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The Conquest of the Old Southwest: The Romantic Story of the Early Pioneers into Virginia, The Carolinas, Tennessee, and Kentucky 1740-1790

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In 1748 the Ohio Company was organized by Colonel Thomas Lee,
president of the Virginia council, and twelve other gentlemen, of
Virginia and Maryland. In their petition for five hundred
thousand acres, one of the declared objects of the company was
"to anticipate the French by taking possession of that country
southward of the Lakes to which the French had no right . . . ."
By the royal order of May 19, 1749, the company was awarded two
hundred thousand acres, free of quit-rent for ten years; and the
promise was made of an additional award of the remainder
petitioned for, on condition of seating a hundred families upon
the original grant and the building and maintaining of a fort.
Christopher Gist, summoned from his remote home on the Yadkin in
North Carolina, was instructed "to search out and discover the
Lands upon the river Ohio & other adjoining branches of the
Mississippi down as low as the great Falls thereof." In this
journey, which began at Colonel Thomas Cresap's, in Maryland, in
October, 1750, and ended at Gist's home on May 18, 1751, Gist
visited the Lower Shawnee Town and the Lower Blue Licks, ascended
Pilot Knob almost two decades before Find lay and Boone, from the
same eminence, "saw with pleasure the beautiful level of
Kentucky," intersected Walker's route at two points, and crossed
Cumberland Mountain at Pound Gap on the return journey. This was
a far more extended journey than Walker's, enabling Gist to
explore the fertile valleys of the Muskingum, Scioto, and Miami
rivers and to gain a view of the beautiful meadows of Kentucky.

It is eminently significant of the spirit of the age, which was
inaugurating an era of land hunger unparalleled in American
history, that the first authentic records of the trans-Alleghany
were made by surveyors who visited the country as the agents of
great land companies. The outbreak of the French and Indian War
so soon afterward delayed for a decade and more any important
colonization of the West. Indeed, the explorations and findings
of Walker and Gist were almost unknown, even to the companies
they represented. But the conclusion of peace in 1763, which gave
all the region between the mountains and the Mississippi to the
British, heralded the true beginning of the westward expansionist
movement in the Old Southwest, and inaugurated the constructive
leadership of North Carolina in f he occupation and colonization
of the imperial domain of Kentucky and the Ohio Valley.

In the middle years of the century many families of Virginia
gentry removed to the back country of North Carolina in the
fertile region ranging from Williamsborough on the east to
Hillsborough on the west. There soon arose in this section of the
colony a society marked by intellectual distinction, social
graces, and the leisured dignity of the landlord and the large
planter. So conspicuous for means, intellect, culture, and
refinement were the people of this group, having "abundance of
wealth and leisure for enjoyment," that Governor Josiah Martin,
in passing through this region some years later, significantly
observes: "They have great preeminence, as well with respect to
soil and cultivation, as to the manners and condition of the
inhabitants, in which last respect the difference is so great
that one would be led to think them people of another region."
This new wealthy class which was now turning its gaze toward the
unoccupied lands along the frontier was "dominated by the
democratic ideals of pioneers rather than by the aristocratic
tendencies of slave-holding planters." From the cross-
fertilization of the ideas of two social groups--this back-
country gentry, of innate qualities of leadership, democratic
instincts, economic independence, and expansive tendencies, and
the primitive pioneer society of the frontier, frugal in taste,
responsive to leadership, bold, ready, and thorough in execution-
-there evolved the militant American expansion in the Old

A conspicuous figure in this society of Virginia emigrants was a
young man named Richard Henderson, whose father had removed with
his family from Hanover County, Virginia, to Bute, afterward
Granville County, North Carolina, in 1742. Educated at home by a
private tutor, he began his career as assistant of his father,
Samuel Henderson, the High Sheriff of Granville County; and after
receiving a law-license, quickly acquired an extensive practice.
"Even in the superior courts where oratory and eloquence are as
brilliant and powerful as in Westminster hall," records an
English acquaintance, "he soon became distinguished and eminent,
and his superior genius shone forth with great splendour, and
universal applause." This young attorney, wedded to the daughter
of an Irish lord, often visited Salisbury on his legal circuit;
and here he became well acquainted with Squire Boone, one of the
"Worshipfull Justices," and often appeared in suits before him.
By his son, the nomadic Daniel Boone, conspicuous already for his
solitary wanderings across the dark green mountains to the
sun-lit valleys and boundless hunting-grounds beyond, Henderson
was from time to time regaled with bizarre and fascinating tales
of western exploration; and Boone, in his dark hour of poverty
and distress, when he was heavily involved financially, turned
for aid to this friend and his partner, who composed the law-firm
of Williams and Henderson.

Boone's vivid descriptions of the paradise of the West stimulated
Henderson's imaginative mind and attracted his attention to the
rich possibilities of unoccupied lands there. While the Board of
Trade in drafting the royal proclamation of October 7, 1763,
forbade the granting of lands in the vast interior, which was
specifically reserved to the Indians, it was clearly not their
intention to set permanent western limits to the colonies. The
prevailing opinion among the shrewdest men of the period was well
expressed by George Washington, who wrote his agent for
preempting western lands: "I can never look upon that
proclamation in any other light (but I say this between
ourselves) than as a temporary expedient to quiet the minds of
the Indians." And again in 1767: "It (the proclamation of 1763)
must fall, of course, in a few years, especially when those
Indians consent to our occupying the lands. Any person,
therefore, who neglects the present opportunity of hunting out
good lands, and in some measure marking out and distinguishing
them for his own, in order to keep others from settling them,
will never regain it." Washington had added greatly to his
holdings of bounty lands in the West by purchasing at trivial
prices the claims of many of the officers and soldiers. Three
years later we find him surveying extensive tracts along the Ohio
and the Great Kanawha, and, with the vision of the expansionist,
making large plans for the establishment of a colony to be seated
upon his own lands. Henderson, too, recognized the importance of
the great country west of the Appalachians. He agreed with the
opinion of Benjamin Franklin, who in 1756 called it "one of the
finest in North America for the extreme richness and fertility of
the land, the healthy temperature of the air and the mildness of
the climate, the plenty of hunting, fishing and fowling, the
facility of trade with the Indians and the vast convenience of
inland navigation or water carriage." Henderson therefore
proceeded to organize a land company for the purpose of acquiring
and colonizing a large domain in the West. This partnership,
which was entitled Richard Henderson and Company, was composed of
a few associates, including Richard Henderson, his uncle and
law-partner, John Williams, and, in all probability, their close
friends Thomas and Nathaniel Hart of Orange County, North
Carolina, immigrants from Hanover County, Virginia.

Seizing the opportunity presented just after the conclusion of
peace, the company engaged Daniel Boone as scout and surveyor. He
was instructed, while hunting and trapping on his own account, to
examine, with respect to their location and fertility, the lands
which he visited, and to report his findings upon his return. The
secret expedition must have been transacted with commendable
circumspection; for although in after years it became common
knowledge among his friends that he had acted as the company's
agent, Boone himself consistently refrained from betraying the
confidence of his employers. Upon a similar mission, Gist had
carefully concealed from the suspicious Indians the fact that he
carried a compass, which they wittily termed "land stealer"; and
Washington likewise imposed secrecy upon his land agent Crawford,
insisting that the operation be carried on under the guise of
hunting game." The discreet Boone, taciturn and given to keeping
his own counsel, in one instance at least deemed it advantageous
to communicate the purpose of his mission to some hunters, well
known to him, in order to secure the results of their information
in regard to the best lands they had encountered in the course of
their hunting expedition. Boone came among the hunters, known as
the "Blevens connection," at one of their Tennessee station camps
on their return from a long hunt in Kentucky, in order, as
expressed in the quaint phraseology of the period, to be
"informed of the geography and locography of these woods, saying
that he was employed to explore them by Henderson & Company." The
acquaintance which Boone on this occasion formed with a member of
the party, Henry Scaggs, the skilled hunter and explorer, was
soon to bear fruit; for shortly afterward Scaggs was employed as
prospector by the same land company. In 1764 Scaggs had passed
through Cumberland Gap and hunted for the season on the
Cumberland; and accordingly the following year, as the agent of
Richard Henderson and Company, he was despatched on an extended
exploration to the lower Cumberland, fixing his station at the
salt lick afterward known as Mansker's Lick.

Richard Henderson thus, it appears, "enlisted the Harts and
others in an enterprise which his own genius planned," says Peck,
the personal acquaintance and biographer of Boone, "and then
encouraged several hunters to explore the country and learn where
the best lands lay." Just why Henderson and his associates did
not act sooner upon the reports brought back by the
hunters--Boone and Scaggs and Callaway, who accompanied Boone in
1764 in the interest of the land company "is not known; but in
all probability the fragmentary nature of these reports, however
glowing and enthusiastic, was sufficient cause for the delay of
five years before the land company, through the agency of Boone
and Findlay, succeeded in having a thorough exploration inside of
the Kentucky region. Delay was also caused by rival claims to the
territory. In the Virginia Gazette of December 1, 1768, Henderson
must have read with astonishment not unmixed with dismay that
"the Six Nations and all their tributaries have granted a vast
extent of country to his majesty, and the Proprietaries of
Pennsylvania, and settled an advantageous boundary line between
their hunting country and this, and the other colonies to the
Southward as far as the Cherokee River, for which they received
the most valuable present in goods and dollars that was ever
given at any conference since the settlement of America." The
news was now bruited about through the colony of North Carolina,
that the Cherokees were hot in their resentment because the
Northern Indians, the inveterate foes of the Cherokees and the
perpetual disputants for the vast Middle Ground of Kentucky, had
received at the Treaty of Fort Stanwix, November 5, 1768, an
immense compensation from the crown for the territory which they,
the Cherokees, claimed from time immemorial. Only three weeks
before, John Stuart, Superintendent for Indian Affairs in the
Southern Department, had negotiated with the Cherokees the Treaty
of Hard Labor, South Carolina (October 14th), by which Governor
Tryon's line of 1767, from Reedy River to Tryon Mountain, was
continued direct to Colonel Chiswell's mine, the present
Wytheville, Virginia, and thence in a straight Brie to the mouth
of the Great Kanawha. Thus at the close of the year 1768 the
crown through both royal governor and superintendent of Indian
affairs acknowledged in fair and open treaty the right of the
Cherokees, whose Tennessee villages guarded the gateway, to the
valley lands east of the mountain barrier as well as to the dim
mid-region of Kentucky. In the very act of negotiating the Treaty
of Fort Stanwix, Sir William Johnson privately acknowledged that
possession of the trans-Alleghany could be legally obtained only
by extinguishing the title of the Cherokees.

These conflicting claims soon led to collisions between the
Indians and the company's settlers. In the spring of 1769
occurred one of those incidents in the westward advance which,
though slight in itself, was to have a definite bearing upon the
course of events in later years. In pursuance of his policy, as
agent of the Loyal Land Company, of promoting settlement upon the
company's lands, Dr. Thomas Walker, who had visited Powell's
Valley the preceding year and come into possession of a very
large tract there, simultaneously made proposals to one party of
men including the Kirtleys, Captain Rucker, and others, and to
another party led by Joseph Martin, trader of Orange County,
Virginia, afterward a striking figure in the Old Southwest. The
fevered race by these bands of eighteenth-century "sooners" for
possession of an early "Cherokee Strip" was won by the latter
band, who at once took possession and began to clear; so that
when the Kirtleys arrived, Martin coolly handed them "a letter
from Dr. Walker that informed them that if we got to the valley
first, we were to have 21,000 acres of land, and they were not to
interfere with us." Martin and his companions were delighted with
the beautiful valley at the base of the Cumberland, quickly "eat
and destroyed 23 deer--15 bears--2 buffaloes and a great quantity
of turkeys," and entertained gentlemen from Virginia and Maryland
who desired to settle more than a hundred families there. The
company reckoned, however, without their hosts, the Cherokees,
who, fortified by the treaty of Hard Labor (1768) which left this
country within the Indian reservation, were determined to drive
Martin and his company out. While hunting on the Cumberland
River, northwest of Cumberland Gap, Martin and his company were
surrounded and disarmed by a party of Cherokees who said they had
orders from Cameron, the royal agent, to rob all white men
hunting on their lands. When Martin and his party arrived at
their station in Powell's Valley, they found it broken up and
their goods stolen by the Indians, which left them no recourse
but to return to the settlements in Virginia. It was not until
six years later that Martin, under the stable influence of the
Transylvania Company, was enabled to return to this spot and
erect there the station which was to play an integral part in the
progress of westward expansion.

