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The Adventures of Daniel Boone: the Kentucky rifleman By Francis L. Hawks Characters: 62524

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:03

ITH the return of peace, the settlers were very happy. They could now go out, fell the forests, and cultivate their fields in safety. There was no longer any wily savage to lay in ambush, and keep them in perpetual anxiety. No man among them was happier than Boone. He had been harassed by constant struggles ever since he came to Kentucky, and these struggles with the savages had made him a warrior rather than a hunter; but he could now return to his darling passion. While others cultivated the ground, he roamed through the wilderness with his rifle; he was now a hunter indeed, spending weeks and months uninterruptedly in the forests By day he moved where he pleased, and at night made his camp fearlessly wherever the shades of night overtook him. His life was now happier than ever.

Ere long, however, a cloud came over this happiness. Men began again to crowd too closely upon him. In spite of all the early struggles with the savages in Kentucky, emigrants had continued to flow into that country. As early as 1783, Kentucky had been laid off into three counties, and was that year formed into one district, and called the District of Kentucky. In 1785, a convention was called at Danville, and a memorial was addressed to the legislature of Virginia, proposing that Kentucky should be erected into an independent State. In 1786, the legislature of Virginia took the necessary steps for making the new State, if Congress would admit it into the Union. In 1792, Kentucky was admitted into the Union as one of the United States of America. And now that peace had come to aid the settlers, emigration flowed in more rapidly. Court-houses, jails, judges, lawyers, sheriffs, and constables, began necessarily to be seen. Kentucky was becoming every day a more settled and civilized region, and Boone's heart grew sick. He had sought the wilderness, and men were fast taking it away from him. He began to think of moving.

Another sorrow now came over him, and soon fixed in him the determination to seek a new home. Men began to dispute with him the title to his land. The State of Kentucky had not been surveyed by the government, and laid off into sections and townships, as the lands north of the Ohio river have since been. The government of Virginia had issued certificates, entitling the holder to locate where he pleased the number of acres called for. To actual settlers, who should build a cabin, raise a crop, &c., pre-emption rights to such lands as they might occupy were also granted. Entries of these certificates were made in a way so loose, that different men frequently located the same lands; one title would often lap over upon another; and almost all the titles conferred in this way became known as "the lapping, or shingle titles." Continued lawsuits sprang out of this state of things; no man knew what belonged to him. Boone had made these loose entries of his lands: his titles, of course, were disputed. It was curious to see the old man in a court of law, which he thoroughly despised, fighting for his rights. He was greatly provoked; he had explored and redeemed the wilderness, as he said, borne every hardship with his wife and children, only to be cheated at last. But the law decided against him; he lost his lands, and would now no longer remain in that region.

Hearing that buffaloes and deer were still plenty about the Great Kanhawa river, he started thither with his wife and children, and settled near Point Pleasant. Here he remained several years. He was disappointed in not finding game as he expected, and was more of a farmer here than ever before; he turned his attention earnestly to agriculture, and was very successful in raising good crops. Still he was dissatisfied; he longed for the wilderness. Hunting and trapping were the constant thoughts of his life.

While living here, he met accidentally with a party of men who had been out upon the upper waters of the Missouri. These men talked of the beauty of that region: they had stories to tell of grizzly bears, buffaloes, deer, beavers, and otters-in fact, the region was in their eyes "the paradise for a hunter." Fired by these stories, Boone resolved to go there. Accordingly, he gathered together all that he possessed, and with his wife and family started for Missouri, driving his herds and cattle before him. It was strange to see an old man thus vigorous in seeking a new home. He was an object of surprise to every one. When he reached Cincinnati, on his route, some one, marking his age, and surprised at his adventure, asked him how, at his time of life, he could leave all the comforts of home, for the wilderness. His answer shows his whole character: "Too much crowded, too much crowded," said he; "I want more elbow-room." Travelling on, he at length reached Missouri, and, proceeding about fifty miles above St. Louis, settled in what is now St. Charles county.

Here everything pleased Boone. The country, as you know, was then in the possession of the French and Spanish, and the old laws by which their territories were governed were still in force there. They had no constitution, no king, no legislature, no judges, lawyers, or sheriffs. An officer called the commandant, and the priests, exercised all the authority that was needed. The horses, cattle, flocks, and herds of these people all grazed together upon the same commons; in fact, they were living here almost in primitive simplicity. Boone's character for honesty and courage soon became known among them, and he was appointed by the Spanish commandant the commandant over the district of St. Charles.

Boone now had the satisfaction of settling all his children comfortably around him, and in the unbroken wilderness his hunting and trapping was unmolested. In his office of commandant he gave great satisfaction to every one, and continued to occupy it until Missouri was purchased by our government from the French. When that purchase was made, American enterprise soon came upon him again-he was once more crowded by his fellow-men. His old office of commandant was soon merged in the new order of things-his hunting-grounds were invaded by others. Nothing remained for him now, but to submit to his fate; he was too old to move again, nor indeed did he know where to go. He continued his old habits, as well he might. He would start out with his rifle, now marked with a paper sight to guide his dim eye, and be absent from his home for weeks. Nearly eighty years had passed over him, yet he would lie in wait near the salt-licks, and bring down his buffalo or his deer, and as bravely and cheerily as in his younger days, would he cut down bee-trees. As the light-hearted Frenchmen swept up the river in their fleets of periogues on their hunting excursions, Boone would cheer them as they passed, and sigh for his younger days that he might join their parties. He was a complete Nimrod, now almost worn out.

It was while he was living here, I think, that he was met by that very interesting man, Mr. Audubon, the natural historian of our continent. He was struck with the man, and has given the story of his interview with Boone. It is so illustrative of the character of the hunter, that I give it to you in Mr. Audubon's words.

