. From time to time he would look back through the woods; and at length became convinced, to his sorrow, that if they had not seen him, they had marked his tracks, and were now on his trail. He pushed on for more than two miles, trying in various ways to break the trail, and thus put them out; still, as he looked back, he could see that they were following him He was puzzled to know what to do. A happy thought now struck him. He had just passed the brow of a small hill; the heavy grape-vines were hanging from the trees all around him. He seized one of these, and, bracing himself against the tree with his feet, threw himself as far as he could. This broke the trail, and he now kept directly on from the spot where he landed, in a different direction. The Indians came up, tracking him as far as the tree: were then lost, and gave up the chase.

Another adventure is told of him during his lonely wanderings, more perilous even than this. One day he heard a strange noise in the woods; he could see nothing, but stood ready with his rifle. Presently an immense she-bear was seen approaching him. Surrounded by her young cubs, she was doubly fierce. As she came near, Boone levelled his rifle and fired. Unfortunately, his steady eye failed this time; the ball did not strike as he had aimed, and the animal pressed forward, the more enraged. It was impossible to load again: the bear was upon him; he had only time to draw his hunting-knife from his belt. The bear laid her paws on him, and drew him toward her. The rifle in his left hand was a sort of guard, while with his right he pointed the knife directly for the heart of the animal. As she grasped him, the knife entered her body, and she fell dead.

As the time drew near for the return (as he thought) of his brother, Boone went back to the old camp where they had lodged together, to meet him. Here day after day he kept his lookout-day after day he was disappointed. He began now to be very sad. He did not doubt his brother's fidelity; he knew he would not desert him; but there were many dangers by the way, and perhaps he had perished. Then he thought, too, of his wife and little ones. If that brother had perished, he likewise must die without seeing them. Without ammunition to procure food, or defend himself, what could he do? He must die, there in the wilderness. His brother had been absent now nearly three months: surely it was time for his return. Another day of disappointment was now drawing to a close, as Boone sat, sick at heart, by the door of his cabin. A sound broke on his ear; he rose and stood listening, with his hand on the lock of his rifle. It was the tread of horses. The next moment he saw his brother through the forest leading two horses heavily laden. Here was abundance of ammunition and other comfort. The evening of the 27th of July was long after this remembered by Daniel Boone as one of the most joyous of his life.

A fire was soon made, their supper cooked, and long after midnight they sat talking. Thousands of questions were asked and answered, until, wearied out, at last they lay down to sleep. The sun was high in the heavens when they waked in the morning.

After breakfast, Daniel Boone proposed a new plan to his brother. Much as he loved the woods, he felt that two men could hardly be safe in the neighborhood of so many Indians. Moreover he longed to see his family: the stories o

f Squire had called up fresh recollections in his heart. The plan therefore was, to select a suitable spot for their home, then return to Carolina and bring out his family. Squire readily assented to this; and now they employed themselves for several days in hunting and laying in a supply of provisions. This being done, they went to the Cumberland river, and wandered for some time along the stream without finding a place to please them. Roaming about now, they found many new streams, to which, as the first discoverers, they gave names. Anxious as they were to return to the Yadkin, they were in no such hurry as to neglect making a full survey. The whole winter passed away before they pleased themselves. At length they came upon the Kentucky river. Here the lands delighted them. On the banks of this stream they determined to make their settlement, and now (March, 1771) turned their faces homeward. As he left the chosen spot, Boone says that "he felt it was a second paradise, and was resolved, at the risk of his life and fortune, that his family should have a home there."

As they journeyed eastward from the Kentucky river, they occasionally blazed their pathway (as huntsmen say) that they might find their way back. It was necessary thus to leave some track through the forest wilderness, that they might again reach their chosen spot. [3] Fortunately they met with no Indians.

We hear of but one adventure on their way homeward. After travelling quietly several days, they were one morning startled by a noise. Presently a herd of buffaloes came rushing and tearing through the forest; they seemed frantic. The cause of all this was soon seen. A panther, seated upon the back of one of the buffaloes, had plunged his claws and teeth into him. The blood was streaming down his sides, and the poor animal, struggling to shake him off, rushed into the midst of the herd. This frightened the rest, and they went bellowing and dashing through the woods. Daniel Boone raised his rifle, and sent a ball through the panther. He fell dead. Not far off they met a pack of wolves, following as usual in the track of the buffaloes. For the fun of seeing them scatter, Squire now fired his rifle, and away they went, scampering in all directions.

In due time they came to the mountains. After trying to ascend in various places, at length they found a narrow and rugged gap, through which with great difficulty they made their way. It was, however, the best pass they could discover, and they blazed their track, that they might find it again. In a little time now, Daniel Boone was again in his cabin on the banks of the Yadkin. I need hardly say there was a joyous meeting; he was once more happy in the bosom of his family. He had been absent nearly two years.