Before going on to relate Boone's explorations of Kentucky under
the auspices of the land company, it will be convenient to turn
back for a moment and give some account of other hunters and
explorers who visited that territory between the time of its
discovery by Walker and Gist and the advent of Boone.

CHAPTER VIII. The Long Hunters in the Twilight Zone

The long Hunters principally resided in the upper countries of
Virginia & North Carolina on New River & Holston River, and when
they intended to make a long Hunt (as they calls it) they
Collected near the head of Holston near whare Abingdon now stands
. . . .--General William Hall.

Before the coming of Walker and Gist in 1750 and 1751
respectively, the region now called Kentucky had, as far as we
know, been twice visited by the French, once in 1729 when
Chaussegros de Lery and his party visited the Big Bone Lick, and
again in the summer of 1749 when the Baron de Longueuil with four
hundred and fifty-two Frenchmen and Indians, going to join
Bienville in an expedition against "the Cherickees and other
Indians lying at the back of Carolina and Georgia," doubtless
encamped on the Kentucky shore of the Ohio. Kentucky was also
traversed by John Peter Salling with his three adventurous
companions in their journey through the Middle West in 1742. But
all these early visits, including the memorable expeditions of
Walker and Gist, were so little known to the general public that
when John Filson wrote the history of Kentucky in 1784 he
attributed its discovery to James McBride in 1754. More
influential upon the course of westward expansion was an
adventure which occurred in 1752, the very year in which the
Boones settled down in their Vadkin home.

In the autumn of 1752, a Pennsylvania trader, John Findlay, with
three or four companions, descended the Ohio River in a canoe as
far as the falls at the present Louisville, Kentucky, and
accompanied a party of Shawnees to their town of
Es-kip-pa-ki-thi-ki, eleven miles east of what is now Winchester.

This was the site of the "Indian Old Corn Field," the Iroquois
name for which ("the place of many fields," or "prairie") was Ken
-ta-ke, whence came the name of the state.

Five miles east of this spot, where still may be seen a mound and
an ellipse showing the outline of the stockade, is the famous
Pilot Knob, from the summit of which the fields surrounding the
town lie visible in their smooth expanse. During Findlay's stay
at the Indian town other traders from Pennsylvania and Virginia,
who reported that they were "on their return from trading with
the Cuttawas (Catawbas), a nation who live in the Territories of
Carolina," assembled in the vicinity in January, 1753. Here, as
the result of disputes arising from their barter, they were set
upon and captured by a large party of straggling Indians
(Coghnawagas from Montreal) on January 26th; but Findlay and
another trader named James Lowry were so fortunate as to escape
and return through the wilderness to the Pennsylvania
settlements." The incident is of important historic significance;
for it was from these traders, who must have followed the Great
Warriors' Path to the country of the Catawbas, that Findlay
learned of the Ouasioto (Cumberland) Gap traversed by the Indian
path. His reminiscences of this gateway to Kentucky, of the site
of the old Indian town on Lulbegrud Creek, a tributary of the Red
River, and of the Pilot Knobwere sixteen years later to fire
Boone to his great tour of exploration in behalf of the
Transylvania Company.

During the next two decades, largely because of the hostility of
the savage tribes, only a few traders and hunters from the east
ranged through the trans-Alleghany. But in 1761, a party of
hunters led by a rough frontiersman, Elisha Walden, penetrated
into Powell's Valley, followed the Indian trail through
Cumberland Gap, explored the Cumberland River, and finally
reached the Laurel Mountain where, encountering a party of
Indians, they deemed it expedient to return. With Walden went
Henry Scaggs, afterward explorer for the Henderson Land Company,
William Elevens and Charles Cox, the famous Virginia hunters, one
Newman, and some fifteen other stout pioneers. Their itinerary
may be traced from the names given to natural objects in honor of
members of the party--Walden's Mountain and Walden's Creek,
Scaggs' Ridge and Newman's Ridge. Following the peace of 1763,
which made travel in this region moderately safe once more, the
English proceeded to occupy the territory which they had won. In
1765 George Croghan with a small party, on the way to prepare the
inhabitants of the Illinois country for transfer to English
sovereignty, visited the Great Bone Licks of Kentucky (May 30th,
31st); and a year later Captain Harry Gordon, chief engineer in
the Western Department in North America, visited and minutely
described the same licks and the falls. But these, and numerous
other water-journeys and expeditions of which no records were
kept, though interesting enough in themselves, had little bearing
upon the larger phases of westward expansion and colonization.

The decade opening with the year 1765 is the epoch of bold and
ever bolder exploration--the more adventurous frontiersmen of the
border pushing deep into the wilderness in search of game, lured
on by the excitements of the chase and the profit to be derived
from the sale of peltries. In midsummer, 1766, Captain James
Smith, Joshua Horton, Uriah Stone, William Baker, and a young
mulatto slave passed through Cumberland Gap, hunted through the
country south of the Cherokee and along the Cumberland and
Tennessee rivers, and as Smith reports "found no vestige of any
white man." During the same year a party of five hunters from
South Carolina, led by Isaac Lindsey, penetrated the Kentucky
wilderness to the tributary of the Cumberland, named Stone's
River by the former party, for one of their number. Here they
encountered two men, who were among the greatest of the western
pioneers, and were destined to leave their names in historic
association with the early settlement of Kentucky, James Harrod
and Michael Stoner, a German, both of whom had descended the Ohio
from Fort Pitt. With the year 1769 began those longer and more
extended excursions into the interior which were to result in
conveying at last to the outside world graphic and detailed
information concerning "the wonderful new country of Cantucky."
In the late spring of this year Hancock and Richard Taylor (the
latter the father of President Zachary Taylor), Abraham
Hempinstall, and one Barbour, all true-blue frontiersmen, left
their homes in Orange County, Virginia, and hunted extensively in
Kentucky and Arkansas. Two of the party traveled through Georgia
and East and West Florida; while the other two hunted on the
Washita during the winter of 1770-1. Explorations of this type
became increasingly hazardous as the animosity of the Indians
increased; and from this time onward for a number of years almost
all the parties of roving hunters suffered capture or attack by
the crafty red men. In this same year Major John McCulloch,
living on the south branch of the Potomac, set out accompanied by
a white man-servant and a negro, to explore the western country.
While passing down the Ohio from Pittsburgh McCulloch was
captured by the Indians near the mouth of the Wabash and carried
to the present site of Terre Haute, Indiana. Set free after four
or five months, he journeyed in company with some French
voyageurs first to Natchez and then to New Orleans, whence he
made the sea voyage to Philadelphia. Somewhat later, Benjamin
Cleveland (afterward famous in the Revolution), attended by four
companions, set out from his home on the upper Yadkin to explore
the Kentucky wilderness. After passing through Cumberland Gap,
they encountered a band of Cherokees who plundered them of
everything they had, even to their hats and shoes, and ordered
them to leave the Indian hunting-grounds. On their return journey
they almost starved, and Cleveland, who was reluctantly forced to
kill his faithful little hunting-dog, was wont to declare in
after years that it was the sweetest meat he ever ate.

Fired to adventure by the glowing accounts brought back by Uriah
Stone, a much more formidable band than any that had hitherto
ventured westward--including Uriah Stone as pilot, Gasper
Mansker, John Rains, Isaac Bledsoe, and a dozen others--assembled
in June, 1769, in the New River region. "Each Man carried two
horses," says an early pioneer in describing one of these
parties, "traps, a large supply of powder and led, and a small
hand vise and bellows, files and screw plate for the purpose of
fixing the guns if any of them should get out of fix." Passing
through Cumberland Gap, they continued their long journey until
they reached Price's Meadow, in the present Wayne County,
Kentucky, where they established their encampment. In the course
of their explorations, during which they gave various names to
prominent natural features, they established their "station camp"
on a creek in Sumner County, Tennessee, whence originated the
name of Station Camp Creek. Isaac Bledsoe and Gasper Mansker,
agreeing to travel from here in opposite directions along a
buffalo trace passing near the camp, each succeeded in
discovering the famous salt-lick which bears his name--namely
Bledsoe's Lick and Mansker's Lick. The flat surrounding the lick,
about one hundred acres in extent, discovered by Bledsoe,
according to his own statement "was principally Covered with
buffelows in every direction--not hundreds but thousands." As he
sat on his horse, he shot down two deer in the lick; but the
buffaloes blindly trod them in the mud. They did not mind him and
his horse except when the wind blew the scent in their nostrils,
when they would break and run in droves. Indians often lurked in
the neighbourhood of these hunters -plundering their camp,
robbing them, and even shooting down one of their number, Robert
Crockett, from ambush. After many trials and vicissitudes, which
included a journey to the Spanish Natchez and the loss of a great
mass of peltries when they were plundered by Piomingo and a war
party of Chickasaws, they finilly reached home in the late spring
of 1770."

The most notable expedition of this period, projected under the
auspices of two bold leaders extraordinarily skilled in
woodcraft, Joseph Drake and Henry Scaggs, was organized in the
early autumn of 1770. This imposing band of stalwart hunters from
the New River and Holston country, some forty in number, garbed
in hunting shirts, leggings, and moccasins, with three
pack-horses to each man, rifles, ammunition, traps, dogs,
blankets, and salt, pushed boldly through Cumberland Gap into the
heart of what was later justly named the "Dark and Bloody Ground"
(see Chapter XIV)--"not doubting," says an old border chronicler,
"that they were to be encountered by Indians, and to subsist on
game." From the duration of their absence from home, they
received the name of the Long Hunters--the romantic appellation
by which they are known in the pioneer history of the Old
Southwest. Many natural objects were named by this party--in
particular Dick's River, after the noted Cherokee hunter, Captain
Dick, who, pleased to be recognized by Charles Scaggs, told the
Long Hunters that on HIS river, pointing it out, they would find
meat plenty--adding with laconic signifigance: "Kill it and go
home." From the Knob Lick, in Lincoln County, as reported by a
member of the party, "they beheld largely over a thousand
animals, including buffaloe, elk, bear, and deer, with many wild
turkies scattered among them; all quite restless, some playing,
and others busily employed in licking the earth . . . . The
buffaloe and other animals had so eaten away the soil, that they
could, in places, go entirely underground." Upon the return of a
detachment to Virginia, fourteen fearless hunters chose to
remain; and one day, during the absence of some of the band upon
a long exploring trip, the camp was attacked by a straggling
party of Indians under Will Emery, a halfbreed Cherokee. Two of
the hunters were carried into captivity and never heard of again;
a third managed to escape. In embittered commemoration of the
plunder of the camp and the destruction of the peltries, they
inscribed upon a poplar, which had lost its bark, this emphatic
record, followed by their names:

2300 Deer Skins lost Ruination by God

Undismayed by this depressing stroke of fortune, they continued
their hunt in the direction of the lick which Bledsoe had
discovered the preceding year. Shortly after this discovery, a
French voyageur from the Illinois who had hunted and traded in
this region for a decade, Timothe de Monbreun, subsequently
famous in the history of Tennessee, had visited the lick and
killed an enormous number of buffaloes for their tallow and
tongues with which he and his companion loaded a keel boat and
descended the Cumberland. An early pioneer, William Hall, learned
from Isaac Bledsoe that when "the long hunters Crossed the ridge
and came down on Bledsoe's Creek in four or five miles of the
Lick the Cane had grown up so thick in the woods that they
thought they had mistaken the place until they Came to the Lick
and saw what had been done . . . . One could walk for several
hundred yards a round the Lick and in the lick on buffellows
Skuls, & bones and the whole flat round the Lick was bleached
with buffellows bones, and they found out the Cause of the Canes
growing up so suddenly a few miles around the Lick which was in
Consequence of so many buffellows being killed."

