Project Gutenberg's Stories of Old Kentucky, by Martha Grassham Purcell

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Title: Stories of Old Kentucky

Author: Martha Grassham Purcell

Release Date: September 21, 2011 [EBook #37498]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1


Produced by David Garcia, Ron Stephens and the Online
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Copyright, 1915, by


Copyright, 1915, in Great Britain.




To be easily assimilated, our mental food, like our physical food, should be carefully chosen and attractively served.

The history of the "Dark and Bloody Ground" teems with adventure and patriotism. Its pages are filled with the great achievements, the heroic deeds, and the inspiring examples of the explorers, the settlers, and the founders of our state. In the belief that a knowledge of their struggles and conquests is food that is both instructive and inspiring, and with a knowledge that a text on history does not always attract, the author sets before the youth of Kentucky these stories of some of her great men.

This book is intended as both a supplementary reader and a text, for, though in story form, the chapters are arranged chronologically, and every fact recorded has been verified.

Thanks are due to the many friends who have granted access to papers of historical value, to many others who have assisted in making this book a reality, and especially to my husband, Dr. Clyde Edison Purcell, for his valuable suggestions, careful criticisms, and untiring coŲperation.




When the Ocean Covered Kentucky9
The Aborigines of Kentucky10
Some Prehistoric Remains16
The Discovery of Kentucky18
Indian Claims in Kentucky22
The Graveyard of the Mammoths27
The Druid of Kentucky28
A Pioneer Nobleman33
Early Kentucky Customs37
Boone's Illustrious Peer41
Boone's Trace49
Boone in Captivity52
Boonesborough's Brave Defense56
The Lost Baby61
The First Romance in Kentucky64
A Wedding in the Wilderness67
Pioneer Children70
How the Pioneers Made Change72
A Woman's Will73
When the Women Brought the Water76
The Result of One Rash Act83
Two Kentucky Heroes86
The Battle of the Boards89
The Faithful Slave and His Reward91
The Double Shot94
[7]A Man of Strategy and Sagacity96
The Kind-hearted Indian100
Saved by the Hug of a Bear101
A Kentuckian Defeated the British105
A Famous March110
The First Christmas Party113
Fort Jefferson115
"The Hard Winter"118
Wildcat McKinney119
How Kentucky was Formed122
Kentucky in the Revolution123
Kentucky's Pioneer Historian125
Spanish Conspiracy128
A Kentucky Inventor135
Other Kentucky Inventions138
The Man who Knew about Birds140
A Hero of Honor143
The "Pride of the Pennyrile" 150
Lucy Jefferson Lewis153
Natural Curiosities in Kentucky155
The World's Greatest Natural Wonder159
How Reelfoot Lake Was Formed161
Kentucky Valor in 1812-1815163
A Triumvirate of Eloquence166
Kentuckians in Texas and Mexico167
Clay, the Great Commoner169
Kentucky in the War between the States          171
Why Some Cities were so Named175
Kentucky in the Field of Science179
"Bessemer Steel" in Kentucky182
Kentucky Artists184
Kentucky in the Field of Letters187
Kentuckians in History190



Audubon, Lucy: "Life and Journals of John James Audubon." Putnam.

Collins, R.H.: "History of Kentucky." Collins & Co.

Eggleston, E.: "Stories of American Life and Adventure." "Stories of Great Americans for Little Americans." American Book Co.

Hulbert, A.B.: "Boone's Wilderness Road." Arthur H. Clark Co.

Johnson, E.P.: "History of Kentucky and Kentuckians." Lewis Publishing Co.

Kinkead, E.S.: "History of Kentucky." American Book Co.

Marshall, H.: "History of Kentucky." Frankfort.

Otis, James: "Hannah of Kentucky." American Book Co.

Price, S.W.: "Old Masters of the Blue Grass." Morton & Co.

Shaler, N.S.: "Kentucky." Houghton Mifflin Co.

Smith, H.I.: "Prehistoric Ethnology of a Kentucky Site." Amer. Museum of Nat. Hist.

Smith, Z.F.: "History of Kentucky." Courier-Journal Co.

Stockton, F.R.: "Stories of New Jersey." American Book Co.

Thompson, E.P.: "A Young People's History of Kentucky." A.R. Fleming Publishing Co.

Townsend, J.W.: "Kentuckians in History and Literature." Neale Publishing Co. "Kentucky in American Letters." Torch Press.

Young, B.H.: "Prehistoric Men of Kentucky." Filson Club.[9]



Facts are stranger than fiction; and when we read the great volume of Nature, we find it more intensely interesting, instructive, and exciting than any "tale" told by our master minds.

It is difficult enough for the youth of to-day to realize there was ever a time when Kentucky did not have a place on the map and in the march of events. Still more difficult is it for them to realize that there was a time when the ocean covered our state. Geological annals show that the surface of Kentucky was once the bed of the sea. This primitive ocean is supposed to have covered a large part of North America to the depth of several thousand feet. As we read the record in the soil and as we study the strata, we find evidence of a gradual retreat of the briny waters without proofs of any very violent or sudden disruptions of the ocean. The creation or appearance of sea animals, fishes, polyps, and the formation of limestone, sandstone, slate, grit, and pebble, are parts of the story here recorded.[10]

The retreat of the briny waters continued and continued for ages, until finally the Cumberland or Wasioto Mountains emerged, followed by the Black, Laurel, Pine, Long, and Galico Mountains; other lower elevations then rose until only an inland sea, surrounded by sandy hills, remained. Then the grasses, reeds, and mosses left their impress; land animals, insects, birds, and reptiles appeared; vegetation increased, and trees and shrubs grew.

Still the waters receded; marshes, muddy swamps, licks, small lakes, ponds, clay and marl deposits were left; sinks and caves were formed; and land plants and animals increased.

As the waters still slowly but surely receded, creeks, rivers, and valleys received their present shape, the ocean reached its actual level, and the American continent assumed its shape. The huge animals—the big bears, buffaloes, jaguars, elephants, and mastodons—roamed over what is now Kentucky, and left their impress at Big Bone Lick, Drennon's Lick, and other points where the savage, the settler, and the man of science have successively meditated and marveled over their prehistoric remains.


When but a little girl one of my greatest delights was to sit at the feet of my maternal grandfather and listen to the tales of the olden times. Grandfathers[11] and grandmothers always love to tell stories, and boys and girls love to hear them. Our grandparents were not the only ones that enjoyed telling stories of the great past; Indians also related many things to their children of what had happened in the long ago. But as the red men had no books in which to record these happenings, some of their stories may be of real incidents and a great deal may be purely imaginary, for we know the Indian was always very superstitious.

The Indians loved to tell stories to their children.
The Indians loved to tell stories to their children.

There is a story told by the Lenni-Lenape Indians, who lived in eastern United States, that their ancestors[12] in the very earliest times were mere animals living underground. One of them accidentally found a hole by which he came to the surface of the ground, and soon the whole tribe followed. These Indians believed that they gradually became human beings; so in remembrance of their ancestors, they chose such names as "Black Bear," "Black Hawk," "Red Horse," and "Sitting Bull." Some of the tribes believing in this tradition would not eat any underground animals like the rabbit, ground hog, and ground squirrel, for fear they would be eating their kinsmen.

Another very interesting tradition told by these Lenni-Lenape, or Delawares, is that these ancestors came from west of the Mississippi and that when they tried to cross this stream the right of passage was disputed by a powerful force called the Alligewi, from whose name we get the word Allegheny. Being determined to cross this mighty stream and move eastward, the Lenni-Lenape joined with the Mengwe (Iroquois) in a war upon the Alligewi, overcame them, and almost exterminating them, drove the remnant of their tribe entirely from the country.

General G.R. Clark, Colonel McKee, and Colonel James Moore at different times and places were told by Indians, among them the noted chiefs "Cornstalk" and "Tobacco," that before the red men came to Kentucky—named from Ken-tuck-ee, meaning in Indian language, "the river of Blood"—a white race, superior in many arts and crafts unknown to[13] the red men, the builders of the many forts, and the inhabitants of the vast burying grounds, had been besieged by the early Indians in a great battle near the Falls of the Ohio. The remnant was driven into a small island below these rapids, where the entire race was "cut to pieces."

In confirmation of this, there was found on Sandy Island, a vast burying ground and "a multitude of human bones was discovered." This traditional testimony has been in many instances confirmed by unmistakable traces of a terrible conflict throughout the Ohio Valley. The story of these bloody battles, handed down for generations, very probably caused the Indians to name this place the "Dark and Bloody Ground." Believing it to be filled with ghosts of its primitive people, it is no small wonder that this race, full of imagination and superstition, should use it so little as a permanent home.

But who was this primitive race? Whence did they come and what did they accomplish? The works they built have lived after them, and from these silent memorials the people have been called Mound Builders. Beyond the bounds of memory, into the land of mystery we go when we strive to learn of them. They have left their imprint in the valleys of the Licking, the Kentucky, the Ohio, and the Cumberland. Their many mounds vary in size, shape, structure, location, contents, and use. Some cover only a small area, while others have a diameter of over[14] one hundred feet and one covers fifteen acres. They display a considerable knowledge of geometry, engineering, and military skill.

Relics of the Mound Builders.
Relics of the Mound Builders.

Because some have supposed these ancient people to have been sun worshipers, the "high places" for ceremonial worship are called temple mounds. The fact that these are more numerous in Kentucky than elsewhere, may have given rise to the expressions "sacred soil" or "God's country." Within or near these inclosures are mounds containing altars of stone or burned clay, known as altar mounds; the burial places, called mounds of sepulture, are isolated and contain human remains which shed more light on the character and achievements of this prehistoric race than any others. The military mounds, or works of defense, are usually near a waterway, often on a precipitous height, in a commanding position, and with an extension ditch or moat; the skill, the foresight, and the complete system shown by these would prove that there were fierce foes to be resisted and a vast population to be defended.

It is possible that all agricultural work was done with "digging sticks." Fishing and hunting were accomplished by arrows, knives, and spears, chipped from stone or rubbed out of antlers, by fishhooks of bone, and by nets. There were also "animal calls" made from small mammal bones, and the hollow bones of the birds. The knives were probably chipped stone points, clamshells, or bear teeth; there were also[15] awls of bones, strainers of pottery, hammerstones, whetstones, chisels of bone, and needles from bones of small animals. Modeling, impressing, twisting, knitting, painting, and sculpture were carried on; personal ornaments, rattles, whistles, and pipes were made. Moccasins, beads of pottery, bone, shell, teeth, and copper, and pottery of various sizes, shapes, and decoration were and sometimes are still found all along the streams of the state.

We know that they were an agricultural class because in some mounds were found remains of Indian corn and beans, also hickory nuts, butternuts, walnuts, chestnuts, hazelnuts, and pawpaw seeds.

While in some instances the graves were more or less surrounded by limestone slabs, in other places the dead were laid on skins or on the bare ground, and covered with skins and soil heaped above. As this soil had to be carried in baskets or skins, these immense mounds stand as mute memorials of their love for one another.[16]


There are many curious natural formations in Kentucky; yet the many artificial mounds also have added interest to the topography, and it is sometimes difficult to distinguish where nature ends and art begins.

The noted scientist, C.S. Rafinesque, claimed to have discovered one hundred and forty-eight ancient sites and over five hundred monuments in this state.

The greater number of the mounds were small cone-like structures from five to ten or sometimes forty feet in height; in several counties those of pyramid shape were found, and other counties contained unusual structures.

In Bourbon were found several sites, forty-six monuments, a circus of fourteen hundred and fifty feet, and a town whose stretch of walls measured four thousand six hundred and seventy-five feet.

Hickman County had a teocalli, or temple, ten feet high, thirty feet wide, and four hundred and fifty feet long.

Livingston with several sites and monuments had also an octagon whose walls measured twenty-eight hundred and fifty-two feet in length.

In McCracken was found a teocalli fourteen feet high and twelve hundred feet long.

Rockcastle had a stone grave three feet high, five feet wide, and two hundred feet long.[17]

Warren claimed a ditched town, octagonal in shape, measuring in perimeter one thousand three hundred and eighty-five feet.

In Trigg was found a walled town with a circumference of seven thousand five hundred feet.

A mound more than twenty feet high with a diameter of over one hundred feet was located in Montgomery.

In Estill was located one fifteen feet high, one hundred and ninety-two feet in diameter, and surrounded by a moat ten feet deep and thirty-five feet wide.

A horseshoe-shaped fort of about ten acres in area was found in Caldwell. Its curve was bordered by a perpendicular bluff of sixty feet, and the two points of the shoe were connected by a stone wall ten feet high and six hundred feet long, with a gateway eight feet wide.

In Hickman, O'Bryan's fort; in Madison, a stone fort containing four or five hundred acres; and in Greenup, an effigy mound representing a bear, "leaning forward, measuring fifty-three feet from the top of the back to the end of the fore leg and one hundred five and one half feet from the tip of the nose to the rear of the hind foot," with those already mentioned, give a faint idea of the variety of mounds in shape, size, and structure. Yet these are only a few of the many ancient remains in Kentucky of the Mound Builders who have left their imprint throughout our great central valley and whose wide range has left in the same mound "the mica of the Alleghenies, the[18] obsidian of Mexico, the copper of the Great Lakes, and shells from the Gulf of the Southland."

Since the location of these remains the plowshare has leveled many mounds, but several can yet be traced.


Do you ever feel, when reading of the deeds of the early European navigators, who braved the perils of the trackless deep only to find on this shore a tangled "forest primeval," that our own beloved Kentucky is in every way far removed historically from them?

Since it is so interesting and edifying to find ourselves related to some noted personage, let us see if we can connect the "Dark and Bloody Ground" with the discoveries that opened up a new world.

We must go back many, many years, yes, even to the Middle Ages, if we would see how and why we are at least a small link in the great chain of events that gradually gave to the western world one of its proudest commonwealths. Some one has said, "Westward the course of empire takes its way," but for centuries the people of Europe concerned themselves not with what lay to the west of them but with the people and problems of the East. This is easy to understand when we learn that the copper, lead, tin, and manufactures of Europe were carried by traders, partly by sea and partly by land, to Constantinople or to[19] Egypt, where they were exchanged for the luxuries that Asia had sent by vessels or camels. India and the Spice Islands sent cloves, cinnamon, ginger, pepper, mace, nutmeg, camphor, musk, aloes, and sandalwood, also diamonds and pearls. Cathay (China) sent silks, while Cipango, the island of mystery, in the great ocean east of Cathay that no one had seen, was believed to be the richest of all.

A caravan crossing the desert.

In 1453, while this exchange was at its height, the Turks conquered Constantinople, seized the caravan routes, and ruined the trade. Gold and pearls, ivory and diamonds, spices and silks, could no longer be secured unless a waterway could be found to the East.

Prince Henry the Navigator, a Portuguese, though many of his captains thought that in the torrid zone[20] the ocean was boiling and that flames filled the air, succeeded in reaching almost to the equator before his death in 1460. In 1487, Diaz continued the work to the Cape of Good Hope. Christopher Columbus, believing the earth a sphere, thought that by sailing due westward only two thousand five hundred miles he would reach China and India. So in August, 1492, after seeking aid in vain from Portugal, England, and his own country, he braved the "Sea of Darkness" in a Spanish ship. Though some Portuguese sailors had said, "You might as well expect to find land in the sky as in that waste of waters," in October of the same year he made the discovery that gave to the world a new continent.

Then the spirit of adventure and aggrandizement dominated the Spanish race. Ponce de Leůn, Fernando Cortez, Pizarro, and Fernando de Soto continued the work until June, 1543. Luis de Moscoso, the successor of de Soto, with a remnant of his once proud force, now reduced to about three hundred men, in boats descended the Mississippi River to its mouth; from the boats they were the first white men to behold the land that is now Kentucky.

England, so far, had been very quiet and conservative about discovering, exploring, or settling. Finally, English fishermen came to Newfoundland. Sir John Hawkins traded negroes for hides and pearls, and Sir Francis Drake ravaged the Caribbean coast and in 1577-1580 sailed around the world. Soon Sir[21] Humphrey Gilbert attempted colonization, which was taken up by his half brother, Sir Walter Raleigh, who sent two ships under Philip Amadas and Arthur Barlowe, who discovered the coast of North Carolina. Upon their return, Queen Elizabeth named it Virginia. Kentucky was included in the charter of this first colony, which was settled at Jamestown, 1607.

The first Englishman to view what is now Kentucky was Colonel Wood, who in 1654, for commerce and not conquest, explored the northern boundary of Kentucky as far as the Mississippi River, then called the Meschacebe. Captain Bolt (or Batt) of Virginia in 1670 came from that state into what is now Kentucky. In 1673 Jacques Marquette, a Jesuit missionary, in company with Luis Joliet and five other Frenchmen in two canoes passed down the Mississippi along the western border of Kentucky and spent several days at the mouth of the Ohio, where Cairo, then called Ouabouskigou, now stands. Again in February, 1682, Robert de la Salle and his lieutenant, Henri de Tonti, in company with several other Frenchmen, descended the Illinois River, and passed down the Mississippi, or Colbert, to its mouth, claiming the country on both sides for the French king, Louis the Great, in whose honor they called this vast tract Louisiana.

It was as a prisoner among the Indians in 1730 that the first white native American, John Sailing of Virginia, was taken to Kentucky. In 1750 a party of[22] Virginians, among them Dr. Thomas Walker, came by way of Powell's Valley through a gap in Laurel Mountain, into central Kentucky. He named both the mountain and the river (formerly the Shawnee) for England's "Bloody Duke" of Cumberland who defeated the Scottish forces at Culloden. Some say that near where they entered what is now the state of Kentucky these men built a rude cabin.

But it was left for John Finley and party, 1767, to learn and love this wonderland of fertile soil, towering forests, luxuriant vegetation, and boundless supply of game. When he returned to North Carolina with such glowing accounts of this wilderness beyond the mountains, many were ready to leave the comforts of civilization for the dangers and privations of this land of promise.


Though the Indians at the time of the coming of the white men used Kentucky mainly as a hunting ground instead of a home, various tribes laid claim to it by prior possession.

In 1768, at Fort Stanwix—now Rome, New York—the English government purchased the title to all the lands lying between the Ohio and Tennessee rivers from the tribes of Indians called the Six Nations. This tract included the present state of Kentucky.

Shortly after the battle of Point Pleasant, 1774, the[23] Shawnees entered into a treaty with Governor Dunmore of Virginia whereby they gave up all title to the lands south of the Ohio River.

At the Sycamore Shoals, of the Watauga River, 1775, Colonel Richard Henderson, acting for the Transylvania Company, purchased the title of the Cherokees to this "hunting ground" for ten thousand pounds sterling. This purchase was afterwards declared null and void by the states of Virginia and North Carolina.

Through the commissioners Isaac Shelby and Andrew Jackson, the general government in 1818 purchased from the Chickasaws, for an annuity of twenty thousand dollars to be paid for fifteen years, all their land lying in Tennessee and Kentucky between the Mississippi and Tennessee rivers. The part in Kentucky has since been called "Jackson's Purchase."

Thus we see that Indian claims to Kentucky were relinquished only upon payment of money or blood.


There lived in Pennsylvania in the early part of the eighteenth century a young man by the name of James Smith. A short while before General Braddock was defeated by the French and Indians, Smith was taken prisoner by a band of Indians, and carried to the French fort where the city of Pittsburgh now stands. Here he was made to run the gantlet; and so[24] well did the Indians, ranged on either side, use their clubs and sticks and stones, that Smith was badly beaten and made ill for a long time.

Scouwa was adorned by the Indians.

The Indians then carried him to their home in Ohio, where an old chief pulled out the prisoner's hairs one by one; only a scalp lock was left which was ornamented with feathers and silver brooches. His ears and nose were pierced and hung with silver rings, his face, head, and body were painted, and he was adorned with a breechcloth, chains of beads, a belt of wampum, and silver armlets.

An old chief then made a speech to the other Indians, while he held Smith by the hand. The prisoner was then accompanied to the river by three young squaws[25] who attempted to "duck" him. Fearful of being drowned, Smith resisted until one of the women in broken English cried, "No hurt you, no hurt you."

After "scrubbing all the white blood out of him," they dressed him in a ruffled shirt, leggins, and moccasins, presented him with a pipe, tobacco, pouch, flint, steel, and tomahawk and told him he had been adopted in place of a brave young chief who had fallen.

The Indians called Smith "Scouwa." They finally gave him a gun to use and trusted him fully, but because he once lost his way in the woods, his gun was taken from him and for a long while he was permitted to use only a bow and arrow.

Smith had some exciting experiences while living the life of an Indian. At one time, during a snowstorm, he took refuge all night in a hollow tree, and when he tried to move the block by which he had closed up the opening in the side of the tree, he found the snow was piled so deep against it he could not move it. He was badly frightened, but by pushing with all his strength he finally succeeded in getting out.

At another time Smith, an old chief, and a little boy were alone in their hut in midwinter and all came near starving, but Smith walked many, many miles, hunting game, and thus saved the lives of all three.

In 1759 the Indians that had adopted Smith journeyed to Canada; and as Canada then belonged to the French, and as the French and Indians were fighting[26] the English, who then owned Pennsylvania, Smith slipped away. Joining the prisoners that were to be sent back to Pennsylvania in exchange for some French the English held, he soon rejoined his family. He was a leader of the "Black Boys," served as lieutenant in General Henry Bouquet's expedition, and witnessed the Indian cruelties to the unfortunate British captives.

In July, 1766, he learned that the king's agent, Sir William Johnson, had purchased from the Indians all the land west of the Appalachian Mountains, and between the Ohio and Cherokee (Tennessee) rivers. Having heard the red men tell of this rich land, Colonel James Smith, accompanied by Joshua Horton, Uriah Stone, William Baker, and a mulatto slave of Horton's named Jamie, passed through Cumberland Gap, explored the country south of the Kentucky River, and, striking the Cumberland, passed down its entire length to its junction with the Ohio. They were the first white men to explore southern and southwestern Kentucky, although not the first to visit it, for in 1730 John Salling of Virginia was brought a prisoner by the Cherokee Indians to the Tennessee. After reaching the mouth of the Cumberland, the others separated from Colonel Smith and the mulatto boy. These two were for a long time alone in the wilderness. When they again reached civilization they wore nothing that had been woven; and when they told of their experiences, people could hardly believe that any one could make that journey and live to return.[27]

A short distance below the mouth of the Cumberland the town of "Old Smithland" was named in honor of this first white man to explore that region, and later the town was built just at the junction of the Cumberland and Ohio and is now the capital of Livingston County.

