Timothy Flint.

The First White Man of the West Life and Exploits of Col. Dan'l. Boone, the First Settler of Kentucky; Interspersed with Incidents in the Early Annals of the Country online

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Online LibraryTimothy FlintThe First White Man of the West Life and Exploits of Col. Dan'l. Boone, the First Settler of Kentucky; Interspersed with Incidents in the Early Annals of the Country → online text (page 1 of 15)
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[Illustration: DANIEL BOONE.]


"Fair was the scene that lay
Before the little band,
Which paused upon its toilsome way,
To view this new found land.

Field, stream and valley spread,
Far as the eye could gaze,
With summer's beauty o'er them shed,
And sunlight's brightest rays.

Flowers of the fairest dyes,
Trees clothed in richest green;
And brightly smiled the deep-blue skies,
O'er this enchanting scene.

Such was Kentucky then,
With wild luxuriance blest;
Where no invading hand had been,
The garden of the West."









Birth of Daniel Boone - His early propensities - His pranks at school - His
first hunting expedition - And his encounter with a panther. - Removal of
the family to North Carolina - Boone becomes a hunter - Description of
fire hunting, in which he was near committing a sad mistake - Its
fortunate result - and his marriage.


Boone removes to the head waters of the Yadkin river - He meets with
Finley, who had crossed the mountains into Tennessee - They agree to
explore the wilderness west of the Alleghanies together.


Boone, with Finley and others, start on their exploring
expedition - Boone kills a panther in the night - Their progress over the
mountains - They descend into the great valley - Description of the new
country - Herds of buffaloes - Their wanderings in the wilderness.


The exploring party divide into different routes - Boone and Stewart
taken prisoners by the Indians, and their escape - Boone meets with his
elder brother and another white man in the woods - Stewart killed by the
Indians, and the companion of the elder Boone destroyed by wolves - The
elder brother returns to North Carolina, leaving Boone alone in the


Boone is pursued by the Indians, and eludes their pursuit - He encounters
and kills a bear - The return of his brother with ammunition - They
explore the country - Boone kills a panther on the back of a
buffalo - They return to North Carolina.


Boone starts with his family to Kentucky - Their return to Clinch
river - He conducts a party of surveyors to the Falls of Ohio - He helps
build Boonesborough, and removes his family to the fort - His daughter
and two of Col. Calloway's daughters taken prisoners by the
Indians - They pursue the Indians and rescue the captives.


Settlement of Harrodsburgh - Indian mode of besieging and
warfare - Fortitude and privation of the Pioneers - The Indians attack
Harrodsburgh and Boonesborough - Description of a Station - Attack of
Bryant's Station.


Boone being attacked by two Indians near the Blue Licks, kills them
both - Is afterwards taken prisoner and marched to Old Chillicothe - Is
adopted by the Indians - Indian ceremonies.


Boone becomes a favorite among the Indians - Anecdotes relating to his
captivity - Their mode of tormenting and burning prisoners - Their
fortitude under the infliction of torture - Concerted attack on
Boonesborough - Boone escapes.


Six hundred Indians attack Boonesborough - Boone and Captain Smith go out
to treat with the enemy under a flag of truce, and are extricated from a
treacherous attempt to detain them as prisoners - Defence of the
fort - The Indians defeated - Boone goes to North Carolina to bring back
his family.


A sketch of the character and adventures of several other
pioneers - Harrod, Kenton, Logan, Ray, McAffee, and others.


Boone's brother killed, and Boone himself narrowly escapes from the
Indians - Assault upon Ashton's station - and upon the station near
Shelbyville - Attack upon McAffee's station.


Disastrous battle near the Blue Licks - General Clarke's expedition
against the Miami towns - Massacre of McClure's family - The horrors of
Indian assaults throughout the settlements - General Harmar's
expedition - Defeat of General St. Clair - Gen. Wayne's victory, and a
final peace with the Indians.


Rejoicings on account of the peace - Boone indulges his propensity for
hunting - Kentucky increases in population - Some account of their
conflicting land titles - Progress of civil improvement destroying the
range of the hunter - Litigation of land titles - Boone loses his
lands - Removes from Kentucky to the Kanawha - Leaves the Kanawha and goes
to Missouri, where he is appointed Commandant.