"Daniel Boone, or as he was usually called in the western country, Colonel Boone, happened to spend a night under the same roof with me, more than twenty years ago. We had returned from a shooting excursion, in the course of which his extraordinary skill in the management of a rifle had been fully displayed. On retiring to the room appropriated to that remarkable individual and myself for the night, I felt anxious to know more of his exploits and adventures than I did, and accordingly took the liberty of proposing numerous questions to him. The stature and general appearance of this wanderer of the western forests, approached the gigantic. His chest was broad and prominent; his muscular powers displayed themselves in every limb; his countenance gave indication of his great courage, enterprise, and perseverance; and when he spoke, the very motion of his lips brought the impression, that whatever he uttered could not be otherwise than strictly true. I undressed, while he merely took off his hunting shirt, and arranged a few folds of blankets on the floor; choosing rather to lie there, as he observed, than on the softest bed. When we had both disposed of ourselves, each after his own fashion, he related to me the following account of his powers of memory, which I lay before you, kind reader, in his own words, hoping that the simplicity of his style may prove interesting to you.

"I was once," said he, "on a hunting expedition on the banks of the Green river, when the lower parts of this (Kentucky) were still in the hands of nature, and none but the sons of the soil were looked upon as its lawful proprietors. We Virginians had for some time been waging a war of intrusion upon them, and I, among the rest, rambled through the woods, in pursuit of their race, as I now would follow the tracks of any ravenous animal. The Indians outwitted me one dark night, and I was as unexpectedly as suddenly made a prisoner by them. The trick had been managed with great skill; for no sooner had I extinguished the fire of my camp, and laid me down to rest, in full security, as I thought, than I felt myself seized by an indistinguishable number of hands, and was immediately pinioned, as if about to be led to the scaffold for execution. To have attempted to be refractory, would have proved useless and dangerous to my life; and I suffered myself to be removed from my camp to theirs, a few miles distant, without uttering even a word of complaint. You are aware, I dare say, that to act in this manner, was the best policy, as you understand that by so doing, I proved to the Indians at once, that I was born and bred as fearless of death as any of themselves.

"When we reached the camp, great rejoicings were exhibited. Two squaws, and a few papooses, appeared particularly delighted at the sight of me, and I was assured, by very unequivocal gestures and words, that, on the morrow, the mortal enemy of the red-skins would cease to live. I never opened my lips, but was busy contriving some scheme which might enable me to give the rascals the slip before dawn. The women immediately fell a searching about my hunting-shirt for whatever they might think valuable, and fortunately for me, soon found my flask, filled with Monongahela (that is, reader, strong whiskey). A terrific grin was exhibited on their murderous countenances, while my heart throbbed with joy at the anticipation of their intoxication. The crew immediately began to beat their bellies and sing, as they passed the bottle from mouth to mouth. How often did I wish the flask ten times its size, and filled with aquafortis! I observed that the squaws drank more freely than the warriors, and again my spirits were about to be depressed, when the report of a gun was heard at a distance. The Indians all jumped on their feet. The singing and drinking were both brought to a stand; and I saw with inexpressible joy, the men walk off to some distance, and talk to the squaws. I knew that they were consulting about me, and I foresaw, that in a few moments the warriors would go to discover the cause of the gun having been fired so near their camp. I expected the squaws would be left to guard me. Well, sir, it was just so. They returned; the men took up their guns and walked away. The squaws sat down again, and in less than five minutes they had my bottle up to their dirty mouths, gurgling down their throats the remains of the whiskey.

"With what pleasure did I see them becoming more and more drunk, until the liquor took such hold of them that it was quite impossible for these women to be of any service. They tumbled down, rolled about, and began to snore; when I, having no other chance of freeing myself from the cords that fastened me, rolled over and over toward the fire, and after a short time burned them asunder. I rose on my feet; stretched my stiffened sinews; snatched up my rifle, and, for once in my life, spared that of Indians. I now recollect how desirous I once or twice felt to lay open the sculls of the wretches with my tomahawk; but when I again thought upon killing beings unprepared and unable to defend themselves, it looked like murder without need, and I gave up the idea.

"But, sir, I felt determined to mark the spot, and walking to a thrifty ash sapling, I cut out of it three large chips, and ran off. I soon reached the river; soon crossed it, and threw myself deep into the canebrakes, imitating the tracks of an Indian with my feet, so that no chance might be left for those from whom I had escaped to overtake me.

"It is now nearly twenty years since this happened, and more than five since I left the whites' settlements, which I might probably never have visited again, had I not been called on as a witness in a lawsuit that was pending in Kentucky and which, I really believe, would never have been settled, had I not come forward, and established the beginning of a certain boundary line. This is the story, sir.

"Mr. -- moved from old Virginia into Kentucky, and having a large tract granted to him in the new state, laid claim to a certain parcel of land adjoining Green river, and as chance would have it, he took for one of his corners the very ash tree on which I had made my mark, and finished his survey of some thousands of acres, beginning, as it is expressed in the deed, 'at an ash marked by three distinct notches of the tomahawk of a white man.'

"The tree had grown much, and the bark had covered the marks; but, some how or other, Mr. -- heard from some one all that I have already said to you, and thinking that I might remember the spot alluded to in the deed, but which was no longer discoverable, wrote for me to come and try at least to find the place on the tree. His letter mentioned, that all my expenses should be paid; and not caring much about once more going back to Kentucky, I started and met Mr. --. After some conversation, the affair with the Indians came to my recollection. I considered for a while, and began to think that after all, I could find the very spot, as well as the tree, if it was yet standing.

