PIONEER OF KENTUCKY.
JOHN S. C. ABBOTT.
DODD & MEAD, No. 762 BROADWAY.
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1872, by
DODD & MEAD,
in the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington.
AMERICAN PIONEERS AND PATRIOTS.
PIONEER OF KENTUCKY.
BY JOHN S. C. ABBOTT.
"His youth was innocent; his riper age, Marked with some act of goodness every day; And watched by eyes that loved him, calm and sage, Faded his late declining years away. Cheerful he gave his being up and went To share the holy rest that waits a life well spent."
DODD & MEAD, No. 762 BROADWAY.
The name of Daniel Boone is a conspicuous one in the annals of our country. And yet there are but few who are familiar with the events of his wonderful career, or who have formed a correct estimate of the character of the man. Many suppose that he was a rough, coarse backwoodsman, almost as savage as the bears he pursued in the chase, or the Indians whose terrors he so perseveringly braved. Instead of this, he was one of the most mild and unboastful of men; feminine as a woman in his tastes and his deportment, never uttering a coarse word, never allowing himself in a rude action. He was truly one of nature's gentle men. With all this instinctive refinement and delicacy, there was a boldness of character which seemed absolutely incapable of experiencing the emotion of fear. And surely all the records of chivalry may be searched in vain for a career more full of peril and of wild adventure.
This narrative reveals a state of society and habitudes of life now rapidly passing into oblivion. It is very desirable that the record should be perpetuated, that we may know the scenes through which our fathers passed, in laying the foundations of this majestic Republic. It is probable that as the years roll on the events which occurred in the infancy of our nation will be read with ever-increasing interest.
It is the intention of the publisher of this volume to issue a series of sketches of the prominent men in the early history of our country. The next volume will contain the life and adventures of the renowned Miles Standish, the Puritan Captain.
JOHN S. C. ABBOTT.
Fair Haven, Conn.
The Discovery and early Settlement of America. PAGE
Discovery of the New World.—Of Florida.—Conquest and cruelties of De Soto.—The Wigwam.—Colony at St. Mary.—Sir Walter Raleigh and his Colonies.—Grant of King James.—Settlements in the Virginia.—Adventures of John Smith.—Arrival of Lord Delaware.—Terrible massacres.—Pressures of Colonists to the West.—Doherty Trade with Indians.—Attempted Colony on the Tennessee.—Daniel Boone. 9
Daniel Boone, his Parentage, and early Adventures.
Trials of the Colonists.—George Boone and his home.—Squire Boone.—Birth and character of Daniel Boone.—His limited education.—A pioneer's camp.—A log house and furnishings.—Annoyance of Boone on the arrival of Scotch emigrants.—His longings for adventure.—Camp meetings.—Frontier life.—Sports.—Squirrel hunting.—Snuffing the candle. 36
Louisiana, its Discovery and Vicissitudes.
Louisiana, and its eventful history.—The expedition of De Soto.—The Missionary Marquette.—His voyage on the Upper Mississippi.—The Expedition of La Salle.—Michilimackinac.—Its History.—Fate of the "Griffin."—Grief of La Salle.—His voyage of Discovery.—Sale of Louisiana to the United States.—Remarks of Napoleon. 74
Camp Life Beyond the Alleghanies.
John Finley and his adventures.—Aspect of the Country.—Boone's Private Character.—His Love for the Wilderness.—First view of Kentucky.—Emigrants' Dress.—Hunter's Home.—Capture of Boone and Stewart by the Indians.—Their Escape.—Singular Incident. 89
Alleghany Ridges.—Voyage in a canoe.—Speech of Logan.—Battle at the Kanawha.—Narrative of Francis Marion.—Important commission of Boone.—Council at Circleville.—Treaty of Peace.—Imlay's description of Kentucky.—Settlement right.—Richard Henderson.—Boone's letter.—Fort at Boonesborough. 109
Sufferings of the Pioneers.
Emigration to Boonesborough.—New Perils.—Transylvania Company.—Beneficence of its Laws—Interesting incident.—Infamous conduct of Great Britain.—Attack on the Fort.—Reinforcements.—Simon Kenton and his Sufferings.—Mrs. Harvey. 129
Life in the Wilderness.
Stewart killed by the Indians.—Squire Boone returns to the Settlements.—Solitary Life of Daniel Boone.—Return of Squire Boone.—Extended and Romantic Explorations.—Charms and Perils of the Wilderness.—The Emigrant Party.—The Fatal Ambuscade.—Retreat of the Emigrants.—Solitude of the Wilderness.—Expedition of Lewis and Clarke.—Extraordinary Adventures of Cotter. 151
Captivity and Flight.
Heroism of Thomas Higgins and of Mrs. Pursley.—Affairs at Boonesborough.—Continued Alarms.—Need of Salt.—Its Manufacture.—Indian Schemes.—Capture of Boone and twenty-seven men.—Dilemma of the British at Detroit.—Blackfish adopts Colonel Boone.—Adoption Ceremony.—Indian Designs.—Escape of Boone.—Attacks the Savages.—The Fort Threatened. 182
Victories and Defeats.
Situation of the Fort.—Indian Treachery.—Bombardment.—Boone goes to North Carolina.—New Trials.—Boone Robbed.—He returns to Kentucky.—Massacre of Colonel Rogers.—Adventure of Col. Bowman.—New Attack by the British and Indians.—Retaliatory Measures.—Wonderful Exploit. 209
Death of Squire Boone.—Indian Outrages.—Gerty and McGee.—Battle of Blue Lick.—Death of Isaac Boone.—Colonel Boone's Narrow Escape.—Letter of Daniel Boone.—Determination of General Clarke.—Discouragement of the Savages.—Amusing Anecdote of Daniel Boone. 230
Kentucky organized as a State.
Peace with England.—Order of a Kentucky Court.—Anecdotes.—Speech of Mr. Dalton.—Reply of Piankashaw.—Renewed Indications of Indian Hostility.—Conventions at Danville.—Kentucky formed into a State.—New Trials for Boone. 249
Adventures Romantic and Perilous.
The Search for the Horse.—Navigating the Ohio.—Heroism of Mrs. Rowan.—Lawless Gangs.—Exchange of Prisoners.—Boone Revisits the Home of his Childhood.—The Realms beyond the Mississippi.—Habits of the Hunters.—Corn.—Boone's Journey to the West. 271
A New Home.
Colonel Boone welcomed by the Spanish Authorities.—Boone's Narrative to Audubon.—The Midnight Attack.—Pursuit of the Savages.—Sickness in the Wilderness.—Honesty of Colonel Boone.—Payment of his Debts.—Loss of all his Property. 292
Colonel Boone Appeals to Congress.—Complimentary Resolutions of the Legislature of Kentucky.—Death of Mrs. Boone.—Catholic Liberality.—Itinerant Preachers.—Grant by Congress to Colonel Boone.—The Evening of his Days.—Personal Appearance.—Death and Burial.—Transference of the Remains of Mr. and Mrs. Boone to Frankfort, Kentucky. 320
The Discovery and early Settlement of America.
Discovery of the New World.—Of Florida.—Conquest and cruelties of De Soto.—The wigwam.—Colony at St. Mary.—Sir Walter Raleigh and his Colonies.—Grant of King James.—Settlements in the Virginia.—Adventures of John Smith.—Arrival of Lord Delaware.—Terrible massacres.—Pressures of Colonists to the West.—Doherty Trade with Indians.—Attempted Colony on the Tennessee.—Daniel Boone.
The little fleet of three small vessels, with which Columbus left Palos in Spain, in search of a new world, had been sixty-seven days at sea. They had traversed nearly three thousand miles of ocean, and yet there was nothing but a wide expanse of waters spread out before them. The despairing crew were loud in their murmurs, demanding that the expedition should be abandoned and that the ships should return to Spain. The morning of the 11th of October, 1492, had come. During the day Columbus, whose heart had been very heavily oppressed with anxiety, had been cheered by some indications that they were approaching land. Fresh seaweed was occasionally seen and a branch of a shrub with leaves and berries upon it, and a piece of wood curiously carved had been picked up.
The devout commander was so animated by these indications, that he gathered his crew around him and returned heartfelt thanks to God, for this prospect that their voyage would prove successful. It was a beautiful night, the moon shone brilliantly and a delicious tropical breeze swept the ocean. At ten o'clock Columbus stood upon the bows of his ship earnestly gazing upon the western horizon, hoping that the long-looked-for land would rise before him. Suddenly he was startled by the distinct gleam of a torch far off in the distance. For a moment it beamed forth with a clear and indisputable flame and then disappeared. The agitation of Columbus no words can describe. Was it a meteor? Was it an optical illusion? Was it light from the land?