Anecdotes of Colonel Boone, related by Mr. Audubon - A remarkable
instance of memory.


Progress of improvement in Missouri - Old age of Boone - Death of his
wife - He goes to reside with his son - His death - His personal appearance
and character.


Our eastern brethren have entered heartily into the pious duty of
bringing to remembrance the character and deeds of their forefathers.
Shall we of the west allow the names of those great men, who won for us,
from the forest, the savages, and wild beasts, our fair domain of
fertile fields and beautiful rivers, to fade into oblivion? They who
have hearts to admire nobility imparted by nature's great
seal - fearlessness, strength, energy, sagacity, generous forgetfulness
of self, the delineation of scenes of terror, and the relation of deeds
of daring, will not fail to be interested in a sketch of the life of the
pioneer and hunter of Kentucky, Daniel Boone. Contemplated in any light,
we shall find him in his way and walk, a man as truly great as Penn,
Marion, and Franklin, in theirs. True, he was not learned in the lore of
books, or trained in the etiquette of cities. But he possessed a
knowledge far more important in the sphere which Providence called him
to fill. He felt, too, the conscious dignity of self-respect, and would
have been seen as erect, firm, and unembarrassed amid the pomp and
splendor of the proudest court in Christendom, as in the shade of his
own wilderness. Where nature in her own ineffaceable characters has
marked superiority, she looks down upon the tiny and elaborate
acquirements of art, and in all positions and in all time entitles her
favorites to the involuntary homage of their fellow-men. They are the
selected pilots in storms, the leaders in battles, and the pioneers in
the colonization of new countries.

Such a man was Daniel Boone, and wonderfully was he endowed by
Providence for the part which he was called to act. Far be it from us to
undervalue the advantages of education: It can do every thing but assume
the prerogative of Providence. God has reserved for himself the
attribute of creating. Distinguished excellence has never been attained,
unless where nature and education, native endowment and circumstances,
have concurred. This wonderful man received his commission for his
achievements and his peculiar walk from the sign manual of nature. He
was formed to be a woodsman, and the adventurous precursor in the first
settlement of Kentucky. His home was in the woods, where others were
bewildered and lost. It is a mysterious spectacle to see a man possessed
of such an astonishing power of being perfectly familiar with his route
and his resources in the depths of the untrodden wilderness, where
others could as little divine their way, and what was to be done, as
mariners on mid-ocean, without chart or compass, sun, moon, or stars.
But that nature has bestowed these endowments upon some men and denied
them to others, is as certain as that she has given to some animals
instincts of one kind, fitting them for peculiar modes of life, which
are denied to others, perhaps as strangely endowed in another way.

The following pages aim to present a faithful picture of this singular
man, in his wanderings, captivities, and escapes. If the effort be
successful, we have no fear that the attention of the reader will
wander. There is a charm in such recitals, which lays its spell upon
all. The grave and gay, the simple and the learned, the young and
gray-haired alike yield to its influence.

We wish to present him in his strong incipient manifestations of the
development of his peculiar character in boyhood. We then see him on
foot and alone, with no companion but his dog, and no friend but his
rifle, making his way over trackless and unnamed mountains, and
immeasurable forests, until he explores the flowering wilderness of
Kentucky. Already familiar, by his own peculiar intuition, with the
Indian character, we see him casting his keen and searching glance
around, as the ancient woods rung with the first strokes of his axe, and
pausing from time to time to see if the echoes have startled the red
men, or the wild beasts from their lair. We trace him through all the
succeeding explorations of the Bloody Ground, and of Tennessee, until so
many immigrants have followed in his steps, that he finds his privacy
too strongly pressed upon; until he finds the buts and bounds of legal
tenures restraining his free thoughts, and impelling him to the distant
and unsettled shores of the Missouri, to seek range and solitude anew.
We see him there, his eyes beginning to grow dim with the influence of
seventy winters - as he can no longer take the unerring aim of his
rifle - casting wistful looks in the direction of the Rocky Mountains and
the western sea; and sadly reminded that man has but one short life, in
which to wander.

