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THE CHIMNEY CORNER., Ashburton Guardian, Volume I, Issue 8, 14 October 1879
THE CHIMNEY CORNER.
OLD STORIES RETOLD. A Slayer of Indians. Daniel Boone, one of the bravest and most sagacious of those intrepid pioneers who first widened the dominions of America, was born in Bucks County, Pennyslvauia, in 1753. His father, who came from Bradninch, near Exeter, in 1717, with his wife and nine children, purchased land in various parts of Maryland and Virginia. When Daniel was a mere hoy his father removed to a part of Pennsylvania, not far from Reading, at that time a frontier settlement, swarming with deer and Indians. Here amid the rough log-cahins in the clearings, surrounded by blackened pine-stumps and small plots of corn, Daniel grow up, keen of eye, swift of foot, strong of hand, and rapidly became a mighty hunter. Constant danger soon made the young rifleman patient, persevering, and sagacious. Hismind became vigorous, his apprehensions quick, aud in selfpossession, sell-control, and promptitude lie was equalled by none of his companions. When Daniel was about eighteen years old, his father removed his family to North Carolina, and settled near the waters of the Yadkin, a mountain stream in the north-western part of that state. Here young Daniel formed an acquaintance with Rebecca Ryan, whom he married.
For several years after his marriage Boone lived quietly as a farmer in North Carolina, hunting only when there was no field-work to do. In the mean time, settlers began to spread along the banks of the Yadkin and the tributary streams, and the woodman’s axe soon resounded along the valleys of the Holston and Clinch rivers. The Cherokee Indians being pacified by degrees, several companies of hunters from Pennslyvania, Virginia, and North Carolina, hearing of the abundance of game along the head waters of the Tennessee river, pushed on across the wilderness. At the head of one of these enterprises was Daniel Boone, who explored the valleys at the head waters of the Holston, in the south-west part of Virginia. The young pioneer was soon employed by land speculators to report on the country along the Cumberland river, within the present boundaries of Kentucky, which was to prove the scene of his chief exploits. Boone, although relentless against an enemy, was by nature gentle, humane, charitable, generous, frugal, and ascetic. He had grown disgusted with the Scotch adventurers who filled North Carolina, and with the English officials who oppressed the people with taxes, and eventually drove them to insurrection. His mind, naturally daring and ambitious, was fired by the narratives of a hunter name Finley, who had traded with the Indians along the Kentucky river, and had brought home stories of the rich cane-brakes there that swarmed with all kinds of game. In 1769, Boone joined Finley and four others in an exploring expedition to the new paradise. He tells the story in his autobiography, which Filson, the narrator, has, however, done his best to spoil by the addition of his own bombast ;
“ It was the Ist of May, 17G9,” he says, “ that I resigned my domestic happiness, and left my family and peaceable habitation on the Yadkin river, in North Carolina, to wander through the wilderness of Ameria in quest of the country of Kentucky, in company with John Finley, John Stuart, Joseph Holden, James Money, and William Cool. “ On the 7th of June, after travelling in a westerly direction, we found oux-selves on Red River, where John Finley had formerly been trading with the Indians, and from the top of an eminence we saw with pleasure the beautiful level of Kentucky. For some time we had experienced the most uncomfortable weather. We now encamped, made a shelter to defend us from the inclement season, and began to hunt and reconnoitre the country. We found abundance of wild beasts in this vast forest. The buffaloes were more numerous than cattle in our settlements, browsing on the leaves of the cane, or cropping the herbage on those extensive plains. We saw hundreds in a drove, and the numbers about the salt springs were amazing. In this forest, the habitation of beasts of every American kind, we hunted with great success until December.
“On the 22nd of December, John Stuart and I had a pleasing ramble, but fortune changed the day at the close of it. We passed through a great forest, in which stood a myriad of trees, some gay with blossoms, other rich with fruits ; and numberless animals presented themselves perpetually to our view. At sun-down, near Kentucky river, as we ascended the brow of a small hill, a number of Indians rushed out of a cane-brake and made us prisoners. They plundered us, and kept us in confinement seven days. During this time we discovered no uneasiness or desire to escape, which made them less suspicious ; but in the dead of night, as we lay by a large fire in a cane-brake, when sleep had locked up their senses, my situation not disposing me to rest, I gently awoke my companion. We seized this favorable opportunity and departed, directing our course towards our old camp, but found it plundered, and our company dispersed. About this time, as my brother and another adventurer who came to explore the country shortly after us were wandering through the forest, they accidentally found our camp. Notwithstanding our unfortunate circumstances and our dangerous situation, surrounded by hostile savages, our fortunate meeting in the wilderness gave us the most sensible satisfaction.