Smith spent the latter part of his life in Bourbon County, where he was as useful in state councils as he had been in Indian conflicts.


There are many places within the present bounds of Kentucky where animals used to go to lick the ground, in order to secure the salt therein, and these places were therefore called "licks." The most noted of these is in Boone County, and is called Big Bone Lick from the many gigantic bones that have been found there.

In 1773, while leading a surveying party, a man by the name of James Douglas, of Virginia, camped for several days at this point. There he found a surface of ten acres entirely without trees or vegetable life of any kind, while scattered around were many bones both of the mastodon and the arctic elephant. The size of these gigantic, prehistoric animals may be conjectured from the descriptions given of the remains.

Tusks were found from seven to eleven feet long, the latter being at the larger end six or seven inches[28] in diameter. Thigh bones, five feet in length; teeth weighing ten pounds with crowns seven by five inches; skulls, thought to be of young animals, measuring two feet between the eyes; ribs from three to four inches broad and so long that James Douglas and his party used them for tent poles, are some of the wonders that have given the name to this historic place. Scientists have decided from these remains that these ponderous animals belonged to the elephant family. Though possessing remarkable strength, they were so unwieldy that prehistoric man encountered little danger in combating them. It is the supposition that the early inhabitants who occupied this continent when these marvelous animals roamed the woods, must have planned to exterminate them on their periodic visits to the lick. By what means this was accomplished we can only conjecture, but that there was a wholesale slaughter is evident, for at no other place have so many mammoth remains been found.


Daniel Boone was born in the almost unbroken forests of Pennsylvania, on February 11, 1735. Without his energy, caution, and daring, Kentucky would not have been settled so soon. In both his native state and in North Carolina, he received in his boyhood the training that was to fit him for the great work that was to be his.[29]

Truly "coming events cast their shadows before," for when barely large enough to shoulder the old family flintlock he found unbounded delight in roaming the woods and returning laden with his spoils, which at one time was the skin of an immense panther that he shot just as it was about to spring upon him.

"They found Boone in camp."
"They found Boone in camp."

While yet in his early teens he gave his family great alarm by being absent for two days and nights. A rescuing party was sent out, and they soon saw smoke rising in the distance; proceeding, they found Boone in camp, his floor carpeted with the skins of animals he had slain, while the delicious odor of roasted meat filled the air.[30]

Boone was in every way a typical backwoodsman. His education was limited to an imperfect knowledge of the "three R's," gained in the rude school cabin of round logs, puncheon seats, and dirt floor. Ever the solitude of the sylvan forests was far more enjoyable to him than the refinements of civilization.

In 1755 he was married to Rebecca Bryan, who with him shared much of the danger and hardships of frontier life.

In 1769, yielding to the siren song sung by John Finley of the far-famed cane land with its fertile soil, towering mountains, limpid streams, and rich meadowlands where the spoils of the chase were venison, bear, and buffalo, Boone left his family and friends on the Yadkin in North Carolina and came with Finley and four others to explore this marvelous land of "Kentuckee."

Reaching the Red River, five miles from its junction with the Kentucky, these pioneers pitched their camp and from June until December reveled in the delights of hunting and exploring in this Eden of the wilderness; but one day, near Christmas, Boone and a companion named Stewart, while out hunting, were captured by the Indians and for six days and nights were marched and guarded. At length, believing their captives were contented, the savages relaxed their watchfulness, yielded to sleep, and Boone and Stewart escaped. Upon their return to camp[31] they found it plundered and their companions gone. What became of them Boone never knew.

Soon after, Boone and Stewart were surprised by meeting Squire Boone, a brother of Daniel, and another man from North Carolina. A few days later Stewart was shot and scalped; the man who came with Squire Boone tired of the perils and returned home. The two brothers were left alone in the vast wilderness, hundreds of miles from any settlement and with no weapon but the trusty rifle and tomahawk to protect them from the cunning savage, the ravenous wolf, and the crafty panther. When their ammunition began to run low, Squire Boone retraced his steps to Carolina for a fresh supply, while Daniel remained alone until July, when his brother returned. Together they roamed at will, tracing the streams, hunting game, and enjoying this romantic woodland.

Having been absent from his family for three years, simply for the joys of the frontier, and having lived upon the meat of wild animals, the fruits and roots of the forest without either bread or salt, Boone returned in 1771 to the Yadkin and so thrilled all with his glowing description of this land of promise that, when two years later he started with his family to this forest, five other families and forty men accompanied them. The women riding, the children driving the cattle and hogs, with bedding and baggage strapped on pack horses, the men with trusty rifles forming both advance and rear guards, this little[32] [33]cavalcade started forth to conquer the wilderness. All went well for a while, but, when near the Cumberland Mountains, they were attacked by Indians, and six men were killed, among them Boone's oldest son. Yielding to the others, Boone returned with the party to the Clinch River in southwestern Virginia, where they remained until 1774.

"Boone's little cavalcade started forth to conquer the wilderness." "Boone's little cavalcade started forth to conquer the wilderness."

For twenty years Boone was a notable figure in this untried forest, prudent, calm, honest, courageous, cunning; a stranger to fear, a devotee to duty, an honored leader, he has so left his impress upon our state that the record of this period of his life is Kentucky history.


During the eighteenth century, many men, singly or in companies, enjoyed the beauties of the forest scenes of Kentucky. Always they carried back to the centers of civilization the most glowing accounts of hill and dale and stream, of the abundance of game and fish, of the fertility of the soil, and of the glorious monarchs of the forest. These hardy woodsmen had the inherent love of Nature in her wildest, most gorgeous aspects. They were pioneers, hunters, and trappers. To some these terms convey only the thought of rough, unsophisticated men with none of the benevolent qualities of head or heart, with no[34] magnanimity of spirit for a friend and nothing but the most intense hatred for a foe. But the lives of some of these frontiersmen furnish incidents from which we might well take lesson.

One of these, James Harrod, though unable to write his name, has so indelibly impressed it upon the annals of the early times that as long as history is read he will be famous. In May, 1774, Captain Harrod with about thirty men descended the Monongahela and the Ohio in canoes to the mouth of the Kentucky River. Penetrating the forest, they built the first log cabin ever erected in Kentucky, at the place where Harrodsburg now stands. Here a town was laid off and called Harrodstown. After four or five cabins had been built depredations of the Indians caused them to be deserted until the following spring, when Harrod with many of his former comrades and several others returned. This place was subsequently called Oldtown and later Harrodsburg, fittingly commemorating the grand pioneer who built not only the first cabin but the first town in our commonwealth.

James Harrod was by nature endowed with all the qualities of a great leader; he is described as tall and commanding, energetic and fearless, honest and generous, ignorant yet intelligent. Inured to difficulties and dangers, familiar with the forest, skillful with his rifle, he was a success as a hunter, but a terror to his foes. He was a real leader of the pioneers. In the words of Marshall, "He always had a party, not because[35] he wanted a party, but because the party wanted him." Unremitting in the care of his companions, unrelenting in his attacks on the "red rascals," untiring in services to his neighbors and friends, he was truly a nobleman, with a lofty yet gentle spirit. "If news came of an Indian massacre, he snatched his gun and ran at the head of the party; if he knew of a family left destitute, he shouldered his rifle and ranged the forest till he found the game to supply their needs; if he heard of a horse being lost he stopped not till he drove him to his owner's gate." Thus he was known by his contemporaries. Yet he seemed not to be ambitious. Only as a delegate from Harrodstown and as a colonel of the militia is he found in civil affairs. But the magnanimity of his spirit shone forth at all times.

There is one incident related of him that proves him as chivalrous as any knight of old. He was at one time so closely pursued by some Indians that he plunged into a swollen stream and, holding his rifle above the water with one hand and swimming with the other, reached the farther shore in safety. Two of the redskins, bolder than the others, followed. When the foremost was about midstream a shot from Harrod's rifle caused him to disappear with a cry of pain beneath the rushing torrent; the other gave up the chase.

Several hours afterward, when Harrod had reached a point a few miles below where he had crossed the[36]

"With arms extended, Harrod stepped in view." "With arms extended, Harrod stepped in view."

stream, he was astonished to see a warrior slowly and painfully draw himself upon a pile of driftwood and attempt to apply a rude bandage to his shoulder down which the blood was flowing. Harrod at once knew that this was the same Indian who had hotly pursued him and that the wound was from[37] his own rifle shot. Most men at such a time would have relentlessly shot their adversary. Such a thought never entered the mind of James Harrod. He at once resolved to assist his disabled foe. Cautiously he stole to one of the trees on the bank a few yards from where the Indian sat, and, laying aside rifle, tomahawk, and knife, he stepped suddenly in view, with arms extended to show he was unarmed and meant no harm. The startled Indian was about to plunge again into the water, when a second glance assured him no immediate harm was meant, for not only was the white man unarmed but his kindly countenance convinced the Indian no wrong was intended. Yet so strange was such a proceeding to the savage, that while he permitted his former enemy to approach, yet he watched him as would a wounded wild animal, ready at any moment to seek refuge in the rushing waters.

Harrod, finding the Indian weak from loss of blood, gently assisted him to the shore, tore off a bandage from his own clothing, dressed the wound, and taking him upon his back, carried him several miles to a cave, where he nursed him until he was able to rejoin his tribe.


When the bands of hardy pioneers pushed into the wilderness and prepared a way into Kentucky they brought with them only the trusty rifle, the ax, the[38] tomahawk, and the "long knife" for protecting themselves from the wily savages and securing food from the game that roamed the woods.

Making brooms.
Making brooms.

When their families came, a few more articles were brought along; but their outfits were necessarily meager. When they stopped to prepare their food, a flat stone was used for cooking the "journey cake," while bark served for dishes.

As soon as the destination was reached, a log cabin of rough unhewn timbers was built, containing a long pen of split logs placed in a row, which, filled with fresh boughs, was a welcome resting place for those who were wearied from traveling. Later the feathers of wild pigeons, ducks, and geese were made into feather beds.

Usually several people settled at the same place and built a fort of cabins, stockades, and blockhouses, arranged in a hollow square. The blockhouses were two stories high, the upper story projecting over the lower one for eighteen or more inches. The places of entrance to the fort were closed by large folding gates of thick slabs, and the entire outer wall made bullet proof, all without a single nail or piece of iron. Some of the cabins had puncheon floors while others had only the bare earth.

There were very few metal utensils; tin cups, iron forks, and spoons were very rare. Nearly all their tools were fashioned of wood, by their own hands.

There were no mills, but each family had a hominy[39] block or wooden bowl with pestle, in which the Indian corn was pounded, or a rough homemade grater on which it was grated. Their brooms were made of hickory saplings split at one end into fine splinters for several inches; these were bound together at the top with a green withe, while the other end of the pole served as a handle.

Their lye was all made at home by pouring water several times through a hopper of ashes until it became a reddish-brown; bear's grease was added to this and the mixture boiled until it became a soft mass called soap. We of to-day would dislike very much to use it in bathing.

Their salt was precious, for eight hundred gallons of salt water boiled down made only one bushel; if that amount was bought, it cost twenty dollars.

In the spring they bored holes in the maple trees, from which flowed a sap or sweet water that when boiled down made maple sirup and maple sugar.

In those days of danger the men built the cabins, garrisoned the forts, hunted the game, felled the trees, mauled the rails, grubbed the roots and bushes, and tilled the soil.[40]

Pioneers building a log palisade. Pioneers building a log palisade.

The women did the household duties, brought the water, gathered the wild nettles, and from the silky[41] fibers in the leaves spun and wove the flax from which they made their clothing. They tanned the deerskins by means of hardwood ashes and from them made moccasins and shoepacks, for there was no place to buy shoes; they made for the men the historical hunting shirt of deerskin, linsey-woolsey, or coarse, home-woven linen. This garment served various purposes; the bosom was so designed as to form a wallet in which to carry bread, jerk, parched corn, or tow for cleaning guns. This shirt was held together by a belt which was tied behind; in the front of this belt they carried their bullet bags and mittens, while on one side hung the scalping knife in its leather sheath, and on the other, the tomahawk. Breeches, leggins, and moccasins of deerskin and hats or caps of fur, often adorned with the animal's tail, completed the costume of the men. The women wore dresses of linsey-woolsey and coarse flax.

So the rude pioneer home, with its lack of conveniences and space and its few rude, imperfect tools, was the factory where were prepared not only the clothing and food, but also the furniture and the medicine.


Among the hardy backwoodsmen, fearless hunters, and brave fighters, there looms no nobler figure than that of Simon Kenton, born of humble, Scotch-Irish parents in Virginia, April 13, 1755. At sixteen he[42] was a stalwart youth with scarcely any education, with a kind heart but unrestrained emotions. Having fallen very much in love with a beautiful girl of his neighborhood, and having lost her to a successful rival, he went as an uninvited guest to the wedding festivities, where he made himself so disagreeable that the infuriated groom and his brothers gave him a severe beating.

Shortly after this, meeting his former rival, William Veach, Kenton provoked a fight and was so much the physical superior that soon his adversary fell bruised, bleeding, and unconscious; kind-hearted Kenton, feeling that he had been cruel in his treatment, lifted up the head of his insensible victim, spoke to him, but receiving no reply, thought him dead. Much alarmed, he left the seemingly lifeless body and fled to the woods. Feeling himself a murderer and a fugitive from justice, he warily made his way to Cheat River, where he changed his name to Simon Butler, and worked long enough to secure a gun and ammunition.

In order to lose himself and forget his trouble in the western wilderness, he joined a party to Fort Pitt, where he hunted for the garrison and forts, and met Simon Girty, who afterwards saved his life. Two others, George Yeager and John Strader, came with him that autumn on his first visit to Kentucky, lured on by the glowing accounts of the "cane land" that Yeager had heard of from the Indians. They came[43] down the Ohio to the mouth of the Kentucky, but soon returned to the Big Kanawha, where they camped, hunted, and trapped until March, 1773. Yeager was killed by the Indians, and Kenton and Strader fled to the woods barefooted and almost naked, with no food and no weapons. For six days they wandered weary, footsore, and hungry, until finally in despair they lay down to die. Gathering hope anew, they pressed on and near the Ohio met some hunters who gladly gave them food and clothing.

Going with them, Kenton worked for another rifle and in the summer of the same year went down the Ohio with a party in search of Captain Bullitt. They failed to find him and the party returned through the wilds of Kentucky to Virginia with Kenton as guide.

During the winter of 1773-1774, Kenton hunted on the Big Sandy, but volunteered and soon saw active service as a scout and spy in the armies of Lord Dunmore and General Lewis in the Miami Indian War. He received an honorable discharge in the autumn, and the next spring, yielding to the longing for the "cane land," he came down the Ohio and one night reached Cabin Creek a few miles above Maysville. The next day, when he beheld the far-famed land, he was entranced, and soon encamped near the present site of Washington, in Mason County, where he and his companion cleared an acre of ground and planted it with corn which they had bought from a French trader.[44]

They found this place a veritable "hunter's paradise" where the hills were covered with herds of deer, elk, and buffalo.

One day meeting two men, Hendricks and Fitzpatrick, who were without food or guns, Kenton invited them to join his station. Hendricks accepted, but his companion, desiring to return to Virginia, was accompanied by Kenton and Williams to the Ohio. They left Hendricks alone at the camp. On returning they found the camp in disorder and Hendricks gone; the next day his charred remains told the story of his sufferings at the hands of the savages.

Though Kenton left this place the following autumn, he returned nine years later and, building a blockhouse here, established Kenton's Station.

Simon Kenton was ever alert, ever ready to respond to the call for help, ever ready to encounter danger, and ever ready to give his services to the settlers whether at Harrodstown or Hinkson's, whether in aid of Boone or Clark.

At one time Kenton was one of six spies who, two at a time, each week ranged up and down the Ohio and around the deserted stations, watching for Indian signs; for the red savage had become infuriated because the "long knife"[1] had taken possession of his beloved "Kaintuckee," and the Indian invasions were frequent and bloody.


"Boone was borne on Kenton's shoulders into the fort." "Boone was borne on Kenton's shoulders into the fort."

One morning as Kenton with two companions was standing in the gate at Boonesborough ready for a hunt, the Indians fired on some men in the field, who fled to the fort. One man, however, was overtaken, tomahawked, and scalped within seventy yards of the gate. Kenton shot the savage dead and in the battle which ensued killed two other Indians, one of whom was about to tomahawk Colonel Boone, who had been crippled. The unerring rifle of Kenton stayed his savage hand, and Boone was borne on Kenton's shoulders into the fort. When the gate was barred and all was secure, the usually reserved Boone[46] said, "Well, Simon, you have behaved yourself like a man to-day; indeed you are a fine fellow."

Kenton accompanied General George Rogers Clark in his expedition against Kaskaskia in 1778, then proceeded to Vincennes, where, by a three days' secret observation, he secured an accurate description of the place which he sent to General Clark.

Kenton returned to Harrodstown, aided Boone in defending the stations, and in September, 1778, was taken a prisoner, a few miles below Maysville, by the Indians, who beat him until their arms were too tired to indulge in this amusing pastime any longer. They then placed him upon the ground on his back, drew his feet apart, lashed each to a strong sapling, laid a pole across his breast, tied his hands to each end, and lashed his arms to it with thongs which were tied around his body; then they tied another thong around his neck and fastened it to a stake driven in the ground. Thus he was forced to pass the night. The next morning he was painted black and carried toward Chillicothe, where they said they would burn him at the stake.

As a diversion they one day tied him securely on an unbroken horse, which they turned loose to run through the woods at will. Through undergrowth, among trees and patches of briers, the horse capered, pranced, plunged, and ran, trying in vain to discharge his load until finally he stopped from sheer exhaustion. Kenton was destitute of clothing, bruised, bleeding,[47] and almost lifeless. Arriving at the village, they tied their distinguished prisoner to the stake, where he was left for twenty-four hours, expecting every moment that the torch would be applied. After enduring this agony he was forced to run the gantlet, where six hundred Indians were ranged on either side with switches, clubs, and sticks, and each gave him a blow as he passed. Kenton had been told if he reached the council house he would be set free. When he had almost reached the door of deliverance he was knocked insensible. Again he was made a prisoner, was taken from town to town, eight times was compelled to run the gantlet, three times tied to the stake, and once almost killed by a powerful blow with an ax.

Simon Kenton Simon Kenton

Once Simon Girty, the notorious renegade, remembering their former friendship, saved him from the flames; again Logan, the Mingo chief, interposed, stayed the fury of the savages, and persuaded a Canadian trader named Drury to buy him from his captors. Drury took him to Detroit, and delivered him to the British commander, where he received humane treatment until 1779. Then a Mrs. Harvey, the wife of an Indian trader, while a crowd of Indians were drunk, took three of their guns and hid them in a patch of peas in her garden. At midnight Kenton, following her directions, secured them, and with two other Kentucky prisoners hastened to a hollow tree some distance from the town, where ammunition, food, and clothing had been placed by the same[48] benefactress. The three fugitives after thirty-three days of incredible suffering reached Louisville.

Later, with General George Rogers Clark in command, Kenton, the great scout and spy, piloted the Kentuckians, when in 1780 they carried the war into the Indian's own country.

During all these dangers there had ever been the horrible feeling that he was a fugitive and a murderer; but meeting by chance some one from his boyhood home, Simon Kenton learned that his former rival, William Veach, was still alive. He resumed his rightful name, hastened home, made friends with Veach, and started with his father and family again to this great paradise of the West.

Kenton, so great in all the qualifications of the pioneer, was not schooled in the arts of civilization. His ignorance, coupled with his great confidence in men, which amounted almost to credulity, caused him to lose most of his valuable lands; but at last the legislature of Kentucky made some reparation to the old, heroic soldier whose deeds and daring will ever furnish ennobling themes for song and story.[49]


Though Kentucky was not the home, but merely the hunting grounds, of most of the Indians, yet there were varied and conflicting claims.

While the Six Nations sold their title to this vast area to the British, and the Shawnees at last relinquished their rights, still the Cherokees pressed their claim until Henderson's company, composed of nine men of education and ability from North Carolina, purchased from them, in 1775, at the Watauga River, about seventeen million acres of land for ten thousand pounds ($50,000). This company hoped to found a colony and sell land to immigrants. They named this region Transylvania—"beyond the woods."

Later, this purchase was declared by both Virginia and North Carolina to be null and void, and the plan was abandoned. Before this, however, Daniel Boone had been sent to open up a trace or road from the Holston River to the mouth of Otter Creek on the Kentucky River, where later Boonesborough was built and the first legislature in Kentucky was held.

This road was to be for the travel of men and pack horses, the pioneer's train. Hastening forward with his brother, Squire Boone, Colonel Richard Calloway, and several others—thirty in all—Daniel Boone began to "blaze the way" in the wilderness for the countless thousands who were to come after them.

Beginning at Watauga, the trace led to the Cumberland Gap,[50] where it joined the "Warrior's Path," which it followed for about fifty miles northward; from this place it followed a buffalo trace to the northwest until it reached the Kentucky River.

Blazing the trees with their hatchets, cutting their way through dead brush, removing undergrowth, chopping through cane and reed, the party proceeded on their perilous journey. Within about fifteen miles of their destination, while asleep in camp, they were attacked by the Indians. Later they were again fired upon by the savages, when two of the white men were killed and three wounded. Here, five miles south of Richmond, from necessity was erected the first fort in Kentucky. This stockade fort was called Fort Twetty, as here Captain Twetty died and was buried.

Pushing on, Boone and his companions reached the site selected, and soon constructed a stockade fort of two cabins, connected by palisades. This formed the nucleus of the fort, which was completed in about two months and which was named Boonesborough.