No book can be imagined more interesting than would have been the
personal narrative of such a man, written by himself. What a new pattern
of the heart he might have presented! But, unfortunately, he does not
seem to have dreamed of the chance that his adventures would go down to
posterity in the form of recorded biography. We suspect that he rather
eschewed books, parchment deeds, and clerkly contrivances, as forms of
evil; and held the dead letter of little consequence. His associates
were as little likely to preserve any records, but those of memory, of
the daily incidents and exploits, which indicate character and assume
high interest, when they relate to a person like the subject of this
narrative. These hunters, unerring in their aim to prostrate the
buffalo on his plain, or to bring down the geese and swans from the
clouds, thought little of any other use of the gray goose quill, than
its market value.

Had it been otherwise, and had these men themselves furnished the
materials of this narrative, we have no fear that it would go down to
futurity, a more enduring monument to these pioneers and hunters, than
the granite columns reared by our eastern brethren, amidst assembled
thousands, with magnificent array, and oratory, and songs, to the memory
of their forefathers. Ours would be the record of human nature speaking
to human nature in simplicity and truth, in a language always
impressive, and always understood. Their pictures of their own felt
sufficiency to themselves, under the pressure of exposure and want; of
danger, wounds, and captivity; of reciprocal kindness, warm from the
heart; of noble forgetfulness of self, unshrinking firmness, calm
endurance, and reckless bravery, would be sure to move in the hearts of
their readers strings which never fail to vibrate to the touch.

But these inestimable data are wanting. Our materials are comparatively
few; and we have been often obliged to balance between doubtful
authorities, notwithstanding the most rigorous scrutiny of newspapers
and pamphlets, whose yellow and dingy pages gave out a cloud of dust at
every movement, and the equally rigid examination of clean modern books
and periodicals.


Birth of Daniel Boone - His early propensities - His pranks at school - His
first hunting expedition - And his encounter with a panther. Removal of
the family to North Carolina - Boone becomes a hunter - Description of
fire hunting, in which he was near committing a sad mistake - Its
fortunate result - and his marriage.

Different authorities assign a different birth place to DANIEL BOONE.
One affirms that he was born in Maryland, another in North Carolina,
another in Virginia, and still another during the transit of his parents
across the Atlantic. But they are all equally in error. He was born in
the year 1746, in Bucks county, Pennsylvania, near Bristol, on the right
bank of the Delaware, about twenty miles from Philadelphia. His father
removed, when he was three years old, to the vicinity of Reading, on the
head waters of the Schuylkill. From thence, when his son was thirteen
years old, he migrated to North Carolina, and settled in one of the
valleys of South Yadkin.

The remotest of his ancestors, of whom there is any recorded notice, is
Joshua Boone, an English Catholic. He crossed the Atlantic to the
shores of the Chesapeake Bay, with those who planted the first germ of
the colony of Maryland. A leading motive to emigration with most of
these colonists, was to avoid that persecution on account of their
religion, which however pleasant to inflict, they found it uncomfortable
to endure. Whether this gentleman emigrated from this inducement, as has
been asserted, or not, it is neither possible, nor, as we deem,
important to settle; for we cannot find, that religious motives had any
direct influence in shaping the character and fortunes of the hero of
the woods. Those who love to note the formation of character, and
believe in the hereditary transmission of peculiar qualities, naturally
investigate the peculiarities of parents, to see if they can find there
the origin of those of the children. Many - and we are of the
number - consider transmitted endowment as the most important link in the
chain of circumstances, with which character is surrounded. The most
splendid endowments in innumerable instances, have never been brought to
light, in defect of circumstances to call them forth. The ancestors of
Boone were not placed in positions to prove, whether he did or did not
receive his peculiar aptitudes a legacy from his parents, or a direct
gift from nature. He presents himself to us as a new man, the author and
artificer of his own fortunes, and showing from the beginning rudiments
of character, of which history has recorded no trace in his ancestors.
The promise of the future hunter appeared in his earliest boyhood. He
waged a war of extermination, as soon as he could poise a gun, with
squirrels, raccoons, and wild cats, at that time exceedingly annoying to
the fields and barn-yards of the back settlers.