Suddenly the torch, like a star, again shone forth with distinct though faint gleam. Columbus called some of his companions to his side and they also saw the light clearly. But again it disappeared. At two o'clock in the morning a sailor at the look out on the mast head shouted, "Land! land! land!" In a few moments all beheld, but a few miles distant from them, the distinct outline of towering mountains piercing the skies. A new world was discovered. Cautiously the vessels hove to and waited for the light of the morning. The dawn of day presented to the eyes of Columbus and his companions a spectacle of beauty which the garden of Eden could hardly have rivalled. It was a morning of the tropics, calm, serene and lovely. But two miles before them there emerged from the sea an island of mountains and valleys, luxuriant with every variety of tropical vegetation. The voyagers, weary of gazing for many weeks on the wide waste of waters, were so enchanted with the fairy scene which then met the eye, that they seemed really to believe that they had reached the realms of the blest.
The boats were lowered, and, as they were rowed towards the shore, the scene every moment grew more beautiful. Gigantic trees draped in luxuriance of foliage hitherto unimagined, rose in the soft valleys and upon the towering hills. In the sheltered groves, screened from the sun, the picturesque dwellings of the natives were thickly clustered. Flowers of every variety of tint bloomed in marvellous profusion. The trees seemed laden with fruits of every kind, and in inexhaustible abundance. Thousands of natives crowded the shore, whose graceful forms and exquisitely moulded limbs indicated the innocence and simplicity of Eden before the fall.
Columbus, richly attired in a scarlet dress, fell upon his knees as he reached the beach, and, with clasped hands and uplifted eyes, gave utterance to the devout feelings which ever inspired him, in thanksgiving to God. In recognition of the divine protection he gave the island the name of San Salvador, or Holy Savior. Though the new world thus discovered was one of the smallest islands of the Caribbean Sea, no conception was then formed of the vast continents of North and South America, stretching out in both directions, for many leagues almost to the Arctic and Antarctic poles.
Omitting a description of the wonderful adventures which ensued, we can only mention that two years after this, the southern extremity of the North American continent was discovered by Sebastian Cabot. It was in the spring of the year and the whole surface of the soil seemed carpeted with the most brilliant flowers. The country consequently received the beautiful name of Florida. It, of course, had no boundaries, for no one knew with certainty whether it were an island or a continent, or how far its limits might extend.
The years rolled on and gradually exploring excursions crept along the coast towards the north, various provinces were mapped out with pretty distinct boundaries upon the Atlantic coast, extending indefinitely into the vast and unknown interior. Expeditions from France had entered the St. Lawrence and established settlements in Canada. For a time the whole Atlantic coast, from its extreme southern point to Canada, was called Florida. In the year 1539, Ferdinand De Soto, an unprincipled Spanish warrior, who had obtained renown by the conquest of Peru in South America, fitted out by permission of the king of Spain, an expedition of nearly a thousand men to conquer and take possession of that vast and indefinite realm called Florida.
We have no space here to enter upon a description of the fiendlike cruelties practiced by these Spaniards. They robbed and enslaved without mercy. In pursuit of gold they wandered as far north as the present boundary of South Carolina. Then turning to the west, they traversed the vast region to the Mississippi river. The forests were full of game. The granaries of the simple-hearted natives were well stored with corn; vast prairies spreading in all directions around them, waving with grass and blooming with flowers, presented ample forage for the three hundred horses which accompanied the expedition. They were also provided with fierce bloodhounds to hunt down the terrified natives. Thus invincible and armed with the "thunder and lightning" of their guns, they swept the country, perpetrating every conceivable outrage upon the helpless natives.
After long and unavailing wanderings in search of gold, having lost by sickness and the casualties of such an expedition nearly half their number, the remainder built boats upon the Mississippi, descended that rapid stream five hundred miles to its mouth, and then skirting the coast of Texas, finally disappeared on the plains of Mexico. De Soto, the leader of this conquering band, died miserably on the Mississippi, and was buried beneath its waves.
The whole country which these adventurers traversed, they found to be quite densely populated with numerous small tribes of natives, each generally wandering within circumscribed limits. Though these tribes spoke different languages, or perhaps different dialects of the same language, they were essentially the same in appearance, manners and customs. They were of a dark-red color, well formed and always disposed to receive the pale face strangers with kindliness, until exasperated by ill-treatment. They lived in fragile huts called wigwams, so simple in their structure that one could easily be erected in a few hours. These huts were generally formed by setting long and slender poles in the ground, inclosing an area of from ten to eighteen feet in diameter, according to the size of the family. The tops were tied together, leaving a hole for the escape of smoke from the central fire. The sides were thatched with coarse grass, or so covered with the bark of trees, as quite effectually to exclude both wind and rain. There were no windows, light entering only through the almost always open door. The ground floor was covered with dried grass, or the skins of animals, or with the soft and fragrant twigs of some evergreen tree.
The inmates, men, women and children, seated upon these cushions, presented a very attractive and cheerful aspect. Several hundred of these wigwams were frequently clustered upon some soft meadow by the side of a flowing stream, fringed with a gigantic forest, and exhibited a spectacle of picturesque loveliness quite charming to the beholder. The furniture of these humble abodes was extremely simple. They had no pots or kettles which would stand the fire. They had no knives nor forks; no tables nor chairs. Sharp flints, such as they could find served for knives, with which, with incredible labor, they sawed down small trees and fashioned their bows and arrows. They had no roads except foot paths through the wilderness, which for generations their ancestors had traversed, called "trails." They had no beasts of burden, no cows, no flocks nor herds of any kind. They generally had not even salt, but cured their meat by drying it in the sun. They had no ploughs, hoes, spades, consequently they could only cultivate the lightest soil. With a sharp stick, women loosened the earth, and then depositing their corn or maize, cultivated it in the rudest manner.
These Indians acquired the reputation of being very faithful friends, but very bitter enemies. It was said they never forgot a favor, and never forgave an insult. They were cunning rather than brave. It was seldom that an Indian could be induced to meet a foe in an open hand-to-hand fight. But he would track him for years, hoping to take him unawares and to brain him with the tomahawk, or pierce his heart with the flint-pointed arrow.
About the year 1565, a company of French Protestants repaired to Florida, hoping there to find the liberty to worship God in accordance with their interpretation of the teachings of the Bible. They established quite a flourishing colony, at a place which they named St. Marys, near the coast. This was the first European settlement on the continent of North America. The fanatic Spaniards, learning that Protestants had taken possession of the country, sent out an expedition and utterly annihilated the settlement, putting men, women and children to the sword. Many of these unfortunate Protestants were hung in chains from trees under the inscription, "Not as Frenchmen but as Heretics." The blood-stained Spaniards then established themselves at a spot near by, which they called St. Augustine. A French gentleman of wealth fitted out a well-manned and well-armed expedition of three ships, attacked the murderers by surprise and put them to death. Several corpses were suspended from trees, under the inscription, "Not as Spaniards, but as Murderers."
There was an understanding among the powers of Europe, that any portion of the New World discovered by expeditions from European courts, should be recognised as belonging to that court. The Spaniards had taken possession in Florida. Far away a thousand leagues to the North, the French had entered the gulf of St. Lawrence. But little was known of the vast region between. A young English gentleman, Sir Walter Raleigh, an earnest Protestant, and one who had fought with the French Protestants in their religious wars, roused by the massacre of his friends in Florida, applied to the British court to fit out a colony to take possession of the intermediate country. He hoped thus to prevent the Spanish monarchy, and the equally intolerant French court, from spreading their principles over the whole continent. The Protestant Queen Elizabeth then occupied the throne of Great Britain. Raleigh was young, rich, handsome and marvelously fascinating in his address. He became a great favorite of the maiden queen, and she gave him a commission, making him lord of all the continent of North America, between Florida and Canada.
The whole of this vast region without any accurate boundaries, was called Virginia. Several ships were sent to explore the country. They reached the coast of what is now called North Carolina, and the adventurers landed at Roanoke Island. They were charmed with the climate, with the friendliness of the natives and with the majestic growth of the forest trees, far surpassing anything they had witnessed in the Old World. Grapes in rich clusters hung in profusion on the vines, and birds of every variety of song and plumage filled the groves. The expedition returned to England with such glowing accounts of the realm they had discovered, that seven ships were fitted out, conveying one hundred and eight men, to colonise the island. It is quite remarkable that no women accompanied the expedition. Many of these men were reckless adventurers. Bitter hostility soon sprang up between them and the Indians, who at first had received them with the greatest kindness.
Most of these colonists were men unaccustomed to work, and who insanely expected that in the New World, in some unknown way, wealth was to flow in upon them like a flood. Disheartened, homesick and appalled by the hostile attitude which the much oppressed Indians were beginning to assume, they were all anxious to return home. When, soon after, some ships came bringing them abundant supplies, they with one accord abandoned the colony, and crowding the vessels returned to England. Fifteen men however consented to remain, to await the arrival of fresh colonists from the Mother Country.