The trace or road opened by Boone has had various names; it has been called "Boone's Trace" or "Boone's Trail," "the Virginia Road," "the Road to Caintuck," "the Kentucky Road," and "the Wilderness Road." This last name was given from the great wilderness of laurel thickets between the Cumberland Gap and the settlements in Kentucky, a length of two hundred miles without a single habitation.

Along this difficult highway a narrow and often zigzag[51] path in the forest, six hundred miles in length, came the countless men, women, and children from Virginia who were to found this great commonwealth of Kentucky, a worthy daughter of a most worthy mother.

When the legislature of Kentucky in 1795 passed an act for enlarging to the width of thirty feet that part of Boone's Trace between Crab Orchard and Cumberland Gap, and advertised for bids on it, the old pioneer, who had been the "Pathfinder" of the West in this new Eldorado, sent to Governor Isaac Shelby the following characteristic letter:

feburey the 11th 1796,


after my Best Respts to your Excelancy and famyly I wish to inform you that I have sum intention of undertaking this New Rode that is to be cut through the Wilderness and I think My self intiteled to the ofer of the Bisness as I first Marked out that Rode in March 1775 and Never Re'd anything for my trubel and Sepose I am No statesman I am a Woodsman and think My self as capable of Marking and Cutting that Rode as any other man Sir if you think with Me I would thank you to Wright Mee a Line By the Post the first opportuneaty and he Will Lodge it at Mr. John Miler son hinkston fork as I wish to know where and when it is to be laat (let) So that I may atend at the time

I am Deer Sir your very omble sarvent   
Daniel Boone

To his Excelancy governor Shelby.


The grim old veteran did not secure the contract, but his name is inseparably linked with this thoroughfare, the opening of which was of inestimable value to the infant empire beyond the mountains.


On New Year's Day, 1778, Daniel Boone with thirty companions left Boonesborough for the Blue Licks, to make a year's supply of salt for the garrisons.

A few weeks later, while hunting several miles from the camp, he was overtaken by a party of one hundred Indians and attempted to escape. The fleet warriors, needing a white captive to give them information about Boonesborough, instead of shooting Boone as he ran, gave chase and captured the hardy backwoodsman.

Now all the cunning of Boone was sorely needed. He wished to prevent if possible the capture of the salt makers and to postpone the march of the savages on the garrison. How the wily old hunter managed we do not know. But he finally secured the promise of the Indians that if the party at Blue Licks would surrender, they would be well treated as prisoners and their lives spared. Arriving at Blue Licks, Boone made signs to the white men to surrender without resistance; this they did, and the promise made by the Indians to Boone was sacredly kept.

Three of the white men managed to escape; when[53] the Indians had gone, they returned, hid the kettles, and carried home the salt, as well as the news of the captivity of Boone and his companions.

The prisoners were marched through severe weather to the principal Shawnee town, old Chillicothe, on the Little Miami River in Ohio. In March, Boone and ten others were carried to Detroit, where the British commander, Governor Hamilton, offered the Indians £100 sterling for Boone, intending to send him home on parole. But Boone had so won the hearts of his dusky captors that they would not patiently listen to any plan that would take him from among them. The great hunter had to feign contentment and not wound the feelings or excite the suspicion of his captors.

Leaving the other prisoners at Detroit, the savages returned to their capital with Boone, whom they soon adopted into one of the principal families. Although they plucked out his hairs, one by one, except the scalp lock of about three inches on the crown; although he was taken into the river and given a scrubbing, "to take out all his white blood"; although he was harangued by the chief about the great honor shown him; and although he was frightfully painted and bedecked in feathers,—through it all he appeared content and thus still more endeared himself to the Indians.

After this the Indians would challenge him to shooting matches, in which he was cautious not to excel them too often, for fear of arousing their envy or[54] jealousy, but would beat them often enough to excite their admiration.

"Boone was frightfully painted and bedecked in feathers." "Boone was frightfully painted and bedecked in feathers."


Boone was very careful to show respect and loyalty to the leading chief, to favor him often with the spoils of the hunt, and thus lead all to believe that he was happy to have cast his lot among them.

This apparent contentment was only another evidence of what a silent stoic Boone could be, for his every thought was with his family and friends; but to serve them as well as to save himself, he must pretend pleasure in his lot.

Returning one day in June from where a party of the Indians had carried him to make salt for them, the old hunter found a party, of nearly five hundred warriors ready to march on his beloved Boonesborough. Now Boone felt that his captivity served a good purpose, for he determined at all hazards to escape and warn the garrison.

The Indians had so relaxed their vigilance over him that he was able to effect this resolve. Rising at the usual hour on June 16, he went out ostensibly to hunt, but so great was his anxiety that he made no attempt to kill anything to eat, but hastened on over the perilous trip of one hundred and sixty miles and reached home in four days. During this time he ate only one meal, the food he had hidden in his blanket. He was joyfully received like one risen from the dead, though his family, thinking him killed, had returned to North Carolina.[56]

The fort was in a defenseless condition, but the return of their old leader, the news he brought, and the confidence he inspired, soon put all in readiness to receive the enemy.


Finding their captive gone, the Indians delayed their march on Boonesborough, until, impatient to fight the foe, Colonel Boone with nineteen others, among whom was Simon Kenton, started in August to attack the Indians at Paintcreektown, in Ohio. When within about four miles of the place, Kenton, who was in advance, was surprised and startled by hearing loud laughter from a canebrake just before him. He had scarcely secreted himself when two Indians, seated on a pony, one facing the animal's head, the other his tail, dashed by his place of concealment. Kenton fired, both savages fell, one killed, the other severely wounded. As Kenton was taking the latter's scalp he was suddenly surrounded by about thirty Indians, who were at once dispersed by the arrival of Boone and his party.

Boone, dispatching spies, at once learned that the Indian town was deserted; so he lost no time in retracing his steps to Boonesborough, which he reached one day in advance of the Indian army, led by Captain Duquesne, a Canadian Frenchman. The invading army, four hundred strong, appeared flying[57] the British colors. The savage warriors, painted in hideous colors, paraded in two lines, giving the most bloodcurdling yells and brandishing their guns. It was enough to try the stoutest heart.

Soon a large negro stepped in front of the line and in English called for "Captain Boone," but there was no reply. Again he said he wanted to speak to Captain Boone, and if he would come out, he would not be hurt.

The men in the fort objected to their leader's going, but Boone, armed with a pipe and a flag, went out alone, leaving instructions that if he was made prisoner his men should shut the fort and defend it to the last.

In about one hour he returned, telling his companions that the Indians had promised that if he would surrender the fort he and his companions would not be hurt. To pacify the Indians he had seemed to assent to this plan, promising to return the next day, and inform them of the result of his conference with his companions.

When the little band of less than fifty fighting men met in council and learned that they could make a manly defense with small chance of success, and if defeated they would become victims of savage barbarity, or they could surrender at once, become prisoners, and be stripped of their effects, the deliberation was short, the answer prompt, and voiced by each:

"We are determined to defend our fort as long as a man of us lives."[58]

The next day Boone again met the assaulters and asked for another day in which to secure the assent of the remainder in the fort, to surrender.

The time thus gained was improved by making every preparation possible; they collected the cattle and horses, fastened the gate with bars, and in every way made ready for the conflict.

The next morning, from one of the bastions of the fort, Colonel Boone made known to the commander of his adversaries the determination of the garrison, at the same time thanking them for the time in which to prepare his defense.

Disappointment was plainly evident in the countenance of Duquesne; he did not at once give up hope of a capitulation, but decided if possible to entrap Boone. He declared that in his order from Governor Hamilton he was told simply to take the white people as prisoners of war, neither to rob nor destroy them. If nine of the principal men would come out and treat with them, there would be no violence; they would only return with the prisoners or, if they would swear allegiance and accept the protection of the British king, they would be set free.

Boone felt this was one more chance to save his men from slaughter. The conference was called about sixty yards from the gate of the fort; the articles were read, agreed upon, and signed. Then the commander said that among the Indians it was customary on such[59] occasions to show their sincerity by two Indians shaking each white man by the hand. Boone agreed to this. At once two Indians approached each of the nine white men and as they took his hand attempted to seize and make him prisoner. The white men with great strength sprang away, and fled to the fort amid a shower of bullets from Indians in ambush, who came rushing up with the most terrifying yells. All reached the fort in safety with the exception of one wounded man.

"The fight now began in earnest." "The fight now began in earnest."


The fight now began in earnest, and lasted nine days. The enemy tried various ways to overcome the garrison. At one time they secreted a part of their force under the bank of the Kentucky, attacked the fort on the opposite side, and finally pretended to retreat; this ruse failing, they began to undermine the houses by excavating under the river bank and digging toward the fort. This was discovered by the muddy water caused by the great quantity of the loose earth they were compelled to throw into the river. Boone at once began to dig a trench within the fort, and as the loose dirt was taken up it was thrown over the fort wall. Finding their plan was discovered, the Indians abandoned it, but that night attempted to fire the fort by pitching torches of cane and hickory bark upon it. A rain had fallen a few hours before and the wet logs did not burn easily, and the flames were soon extinguished by the whites. Next day finding that they could not conquer by "force or fraud" and that their stock of provisions was almost exhausted, they paraded and withdrew after thirty-seven had been killed in sight of the fort and many others wounded. In the fort there were only four wounded.

After the savages had gone the white men picked up one hundred and twenty-five pounds of leaden bullets which had fallen near the fort walls, besides the vast number that had lodged in the walls and palisades.[61]


If your baby brother or sister should be lost, even though our country is thickly peopled and we have a perfect network of telephones and telegraphs across it, think how alarmed you would feel! Yet think how much more anxious a mother would be if her baby were lost in a wilderness where wolves, wildcats, and panthers roamed hungry and fierce.

This really happened to a baby boy named Bennie Craig. His father, Benjamin Craig, who presented his commission as a magistrate at the first county court held in Gallatin County, 1799, left Virginia in 1781 with his wife and three children. In those early days people traveled on foot or horseback, carrying with them what household necessities they could by means of pack horses.

The men and larger boys generally walked ahead, to be sure no Indians lurked in ambush; the smaller boys and girls drove the cows and sheep, and watched to keep them from wandering off through the woods; while the women rode horseback, having tied on the backs of the horses all the absolutely necessary household utensils.

In this party the usual plan of travel prevailed. Mrs. Craig and baby Bennie were on one horse, followed by another loaded with meal, bacon, salt, and skillets and tools; another one of these pack horses had, strapped across its back, some hickory[62] withes holding on each side a basket made of the boughs of the same tree. These baskets carried what bedding and clothing were needed for the new homes. In one of these baskets was placed also a little boy of six, in the other a little girl of four. Sometimes the mother permitted baby Bennie to ride in the basket with his little sister. All three children found many things of interest as they rode along in this strange, new land.

One morning Mrs. Craig laid baby Bennie, who was asleep, on a bed of leaves amid the boughs of a fallen tree, while she helped pack the things to start. As Mr. Craig was anxious to overtake some travelers who were ahead of him, because in numbers there was greater safety, he hurried Mrs. Craig on her horse; when she called for the baby, the little sister begged that it be allowed to ride again with her. The mother consented, rode on, and the father began to load the other horse; he safely tucked the little boy and girl away in the baskets, but in the excitement of overtaking the other travelers both father and children forgot baby Bennie.

About an hour later Mrs. Craig, looking back, saw only two children and cried out, "Where is the baby?" All were frantic with fear when they realized that the baby had been left behind.

Mr. Craig hastily stripped the pack from one of the horses, sprang up on its back with gun in hand, and with all possible speed hurried back. For nearly[63] two hours the rest waited and watched, wept and prayed. Finally the sound of the horse's hoofs was heard and Mr. Craig came at full gallop, shouting, "Here he is, safe and sound! The little rascal hadn't waked up."

"Here he is, safe and sound!" "Here he is, safe and sound!"



Difficulties, suffering, and danger beset the early pioneers. Yet none of these prevented love, love-making, and marriage. The earliest romance was that of Samuel Henderson and Betsey Calloway, at Boonesborough, in 1776. There came near being no wedding, for late in the afternoon of Sunday, July 14, when the midsummer sun caused each one to hunt a cooler place, Elizabeth and Frances Calloway and Jemima Boone, the oldest daughter of Daniel Boone, started out for a boat ride on the river. They were drifting along in their canoe, unconsciously near the opposite shore, when they were suddenly surprised and terrified at the appearance of five Indians who waded into the water and dragged their canoe ashore.

The three girls screamed with fright, but Betsey Calloway showed herself a true pioneer by gashing the head of one of her assailants with her paddle. Before dragging them from the boat the Indians forced Frances Calloway and Jemima Boone to put on Indian moccasins, but Elizabeth, or Betsey, again showed her courage by refusing to do so. We can well imagine the horror when the people at the fort realized that the girls were in the hands of the savages. Both Boone and Calloway were absent, but soon returned and lost no time in starting for rescue and revenge. Two parties set out: one on foot with Colonel Boone and the three lovers of the three girls, Samuel Henderson,[65] John Holder, and Flanders Calloway, respectively; another on horseback.

As soon as they reached the north side of the river, Boone drew them up in line, placing the middle man at the trail, and pressed forward in pursuit. His daring was equaled only by his discretion, for should the pursuers be seen by the Indians, it was highly probable the three maidens would suffer death by the tomahawk. Betsey Calloway came near suffering thus when the savages discovered her breaking off twigs by which she could be trailed. Though the upraised tomahawk with a threat to use it caused her to desist from this, she slyly tore off bits of her linsey-woolsey dress, and occasionally pressed the heel of her shoepack into the soft earth, thus leaving a trail.

By these signs, in the reading of which Colonel Boone was almost as wary as the Indians, the rescuing party hardly lost sight of the direction taken, although the captors compelled the girls to walk apart through the thick cane and wade up and down the streams of water, in an effort to hide their trail. On Tuesday morning, when about forty miles from Boonesborough, the whites came upon the captors just as they had kindled a fire to cook some buffalo meat. The two parties saw each other about the same time, but as their weapons were piled at the foot of a tree, and the whites fired at once and rushed upon them, the Indians hastily fled without knife, tomahawk, or even moccasins. The three girls were unharmed.[66]

"The whites fired and rushed upon them." "The whites fired and rushed upon them."

Betsey Calloway, a brunette much tanned by exposure, was mistaken by one of the rescuing party for an Indian, as she sat with the two wearied maidens[67] asleep with their heads in her lap. Just as he was about to dash out her brains with the butt of his gun his arm was arrested by one who recognized her, and a most horrible tragedy was averted. Amid rejoicing they returned to the fort.

On the seventh of the next month Squire Boone, a Baptist minister, performed the first marriage ceremony in Kentucky, when Betsey Calloway became the wife of Samuel Henderson. The other two couples soon followed their example.


The boys and girls in the early days of Kentucky usually married very young; and a wedding was an event so important that every one in the entire community felt a personal interest in the affair. The ceremony was usually performed just before noon.

On the morning of the appointed day the groom and his attendants met at the home of his father and proceeded to the home of the bride. The gentlemen wore only clothes that were homemade; linsey shirts, leather breeches and leggins, moccasins or shoepacks, and caps of mink or raccoon skin with the tail hanging down the back completed their costume.

The ladies were beautiful in linsey-woolsey, coarse shoes, or moccasins embroidered with beads and quills, and buckskin gloves. Just after the ceremony there[68] was a feast of venison and bear, beef and pork, turkeys and geese, potatoes and cabbage, cornmeal mush with milk and maple sugar, ash cake and dodgers.

"As soon as dinner was over, the dancing began." "As soon as dinner was over, the dancing began."

As soon as dinner was over the dancing began and lasted not only through the afternoon but through the night until dawn. The square dance, the reel, and the jig were the figures that gave most joy to their flying feet.

Either the next day, or very soon thereafter, the neighbors helped the newly married couple "settle." A party of choppers felled and trimmed the trees, others hauled them to the site, while others made the clapboards for the roof, and puncheons for floor and door. If any windows were made, they were[69] covered with oiled doeskin and had thick shutters. No one had windows filled with glass in those days.[2]

The neighbors helped not only to raise and cover the house, but to make the furniture also. A table was made from a slab of wood with four legs driven into auger holes; some three-legged stools were made of like material. Sticks driven into auger holes in the wall supported clapboard shelves where various articles were kept. A few pegs were likewise driven in the wall where the wearing apparel of both men and women was hung. A pair of buck horns or two small forks fastened to the logs held the ever trusty rifle and shot pouch.

Nor did they stop here. Through a fork placed with its lower end in a hole in the floor and its upper end fastened to a joist, they placed poles with their ends through cracks in the walls. Over these, clapboards were laid. When the whole had been covered with skins of bear and deer, this made a most comfortable bed.

At these house raisings, log rollings, and harvest homes there was much merriment coupled with the hard labor. Any man who failed to perform his part of the work was dubbed "Lazy Lawrence" and was denied similar help when he needed it.



The boys and girls of to-day with all the comforts and luxuries surrounding them often pity the pioneer children and wonder how they spent their time. However, they doubtless were as happy and ambitious as we are. The boys early learned to chop, to grub bushes up by the roots, maul rails, trap turkeys, tree coons, and shoot a rifle. When severe weather kept them in the fort, there were not only the duties of making brooms and brushes but also the wrestling, leaping, and shooting matches where each strove to excel the other. How proud was the youth when he could "bark a squirrel," that is, shoot off the bark so near the squirrel that the force killed it, without inflicting a wound.

The girls also had their work and play. They watched the cattle to keep them from straying too far away, they hunted flat rocks on which to bake "journey cakes," they helped to pound hominy, bring water, gather wild nettles, and assisted in soap making, sugaring, sewing, candle molding, and wool carding. There were likewise near-by excursions for hickory nuts, walnuts, hazelnuts, grapes, pawpaws, honey locusts, hackberries, huckleberries, blackberries, dewberries, and raspberries.

But you say, "All this sounds like fun. Boy Scouts and Camp-Fire Girls do many of these things and count them sport. The boys and girls of the early[71] days in Kentucky must have had one long holiday with no thought of school or school work." There you are mistaken, for scarcely had the first women and children come to Harrodstown when Mrs. William Coomes taught in the fort, in 1776, the first school in Kentucky. In 1777, John May taught at McAfee's Station, and two years later Joseph Doniphan was teaching at Boonesborough.

"There were excursions for nuts and berries." "There were excursions for nuts and berries."

So these boys and girls of those far-away days, although they had no well-warmed, well-lighted, well-ventilated schoolhouses; although their teachers[72] were not always so scholarly and cultured as one could wish; although often in the earliest days they had no attractive textbooks, and their only means of learning to read, write, and calculate was from copies set by their teachers; although instead of paper they used smooth boards on which to write, with the juice of the oak balls for ink; although when they could read there were no absorbing storybooks,—yet they made progress and perhaps studied as hard as some children of to-day.


We of to-day, with half dollars, quarter dollars, dimes, nickels, and pennies, often find it difficult to "make change." Still more difficult was it for the early settlers to do so.

As the Indians used wampum and the early settlers of Virginia, tobacco, so the pioneers of Kentucky used the skins of wild animals as their first currency. While immigrants continued to come to this region, Spanish silver dollars came gradually into circulation. Still there was no small change.

As "Necessity is the mother of invention," our forefathers actually made change by cutting the dollar into four equal parts, each worth twenty-five cents. These were again divided, each part worth twelve and one half cents, called bits. People sometimes became careless in the work of making change[73] and often cut the dollar into five "quarters" or into ten "eighths." On account of the wedge shape of these pieces of cut money, they were called "sharp shins."

If change was needed for a smaller sum than twelve and one half cents, merchants gave pins, needles, writing paper, and such things.

This cut silver gradually found its way back to the mint for recoinage, usually to the loss of the last owner. As late as 1806, a business house in Philadelphia received over one hundred pounds of cut silver, brought on by a Kentucky merchant, which was sent on a dray to the United States Mint for recoinage.


"Where there is a will, there is a way" is an oft-quoted proverb, and the first white woman of whom we have any record of entering Kentucky proved it true. In 1756 Mrs. Mary Draper Inglis, her two small sons, and a sister-in-law, Mrs. Draper, were taken from their homes in Virginia by the Shawnee Indians and carried some distance down the Kanawha, where they halted a few days to make salt, thence to the Indian village at the mouth of the Scioto, which is the site now of Portsmouth, Ohio. Mrs. Inglis won her way into the favor of the savages by making shirts of material that French traders had brought from Detroit. She was soon held in such high esteem[74] by her captors that she was not subjected to the peril of running the gantlet, though a greater grief was put upon her,—that of being separated from her two sons at the division of the prisoners.

After spending a few weeks at the mouth of the Scioto, a number of the savages proceeded to Big Bone Lick, over a hundred miles away. With them they took Mrs. Inglis and an old Dutch lady who had been in captivity for a long while. Not being daunted by fear or distance from home, these pioneer women planned and effected an escape. On the pretext of gathering grapes they started from camp one afternoon with only a blanket, knife, and tomahawk.

With eager feet they reached the Ohio, and followed its windings, until after five days' journeying they found themselves opposite the mouth of the Scioto. Fortune favored them, for a horse was grazing there and also some corn was close at hand. Although near Indian villages, they loaded the horse with corn and pressed on to the mouth of the Big Sandy, but were compelled to go farther up that stream to effect a crossing. After going some distance, the women crossed on driftwood, but the horse, falling among the logs, was finally abandoned, and with only a scanty store of corn they pursued their dangerous journey.

Had it not been for walnuts, grapes, and pawpaws, hunger would have stayed their steps. Even with these the Dutch woman was not long satisfied and, driven to desperation, she threatened and[75]

They crossed the river on driftwood. They crossed the river on driftwood.

attempted the life of Mrs. Inglis. But the latter succeeded in escaping from her frantic companion and, finding a canoe, took a broad splinter for a paddle and reached the Ohio shore. When morning dawned and the Dutch woman saw Mrs. Inglis on the other bank, she pleaded with her to return to her rescue. But fearing a repetition of her late fury, Mrs. Inglis[76] turned a deaf ear to entreaties and hastened, as fast as her exhausted condition permitted, towards home. At last, after more than forty days of dire suffering and destitution, she reached a cabin where careful attention soon restored her to health and from there she was taken to a near-by fort and restored to her husband. A party went in search of the Dutch woman and brought her safely to the settlement. One of the little sons died soon after being separated from his mother, while thirteen years elapsed before the father found and rescued the other.