This expedition was of genuine importance, opening the eyes of
the frontiersmen to the charms of the country and influencing
many to settle subsequently in the West, some in Tennessee, some
in Kentucky. The elaborate and detailed information brought back
by Henry Scaggs exerted an appreciable influence, no doubt, in
accelerating the plans of Richard Henderson and Company for the
acquisition and colonization of the trans-Alleghany. But while
the "Long Hunters" were in Tennessee and Kentucky the same region
was being more extensively and systematically explored by Daniel
Boone. To his life, character, and attainments, as the typical
"long hunter" and the most influential pioneer we may now turn
our particular attention.

CHAPTER IX. Daniel Boone and Wilderness Exploration

Here, where the hand of violence shed the blood of the innocent;
where the horrid yells of the savages, and the groans of the
distressed, sounded in our ears, we now hear the praises and
adorations of our Creator; where wretched wigwams stood, the
miserable abodes of savages, we behold the foundations of cities
laid, that, in all probability, will equal the glory of the
greatest upon earth.--Daniel Boone, 1781.

The wandering life of a border Nimrod in a surpassingly beautiful
country teeming with game was the ideal of the frontiersman of
the eighteenth century. AS early as 1728, while running the
dividing line between North Carolina and Virginia, William Byrd
encountered along the North Carolina frontier the typical figure
of the professional hunter: "a famous Woodsman, call'd
Epaphroditus Bainton. This Forester Spends all his time in
ranging the Woods, and is said to make great Havock among the
Deer, and other Inhabitants of the Forest, not much wilder than
himself." By the middle of the century, as he was threading his
way through the Carolina piedmont zone, the hunter's paradise of
the Yadkin and Catawba country, Bishop Spangenberg found ranging
there many hunters, living like Indians, who killed thousands of
deer each year and sold the skins in the local markets or to the
fur-traders from Virginia whose heavy pack-trains with their
tinkling bells constantly traversed the course of the Great
Trading Path. The superlative skill of one of these hunters, both
as woodsman and marksman, was proverbial along the border. The
name of Daniel Boone became synonymous with expert huntsmanship
and almost uncanny wisdom in forest lore. The bottoms of the
creek near the Boone home, three miles west of present
Mocksville, contained a heavy growth of beech, which dropped
large quantities of its rich nuts or mast, greatly relished by
bears; and this creek received its name, Bear Creek, because
Daniel and his father killed in its rich bottoms ninety-nine
bears in a single hunting-season. After living for a time with
his young wife, Rebecca Bryan, in a cabin in his father's yard,
Daniel built a home of his own upon a tract of land, purchased
from his father on October 12, 1759, and lying on Sugar Tree, a
tributary of Dutchman's Creek. Here he dwelt for the next five
years, with the exception of the period of his temporary removal
to Virginia during the terrible era of the Indian war. Most of
his time during the autumn and winter, when he was not engaged in
wagoning or farming, he spent in long hunting-journeys into the
mountains to the west and northwest. During the hunting-season of
1760 he struck deeper than ever before into the western mountain
region and encamped in a natural rocky shelter amidst fine
hunting-grounds, in what is now Washington County in east
Tennessee. Of the scores of inscriptions commemorative of his
hunting-feats, which Boone with pardonable pride was accustomed
throughout his life time to engrave with his hunting-knife upon
trees and rocks, the earliest known is found upon a leaning beech
tree, only recently fallen, near his camp and the creek which
since that day has borne his name. This is a characteristic and
enduring record in the history of American exploration

D. Boon
CillED A. BAR On
in The

Late in the summer of the following year Boone marched under the
command of the noted Indian-fighter of the border, Colonel Hugh
Waddell, in his campaign against the Cherokees. From the lips of
Waddell, who was outspoken in his condemnation of Byrd's futile
delays in road-cutting and fort-building, Boone learned the true
secret of success in Indian warfare, which was lost upon
Braddock, Forbes, and later St. Clair: that the art of defeating
red men was to deal them a sudden and unexpected blow, before
they had time either to learn the strength of the force employed
against them or to lay with subtle craft their artful ambuscade.

In the late autumn of 1761, Daniel Boone and Nathaniel Gist, the
son of Washington's famous guide, who were both serving under
Waddell, temporarily detached themselves from his command and led
a small party on a "long hunt" in the Valley of the Holston,
While encamping near the site of Black's Fort, subsequently
built, they were violently assailed by a pack of fierce wolves
which they had considerable difficulty in beating off; and from
this incident the locality became known as Wolf Hills (now
Abingdon, Virginia).

From this time forward Boone's roving instincts had full sway.
For many months each year he threaded his way through that
marvelously beautiful country of western North Carolina
felicitously described as the Switzerland of America. Boone's
love of solitude and the murmuring forest was surely inspired by
the phenomenal beauties of the country' through which he roamed
at will. Blowing Rock on one arm of a great horseshoe of
mountains and Tryon Mountain upon the other arm, overlooked an
enormous, primeval bowl, studded by a thousand emerald-clad
eminences. There was the Pilot Mountain, the towering and
isolated pile which from time immemorial had served the
aborigines as a guide in their forest wanderings; there was the
dizzy height of the Roan on the border; there was Mt. Mitchell,
portentous in its grandeur, the tallest peak on the continent
east of the Rockies; and there was the Grandfather, the oldest
mountain on earth according to geologists, of which it has been

Oldest of all terrestrial things--still holding
Thy wrinkled forehead high;
Whose every scam, earth's history enfolding,
Grim science doth defy!

Thou caught'st the far faint ray from Sirius rising,
When through space first was hurled
The primal gloom of ancient voids surprising,
This atom, called the World!

What more gratifying to the eye of the wanderer than the
luxuriant vegetation and lavish profusion of the gorgeous flowers
upon the mountain slopes, radiant rhododendron, rosebay, and
laurel, and the azalea rising like flame; or the rare beauties of
the water--the cataract of Linville, taking its shimmering leap
into the gorge, and that romantic river poetically celebrated in
the lines:

Swannanoa, nymph of beauty,
I would woo thee in my rhyme,
Wildest, brightest, loveliest river
Of our sunny Southern clime.
* * *
Gone forever from the borders
But immortal in thy name,
Are the Red Men of the forest
Be thou keeper of their fame!
Paler races dwell beside thee,
Celt and Saxon till thy lands
Wedding use unto thy beauty
Linking over thee their hands.

The long rambling excursions which Boone made through western
North Carolina and eastern Tennessee enabled him to explore every
nook and corner of the rugged and beautiful mountain region.
Among the companions and contemporaries with whom he hunted and
explored the country were his little son James and his brother
Jesse; the Linville who gave the name to the beautiful falls;
Julius Caesar Dugger, whose rock house stood near the head of Elk
Creek; and Nathaniel Gist, who described for him the lofty
gateway to Kentucky, through which Christopher Gist had passed in
1751. Boone had already heard of this gateway, from Findlay, and
it was one of the secret and cherished ambitions of his life to
scale the mountain wall of the Appalachians and to reach that
high portal of the Cumberland which beckoned to the mysterious
new Eden beyond. Although hunting was an endless delight to Boone
he was haunted in the midst of this pleasure, as was Kipling's
Explorer, by the lure of the undiscovered:

Till a voice as bad as conscience, rang interminable changes
On one everlasting whisper day and night repeated--so:
'Something hidden. Go and find it. Go and look behind the ranges-
'Something lost behind the ranges. Lost and waiting for you. Go.'

Of Boone's preliminary explorations for the land company known as
Richard Henderson and Company, an account has already been given;
and the delay in following them up has been touched on and in
part explained. Meanwhile Boone transferred his efforts for a
time to another field. Toward the close of the summer of 1765 a
party consisting of Major John Field, William Hill, one
Slaughter, and two others, all from Culpeper County, Virginia,
visited Boone and induced him to accompany them on the "long
Journey" to Florida, whither they were attracted by the liberal
offer of Colonel James Grant, governor of the eastern section,
the Florida of to-day. On this long and arduous expedition they
suffered many hardships and endured many privations, found little
game, and on one occasion narrowly escaped starvation. They
explored Florida from St. Augustine to Pensacola; and Boone, who
relished fresh scenes and a new environment, purchased a house
and lot in Pensacola in anticipation of removal thither. But upon
his return home, finding his wife unwilling to go, Boone once
more turned his eager eye toward the West, that mysterious and
alluring region beyond the great range, the fabled paradise of

The following year four young men from the Yadkin, Benjamin
Cutbird, John Stewart (Boone's brother-in-law who afterwards
accompanied him to Kentucky), John Baker, and James Ward made a
remarkable journey to the westward, crossing the Appalachian
mountain chain over some unknown route, and finally reaching the
Mississippi. The significance of the journey, in its bearing upon
westward expansion, inheres in the fact that while for more than
half a century the English traders from South Carolina had been
winning their way to the Mississippi along the lower routes and
Indian trails, this was the first party from either of the
Carolinas, as far as is known, that ever reached the Mississippi
by crossing the great mountain barrier. When Cutbird, a superb
woodsman and veritable Leather stocking, narrated to Boone the
story of his adventures, it only confirmed Boone in his
determination to find the passage through the mountain chain
leading to the Mesopotamia of Kentucky.

Such an enterprise was attended by terrible dangers. During 1766
and 1767 the steady encroachments of the white settlers upon the
ancestral domain which the Indians reserved for their imperial
hunting-preserve aroused bitter feelings of resentment among the
red men. Bloody reprisal was often the sequel to such
encroachment. The vast region of Tennessee and the
trans-Alleghany was a twilight zone, through which the savages
roamed at will. From time to time war parties of northern
Indians, the inveterate foes of the Cherokees, scouted through
this no-man's land and even penetrated into the western region of
North Carolina, committing murders and depredations upon the
Cherokees and the whites indiscriminately. During the summer of
1766, while Boone's friend and close connection, Captain William
Linville, his son John, and another young man, named John
Williams, were in camp some ten miles below Linville Falls, they
were unexpectedly fired upon by a hostile band of Northern
Indians, and before they had time to fire a shot, a second volley
killed both the Linvilles and severely wounded Williams, who
after extraordinary sufferings finally reached the settlements."
In May, 1767, four traders and a half-breed child of one of them
were killed in the Cherokee country. In the summer of this year
Governor William Tryon of North Carolina laid out the boundary
line of the Cherokees, and upon his return issued a proclamation
forbidding any purchase of land from the Indians and any issuance
of grants for land within one mile of the boundary line. Despite
this wise precaution, seven North Carolina hunters who during the
following September had lawlessly ventured into the mountain
region some sixty miles beyond the boundary were fired upon, and
several of them killed, by the resentful Cherokees Undismayed by
these signs of impending danger, undeterred even by the tragic
fate of the Linvilles, Daniel Boone, with the determination of
the indomitable pioneer, never dreamed of relinquishing his
long-cherished design. Discouraged by the steady disappearance of
game under the ruthless attack of innumerable hunters, Boone
continued to direct his thoughts toward the project of exploring
the fair region of Kentucky. The adventurous William Hill, to
whom Boone communicated his purpose, readily consented to go with
him; and in the autumn of 1768 Boone and Hill, accompanied, it is
believed, by Squire Boone, Daniel's brother, set forth upon their
almost inconceivably hazardous expedition. They crossed the Blue
Ridge and the Alleghanies, the Holston and Clinch rivers near
their sources, and finally reached the head waters of the West
Fork of the Big Sand. Surmising from its course that this stream
must flow into the Ohio, they pushed on a hundred miles to the
westward and finally, by following a buffalo path, reached a
salt-spring in what is now Floyd County, in the extreme eastern
section of Kentucky. Here Boone beheld great droves of buffalo
that visited the salt-spring to drink the water or lick the
brackish soil. After spending the winter in hunting and trapping,
the Boones and Hill, discouraged by the forbidding aspect of the
hill-country which with its dense growth of laurel was
exceedingly difficult to penetrate, abandoned all hope of finding
Kentucky by this route and wended their arduous way back to the

The account of Boone's subsequent accomplishment of his purpose
must be postponed to the next chapter.