Amid the joys of home, however, he did not forget his chosen spot in Kentucky; his heart was filled with the thought that his happy home might be happier there. As this was to be his final move, it was necessary to settle all his business on the Yadkin; and as he had tried the wilderness, he felt that a few trusty companions would be invaluable in that new region. He commenced, therefore, making what he thought proper preparations for a return. To beat up such neighbors as they desired, he and Squire gave glowing accounts of the new country; the rich lands, the forests, the streams, the flowers, and the game, were all talked of. They saw only, and consequently spoke only, of the bright side of the picture. But there were numbers of people to talk of difficulties; these spoke of the folly of the Boones, in thinking of making such a country their home, and the madness of any man who should think of following them; the country was wild, and all who settled there must suffer many privations: then, too (according to their story), it was afflicted with terrible diseases, and they might all expect to die there, or, if they escaped the climate, they must fall into the hands of the fierce and cruel Indians who roamed through those forests; the place they declared was so dangerous that it was known, wherever it was known, as "the dark and bloody ground." With these sad stories floating about continually, it is not wonderful that the Boones found difficulty in beating up companions, and that more than two years passed away before they were ready for a start. At the end of that time they found that, while many were opposed to them, and others wavering as to what they would do, there were some, prompted by a spirit of bold adventure, ready to join them. Five families were willing to go with them to Kentucky.

Daniel Boone now sold his farm, and all things being made ready, on the 25th of September, 1773, the little company bade farewell to their friends and started for the west, driving before them their flocks and their herds. In their route, not a great way from the Yadkin, was the settlement of Powel's valley. The story of their plan had spread through the neighborhood, and when they reached this spot they were delighted to find that the people were not so timid as those on the Yadkin: forty men here joined the party. Now they travelled on in high spirits; the whole body, old and young, numbering between seventy and eighty souls.

In a little time they came to the mountains, and found the pathway blazed by the Boones. In less than a fortnight they passed the first ridge of the Alleganies, known as "Powel's range," and were now quietly descending the second, known as "Walden's range," when sorrow overtook them. They were in a dark and narrow gap, when the wild yell of Indians broke upon their ears. The savages rushed into the gap behind them, and let fly their arrows. Six of the party fell dead, a seventh was wounded. The men rallied around the women and children; the first discharge of their rifles scattered the savages. But the mischief was done; the sudden attack of the Indians was like a flash of lightning; they were seen only for an instant; yet, like the lightning, they had done their work: there were the dead, and alas! among them was the oldest son of Daniel Boone.

The party, a little time before so happy, was now in deep sorrow. What was to be done? The Indians had not only killed their companions, but their flocks and herds had all fled in fright, and could not be again gathered together. In dismay, the greater part were for retreating instantly to the nearest white settlement; this was upon the Clinch river, forty miles behind them. The Boones begged them to keep on their way-not to think of turning back; but it was all to no purpose; most of them insisted on retreating, and they at length yielded to the general desire. Accordingly, the dead were decently buried, and in great sadness they all traced their way back to Clinch river.

Here Daniel Boone remained with his family eight months. At the end of that time he was requested by Governor Dunmore, of Virginia, to go to the falls of the Ohio, to serve as a guide to a party of surveyors who had been sent there some months before. The western country was now beginning to attract attention, and the Indians were becoming very hostile to the whites. Accordingly, on the 6th of June, 1774, he started (with one man, Michael Stoner), and without any accident reached the point at which he aimed-the spot where Louisville now stands. The service for the surveyors was promptly performed, and they were enabled to complete their work, while Boone was at liberty to return to his family. It is remarkable that he made this journey on foot, a distance of eight hundred miles, through a trackless wilderness, in the short period of sixty-two days.

He was not allowed to remain quiet long; soon after his return, the Indians northwest of the Ohio, especially the Shawanese, made open war upon the whites. Governor Dunmore felt bound to protect his countrymen, and, among other acts for their defence, sent Daniel Boone, with the title of captain, to take command of three garrisons. This service was likewise well performed; matters were soon more quiet, the soldiers were discharged, and Boone was relieved from his post.

He had not been a wanderer in the woods in vain; his fame had gone abroad, and his services were in the following spring sought again. A company of gentlemen in North Carolina-the principal man of whom was Colonel Richard Henderson-were attempting to purchase the lands on the south side of the Kentucky river, from the Cherokee Indians. [4] They had agreed to hold a treaty with the Indians, at Wataga, in March, 1775, to settle the boundaries of their intended purchase, and they now desired Boone to attend that treaty, and manage their business. In compliance with their wish, he went to Wataga, and performed their service so well, that they gave him further employment. He was now requested to mark out a road from their settlement, through the wilderness, to Kentucky river. This was a work of great labor. It was necessary to make many surveys to find the best route, and when the best was found, it was, much of it, over mountains and rugged regions. With a number of laborers, he commenced the work. He met with two attacks from the Indians by the way, in which four of his men were killed, and five wounded. Undaunted, he pushed resolutely on, and, in the month of April, reached the Kentucky river. To guard themselves from the savages, they immediately commenced the building of a fort at a salt lick, about sixty yards from the south bank of the stream. The Indians annoyed them from time to time, while they were thus engaged, but fortunately killed but one man. On the 14th day of June the fort was finished, and Boone started back for his family on Clinch river. As an honor to him, the party gave to this first settlement in the wilderness of Kentucky the name of Boonesborough.

He reached his family without accident, and, as rapidly as he could, retraced his way with them through the forest. The fort consisted of several cabins, surrounded by pickets ten feet high, planted firmly in the ground. In one of these, Daniel Boone found a shelter for his family. The long desire of his heart was at last gratified: he had a home in Kentucky. He was the first settler of that region, and (as he proudly said) his "wife and daughter the first white women that ever stood on the banks of Kentucky river."

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