The women of Kentucky have never been known to falter whatever demand duty might make upon them; yet at no period in the history of our commonwealth has there been any more severe test of the courage of her daughters than occurred on the morning of August 15, 1782, at a point about five miles northeast of Lexington on the present road from that city to Maysville.

This post had been settled in 1779 by four brothers from North Carolina, named Bryan, hence the name "Bryan's Station." About forty cabins had been "placed in parallel lines and connected by strong palisades." This fort and the station at Lexington had been selected as special places on which to visit the wrath and retaliation for massacre of some Indians[77] upon the Sandusky; and as the savages and their renegade allies had been successful, they were easily incited to a general attack and inspired with the idea of regaining their hunting grounds and driving the paleface across the Alleghenies.

Simon Girty, the notorious renegade, was at the height of his glory when, in response to requests of runners sent to various tribes, there began at Chillicothe, August 1, 1782, a gathering of Cherokees, Shawnees, Miamis, Wyandots, and Potawatamis.

Ere the march began, the party numbered nearly six hundred warriors. With great secrecy and rapidity they descended the Little Miami, crossed the Ohio, and reached central Kentucky. In the hope of drawing away the fighting forces from the stations warned, Girty sent a party of Wyandots, who harassed Hoy's Station, and captured two boys. Captain Holder, gathering what men he could, pushed forward in pursuit, but was defeated August 12, at Upper Blue Licks. When runners spread the news to the various forts, the call to rally to Holder's assistance was as quickly responded to as if it had been imperative.

Girty knew of the common custom of rallying to the needs of neighboring settlements, so he expected to find a defenseless fort at Bryan's Station when he and his band of savages reached there on the night of the 14th. Instead, all within seemed awake and alert; lights were shining and fires burning[78] brightly. Girty at once suspected that his coming had been heralded. The truth was that it was the preparation for the morrow's march that caused such activity; not one suspected that such a horde of murderous savages was so near. So when at the early dawn the men started from their fort, they were much surprised at a heavy fire from ambuscade, but they were so near the gates that they soon retreated within and prepared for a stormy siege. Couriers carried the news of the attack to Lexington, Todd's, St. Asaph's, and Boonesborough. While awaiting reinforcements from these stations, the sixty backwoodsmen prepared to protect themselves and their families.

Knowing the siege would be severe and perhaps long, they began to consider seriously the question of securing water; for, by an oversight, the men who built the fort placed it at some distance from the spring which supplied their wants. As cunning as the Indians, and equally as strategic, were the men opposed to them. Instinctively they felt that the savages were ambushed near the spring expecting the men to come for a supply of water, when it would be the work of only a very few moments to fire upon them, and through the gateway gain admittance to the fort.

After talking over the matter the men within the fort called together all the women, disclosed their suspicions concerning the location of a part of the enemy, but told them they felt no violence would be[79] offered women and urged them to go in a body to bring water. The women hesitated and said that they were not bullet-proof and that savages scalped alike the male and the female. In reply the men said that the women usually carried the water, and that if the men should go, the Indians would know that their ambuscade had been discovered and would at once rush upon the whites and gain admittance to the fort; but if the women went as usual, the savages would think their hiding secure and would longer delay the attack. The women knew that water they must have, if the garrison withstood the inevitable siege; they also knew that the views of the men were correct and that the request for them to bring the water arose from no desire on the part of their husbands and brothers, sons and fathers, to shirk duty or shift danger.

So when the Spartan-like mothers agreed to the plan, the younger women followed their example, and everyone, matron and maid, with pail in hand or piggin on head, marched down to the spring, while they "feared each bush" an Indian. Though vainly striving to appear calm, when returning

"The way seemed long before them,
And their hearts outran their footsteps";

so the nearer the gate they came, the quicker was their walk until it finally ended in a very brisk run and very few entered the fort with full vessels. Tradition says that as the last entered so hastily and spilled[80] the water so freely the Indians broke into a laugh. But the women had "been tried and not found wanting"; they had proved themselves to be true helpmates of those sturdy men who were striving to gain a home in the western wilds.[81]

"The walk finally ended in a very brisk run." "The walk finally ended in a very brisk run."

Erelong the arrangements for defense were completed and thirteen men marched out to form a decoy party on the Lexington road; their orders were to fire rapidly, make all possible noise, but not to pursue the savages too far. They obeyed orders well and as soon as the guns sounded in the distance, five hundred warriors, led by Girty, rushed from the ambush near the spring, expecting to force their way over defenseless walls. The greater part of the sixty men had resolved themselves into a reception committee, expecting just such a call. So, when "their deadly balls whistled free," wild cries of terror came from Girty's ranks and "in two minutes not an Indian was to be seen," while the thirteen reŽntered through the opposite gateway, very jubilant over the success of their little ruse.

The attack was renewed, but nothing of marked importance occurred unless it was the supreme coŲperation that went on within the fort. Every breech was repaired, every gate and loophole manned; men, women, and even children were busily engaged in firing at the foe, molding bullets, or quenching the flames that the burning arrows from the bows of the savages had lighted. At two in the afternoon, just at a time when the firing had ceased, about fifty men, from various stations, one third on horse, the rest afoot, came in reply to the request sent out that morning.[82]

As the Indians knew that runners had been dispatched for reŽnforcements, they had planned to receive them. On one side of the road "stood the forest primeval," while on the other side was a vast field of one hundred acres of luxuriant corn, ten feet high, whose long green banners formed a dense thicket. Here on each side lay warriors within range of the road over which they knew the men would come. As soon as the horsemen appeared, shots from the guns of the savages rang out; but quickly spurring their horses, the recruiting party escaped within the fort through such a cloud of dust that not one was wounded.

Had the foot soldiers been more cautious, they too might have fared better; but hearing the firing on their friends, they rushed forward into the presence of the great crowd of savages, who, having emptied their guns, began to advance with tomahawk; but in many instances they were held at bay by the muzzle of the frontiersman's gun. Thus for an hour, the savages pursued the flying soldiers, who when too hard pressed turned and aimed, but did not fire until absolutely forced to do so, as they could have no time to reload.

In a skirmish, a ball from a rifle brought Girty to the ground, but when the warriors gathered around him, they found that it was only the force that had caused him to fall, as the ball had struck a thick piece of leather in his shot pouch. Despairing of success, Girty crawled to the protection of a huge stump,[83] hailed the fort, and attempted negotiations. He spoke in commendatory terms of their courage, but assured them that to pursue such policy further was madness, as in addition to his six hundred warriors he would soon have reŽnforcements with cannons, when their weak walls would no longer protect them. He urged an immediate surrender, pledged his honor to protect them as prisoners of war, and inquired if they knew him, Simon Girty.

Some were rather anxious at the news of artillery, but a young man named Aaron Reynolds inspired the weaker ones with courage when he derisively told the speaker to bring on his reŽnforcements; that they too were expecting reŽnforcements and if Girty and his savage allies remained much longer, their scalps would grace his cabin. He said Girty was "very well known," that he himself owned a cur, so worthless that he called him "Simon Girty."

Offended at such language, Girty rejoined his chiefs. The night passed without interruption, but daylight showed camp fires burning, meat roasting, and not an Indian in sight. They had evidently departed just before dawn.


After the retreat of the savages from Bryan's Station it did not take long for the Kentucky riflemen to gather and go in pursuit. In the afternoon of the[84] same day the savages had retreated from the fort, one hundred and eighty-two men from the various stations assembled. Fearing that the Indians would escape across the river, they started at once to overtake them, without waiting for the arrival of Colonel Logan, who was coming with three hundred more men.

Colonel John Todd was put in command, while many commissioned officers took their places in the ranks. On they pressed, until on the second day, as they reached the Lower Blue Licks, they saw the Indians leisurely ascending the farther bank.

The pioneers halted and held a conference in which all officers took part. The veteran Boone was asked for his opinion which all valued. He counseled either waiting for Colonel Logan's reŽnforcements or so dividing their numbers that part could cross above and fall in the rear of the enemy, while others could fight from the front.

Some preferred the first plan, others wished to adopt the second. In the midst of the consultation the rash, undisciplined nature of Colonel Hugh McGary, daring but with no deference to authority, oblivious to peril but not prudent, caused him to exchange some hot words with Todd and Boone; then giving a war whoop, he rushed madly into the stream, holding his hat above his head, and shouting, "All who are not cowards follow me."

"Giving a war whoop, he rushed madly into the stream." "Giving a war whoop, he rushed madly into the stream."

The effect was electric. Horse and foot rushed headlong, each trying to be foremost. No order was given,[85] none observed. In their unreasonable enthusiasm they heeded no command. In vain the officers tried to check them, then finally followed. Reaching the farther bank, by great difficulty a halt was secured and spies sent ahead to examine a ravine where Boone feared an ambush; as they returned and reported no sign of the enemy, the pioneers moved forward in three divisions. By the time they came to this ravine Girty's Indians had so placed themselves that from their murderous fire many fell. Still the pioneers maintained their ground, until at last all hope lay in retreat. On the bank of the river there was soon a seething mass of horsemen, foot soldiers, and Indians.[86] Sixty of Kentucky's bravest fell, and sorrow filled every home.

Colonel Logan and his soldiers came next day and buried their dead, among whom were many of the leaders in both public and private life as well as a son of the aged Boone.

There is a tradition that when the Indians saw four more of their own among the slain than of the whites, they barbarously put to death four of the seven pioneers they had taken and subjected the others many times to the most cruel and inhuman treatment.

Through this rash act of McGary nearly one tenth of all the fighting men in Kentucky fell. Distress and discouragement were general; and the greatest disaster that had yet befallen the country had been brought about.


In the latter part of the year 1779, David Rogers was making his way from New Orleans to Pittsburgh with two boats full of military stores. On nearing the four-mile bar above the present site of Cincinnati, he discovered a great number of Indians emerging from the mouth of the Little Miami. Hastily landing, his men cautiously crept through the underbrush, expecting to take the Indians unawares, when they were suddenly surprised by a large force of savages, who with rifle and tomahawk made such a[87] terrible onslaught that more than half of the whites met an almost instantaneous death.

The crew, in a panic, rushed forward to their boats only to find one in the possession of the enemy and the other too far from shore to reach its friendly shelter. With a courage born of despair they rushed through the enemy's lines, and some escaped in the darkness to Harrodstown, while others were so severely wounded that they barely existed until they were rescued by their friends.

Among these was Robert Benham, who, after being shot through the hips, managed to crawl to a large fallen tree and hide among its foliage. There he quietly lay until the battle was ended, and the Indians had returned and gathered the spoils from the dead whites. Thinking the coast clear once more and suffering pangs of hunger, Benham could not resist shooting a raccoon that came within his range, trusting to providence to reach it after it fell. Scarcely had the sound of his gun died away when he heard some one speak. He instantly reloaded and sat quietly, expecting an Indian every moment.

Finally some one said, "Whoever you are, answer me."

He then, realizing that it was no savage, readily answered; and soon one of his former comrades, John Watson, appeared with both arms broken.

Never was there a happier combination. From that[88] time the arms of Benham and the legs of Watson each did duty for both. Benham could easily load his gun and kill the game, while Watson could readily kick it within reach of his companion, who could dress and cook it. Thus they subsisted until the game in their vicinity grew scarce; then the man with the sound legs would walk around a drove of wild turkeys until he got them within range of Benham's gun, who was such a splendid marksman that he never failed to kill two or three of the number.

Their greatest difficulty was in securing water; but as in all things, "where there is a will there is a way," so even this difficulty was obviated. Benham would place his hat rim between the teeth of Watson, who would wade into the river up to his chin, duck his head, and thus fill the hat with water which he securely delivered to the man without legs, who could use it as needed. Benham was thus enabled to cook, dress his own and his comrade's wounds, and feed the latter also.

For several weeks they lived thus, until they grew stronger and traveled to the Licking River. After a great deal of difficulty in making themselves known to some passing boats, they were rescued, and taken to the Falls of the Ohio, where both recovered. Benham afterwards participated in several expeditions, and, after peace, returned to the scenes of his sufferings, bought land there, and passed his remaining days peacefully where he had so nearly met death.[89]


From time immemorial women have been accused of possessing an unusual amount of curiosity, but an incident of the early days, in what is now Mercer County, will prove that some men also belong to the curious class.

In 1783, the same year that saw the treaty of peace between Great Britain and the thirteen colonies go into effect, Kentucky, still a part of Virginia, was a dense forest, infested by roving bands of Indians who plundered and murdered the pioneers; hence caution was still the watchword of the white inhabitants. During this year, three men in the early dawn left Harrod's Station to hunt for some horses that had strayed off while grazing. For some time, over many miles, through dense cane and tangled pea vine, they pursued the trail, until, as a refuge from the darkness and a cold, drenching rain, the pioneers took shelter in an old, deserted log cabin, in the midst of a canebrake.

Having seen signs of Indians during the day and knowing that the red men also knew of the cabin, they decided to endure the cold, rather than light a fire. Finally they concluded a still further precaution would be to take refuge in the "loft" of the cabin for fear the savage foes might also take shelter therein and dispute the right of possession.

They at once climbed up into the loft, the floor of[90] which was clapboards, lying loose upon some round poles. Here, with their trusty rifles, they lay quietly for a short time, when to their terror six armed savages entered the cabin. Placing their guns and tomahawks in a corner, they built a fire and began a scene of hilarity characteristic of their tribe.

"The Indians built a fire." "The Indians built a fire."


One of the men was anxious to know the number of the Indians. So, though he was lying on his back, and was the middle man, he determined to turn over and peep at the crowd below. The other two white men determined he should keep still; so they held him, but as he quietly struggled, a pole broke and with a terrible crash, clapboards, men, and guns fell upon the frightened savages, who with yells of terror fled into the forest and never returned. Though almost as much terrified as the Indians, the white men quietly enjoyed the fire till morning, when they returned to the station with their trophies of what they laughingly called "The Battle of the Boards."


If we search the annals of both ancient and modern times we can find no record that shows greater fidelity from slave to master than was exhibited by a negro to one of Kentucky's most noted pioneers.

In 1782, March 19, people living in the vicinity of Boonesborough discovered some empty rafts floating down the river. They at once knew that Indians had used them to cross the stream so as to attack the unprotected settlements. News was sent to the various stations warning the settlers. Colonel Logan dispatched fifteen men to Estill's Station, where they were joined by twenty-five from that fort. Under[92] the command of Captain James Estill, they started to pursue and punish the invaders.

Early in the morning of the 20th, Miss Jennie Gass, with a slave, Monk, as protector, went just outside the fort at Estill's Station to milk the cows. Her mother, seeing the savages approaching, called loudly for her to run, but the warning came too late. Ere her daughter could reach the gate, her mother saw her tomahawked and scalped.

Monk was captured and asked about the force of the fort. Like the half-witted boy who was questioned by the Tories, Monk exaggerated the situation, saying there were forty men in the fort then molding bullets in anticipation of an attack. The truth is that aside from the women and children, there were only four men, who were too disabled to march. The savages accordingly thought it best to retreat.

No sooner had they withdrawn from the vicinity of the fort than two boys were dispatched to find Captain Estill's band and tell them of the tragedy. In a few hours the messengers found the men, and so uneasy were some of the party for their families that five returned to help protect the fort, while the other thirty-five began to search for the trail of the Indians. A part of the horses became so jaded that ten more dropped from the ranks, while the remaining twenty-five pushed forward with a grim determination to find the savages.

About an hour before sunset they discovered some[93] Indians preparing a meal from a buffalo. When Captain Estill fired his gun, the Indians fled, and had it not been that their leader was wounded, the retreat would have been permanent and the battle of Little Mountain would never have been fought. With almost superhuman strength the chieftain dragged himself to a place of safety and with a defiance that meant death he commanded his warriors who were too loyal to retreat without their wounded leader. There, in a space not more than two hundred yards in diameter, was fought one of the world's fiercest battles.

On the one hand there were twenty-five Wyandot warriors who defied death. On the other side there were twenty-five pioneers, aroused to vengeance by the cruelties the red men had visited upon them. Well did they obey the command of Estill, "Every man to his man, and every man to his tree." At one time in the fiercest of the fight, the rallying tones of confidence rang out above the crack of the rifles as Monk, who was still held prisoner by the savages, shouted, "Don't give way, Massa Jim, you can whip the redskins."

For nearly two hours the combat lasted, neither side advancing nor retreating. But when Captain Estill sent Lieutenant William Miller with six men to gain the rear of the enemy, that seven ingloriously fled and then the savages began to gain on the whites. Finally Captain Estill and a brawny Indian clutched in mortal combat. For a time their[94] strength seemed equal, but Estill's broken arm giving way, the savage instantly plunged a knife into his breast and a moment later, pierced by a bullet from Joseph Proctor's unerring gun, fell dead across his victim's body.

There the battle ended, the pioneers taking their wounded comrades and leaving the dead upon the field. Proctor carried one, a Mr. Irvine, a great distance of forty miles upon his back, while the faithful Monk carried another. A few days later a party of whites visited the scene and buried their dead. The Indians had carefully removed their slain but left the whites unmolested. Wallace Estill, Monk's young master, gave him his freedom and cared for him the remainder of his life. He lived to a ripe old age and was the father of thirty children.

The little city of Mount Sterling is near the battleground where such heroism was displayed by both savage and civilian.


Daniel Boone, the famous hunter, fighter, and pioneer, regarded himself as a special agent intended by providence to convert forests into fields and to carry civilization to the wilderness. When we remember his many exciting adventures and marvelous successes, we are inclined almost to believe that he was a child of destiny.[95]

"He took aim at the foremost." "He took aim at the foremost."

One of the most singular experiences in his warfare on the savages occurred about 1780, when about two miles south of Owingsville. Boone was making one of his solitary journeys from Boonesborough to the Upper Blue Licks. As he came near a deserted station about twelve miles east of the present site of Mount Sterling, he perceived fresh signs of Indians; so he continued his journey cautiously until he came to a clear spring near the bank of Slate Creek. Here, as he was quenching his thirst, a ball whistled by and broke the bark from the beech that shaded the[96] spring. Boone lost no time in reaching the creek, swimming to the opposite bank, and concealing himself in a convenient canebrake. He then cautiously parted the cane until he had gone about one hundred yards, when he observed two Indians coming warily towards the creek. He had slain so many savages that he was not satisfied with the thought of killing one of his adversaries, but determined that one shot should kill both. He therefore took aim at the foremost and as the other came in range he fired; and as one fell dead, the other, dropping his gun, fled with frantic yells of pain, for the ball had passed through the body of one and struck the other's shoulder.

Boone then very calmly crossed the creek, selected one of the guns left by the savages, threw the other in the creek, where it was found afterwards, and proceeded on his way to the Blue Licks.


His father having died when he was only fourteen, Benjamin Logan found himself, according to the laws of Virginia, at the head of a family, and in possession of his father's estate. With his mother's consent he sold the land and divided the proceeds among his brothers and sisters. Since he wished to see his mother comfortably settled, he united funds with that of a brother and bought a small home, which was secured to her during her life.[97]

Bidding his mother farewell, he soon made for himself a home on the Holston River. Here he remained a few years and after having served with both Colonel Bouquet and Colonel Dunmore in the expeditions against the Indians, resolved to try the western wilds of Kentucky. With two or three slaves, he came, traversed a great part of the wilderness with Boone and Henderson, and pitched his camp and built his fort in Lincoln County near the present city of Stanford. Bringing out his family the next year, he deemed it prudent to place them in the more securely fortified Harrodstown. But early in 1777 feeling more assurance of safety, he removed all his household to his new home.

Early in the morning of May 20, while some of the men were guarding the women as they were outside milking, Indians fired on them from a near-by canebrake. All fled toward the fort, but one of the white men fell dead, another was mortally wounded, and a third, Burr Harrison, was severely crippled. There were now only twelve fighting men to defend the fort, while the enemy numbered one hundred. Harrison ran staggering towards the fort, when he fell and lay all day within range of the rifles of the Indians, and in sight of his agonized wife; her pleas for help and cries of distress, as from her own place of safety she saw her husband wounded and helpless, touched the sympathy and tried the heroism of all.[98]

"Amid a shower of arrows they entered the gate." "Amid a shower of arrows they entered the gate."

All hesitated until twilight came, and it grew so dark the Indians could not distinguish objects moving around the stockade. As there were a great many large hogs in the vicinity, Logan covered himself with a small feather bed, made from the feathers of[99] the numerous wild pigeons, turkeys, and geese, and leaving the gate crept hither and thither, on all fours, grunting and acting as if in search of something to eat. Finally he reached Harrison, apparently by accident. He suddenly seized him in his arms, sprang to his feet, and darted toward the fort before the surprised Indians sufficiently recovered to take sure aim. Amid a shower of bullets and arrows he and Harrison entered the gate in safety.

Enraged at the deception practiced upon them, the Indians vigorously assaulted the fort, while the inmates as vigorously defended it. Under Logan's lead they resolved to fight to the last, but the powder and ball began to run low. What should be done? These men, made of "sterner stuff," faced another danger. If the siege was continued, they must perish or procure ammunition.

Again the heroism of Logan shone forth. Assuring his wife and friends of a safe and speedy return, he, with two trusty companions, under the cover of the night, left the fort. They crept through the Indian lines, avoided the regular route through Cumberland Gap, rapidly traversed mountains and valleys, crossed rivers, pushed through brush and cane, reached the Holston, procured "powder and ball," and on the tenth night Logan reŽntered the fort, having traveled more than three hundred miles. His companions soon arrived with the ammunition, reŽnforcements were brought, and the Indians retired.[100]


"Mr. Rowan turned the butt of his gun." "Mr. Rowan turned the butt of his gun."