CHAPTER X. Daniel Boone in Kentucky

He felt very much as Columbus did, gazing from his caravel on San
Salvador; as Cortes, looking down, from the crest of Ahualco, on
the Valley of Mexico; or Vasco Nunez, standing alone on the peak
of Darien, and stretching his eyes over the hitherto undiscovered
waters of the Pacific.---William Gilmore Simms: Views and

A chance acquaintance formed by Daniel Boone, during the French
and Indian War, with the Irish lover of adventure, John Findlay,
was the origin of Boone's cherished longing to reach the El
Dorado of the West. In this slight incident we may discern the
initial inspiration for the epochal movement of westward
expansion. Findlay was a trader and horse peddler, who had early
migrated to Carlisle, Pennsylvania. He had been licensed a trader
with the Indians in 1747. During the same year he was married to
Elizabeth Harris, daughter of John Harris, the Indian-trader at
Harris's Ferry on the Susquehanna River, after whom Harrisburg
was named. During the next eight years Findlay carried on his
business of trading in the interior. Upon the opening of the
French and Indian War he was probably among "the young men about
Paxtang who enlisted immediately," and served as a waggoner in
Braddock's expedition. Over the campfires, during the ensuing
campaign in 1765, young Boone was an eager listener to Findlay's
stirring narrative of his adventures in the Ohio Valley and on
the wonderfully beautiful levels of Kentucky in 1752. The fancies
aroused in his brooding mind by Findlay's moving recital and his
description of an ancient passage through the Ouasioto or
Cumberland Gap and along the course of the Warrior's Path,
inspired him with an irrepressible longing to reach that alluring
promised land which was the perfect realization of the hunter's

Thirteen years later, while engaged in selling pins, needles,
thread, and Irish linens in the Yadkin country, Findlay learned
from the Pennsylvania settlers at Salisbury or at the Forks of
the Yadkin of Boone's removal to the waters of the upper Yadkin.
At Boone's rustic home, in the winter of 1768-9, Findlay visited
his old comrade-in-arms of Braddock's campaign. On learning of
Boone's failure during the preceding year to reach the Kentucky
levels by way of the inhospitable Sandy region, Findlay again
described to him the route through the Ouasioto Gap traversed
sixteen years before by Pennsylvania traders in their traffic
with the Catawbas. Boone, as we have seen, knew that Christopher
Gist, who had formerly lived near him on the upper Yadkin, had
found some passage through the lofty mountain defiles; but he had
never been able to discover the passage. Findlay's renewed
descriptions of the immense herds of buffaloes he had seen in
Kentucky, the great salt-licks where they congregated, the
abundance of bears, deer, and elk with which the country teemed,
the innumerable flocks of wild turkeys, geese, and ducks, aroused
in Boone the hunter's passion for the chase; while the beauty of
the lands, as mirrored in the vivid fancy of the Irishman,
inspired him with a new longing to explore the famous country
which had, as John Filson records, "greatly engaged Mr. Findlay's

In the comprehensive designs of Henderson, now a judge, for
securing a "graphic report of the trans-Alleghany region in
behalf of his land company", Boone divined the means of securing
the financial backing for an expedition of considerable size and
ample equipment. In numerous suits for debt, aggregating hundreds
of dollars, which had been instituted against Boone by some of
the leading citizens of Rowan, Williams and Henderson had acted
as Boone's attorneys. In order to collect their legal fees, they
likewise brought suit against Boone; but not wishing to press the
action against the kindly scout who had hitherto acted as their
agent in western exploration, they continued the litigation from
court to court, in lieu of certain "conditions performed" on
behalf of Boone, during his unbroken absence, by his attorney in
this suit, Alexander Martin. Summoned to appear in 1769 at the
March term of court at Salisbury, Boone seized upon the occasion
to lay before Judge Henderson the designs for a renewed and
extended exploration of Kentucky suggested by the golden
opportunity of securing the services of Findlay as guide. Shortly
after March 6th, when Judge Henderson reached Salisbury, the
conference, doubtless attended by John Stewart, Boone's
brother-in-law, John Findlay, and Boone, who were all present at
this term of court, must have been held, for the purpose of
devising ways and means for the expedition. Peck, the only
reliable contemporary biographer of the pioneer, who derived many
facts from Boone himself and his intimate acquaintances, draws
the conclusion (1847): "Daniel Boone was engaged as the master
spirit of this exploration, because in his judgment and fidelity
entire confidence could be reposed . . . . He was known to
Henderson and encouraged by him to make the exploration, and to
examine particularly the whole country south of the Kentucky--or
as then called the Louisa River." As confidential agent of the
land company, Boone carried with him letters and instructions for
his guidance upon this extended tour of exploration."

On May 1, 1769, with Findlay as guide, and accompanied by four of
his neighbors, John Stewart, a skilled woodsman, Joseph Holden,
James Mooney, and William Cooley, Boone left his "peaceable
habitation" on the upper Yadkin and began his historic journey
"in quest of the country of Kentucky." Already heavily burdened
with debts, Boone must have incurred considerable further
financial obligations to Judge Henderson and Colonel Williams,
acting for the land company, in order to obtain the large amount
of supplies requisite for so prolonged an expedition. Each of the
adventurers rode a good horse of strength and endurance; and
behind him were securely strapped the blanket, ammunition, salt,
and cooking-utensils so indispensable for a long sojourn in the
wilderness. In Powell's Valley they doubtless encountered the
party led thither by Joseph Martin (see Chapter VII), and there
fell into the "Hunter's Trail" commented on in a letter written
by Martin only a fortnight before the passing of Boone's
cavalcade. Crossing the mountain at the Ouasioto Gap, they made
their first "station camp" in Kentucky on the creek, still named
after that circumstance, on the Red Lick Fork. After a
preliminary journey for the purpose of locating the spot, Findlay
led the party to his old trading-camp at Es-kip-pa-ki-thi-ki,
where then (June 7, 1769) remained but charred embers of the
Indian huts, with some of the stockading and the gate-posts still
standing. In Boone's own words, he and Findlay at once "proceeded
to take a more thorough survey of the country;" and during the
autumn and early winter, encountering on every hand apparently
inexhaustible stocks of wild game and noting the ever-changing
beauties of the country, the various members of the party made
many hunting and exploring journeys from their "station camp" as
base. On December 22, 1769, while engaged in a hunt, Boone and
Stewart were surprised and captured by a large party of
Shawanoes, led by Captain Will, who were returning from the
autumn hunt on Green River to their villages north of the Ohio.
Boone and Stewart were forced to pilot the Indians to their main
camp, where the savages, after robbing them of all their peltries
and supplies and leaving them inferior guns and little
ammunition, set off to the northward. They left, on parting, this
menacing admonition to the white intruders: "Now, brothers, go
home and stay there. Don't come here any more, for this is the
Indians' hunting-ground, and all the animals, skins, and furs are
ours. If you are so foolish as to venture here again, you may be
sure the wasps and yellow jackets will sting you severely."

Chagrined particularly by the loss of the horses, Boone and
Stewart for two days pursued the Indians in hot haste. Finally
approaching the Indians' camp by stealth in the dead of night,
they secured two of the horses, upon which they fled at top
speed. In turn they were immediately pursued by a detachment of
the Indians, mounted upon their fleetest horses; and suffered the
humiliation of recapture two days later. Indulging in wild
hilarity over the capture of the crestfallen whites, the Indians
took a bell from one of the horses and, fastening it about
Boone's neck, compelled him under the threat of brandished
tomahawks to caper about and jingle the bell, jeering at him the
while with the derisive query, uttered in broken English: "Steal
horse, eh?" With as good grace as they could summon--wry smiles
at best--Boone and Stewart patiently endured these humiliations,
following the Indians as captives. Some days later (about January
4, 1770), while the vigilance of the Indians was momentarily
relaxed, the captives suddenly plunged into a dense canebrake and
in the subsequent confusion succeeded in effecting their escape.
Finding their camp deserted upon their return, Boone and Stewart
hastened on and finally overtook their companions. Here Boone was
both surprised and delighted to encounter his brother Squire,
loaded down with supplies. Having heard nothing from Boone, the
partners of the land company had surmised that he and his party
must have run short of ammunition, flour, salt, and other things
sorely needed in the wilderness; and because of their desire that
the party should remain, in order to make an exhaustive
exploration of the country, Squire Boone had been sent to him
with supplies. Findlay, Holden, Mooney, and Cooley returned to
the settlements; but Stewart, Squire Boone, and Alexander Neely,
who had accompanied Squire, threw in their lot with the intrepid
Daniel, and fared forth once more to the stirring and bracing
adventures of the Kentucky wilderness. In Daniel Boone's own
words, he expected "from the furs and peltries they had an
opportunity of taking . . . to recruit his shattered
circumstances; discharge the debts he had contracted by the
adventure; and shortly return under better auspices, to settle
the newly discovered country."

Boone and his party now stationed themselves near the mouth of
the Red River, and soon provided themselves, against the hard.
ships of the long winter, with jerk, bear's oil, buffalo tallow,
dried buffalo tongues, fresh meat, and marrow-bones as food, and
buffalo robes and bearskins as shelter from the inclement
weather. Neely had brought with him, to while away dull hours, a
copy of "Gulliver's Travels"; and in describing Neely's
successful hunt for buffalo one day, Boone in after years
amusingly deposed: "In the year 1770 I encamped on Red River with
five other men, and we had with us for our amusement the History
of Samuel Gulliver's Travels, wherein he gave an account of his
young master, Glumdelick, careing him on market day for a show to
a town called Lulbegrud. A young man of our company called
Alexander Neely came to camp and told us he had been that day to
Lulbegrud, and had killed two Brobdignags in their capital." Far
from unlettered were pioneers who indulged together in such
literary chat and gave to the near-by creek the name (after Dean
Swift's Lorbrugrud) of Lulbegrud which name, first seen on
Filson's map of Kentucky (1784), it bears to this day. From one
of his long, solitary hunts Stewart never returned; and it was
not until five years later, while cutting out the Transylvania
Trail, that Boone and his companions discovered, near the old
crossing at Rockcastle, Stewart's remains in a standing hollow
sycamore. The wilderness never gave up its tragic secret.

The close of the winter and most of the spring were passed by the
Boones, after Neely's return to the settlements, in exploration,
hunting, and trapping beaver and otter, in which sport Daniel
particularly excelled. Owing to the drain upon their ammunition,
Squire was at length compelled to return to the settlements for
supplies; and Daniel, who remained alone in the wilderness to
complete his explorations for the land company, must often have
shared the feelings of Balboa as, from lofty knob or towering
ridge, he gazed over the waste of forest which spread from the
dim out lines of the Alleghanies to the distant waters of the
Mississippi. He now proceeded to make those remarkable solitary
explorations of Kentucky which have given him immortality--
through the valley of the Kentucky and the Licking, and along the
"Belle Riviere" (Ohio) as low as the falls. He visited the Big
Bone Lick and examined the wonderful fossil remains of the
mammoth found there. Along the great buffalo roads, worn several
feet below the surface of the ground, which led to the Blue
Licks, he saw with amazement and delight thousands of huge shaggy
buffalo gamboling, bellowing, and making the earth rumble beneath
the trampling of their hooves. One day, while upon a cliff near
the junction of the Kentucky and Dick's Rivers, he suddenly found
himself hemmed in by a party of Indians. Seizing his only chance
of escape, he leaped into the top of a maple tree growing beneath
the cliffs and, sliding to safety full sixty feet below, made his
escape, pursued by the sound of a chorus of guttural "Ughs" from
the dumbfounded savages.