"Mr. -- and I mounted our horses, and off we went to the Green river bottoms. After some difficulties, for you must be aware, sir, that great changes had taken place in these woods, I found at last the spot where I had crossed the river, and waiting for the moon to rise, made for the course in which I thought the ash tree grew. On approaching the place, I felt as if the Indians were there still, and as if I was still a prisoner among them. Mr. -- and I camped near what I conceived the spot, and waited till the return of day.

"At the rising of the sun I was on foot, and after a good deal of musing, thought that an ash tree then in sight must be the very one on which I had made my mark. I felt as if there could be no doubt of it, and mentioned my thought to Mr. --. 'Well, Colonel Boone,' said he, 'if you think so, I hope it may prove true, but we must have some witnesses; do you stay hereabout, and I will go and bring some of the settlers whom I know.' I agreed. Mr. -- trotted off, and I, to pass the time, rambled about to see if a deer was still living in the land. But ah! sir, what a wonderful difference thirty years make in the country! Why, at the time when I was caught by the Indians, you would not have walked out in any direction for more than a mile without shooting a buck or a bear. There were ten thousands of buffaloes on the hills in Kentucky; the land looked as if it would never become poor; and to hunt in those days was a pleasure indeed. But when I was left to myself on the banks of the Green river, I dare say for the last time in my life, a few signs only of deer were to be seen, and as to a deer itself, I saw none.

"Mr. -- returned, accompanied by three gentlemen. They looked upon me as if I had been Washington himself, and walked to the ash tree which I now called my own, as if in quest of a long lost treasure. I took an axe from one of them and cut a few chips off the bark. Still no signs were to be seen. So I cut again, until I thought it time to be cautious, and I scraped and worked away with my butcher knife, until I did come to where my tomahawk had left an impression in the wood. We now went regularly to work, and scraped at the tree with care, until three hacks, as plain as any three notches ever were, could be seen. Mr. -- and the other gentlemen were astonished, and, I must allow, I was as much surprised as pleased, myself. I made affidavit of this remarkable occurrence in the presence of these gentlemen. Mr. -- gained his cause. I left Green river, for ever, and came to where we now are; and, sir, I wish you a good night."

Here, too, it was that he resided, when Mr. Astor attempted to carry out his magnificent design, of settling Astoria on the western coast of our continent, and belting the earth with his commerce. When you are older, you can read the beautiful history of that attempt, written by our distinguished countryman Mr. Irving. As the party, bound for the far west, moved up the Missouri, Boone stood upon the banks of the stream, looking anxiously after them. It was just the adventure to please him. There the old man stood, leaning upon his rifle, his dim eye lighted up as he gazed upon them, and his heart heavy with sorrow, because he was too old to press with them, beyond the mountains. [5]

Other sorrows than those of age, now crept upon him. His wife, who had been to him all that was good, was now taken from him, and the old man was left widowed. With a sad heart he now went to the home of his son, Major Nathan Boone.

The last war with England now broke out, too, and penetrated even the wilds of Missouri. It was the worst of all warfare-the savages were let loose upon them. Boone was too old to act the part of a soldier, but he sent off many substitutes in his sons.

When peace returned, the spirit of the old man rallied; his ruling passion was still with him. The woods were again his home, his rifle his companion; and thus he lived on, through a vigorous old age, with a passion as strong as ever, a hunter almost to the very day of his death. For when, in 1818, death came upon him, he had but little notice of its approach. With no disease but old age, which had seemed comparatively vigorous almost to the day of his departure, he died in his eighty-fourth year. His mind was unclouded and he passed from this world calmly and quietly.

I have but one thing more to say. You remember Daniel Boone's schoolboy days, of which I have spoken. He left school a perfectly ignorant lad. Some say that he afterward learned to write, and produce as an evidence, a little narrative of his wanderings in Kentucky, supposed to be written by himself. I believe, however, that to the day of his death, he could not write his name. The narrative spoken of, was, I think, dictated in some degree by him, and written by another. At all events, the story is interesting and curious, and, as such, I have placed it for your benefit, as an appendix to this volume.

[1] This was the Indian name for the country.

[2] It is said by some that this man did not thus leave them. Their story is, that the three started out upon a hunt; that this man was separated from the Boones, and became entangled in a swamp. The Boones searched for him, but could not find him. Afterward, they found fragments of his clothes, which convinced them that the poor man had been torn to pieces by wolves.

Daniel Boone, however, tells a different story. He says that the man left them, "and returned home by himself;" and I have preferred his statement to any other.

[3] This mode of marking their track is often practised by hunters in the woods. As they pass through the forest, they mark the trees by cutting off a small piece of the bark. This enables them again to find the same pathway, and is commonly called "blazing the track."

[4] It is said that it was by Daniel Boone's advice that they first thought of making this purchase.

[5] See Irving's Astoria.

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URIOSITY is natural to the soul of man, and interesting objects have a powerful influence on our affections. Let these influencing powers actuate, by the permission or disposal of Providence, from selfish or social views, yet in time the mysterious will of Heaven is unfolded, and we behold our conduct, from whatsoever motives excited, operating to answer the important designs of Heaven. Thus we behold Kentucky, lately a howling wilderness, the habitation of savages and wild beasts, become a fruitful field; this region, so favorably distinguished by nature, now become the habitation of civilization, at a period unparalleled in history, in the midst of a raging war, and under all the disadvantages of emigration to a country so remote from the inhabited parts of the continent. Here, where the hand of violence shed the blood of the innocent; where the horrid yells of savages and the groans of the distressed sounded in our ears, we now hear the praises and adorations of our Creator; where wretched wigwams stood, the miserable abodes of savages, we behold the foundations of cities laid, that, in all probability, will equal the glory of the greatest upon earth. And we view Kentucky, situated on the fertile banks of the great Ohio, rising from obscurity to shine with splendor equal to any other of the stars of the American hemisphere.