About 1784, a party of pioneers left the Falls of the Ohio with the intention of descending the river. Reaching Yellow Banks, the boat stopped for a while. One of the party, a Mr. Rowan, taking a loaded gun, but no ammunition, wandered some distance from the shore and upon his return was astonished to find the boat gone. The crew had cause to believe a party of Indians was near, so hastened away without waiting for their comrade. The nearest settlement was at Vincennes, one hundred miles distant. So thither Mr. Rowan bent his steps until after three weary days of exposure and exhaustion he abandoned all[101] hope and lay down to die. It was not long, however, before, hearing the report of a gun, he again took courage, rose, and made his way in the direction of the sound. When he came in sight, an Indian raised his gun to fire, but, seeing Mr. Rowan turn the butt of his gun, knew he meant to be friendly; so with a politeness that would have done honor to a civilian the savage promptly turned the butt of his also.

Learning the destitute condition of Rowan, the Indian hospitably took him to his wigwam, cared for him until his strength was restored, and then conducted him to Vincennes. Anxious to reward such unusual kindness, Rowan tried to prevail on the savage to accept a gift of $300; of this the Indian nobly refused every penny, but in order to please his recent guest finally accepted a new blanket, saying, "When I wrap myself in it, I will think of you."


Though the records of pioneer life teem with startling encounters with wild animals, there really occurred a very unusual incident, when the life of a young man, named Downing, was saved by the hug of a bear.

In those early days, the people of that part of the country that is now Kentucky had to content themselves with very rough cabins and forts for their families, and with no outbuildings or inclosures whatever for their stock.[102]

Instead of well-kept stables and excellent pastures, the stockade protected the cows, sheep, and horses at night, and the near-by forest was their home and grazing ground during the day. Although as close watch as possible was kept over these animals, they sometimes strayed so far away that it was necessary to bring them back or the Indians would take them for their own.

In the year 1786, in what is now Bath County, a horse had strayed off, and a young man named Yates requested another occupant of the fort, a mere lad named Downing, to go with him in search of the animal.

They traversed the woods in every direction all day, but in vain. About sundown, when nearly seven miles from the fort, in a wild valley, Downing became very anxious concerning sounds that seemed to follow his footsteps regardless of the direction he took. He repeatedly said that he heard sticks breaking and that he believed Indians were following them.

Yates, who was older, more experienced, and more inured to the perils of frontier life, laughed heartily at the fears of his companion, often inquired at what price he rated his scalp, and jokingly offered to insure it at a sixpence.

Oblivious to all danger, enjoying the discomfort of his companion, and wishing to display his daring, Yates began a rollicking tune as he boldly passed along; but young Downing, feeling "the better part of valor is discretion," and being sure from the[103] ominous sounds that they were being followed, decided to discover if possible the hidden foe. He gradually slackened his pace, until his companion was about twenty or thirty yards in advance; then just after descending a small hill, Downing quickly stepped from the path and secreted himself behind some bushes. He was horrified a few moments later to see two Indians cautiously put aside the canebrake and peer in the direction taken by his companion.

Downing, fearful lest the savages knew his own hiding place, decided to fire upon them at once; but his hand was so unsteady from the excitement, that his gun went off before he took aim. Terror-stricken he fled in the direction taken by his friend, whom he soon met, returning to learn the cause of the firing. There was no need to inquire, for in full view the two savages were rapidly pursuing them.

True Kentucky chivalry was soon evident, for though he could easily have saved himself, Yates would not outrun his young companion, but kept by his side.

It so happened that a path diverged from the one taken by the whites, but rejoined it at a distant point. Knowing the country well, the Indians took this divergent path, expecting to intercept the pioneers at the point of reunion. Passing this point in safety, the white men soon came to a deep gully. Mr. Yates easily cleared it, but his companion, being very much exhausted, fell against the farther bank and rolled at full length to the bottom. He gave himself up for[104] lost. Over went the two Indians like deer, so intent upon catching the foremost man they apparently did not notice Downing.

"The bear growled and hugged him close." "The bear growled and hugged him close."

For a while fear kept him still, but finally thinking the Indians were far away, the young man walked to the shallow part of the ditch. Just as he reached a[105] place so shallow that he was no longer concealed, to his astonishment and dismay he beheld one of the savages returning, apparently in search of him.

Having neglected to reload his gun, and seeing the Indian advancing upon him, he threw it away and again trusted to flight. The white man ran and the Indian ran. It was a race for life, but as they ascended the long ridge, so steadily did the Indian gain upon him that when Downing ran along one side of a big fallen poplar, the Indian passed along the other, evidently expecting to seize him at the upturned root. However, just there lay a huge mother bear and her cubs. So rapidly was the Indian running that by the time he had discovered Mrs. Bruin, she had discovered him; and though his salutation was an exclamation of horror and a plunge of his great knife, the bear only growled and hugged him close.

So happy was Downing over this timely meeting of his two enemies, that he joyfully fled to the fort, where he found his companion resting from his exciting race. Those in the fort soon received a vivid account of how Downing's life, providentially, had been saved by the hug of a bear.


There was born in Virginia, on November 19, 1752, a light-haired, blue-eyed baby boy who was destined to become the founder of our commonwealth, the[106] father of Kentucky, and the captor of England's important outposts.

Leaving his home one spring morning in 1775, and stopping at the bend of the road to wave farewell to his mother, sister, and brother, George Rogers Clark, a young soldier-surveyor of twenty-two who had seen active service in Dunmore's war, started out for the wilds of Kentucky.

More than six feet in height, dignified, affable, manly, brave, determined, yet gentle, he at once commanded not only the attention, but respect, friendship, and leadership of all. Whether or not he came with an official commission, his military bearing, his superior intelligence, and his indomitable spirit caused him by common consent to be placed at the head of the irregular militia of this section.

George Rogers Clark returned to Virginia in the autumn, but in the memorable year of '76 came again to Kentucky to make it his permanent home.

He opposed the plans of the Transylvania Company, urged the settlers to try to effect a more certain connection with Virginia, and went over mountains, through mud, and amid difficulties and dangers, as a representative to the Virginia legislature, which had adjourned before he reached the capital.

Not to be deterred, he visited Governor Patrick Henry, who was at home sick, and impressed upon him the necessity of protecting the settlements in Kentucky. He then went before the executive council[107] of the state and asked for 500 pounds of gunpowder to be used in defense of the stations. The council agreed to lend this to the colonists as friends, but said they could not give it to them as fellow citizens. At this Clark refused to accept the gunpowder and intimated intentions of appealing for assistance elsewhere, saying that, "A country that is not worth defending is not worth having." This reply caused the recall of Clark to the presence of the council, and the gunpowder was conveyed to Pittsburgh and delivered to Clark for the colonists.

At the next session of the legislature, through the splendid services of this same useful citizen, the territory which later became our commonwealth was erected into Kentucky County, of Virginia.

From this time on Clark was, by common consent, the moving master spirit in all the daring plans of his adopted state. With a seeing eye and an unsurpassed judgment he concluded that the Indian invasions were inspired by the British and that to stop this terrible warfare the colonists should strike at the fountain head. Accordingly he laid and perfected his plans for attacking the posts of Kaskaskia, Cahokia, and Saint Vincents (now Vincennes). Virginia voted to defray the expenses and gave Clark two sets of instructions, one public, ordering him to proceed to the defense of Kentucky, the other private, ordering an attack on Kaskaskia.

Descending the Ohio on flatboats or pirogues, he[108] landed, May, 1778, three companies of troops and several families on Corn Island, near the Falls of the Ohio. He drilled his raw recruits, reŽnforced with volunteers from the country, and a few weeks later, amid a total eclipse of the sun, set out with his frail fleet of four companies of one hundred and thirty-five fighting men.

"On the night of July 4, they captured Kaskaskia." "On the night of July 4, they captured Kaskaskia."

Landing on Owen's Island near the mouth of the Tennessee River, and striking across the country from Fort Massacre, or Massac, he began that wonderful march which won him undying fame.[109]

Meeting a party of hunters recently from Kaskaskia, Clark secured from them important intelligence and an offer to guide his forces where by a sudden surprise they believed the place could be easily captured. On the night of July 4, he took the town of two hundred and fifty inhabitants without the loss of one drop of blood.

Most of the people were of French descent and had been taught by the British that the Kentuckians waged savage warfare. They were therefore terror-stricken until General Clark assured them that their own king, whose rule over them had been exchanged for that of the British by the treaty of Paris, 1763, had joined hands with America to stop the cruel war of the British and Indians. The French colonists were then overjoyed, said their French king had come to life, and offered to accompany the division that was to march to Cahokia.

On July 6, that post was also surprised and taken; the inhabitants were dreadfully alarmed at the sight of the "big knife," but were soon reassured by their relatives and friends from Kaskaskia.

Not satisfied with these brilliant successes, General Clark felt that he must also capture Vincennes, but M. Gibault, the village priest of both that place and Kaskaskia, volunteered to inform the people of Vincennes that the king of France had become an ally of the American colonists. Soon the American flag floated over that fort and from the Lakes to the Mississippi[110] the powerful arm of the British was broken, and the many Indian invasions of Kentucky were discontinued.


News came to General Clark in January of 1779, that the British under Governor Hamilton from Detroit had recaptured Vincennes and were waiting only till spring to advance with hundreds of Indian allies on Kaskaskia, obliterate the Kentuckians, and break the power of Virginia west of the Alleghenies. Learning at the same time that Hamilton had only about eighty regular soldiers with three cannons and some swivels, Clark decided not to wait to be attacked, but to take the aggressive. He at once sent forty-five men on a boat to proceed to a point near the mouth of the White River with instructions, to allow nothing to pass, and to wait further orders.

Nine days after the important information reached him, General Clark with one hundred and seventy men started across flooded prairies, swollen streams, and inundated valleys. There is no more daring march recorded. Trudging through rain and mud, fording small streams, wading most of the time in deep water ofttimes to the armpits, they traveled without tents, depending on parched corn and the securing of game for food; at last they went for days with no nourishment whatever.[111]

Clark and his men crossing a swollen stream. Clark and his men crossing a swollen stream.

It took all the ingenuity of General Clark to keep up the courage of the soldiers. Sometimes he would plunge into the deep water singing a favorite song, when all would join in, fall in line, and sing as they waded. At another time, seeing the discouragement and despair in their faces, he blackened his face with gunpowder, gave an Indian-like war whoop, and plunged into the stream; again all followed. At another place a little drummer boy was placed on the[112] shoulders of a tall man and told to beat as if for his life. The enthusiasm of the boy and his stirring music quickly renewed the courage of the soldiers. A division was placed in the rear with orders to shoot any who "dropped out," and the march was continued through the freezing waters.

Near Vincennes, they captured a Frenchman who had been duck shooting, and sent a letter by him to the French inhabitants saying that the fort would be stormed that night and they could choose between remaining quietly in their homes and receiving the friendly protection of the assaulters, or of going into the British fort and of abiding results.

All was then commotion and people rushed out from their houses to learn the news. By a stratagem of Clark's his men were so marching in a circle behind an elevation that as they passed and repassed, flying many "colors," each man was counted dozens of times, and the inhabitants of the place thought there was an attacking force of many hundreds of people at their gates.

For two days and nights, Clark's men besieged the fort. Their ammunition ran alarmingly low, yet Clark, Napoleon-like, was very demanding. At last the "Stars and Stripes" floated again over Vincennes, and thus was secured to our nation that vast tract out of which have been carved Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois, while the value to the colonists in Kentucky could not be easily estimated.[113]


When General George Rogers Clark had conquered the British and Indians in their stronghold in the Illinois country, he felt it safe for the few families he had left on Corn Island, near the Falls of the Ohio, to remove to the mainland, and so ordered that a fort be built there.

Rows of log cabins joined together around a hollow square constituted this structure; at one corner there was a cabin, double the size of the others, that was to serve as a storeroom. In this building took place the first Christmas dinner and dance in Kentucky, as far as any record shows.

The men ranged the forest and brought home rabbits, turkeys, deer, bears, and buffaloes. The women baked corn pone, hoecake and johnnycake, boiled and fried hominy, and prepared milk, butter, and cheese.

Forks were driven into the earthen floor of the storehouse. On rough, unhewn, uncovered boards laid above poles stretched between the forks, the feast was served. Wooden platters held the meats, wooden plates the bread, and wooden bowls the hominy. The centerpiece that decorated the table and proved the great dish of the banquet was an opossum baked whole, hanging by its tail on a stick of wood, which was suspended over the center.

The fiddler of the fort, an old negro named Cato, as well as every man, woman, and child, had been downcast[114] for some time because the fiddle had only one string left. Patient Cato had tried horsehair and deer sinews, but no music could thus be made. Fortunately on Christmas eve a small boat landed near the fort and on it was a Frenchman with a violin.

"The Frenchman retired in a rage." "The Frenchman retired in a rage."

It did not take old Cato long to inquire if the musician[115] had any extra strings he would sell; learning that he had, Cato joyfully exchanged raccoon skins for the coveted strings, and gave the stranger an extra skin to tell nothing about the trade. Cato was intending to give the settlers a great surprise. Alas for his dreams! The traders from the boat being invited to the feast, the Frenchman happened to speak of an accident to his fiddle; whereupon he was besieged with requests to get his instrument and play, so they could dance. He reluctantly yielded, the table was cleared away, the older people and children ranged themselves around the walls, and the younger men and women impatiently waited on the smooth, dirt floor, until the music began.

The Frenchman tried in vain to teach the fashionable dances of his homeland to the backwoods boys and girls. At last, becoming discouraged and disgusted, he retired in a rage. Then the old darkey approached him and politely asked if he might play while his honor rested. He was told to "play on."

Soon to the music of old Cato's fiddle, the boys and girls were making merry by dancing the Virginia reel. Not till the midnight hour did either the dancers or fiddler weary or pause.


Thomas Jefferson, the Sage of Monticello, the originator of many plans for the defense and perpetuation of our country, deserves a place of honor in the[116] records of Kentucky, for the interest shown in this, the then remote part of Virginia.

In a message in 1778, Governor Patrick Henry of Virginia suggested that a post be established and fortified on the Mississippi; but it was Governor Jefferson of the same state who later expressly said that the plan must be executed.

Spain and France for years were zealous in their efforts to check the extension of the infant republic, control the great Mississippi, and make of Kentucky a Spanish province. Her geographical position and great river frontage caused them to realize her wonderful resources. So, to fortify the claim of the United States to the Mississippi as its western boundary, Thomas Jefferson, Governor of Virginia, engaged Dr. Thomas Walker with an able corps of surveyors to ascertain the point on the Mississippi River intersected by the southern limit of Virginia. He then, in 1780, instructed General George Rogers Clark to establish a fort and garrison near that point and afterwards to extend a line of forts to the north, both to offer protection and to establish possession. So in the summer of 1780, General Clark with 200 soldiers erected and manned with cannons a fort at a point about five miles below where Cairo now is and near Wickliffe, Kentucky. Adverse criticisms fell from many because of this division and depletion of forces, but as in all other enterprises with which he was connected, Jefferson built not for the present alone but for the future as well.[117]

By an oversight Clark and his soldiers failed to follow Jefferson's instructions to secure from the Chickasaw Indians, who owned the land west of the Tennessee River, the consent to the erection of the fort. They thereby aroused a spark of resentment that erelong became such a flame that the Indians began harassing and killing the families outside the fort. By threat of death, they forced one captive to describe the true state of the fort, in which, to their surprise, they learned there were only about thirty men and two thirds of these were sick with malaria. Soon the Indians marched, one thousand two hundred strong, under the command of a Scotchman named Colbert; but for five days these weakened frontiersmen with little water and less food, except green pumpkins, held the fort.

Finally Captains Clark and Colbert met under a flag of truce, but failed to agree to terms. The fort even refused a demand to surrender, though told that the assistance they expected would not reach them. As night fell the Indians made a desperate assault, but the firing from one of the blockhouses so depleted and demoralized their ranks that they retreated. ReŽnforcements arrived soon after and the siege was abandoned.

Though Fort Jefferson from its isolated position was finally forsaken, yet "its evacuation was a signal for peace," and the Indians here no longer molested the white settlers.[118]


From November to March, 1779-1780, the settlers of Kentucky suffered untold anguish from the severity of the weather and the scarcity of food. More pioneers had come into the wilderness the preceding summer and so increased the population that the products of garden, field, and forest were soon exhausted.

Deep, unmelting snow covered the land; many families coming by river were caught in the masses of ice, compelled to abandon their primitive boats, and encamp on the frozen shore; while the traveler by land found trails blocked with snow, creeks frozen solid, and the forest desolate. Horses, cattle, and many wild animals froze or died from want of nourishment, while so great was the extremity that the settlers were forced to eat the flesh of the animals that had thus fallen, and for months had to go without bread. In this severe cold, through the deep snow and over the solid ice, there could be little traveling. To secure supplies from elsewhere was impossible; and even when spring began to bring some relief, one bushel of corn brought, in the continental currency, from fifty to one hundred and seventy-five dollars. Complete relief could not come until the seedtime and the harvest home were over.

The Pilgrims were not more grateful on their first Thanksgiving Day than were the Kentucky frontiersmen when plenty again abounded.[119]


Though the pioneers of Kentucky endured many murderous attacks from the Indians, there were other dangers which were not trifling. One of the most exciting of these incidents was the experience of a man named John McKinney, who was employed at an early day by the people of Lexington, as their first teacher.

At that time Kentucky had no newspaper, and items of interest from the states beyond the mountains were eagerly greeted by all. In May, 1783, a traveler passing through the embryo city of what is now the capital of our famed blue-grass section, brought with him a newspaper containing the Articles of Peace with Great Britain. All were anxious to read them. The fact that the Articles had not yet been ratified did not lessen the interest of the citizens. A copy of any paper was a treat, and such news as the Articles meant great hope for the struggling settlers. As the gentleman would resume his journey the following day and take with him the much-prized paper, some of the citizens appealed to McKinney to copy the Articles of Peace.

At that time Lexington was only a cluster of about thirty cabins, and one which stood just outside the fort, near the present site of the courthouse, was used as a schoolroom.

Thither, the next morning, the teacher went to copy the precious news of peace. While busily writing, he[120] heard a noise and glancing up saw a very unusual and unwelcome guest. A ferocious wildcat with bristles erect, tail curled, and eyes flashing, had paused on the threshold and was peering around the room. At first she did not see McKinney, but by some involuntary movement he attracted her attention, and she soon exhibited other than friendly emotions.

"The wildcat was not to be frowned down." "The wildcat was not to be frowned down."


Having been accustomed to subdue the backwoods boys and girls by the awfulness of his frown, the teacher tried the same tactics now; but the cat was not to be frowned down. As the teacher reached for a rule she, with the ferocity of a lion, sprang upon him, fastened her claws in his side, and began tearing his clothes, mangling his flesh, and inflicting such serious wounds that the blood flowed copiously.

Knowing he could not long withstand her power and despairing of aught else to do, he threw his weight upon her and pressed her against the sharp corner of the table. Soon her weird cries were mingled with his calls of distress, and erelong the citizens knew something unusual was happening in the little schoolhouse. The women were first to answer the cry of alarm. Reaching the door, they paused to discover the cause of the commotion and seeing Mr. McKinney bending over the table, writhing and groaning, they at first glance thought that he had a severe attack of cramp, but quickly seeing the cat, one lady exclaimed, "Why, Mr. McKinney, what is the matter?"

He very gravely replied, "Madam, I have caught a cat."

By this time the cat was lifeless; but her teeth were so deeply imbedded in his side that the neighbors, many of whom had gathered by this time, had great difficulty in disengaging her.

The shock, the wound, and the loss of blood made McKinney very sick and weak, and for several days[122] he was confined to his bed while the boys and girls enjoyed a holiday.

He lived to a ripe old age and was often heard to say he would rather fight two Indians than one wildcat.


When "the embattled farmers stood and fired the shot heard round the world," Kentucky was that portion of the "Old Dominion" that was destined to be the happy homes of so many men, valorous in the field and eloquent in the forum. The state to be, whose toast and boast has ever been her noble sons and fair daughters, was still called Fincastle County, Virginia.

The last day of 1776, the year that saw the sons of the colonies rise in the majesty of their manhood and declare they would no longer submit to the rule of King George, the Virginia legislature divided Fincastle County into three counties, and called one of them Kentucky. This so remained until May, 1780, when Kentucky County was divided into Jefferson, Fayette, and Lincoln. Then the name of Kentucky was abandoned until in 1783, when an act of the Virginia legislature united the three counties into Kentucky District. On March 3, 1783, the first court convened at Harrodstown; but no house there being large enough, a church, six miles distant, was the home of the first judicial proceedings.

An act of this court caused a log jail and courthouse[123] to be built where Danville now stands. Immigrants continued to come to this "Eden of the West" and the three original counties were divided and subdivided until June 1, 1792, when Kentucky became the fifteenth star in the constellation. There were then nine counties with a total population of 100,000; from this embryo has come a commonwealth of one hundred and twenty counties, with an area of four thousand square miles, rich in minerals and timber, factories and fields.

From the mountains of the east and the blue grass of the central part, even to the "Pennyrile" of the far west, each son of the "Dark and Bloody Ground" loves the land settled by Boone, Kenton, and Clark.


The youth of our state may feel that because Kentucky was not one of the original Thirteen Colonies to make the heroic struggle for freedom, that she played no part in establishing and extending our national government.

During this period, remote as was this part of Virginia from the centers of civilization, every road blazed, every settlement made, every victory over the red savage, had a far-reaching effect, not alone for the state in embryo, but for the national government.

Had not the pioneers of Kentucky, with the heroism of the Romans of old, subdued the savages, stopped their depredations, and secured to the mother state of[124] Virginia that vast tract out of which have been carved Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois, the power of England, to-day, might cut our continent in two.

Kentuckians waited not for opportunity but made it.

At the battle of Point Pleasant, in October, 1774, where the noted "Cornstalk" met defeat, there were with General Andrew Lewis men whose name and fame furnish much of Kentucky history. There were Harrod, the Shelbys, the Boones, and other intrepid leaders who afterwards brought out from chaos our infant commonwealth.

The effect of this battle was more than local. It gave peace to the frontiersmen at the time the colonies were beginning the crucial contest with England and for a while prevented that barbaric warfare waged by the British and Indians united. So severe was the slaughter, it is said, that blood was found on each tree behind which the Indians and pioneers were posted.