Sir Walter Raleigh, still undiscouraged, in the next year 1587 sent out another fleet containing a number of families as emigrants, with women and children. When they arrived, they found Roanoke deserted. The fifteen men had been murdered by the Indians in retaliation for the murder of their chief and several of his warriors by the English. With fear and trembling the new settlers decided to remain, urging the friends who had accompanied them to hasten back to England with the ships and bring them reinforcements and supplies. Scarcely had they spread their sails on the return voyage ere war broke out with Spain. It was three years before another ship crossed the ocean, to see what had become of the colony. It had utterly disappeared. Though many attempts were made to ascertain its tragic fate, all were unavailing. It is probable that many were put to death by the Indians, and perhaps the children were carried far back into the interior and incorporated into their tribes. This bitter disappointment seemed to paralyse the energies of colonization. For more than seventy years the Carolinas remained a wilderness, with no attempt to transfer to them the civilization of the Old World. Still English ships continued occasionally to visit the coast. Some came to fish, some to purchase furs of the Indians, and some for timber for shipbuilding. The stories which these voyagers told on their return, kept up an interest in the New World. It was indeed an attractive picture which could be truthfully painted. The climate was mild, genial and salubrious. The atmosphere surpassed the far-famed transparency of Italian skies. The forests were of gigantic growth, more picturesquely beautiful than any ever planted by man's hand, and they were filled with game. The lakes and streams swarmed with fish. A wilderness of flowers, of every variety of loveliness, bloomed over the wide meadows and the broad savannahs, which the forest had not yet invaded. Berries and fruits were abundant. In many places the soil was surpassingly rich, and easily tilled; and all this was open, without money and without price, to the first comer.
Still more than a hundred years elapsed after the discovery of these realms, ere any permanent settlement was effected upon them. Most of the bays, harbors and rivers were unexplored, and reposed as it were in the solemn silence of eternity. From the everglades of Florida to the firclad hills of Nova Scotia, not a settlement of white men could be found.
At length in the year 1607, a number of wealthy gentlemen in London formed a company to make a new attempt for the settlement of America. It was their plan to send out hardy colonists, abundantly provided with arms, tools and provisions. King James I., who had succeeded his cousin Queen Elizabeth, granted them a charter, by which, wherever they might effect a landing, they were to be the undisputed lords of a territory extending a hundred miles along the coast, and running back one hundred miles into the interior. Soon after, a similar grant was conferred upon another association, for the region of North Virginia, now called New England.
Under the protection of this London Company, one hundred and five men, with no women or children, embarked in three small ships for the Southern Atlantic coast of North America. Apparently by accident, they entered Chesapeake Bay, where they found a broad and deep stream, which they named after their sovereign, James River. As they ascended this beautiful stream, they were charmed with the loveliness which nature had spread so profusely around them. Upon the northern banks of the river, about fifty miles from its entrance into the bay, they selected a spot for their settlement, which they named Jamestown. Here they commenced cutting down trees and raising their huts.
In an enterprise of this kind, muscles inured to work and determined spirits ready to grapple with difficulties, are essential. In such labors, the most useless of all beings is the gentleman with soft hands and luxurious habits. Unfortunately quite a number of pampered sons of wealth had joined the colony. Being indolent, selfish and dissolute, they could do absolutely nothing for the prosperity of the settlement, but were only an obstacle in the way of its growth.
Troubles soon began to multiply, and but for the energies of a remarkable man, Capt. John Smith, the colony must soon have perished through anarchy. But even Capt. John Smith with all his commanding powers, and love of justice and of law, could not prevent the idle and profligate young men from insulting the natives, and robbing them of their corn. With the autumnal rains sickness came, and many died. The hand of well-organised industry might have raised an ample supply of corn to meet all their wants through the short winter. But this had been neglected, and famine was added to sickness, Capt. Smith had so won the confidence of the Indian chieftains, that notwithstanding the gross irregularities of his young men, they brought him supplies of corn and game, which they freely gave to the English in their destitution.
Captain Smith having thus provided for the necessities of the greatly diminished colony, set out with a small party of men on an exploring expedition into the interior. He was waylayed by Indians, who with arrows and tomahawks speedily put all the men to death, excepting the leader, who was taken captive. There was something in the demeanor of this brave man which overawed them. He showed them his pocket compass, upon which they gazed with wonder. He then told them that if they would send to the fort a leaf from his pocket-book, upon which he had made several marks with his pencil, they would find the next day, at any spot they might designate, a certain number of axes, blankets, and other articles of great value to them. Their curiosity was exceedingly aroused; the paper was sent, and the next day the articles were found as promised. The Indians looked upon Captain Smith as a magician, and treated him with great respect. Still the more thoughtful of the natives regarded him as a more formidable foe. They could not be blind to the vastly superior power of the English in their majestic ships, with their long swords, and terrible fire-arms, and all the developments, astounding to them, of a higher civilization. They were very anxious in view of encroachments which might eventually give the English the supremacy in their land.
Powhatan, the king of the powerful tribe who had at first been very friendly to the English, summoned a council of war of his chieftains, and after long deliberation, it was decided that Captain Smith was too powerful a man to be allowed to live, and that he must die. He was accordingly led out to execution, but without any of the ordinary accompaniments of torture. His hands were bound behind him, he was laid upon the ground, and his head was placed upon a stone. An Indian warrior of herculean strength stood by, with a massive club, to give the death blow by crushing in the skull. Just as the fatal stroke was about to descend, a beautiful Indian girl, Pocahontas, the daughter of the king, rushed forward and throwing her arms around the neck of Captain Smith, placed her head upon his. The Indians regarded this as an indication from the Great Spirit that the life of Captain Smith was to be spared, and they set their prisoner at liberty, who, being thus miraculously rescued, returned to Jamestown.
By his wisdom Captain Smith preserved for some time friendly relations with the Indians, and the colony rapidly increased, until there were five hundred Europeans assembled at Jamestown. Capt. Smith being severely wounded by an accidental explosion of gunpowder, returned to England for surgical aid. The colony, thus divested of his vigorous sway, speedily lapsed into anarchy. The bitter hostility of the Indians was aroused, and, within a few months, the colony dwindled away beneath the ravages of sickness, famine, and the arrows of the Indians, to but sixty men. Despair reigned in all hearts, and this starving remnant of Europeans was preparing to abandon the colony and return to the Old World, when Lord Delaware arrived with several ships loaded with provisions and with a reinforcement of hardy laborers. Most of the idle and profligate young men who had brought such calamity upon the colony, had died. Those who remained took fresh courage, and affairs began to be more prosperous.
The organization of the colony had thus far been effected with very little regard to the wants of human nature. There were no women there. Without the honored wife there cannot be the happy home; and without the home there can be no contentment. To herd together five hundred men upon the banks of a foreign stream, three thousand miles from their native land, without women and children, and to expect them to lay the foundation of a happy and prosperous colony, seems almost unpardonable folly.
Emigrants began to arrive with their families, and in the year 1620, one hundred and fifty poor, but virtuous young women, were induced to join the Company. Each young man who came received one hundred acres of land. Eagerly these young planters, in short courtship, selected wives from such of these women as they could induce to listen to them. Each man paid one hundred and fifty pounds of tobacco to defray the expenses of his wife's voyage. But the wickedness of man will everywhere, and under all circumstances, make fearful development of its power. Many desperadoes joined the colony. The poor Indians with no weapons of war but arrows, clubs and stone tomahawks, were quite at the mercy of the English with their keen swords, and death-dealing muskets. Fifteen Europeans could easily drive several hundred Indians in panic over the plains. Unprincipled men perpetrated the grossest outrages upon the families of the Indians, often insulting the proudest chiefs.
The colonists were taking up lands in all directions. Before their unerring rifles, game was rapidly disappearing. The Indians became fully awake to their danger. The chiefs met in council, and a conspiracy was formed, to put, at an appointed hour, all the English to death, every man, woman and child. Every house was marked. Two or three Indians were appointed to make the massacre sure in each dwelling. They were to spread over the settlement, enter the widely scattered log-huts, as friends, and at a certain moment were to spring upon their unsuspecting victims, and kill them instantly. The plot was fearfully successful in all the dwellings outside the little village of Jamestown. In one hour, on the 22nd of March, 1622, three hundred and forty-seven men, women and children were massacred in cold blood. The colony would have been annihilated, but for a Christian Indian who, just before the massacre commenced, gave warning to a friend in Jamestown. The Europeans rallied with their fire-arms, and easily drove off their foes, and then commenced the unrelenting extermination of the Indians. An arrow can be thrown a few hundred feet, a musket ball more than as many yards. The Indians were consequently helpless. The English shot down both sexes, young and old, as mercilessly as if they had been wolves. They seized their houses, their lands, their pleasant villages. The Indians were either slain or driven far away from the houses of their fathers, into the remote wilderness.