The settling of this region well deserves a place in history. Most of the memorable events I have myself been exercised in; and, for the satisfaction of the public, will briefly relate the circumstances of my adventures, and scenes of life, from my first movement to this country until this day.

It was on the first of May, in the year 1769, that I resigned my domestic happiness for a time, and left my family and peaceable habitation on the Yadkin river, in North Carolina, to wander through the wilderness of America, in quest of the country of Kentucky, in company with John Finley, John Stewart, Joseph Holden, James Monay, and William Cool. We proceeded successfully, and after a long and fatiguing journey through a mountainous wilderness, in a westward direction, on the 7th day of June following we found ourselves on Red river, where John Finley had formerly been trading with the Indians, and, from the top of an eminence, saw with pleasure the beautiful level of Kentucky. Here let me observe that for some time we had experienced the most uncomfortable weather, as a prelibation of our future sufferings. At this place we encamped, and made a shelter to defend us from the inclement season, and began to hunt and reconnoitre the country. We found everywhere abundance of wild beasts of all sorts, through this vast forest. The buffalo were more frequent than I have seen cattle in the settlements, browsing on the leaves of the cane, or cropping the herbage on those extensive plains, fearless, because ignorant, of the violence of man. Sometimes we saw hundreds in a drove, and the numbers about the salt springs were amazing. In this forest, the habitation of beasts of every kind natural to America, we practised hunting with great success until the 22d day of December following.

This day John Stewart and I had a pleasing ramble, but fortune changed the scene in the close of it. We had passed through a great forest, on which stood myriads of trees, some gay with blossoms, and others rich with fruits. Nature was here a series of wonders, and a fund of delight. Here she displayed her ingenuity and industry in a variety of flowers and fruits, beautifully colored, elegantly shaped, and charmingly flavored; and we were diverted with innumerable animals presenting themselves perpetually to our view. In the decline of the day, near Kentucky river, as we ascended the brow of a small hill, a number of Indians rushed out of a thick canebrake upon us, and made us prisoners. The time of our sorrow was now arrived, and the scene fully opened. The Indians plundered us of what we had, and kept us in confinement seven days, treating us with common savage usage. During this time we discovered no uneasiness or desire to escape, which made them less suspicious of us; but in the dead of night, as we lay in a thick canebrake by a large fire, when sleep had locked up their senses, my situation not disposing me for rest, I touched my companion, and gently awoke him. We improved this favorable opportunity, and departed, leaving them to take their rest, and speedily directed our course toward our old camp, but found it plundered, and the company dispersed and gone home. About this time my brother, Squire Boone, with another adventurer, who came to explore the country shortly after us, was wandering through the forest, determined to find me if possible, and accidentally found our camp. Notwithstanding the unfortunate circumstances of our company, and our dangerous situation, as surrounded with hostile savages, our meeting so fortunately in the wilderness made us reciprocally sensible of the utmost satisfaction. So much does friendship triumph over misfortune, that sorrows and sufferings vanish at the meeting not only of real friends, but of the most distant acquaintances, and substitute happiness in their room.

Soon after this, my companion in captivity, John Stewart, was killed by the savages, and the man that came with my brother returned home by himself. We were then in a dangerous, helpless situation, exposed daily to perils and death among savages and wild beasts-not a white man in the country but ourselves.

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 the will of 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 1st day 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 upon the 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 sullen shades of night soon overspread the whole hemisphere, and the earth seemed to gasp 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 again 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 by 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 longer, and proceeded to Cumberland river, reconnoitring 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. I sold my farm on the Yadkin, and what goods we could not carry with us; and on the 25th day of September, 1773, bade a farewell to our friends, and proceeded on our journey to Kentucky, in company with five families more, and forty men that joined us in Powel's Valley, which is one hundred and fifty miles from the now settled parts of Kentucky. This promising beginning was soon overcast with a cloud of adversity; for, upon the 10th day of October, the rear of our company was attacked by a number of Indians, who killed six, and wounded one man. Of these, my eldest son was one that fell in the action. Though we defended ourselves, and repulsed the enemy, yet this unhappy affair scattered out cattle, brought us into extreme difficulty, and so discouraged the

whole company, that we retreated forty miles, to the settlement on Clinch river. We had passed over two mountains, viz., Powel's and Walden's, and were approaching Cumberland mountain when this adverse fortune overtook us. These mountains are in the wilderness, as we pass from the old settlements in Virginia to Kentucky, are ranged in a southwest and northeast direction, are of a great length and breadth, and not far distant from each other. Over these, nature hath formed passes that are less difficult than might be expected, from a view of such huge piles. The aspect of these cliffs is so wild and horrid, that it is impossible to behold them without terror. The spectator is apt to imagine that nature had formerly suffered some violent convulsion, and that these are the dismembered remains of the dreadful shock: the ruins, not of Persepolis or Palmyra, but of the world!

I remained with my family on Clinch until the 6th of June, 1774, when I and one Michael Stoner were solicited by Governor Dunmore of Virginia to go to the falls of the Ohio, to conduct into the settlement a number of surveyors that had been sent thither by him some months before; this country having about this time drawn the attention of many adventurers. We immediately complied with the Governor's request, and conducted in the surveyors-completing a tour of eight hundred miles, through many difficulties, in sixty-two days.

Soon after I returned home, I was ordered to take the command of three garrisons during the campaign which Governor Dunmore carried on against the Shawanese Indians; after the conclusion of which, the militia was discharged from each garrison, and I, being relieved from my post, was solicited by a number of North Carolina gentlemen, that were about purchasing the lands lying on the south side of Kentucky river, from the Cherokee Indians, to attend their treaty at Wataga in March, 1775, to negotiate with them, and mention the boundaries of the purchase. This I accepted; and, at the request of the same gentlemen, undertook to mark out a road in the best passage from the settlement through the wilderness to Kentucky, with such assistance as I thought necessary to employ for such an important undertaking.