“ Soon after this, my companion in captivity, John Stuart, was killed by the savages, and the man who came with my brother was soon after attacked and eaten by the wolves. We were now in a dangerous and helpless situation, exposed daily to perils and death, among savages and wild beasts, and not a white man in the country but ourselves. “ Although many miles from our own families, in the howling wilderness, wo did not continue in a state of indolence, but hunted every day, and prepared a little cottage to defend us from the winter. On the Ist of May, 1770, my brother returned home for a new recruit of horses and ammunition, leaving me alone, without bread, salt, sugar, or even a horse or a dog. I passed a f?w days uncomfortably,
and the idea of a beloved wife aud family, and tlu ir anxiety on my account, would have disposed me to melancholy if I had further indulged the thought.”
At this time Imitaloea wore very numerous along the Tied liiver, and hundreds could be seen together in the cane-brakes and glades, or gathered round the saltlicks. Boone hunted till December and never saw a single Indian, though the Shawanoes, Chickasaws, and Cherokees had all claims to portions of the territory. Two years after this Boone sold his farm on the Yadkin, and removed his family to the hunting-grounds of Kentucky. One of his despatches about this time will serve to show the curt Spartan style of writing which was peculiar to the man. April Ist, 1775.
Dear Colonel, —After my compliments to you, I shall acquaint you with our misfortune. On March the 28th, a party of Indians fired on my company, about half an hour before day, and killed Mr. Twitty and his negro, and wounded Mi 1 . Walker very deeply ; but I hope he will recover. On March the 28th, as we were hunting for provisions, we found Samuel Tate’s son, who gave us an account that the Indians fired on their camp on the 27th day. My brother and I went, down and found two men killed and scalped, Thomas M'Dowell and Jerimiah M‘ Peters. I have sent a man down to all the lower companies in order to get them all to the mouth of Otter Creek. My advice to you, sir, is to come or send as soon as possible. Your company is desired greatly, for the people are very uneasy, hut are willing to stay and venture their lives with you ; and now is the time to flrustratc their (the Indians’) intentions and keep the country whilst we are in it If we give way to them now, it will ever he the case. This day wc start from the battle-ground for mouth of Otter Creek, where we shall immediately erect a fort, which will be done before you can come or send ; then, we can send ten men to meet you, if you send for them. I am, sir, your most obedient, Daniel Boone.
N.B. —We stood fin the ground and guarded our baggage till day, and lost no thing. We have about fifteen miles to Cantuck, at Otter Creek. In 1775, Boone erected a stockade fort on the bank of the Kentucky river, two hundred and fifty feet long, and one hundred and seventy-five feet broad. The redskins soon became troublesome. On the 14th of July, 1776, three of Boone’s young daughters, crossing the river near the fort in a canoe, were seized by five Indians, and carried away. Colonel Floyd, one of the party who recaptured them, has left an account of what happened. He says ; “ Next morning by daybreak we were on the track, but found the Indians had totally prevented our following them, by walking some distance apart through the thickest canes they could find. We observed their course, and travelled upwards of thirty miles. We then imagined that they would be less cautious in travelling, and made a turn in good order to cross their trace, and had gone but a few miles before we found their tracks in a buffalo path, pursued and overtook them on going about ten miles, Just as they were kindling a fire to cook. Our study had been more to get the prisoners, without giving the Indians time to murder them after they discovered us, than to kill them. We discovered each other nearly at the same time. Four of us fired, and all rushed on them, which prevented them from carrying away anything except one shot-gun, without ammunition. Mr. Boone and myself had a pretty fair shot, just as they began to move off. lam well convinced I shot one through, and the one Boone shot dropped his gun—mine had none. The place was very thick with canes ; that, and being so very much elated on recovering the three little broken-hearted girls, prevented our making further search. We sent the Indians off - without their moccasins, and not one of them with so much as a knife or a tomahawk. ” [to be continued, j
THE CHIMNEY CORNER., Ashburton Guardian, Volume I, Issue 8, 14 October 1879
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