The colony now increased rapidly, and the cabins of the emigrants spread farther and farther over the unoccupied lands. These hardy adventurers seemed providentially imbued with the spirit of enterprise. Instead of clustering together for the pleasure of society and for mutual protection, they were ever pushing into the wild and unknown interior, rearing their cabins on the banks of distant streams, and establishing their silent homes in the wildest solitudes of the wilderness. In 1660, quite a number of emigrants moved directly south from Virginia, to the river Chowan, in what is now South Carolina, where they established a settlement which they called Albermarle. In 1670, a colony from England established itself at Charleston, South Carolina. Thus gradually the Atlantic coast became fringed with colonies, extending but a few leagues back into the country from the sea-shore, while the vast interior remained an unexplored wilderness. As the years rolled on, ship-loads of emigrants arrived, new settlements were established, colonial States rose into being, and, though there were many sanguinary conflicts with the Indians, the Europeans were always in the end triumphant, and intelligence, wealth, and laws of civilization were rapidly extended along the Atlantic border of the New World.
For many years there had been a gradual pressure of the colonists towards the west, steadily encroaching upon the apparently limitless wilderness. To us it seems strange that they did not, for the sake of protection against the Indians, invariably go in military bands. But generally this was not the case. The emigrants seem to have been inspired with a spirit of almost reckless indifference to danger; they apparently loved the solitude of the forest, avoided neighbors who might interfere with their hunting and trapping, and reared their humble cottages in the wildest ravines of the mountains and upon the smooth meadows which border the most solitary streams; thus gradually the tide of emigration, flowing through Indian trails and along the forest-covered vines, was approaching the base of the Alleghany mountains.
But little was known of the character of the boundless realms beyond the ridges of this gigantic chain. Occasionally a wandering Indian who had chased his game over those remote wilds, would endeavor to draw upon the sand, with a stick, a map of the country showing the flow of the rivers, the line of the mountains, and the sweep of the open prairies. The Ohio was then called the Wabash. This magnificent and beautiful stream is formed by the confluence of the Alleghany and the Monongahela rivers. It was a long voyage, a voyage of several hundred miles, following the windings of the Monongahela river from its rise among the mountains of Western Virginia till, far away in the north, it met the flood of the Alleghany, at the present site of the city of Pittsburg. The voyage, in a birch canoe, required, in the figurative language of the Indians, "two paddles, two warriors and three moons."
The Indians very correctly described the Ohio, or the Wabash, as but the tributary of a much more majestic stream, far away in the west, which, pouring its flood through the impenetrable forest, emptied itself they knew not where. Of the magnitude of this distant river, the Mississippi, its source, rise and termination, they could give no intelligible account. They endeavored to give some idea of the amount of game to be found in those remote realms, by pointing to the leaves of the forest and the stars in the sky.
The settlers were deeply interested and often much excited by the glowing descriptions thus given them of a terrestrial Eden, where life would seem to be but one uninterrupted holiday. Occasionally an adventurous French or Spanish trader would cross the towering mountains and penetrate the vales beyond. They vied with the Indians in their account of the salubrity of the climate, the brilliance of the skies, the grandeur of the forests, the magnificence of the rivers, the marvelous fertility of the soil and the abundance of game.
As early as the year 1690 a trader from Virginia, by the name of Doherty, crossed the mountains, visited the friendly Cherokee nation, within the present bounds of Georgia, and resided with the natives several years. In the year 1730 an enterprising and intelligent man from South Carolina, by the name of Adair, took quite an extensive tour through most of the villages of the Cherokees, and also visited several tribes south and west of them. He wrote an exceedingly valuable and interesting account of his travels which was published in London.
Influenced by these examples several traders, in the year 1740, went from Virginia to the country of the Cherokees. They carried on pack horses goods which the Indians valued, and which they exchanged for furs, which were sold in Europe at an enormous profit.
A hatchet, a knife, a trap, a string of beads, which could be bought for a very small sum in the Atlantic towns, when exhibited beyond the mountains to admiring groups in the wigwam of the Indian, could be exchanged for furs which were of almost priceless value in the metropolitan cities of the Old World. This traffic was mutually advantageous, and so long as peaceful relations existed between the white man and the Indian, was prosecuted with great and ever increasing vigor. The Indians thus obtained the steel trap, the keenly cutting ax, and the rifle, which he soon learned to use with unerring aim. He was thus able in a day to obtain more game than with his arrows and his clumsy snares he could secure in a month.
This friendly intercourse was in all respects very desirable; and but for the depravity of the white man it might have continued uninterrupted for generations. But profligate and vagabond adventurers from the settlements defrauded the Indians, insulted their women, and often committed wanton murder. But it would seem that the majority of the traders were honest men. Ramsay, in his Annals of Tennessee, writes, in reference to this traffic:
"Other advantages resulted from it to the whites. They became thus acquainted with the great avenues leading through the hunting ground, and to the occupied country of the neighboring tribes—an important circumstance in the condition of either peace or war. 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, depredations 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 where 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."
Game on the eastern side of the Alleghanies, hunted down alike by white men and Indians, soon became scarce. Adventurers combining the characters of traders and hunters rapidly multiplied. Many of the hunters among the white men far outstripped the Indians in skill and energy. Thus some degree of jealousy was excited on the part of the savages. They saw how rapidly the game was disappearing, and these thoughtful men began to be anxious for the future. With no love for agriculture the destruction of the game was their ruin.
As early as the year 1748 quite a party of gentlemen explorers, under the leadership of Doctor Thomas Walker of Virginia, crossed a range of the Alleghany mountains, which the Indians called Warioto, but to which Doctor Walker gave the name of Cumberland, in honor of the Duke of Cumberland who was then prime minister of England. Following along this chain in a south-westerly direction, in search of some pass or defile by which they could cross the cliffs, they came to the remarkable depression in the mountains to which they gave the name of Cumberland Gap. On the western side of the range they found a beautiful mountain stream, rushing far away, with ever increasing volume, into the unknown wilderness, which the Indians called Shawnee, but which Doctor Walker's party baptised with the name of Cumberland River. These names have adhered to the localities upon which they were thus placed.
In 1756 a feeble attempt was made to establish a colony upon the Tennessee river, at a spot which was called London. This was one hundred and fifty miles in advance of any white settlement. Eight years passed, and by the ravages of war the little settlement went up in flame and smoke. As the years rapidly came and went there were occasional bursts of the tempests of war; again there would be a short lull and blessed peace would come with its prosperity and joy.
"In the year 1760, Doctor Walker again passed over Clinch and Powell's rivers on a tour of exploration, into what is now Kentucky. The Cherokees were then 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 prospect of gain which might be drawn from this source, formed themselves into a company composed of Wallen, Seagys, Blevins, Cox and fifteen others, and came into the valley, since known as Carter's Valley, in Hawkin's county, Tennessee. They hunted eighteen months upon Clinch and Powell rivers. Wallen's Creek and Wallen's Ridge received their name from the leader of the company; as also did Wallen's Station which they erected in the Lee county, Virginia.
"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 Boone from the Yadkin, in North Carolina, and travelled with them as low as the place where Abingdon now stands, and there left them."
This is the first time the advent of Daniel Boone 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 hunted upon Watauga some time earlier than this.
Daniel Boone, his Parentage, and early Adventures.
Trials of the Colonists.—George Boone and his home.—Squire Boone.—Birth and character of Daniel Boone.—His limited education.—A pioneer's camp.—A log house and furnishings.—Annoyance of Boone on the arrival of Scotch emigrants.—His longings for adventure.—Camp meetings.—Frontier life.—Sports.—Squirrel hunting.—Snuffing the candle.
It was but a narrow fringe upon the sea coast of North America, which was thus far occupied by the European emigrants. Even this edge of the continent was so vast in its extent, from the southern capes of Florida to the gulf of St. Lawrence, that these colonial settlements were far separated from each other. They constituted but little dots in the interminable forest: the surges of the Atlantic beating upon their eastern shores, and the majestic wilderness sweeping in its sublime solitude behind them on the west. Here the painted Indians pursued their game, while watching anxiously the encroachments of the pale faces. The cry of the panther, the growling of the bear, and the howling of the wolf, were music to the settlers compared with the war-hoop of the savage, which often startled the inmates of the lonely cabins, and consigned them to that sleep from which there is no earthly waking. The Indians were generally hostile, and being untutored savages, they were as merciless as demons in their revenge. The mind recoils from the contemplation of the tortures to which they often exposed their captives. And one cannot but wonder that the Almighty Father could have allowed such agony to be inflicted upon any of His creatures.
Notwithstanding the general desire of the colonial authorities to treat the Indians with justice and kindness, there were unprincipled adventurers crowding all the colonies, whose wickedness no laws could restrain. They robbed the Indians, insulted their families, and inflicted upon them outrages which goaded the poor savages to desperation. In their unintelligent vengeance they could make no distinction between the innocent and the guilty.