No scholar ever displayed more decided pre-eminence in any branch of
learning, than he did above the boys of his years, in adroitness and
success in this species of hunting. This is the only distinct and
peculiar trait of character recorded of his early years. The only
transmitted fact of his early training is presented in the following

In that section of the frontier settlement to which Boone had removed,
where unhewn log cabins, and hewn log houses, were interspersed among
the burnt stumps, surrounded by a potato patch and cornfield, as the
traveller pursued his cow-path through the deep forest, there was an
intersection, or more properly concentration of wagon tracks, called the
"Cross Roads," - a name which still designates a hundred frontier
positions of a post office, blacksmith's shop, and tavern. In the
central point of this metropolis stood a large log building, before
which a sign creaked in the wind, conspicuously lettered "Store and

To this point, on the early part of a warm spring morning, a pedestrian
stranger was seen approaching in the path leading from the east. One
hand was armed with a walking stick, and the other carried a small
bundle inclosed in a handkerchief. His aspect was of a man, whose whole
fortunes were in his walking stick and bundle. He was observed to eye
the swinging sign with a keen recognition, inspiring such courage as
the mariner feels on entering the desired haven.

His dialect betrayed the stranger to be a native of Ireland. He sat down
on the _stoup_, and asked in his own peculiar mode of speech, for cold
water. A supply from the spring was readily handed him in a gourd. But
with an arch pause between remonstrance and laughter, he added, that he
thought cold water in a warm climate injurious to the stomach and begged
that the element might be qualified with a little whisky.

The whisky was handed him, and the usual conversation ensued, during
which the stranger inquired if a school-master was wanted in the
settlement - or, as he was pleased to phrase it, a professor in the
higher branches of learning? It is inferred that the father of Boone was
a person of distinction in the settlement, for to him did the master of
the "Store and Tavern" direct the stranger of the staff and bundle for

The direction of the landlord to enable him to find the house of Mr.
Boone, was a true specimen of similar directions in the frontier
settlements of the present; and they have often puzzled clearer heads
than that of the Irish school-master.

"Step this way," said he, "and I will direct you there, so that you
cannot mistake your way. Turn down that right hand road, and keep on it
till you cross the dry branch - then turn to your left, and go up a
hill - then take a lane to your right, which will bring you to an open
field - pass this, and you will come to a path with three forks - take the
middle fork, and it will lead you through the woods in sight of Mr.
Boone's plantation."

The Irishman lost his way, invoked the saints, and cursed his director
for his medley of directions many a time, before he stumbled at length
on Mr. Boone's house. He was invited to sit down and dine, in the simple
backwoods phrase, which is still the passport to the most ample

After dinner, the school-master made known his vocation, and his desire
to find employment. To obtain a qualified school-master in those days,
and in such a place, was no easy business. This scarcity of supply
precluded close investigation of fitness. In a word, the Irishman was
authorized to enter upon the office of school-master of the settlement.
We have been thus particular in this description, because it was the way
in which most teachers were then employed.

It will not be amiss to describe the school-house; for it stood as a
sample of thousands of west country school-houses of the present day. It
was of logs, after the usual fashion of the time and place. In
dimension, it was spacious and convenient. The chimney was peculiarly
ample, occupying one entire side of the whole building, which was an
exact square. Of course, a log could be "snaked" to the fire-place as
long as the building, and a file of boys thirty feet in length, could
all stand in front of the fire on a footing of the most democratic
equality. Sections of logs cut out here and there, admitted light and
air instead of windows. The surrounding forest furnished ample supplies
of fuel. A spring at hand, furnished with various gourds, quenched the
frequent thirst of the pupils. A ponderous puncheon door, swinging on
substantial wooden hinges, and shutting with a wooden latch, completed
the appendages of this primeval seminary.

To this central point might he seen wending from the woods, in every
direction of the compass, flaxen-headed boys and girls, clad in
homespun, brushing away the early dews, as they hied to the place, where
the Hibernian, clothed in his brief authority, sometimes perpetrated
applications of birch without rhyme or reason; but much oftener allowed
his authority to be trampled upon, according as the severe or loving
humor prevailed. This vacillating administration was calculated for any
result, rather than securing the affectionate respect of the children.
Scarcely the first quarter had elapsed, before materials for revolt had
germinated under the very throne of the school-master.