Finally making his way back to the old camp, Daniel was rejoined
there by Squire on July 27, 1770. During the succeeding months,
much of their time was spent in hunting and prospecting in
Jessamine County, where two caves are still known as Boone's
caves. Eventually, when ammunition and supplies had once more run
low, Squire was compelled a second time to return to the
settlements. Perturbed after a time by Squire's failure to rejoin
him at the appointed time, Daniel started toward the settlements,
in search of him; and by a stroke of good fortune encountered him
along the trail. Overjoyed at this meeting (December, 1770) the
indomitable Boones once more plunged into the wilderness,
determined to conclude their explorations by examining the
regions watered by the Green and Cumberland rivers and their
tributaries. In after years, Gasper Mansker, the old German
scout, was accustomed to describe with comic effect the
consternation created among the Long Hunters, while hunting one
day on Green River, by a singular noise which they could not
explain. Stealthily slipping from tree to tree, Mansker finally
beheld with mingled surprise and amusement a hunter, bareheaded,
stretched flat upon his back on a deerskin spread on the ground,
singing merrily at the top of his voice! It was Daniel Boone,
joyously whiling away the solitary hours in singing one of his
favorite songs of the border. In March, 1771, after spending some
time in company with the Long Hunters, the Boones, their horses
laden with furs, set their faces homeward. On their return
journey, near Cumberland Gap, they had the misfortune to be
surrounded by a party of Indians who robbed them of their guns
and all their peltries. With this humiliating conclusion to his
memorable tour of exploration, Daniel Boone, as he himself says,
"once more reached home after experiencing hardships which would
defy credulity in the recital."

Despite the hardships and the losses, Boone had achieved the
ambition of years: he had seen Kentucky, which he "esteemed a
second paradise." The reports of his extended explorations, which
he made to Judge Henderson, were soon communicated to the other
partners of the land company; and their letters of this period,
to one another, bristle with glowing and minute descriptions of
the country, as detailed by their agent. Boone was immediately
engaged to act in the company's behalf to sound the Cherokees
confidentially with respect to their willingness to lease or sell
the beautiful hunting-grounds of the trans-Alleghany. The high
hopes of Henderson and his associates at last gave promise of
brilliant realization. Daniel Boone's glowing descriptions of
Kentucky excited in their minds, says a gifted early chronicler,
the "spirit of an enterprise which in point of magnitude and
peril, as well as constancy and heroism displayed in its
execution, has never been paralleled in the history of America."

CHAPTER XI. The Regulators

It is not a persons labour, nor yet his effects that will do, but
if he has but one horse to plow with, one bed to lie on, or one
cow to give a little milk for his children, they must all go to
raise money which is not to be had. And lastly if his personal
estate (sold at one tenth of its value) will not do, then his
lands (which perhaps has cost him many years of toil and labour)
must go the same way to satisfy, these cursed hungry
caterpillars, that are eating and will eat out the bowels of our
Commonwealth, if they be not pulled down from their nests in a
very short time.--George Sims: A Serious Address to the
Inhabitants of Granville County, containing an Account of our
deplorable Situation we suffer .... and some necessary Hints with
Respect to a Reformation. June 6, 1765.

It is highly probable that even at the time of his earlier
explorations in behalf of Richard Henderson and Company, Daniel
Boone anticipated speedy removal to the West. Indeed, in the very
year of his first tour in their interest, Daniel and his wife
Rebeckah sold all their property in North Carolina, consisting of
their home and six hundred and forty acres of land, and after
several removals established themselves upon the upper Yadkin.
This removal and the later western explorations just outlined
were due not merely to the spirit of adventure and discovery.
Three other causes also were at work. In the first place there
was the scarcity of game. For fifteen years the shipments of
deerskins from Bethabara to Charleston steadily increased; and
the number of skins bought by Gammern, the Moravian storekeeper,
ran so high that in spite of the large purchases made at the
store by the hunters he would sometimes run entirely out of
money. Tireless in the chase, the far roaming Boone was among
"the hunters, who brought in their skins from as far away as the
Indian lands"; and the beautiful upland pastures and mountain
forests, still teeming with deer and bear, doubtless lured him to
the upper Yadkin, where for a time in the immediate neighborhood
of his home abundance of game fell before his unerring rifle.
Certainly the deer and other game, which were being killed in
enormous numbers to satisfy the insatiable demand of the traders
at Salisbury, the Forks, and Bethabara, became scarcer and
scarcer; and the wild game that was left gradually fled to the
westward. Terrible indeed was the havoc wrought among the elk;
and it was reported that the last elk was killed in western North
Carolina as early as 1781.

Another grave evil of the time with which Boone had to cope in
the back country of North Carolina was the growth of undisguised
outlawry, similar to that found on the western plains of a later
era. This ruthless brigand age arose as the result of the
unsettled state of the country and the exposed condition of the
settlements due to the Indian alarms. When rude borderers,
demoralized by the enforced idleness attendant upon fort life
during the dark days of Indian invasion, sallied forth upon
forays against the Indians, they found much valuable
property--horses, cattle, and stock--left by their owners when
hurriedly fleeing to the protection of the frontier stockades.
The temptations thus afforded were too great to resist; and the
wilder spirits of the backwoods, with hazy notions of private
rights, seized the property which they found, slaughtered the
cattle, sold the horses, and appropriated to their own use the
temporarily abandoned household goods and plantation tools. The
stealing of horses, which were needed for the cultivation of the
soil and useful for quickly carrying unknown thieves beyond the
reach of the owner and the law, became a common practice; and was
carried on by bands of outlaws living remote from one another and
acting in collusive concert.

Toward the end of July, 1755, when the Indian outrages upon the
New River settlements in Virginia had frightened away all the
families at the Town Fork in the Yadkin country, William Owen, a
man of Welsh stock, who had settled in the spring of 1752 in the
upper Yadkin near the Mulberry Fields, was suspected of having
robbed the storekeeper on the Meho. Not long afterward a band of
outlaws who plundered the exposed cabins in their owners'
absence, erected a rude fort in the mountain region in the rear
of the Yadkin settlements, where they stored their ill-gotten
plunder and made themselves secure from attack. Other members of
the band dwelt in the settlements, where they concealed their
robber friends by day and aided them by night in their nefarious
projects of theft and rapine.

The entire community was finally aroused by the bold depredations
of the outlaws; and the most worthy settlers of the Yadkin
country organized under the name of Regulators to break up the
outlaw band. When it was discovered that Owen, who was well known
at Bethabara, had allied himself with the highwaymen, one of the
justices summoned one hundred men; and seventy, who answered the
call, set forth on December 26, 1755, to seek out the outlaws and
to destroy their fortress. Emboldened by their success, the
latter upon one occasion had carried off a young girl of the
settlements. Daniel Boone placed himself at the head of one of
the parties, which included the young girl's father, to go to her
rescue; and they fortunately succeeded in effecting the release
of the frightened maiden. One of the robbers was apprehended and
brought to Salisbury, where he was thrown into prison for his
crimes. Meanwhile a large amount of plunder had been discovered
at the house of one Cornelius Howard; and the evidences of his
guilt so multiplied against him that he finally confessed his
connection with the outlaw band and agreed to point out their
fort in the mountains.

Daniel Boone and George Boone joined the party of seventy men,
sent out by the colonial authorities under the guidance of
Howard, to attack the stronghold of the bandits. Boone afterward
related that the robbers' fort was situated in the most fitly
chosen place for such a purpose that he could imagine--beneath an
overhanging cliff of rock, with a large natural chimney, and a
considerable area in front well stockaded. The frontiersmen
surrounded the fort, captured five women and eleven children, and
then burned the fort to the ground. Owen and his wife,
Cumberland, and several others were ultimately made prisoners;
but Harman and the remainder of the band escaped by flight. Owen
and his fellow captives were then borne to Salisbury,
incarcerated in the prison there, and finally (May, 1756)
condemned to the gallows. Owen sent word to the Moravians,
petitioning them to adopt his two boys and to apprentice one to a
tailor, the other to a carpenter. But so infuriated was Owen's
wife by Howard's treachery that she branded him as a second
Judas; and this at once fixed upon him the sobriquet "Judas"
Howard-a sobriquet he did not live long to bear, for about a year
later he was ambushed and shot from his horse at the crossing of
a stream. He thus paid the penalty of his betrayal of the outlaw
band. For a number of years, the Regulators continued to wage war
against the remaining outlaws, who from time to time committed
murders as well as thefts. As late as January, 1768, the
Regulators caught a horse thief in the Hollows of Surry County
and brought him to Bethabara, whence Richter and Spach took him
to the jail at Salisbury. After this year, the outlaws were heard
of no more; and peace reigned in the settlements.

Colonel Edmund Fanning--of whom more anon--declared that the
Regulation began in Anson County which bordered upon South
Carolina. Certain it is that the upper country of that province
was kept in an uproar by civil disturbances during this early
period. Owing to the absence of courts in this section, so remote
from Charleston, the inhabitants found it necessary, for the
protection of property and the punishment of outlaws, to form an
association called, like the North Carolina society, the
Regulation. Against this association the horse thieves and other
criminals made common cause, and received tacit support from
certain more reputable persons who condemned "the irregularity of
the Regulators." The Regulation which had been thus organized in
upper South Carolina as early as 1764 led to tumultuous risings
of the settlers; and finally in the effort to suppress these
disorders, the governor, Lord Charles Montagu, appointed one
Scovil, an utterly unworthy representative, to carry out his
commands. After various disorders, which became ever more
unendurable to the law-abiding, matters came to a crisis (1769)
as the result of the high-handed proceedings of Scovil, who
promiscuously seized and flung into prison all the Regulators he
could lay hands on. In the month of March the back country rose
in revolt against Scovil and a strong body of the settlers was on
the point of attacking the force under his command when an
eleventh-hour letter arrived from Montagu, dismissing Scovil from
office. Thus was happily averted, by the narrowest of margins, a
threatened precursor of the fight at Alamance in 1771 (see
Chapter XII). As the result of the petition of the Calhouns and
others, courts were established in 1760, though not opened until
four years later. Many horse thieves were apprehended, tried, and
punished. Justice once more held full sway.

Another important cause for Boone's removal from the neighborhood
of Salisbury into the mountain fastnesses was the oppressive
administration of the law by corrupt sheriffs, clerks, and
tax-gatherers, and the dissatisfaction of the frontier squatters
with the owners of the soil. At the close of the year 1764
reports reached the town of Wilmington, after the adjournment of
the assembly in November, of serious disturbances in Orange
County, due, it was alleged, to the exorbitant exactions of the
clerks, registers, and some of the attorneys. As a result of this
disturbing news, Governor Dobbs issued a proclamation forbidding
any officer to take illegal fees. Troubles had been brewing in
the adjacent county of Granville ever since the outbreak of the
citizens against Francis Corbin, Lord Granville's agent (January
24, 1759), and the issuance of the petition of Reuben Searcy and
others (March 23d) protesting against the alleged excessive fees
taken and injustices practised by Robert (Robin) Jones, the
famous lawyer. These disturbances were cumulative in their
effect; and the people at last (1765 ) found in George Sims, of
Granville, a fit spokesman of their cause and a doughty champion
of popular rights. In his "Serious Address to the Inhabitants of
Granville County, containing an Account of our deplorable
Situation we suffer . . . and some necessary Hints with Respect
to a Reformation," recently brought to light, he presents a
crushing indictment of the clerk of the county court, Samuel
Benton, the grandfather of Thomas Hart Benton. After describing
in detail the system of semi-peonage created by the merciless
exactions of lawyers and petty court officials, and the
insatiable greed of "these cursed hungry caterpillars," Sims with
rude eloquence calls upon the people to pull them down from their
nests for the salvation of the Commonwealth.