On the 10th of October, 1717, a vessel containing a number of emigrants arrived at Philadelphia, a small but flourishing settlement upon the banks of the Delaware. Among the passengers there was a man named George Boone, with his wife and eleven children, nine sons and two daughters. He had come from Exeter, England, and was lured to the New World by the cheapness of land. He had sufficient property to enable him to furnish all his sons with ample farms in America. The Delaware, above Philadelphia, was at that time a silent stream, flowing sublimely through the almost unbroken forest. Here and there, a bold settler had felled the trees, and in the clearing had reared his log hut, upon the river banks. Occasionally the birch canoe of an Indian hunter was seen passing rapidly from cove to cove, and occasionally a little cluster of Indian wigwams graced some picturesque and sunny exposure, for the Indians manifested much taste in the location of their villages.
George Boone ascended this solitary river about twenty miles above Philadelphia, where he purchased upon its banks an extensive territory, consisting of several hundred acres. It was near the present city of Bristol, in what is now called Buck's County. To this tract, sufficiently large for a township, he gave the name of Exeter, in memory of the home he had left in England. Here, aided by the strong arms of his boys, he reared a commodious log cabin. It must have been an attractive and a happy home. The climate was delightful, the soil fertile, supplying him, with but little culture, with an ample supply of corn, and the most nutritious vegetables. Before his door rolled the broad expanse of the Delaware, abounding with fish of delicious flavor. His boys with hook and line could at any time, in a few moments, supply the table with a nice repast. With the unerring rifle, they could always procure game in great variety and abundance.
The Indians, won by the humanity of William Penn, were friendly, and their occasional visits to the cabin contributed to the enjoyment of its inmates. On the whole a more favored lot in life could not well be imagined. There was unquestionably far more happiness in this log cabin of the settler, on the silent waters of the Delaware, than could be found in any of the castles or palaces of England, France, or Spain.
George Boone had one son on whom he conferred the singular name of Squire. His son married a young woman in the neighborhood by the name of Sarah Morgan, and surrounded by his brothers and sisters, he raised his humble home in the beautiful township which his father had purchased. Before leaving England the family, religiously inclined, had accepted the Episcopal form of Christian worship. But in the New World, far removed from the institutions of the Gospel, and allured by the noble character and influence of William Penn, they enrolled themselves in the Society of Friends. In the record of the monthly meetings of this society, we find it stated that George Boone was received to its communion on the thirty-first day of tenth month, in the year 1717. It is also recorded that his son Squire Boone was married to Sarah Morgan, on the twenty-third day of seventh month, 1720. The records of the meetings also show the number of their children, and the periods of their birth.
By this it appears that their son Daniel, the subject of this memoir, was born on the twenty-second day of eighth month, 1734. It seems that Squire Boone became involved in difficulties with the Society of Friends, for allowing one of his sons to marry out of meeting. He was therefore disowned, and perhaps on this account, he subsequently removed his residence to North Carolina, as we shall hereafter show. His son Daniel, from earliest childhood, developed a peculiar and remarkably interesting character. He was silent, thoughtful, of pensive temperament, yet far from gloomy, never elated, never depressed. He exhibited from his earliest years such an insensibility to danger, as to attract the attention of all who knew him. Though affectionate and genial in disposition, never morose or moody, he still loved solitude, and seemed never so happy as when entirely alone. His father remained in his home upon the Delaware until Daniel was about ten years of age.
Various stories are related of his adventures in these his early years, which may or may not be entirely authentic. It makes but little difference. These anecdotes if only founded on facts, show at least the estimation in which he was regarded, and the impression which his character produced in these days of childhood. Before he was ten years old he would take his rifle and plunge boldly into the depths of the illimitable forest. He seemed, by instinct, possessed of the skill of the most experienced hunter, so that he never became bewildered, or in danger of being lost. There were panthers, bears and wolves in those forests, but of them he seemed not to have the slightest fear. His skill as a marksman became quite unerring. Not only raccoons, squirrels, partridges and other such small game were the result of his hunting expeditions, but occasionally even the fierce panther fell before his rifle ball. From such frequent expeditions he would return silent and tranquil, with never a word of boasting in view of exploits of which a veteran hunter might be proud.
Indeed his love of solitude was so great, that he reared for himself a little cabin in the wilderness, three miles back from the settlement. Here he would go all alone without even a dog for companion, his trusty rifle his only protection. At his camp-fire, on the point of his ramrod, he would cook the game which he obtained in abundance, and upon his bed of leaves would sleep in sweetest enjoyment, lulled by the wind through the tree-tops, and by the cry of the night bird and of the wild beasts roaming around. In subsequent life, he occasionally spoke of these hours as seasons of unspeakable joy.
The education of young Boone was necessarily very defective. There were no schools then established in those remote districts of log cabins. But it so happened that an Irishman of some little education strolled into that neighborhood, and Squire Boone engaged him to teach, for a few months, his children and those of some others of the adjacent settlers. These hardy emigrants met with their axes in a central point in the wilderness, and in a few hours constructed a rude hut of logs for a school-house. Here young Boone was taught to read, and perhaps to write. This was about all the education he ever received. Probably the confinement of the school-room was to him unendurable. The forest was his congenial home, hunting the business of his life.
Though thus uninstructed in the learning of books, there were other parts of practical education, of infinitely more importance to him, in which he became an adept. His native strength of mind, keen habits of observation, and imperturbable tranquility under whatever perils or reverses, gave him skill in the life upon which he was to enter, which the teachings of books alone could not confer. No marksman could surpass him in the dexterity with which with his bullet he would strike the head of a nail, at the distance of many yards. No Indian hunter or warrior could with more sagacity trace his steps through the pathless forest, detect the footsteps of a retreating foe, or search out the hiding place of the panther or the bear. In these hunting excursions the youthful frame of Daniel became inured to privation, hardship, endurance. Taught to rely upon his own resources, he knew not what it was to be lonely, for an hour. In the darkest night and in the remotest wilderness, when the storm raged most fiercely, although but a child he felt peaceful, happy, and entirely at home.
About the year 1748 (the date is somewhat uncertain), Squire Boone, with his family, emigrated seven hundred miles farther south and west to a place called Holman's Ford on the Yadkin river, in North Carolina. The Yadkin is a small stream in the north-west part of the State. A hundred years ago this was indeed a howling wilderness. It is difficult to imagine what could have induced the father of a family to abandon the comparatively safe and prosperous settlements on the banks of the Delaware, to plunge into the wilderness of these pathless solitudes, several hundred miles from the Atlantic coast. Daniel was then about sixteen years of age.
Of the incidents of their long journey through the wood—on foot, with possibly a few pack horses, for there were no wagon-roads whatever—we have no record. The journey must probably have occupied several weeks, occasionally cheered by sunshine, and again drenched by storms. There were nine children in the family. At the close of the weary pilgrimage of a day, through such narrow trails as that which the Indian or the buffalo had made through the forest, or over the prairies, they were compelled to build a cabin at night, with logs and the bark of trees to shelter them from the wind and rain, and at the camp-fire to cook the game which they had shot during the day. We can imagine that this journey must have been a season of unspeakable delight to Daniel Boone. Alike at home with the rifle and the hatchet, never for a moment bewildered, or losing his self-possession, he could, even unaided, at any hour, rear a sheltering hut for his mother and his sisters, before which the camp-fire would blaze cheerily, and their hunger would be appeased by the choicest viands from the game which his rifle had procured.
The spirit of adventure is so strong in most human hearts which luxurious indulgence has not enervated, that it is not improbable that this family enjoyed far more in this romantic excursion through an unexplored wilderness, than those now enjoy who in a few hours traverse the same distance in the smooth rolling rail-cars. Indeed fancy can paint many scenes of picturesque beauty which we know that the reality must have surpassed.
It is the close of a lovely day. A gentle breeze sweeps through the tree-tops from the north-west. The trail through the day has led along the banks of a crystal mountain stream, sparkling with trout. The path is smooth for the moccasined feet. The limbs, inured to action, experienced no weariness. The axes of the father and the sons speedily construct a camp, open to the south and perfectly sheltered on the roof and on the sides by the bark of trees. The busy fingers of the daughters have in the meantime spread over the floor a soft and fragrant carpet of evergreen twigs. The mother is preparing supper, of trout from the stream, and the fattest of wild turkeys or partridges, or tender cuts of venison, which the rifles of her husband or sons have procured. Voracious appetites render the repast far more palatable than the choicest viands which were ever spread in the banqueting halls of Versailles or Windsor. Water-fowl of gorgeous plumage sport in the stream, unintimidated by the approach of man. The plaintive songs of forest-birds float in the evening air. On the opposite side of the stream, herds of deer and buffalo crop the rich herbage of the prairie, which extends far away, till it is lost in the horizon of the south. Daniel retires from the converse of the cabin to an adjoining eminence, where silently and rapturously he gazes upon the scene of loveliness spread out before him.