Young Boone, at this time, had reached the second stage of teaching the
young idea how to shoot. His satchel already held paper marked with
those mysterious hieroglyphics, vulgarly called _pot-hooks_, intended to
be gradually transformed to those clerkly characters, which are called

The master's throne was a block of a huge tree, and could not be said,
in any sense, to be a cushion of down. Of course, by the time he had
heard the first lessons of the morning, the master was accustomed to let
loose his noisy subjects, to wanton and bound on the grass, while he
took a turn abroad to refresh himself from his wearying duties. While he
was thus unbending his mind, the observant urchins had remarked, that
he always directed his walk to a deep grove not far distant. They had,
possibly, divined that the unequal tempers of his mind, and his rapid
transitions from good nature to tyrannical moroseness, and the reverse,
were connected with these promenades. The curiosity of young Boone had
been partially excited. An opportunity soon offered to gratify it.

Having one day received the accustomed permission to retire a few
minutes from school, the darting of a squirrel across a fallen tree, as
he went abroad, awakened his ruling passion. He sprang after the nimble
animal, until he found himself at the very spot, where he had observed
his school-master to pause in his promenades. His attention was arrested
by observing a kind of opening under a little arbor, thickly covered
with a mat of vines. Thinking, perhaps, that it was the retreat of some
animal, he thrust in his hand, and to his surprise drew forth a glass
bottle, partly full of whisky. The enigma of his master's walks and
inequalities of temper stood immediately deciphered. After the
reflection of a moment, he carefully replaced the bottle in its
position, and returned to his place in school. In the evening he
communicated his discovery and the result of his meditations to the
larger boys of the school on their way home. They were ripe for revolt,
and the issue of their caucus follows:

They were sufficiently acquainted with fever and ague, to have
experimented the nature of tartar emetic. They procured a bottle exactly
like the master's, filled with whisky, in which a copious quantity of
emetic had been dissolved. Early in the morning, they removed the
school-master's bottle, and replaced it by theirs, and hurried back to
their places, panting with restrained curiosity, and a desire to see
what results would come from their medical mixture.

The accustomed hour for intermission came. The master took his usual
promenade, and the children hastened back with uncommon eagerness to
resume their seats and their lessons. The countenance of the master
alternately red and pale, gave portent of an approaching storm.

"Recite your grammar lesson," said he, in a growling tone, to one of the
older boys.

"How many parts of speech are there?"

"Seven, sir," timidly answered the boy.

"Seven, you numscull! is that the way you get your lesson?" Forthwith
descended a shower of blows on his devoted head.

"On what continent is Ireland?" said he, turning from him in wrath to
another boy. The boy saw the shower pre-determined to fall, and the
medicine giving evident signs of having taken effect. Before he could
answer, "I reckon on the continent of England," he was gathering an
ample tithe of drubbing.

"Come and recite your lesson in arithmetic?" said he to Boone, in a
voice of thunder. The usually rubicund face of the Irishman was by this
time a deadly pale. Slate in hand, the docile lad presented himself
before his master.

"Take six from nine, and what remain?"

"Three, sir."

"True. That will answer for whole numbers, now for your fractions. Take
three-quarters from an integer, and what remains?"

"The whole."

"You blockhead! you numscull!" exclaimed the master, as the strokes fell
like a hail shower; "let me hear you demonstrate that."

"If I subtract one bottle of whisky, and replace it with one in which I
have mixed an emetic, will not the whole remain, if nobody drinks it?"

By this time the medicine was taking fearful effect. The united
acclamations and shouts of the children, and the discovery of the
compounder of his medicament, in no degree tended to soothe the
infuriated master. Young Boone, having paid for his sport by an ample

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Online LibraryTimothy FlintThe First White Man of the West Life and Exploits of Col. Dan'l. Boone, the First Settler of Kentucky; Interspersed with Incidents in the Early Annals of the Country → online text (page 1 of 15)