I soon began this work, having collected a number of enterprising men, well armed. We proceeded with all possible expedition until we came within fifteen miles of where Boonesborough now stands, and where we were fired upon by a party of Indians that killed two, and wounded two of our number; yet, although surprised and taken at a disadvantage, we stood our ground. This was on the 20th of March, 1775. Three days after, we were fired upon again, and had two men killed, and three wounded. Afterward we proceeded on to Kentucky river without opposition; and on the 1st day of April began to erect the fort of Boonesborough at a salt lick, about sixty yards from the river, on the south side.

On the fourth day, the Indians killed one of our men. We were busily employed in building this fort until the 14th day of June following, without any further opposition from the Indians; and having finished the works, I returned to my family, on Clinch.

In a short time I proceeded to remove my family from Clinch to this garrison, where we arrived safe, without any other difficulties than such as are common to this passage; my wife and daughter being the first white women that ever stood on the banks of Kentucky river.

On the 24th day of December following, we had one man killed, and one wounded, by the Indians, who seemed determined to persecute us for erecting this fortification.

On the 14th day of July, 1776, two of Colonel Calaway's daughters, and one of mine, were taken prisoners near the fort. I immediately pursued the Indians with only eight men, and on the 16th overtook them, killed two of the party, and recovered the girls. The same day on which this attempt was made, the Indians divided themselves into different parties, and attacked several forts, which were shortly before this time erected, doing a great deal of mischief. This was extremely distressing to the new settlers. The innocent husbandman was shot down, while busy in cultivating the soil for his family's supply. Most of the cattle around the stations were destroyed. They continued their hostilities in this manner until the 15th of April, 1777, when they attacked Boonesborough with a party of above one hundred in number, killed one man, and wounded four. Their loss in this attack was not certainly known to us.

On the 4th day of July following, a party of about two hundred Indians attacked Boonesborough, killed one man, and wounded two. They besieged us forty-eight hours, during which time seven of them were killed, and, at last, finding themselves not likely to prevail, they raised the siege, and departed.

The Indians had disposed their warriors in different parties at this time, and attacked the different garrisons, to prevent their assisting each other, and did much injury to the distressed inhabitants.

On the 19th day of this month, Colonel Logan's fort was besieged by a party of about two hundred Indians. During this dreadful siege they did a great deal of mischief, distressed the garrison, in which were only fifteen men, killed two, and wounded one. The enemy's loss was uncertain, from the common practice which the Indians have of carrying off their dead in time of battle. Colonel Harrod's fort was then defended by only sixty-five men, and Boonesborough by twenty-two, there being no more forts or white men in the country, except at the Falls, a considerable distance from these: and all, taken collectively, were but a handful to the numerous warriors that were everywhere dispersed through the country, intent upon doing all the mischief that savage barbarity could invent. Thus we passed through a scene of sufferings that exceeds description.

On the 25th of this month, a reinforcement of forty-five men arrived from North Carolina, and about the 20th of August following, Colonel Bowman arrived with one hundred men from Virginia. Now we began to strengthen; and hence, for the space of six weeks, we had skirmishes with Indians, in one quarter or other, almost every day.

The savages now learned the superiority of the Long Knife, as they call the Virginians, by experience; being outgeneralled in almost every battle. Our affairs began to wear a new aspect, and the enemy, not daring to venture on open war, practised secret mischief at times.

On the 1st day of January, 1778, I went with a party of thirty men to the Blue Licks, on Licking river, to make salt for the different garrisons in the country.

On the 7th day of February, as I was hunting to procure meat for the company, I met with a party of one hundred and two Indians, and two Frenchmen, on their march against Boonesborough, that place being particularly the object of the enemy.

They pursued, and took me; and brought me on the 8th day to the Licks, where twenty-seven of my party were, three of them having previously returned home with the salt. I, knowing it was impossible for them to escape, capitulated with the enemy, and, at a distance, in their view, gave notice to my men of their situation, with orders not to resist, but surrender themselves captives.

The generous usage the Indians had promised before in my capitulation, was afterward fully complied with, and we proceeded with them as prisoners to Old Chilicothe, the principal Indian town on Little Miami, where we arrived, after an uncomfortable journey in very severe weather, on the 18th day of February, and received as good treatment as prisoners could expect from savages. On the 10th day of March following, I and ten of my men were conducted by forty Indians to Detroit, where we arrived the 30th day, and were treated by Governor Hamilton, the British commander at that post, with great humanity.

During our travels, the Indians entertained me well, and their affection for me was so great, that they utterly refused to leave me there with the others, although the Governor offered them one hundred pounds sterling for me, on purpose to give me a parole to go home. Several English gentlemen there, being sensible of my adverse fortune, and touched with human sympathy, generously offered a friendly supply for my wants, which I refused, with many thanks for their kindness-adding, that I never expected it would be in my power to recompense such unmerited generosity.

The Indians left my men in captivity with the British at Detroit, and on the 10th day of April brought me toward Old Chilicothe, where we arrived on the 25th day of the same month. This was a long and fatiguing march, through an exceeding fertile country, remarkable for fine springs and streams of water. At Chilicothe I spent my time as comfortably as I could expect; was adopted, according to their custom, into a family, where I became a son, and had a great share in the affection of my new parents, brothers, sisters, and friends. I was exceedingly familiar and friendly with them, always appearing as cheerful and satisfied as possible, and they put great confidence in me. I often went a hunting with them, and frequently gained their applause for my activity at our shooting-matches. I was careful not to exceed many of them in shooting; for no people are more envious than they in this sport. I could observe, in their countenances and gestures, the greatest expressions of joy when they exceeded me; and, when the reverse happened, of envy. The Shawanese king took great notice of me, and treated me with profound respect and entire friendship, often intrusting me to hunt at my liberty. I frequently returned with the spoils of the woods, and as often presented some of what I had taken to him, expressive of duty to my sovereign. My food and lodging were in common with them; not so good, indeed, as I could desire, but necessity made everything acceptable.