Such incidents must often have occurred. Even in the dark and tempestuous night, with the storm surging through the tree tops, and the rain descending in floods, in their sheltered camp, illumined by the flames of their night fire, souls capable of appreciating the sublimity of such scenes must have experienced exquisite delight. It is pleasant to reflect, that the poor man in his humble cabin may often be the recipient of much more happiness than the lord finds in his castle, or the king in his palace.
No details are given respecting the arrival of this family on the banks of the Yadkin, or of their habits of life while there. We simply know that they were far away in the untrodden wilderness, in the remotest frontiers of civilization. Bands of Indians were roving around them, but even if hostile, so long as they had only bows and arrows, the settler in his log-hut, which was a fortress, and with his death-dealing rifle, was comparatively safe.
Here the family dwelt for several years, probably in the enjoyment of abundance, and with ever-increasing comforts. The virgin soil, even poorly tilled, furnished them with the corn and the vegetables they required, while the forests supplied the table with game. Thus the family, occupying the double position of the farmer and the hunter, lived in the enjoyment of all the luxuries which both of those callings could afford. Here Daniel Boone grew up to manhood. His love of solitude and of nature led him on long hunting excursions, from which he often returned laden with furs. The silence of the wilderness he brought back with him to his home. And though his placid features ever bore a smile, he had but few words to interchange with neighbors or friends. He was a man of affectionate, but not of passionate nature. It would seem that other emigrants were lured to the banks of the Yadkin, for here, after a few years, young Boone fell in love with the daughter of his father's neighbor, and that daughter, Rebecca Bryan, became his bride. He thus left his father's home, and, with his axe, speedily erected for himself and wife a cabin, we may presume at some distance from sight or sound of any other house. There "from noise and tumult far," Daniel Boone established himself in the life of solitude, to which he was accustomed and which he enjoyed. It appears that his marriage took place about the year 1755. The tide of emigration was still flowing in an uninterrupted stream towards the west. The population was increasing throughout this remote region, and the axe of the settler began to be heard on the streams tributary to the Yadkin.
Daniel Boone became restless. He loved the wilderness and its solitude, and was annoyed by the approach of human habitations, bringing to him customs with which he was unacquainted, and exposing him to embarrassments from which he would gladly escape. The mode of life practiced by those early settlers in the wilderness is well known. The log-house usually consisted of but one room, with a fire-place of stones at the end. These houses were often very warm and comfortable, presenting in the interior, with a bright fire blazing on the hearth, a very cheerful aspect. Their construction was usually as follows: Straight, smooth logs about a foot in diameter, cut of the proper length, and so notched at the ends as to be held very firmly together, were thus placed one above the other to the height of about ten feet. The interstices were filled with clay, which soon hardened, rendering the walls comparatively smooth, and alike impervious to wind or rain. Other logs of straight fiber were split into clap-boards, one or two inches in thickness, with which they covered the roof. If suitable wood for this purpose could not be found, the bark of trees was used, with an occasional thatching of the long grass of the prairies. Logs about eighteen inches in diameter were selected for the floor. These were easily split in halves, and with the convex side buried in the earth, and the smooth surface uppermost joined closely together by a slight trimming with axe or adze, presented a very firm and even attractive surface for the feet.
In the centre of the room, four augur holes were bored in the logs, about three inches in diameter. Stakes were driven firmly into these holes, upon which were placed two pieces of timber, with the upper surfaces hewn smooth, thus constructing a table. In one corner of the cabin, four stakes were driven in a similar way, about eighteen inches high, with forked tops. Upon these two saplings were laid with smooth pieces of bark stretched across. These were covered with grass or dried leaves, upon which was placed, with the fur upwards, the well-tanned skin of the buffalo or the bear. Thus quite a luxurious bed was constructed, upon which there was often enjoyed as sweet sleep as perhaps is ever found on beds of down. In another corner, some rude shelves were placed, upon which appeared a few articles of tin and ironware. Upon some buck horns over the door was always placed the rifle, ever loaded and ready for use.
A very intelligent emigrant, Dr. Doddridge, gives the following graphic account of his experience in such a log-cabin as we have described, in the remote wilderness. When he was but a child, his father, with a small family, had penetrated these trackless wilds, and in the midst of their sublime solitudes had reared his lonely cabin. He writes:
"My father's family was small and he took us all with him. The Indian meal which he brought was expended six weeks too soon, so that for that length of time we had to live without bread. The lean venison and the breast of wild turkeys, we were taught to call bread. I remember how narrowly we children watched the growth of the potato tops, pumpkin, and squash vines, hoping from day to day to get something to answer in the place of bread. How delicious was the taste of the young potatoes, when we got them! What a jubilee when we were permitted to pull the young corn for roasting ears! Still more so when it had acquired sufficient hardness to be made into johnny cake by the aid of a tin grater. The furniture of the table consisted of a few pewter dishes, plates and spoons, but mostly of wooden bowls and trenchers and noggins. If these last were scarce, gourds and hard shell squashes made up the deficiency.
"I well remember the first time I ever saw a tea cup and saucer. My mother died when I was six or seven years of age. My father then sent me to Maryland to go to school. At Bedford, the tavern at which my uncle put up was a stone house, and to make the changes still more complete, it was plastered on the inside both as to the walls and ceiling. On going into the dining-room, I was struck with astonishment at the appearance of the house. I had no idea that there was any house in the world that was not built of logs. But here I looked around and could see no logs, and above I could see no joists. Whether such a thing had been made by the hands of man, or had grown so of itself, I could not conjecture. I had not the courage to inquire anything about it. When supper came on, my confusion was worse confounded: A little cup stood in a bigger one with some brownish-looking stuff in it, which was neither milk, hominy, nor broth. What to do with these little cups, and the spoons belonging to them, I could not tell. But I was afraid to ask anything concerning the use of them."
Daniel Boone could see from the door of his cabin, far away in the west, the majestic ridge of the Alleghany mountains, many of the peaks rising six thousand feet into the clouds. This almost impassable wall, which nature had reared, extended for hundreds of leagues, along the Atlantic coast, parallel with that coast, and at an average distance of one hundred and thirty miles from the ocean. It divides the waters which flow into the Atlantic, from those which run into the Mississippi. The great chain consists of many spurs, from fifty to two hundred miles in breadth, and receives in different localities, different names, such as the Cumberland mountains, the Blue Ridge, etc.
But few white men had ever as yet ascended these summits, to cast a glance at the vast wilderness beyond. The wildest stories were told around the cabin fires, of these unexplored realms,—of the Indian tribes wandering there; of the forests filled with game; of the rivers alive with fishes; of the fertile plains, the floral beauty, the abounding fruit, and the almost celestial clime. These stories were brought to the settlers in the broken language of the Indians, and in the exaggerated tales of hunters, who professed that in the chase they had, from some Pisgah's summit, gazed upon the splendors of this Canaan of the New World.
Thus far, the settlers had rested contented with the sea-board region east of the Alleghanies. They had made no attempt to climb the summits of this great barrier, or to penetrate its gloomy defiles. A dense forest covered alike the mountain cliff and the rocky gorge. Indeed there were but few points at which even the foot of the hunter could pass this chain.
While Daniel Boone was residing in the congenial solitude of his hut, on the banks of the Yadkin; with the grandeur of the wilderness around him in which his soul delighted; with his table luxuriously spread according to his tastes—with venison, bear's meat, fat turkeys, chickens from the prairie, and vegetables from his garden; with comfortable clothing of deerskin, and such cloths as pedlars occasionally brought to his cabin door in exchange for furs, he was quite annoyed by the arrival of a number of Scotch families in his region, bringing with them customs and fashions which to Daniel Boone were very annoying. They began to cut down the glorious old forest, to break up the green sward of the prairies, to rear more ambitious houses than the humble home of the pioneer; they assumed airs of superiority, introduced more artificial styles of living, and brought in the hitherto unknown vexation of taxes.
One can easily imagine how restive such a man as Boone must have been under such innovations. The sheriff made his appearance in the lonely hut; the collection of the taxes was enforced by suits at law. Even Daniel Boone's title to his lands was called in question; some of the new comers claiming that their more legal grants lapped over upon the boundaries which Boone claimed. Under these circumstances our pioneer became very anxious to escape from these vexations by an emigration farther into the wilderness. Day after day he cast wistful glances upon the vast mountain barrier piercing the clouds in the distant horizon. Beyond that barrier, neither the sheriff nor the tax-gatherer were to be encountered. His soul, naturally incapable of fear, experienced no dread in apprehension of Indian hostilities, or the ferocity of wild beasts. Even the idea of the journey through these sublime solitudes of an unexplored region, was far more attractive to him than the tour of Europe to a sated millionaire.