Other abuses were also recorded. So exorbitant was the charge for
a marriage-license, for instance, that an early chronicler
records "The consequence was that some of the inhabitants on the
head-waters of the Yadkin took a short cut. They took each other
for better or for worse; and considered themselves as married
without further ceremony." The extraordinary scarcity of currency
throughout the colony, especially in the back country, was
another great hardship and a perpetual source of vexation. All
these conditions gradually became intolerable to the uncultured
but free spirited men of the back country. Events were slowly
converging toward a crisis in government and society. Independent
in spirit, turbulent in action, the backwoodsmen revolted not
only against excessive taxes, dishonest sheriffs, and
extortionate fees, but also against the rapacious practices of
the agents of Lord Granville. These agents industriously picked
flaws in the titles to the lands in Granville's proprietary upon
which the poorer settlers were seated; and compelled them to pay
for the land if they had not already done so, or else to pay the
fees twice over and take out a new patent as the only remedy of
the alleged defect in their titles. In Mecklenburg County the
spirit of backwoods revolt flamed out in protest against the
proprietary agents. Acting under instructions to survey and close
bargains for the lands or else to eject those who held them,
Henry Eustace McCulloh, in February, 1765, went into the county
to call a reckoning. The settlers, many of whom had located
without deeds, indignantly retorted by offering to buy only at
their own prices, and forbade the surveyors to lay out the
holdings when this smaller price was declined. They not only
terrorized into acquiescence those among them who were willing to
pay the amount charged for the lands, but also openly declared
that they would resist by force any sheriff in ejectment
proceedings. On May 7th an outbreak occurred; and a mob, led by
Thomas Polk, set upon John Frohock, Abraham Alexander, and
others, as they were about to survey a parcel of land, and gave
them a severe thrashing, even threatening the young McCulloh with

The choleric backwoodsmen, instinctively in agreement with
Francis Bacon, considered revenge as a sort of wild justice.
Especial objects of their animosity were the brothers Frohock,
John and Thomas, the latter clerk of the court at Salisbury, and
Edmund Fanning, a cultured gentleman-adventurer, associate
justice of the superior court. So rapacious and extortionate were
these vultures of the courts who preyed upon the vitals of the
common people, that they were savagely lampooned by Rednap
Howell, the backwoods poet-laureate of the Regulation. The temper
of the back country is well caught in Howell's lines anent this
early American "grafter", the favorite of the royal governor:

When Fanning first to Orange came,
He looked both pale and wan;
An old patched coat was on his back,
An old mare he rode on.

Both man and mare wan't worth five pounds,
As I've been often told;
But by his civil robberies,
He's laced his coat with gold.

The germs of the great westward migration in the coming decade
were thus working among the people of the back country. If the
tense nervous energy of the American people is the transmitted
characteristic of the border settlers, who often slept with
loaded rifle in hand in grim expectation of being awakened by the
hideous yells, the deadly tomahawk, and the lurid firebrand of
the savage, the very buoyancy of the national character is in
equal measure "traceable to the free democracy founded on a
freehold inheritance of land." The desire for free land was the
fundamental factor in the development of the American democracy.
No colony exhibited this tendency more signally than did North
Carolina in the turbulent days of the Regulation. The North
Carolina frontiersmen resented the obligation to pay quit-rents
and firmly believed that the first occupant of the soil had an
indefeasible right to the land which he had won with his rifle
and rendered productive by the implements of toil. Preferring the
dangers of the free wilderness to the paying of tribute to
absentee landlords and officials of an intolerant colonial
government, the frontiersman found title in his trusty rifle
rather than in a piece of parchment, and was prone to pay his
obligations to the owner of the soil in lead rather than in gold.

CHAPTER XII. Watauga--Haven of Liberty

The Regulators despaired of seeing better times and therefore
quitted the Province. It is said 1,500 departed since the Battle
of Alamance and to my knowledge a great many more are only
waiting to dispose of their plantations in order to follow them.-
-Reverend Morgan Edwards, 1772.

The five years (1766-1771) which saw the rise, development, and
ultimate defeat of the popular movement known as the Regulation,
constitute a period not only of extraordinary significance in
North Carolina but also of fruitful consequences in the larger
movements of westward expansion. With the resolute intention of
having their rulers "give account of their stewardship," to
employ their own words, the Sandy Creek Association of Baptists
(organized in 1758), in a series of papers known as Regulators'
Advertisements (1766-8) proceeded to mature, through popular
gatherings, a rough form of initiative and referendum. At length,
discouraged in its efforts, and particularly in the attempt to
bring county officials to book for charging illegal fees, this
association ceased actively to function. It was the precursor of
a movement of much more drastic character and formidable
proportions, chiefly directed against Colonel Edmund Fanning and
his associates. This movement doubtless took its name, "the
Regulation," from the bands of men already described who were
organized first in North Carolina and later in South Carolina, to
put down highwaymen and to correct many abuses in the back
country, such as the tyrannies of Scovil and his henchmen.
Failing to secure redress of their grievances through legal
channels, the Regulators finally made such a powerful
demonstration in support of their refusal to pay taxes that
Governor William Tryon of North Carolina, in 1768, called out the
provincial militia, and by marching with great show of force
through the disaffected regions, succeeded temporarily in
overawing the people and thus inducing them to pay their

The suits which had been brought by the Regulators against Edmund
Fanning, register, and Francis Nash, clerk, of Orange County,
resulted in both being "found guilty of taking too high fees."
Fanning immediately resigned his commission as register; while
Nash, who in conjunction with Fanning had fairly offered in 1766
to refund to any one aggrieved any fee charged by him which the
Superior Court might hold excessive, gave bond for his appearance
at the next court. Similar suits for extortion against the three
Froliocks in Rowan County in 1769 met with failure, however; and
this outcome aroused the bitter resentment of the Regulators, as
recorded by Herman Husband in his "Impartial Relation." During
this whole period the insurrectionary spirit of the people, who
felt themselves deeply aggrieved but recognized their inability
to secure redress, took the form of driving local justices from
the bench and threatening court officials with violence.

At the session of the Superior Court at Hillsborough, September
22, 1770, an elaborate petition prepared by the Regulators,
demanding unprejudiced juries and the public accounting for taxes
by the sheriffs, was handed to the presiding justice by James
Hunter, a leading Regulator. This justice was our acquaintance,
Judge Richard Henderson, of Granville County, the sole high
officer in the provincial government from the entire western
section of the colony. In this petition occur these trenchant
words: "As we are serious and in good earnest and the cause
respects the whole body of the people it would be loss of time to
enter into arguments on particular points for though there are a
few men who have the gift and art of reasoning, yet every man has
a feeling and knows when he has justice done him as well as the
most learned." On the following Monday (September 24th), upon
convening of court, some one hundred and fifty Regulators, led by
James Hunter, Herman Husband, Rednap Howell, and others, armed
with clubs, whips, and cudgels, surged into the court-room and
through their spokesman, Jeremiah Fields, presented a statement
of their grievances. "I found myself," says Judge Henderson,
"under a necessity of attempting to soften and turn away the fury
of these mad people, in the best manner in my power, and as such
could well be, pacify their rage and at the same time preserve
the little remaining dignity of the court."

During an interim, in which the Regulators retired for
consultation, they fell without warning upon Fanning and gave him
such rough treatment that he narrowly escaped with his life. The
mob, now past control, horsewhipped a number of leading lawyers
and citizens gathered there at court, and treated others, notably
the courtly Mr. Hooper of Boston, "with every mark of contempt
and insult." Judge Henderson was assured by Fields that no harm
should come to him provided he would conduct the court in
accordance with the behest of the Regulators: namely, that no
lawyer, save the King's Attorney, should be admitted to the
court, and that the Regulators' cases should be tried with new
jurors chosen by the Regulators. With the entire little village
terrorized by this campaign of "frightfulness," and the court
wholly unprotected, Judge Henderson reluctantly acknowledged to
himself that "the power of the judiciary was exhausted."
Nevertheless, he says, "I made every effort in my power
consistent with my office and the duty the public is entitled to
claim to preserve peace and good order." Agreeing under duress to
resume the session the following day, the judge ordered an
adjournment. But being unwilling, on mature reflection, to permit
a mockery of the court and a travesty of justice to be staged
under threat and intimidation, he returned that night to his home
in Granville and left the court adjourned in course. Enraged by
the judge's escape, the Regulators took possession of the court
room the following morning, called over the cases, and in futile
protest against the conditions they were powerless to remedy,
made profane entries which may still be seen on the record:
"Damned rogues," "Fanning pays cost but loses nothing," "Negroes
not worth a damn, Cost exceeds the whole," "Hogan pays and be
damned," and, in a case of slander, "Nonsense, let them argue for
Ferrell has gone hellward."

The uprising of these bold and resolute, simple and imperfectly
educated people, which had begun as a constitutional struggle to
secure justice and to prevent their own exploitation by dishonest
lawyers of the county courts, now gave place to open anarchy and
secret incendiarism. In the dead of night, November 12th and
14th, Judge Henderson's barn, stables, and dwelling house were
fired by the Regulators and went up in flames. Glowing with a
sense of wrong, these misguided people, led on by fanatical
agitators, thus vented their indiscriminate rage, not only upon
their op pressors, but also upon men wholly innocent of injuring
them--men of the stamp of William Hooper, afterward signer of the
Declaration of Independence, Alexander Martin, afterward governor
and United States Senator,,and Richard Henderson, popular
representative of the back country and a firm champion of due
process of law. It is perhaps not surprising in view of these
events that Governor Tryon and the ruling class, lacking a
sympathy broad enough to ensure justice to the oppressed people,
seemed to be chiefly impressed with the fact that a widespread
insurrection was in progress, threatening not only life and
property, but also civil government itself. The governor called
out the militia of the province and led an army of well nigh one
thousand men and officers against the Regulators, who had
assembled at Alamance to the number of two thousand. Tryon stood
firm upon the demands that the people should submit to government
and disperse at a designated hour. The Regulators, on their side,
hoped to secure the reforms they desired by intimidating the
governor with a great display of force. The battle was a tragic
fiasco for the Regulators, who fought bravely, but without
adequate arms or real leadership. With the conclusion of this
desultory action, a fight lasting about two hours (May 16, 1771),
the power of the Regulators was completely broken."

Among these insurgents there was a remarkable element, an element
whose influence upon the course of American history has been but
imperfectly understood which now looms into prominence as the
vanguard of the army of westward expansion. There were some of
the Regulators who, though law-abiding and conservative, were
deeply imbued with ideas of liberty, personal independence, and
the freedom of the soil. Through the influence of Benjamin
Franklin, with whom one of the leaders of the group, Herman
Husband, was in constant correspondence, the patriotic ideas then
rapidly maturing into revolutionary sentiments furnished the
inspiration to action. As early as 1766, the Sandy Creek leaders,
referred to earlier in this chapter, issued a call to each
neighborhood to send delegates to a gathering for the purpose of
investigating the question "whether the free men of this country
labor under any abuses of power or not." The close connection
between the Sandy Creek men and the Sons of Liberty is amply
demonstrated in this paper wherein the Sons of Liberty in
connection with the "stamp law" are praised: for "redeeming us
from Tyranny" and for having "withstood the lords in Parliament
in behalf of true liberty." Upon the records of the Dutchman's
Creek Church, of "regular" Baptists, at the Forks of the Yadkin,
to which Daniel Boone's family belonged, may be found this
memorable entry, recognizing the "American Cause" well-nigh a
year before the declaration of independence at Philadelphia: "At
the monthly meeting it was agreed upon concerning the American
Cause, if any of the brethren see cause to join it they have the
liberty to do it without being called to an account by the
church. But whether they join or do not join they should be used
with brotherly love.

The fundamental reasons underlying the approaching westward
hegira are found in the remarkable petition of the Regulators of
An son County (October 9, 1769), who request that "Benjamin
Franklin or some other known PATRIOT" be appointed agent of the
province in London to seek redress at the source. They exposed
the basic evil in the situation by pointing out that, in
violation of the law restricting the amount of land that might be
granted to each person to six hundred and forty acres, much of
the most fertile territory in the province had been distributed
in large tracts to wealthy landlords. In consequence "great
numbers of poor people are necessitated to toil in the
cultivation of the bad Lands whereon they hardly can subsist." It
was these poor people, "thereby deprived of His Majesties
liberality and Bounty," who soon turned their gaze to the
westward and crossed the mountains in search of the rich, free
lands of the trans-Alleghany region.