I now began to meditate an escape, and carefully avoided their suspicions, continuing with them at Old Chilicothe until the 1st day of June following, and then was taken by them to the salt springs on Scioto, and kept there making salt ten days. During this time I hunted some for them, and found the land, for a great extent about this river, to exceed the soil of Kentucky, if possible, and remarkably well watered.

When I returned to Chilicothe, alarmed to see four hundred and fifty Indians, of their choicest warriors, painted and armed in a fearful manner, ready to march against Boonesborough, I determined to escape the first opportunity.

On the 16th, before sunrise, I departed in the most secret manner, and arrived at Boonesborough on the 20th, after a journey of one hundred and sixty miles, during which I had but one meal.

I found our fortress in a bad state of defence; but we proceeded immediately to repair our flanks, strengthen our gates and posterns, and form double bastions, which we completed in ten days. In this time we daily expected the arrival of the Indian army; and at length, one of my fellow-prisoners, escaping from them, arrived, informing us that the enemy had, on account of my departure, postponed their expedition three weeks. The Indians had spies out viewing our movements, and were greatly alarmed with our increase in number and fortifications. The grand councils of the nations were held frequently, and with more deliberation than usual. They evidently saw the approaching hour when the Long Knife would dispossess them of their desirable habitations; and, anxiously concerned for futurity, determined utterly to extirpate the whites out of Kentucky. We were not intimidated by their movements, but frequently gave them proofs of our courage.

About the first of August, I made an incursion into the Indian country with a party of nineteen men, in order to surprise a small town up Scioto, called Paint Creek Town. We advanced within four miles thereof, where we met a party of thirty Indians on their march against Boonesborough, intending to join the others from Chilicothe. A smart fight ensued between us for some time; at length the savages gave way and fled. We had no loss on our side; the enemy had one killed, and two wounded. We took from them three horses, and all their baggage; and being informed, by two of our number that went to their town, that the Indians had entirely evacuated it, we proceeded no further, and returned with all possible expedition to assist our garrison against the other party. We passed by them on the sixth day, and on the seventh we arrived safe at Boonesborough.

On the 8th, the Indian army arrived, being four hundred and forty-four in number, commanded by Captain Duquesne, eleven other Frenchmen, and some of their own chiefs, and marched up within view of our fort, with British and French colors flying; and having sent a summons to me, in his Britannic Majesty's name, to surrender the fort, I requested two days' consideration, which was granted.

It was now a critical period with us. We were a small number in the garrison-a powerful army before our walls, whose appearance proclaimed inevitable death, fearfully painted, and marking their footsteps with desolation. Death was preferable to captivity; and if taken by storm, we must inevitably be devoted to destruction. In this situation we concluded to maintain our garrison, if possible. We immediately proceeded to collect what we could of our horses and other cattle, and bring them through the posterns into the fort; and in the evening of the 9th, I returned answer that we were determined to defend our fort while a man was living. "Now," said I to their commander, who stood attentively hearing my sentiments, "we laugh at your formidable preparations; but thank you for giving us notice and time to provide for our defence. Your efforts will not prevail; for our gates shall for ever deny you admittance." Whether this answer affected their courage or not I can not tell; but, contrary to our expectations, they formed a scheme to deceive us, declaring it was their orders, from Governor Hamilton, to take us captives, and not to destroy us; but if nine of us would come out, and treat with them, they would immediately withdraw their forces from our walls, and return home peaceably. This sounded grateful in our ears; and we agreed to the proposal.

We held the treaty within sixty yards of the garrison, on purpose to divert them from a breach of honor, as we could not avoid suspicions of the savages. In this situation the articles were formally agreed to, and signed; and the Indians told us it was customary with them on such occasions for two Indians to shake hands with every white man in the treaty, as an evidence of entire friendship. We agreed to this also, but were soon convinced their policy was to take us prisoners. They immediately grappled us; but, although surrounded by hundreds of savages, we extricated ourselves from them, and escaped all safe into the garrison, except one that was wounded, through a heavy fire from their army. They immediately attacked us on every side, and a constant heavy fire ensued between us, day and night, for the space of nine days.

In this time the enemy began to undermine our fort, which was situated sixty yards from Kentucky river. They began at the water-mark, and proceeded in the bank some distance, which we understood, by their making the water muddy with the clay; and we immediately proceeded to disappoint their design, by cutting a trench across their subterranean passage. The enemy, discovering our counter-mine, by the clay we threw out of the fort, desisted from that stratagem: and experience now fully convincing them that neither their power nor policy could effect their purpose, on the 20th day of August they raised the siege and departed.

During this siege, which threatened death in every form, we had two men killed, and four wounded, besides a number of cattle. We killed of the enemy thirty-seven, and wounded a great number. After they were gone, we picked up one hundred and twenty-five pounds weight of bullets, besides what stuck in the logs of our fort, which certainly is a great proof of their industry. Soon after this, I went into the settlement, and nothing worthy of a place in this account passed in my affairs for some time.

During my absence from Kentucky, Colonel Bowman carried on an expedition against the Shawanese, at Old Chilicothe, with one hundred and sixty men, in July, 1779. Here they arrived undiscovered, and a battle ensued, which lasted until ten o'clock, A.M., when Colonel Bowman, finding he could not succeed at this time, retreated about thirty miles. The Indians, in the mean time, collecting all their forces, pursued and overtook him, when a smart fight continued near two hours, not to the advantage of Colonel Bowman's party.