Two or three horses would convey upon their backs all their household goods. There were Indian trails and streets, so called, made by the buffaloes, as in large numbers they had followed each other, selecting by a wonderful instinct their path from one feeding ground to another, through cane-brakes, around morasses, and over mountains through the most accessible defiles. Along these trails or streets, Boone could take his peaceful route without any danger of mistaking his way. Every mile would be opening to him new scenes of grandeur and beauty. Should night come, or a storm set in, a few hours' labor with his axe would rear for him not only a comfortable, but a cheerful tent with its warm and sheltered interior, with the camp-fire crackling and blazing before it. His wife and his children not only afforded him all the society his peculiar nature craved, but each one was a helper, knowing exactly what to do in this picnic excursion through the wilderness. Wherever he might stop for the night or for a few days, his unerring rifle procured for him viands which might tempt the appetite of the epicure. There are many even in civilized life who will confess, that for them, such an excursion would present attractions such as are not to be found in the banqueting halls at Windsor Castle, or in the gorgeous saloons of Versailles.
Daniel Boone, in imagination, was incessantly visiting the land beyond the mountains, and longing to explore its mysteries. Whether he would find the ocean there or an expanse of lakes and majestic rivers, or boundless prairies, or the unbroken forest, he knew not. Whether the region were crowded with Indians, and if so, whether they would be found friendly or hostile, and whether game roamed there in greater variety and in larger abundance than on the Atlantic side of the great barrier, were questions as yet all unsolved. But these questions Daniel Boone pondered in silence, night and day.
A gentleman who nearly half a century ago visited one of these frontier dwellings, very romantically situated amidst the mountains of Western Virginia, has given us a pencil sketch of the habitation which we here introduce. The account of the visit is also so graphic that we cannot improve it by giving it in any language but his own. This settler had passed through the first and was entering upon the second stage of pioneer life:
"Towards the close of an autumnal day, when traveling through the thinly settled region of Western Virginia, I came up with a substantial-looking farmer leaning on the fence by the road side. I accompanied him to his house to spend the night. It was a log dwelling, and near it stood another log structure, about twelve feet square,—the weaving shop of the family. On entering the dwelling I found the numerous household all clothed in substantial garments of their own manufacture. The floor was unadorned by a carpet and the room devoid of superfluous furniture; yet they had all that necessity required for their comfort. One needs but little experience like this to learn how few are our real wants,—how easily most luxuries of dress, furniture and equipage can be dispensed with.
"Soon after my arrival supper was ready. It consisted of fowls, bacon, hoe-cake and buckwheat cakes. Our beverage was milk and coffee, sweetened with maple sugar. Soon as it grew dark my hostess took down a small candle mould for three candles, hanging from the wall on a frame-work just in front of the fire-place, in company with a rifle, long strings of dried pumpkins and other articles of household property. On retiring I was conducted to the room overhead, to which I ascended by stairs out of doors. My bed-fellow was the county sheriff, a young man of about my own age. And as we lay together a fine field was had for astronomical observations through the chinks of the logs.
"The next morning, after rising, I was looking for the washing apparatus, when he tapped me on the shoulder, as a signal to accompany him to the brook in the rear of the house, in whose pure crystal waters we performed our morning ablutions. After breakfast, through the persuasion of the sheriff, I agreed to go across the country by his house. He was on horseback; I on foot bearing my knapsack. For six miles our route lay through a pathless forest; on emerging from which we soon passed through the 'Court House,' the only village in the county, consisting of about a dozen log-houses and the court building.
"Soon after we came to a Methodist encampment. This was formed of three continuous lines, each occupying a side of a square and about one hundred feet in length. Each row was divided into six or ten cabins with partitions between. The height of the rows on the inner side of the enclosed area was about ten feet, on the outer about six, to which the roofs sloped shed-like. The door of each cabin opened on the inner side of the area, and at the back of each was a log chimney coming up even with the roof. At the upper extremity of the inclosure, formed by these three lines of cabins, was an open shed; a mere roof supported by posts, say thirty by fifty feet, in which was a coarse pulpit and log seats. A few tall trees were standing within the area, and many stumps scattered here and there. The whole establishment was in the depth of a forest, and wild and rude as can well be imagined.
"In many of these sparsely-inhabited counties there are no settled clergy, and rarely do the people hear any other than the Methodist preachers. Here is the itinerating system of Wesley exhibited in its full usefulness. The circuits are usually of three weeks' duration, in which the clergymen preach daily. Most of these preachers are energetic, devoted men; and often they endure great privations.
"After sketching the encampment I came in a few moments to the dwelling of the sheriff. Close by it was a group of mountain men and women seated around a log cabin, about twelve feet square, ten high, and open at the top, into which these neighbors of my companion were casting ears of corn as fast as they could shuck them. Cheerfully they performed their task. The men were large and hardy; the damsels plump and rosy, and all dressed in good warm homespun. The sheriff informed me that he owned about two thousand acres around his dwelling, and that his farm was worth about one thousand dollars or fifty cents an acre.
"I entered his log domicile which was one story in height, about twenty feet square and divided into two small rooms without windows or places to let in the light except by a front and rear door. I soon partook of a meal in which we had a variety of luxuries, not omitting bear's meat. A blessing was asked at the table by one of the neighbors. After supper the bottle, as usual at corn huskings, was circulated. The sheriff learning that I was a Washingtonian, with the politeness of one of nature's gentlemen refrained from urging me to participate. The men drank but moderately; and we all drew around the fire, the light of which was the only one we had. Hunting stories and kindred topics served to talk down the hours till bed time.
"On awaking in the morning, I saw two women cooking breakfast in my bedroom, and three men seated over the fire watching the operation. After breakfast, I bade my host farewell, buckled on my knapsack and left. In the course of two hours, I came to a cabin by the wayside. There being no gate, I sprang over the fence, entered the open door, and was received with a hearty welcome. It was an humble dwelling, the abode of poverty. The few articles of furniture were neat and pleasantly arranged. In the corner stood two beds, one hung with curtains, and both with coverlets of snowy white, contrasting with the dingy log walls, rude furniture, and rough boarded floor of this, the only room in the dwelling. Around a cheerful fire was seated an interesting family group. In one corner, on the hearth, sat the mother, smoking a pipe. Next to her was a little girl, in a small chair, holding a young kitten. In the opposite corner sat a venerable old man, of herculean stature, robed in a hunting shirt, and with a countenance as majestic and impressive as that of a Roman senator. In the centre of the group was a young maiden, modest and retiring, not beautiful, except in that moral beauty virtue gives. She was reading to them from a little book. She was the only one of the family who could read, and she could do so but imperfectly. In that small volume was the whole secret of the neatness and happiness found in this lonely cot. That little book was the New Testament."
The institution of camp-meetings, introduced with so much success by the Methodists, those noble pioneers of Christianity, seem to have been the necessary result of the attempt to preach to the sparsely settled population of a new country. The following is said to be the origin of those camp-meetings which have done incalculable good, socially, intellectually, and religiously.
In the year 1799, two men by the name of McGee, one a Presbyterian, the other a Methodist, set out on a missionary tour together, to visit the log-houses in the wilderness. A meeting was appointed at a little settlement upon one of the tributaries of the Ohio. The pioneers flocked to the place from many miles around. There was no church there, and the meeting was necessarily held in the open air. Many brought their food with them and camped out. Thus the meeting, with exhortation and prayer, was continued in the night. Immense bonfires blazed illuminating the sublimities of the forest, and the assembled congregation, cut off from all the ordinary privileges of civilized life, listened devoutly to the story of a Savior's love.
This meeting was so successful in its results that another was appointed at a small settlement on the banks of a stream called Muddy river. The tidings spread rapidly through all the stations and farm houses on the frontier. It afforded these lonely settlers a delightful opportunity of meeting together. They could listen for hours with unabated interest to the religious exercises. The people assembled from a distance of forty or fifty miles around. A vast concourse had met beneath the foliage of the trees, the skies alone, draped with clouds by day and adorned with stars by night, the dome of their majestic temple.
The scene, by night, must have been picturesque in the extreme. Men, women and children were there in homespun garb; and being accustomed to camp life, they were there in comfort. Strangers met and became friends. Many wives and mothers obtained rest and refreshment from their monotonous toils. There is a bond in Christ's discipleship, stronger than any other, and Christians grasped hands in love, pledging themselves anew to a holy life. For several days and nights, this religious festival was continued. Time could not have been better spent. Dwellers in the forest could not afford to take so long a journey merely to listen to one half-hour's discourse. These men and women were earnest and thoughtful. In the solitude of their homes, they had reflected deeply upon life and its issues. When death occasionally visited their cabins, it was a far more awful event than when death occurs in the crowded city, where the hearse is every hour of every day passing through the streets.