This feverish popular longing for freedom, stimulated by the
economic pressure of thousands of pioneers who were annually
entering North Carolina, set in motion a wave of migration across
the mountains in 1769. Long before Alamance, many of the true
Americans, distraught by apparently irremediable injustices,
plunged fearlessly into the wilderness, seeking beyond the
mountains a new birth of liberty, lands of their own selection
free of cost or quit-rents, and a government of their own
choosing and control."' The glad news of the rich valleys beyond
the mountains early lured such adventurous pioneers as Andrew
Greer and Julius Caesar Dugger to the Watauga country. The
glowing stories, told by Boone, and disseminated in the back
country by Henderson, Williams, and the Harts, seemed to give
promise to men of this stamp that the West afforded relief from
oppressions suffered in North Carolina. During the winter of
1768-9 there was also a great rush of settlers from Virginia into
the valley of the Holston. A party from Augusta County, led by
men who had been delighted with the country viewed seven years
before when they were serving under Colonel William Byrd against
the Cherokees, found that this region, a wilderness on their
outward passage in 1768, was dotted with cabins on every spot
where the grazing was good, upon their return the following year.
Writing to Hillsborough on October 18, 1770, concerning the "many
hundred families" in the region from Green River to the branches
of the Holston, who refused to comply with the royal proclamation
of 1763, Acting-Governor Nelson of Virginia reports that "very
little if any Quit Rents have been received for His Majesty's use
from that Quarter for some time past"--the people claiming that
"His Majesty hath been pleased to withdraw his protection from
them since 1763."

In the spring of 1770, with the express intention of discovering
suitable locations for homes for himself and a number of others,
who wished to escape the accumulating evils of the times, James
Robertson of Orange County, North Carolina, made an arduous
journey to the pleasing valley of the Watauga. Robertson, who was
born in Brunswick County, Virginia, June 28, 1742, of excellent
Scotch-Irish ancestry, was a noteworthy figure of a certain type-
-quiet, reflective, conservative, wise, a firm believer in the
basic principles of civil Liberty and the right of local
self-government. Robertson spent some time with a man named
Honeycut in the Watauga region, raised a crop of corn, and chose
for himself and his friends suitable locations for settlement.
Lost upon his return in seeking the mountain defiles traversed by
him on the outward journey, Robertson probably escaped death from
starvation only through the chance passing of two hunters who
succored him and set him upon the right path. On arriving in
Orange he found political and social conditions there much worse
than before, many of the colonists declining to take the
obligatory oath of allegiance to the British Crown after the
Battle of Alamance, preferring to carve out for themselves new
homes along the western waters. Some sixteen families of this
stamp, indignant at the injustices and oppressions of British
rule, and stirred by Robertson's description of the richness and
beauty of the western country, accompanied him to Watauga shortly
after the battle.

This vanguard of the army of westward advance, independent
Americans in spirit with a negligible sprinkling of Loyalists,
now swept in a great tide into the northeastern section of
Tennessee. The men of Sandy Creek, actuated by independent
principles but out of sympathy with the anarchic side of the
Regulation, left the colony almost to a man. "After the defeat of
the Regulators," says the historian of the Sandy Creek
Association, "thousands of the oppressed, seeing no hope of
redress for their grievances, moved into and settled east
Tennessee. A large proportion of these were of the Baptist
population. Sandy Creek Church which some time previous to 1771,
numbered 606, was afterward reduced to fourteen members!" This
movement exerted powerful influence in stimulating westward
expansion. Indeed, it was from men of Regulating principles-
-Boone, Robertson, and the Searcys--who vehemently condemned the
anarchy and incendiarism of 1770, that Judge Henderson received
powerful cooperation in the opening up of Kentucky and Tennessee.

The several treaties concerning the western boundary of white
settlement, concluded in close succession by North Carolina,
Virginia, and the Crown with the Southern and Northern Indians,
had an important bearing upon the settlement of Watauga. The
Cherokee boundary line, as fixed by Governor Tryon (1767) and by
John Stuart (1768), ran from Reedy River to Tryon Mountain,
thence straight to Chiswell's Mine, and thence direct to the
mouth of the Great Kanawha River. By the treaty at Fort Stanwix
(November 5, 1768), in the negotiation of which Virginia was
represented by Dr. Thomas Walker and Major Andrew Lewis, the Six
Nations sold to the Crown their shadowy claim to a vast tract of
western country, including in particular all the land between the
Ohio and the Tennessee Rivers. The news of the cession resulted
in a strong southwestward thrust of population, from the
neighborhood of Abingdon, in the direction of the Holston Valley.
Recognizing that hundreds of these settlers were beyond the line
negotiated by Stuart, but on lands not yet surveyed, Governor
Botetourt instructed the Virginia commissioners to press for
further negotiations, through Stuart, with the Cherokees.
Accordingly, on October 18, 1770, a new treaty was made at
Lochaber, South Carolina, by which a new line back of Virginia
was established, beginning at the intersection of the North
Carolina-Cherokee line (a point some seventy odd miles east of
Long Island), running thence in a west course to a point six
miles east of Long Island, and thence in a direct course to the
confluence of the Great Kanawha and Ohio Rivers. At the time of
the treaty, it was agreed that the Holston River, from its
intersection with the North Carolina-Virginia line, and down the
course of the same, should be a temporary southern boundary of
Virginia until the line should be ascertained by actual survey. A
strong influx of population into the immense new triangle thus
released for settlement brought powerful pressure to bear upon
northern Tennessee, the point of least resistance along the
western barrier. Singularly enough, this advance was not opposed
by the Cherokees, whose towns were strung across the extreme
southeast corner of Tennessee.

When Colonel John Donelson ran the line in the latter part of
1771, The Little Carpenter, who with other Indian chiefs
accompanied the surveying party, urged that the line agreed upon
at Lochaber should break off at the head of the Louisa River, and
should run thence to the mouth thereof, and thence up the Ohio to
the mouth of the Great Kanawha. For this increase in the
territory of Virginia they of course expected additional payment.
As a representative of Virginia, Donelson agreed to the proposed
alteration in the boundary line; and accordingly promised to send
the Cherokees, in the following spring, a sum alleged by them to
have been fixed at five hundred pounds, in compensation for the
additional area. This informal agreement, it is believed, was
never ratified by Virginia; nor was the promised compensation
ever paid the Cherokees.

Under the belief that the land belonged to Virginia, Jacob Brown
with one or two families from North Carolina settled in 1771 upon
a tract of land on the northern bank of the Nonachunheh
(corruption, Nolichucky) River. During the same year, an
experimental line run westward from Steep Rock and Beaver Creek
by Anthony Bledsoe showed that upon the extension of the boundary
line, these settlers would fall within the bounds of North
Carolina. Although thus informally warned of the situation, the
settlers made no move to vacate the lands. But in the following
year, after the running of Donelson's line, Alexander Cameron,
Stuart's deputy, required "all persons who had made settlements
beyond the said line to relinquish them." Thus officially warned,
Brown and his companions removed to Watauga. Cameron's order did
not apply, however, to the settlement, to the settlement north of
the Holston River, south and east of Long Island; and the
settlement in Carter's Valley, although lying without the
Virginia boundary, strangely enough remained unmolested. The
order was directed at the Watauga settlers, who were seated south
of the Holston River in the Watauga Valley.

The plight in which the Watauga settlers now found themselves was
truly desperate; and the way in which they surmounted this
apparently insuperable difficulty is one of the most striking and
characteristic events in the pre-Revolutionary history of the Old
Southwest. It exhibits the indomitable will and fertile resource
of the American character at the margin of desperation. The
momentous influence of the Watauga settlers, inadequately
reckoned hitherto by historians, was soon to make itself
powerfully felt in the first epochal movement of westward

CHAPTER XIII. Opening the Gateway--Dunmore's War

Virginia, we conceive, can claim this Country [Kentucky] with the
greatest justice and propriety, its within the Limits of their
Charter. They Fought and bled for it. And had it not been for the
memorable Battle, at the Great Kanaway those vast regions had yet
continued inaccessable.--The Harrodsburg Petition. June 7-15,

It was fortunate for the Watauga settlers that the Indians and
the whites were on the most peaceful terms with each other at the
time the Watauga Valley was shown, by the running of the boundary
line, to lie within the Indian reservation. With true American
self reliance, the settlers met together for deliberation and
counsel, and deputed James Robertson and John Been, as stated by
Tennessee's first historian, "to treat with their landlords, and
agree upon articles of accommodation and friendship. The attempt
succeeded. For though the Indians refused to give up the land
gratuitously, they consented, for a stipulated amount of
merchandise, muskets, and other articles of convenience, to lease
all the country on the waters of the Watauga." In addition to the
land thus leased for ten years, several other tracts were
purchased from the Indians by Jacob Brown, who reoccupied his
former location on the Nolichucky.

In taking this daring step, the Watauga settlers moved into the
spotlight of national history. For the inevitable consequence of
leasing the territory was the organization of a form of
government for the infant settlement. Through his familiarity
with the North Carolina type of "association," in which the
settlers had organized for the purpose of "regulating" abuses,
and his acquaintance with the contents of the "Impartial
Relation," in which Husband fully expounded the principles and
practices of this association, Robertson was peculiarly fitted
for leadership in organizing this new government. The convention
at which Articles of Association, unfortunately lost, were drawn
up, is noteworthy as the first governmental assemblage of
free-born American citizens ever held west of the Alleghanies.
The government then established was the first free and
independent government, democratic in spirit, representative in
form, ever organized upon the American continent. In describing
this mimic republic, the royal Governor of Virginia says: "They
appointed magistrates, and framed laws for their present
occasion, and to all intents and purposes, erected themselves
into, though an inconsiderable, yet a separate State." The most
daring spirit in this little state was the young John Sevier, of
French Huguenot family (originally spelled Xavier), born in
Augusta County, Virginia, on September 23, 1745. It was from
Millerstown in Shenandoah County where he was living the
uneventful life of a small farmer, that he emigrated (December,
1773) to the Watauga region. With his arrival there begins one of
the most fascinating and romantic careers recorded in the varied
arid stirring annals of the Old Southwest. In this daring and
impetuous young fellow, fair-haired, blue-eyed, magnetic,
debonair--of powerful build, splendid proportions, and athletic
skill--we hold the gallant exemplar of the truly heroic life of
the border. The story of his life, thrilling in the extreme, is
rich in all the multi-colored elements which impart romance to
the arduous struggle of American civilization in the opening
years of the republic.

The creative impulses in the Watauga commonwealth are hinted at
by Dunmore, who serves, in the letter above quoted, that Watauga
"sets a dangerous example to the people America, of forming
governments distinct from and independent of his Majesty's

It is true that the experiment was somewhat limited. The
organization of the Watauga association, which constituted a
temporary expedient to meet a crisis in the affairs of a frontier
community cut off by forest wilderness and mountain barriers from
the reach of the arm of royal or provincial government, is not to
be compared with the revolutionary assemblage at Boonesborough,
May 23, 1775, or with the extraordinary demands for inde pendence
in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, during the same month.
Nevertheless the Watauga settlers defied both North Carolina and
the Crown, by adopting the laws of Virginia and by ignoring
Governor Josiah Martin's proclamation (March 26, 1774) "requiring
the said settlers immediately to retire from the Indian
Territories." Moreover, Watauga really was the parent of a series
of mimic republics in the Old Southwest, gradually tending toward
higher forms of organization, with a larger measure of individual
liberty. Watauga, Transylvania, Cumberland, Franklin represent
the evolving political genius of a free people under the creative
leadership of three constructive minds--James Robertson, John
Sevier, and Richard Henderson. Indeed, Watauga furnished to Judge
Henderson precisely the "dangerous example" of which Dunmore
prophetically speaks.