Colonel Harrod proposed to mount a number of horse, and furiously to rush upon the savages, who at this time fought with remarkable fury. This desperate step had a happy effect, broke their line of battle, and the savages fled on all sides. In these two battles we had nine killed, and one wounded. The enemy's loss uncertain, only two scalps being taken.

On the 22d day of June, 1780, a large party of Indians and Canadians, about six hundred in number, commanded by Colonel Bird, attacked Riddle's and Martin's stations, at the forks of Licking river, with six pieces of artillery. They carried this expedition so secretly, that the unwary inhabitants did not discover them until they fired upon the forts; and, not being prepared to oppose them, were obliged to surrender themselves miserable captives to barbarous savages, who immediately after tomahawked one man and two women, and loaded all the others with heavy baggage, forcing them along toward their towns, able or unable to march. Such as were weak and faint by the way, they tomahawked. The tender women and helpless children fell victims to their cruelty. This, and the savage treatment they received afterward, is shocking to humanity, and too barbarous to relate.

The hostile disposition of the savages and their allies caused General Clarke, the commandant at the Falls of the Ohio, immediately to begin an expedition with his own regiment, and the armed force of the country, against Pecaway, the principal town of the Shawanese, on a branch of Great Miami, which he finished with great success, took seventeen scalps, and burnt the town to ashes, with the loss of seventeen men.

About this time I returned to Kentucky with my family; and here, to avoid an inquiry into my conduct, the reader being before informed of my bringing my family to Kentucky, I am under the necessity of informing him that, during my captivity with the Indians, my wife, who despaired of ever seeing me again-expecting the Indians had put a period to my life, oppressed with the distresses of the country, and bereaved of me, her only happiness-had, before I returned, transported my family and goods, on horses, through the wilderness, amid a multitude of dangers, to her father's house in North Carolina.

Shortly after the troubles at Boonesborough, I went to them, and lived peaceably there until this time. The history of my going home, and returning with my family, forms a series of difficulties, an account of which would swell a volume; and, being foreign to my purpose, I shall purposely omit them.

I settled my family in Boonesborough once more; and shortly after, on the 6th day of October, 1780, I went in company with my brother to the Blue Licks; and, on our return home, we were fired upon by a party of Indians. They shot him, and pursued me, by the scent of their dog, three miles; but I killed the dog, and escaped. The winter soon came on, and was very severe, which confined the Indians to their wigwams.

The severity of this winter caused great difficulties in Kentucky. The enemy had destroyed most of the corn the summer before. This necessary article was scarce and dear, and the inhabitants lived chiefly on the flesh of buffalo. The circumstances of many were very lamentable: however, being a hardy race of people, and accustomed to difficulties and necessities, they were wonderfully supported through all their sufferings, until the ensuing autumn, when we received abundance from the fertile soil.

Toward spring we were frequently harassed by Indians; and in May, 1782, a party assaulted Ashton's station, killed one man, and took a negro prisoner. Captain Ashton, with twenty-five men, pursued and overtook the savages, and a smart fight ensued, which lasted two hours; but they, being superior in number, obliged Captain Ashton's party to retreat, with the loss of eight killed, and four mortally wounded; their brave commander himself being numbered among the dead.

The Indians continued their hostilities; and, about the 10th of August following, two boys were taken from Major Hoy's station. This party was pursued by Captain Holder and seventeen men, who were also defeated, with the loss of four men killed, and one wounded. Our affairs became more and more alarming. Several stations which had lately been erected in the country were continually infested with savages, stealing their horses and killing the men at every opportunity. In a field, near Lexington, an Indian shot a man, and running to scalp him, was himself shot from the fort, and fell dead upon his enemy.

Every day we experienced recent mischiefs. The barbarous savage nations of Shawanese, Cherokees, Wyandots, Tawas, Delawares, and several others near Detroit, united in a war against us, and assembled their choicest warriors at Old Chilicothe, to go on the expedition, in order to destroy us, and entirely depopulate the country. Their savage minds were inflamed to mischief by two abandoned men, Captains M'Kee and Girty. These led them to execute every diabolical scheme, and on the 15th day of August, commanded a party of Indians and Canadians, of about five hundred in number, against Bryant's station, five miles from Lexington. Without demanding a surrender, they furiously assaulted the garrison, which was happily prepared to oppose them; and, after they had expended much ammunition in vain, and killed the cattle round the fort, not being likely to make themselves masters of this place, they raised the siege, and departed in the morning of the third day after they came, with the loss of about thirty killed, and the number of wounded uncertain. Of the garrison, four were killed, and three wounded.

On the 18th day, Colonel Todd, Colonel Trigg, Major Harland, and myself, speedily collected one hundred and seventy-six men, well armed, and pursued the savages. They had marched beyond the Blue Licks, to a remarkable bend of the main fork of Licking river, about forty-three miles from Lexington, where we overtook them on the 19th day. The savages observing us, gave way; and we, being ignorant of their numbers, passed the river. When the enemy saw our proceedings, having greatly the advantage of us in situation, they formed the line of battle, from one bend of Licking to the other, about a mile from the Blue Licks. An exceeding fierce battle immediately began, for about fifteen minutes, when we, being overpowered by numbers, were obliged to retreat, with the loss of sixty-seven men, seven of whom were taken prisoners. The brave and much-lamented Colonels Todd and Trigg, Major Harland, and my second son, were among the dead. We were informed that the Indians, numbering their dead, found they had four killed more than we; and therefore four of the prisoners they had taken were, by general consent, ordered to be killed in a most barbarous manner by the young warriors, in order to train them up to cruelty; and then they proceeded to their towns.