These scenes of worship very deeply impressed the minds of the people. They were not Gospel hardened. The gloom and silence of the forest, alike still by night and by day; the memory of the past, with its few joys and many griefs; the anticipations of the future, with its unceasing struggles, to terminate only in death; the solemnity which rested on every countenance; the sweet melody of the hymns; the earnest tones of the preachers in exhortation and prayer, all combined to present a scene calculated to produce a very profound impression upon the human mind. At this meeting, not only professed Christians were greatly revived, but not less than a hundred persons, it was thought, became disciples of the Savior.
Another camp-meeting was soon after appointed to meet on Desha's Creek, a small stream flowing into the Cumberland river. The country was now becoming more populous, and several thousand were assembled. And thus the work went on, multitudes being thus reached by the preached Gospel who could not be reached in any other way.[A]
[Footnote A: Bang's History of Methodism.]
Life on the frontier was by no means devoid of its enjoyments as well as of its intense excitements. It must have been also an exceedingly busy life. There were no mills for cutting timber or grinding corn; no blacksmith shops to repair the farming utensils. There were no tanneries, no carpenters, shoemakers, weavers. Every family had to do everything for itself. The corn was pounded with a heavy pestle in a large mortar made by burning an excavation in a solid block of wood. By means of these mortars the settlers, in regions where saltpetre could be obtained, made very respectable gunpowder. In making corn-meal a grater was sometimes used, consisting of a half-circular piece of tin, perforated with a punch from the concave side. The ears of corn were rubbed on the rough edges, and the meal fell through the holes on a board or cloth placed to receive it. They also sometimes made use of a handmill, resembling those alluded to in the Bible. These consisted of two circular stones; the lowest, which was immovable, was called the bed-stone,—the upper one, the runner. Two persons could grind together at this mill.
The clothing was all of domestic manufacture. A fabric called linsey-woolsey was most frequently in use and made the most substantial and warmest clothing. It was made of flax and wool, the former the warp, the latter the filling. Every cabin almost had its rude loom, and every woman was a weaver.
The men tanned their own leather. A large trough was sunk in the ground to its upper edge. Bark was shaved with an axe and pounded with a mallet. Ashes were used for lime in removing the hair. In the winter evenings the men made strong shoes and moccasins, and the women cut out and made hunting shirts, leggins and drawers.
Hunting was a great source of amusement as well as a very exciting and profitable employment. The boys were all taught to imitate the call of every bird and beast in the woods. The skill in imitation which they thus acquired was wonderful. Hidden in a thicket they would gobble like a turkey and lure a whole flock of these birds within reach of their rifles. Bleating like the fawn they would draw the timid dam to her death. The moping owls would come in flocks attracted by the screech of the hunter, while packs of wolves, far away in the forest, would howl in response to the hunter's cry. The boys also rivalled the Indians in the skill with which they would throw the tomahawk. With a handle of a given length, and measuring the distance with the eye, they would throw the weapon with such accuracy that its keen edge would be sure to strike the object at which it was aimed. Running, jumping, wrestling were pastimes in which both boys and men engaged. Shooting at a mark was one of the most favorite diversions. When a boy had attained the age of about twelve years, a rifle was usually placed in his hands. In the house or fort where he resided, a port-hole was assigned him, where he was to do valiant service as a soldier, in case of an attack by the Indians. Every day he was in the woods hunting squirrels, turkeys and raccoons. Thus he soon acquired extraordinary expertness with his gun.
The following interesting narrative is taken from Ramsay's Annals of Tennessee, which State was settled about the same time with Kentucky and with emigrants from about the same region:
"The settlement of Tennessee was unlike that of the present new country of the United States. Emigrants from the Atlantic cities, and from most points in the Western interior, now embark upon steamboats or other craft, and carrying with them all the conveniences and comforts of civilized life—indeed many of its luxuries—are, in a few days, without toil, danger or exposure, transported to their new abodes, and in a few months are surrounded with the appendages of home, of civilization and the blessings of law and of society.
"The wilds of Minnesota and Nebraska, by the agency of steam or the stalwart arms of Western boatmen, are at once transformed into the settlements of a commercial and civilized people. Independence and Saint Paul, six months after they are laid off, have their stores and their workshops, their artisans and their mechanics. The mantua-maker and the tailor arrive in the same boat with the carpenter and mason. The professional man and the printer quickly follow. In the succeeding year the piano, the drawing-room, the restaurant, the billiard table, the church bell, the village and the city in miniature are all found, while the neighboring interior is yet a wilderness and a desert.
"The town and comfort, taste and urbanity are first; the clearing, the farm house, the wagon road and the improved country, second. It was far different on the frontier of Tennessee. At first a single Indian trail was the only entrance to the Eastern border of it, and for many years admitted only the hunter and the pack-horse. It was not till the year 1776 that a wagon was seen in Tennessee. In consequence of the want of roads—as well as of the great distance from the sources of supply—the first inhabitants were without tools, and of course without mechanics—much more without the conveniences of living and the comforts of housekeeping.
"Luxuries were absolutely unknown. Salt was brought on pack-horses from Augusta and Richmond and readily commanded ten dollars a bushel. The salt gourd in every cabin was considered as a treasure. The sugar maple furnished the only article of luxury on the frontier; coffee and tea being unknown or beyond the reach of the settlers. Sugar was seldom made and was used only for the sick, or in the preparation of a sweetened dram at a wedding, or on the arrival of a new comer.
"The appendages of the kitchen, the cupboard and the table, were scanty and simple. Iron was brought at great expense from the forges east of the mountains, on pack-horses, and was sold at an enormous price. Its use was, for this reason, confined to the construction and repair of ploughs and other farming utensils. Hinges, nails and fastenings of that material were seldom seen. The costume of the first settlers corresponded well with the style of their buildings and the quality of their furniture: the hunting shirt of the militia man and the hunter was in general use. The rest of their apparel was in keeping with it,—plain, substantial and well adapted for comfort, use and economy. The apparel of the pioneer's family was all home-made; and in a whole neighborhood there would not be seen, at the first settlement of the country, a single article of dress of foreign manufacture. Half the year, in many families, shoes were not worn. Boots, a fur hat and a coat, with buttons on each side, attracted the gaze of the beholder and sometimes received censure or rebuke. A stranger from the old States chose to doff his ruffles, his broad-cloth and his cue rather than endure the scoff and ridicule of the backwoodsman.
"The dwelling house on every frontier in Tennessee was the log-cabin. A carpenter and a mason were not needed to build them—much less the painter, the glazier and the upholsterer. Every settler had, besides his rifle, no other instrument but an axe or hatchet and a butcher-knife. A saw, an auger, a file and a broad-axe would supply a whole settlement, and were used as common property in the erection of the log-cabin.
"The labor and employment of a pioneer family were distributed in accordance with surrounding circumstances. To the men was assigned the duty of procuring subsistence and materials for clothing, erecting the cabin and the station, opening and cultivating the farm, hunting the wild beasts, and repelling and pursueing the Indians. The women spun the flax, the cotton and the wool, wove the cloth, made them up, milked, churned and prepared the food, and did their full share of the duties of housekeeping.
"Could there be happiness or comfort in such dwellings and such a state of society? To those who are accustomed to modern refinements the truth appears like fable. The early occupants of log-cabins were among the most happy of mankind. Exercise and excitement gave them health. They were practically equal, common danger made them mutually dependent. Brilliant hopes of future wealth and distinction led them on. And as there was ample room for all, and as each new comer increased individual and general security, there was little room for that envy, jealousy and hatred which constitute a large portion of human misery in older societies.
"Never were the story, the joke, the song and the laugh better enjoyed than upon the hewed blocks or puncheon stools, around the roaring log fire of the early western settler.
"On the frontier the diet was necessarily plain and homely, but exceedingly abundant and nutritive. The Goshen of America furnishes the richest milk and the most savory and delicious meats. In their rude cabins, with their scanty and inartificial furniture, no people ever enjoyed, in wholesome food a greater variety, or a superior quality of the necessaries of life."
A writer of that day describes the sports of these pioneers of Kentucky. One of them consisted in "driving the nail." A common nail was hammered into a target for about two thirds of its length. The marksmen then took their stand at the distance of about forty paces. Each man carefully cleaned the interior of his gun, and then placed a bullet in his hand, over which he poured just enough powder to cover it. This was a charge. A shot which only came close to the nail was considered a very indifferent shot. Nothing was deemed satisfactory but striking the nail with the bullet fairly on the head. Generally one out of three shots would hit the nail. Two nails were frequently needed before each man could get a shot.
Barking of Squirrels is another sport. "I first witnessed," writes the one to whom we have above alluded, "this manner of procuring squirrels, while 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. Squirrels were seen gambolling on every tree around us. My companion Mr. Boone, a stout, hale, 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.