Immediately upon his return in 1771 from the extended exploration
of Kentucky, Daniel Boone as already noted was engaged as secret
agent, to treat with the Cherokees for the lease or purchase of
the trans-Alleghany region, on behalf of Judge Henderson and his
associates. Embroiled in the exciting issues of the Regulation
and absorbed by his confining duties as colonial judge, Henderson
was unable to put his bold design into execution until after the
expiration of the court itself which ceased to exist in 1773.
Disregarding the royal proclamation of 1763 and Locke's
Fundamental Constitutions for the Carolinas, which forbade
private parties to purchase lands from the Indians, Judge
Henderson applied to the highest judicial authorities in England
to know if there was any law in existence forbidding purchase of
lands from the Indian tribes. Lord Mansfield gave Judge Henderson
the "sanction of his great authority in favor of the purchase."
Lord Chancellor Camden and Mr. Yorke had officially advised the
King in 1757, in regard to the petition of the East Indian
Company, "that in respect to such territories as have been, or
shall be acquired by treaty or grant from the Great Mogul, or any
of the Indian princes or governments, your Majesty's letters
patent are NOT NECESSARY; the property of the soil vesting in the
company by the Indian grant subject only to your Majesties right
of sovereignty over the settlements, as English settlements, and
over the inhabitants, as English subjects, who carry with them
your Majesties laws wherever they form colonies, and receive your
Majesties protection by virtue of your royal charters." This
opinion, with virtually no change, was rendered in regard to the
Indian tribes of North America by the same two authorities,
certainly as early as 1769; and a true copy, made in London,
April 1, 1772, was transmitted to Judge Henderson. Armed with the
legal opinions received from England, Judge Henderson was fully
persuaded that there was no legal bar whatsoever to his seeking
to acquire by purchase from the Cherokees the vast domain of the
trans-Alleghany. A golden dream of empire, with its promise of an
independent republic in the form of a proprietary colony, casts
him under the spell of its alluring glamour.

In the meantime, the restless Boone, impatient over the delay in
the consummation of Judge Henderson's plans, resolved to
establish himself in Kentucky upon his own responsibility.
Heedless of the question of title and the certain hazards
incident to invading the territory of hostile savages, Boone
designated a rendezvous in Powell's Valley where he and his party
of five families were to be met by a band under the leadership of
his connections, the Bryans, and another company led by Captain
William Russell, a daring pioneer of the Clinch Valley. A small
detachment of Boone's party was fiercely attacked by Shawanoes in
Powell's Valley on October 10, 1773, and almost all were killed,
including sons of Boone and Russell, and young John and Richard
Mendenhall of Guilford County, North Carolina. As the result of
this bloody repulse, Boone's attempt to settle in Kentucky at
this time was definitely abandoned. His failure to effect a
settlement in Kentucky was due to that characteristic disregard
of the territorial rights of the Indians which was all too common
among the borderers of that period.

This failure was portentous of the coming storm. The reign of the
Long Hunters was over. Dawning upon the horizon was the day of
stern adventurers, fixed in the desperate and lawless resolve to
invade the trans-Alleghany country and to battle savagely with
the red man for its possession. More successful than Boone was
the McAfee party, five in number, from Botetourt County,
Virginia, who between May l0th and September 1, 1773, safely
accomplished a journey through Kentucky and carefully marked
well-chosen sites for future location." An ominous incident of
the time was the veiled warning which Cornstalk, the great
Shawanoe chieftain, gave to Captain Thomas Bullitt, head of a
party of royal surveyors, sent out by Lord Dunmore, Governor of
Virginia. Cornstalk at Chillicothe, June 7, 1773, warned Bullitt
concerning the encroachments of the whites, "designed to deprive
us," he said, "of the hunting of the country, as usual . . . the
hunting we stand in need of to buy our clothing." During the
preceding summer, George Rogers Clark, an aggressive young
Virginian, with a small party, had descended the Ohio as low as
Fish Creek, where he built a cabin; and in this region for many
months various parties of surveyors were busily engaged in
locating and surveying lands covered by military grants. Most
significant of the ruthless determination of the pioneers to
occupy by force the Kentucky area was the action of the large
party from Monongahela, some forty in number, led by Captain
James Harrod, who penetrated to the present Miller County, where
in June, 1774, they made improvements and actually laid out a

A significant, secretly conducted movement, of which historians
have taken but little account, was now in progress under the
manipulation of Virginia's royal governor. As early as 1770 Dr.
John Connolly proposed the establishment of an extensive colony
south of the Ohio; and the design of securing such territory from
the Indians found lodgment in the mind of Lord Dunmore. But this
design was for the moment thwarted when on October 28, 1773, an
order was issued from the Privy Council chamber in Whitehall
granting an immense territory, including all of the present West
Virginia and the land alienated to Virginia by Donelson's
agreement with the Cherokees (1772), to a company including
Thomas Walpole, Samuel Wharton, Benjamin Franklin, and others.
This new colony, to be named "Vandalia," seemed assured. A clash
between Dunmore and the royal authorities was imminent; for
Virginia under her sea-to-sea charter claimed the vast middle
region of the continent, extending without known limit to west
and northwest. Moreover, Dunmore was interested in great land
speculations on his own account; and while overtly vindicating
Virginia's claim to the trans-Alleghany by despatching parties of
surveyors to the western wilderness to locate and survey lands
covered by military grants, he with the collusion of certain
members of the "Honourable Board," his council, as charged by
Washington, was more than "lukewarm," secretly restricting as
rigorously as he dared the extent and number of the soldiers'
allotments. According to the famous Virginia Remonstrance, he was
in league with "men of great influence in some of the neighboring
states" to secure, under cover of purchases from the Indians,
large tracts of country between the Ohio and the Mississippi." In
shaping his plans Dunmore had the shrewd legal counsel of Patrick
Henry, who was equally intent upon making for himself a private
purchase from the Cherokees. It was Henry's legal opinion that
the Indiana purchase from the Six Nations by the Pennsylvania
traders at Fort Stanwix (November 5, 1768) was valid; and that
purchase by private individuals from the Indians gave full and
ample title. In consequence of these facts, William Murray, in
behalf of himself and his associates of the Illinois Land
Company, and on the strength of the Camden Yorke decision,
purchased two large tracts, on the Illinois and Ohio
respectively, from the Illinois Indians (July 5, 1773); and in
order to win the support of Dunmore, who was ambitious to make a
fortune in land speculation, organized a second company, the
Wabash (Ouabache) Land Company, with the governor as the chief
share-holder. In response to Murray's petition on behalf of the
Illinois Land Company, Dunmore (May, 1774) recommended it to Lord
Dartmouth, Secretary of State for the Colonies, and urged that it
be granted; and in a later letter he disingenuously disclaimed
any personal interest in the Illinois speculation.

The party of surveyors sent out under the direction of Colonel
William Preston, on the request of Washington and other leading
eastern men, in 1774 located lands covered by military grants on
the Ohio and in the Kentucky area for prominent Virginians,
including Washington, Patrick Henry, William Byrd, William
Preston, Arthur Campbell, William Fleming, and Andrew Lewis,
among others, and also a large tract for Dr. Connolly. Certain of
these grants fell within the Vandalia area; and in his reply
(September 10, 1774) to Dunmore's letter, Lord Dartmouth sternly
censured Dunmore for allowing these grants, and accused the white
settlers of having brought on, by such unwarrantable aggressions,
the war then raging with the Indians. This charge lay at the door
of Dunmore himself; and there is strong evidence that Dunmore
personally fomented the war, ostensibly in support of Virginia's
charter rights, but actually in order to further his own
speculative designs." Dunmore's agent, Dr. Connolly, heading a
party posing as Virginia militia, fired without provocation upon
a delegation of Shawanoe chiefs assembled at Fort Pitt (January,
1774). Taking advantage of the alarming situation created by the
conflict of the claims of Virginia and Pennsylvania, Connolly,
inspired by Dunmore without doubt, then issued an incendiary
circular (April 21, 1774), declaring a state of war to exist.
Just two weeks before the Battle of the Great Kanawha, Patrick
Henry categorically stated, in conversation with Thomas Wharton:

"that he was at Williamsburg with Ld. D. when Dr. Conolly first
came there, that Conolly is a chatty, sensible man, and informed
Ld. Dunmore of the extreme richness of the lands which lay on
both sides of the Ohio; that the prohibitory orders which had
been sent him relative to the land on the hither side (or
Vandalia) had caused him to turn his thoughts to the opposite
shore, and that as his Lordship was determined to settle his
family in America he was really pursueing this war, in order to
obtain by purchase or treaty from the natives a tract of
territory on that side; he then told me that he was convinced
from every authority that the law knew, that a purchase from the
natives was as full and ample a title as could be obtained, that
they had Lord Camden and Mr. York's opinion on that head, which
opinion with some others that Ld. Dunmore had consulted, and with
the knowledge Conolly had given him of the quality of the country
and his determined resolution to settle his family on this
continent, were the real motives or springs of the present

At this very time, Patrick Henry, in conjunction with William
Byrd 3d and others, was negotiating for a private purchase of
lands from the Cherokees; and when Wharton, after answering
Henry's inquiry as to where he might buy Indian goods, remarked:
"It's not possible you mean to enter the Indian trade at this
period," Henry laughingly replied: "The wish-world is my hobby
horse." "From whence I conclude," adds Wharton, "he has some
prospect of making a purchase of the natives, but where I know

The war, thus promulgated, we believe, at Dunmore's secret
instigation and heralded by a series of ghastly atrocities, came
on apace. After the inhuman murder of the family of Logan, the
Indian chieftain, by one Greathouse and his drunken companions
(April 30th), Logan, who contrary to romantic views was a
blackhearted and vengeful savage, harried the Tennessee and
Virginia borders, burning and slaughtering. Unable to arouse the
Cherokees, owing to the opposition of Atta-kulla-kulla, Logan as
late as July 21st said in a letter to the whites: "The Indians
are not angry, only myself," and not until then did Dunmore begin
to give full execution to his warlike plans. The best woodsmen of
the border, Daniel Boone and the German scout Michael Stoner,
having been despatched on July 27th by Colonel William Preston to
warn the surveyors of the trans-Alleghany, made a remarkable
journey on foot of eight hundred miles in sixty-one days.
Harrod's company at Harrodsburg, a company of surveyors at
Fontainebleau, Floyd's party on the Kentucky, and the surveyors
at Mann's Lick, this warned, hurried in to the settlements and
were saved. Meanwhile, Dunmore, in command of the Virginia
forces, invaded territory guaranteed to the Indians by the royal
proclamation of 1763 and recently (1774) added to the province of
Quebec, a fact of which he was not aware, conducted a vigorous
campaign, and fortified Camp Charlotte, near Old Chillicothe.
Andrew Lewis, however, in charge of the other division of
Dunmore's army, was the one destined to bear the real brunt and
burden of the campaign. His division, recruited from the very
flower of the pioneers of the Old Southwest, was the most
representative body of borderers of this region that up to this
time had assembled to measure strength with the red men. It was
an army of the true stalwarts of the frontier, with fringed
leggings and hunting-capes, rifles and powder-horns,
hunting-knives and tomahawks.

The Battle of the Great Kanawha, at Point Pleasant, was fought on
October 10, 1774, between Lewis's force, eleven hundred strong,
and the Indians, under Cornstalk, somewhat inferior in numbers.
It was a desultory action, over a greatly extended front and in
very brushy country between Crooked Creek and the Ohio.
Throughout the long day, the Indians fought with rare craft and
stubborn bravery--loudly cursing the white men, cleverly picking
off their leaders, and derisively inquiring, in regard to the
absence of the fifes: "Where are your whistles now?" Slowly
retreating, they sought to draw the whites into an ambuscade and
at a favorable moment to "drive the Long Knives like bullocks
into the river." No marked success was achieved on either side
until near sunset, when a flank movement directed by young Isaac
Shelby alarmed the Indians, who mistook this party for the
expected reinforcement under Christian, and retired across the
Ohio. In the morning the whites were amazed to discover that the
Indians, who the preceding day so splendidly heeded the echoing
call of Cornstalk, "Be strong! Be strong!", had quit the
battlefield and left the victory with the whites.

The peace negotiated by Dunmore was durable. The governor had
accomplished his purpose, defied the authority of the crown, and

vindicated the claim of Virginia, to the enthusiastic
satisfaction of the backwoodsmen. While tendering their thanks to
him and avowing their allegiance to George III, at the close of
the campaign, the borderers proclaimed their resolution to exert

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