In 1780 one of our pioneers who afterwards became our first governor, Colonel Isaac Shelby, was again in Kentucky locating lands that some time before he had marked out and improved, when he heard of the surrender of Charleston. A man with a soul so fired with patriotism could not be contented not to answer his country's call. He hurried home, secured volunteers, and did signal service in both North and South Carolina, and in Georgia. In a measure he overcame the defeat of Gates at Camden; by his momentous[125] move, though not in supreme command, Colonel Shelby will ever be known as the hero of Kings Mountain, where the enemy surrendered after Ferguson with seventy-five officers and men had been killed.

This was at the darkest hour of the Revolution and has been called "the first link in the great chain of events in the South that established the independence of the United States." These conquests by Shelby in the South, coupled with those of Clark at Kaskaskia, Cahokia, and Vincennes, were as important in both immediate and future results as any that illumine the pages of the Revolution.


To view Kentucky in its primeval beauty and rugged grandeur; to talk face to face with Boone, Harrod, Todd, Cowan, and Kennedy, those hardy hunters who blazed the way and changed the uncertain trail to a broad thoroughfare through the western wilds; to experience the difficulties and encounter the dangers of those dreadful days—were experiences for one who would essay to write a history of the country, the times, and the people. Yet such were the advantages enjoyed by Kentucky's earliest historian, John Filson.

Born in Pennsylvania in 1747, given a common school and academic education, lured either by the spirit of adventure, the locating of lands, or the enthusiastic reports of the far-famed "second paradise"[126] with its "happy climate and plentiful soil," Filson reached Lexington in 1782. Here he succeeded "Wildcat McKinney" as the second teacher in this "Athens of the West."

While engaged in teaching, Filson was securing information that was to give to the world, not only the first history of Kentucky, but the first authentic account of that vast, transmontane wilderness about which so many exciting experiences had been recounted.

It has been said, "he could ask more questions and answer fewer than any one of his time."

Active, observant, accurate, he gave, in his "Discovery, Settlement, and Present State of Kentucky," in 1784, a work of much merit. It contained the first map ever drawn of this state, showing the three original counties of Jefferson, Fayette, and Lincoln.

As this was before any printing presses had been set up in Kentucky or at any other point in the West, Filson carried his map to Philadelphia and his manuscript to Wilmington, Delaware.

John Filson. John Filson.

This little book of one hundred and eighteen pages was deemed of such consequence that one year after its appearance, it was translated into French and published by M. Parraud at Paris. Three editions were printed in England by Gilbert Imlay, Kentucky's first novelist, who incorporated it in his "Topographical Description of the Western Territory."

Not only was Filson a historian, biographer, and teacher, but he was also a practical, skillful surveyor.[127]

He led a restless, strenuous life. Soon after his first visit to Kentucky he was back on his native heath, again in the state of his adoption, next in the Illinois country gathering data for a history of that section, the manuscripts of which are now the property of the Wisconsin Historical Society.

In 1788 Filson was associated with Mathias Denman and Robert Patterson, the founder of Lexington, in the purchase of a tract of eight hundred acres opposite the mouth of the Licking River, where they planned a town, now the city of Cincinnati, but named by Filson, Losantiville,—the "city opposite the mouth of the Licking."

As the party deferred surveying and staking off lots for a while, Filson's restless spirit again urged him on; and, after surveying the Great Miami with a party, he ventured still farther alone and was never seen again. His friends supposed he was killed by the Indians;[128] but there is no record of the time, place, or manner of his death, and nothing to mark his grave. His name has been aptly given to that body of earnest, eminent workers of Louisville, the Filson Club, who have done so much to collect and preserve the many interesting facts about Kentucky's early days.


Kentucky, the land of soldiers and statesmen, has erected in the hearts of her patriotic sons a monument, ever enduring, to Clark, Logan, Bowman, Scott, Shelby, Hardin, and scores of others whose work and courage won for us this fair domain. It can be truly said of each:

"An empire is his sepulcher,
His epitaph is fame."

Though these brave men had conquered the wild beasts and barbarous red men, there were still other forces to meet. When this far-away West, between the Alleghenies and the Mississippi River, began to prosper, homes were built, forests became fields, and products sought a market. As railroads were undreamed of, nature's method of transportation was their only outlet. To be able to load a flatboat with corn and other Kentucky crops, and float down the Ohio and the "Father of Waters" to New Orleans, would have made that city a great haven for the western pioneers. But Spain owned the mouth, and though Great Britain had[129] ceded us free navigation of the river, Spain in the early nineties refused the free navigation and the right to deposit at New Orleans. Subsequent events will disclose how long this privilege was withheld.

We have elsewhere told how out of Fincastle County, Virginia, 1776, the county of Kentucky was erected, while in 1780 it was divided into the counties of Fayette, Jefferson, and Lincoln, and in 1783 they were united into a Kentucky District. But so far removed was this district from the capital of the commonwealth, so insurmountable were the natural barriers at that time, so inadequate was the mother state to protect the pioneers, that they began seriously to consider a separation and the erection of another member of the general government. Yet so great was their love for Virginia, it was only with the most delicate suggestion they began. Convention after convention met and adjourned with nothing more accomplished than a postponement of the desire nearest their hearts.

Vainly the people who had subdued this wilderness petitioned. Futile were the efforts of the national Congress or of the commonwealth of Virginia to grant their prayers. We can scarcely censure General James Wilkinson for wishing to cut the "Gordian knot of difficulty" by immediate separation and the erection of an independent government. At the same time the subtle music of the siren's song fell upon the ears of those who had won their homes through privations.

In June, 1785, Don Gardoqui was sent by the Spanish[130] government to treat with the American government on any subject of dispute. The Honorable John Jay was commissioned to meet him, but the far-seeing members of Congress fortunately put the following check upon Mr. Jay: "That he enter into no treaty, compact, nor convention whatever with the said representative of Spain, which did not stipulate the right of the United States to the navigation of the Mississippi and boundaries as established by their treaty with Great Britain."

In a few months, Jay urged upon Congress a commercial treaty, which would, he claimed, redound to the benefit of the United States; the consideration on her part was "she should forbear the use of the navigation of the Mississippi for twenty-five or thirty years." Jay, that had stood "like a stone wall" at Madrid and Paris, was now willing to barter away the privileges of the nation for a mere sectional gain. Happily, only seven of the requisite nine states voted favorably, and the chimerical plot failed. The facilities for knowing the actions of Congress were not nearly so great then as now; so when a communication was made, 1787, from Pittsburgh by "A Committee of Correspondence for Western Pennsylvania" to Kentucky pioneers, viz.: "That John Jay, the American Secretary for Foreign Affairs, had made a proposition to Don Gardoqui, the Spanish minister to the United States, to cede the navigation of the Mississippi to Spain for twenty-five or thirty years, in consideration of some commercial advantages to be granted to the United States; but such[131] as the western country could derive no profit from," the effect may be easily imagined.

The people sent out a circular letter and prepared to hold a convention to oppose such oppression; but learning that the project had failed, after merely meeting and discussing the subject, they adjourned without any action upon it.

In June, 1787, General James Wilkinson secured the privilege from General Miro, Commandante, of shipping a vast quantity of tobacco to New Orleans annually and of depositing it in the government's warehouse. More than ever he now urged the importance to Kentuckians of the free navigation of this great river, and the right to deposit at New Orleans. Meanwhile, the Honorable John Brown of Danville had been chosen to represent the Kentucky District in Congress. Again the frontiersmen were doomed to disappointment when news came that the government had postponed the admittance of Kentucky, indeed, would refer the question to the new government.

As Don Gardoqui had failed in his scheme with John Jay, he now very opportunely sought Representative Brown; with what effect may be read in this part of a letter from Mr. Brown to Samuel McDowell, president of the various Kentucky conventions: "In a conversation I had with Mr. Gardoqui, the Spanish minister, relative to the navigation of the Mississippi, he stated that, if the people of Kentucky would erect themselves into an independent state and appoint a[132] proper person to negotiate with him, he had authority for that purpose, and would enter into an arrangement with them for the exportation of their produce to New Orleans on terms of mutual advantage." In a letter to Judge Muter, Mr. Brown sets forth the same, and in addition says: "This privilege can never be extended to them while part of the United States, by reason of commercial treaties existing between that court and other powers of Europe."

In 1788, at Danville, sat the seventh convention earnestly endeavoring to be loyal to both the people and the parent state. In this assembly General Wilkinson said: "There is one way and but one way, that I know for obviating these difficulties, and that is so fortified by constitutions and guarded by laws, that it is dangerous of access and hopeless of attainment, under present circumstances." He dilated on the population, production, and prosperity of the country and its inalienable rights to the Mississippi. With natural adroitness, he caused the Honorable John Brown to tell the convention, "That provided, we are unanimous, everything we could wish for is within our reach." Wilkinson also read a message he had addressed to the "Intendant of Louisiana" wherein he urged that should Spain persist in her refusal of the navigation of the Mississippi and cause a resort to arms, Great Britain would join the western people in securing it, and thus all Spanish-America would be endangered. Whatever individual profit Wilkinson derived from his connection[133] with the Spanish authorities may be forgotten when we realize that he and the court party he represented would forever have fought any act to lose to Kentucky the navigation of the Mississippi.

June 1, 1792, Kentucky became the fifteenth state, and at last some of her trials were over. Still the British retained their forts and the Indians continued their depredations. At this time, the Revolution was shaking France from center to circumference. Remembering the aid of the French allies in our war for liberty and hating England with an implacable hatred, many of our people, especially the Kentuckians, were prepared to rally around the French flag.

Democratic clubs, modeled after the Jacobean clubs of France, sprang up; and the one at Lexington was so urgent as to pass the following resolution:

"That the right of the people on the waters of the Mississippi to the navigation thereof was undoubted, and it ought to be peremptorily demanded of Spain by the United States."

In November, 1793, the persons sent to Kentucky by GenÍt to arrange an expedition against the Spaniards at the mouth of the Mississippi, found a field ripe for harvest. They raised a company of two thousand men and induced General George R. Clark, at the head of the expedition, to accept the position of "Major general in the armies of France and commander in chief of the revolutionary legions on the Mississippi." He then proceeded to call for volunteers to reduce the[134] Spanish forts on the Mississippi, and open it for free navigation. Flattering offers were made to all who would engage. Governor Shelby of Kentucky felt it was beyond his jurisdiction to attempt to restrain these forces. So, early in 1794, President Washington warned the people of the unlawfulness of such an undertaking, and the dangers of such an expedition. General Wayne was ordered to Fort Massac, to prevent the descent of armed men. Soon after, GenÍt was recalled, and his acts disavowed, and Washington's "friendship for all, but entangling alliances with none" was the policy of the hour.

In the summer of 1795, Governor Carondelet of Louisiana sent a messenger to Judge Benjamin Sebastian of the Court of Appeals of Kentucky, requesting him to send agents to New Madrid to negotiate with Colonel Gayoso on the subject of the Mississippi and regulation of commerce between the local authorities at New Orleans and the people of Kentucky. In the latter part of the year, Judge Sebastian went to New Madrid, thence to New Orleans, where he secured the promise of the navigation of the Mississippi and New Orleans as a place of deposit, with duty payable only on imports. Fortunately for posterity, news came that in October, 1795, a treaty was consummated with Spain which acknowledged the United States as extending southward to 31į, and westward to the middle of the Mississippi. It granted us the free navigation of that stream and the right of deposit at New Orleans for a[135] period of three years, and a promise to continue these privileges longer.

Whether or not the proposals of Don Gardoqui and Baron Carondelet were merely a commercial consideration on the part of Spain, yet dastardly in the extreme were the futile attempts she made in 1797 to have Kentucky withdraw from the Union, seize Fort Massac, and become an independent government.

Money and arms galore were promised those infamous enough to enter into this conspiracy to extend the northern boundary of Spain's possessions east of the Mississippi to the Yazoo. Again Spanish conspiracy received a blow.


Though the stalwart pioneers, dressed in their primitive suits of deerskin or homespun, pushed farther and farther into Kentucky, stopping not for privation or peril, danger or disaster, climbing cliffs, fording streams, fighting savages, yet they were not all merely unlettered backwoodsmen hunters and fighters. Though the education of nearly all was more or less limited, a number of these early courageous Kentuckians have made unusual contributions to the useful sciences. If not the birthplace, Kentucky was the home and the burial place of a trio who can claim priority in the invention of the steamboat.

In 1778 there came to Kentucky from Connecticut[136] a man of vigorous intellect and remarkable powers of perseverance, John Fitch. He had formerly been a silversmith, clock maker, and lieutenant in the Revolutionary forces from New Jersey. Though made captive by the Indians and held prisoner for a year, yet in 1780, as he gazed upon the beautiful Ohio, he had the first conception of overcoming currents by a new mode of navigation. Retiring to his surveyor's camp he pondered, and, remembering the work of Watt with steam, concluded that boats could be propelled by the same power.

Fitch's steamboat. Fitch's steamboat.

The story of his struggles, in petitions and disappointments, reminds one of Columbus, as he so long in vain sought aid to make his first voyage to America. In 1787, 1788, and 1789, Fitch built several boats, that made from four to seven and one half miles per hour between Philadelphia and Burlington. He petitioned the legislatures of a number of states as well[137] as England, France, and Spain, and obtained not money, but the exclusive privileges of navigating certain streams by boats propelled by fire or steam. He became discouraged and finally despaired; he died at Bardstown, 1798, where his remains rest.

A pathetic circumstance connected with his invention is related. He wrote three volumes of manuscript, sealed them, and placed them in the Philadelphia Library to be opened thirty years after his death. When opened, they touchingly related his disappointments, brilliantly foretold the perfection of his plans, and sorrowfully and bitterly said, "The day will come when some more powerful man will get fame and riches from my invention; but nobody will believe that poor John Fitch can do anything worthy of attention."

By a coincidence two others, who chose Kentucky as their home, James Rumsey and Edward West, also were pioneers in this work. Both Fitch and Rumsey in 1784 exhibited their plans to General Washington. While Rumsey made his project public first, by means of a model, Fitch successfully plied a boat on the Delaware in 1785 and Rumsey on the Potomac the following year. Fitch claimed that he told Rumsey of his own plans to effect navigation by steam. In 1794, in the presence of hundreds of citizens, a miniature boat invented by Edward West, who had removed from Virginia to Lexington in 1785, proudly moved through the waters of the town branch of the Elkhorn, which had been dammed up near the center of the city.[138]

In 1802 Mr. West secured a patent not only for his steamboat invention, but for a gun lock and a nail cutting and heading machine, the first invention of the kind in the world, reputed to cut five thousand three hundred and twenty pounds of nails in twelve hours. The patent of it sold for $10,000 and its operation enabled Lexington to export nails of her own manufacture to Louisville, Cincinnati, and Pittsburgh.

So, while it remained for Robert Fulton in 1807 to gain honor from his invention, yet when in 1813 he brought suit to establish his claims as the inventor of steam navigation, he was defeated by a pamphlet of John Fitch's, which proved conclusively there were inventions that antedated the Clermont.


In 1792, the year that Kentucky became a state, there came to Lexington a man named Nathan Burrows, who was a pioneer, not only as a settler, but as an inventor of the manufacture of hemp and a machine for cleaning it. He failed to reap any real benefit from this, but later manufactured a mustard that took a premium at the World's Fair in England in 1851.

Another resident of Lexington, John Jones, in 1803 invented a machine for sawing stone, and a speeder spindle.

It remained for a Kentuckian, Dr. Joseph Buchanan, while a student of medicine at Lexington in 1805, to[139] originate the conception of the music of light to be accomplished by means of harmonific colors, luminously displayed, and to invent an instrument that produced its music from glasses of different chemical composition.

Lexington, then the Athens of the West, was for many years the home of a native Kentuckian, a Mr. Barlow, whose fertile mind made him the most celebrated of this group of interesting inventors. Having built a steamboat at Augusta, after his removal to Lexington, he invented in 1826-1827 a steam locomotive for a railroad with a car attached for two passengers, with power to ascend an elevation of eighty feet to a mile. An oval track was constructed for it in a room. It was opened to the public for exhibition and several took rides at fifty cents a ticket on the first "railroad train" ever run successfully in western America. This was sold to a Mr. Samuel Robb, who exhibited the novelty at various cities including Louisville, Nashville, Memphis, and New Orleans; at the latter place it was burned while on exhibition. In 1837 Mr. Barlow built another locomotive and likewise sold it to a person who traveled and exhibited it.

The versatile mind of Mr. Barlow also produced a nail and tack machine, which was at once purchased and put into use by some capitalists. His rifled cannon, invented in 1840, patented later, caused Congress to appropriate three thousand dollars for an experimental gun, which, when finished and tested, was of greater accuracy and range than was even expected,[140] and which is believed to have suggested most of the rifled guns since patented in both America and Europe.

The crowning invention of this great genius was his wonderfully complex production, a planetarium, that perfectly imitated the motions of the solar system, the first and only instrument of the kind in the world. This was so perfected as to produce the minute relative revolutions of the planets. The first instrument was sold to Girard College, Philadelphia. A number of small ones were later made for colleges and institutions, and one large one for the Military Academy at West Point, one for the Naval Academy at Annapolis, and one for New Orleans.

Some of these brought two thousand dollars each. One was exhibited at the World's Fair Exhibition, Paris, France, 1867, as Kentucky's contribution, and received the highest premium awarded any illustrative apparatus.


Kentucky is noted for her great hunters, Indian fighters, orators, and statesmen. But there also lived in this state for awhile—some of the time at Louisville, part of the time at Henderson—a man who knew more about birds than any one had ever learned before.

This was John James Audubon. He was born in Louisiana near New Orleans, and lived several years in France, where he enjoyed every luxury. In after life,[141] when he spent many years traveling through the forest, hunting, and studying the birds,—their homes and their habits,—he often went for days and days with very primitive food. He said his first recollections were of his home in the South, where he would lie among the flowers and listen to the songs of the mocking birds. While yet a boy he gathered birds' nests, birds' eggs, curious stones, and moss. He would kill and stuff the birds; but these failed to satisfy him, as their plumage was not bright like that of the live birds. So he began to make pictures of the birds instead. This was done many, many times before he was satisfied, for he wanted lifelike pictures of his feathered friends.

John James Audubon. John James Audubon.

He married a young lady in Pennsylvania, and brought her down the Ohio in a flat-bottomed float called an ark,—a rather tiresome method for a wedding trip.

He entered into business in Louisville with bright prospects, but hunting and studying birds had more fascination for Audubon than trade. Finally, competition becoming too strong, he and his partner shipped their goods to Henderson or Hendersonville; but business not being good, and the roving instinct strong, the stay was brief, and Audubon made another change.

A few years later he returned to Henderson when he, with several partners, attempted to operate a steam mill; but the place was not suitable, every one concerned lost his money, and Audubon departed with[142] only his sick wife, gun, drawings, and dog. Still he never despaired.

Audubon spent most of his time in Kentucky, rambling in the wilds, and persons in both Louisville and Henderson have often spoken of seeing him come in with his great quota of game. He said Kentucky was a "sort of promised land for all sorts of wandering adventurers."

While Audubon enjoyed, to the fullest, studying his favorite subject, birds, yet there were many difficulties to encounter and many deprivations to undergo. He had to travel many thousand miles, sometimes using the breasts of wild turkeys for bread and bear's grease for butter, sometimes living on only fruits and roots, sometimes having to quit this enchanting work for a while and turn dancing master or artist to procure funds.

After Audubon had traveled, studied, written, and made many hundred drawings, rats got into his box[143] and cut up all his papers; for a while he was almost heartbroken and could scarcely eat or sleep. Finally, with true courage, he said, "I will make more drawings and make them better than any the rats cut up." So he persevered and, with the aid of his wife, who encouraged and inspired him in his great work, and gladly gave of her salary as a teacher to defray expenses, he at last went to Europe to arrange for its publication.

He was made a member of the Royal Society at Edinburgh, concerning which he wrote his faithful wife, "So, poor Audubon, if not rich, thou wilt be honored at least and held in high esteem among men." In another letter he said, "I have run the gantlet of Europe and may be proud of two things,—I am considered the first ornithological painter and the first practical naturalist of America." His "Birds of America" contains pictures of one thousand sixty-five birds, natural size. His work has been called the "most magnificent monument that has been erected to ornithology," and all over our land Audubon Societies have been formed to protect our friends in feathers.


It takes neither the excitement of war nor the curious conditions of the far Orient to prove a man a hero of the highest type. Martial music, the roar of the cannon, the thud of the musket, and the flash of the saber have inspired many men to deeds of[144] valor. We find incontrovertible evidence of this in every battle's record. These are accepted as facts with no fancy interwoven. But when we read of how Damon offered to stay in the place of his friend, Pythias, condemned to death, with the knowledge that if Pythias did not return by the hour appointed for the execution, he, himself, would be called upon to make the sacrifice; how he prayed that his friend would fail to come, but how that friend, by every conceivable plan, purposely came in time to accept his fate,—we sometimes wonder if any friendship could withstand such a test or any person's pledge be held in such exalted estimation.

In the early days of Kentucky, when the shrill whistle of the locomotive had not yet reverberated among the hills, when the red schoolhouse was not found in every locality, nor the moonlight schools had wiped out illiteracy among the mountaineers, there dwelt in Lewis County a man by the name of Larkin Liles. He was the hardy son of a hardy race, who hunted and trapped, lived and loved; and while he knew not a letter of the alphabet, had never attended school a day in his life, nor heard the golden rule, yet his rugged honesty and high sense of honor can never be surpassed. The "benevolent qualities of head and heart by a primeval decree are not dependent on education, for although it enlightens and enlarges the mind of man, it does not always ennoble it." So this man, versed in naught but the backwoodsman's lore, gave the world a lesson in honor.[145]

On one occasion, when at Vanceburg in the above-named county, and while under the influence of whiskey, he became involved in a rough-and-tumble fight with very serious results. For this offense he was tried, found guilty, and sentenced to serve one year in the penitentiary. It so happened that the sheriff of Lewis County at this time was a personal friend of "Jay-bird" Liles, and knew the soul of honor hidden by this rough exterior.