On our retreat we were met by Colonel Logan, hastening to join us, with a number of well-armed men. This powerful assistance we unfortunately wanted in the battle; for, notwithstanding the enemy's superiority of numbers, they acknowledged, that, if they had received one more fire from us, they should undoubtedly have given way. So valiantly did our small party fight, that, to the memory of those who unfortunately fell in the battle, enough of honor can not be paid. Had Colonel Logan and his party been with us, it is highly probable we should have given the savages a total defeat.

I can not reflect upon this dreadful scene, but sorrow fills my heart. A zeal for the defence of their country led these heroes to the scene of action, though with a few men to attack a powerful army of experienced warriors. When we gave way, they pursued us with the utmost eagerness, and in every quarter spread destruction. The river was difficult to cross, and many were killed in the flight-some just entering the river, some in the water, others after crossing, in ascending the cliffs. Some escaped on horseback, a few on foot; and, being dispersed everywhere in a few hours, brought the melancholy news of this unfortunate battle to Lexington. Many widows were now made. The reader may guess what sorrow filled the hearts of the inhabitants, exceeding anything that I am able to describe. Being reinforced, we returned to bury the dead, and found their bodies strewed everywhere, cut and mangled in a dreadful manner. This mournful scene exhibited a horror almost unparalleled: some torn and eaten by wild beasts; those in the river eaten by fishes; all in such a putrefied condition, that no one could be distinguished from another.

As soon as General Clarke, then at the Falls of the Ohio-who was ever our ready friend, and merits the love and gratitude of all his countrymen-understood the circumstances of this unfortunate action, he ordered an expedition, with all possible haste, to pursue the savages, which was so expeditiously effected, that we overtook them within two miles of their towns: and probably might have obtained a great victory, had not two of their number met us about two hundred poles before we came up. These returned quick as lightning to their camp, with the alarming news of a mighty army in view. The savages fled in the utmost disorder, evacuated their towns, and reluctantly left their territory to our mercy. We immediately took possession of Old Chilicothe without opposition, being deserted by its inhabitants. We continued our pursuit through five towns on the Miami rivers, Old Chilicothe, Pecaway, New Chilicothe, Will's Towns, and Chilicothe-burnt them all to ashes, entirely destroyed their corn, and other fruits, and everywhere spread a scene of desolation in the country. In this expedition we took seven prisoners and five scalps, with the loss of only four men, two of whom were accidentally killed by our own army.

This campaign in some measure damped the spirits of the Indians, and made them sensible of our superiority. Their connexions were dissolved, their armies scattered, and a future invasion put entirely out of their power; yet they continued to practise mischief secretly upon the inhabitants, in the exposed parts of the country.

In October following, a party made an excursion into that district called the Crab Orchard; and one of them, being advanced some distance before the others, boldly entered the house of a poor defenceless family, in which was only a negro man, a woman, and her children, terrified with the apprehensions of immediate death. The savage, perceiving their defenceless situation, without offering violence to the family, attempted to capture the negro, who happily proved an overmatch for him, threw him on the ground, and, in the struggle, the mother of the children drew an axe from a corner of the cottage, and cut his head off, while her little daughter shut the door. The savages instantly appeared, and applied their tomahawks to the door. An old rusty gun-barrel, without a lock, lay in a corner, which the mother put through a small crevice, and the savages, perceiving it, fled. In the mean time, the alarm spread through the neighborhood; the armed men collected immediately, and pursued the ravagers into the wilderness. Thus Providence, by the means of this negro, saved the whole of the poor family from destruction. From that time until the happy return of peace between the United States and Great Britain, the Indians did us no mischief. Finding the great king beyond the water disappointed in his expectations, and conscious of the importance of the Long Knife, and their own wretchedness, some of the nations immediately desired peace; to which, at present [1784], they seem universally disposed, and are sending ambassadors to General Clarke, at the Falls of the Ohio, with the minutes of their councils.

To conclude, I can now say that I have verified the saying of an old Indian who signed Colonel Henderson's deed. Taking me by the hand, at the delivery thereof-"Brother," said he, "we have given you a fine land, but I believe you will have much trouble in settling it." My footsteps have often been marked with blood, and therefore I can truly subscribe to its original name. Two darling sons and a brother have I lost by savage hands, which have also taken from me forty valuable horses, and abundance of cattle. Many dark and sleepless nights have I been a companion for owls, separated from the cheerful society of men, scorched by the summer's sun, and pinched by the winter's cold-an instrument ordained to settle the wilderness. But now the scene is changed: peace crowns the sylvan shade.

What thanks, what ardent and ceaseless thanks are due to that all-superintending Providence which has turned a cruel war into peace, brought order out of confusion, made the fierce savages placid, and turned away their hostile weapons from our country! May the same Almighty Goodness banish the accursed monster, war, from all lands, with her hated associates, rapine and insatiable ambition! Let peace, descending from her native heaven, bid her olives spring amid the joyful nations; and plenty, in league with commerce, scatter blessings from her copious hand!

This account of my adventures will inform the reader of the most remarkable events of this country. I now live in peace and safety, enjoying the sweets of liberty, and the bounties of Providence, with my once fellow-sufferers, in this delightful country, which I have seen purchased with a vast expense of blood and treasure: delighting in the prospect of its being, in a short time, one of the most opulent and powerful states on the continent of North America; which, with the love and gratitude of my countrymen, I esteem a sufficient reward for all my toil and dangers.


Fayette County, Kentucky.


Transcriber's Note: In the contents list for Chapter II, 'Daniel Doone is rejoiced' was changed to 'Daniel Boone'. 'Boon' in the frontispiece illustration caption has however been retained.

Variations in use of hyphens have been standardised within the text.

Less usual spelling of words such as rackoon and periogues have been left as they appear in the original book.

The spelling of Colonel Calloway/Calaway has been left as it appears in the original.

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