After leaving the courtroom, the prisoner, in a voice husky with emotion, said, "Uncle Buck,"—everyone called the sheriff of Lewis County by this title,—"Uncle Buck, won't you let me go home and get in my winter's wood and fix to have my corn crap gathered, to fatten my hogs, to keep the young-uns on? Then I's come over to Clarksburg and go with ye to the penitentiary."

Sheriff Parker asked, "How long will it take ye, Jay-bird?"

"About two weeks," he replied.

Then the magnanimity of the man shone forth,—some might say overcame the discretion of the officer,—when the sheriff replied, "Go ahead and do it." But so well did he know the pride with which "Jay-bird" Liles kept a promise, that he was as confident of his return at the promised time, as was Damon that Pythias would return.

The wood was cut, an arrangement was made concerning the crop, the good-by kiss was given to his[146] weeping wife and helpless babes, and, feeling he was going on such a distant trip that he would never again return, Larkin Liles, just two weeks to the day and hour from the time of the above conversation, walked into the sheriff's office ready to be taken to Frankfort.

When he told "Uncle Buck" that he was ready to start, the sheriff shook his hand and told him to spend the night with him, and on the morrow they would take the boat for Maysville, and from there go by stage to Lexington, and on to Frankfort. Again "Jay-bird's" voice trembled as he thought of the disgrace of being publicly taken by the sheriff to the penitentiary; and again he made a most singular request. "Say, Uncle Buck, I'd rather not do it. You go that way; but let me take my gun and walk through the mountains to Frankfort, won't ye? I'd rather do that, and maybe I might kill some game on the road. I'll meet you on any spot, on any day you appoint."

What do you suppose the sheriff replied? Looking him straight in the eye he answered, "All right, Jay-bird, suit yourself. Frankfort lies right in yon direction; you can't miss it. When you reach Frankfort, go straight to the governor's office and tell him what you are there for, if I don't get there first."

Then this rugged mountaineer, this unlettered, unpolished son of the hills, with honor as his watchword, dressed in the primitive style of the time and place, with his trusty rifle, started over the hills, through vales, and across streams to meet the sheriff at Frankfort,[147] one hundred and fifty miles away, where he would hear the lock snap as it closed the door that would shut him in from freedom and friends.

Early one June morning, two days later, before the people of Frankfort were abroad, a tall, gaunt, determined-looking backwoodsman, in buckskin clothes and a coonskin cap, looking as if he belonged to the days of Daniel Boone, made his way to the governor's mansion and quietly seated himself on a stone. As Governor Clark started from the mansion after breakfast, he was astonished to see this man of the mountains, who quickly inquired, "Say, Mister, be you the governor?"

"Yes, my man, I am the governor. What can I do for you?"

"Well, Governor, my name is Larkin Liles, and I come up here from Lewis County to get into the penitentiary for one year. Hed you saw anything of Buck Parker?"

Utterly astounded, Governor Clark asked, "Who is Buck Parker?"

"Why, Buck Parker is the high sheriff of Lewis County, Kaintucky. I thought everybody knowed that. We all call him 'Uncle Buck' Parker. He was to come by stage and meet me here. I walked through."

While Governor Clark was eying him and trying to realize that such unheard-of proceedings had actually happened, "Jay-bird" said anxiously, "Say, Governor,[148] the sheriff ain't here yit, and I don't want to lose no time. Can't you let me into the penitentiary and tell Buck Parker whar he can find me when he comes?"

"Well, Governor, my name is Larkin Liles." "Well, Governor, my name is Larkin Liles."


More astonished than ever, Governor Clark said, "Have you had your breakfast, Mr. Liles?"

With a shake of the head, "Jay-bird" said that he had traveled all night and upon reaching the city had come straight to the governor. The governor at once took him in, gave him his breakfast, and told him to go over to the capitol, until he could learn more about the case.

Ten hours later, the sheriff came by stage and soon found "Jay-bird" at the governor's office. When the sheriff introduced himself to Governor Clark, the governor immediately asked if it was a fact that this man, condemned to a year of confinement and hard work in the penitentiary, had trudged on foot alone all the way from Lewis County. When told it was just as "Jay-bird" had said, the governor, in amazement, asked, "Is the man crazy? Couldn't he have escaped?"

"Easily, and all the sheriffs, constables, and rewards could never have caught him. No, 'Jay-bird' is not simple; he is only honest." The governor was so interested he asked for all the details.

Then "Uncle Buck" told of the fight, the trial, and the conviction, of how "Jay-bird" had kept his word when permitted to go to say good-by to his loved ones, of his long life of honesty and hospitality, and of how he had begged to come alone on foot to Frankfort, rather than as a common, convicted felon.

With a heart heaving with emotion and eyes dim with tears, the executive hastily affixed his name[150] and the seal of the commonwealth to a small piece of paper, and, handing it to Larkin Liles, said in a husky voice, "Mr. Liles, go home to your family and kiss the little ones for me. You shall never enter the penitentiary while Clark is governor of Kentucky."


It is eminently proper that the metropolis of "Jackson's Purchase" should bear a name of Indian origin. Although the greater part of Kentucky, with its fertile meadowlands, towering forests, and tangled cane-brakes, was only the hunting ground of the red men, yet all that territory in Kentucky and Tennessee lying between the Tennessee and Mississippi rivers was the home of the Chickasaw Indians. This large tribe had their main town at Chickasaw Bluffs, where Memphis now stands, with a number of other settlements scattered throughout this seven million acres of fertile lands.

As Kentucky was once a part of Virginia, and as the "Old Dominion" was a British colony, this section was once claimed by Great Britain. After the Revolutionary War, Virginia, relying on the former policy of the mother country, that,

"They should take who have the power,
And they should keep who can,"


allowed George Rogers Clark, in recognition of his services in the Northwest Territory, to enter several thousand acres of land, including the present site of the capital of McCracken County.

At that time there were no white settlements in this section; but as early as the year 1806 or 1807 there was a flatboat landing and woodyard at the mouth of the Tennessee River, kept by a genial Irishman named Pat Dugan. The first name given the place, and the one by which it was known for many years, was Pekin.

On October 19, 1818, through Governor Isaac Shelby and General Andrew Jackson, commissioners, the United States bought from the Chickasaw Indians their tract referred to above, which in the present state of Kentucky includes the counties of Ballard, Calloway, Carlisle, Fulton, Graves, Hickman, Marshall, and McCracken.

For many years the hero of Kaskasia, Cahokia, and Vincennes had been infirm and poor. We all remember the touching scene when the Virginia commission presented him a sword in recognition of his great services to the United States; the old soldier listened in gloomy silence for a while and, finally, thrusting the sword into the ground and breaking it, he exclaimed, "When Virginia needed a sword I found one. Now I want bread!" By the treaty just mentioned the title of George Rogers Clark was made clear, but as he had died a few months previous to this his tract passed to his brother, General William Clark, of St. Louis,[152] who had accompanied Meriwether Lewis on the noted Lewis and Clark Expedition.

A few years after, General William Clark came to the little town of Pekin accompanied by an Indian chief who had become a friend of his while on his Western trip.

In Jefferson's "Notes on Virginia," he speaks of a tribe of Indians called "Paducahs." In the "Handbook of American Indians" we find that the "Paducahs" belonged to the warlike Comanches, this being the name given them by the Spaniards. There is in Texas a small town of about one thousand five hundred inhabitants, named Paducah from this tribe of Indians.

Paducah, Kentucky, is named, not from the tribe, but from an individual Indian. In his diary of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, General William Clark speaks more than once of the kindness shown his party by a scattered branch of the Paducahs, and of how their chief became his friend. Dr. Catlin tells, in speaking of the tribes of the West, of a chief of the Mandans, Indians that often intermarried with the Comanches, named "Paducheyeh," meaning "tall or upstanding chestnut tree." Whether or not he was the one who became the friend of General Clark we do not know, but when the Comanches came southward, their old chief, called Paducah, went to St. Louis, and then came with General Clark on a visit to the town of Pekin, where he died with fever, and was buried near Third Street just beyond Tennessee.[153]

A log cabin was placed around his grave, and pioneer residents have told of a party of Indians coming from beyond the Mississippi and holding ceremonies over Paducah's grave. These were Comanches, or to use their tribal name, Paducahs.

Whether the individual name of the old chief who had befriended General Clark was one of the many varied spellings of Paducah, or whether General Clark called him by his tribal name instead, we know not. Yet there was a real chief in recognition of whose kindness the "Pride of the Pennyrile" was named Paducah.


As travelers on the waters of "La Belle RiviŤre" pass between the historic town of Smithland and the unpretentious hamlet of Birdsville, few are aware that they are within a mile or two of the grave of a younger sister of the writer of our Magna Charta.

Though Lucy Jefferson Lewis was the sister of the man to whom we owe our American decimal coinage system, our statute for religious freedom, our Declaration of Independence, the University of Virginia, and the Democratic party; though she was the wife of Dr. Charles L. Lewis, brother of the noted Meriwether Lewis; and though she was blessed with wealth, culture, love, and family; yet to-day she sleeps in an unmarked grave in Livingston County.[154]

Filled with enthusiasm for the then far West, the Lewis family, in 1808, ten years after Livingston County was formed, moved to Kentucky, purchased a tract of land about three miles from Smithland, and on a lonely, rocky hill overlooking the beautiful Ohio, raised their rooftree, and with their Virginia slaves, began a home in the wilderness.

Some say that Dr. Lewis came with his wife, children, and servants; others, that he did not come until eight or nine months after the family arrived. Be that as it may, all agree that he was unsociable and moody, and that he soon tired of his primitive abode and left, they supposed, for his former Virginia home. All alone with her children and servants in the Western wilds, is it any marvel that Lucy Jefferson Lewis should sigh for the happy home of her youth?

On a lonely, rocky promontory, where she could gaze far up the river, she would sit day after day, straining her eyes to see if there might be a "broadhorn" coming with news from her dearly beloved Virginia. If one was spied, a servant was at once sent out in a small boat to bring to her the long-wished-for papers. But this rare Virginia flower did not long survive transplantation, and in 1811 she was buried near her new home, with only a rough stone from the hillside to mark her last resting place.

Only a few short months afterward, there was enacted by two of her sons, Lilburn and Isham, a most revolting[155] tragedy. Then Lilburn died and it is said Isham, under an assumed name, entered the volunteer army and fell at the battle of New Orleans, January 8, 1815.

The other son and three daughters left on file, in the county clerk's office at Smithland, a writing dated August 29, 1814, conferring upon Thomas Jefferson the power of attorney to recover certain lands for them in Albemarle County, Virginia. They subsequently married, moved into other states, and nothing is left to mark the homestead but a pile of rocks. Three sunken places, overgrown with the wild wood, show the last resting place of Lucy Jefferson Lewis, her son Lilburn, and his wife, while the cold autumnal winds, sighing through the treetops, chant a sad requiem above the lonely, deserted spot.


Kentucky, rich in minerals, fertile soil, varied forests, and diversified products, is also a land where Nature has been lavish with her curiosities.

Some of the most important natural curiosities are the following: In Boone County there is Split Hill, where a deep zigzag path of great extent has been formed; in Breckinridge County there is Sinking Creek, a stream so large and powerful that it drives machinery the entire year; at a point about six miles from its source it disappears and shows no trace for more than five miles, when it reappears and flows[156] into the Ohio. As early as 1847, a Mr. Huston utilized, for a mill erected on this stream, a natural dam of rock, eight feet in height and forty feet in width.

In Carter County there are also two smaller streams that flow for some distance underground. In the same county, in early days, there was an artesian well that threw up a jet, about the size of a barrel, to a height of four feet.

Christian County contains also some sinking streams, forks of Little River, beside Pilot Rock, which rests upon elevated ground, has a comparatively level summit, covers about one half acre of ground, and is about two hundred feet high. This county also contains a natural bridge, which crosses a deep ravine with an artistic arch of sixty feet, and is thirty feet in height.

Picturesque falls, ninety feet high, are found in Clinton County, while "Rock House," forty feet high and about sixty feet square, is located in Cumberland.

In Edmonson County, besides the wonderful Mammoth Cave, there is "Dismal Rock," almost perpendicular and one hundred and sixty-three feet high.

In Grant County, for many years an object of great curiosity, was an immense poplar tree, nine feet in diameter; it is said a man on horseback, after it lay prostrate, could barely touch the top of the trunk with the tips of his fingers.

A natural fortification, a circular tableland, from fifty to one hundred and twenty-five feet high, impossible[157] of ascent except in one place, is an object of great interest in Hancock County.

In Jessamine County, amid awful grandeur and gloom, the Devil's Pulpit is found, with a total elevation of three hundred feet.

In Lincoln County the Knobs, some with a base one hundred and fifty yards in diameter, two hundred feet high, and entirely destitute of vegetation, attract great attention.

Mantel Rock, or Natural Bridge, in Livingston County, in picturesqueness rivals the far-famed Natural Bridge of Virginia. This rock, resting against the hillside, is eight and three fourths feet thick and twenty feet wide; its arch spans two hundred and twenty feet. One of the paintings that attracted most attention in the Kentucky building at the St. Louis World's Fair was the artistic reproduction of this picturesque place by Mrs. Georgia McGrew Edwards.

In Lyon County, near Eddyville, 1848, several men explored a cavern for half a mile, where a large stream of water, an underground river, was found to be flowing.

About three miles from Benton, in Marshall County, on a high hill, there is a lake about sixty yards in diameter, whose depth is unknown; its waters neither rise nor fall, but stand about fifty feet above the bed of the creek below.

In Meade County, between Salt River and Sinking Creek, are several knobs and groves that the pioneers used as points of observation from which to detect[158] the movements of the Indian parties just after they crossed to the south side of the Ohio River.

Bardstown, in Nelson County, is built on an elevation under which is a natural tunnel, several feet in diameter, of circular form, reaching from the eastern to the western extremity of the eminence.

Owen County has several objects of interest, among them being Point of Rocks, about seventy-five feet high, overhanging Deep Hole, whose depth has never been ascertained.

In Rockcastle County, Bee Cliff rears its summit three hundred and fifty-five feet above the river; there are also a number of saltpeter caves where large quantities of saltpeter were manufactured during the War of 1812. The largest, called Great Saltpeter Cave, with its many rooms, some of which cover an area of several acres, with its subterranean river and weird grandeur, is a rival in all respects but size to the noted Mammoth Cave of Edmonson County. The Fall Cliffs, at some points three hundred feet in height, are unsurpassed in grandeur.

Among the places of interest in Union County there is, standing upon level bottom land, a rock two feet thick, twenty feet wide, and fifty feet high which, on account of its spur resembling the horn of an anvil, is called Anvil Rock. In the same county a large flat rock, deeply indented with impressions of the human foot of various sizes as well as the distinct footprints of the dog is found.[159]

In Warren County, Wolf Sink, one hundred and fifty feet wide by three hundred feet long and in depth varying from twenty feet on the south side to one hundred and fifty feet on the north side, is an interesting place.

The Cumberland River in its passage through Whitley County has a perpendicular fall of more than sixty feet, forming Cumberland Falls, a picturesque cascade, the roar of which can be heard sometimes for more than twelve miles both above and below the cataract. Behind the sheet of falling water one can pass nearly across the river bed.


In Edmonson County, near Green River, was discovered in 1809, by a Mr. Hutchins, while in pursuit of a wounded bear, that matchless subterranean palace,—the Mammoth Cave.

It consists, not of one chamber, but of many magnificent rooms, winding avenues, towering domes, bottomless pits, picturesque cataracts, mystic rivers, gloomy seas, and crystal lakes, on five different levels. Geologists agree that this immense cavern was carved out of the limestone ages ago, by both the mechanical and chemical action of the water. Viewing the huge columns that have been formed by depositing the almost infinitesimal amount of lime dissolved from[160] the rock, one stands in awe at the thought of the great span of time required for this marvelous work.

A view in the Mammoth Cave. A view in the Mammoth Cave.

Here no ray of sunshine lights up the darkness; here no sound breaks the silence; here no seasons come and go; here no living creature—save the torpid bat, the sluggish lizard, the silent cricket, the shy rabbit-like rat, and eyeless fish—exists.

Among the many picturesque spots in this cave are the Bridal Altar, formed of several pillars grouped into arches; the Old Arm Chair, in which Jenny Lind once sat and sang; the Giant's Coffin, a massive stone, forty feet long, twenty feet wide, and nine feet thick, that fell, ages ago, from above; Audubon Avenue; the Bat Chamber, where thousands of bats spend the[161] winter clinging to the ceiling, in most places smooth and white as if made by a master hand; the Devil's Arm Chair, a large stalagmite in which is a comfortable seat; Napoleon's Breast Works; Lover's Leap, and Gatewood's Dining Table; Fat Man's Misery, River Hall, and Bacon Chamber, the last looking like a part of a pork-packing house; the Dead Sea, the Corkscrew, the Holy Sepulcher, Martha Washington's Statue, Shelby's Dome; the rivers Lethe, Echo, and Styx; and last the Star Chamber, sixty feet wide, seventy feet high, and four hundred feet long. Here the guide leaves you in absolute darkness for a while, until from his vantage ground he so illuminates the high ceiling that when you look upward, the heavens seem studded with stars; a comet with its blazing tail appears, clouds cross over, midnight with its utter darkness comes, and finally day begins to dawn.


About two o'clock in the morning of December 16, 1811, the inhabitants of southwestern Kentucky, especially those in Fulton County, were aroused and alarmed by a most destructive earthquake shock that shook the Mississippi Valley throughout. It extended all along the Ohio beyond Pittsburgh, passed the Alleghenies, and died on the far-away coast of the Atlantic Ocean.[162]

The first sign of the catastrophe was distant, rumbling sounds, succeeded by continued discharges as of unnumbered pieces of artillery. Then the earth rocked, chasms yawned, columns of coal, sand, and water shot up, while electric flashes, shooting through the otherwise impenetrable darkness, added horror to the scene. Twenty-seven distinct shocks were experienced before dawn. Then shock followed shock, the land was overshadowed by a dense, black cloud of vapor to which the light imparted a purplish tinge, but no sunbeam penetrated the pall that overhung all.

Lakes appeared where hills had been; elevations of land were found instead of lakes; the land in many places, miles in extent, was sunk below the level of the surrounding country. The current of the Mississippi was driven upstream for several hours, on account of an elevation in its bed; the waters boiled up in huge swells and violently tossed the boats thereon; sandbars gave way; huge trees crashed and disappeared in the maddening billows; the shores opened in wide fissures, closed, and threw huge jets of water, sand, and mud high above the treetops. The water of the river was changed to a reddish hue, thick with mud thrown up from its bottom, while the trembling surface was covered with huge masses of foam.

From this temporary barrier, made by the upheaval of the bottom and the sinking of the sandbars and banks, the river rose five or six feet in a few minutes; then the booming waters with redoubled fury rushed[163] forward with resistless power and carried everything before them. Boats, with horror-struck crews, shot down the declivity "like arrows from the bow," and were overwhelmed or wrecked on snags, that had been thrown up from the bottom of the river, or were carried down in the vortexes. These shocks continued every day until December 21, and occasionally until February of the succeeding year.

It was during this extensive and exciting convulsion that Reelfoot Lake, in Fulton County, made its first appearance. This great and singular body of water was formed by sand, blown out of a chasm opened by the earthquake, damming the waters of a creek, which spread over the territory and formed a lake twenty feet deep, from three fourths to two and a half miles wide, and seventeen miles long. For many years the tops of immense trees could be seen in the water by boatmen as they hunted the waterfowls or cast line for the fish with which it abounds.


The young republic of the United States tried to follow the warning of Washington, "Friendship to all, entangling alliances with none." Although France had aided us in our struggle for independence, we remained neutral when war was carried on between her and England. Although it was said of our President, that he "could not be kicked into a fight," yet, when our[164] commerce was well-nigh destroyed, our sailors taken from our vessels and forced to serve in the British navy, and our vessels fired upon by England's, we followed the policy of two of our most gifted Southern sons, Clay and Calhoun, and on June 18, 1812, again declared war against Great Britain.

When the call came for volunteers to aid the regular army, although Kentucky's quota was only five thousand five hundred men, from mountains and glens, from field and farm, from bench and bar, from every walk of life, came her best blood, seven thousand strong, volunteering their services to their country's cause.

When one thousand five hundred men were required to join General Hull in his expedition against the savages, in the Northwest, two thousand answered the call, only to learn, after crossing the Ohio, that Hull had cowardly surrendered his army and the whole of Michigan territory to the British, although his army numbered nearly double the enemy.

For several months, at various times and places, the Kentucky troops did special and efficient service. In January of the succeeding year, Colonel Lewis with from seven hundred to one thousand Kentuckians, marched against a combined force of British and Indians at Frenchtown on the river Raisin, and drove them from the village. Three days later, General Winchester was told that a large force of the enemy was on its way to attack the victors. As the night was bitter cold, the precaution of stationing pickets[165] was neglected, and early the next morning, two thousand British and Indians under General Proctor suddenly attacked the camp. The Kentucky riflemen fought stubbornly for hours. Their ammunition ran low, but still they fought. Even when summoned to surrender they, Spartanlike, preferred death. But, being promised that their wounded would be safely guarded and humanely treated, they laid down their arms. History records how this promise on the part of Proctor was not kept, how the drunken Indians burned and tomahawked the helpless men and officers, until long afterward the rallying cry of the Kentuckians was, "Remember the river Raisin—Raisin and Revenge."

At Fort Stephenson, one hundred and sixty men under Colonel Croghan of Kentucky repulsed Proctor with nearly four thousand. When the idolized General Isaac Shelby went at the head of the Kentuckians, all felt that he would lead them to victory.

It is said that when Commodore Perry wrote, "We have met the enemy and they are ours," after his memorable victory on Lake Erie, that one hundred sharpshooters from Kentucky had aided in the capture.

At the battle of the Thames nearly all the American troops were Kentuckians, and that gallant soldier, Colonel Richard M. Johnson, did noble service in the killing of the noted Tecumseh. When Jackson, barricaded behind cotton bales at New Orleans, defeated Pakenham with his veteran forces, more than one fifth of the American soldiers were Kentucky riflemen.[166]


Thomas F. Marshall. Thomas F. Marshall.
Richard H. Menefee. Richard H. Menefee.

Kentuckians, past and present, have ever been distinguished for their brilliant, persuasive oratory on the stump, at the bar, or in the forum.

Three of the most eloquent men our state claimed in the nineteenth century were Clay, Marshall, and Menefee.

Wherever Thomas F. Marshall, a native of Kentucky, lifted up his voice, he entranced all with his profound logic, flight of fancy, stinging satire, and beauty of language. Had his powers of self-control been as great as his genius, learning, and eloquence, no position in the dizzy heights would have been beyond his reach. But his brilliancy, his worth, and his work were all obscured by that dreadful blight, intemperance. Mr. Marshall's tribute to another orator and statesman, Richard H. Menefee, is pronounced by all to be one of the most graceful and eloquent passages in our literature.

Born in obscurity, rising rapidly by his own energy and eloquence, at twenty-three Menefee was the commonwealth's[167] attorney. At the bar his success was phenomenal. In the state legislature and in the United States Congress, where he served one term each, he, from the first, was recognized as a student and a statesman surpassed by none. His strength of character, his courage of conviction, his surpassing eloquence, brought praise from all. When at the height of fame, when men eagerly sought his counsel, and throngs hung upon his words, consumption closed his brief but brilliant life in his thirty-second year.


Among the volunteers that flocked to the support of Texas when she threw off the yoke of oppression there were many hundred Kentuckians. However, our state was not aggressive about the annexation of the new republic, which all saw might lead to war with Mexico.

After the annexation, General Zachary Taylor, an adopted Kentuckian, was sent with troops to protect Texas, and soon war began. When Kentucky called for thirty companies, one hundred and five were organized.[168]

At Monterey some of our bravest fell, among them being Major Philip N. Barbour. General William O. Butler was among the number severely wounded. In honor of their bravery on this battlefield, the Kentucky legislature passed complimentary resolutions on the Louisville Legion, and presented swords to General Taylor, General Butler, and the widow of Major Barbour.

At the bloody battle of Buena Vista, where General Taylor had nearly five thousand men, one fifth of the troops were from Kentucky. The Mexicans had a force more than five times the number of the Americans, still the victory was ours. As the killed and wounded were eighteen per cent of the enlistment, Kentucky paid dearly for the glory won.

Among the fallen were Colonel William R. McKee, Lieutenant Colonel Henry Clay, oldest son of the great statesman Henry Clay, and Adjutant Vaughn.

When many, who had given their lives for the cause, were reinterred at Frankfort and a fitting monument was erected, on it was inscribed this quotation from the immortal elegy, "The Bivouac of the Dead," by our soldier-poet, Theodore O'Hara:

"The muffled drum's sad roll has beat
The soldier's last tattoo!
No more on life's parade shall meet
That brave and fallen few;
On Fame's eternal camping ground
Their silent tents are spread,
And Glory guards, with solemn round,
The bivouac of the dead."



In Hanover County, Virginia, April 12, 1777, was born Henry Clay, the "Millboy of the Slashes," who in after years became the idol of our state, and one of the most notable figures in the entire Union.

Left fatherless at the age of five years, his teaching and training devolved upon his mother. So well did she perform her part that much of her illustrious son's greatness may rightfully be ascribed to maternal influence.

At the early age of twenty-one Henry Clay became a member of the bar at Lexington, and it was not long before his genius, his eloquence, and his versatile powers made for him a name that will ever endure.

The "Millboy of the Slashes." The "Millboy of the Slashes."

He served the state of his adoption in the lower house of the state legislature for several terms. Part of that time he was speaker of the house, in which position the zeal, energy, dignity, and decision characteristic of him distinguished his every act. Later he was elected representative to[170] the lower house of the United States Congress, was re-elected several times, and during the entire time was Speaker of the House, having received the very high and unusual compliment of being thus chosen on the first day he appeared as a member of that body.

He served as a valuable member of the commission which met at Ghent, Belgium, to arrange the treaty of peace between this country and Great Britain in 1814.

Henry Clay's Home, "Ashland." Henry Clay's Home, "Ashland."

He served with marked success in the United States Senate; his great genius, his high patriotism, his boundless energy, and fiery eloquence so swayed the people that more than once civil war for a time was averted, sections were reconciled, and he won the title of the "Great Pacificator."

Convinced of his duty, Henry Clay was conscientious in discharging it, and when he thus lost the highest office in the gift of the nation he uttered the memorable words, "I would rather be right than be President."[171]

He did not need this office to confer honor on him; he would have conferred honor on the office.

His fame was world-wide. His service as a statesman, his power as an orator, his courage as an antagonist, his cogency of reasoning, his untiring efforts as a peacemaker, spread from ocean to ocean and even beyond the seas. When he was laid to rest at his beloved Ashland, high potentates, distinguished persons, and the great common people alike bowed their heads.


From Kentucky cabin homes came the two men who were destined to be the political leaders in the greatest conflict that ever shook our continent.

In 1808, Jefferson Davis, who became the President and idol of the Confederacy, first saw the light in that part of Christian County that was afterwards erected into Todd.

In 1809, Abraham Lincoln, the war President of the United States, was born in that part of Hardin County that afterwards became Larue.

The gifted Kentuckian, Henry Clay, had by his pacific measures postponed war, but it was not to be averted. When it came, our governor, Beriah Magoffin, attempted neutrality, and refused to raise troops for either army. From many homes, however, went[172] soldiers to each side; friend was arrayed against friend, brother against brother, and father against son. The hour of patriotism, danger, and privation had come. When the first gun in the war was fired at Fort Sumter, South Carolina, a native Kentuckian, Major Robert Anderson of the United States army, commanded the garrison.

On our soil both Confederate and Federal forces were raised. Various towns were occupied and fortified by soldiers, at some places under the Stars and Bars, at other places under the Stars and Stripes.

The boys that wore the gray entered Kentucky and fortified themselves at Columbus and Hickman under Major General Leonidas Polk, and at Cumberland Gap under General Zollicoffer. The boys in blue, acting under orders from Brigadier General U.S. Grant, invaded the state at Paducah.

General Albert Sidney Johnston of Kentucky took command of the Confederate "Central Army of Kentucky," and under his orders General Simon B. Buckner fortified Bowling Green.

At Wildcat Mountain, near London, a bloody conflict took place, General Zollicoffer leading the Confederates, and Colonel T.T. Garrard and General Schoepff the Federals. The Confederates, being outnumbered, withdrew, after a loss to each side.

At Sacramento, Colonel Forrest defeated a company of Federals two days after Christmas, 1861.

Early the next year General Zollicoffer and General[173] George B. Crittenden encountered General Thomas at Mill Springs; reŽnforcements came to the Federals, the gallant Zollicoffer fell, and the Confederates were forced to retreat.

At Big Hill, in Rockcastle County, the Federals were defeated; at Richmond the Confederates were again victorious, while at Munfordville they were repulsed.

At Augusta a bloody battle between Colonel Basil Duke's men and the home guards under Dr. Joshua T. Bradford resulted in another victory for the Confederates.

In the severe battle of Perryville, where 25,000 Federals, under General A. McCook, met 16,000 Confederates under General William J. Hardee, the Federal loss was more than four thousand and the Confederate, one thousand less. This was one of the most desperately contested battles of the war.

Gen. John H. Morgan. Gen. John H. Morgan.

That daring Confederate cavalryman, General John H. Morgan, the "Francis Marion" of the Confederacy, captured Glasgow, Elizabethtown, and the blockhouses at Muldraugh's Hill, where he tore up the railroad track. Colonel Cluke defeated the Federals at[174] Mount Sterling, destroyed railway trains, and captured supplies.

At Bardstown, Maysville, Tompkinsville, Cynthiana, and Paducah, the two sides met in deadly conflict. At the latter place the daring Confederate cavalryman, General Nathan Bedford Forrest, entered with his troops. Here also General A.P. Thompson, while gallantly leading his troops in a charge on Fort Anderson, fell pierced by a cannon ball.

At Murfreesboro, Missionary Ridge, Chickamauga, Vicksburg, Donelson, Shiloh, Baton Rouge, Stone River, indeed, on almost every battlefield, Kentucky courage was tested and never found wanting.

At the close of the crucial conflict more than thirty thousand of the flower of our Kentucky manhood had fallen, and thousands more were crippled.

More than forty thousand Kentuckians followed the fortunes of the Confederacy. Among them were: General Albert Sidney Johnston; Lieutenant Generals Simon B. Buckner and John B. Hood; Major Generals John C. Breckinridge, William Preston, and George B. Crittenden; Brigadier Generals John Hunt Morgan, Humphrey Marshall, Ben Hardin Helm, Basil W. Duke, Roger W. Hanson, Lloyd Tilghman, John S. Williams, George B. Hodge, Thomas H. Taylor, Henry B. Lyon, Adam R. Johnson, and Richard S. Gano.

More than one hundred thousand of the white men of our state and eleven thousand negroes enlisted in the Federal cause. Among the former were numbered:[175] Major Generals Thomas L. Crittenden, Cassius M. Clay, Don Carlos Buell, William Nelson, Lovell H. Rousseau, and Thomas J. Wood; Brigadier and Brevet Major Generals Robert Anderson, Richard W. Johnson, Stephen G. Burbridge, W.T. Ward, Walter C. Whittaker, John T. Croxton, and Eli Long; Brigadier Generals James M. Shackelford, James S. Jackson, Green Clay Smith, Speed S. Fry, Jerry T. Boyle, Edward H. Hobson, T.T. Garrard, L.P. Watkins, and W.P. Sanders.

Of the Kentuckians engaged we can truly say no braver men were found on either side; no better citizens have helped to develop our state since the conflict closed. Now only a few veterans are left on either side. Most of them are

"Under the sod and the dew
Waiting the judgment day;"

so let all unite in

"Love and tears for the blue
Tears and love for the gray."


When a baby is christened we at once wonder why it was so named, especially if the name be a new or odd one. When we hear a new name for an invention we begin to look up the etymology of the word to see why it is so called. So it is with places, for there is a reason for their names being what they are. Take the beautiful[176] capital of the blue-grass section of our state, and we find an interesting romance concerning its origin. In the year 1775, when

"The first oath of Freedom's gun
Came on the blast from Lexington,"

a party of hunters, while in camp on one of the branches of the Elkhorn, learned that the first battle between the British and Americans had taken place. To commemorate the important event they called the place of their encampment Lexington. William McConnell, Francis McConnell, Alex McClelland, John McClelland, David Perry, and Charles Lecompt came down the Ohio in a large canoe as far as the mouth of the Kentucky, thence up that stream to the Elkhorn region, where they explored and made some improvements, between April and June of 1775.

Another party—Joseph Lindsay, William Lindsay, Patrick Jordan, Garret Jordan, and John Vance—explored the country and made some improvements in the vicinity of the present site of Lexington, and Joseph Lindsay, here, at the spring, built an "improver's cabin" and raised the first corn and beans in that country.

Lexington was not permanently settled until a few years later, by Colonel Robert Patterson and others.

In the summer of 1773 two parties from Virginia came down the Ohio River to explore the rich lands of Kentucky. One of these made the first survey and settlement at what is now the metropolis of our state.[177] In August, Captain Thomas Bullitt laid off a town at this site, which was occasionally visited by different persons. No permanent settlement was made until in the spring of 1778, when General George Rogers Clark brought a few families and left them on an island near the Kentucky shore, which was called Corn Island from the circumstance that the settlers raised their first Indian corn there. In the fall of the same year, after Clark had captured the British posts that had served as the fountain head for the Indian incursions, the settlers felt more secure and removed from the island to the mainland. In 1780 the legislature of Virginia passed an act to establish the town of Louisville at the Falls of the Ohio, naming it in honor of Louis XVI of France, whose troops were at that time aiding the Americans in their fight for liberty.

In 1780, on the Kentucky River, where our capital now stands, a party, among whom was Stephen Frank, on their way from Bryan's Station to the fort at Lexington to secure salt, encamped and were attacked by the Indians. Two were wounded, and Frank instantly killed. In memory of Frank the place was ever after called Frankfort.

Covington was named in honor of General Leonard Covington, who distinguished himself at Fort Recovery, 1749. The name of Colonel Richard Henderson, the head of the Transylvania Company, is perpetuated in Henderson, or, as it was formerly known, Hendersonville. Bowling Green, denoting a plat for[178] bowling, probably came from the name found in Yorkshire, England.

Hopkinsville perpetuates the name of the Revolutionary hero, General Samuel Hopkins. Owensboro was named in honor of Colonel Abraham Owen, who fell at Tippecanoe. Ashland gained its name from the vast amount of ash timber in that region. Maysville bears the name of its founder, John May. Georgetown and Washington both took their names from our first President.

The first part of Mount Sterling was named from the many mounds in the vicinity, the latter from a city in Scotland. Richmond was named for a city in Virginia, and Shelbyville for our first governor. Smithland was named for Captain James Smith, the first white man to explore that region. Catlettsburg and Danville were called respectively from their founders, Horatio Catlett and Walker Daniel. Lebanon, with its abundance of cedar trees, was named for the mountain in Palestine, where such trees abound.

Paris, from the city in France, Versailles, from the royal palace in that city, and Glasgow, from a city in Scotland, bear transatlantic names. Eminence from its elevated position, and Eddyville from the eddies in the Cumberland River near there, bear names descriptive of the places. Kuttawa, or Cuttawa, the red man's first name for the Kentucky River, is the only town in the state, besides Paducah, bearing an Indian name. Carrollton, from Charles Carroll, Franklin,[179] from the great philosopher, Ludlow, from Israel Ludlow, and Princeton, from William Prince, its first settler, perpetuate names noted in history, science, and frontier days.

Cynthiana, for Cynthia and Anna, daughters of the proprietor, and Elizabethtown, for the wife of Colonel John Hardin, are the only towns in the state named for women.

Morganfield, for General Daniel Morgan, Nicholasville, for Colonel George Nichols, and Greenville, for General Nathanael Greene, commemorate, respectively, three Revolutionary officers. Bardstown, Campbellsville, Flemingsburg, and Hawesville perpetuate the names of their founders, David Baird, Adam Campbell, John Fleming, and Richard Hawes, respectively. Berea is from the ancient city in Macedonia, Columbus from the great navigator, and Lancaster from a town in Pennsylvania; Adairville and Morehead from two former governors, Governor John Adair and Governor James Morehead. Captain Paschal Hickman, Honorable John L. Murray, Colonel T.D. Owings, and the Wickliffes are remembered respectively by the towns of Hickman, Murray, Owingsville, and Wickliffe.


Whether we consider the valuable additions to scientific literature, note the practical, useful inventions, or record the actual activities in various scientific[180] lines, many Kentuckians will be found on the eminent roll.

A Louisville woman, Ellen C. Semple, has given us "American History and its Geographic Conditions." James N. Baskett, while a novelist, has also contributed some scientific papers that have won him fame in many lands. John Uri Lloyd,—both novelist and scientist,—though a native of New York, was reared in Kentucky. He is a noted chemist and has written much along his line.

Rafinesque, the
Naturalist. Rafinesque, the Naturalist.

Elsewhere, we have spoken of Kentucky inventors, and also given a sketch of the great ornithologist, John James Audubon. We are indebted for facts about prehistoric Kentucky to "Ancient History or Annals of Kentucky" published as an introduction to Marshall's "History of Kentucky," by the eccentric naturalist, C.S. Rafinesque. Though born in Constantinople, he spent seven years as professor of the natural sciences, and of the French, Spanish, and Italian languages in Transylvania University in Lexington. It was Rafinesque who, amid all the privations of pioneer traveling, explored Kentucky in the early part of the nineteenth century, from Greenup on the east to McCracken County on the west. He covered nearly the entire area of the blue grass, and also included in his itinerary the remote counties, Adair, Clay, Harlan, Perry, Pulaski, and Rockcastle, and located one hundred and forty-eight sites and five hundred and five ancient remains or monuments of the Mound Builders.[181]

Audubon tells of his first meeting with this great antiquarian, whose dress, if not fashionable, was at least remarkable. He wore, says Audubon, "a long, loose coat of yellow nankeen which hung loosely about him like a sack, much the worse for the many rubs it had got in its time and stained all over with the juice of plants. A waistcoat of the same, with enormous pockets, reached over a pair of tight pantaloons, the lower part of which was buttoned down to the ankles." In this attire, with a bundle of dried plants on his back, Rafinesque accidentally approached Audubon and asked where the noted naturalist lived. Upon learning it was the great Audubon to whom he was speaking, Rafinesque handed him a letter of introduction in which the writer recommended an "odd fish" which might not have been described in any published treatise. Audubon at once asked to be shown the "odd fish," but soon realized that Rafinesque answered to that name. It was during this visit, that, in his excitement to secure a new species of bat, Rafinesque demolished Audubon's favorite violin. His versatility, his energy, and his achievements stamp him as one of the most remarkable of men in many lines of thought and activity.

In the field of medical science, also, Kentucky in[182] both past and present has been noted. In 1806, Doctor Brashear of Bardstown successfully performed an amputation at the hip joint, the first operation of the kind in the United States. In 1809, Doctor Ephraim McDowell of Danville performed one which was the first of its kind in the world, and of which Doctor Gross in his "Lives of Eminent American Physicians and Surgeons of the Nineteenth Century" says, "Had McDowell lived in France, he would have been elected a member of the Royal Academy of Surgery, received from the king the cross of the Legion of Honor, and obtained from the government a magnificent reward as an acknowledgment of the services rendered his country, his profession, and his fellow creatures."


One most important invention or discovery of the nineteenth century was made by William Kelly, who came from Pittsburgh and located near Eddyville, in Lyon County, in 1846. Here he operated both the Union and the Suwanee furnaces, mostly by slave labor, until he conceived the plan of using Chinese workers, which he secured through a New York tea house. As these Celestials, with their pigtails, were the first in this section, they created a great deal of curiosity. Mr. Kelly, having a special knowledge of chemistry and metallurgy, investigated and experimented in the manufacture of iron, and concluded that the crude metal[183] could be converted into steel without fuel; that by placing the fluid metal in a suitable furnace and forcing powerful blasts of air through the molten mass, he could produce the desired result.

His veteran forgemen could not conceive of metal being "boiled" by simply blowing air through it, for it had been their experience that air blown over its surface chilled it. They knew nothing of the affinity of oxygen with carbon for producing heat; they had always consumed quantities of charcoal to secure this greater heat; they had buried bars of wrought iron in charcoal in a furnace, where, the air being shut off, the charcoal was slowly burned for two or more weeks. Then the product was taken out and melted, forming "cast steel." So they were completely surprised when forcing the currents of air through the mass of iron intensified it to incandescence and refined the metal.

The experiment was made in 1851 and used by Mr. Kelly advantageously for many years. Being almost isolated in practically a wilderness, thirty miles from even the nearest country press, the inventor failed to advertise and take proper advantage of his invention. In 1855, however, many of the steamboats plying the Ohio River were using boiler plates made from iron prepared by "Kelly's air-boiling process." The next year Henry Bessemer, an iron manufacturer of England, took out a patent for this pneumatic process, to which his name has been given; but, although Mr. Kelly was delayed in securing his patent by his attorney,[184] when the claim was heard by the commissioner of the Patent Office in this country, it was decided that Mr. Kelly was the inventor and his patent was at once granted. For many years Mr. Kelly received a royalty on his interest in the inventions. In time the patents of Kelly, Bessemer, and Mushet were combined. Prior to this discovery, steel cost five times as much as iron; now steel rails, wearing four times as long as iron, cost only a few dollars more per ton. Thus we see the incalculable importance of another Kentucky invention, for now steel is made directly from pig iron in about thirty minutes, instead of as formerly in almost as many days.


While Kentucky's sons and daughters have enriched the field of science by inventions and discoveries, they have not neglected the fine arts.

Among the painters, Matthew H. Jouett of Mercer County from early childhood displayed a talent by drawing sketches with a lead pencil. He became a pupil of Gilbert Stuart, who always called him "Kentucky." Jouett, on the occasion of La Fayette's visit, painted the noted general, and from that sketch painted the life-sized one that hangs in the State House. His pictures were on exhibition at the World's Fair at Chicago and compared favorably with those of the best foreign painters. It is said that Thomas S.[185] Noble, another native of Kentucky who has won fame with his brush, exclaimed after viewing Jouett's portraits, "Rembrandt is next to God and Jouett is next to Rembrandt." The Honorable Charles Summers, who had made a study of foreign artists, on seeing one of Jouett's portraits, examined it closely and exclaimed, "What a glorious Van Dyck!" Richard Jouett Menefee made a catalogue a few years ago of three hundred and thirty-four paintings by his grandfather.

Matthew H. Jouett. Matthew H. Jouett.

In Frankfort was born another boy, Joseph H. Bush, whose talents at an early age caused him to use his mother's hearth and a piece of charcoal to sketch a profile of his father. Among his noted works are portraits of General Zachary Taylor, Benjamin W. Dudley, and Governor John Adair.

John Grimes, who lived many years in this state, is noted for a portrait, "The Country Lad," and "Suicide," a composition. Oliver Frazer first saw the light[186] in Fayette County. He studied under Jouett and Thomas Sully, and later at Paris, Florence, Berlin, and Ludlow, where he and P.R. Healy, fellow students, became fast friends.

Though he was born in Pennsylvania, so much of the work of Louis Morgan was done in Kentucky that we class him with her artists. His "Simon Kenton" was the most prominent picture at an exhibition in the Academy of Fine Arts at Philadelphia.

As a boy, Samuel W. Price also exhibited artistic talent; among his portraits being "Old King Solomon" and one of Chief Justice George Robertson. Among his works in composition are "Caught Napping" and "Gone Up." There are also W.C. Allen, Mrs. Eliza Brown, Aaron H. Corwine, Paul Sawyier, Nevill Cain, and others who have done creditable work.

The poet-sculptor, Joel T. Hart, when only five years old modeled figures of animals in clay, molded a button out of pewter, and carved in wood. His first work of note was a bust from life of General Cassius M. Clay; among other noted men of whom he made busts were General Andrew Jackson, the Honorable John H. Crittenden, Robert Wickliffe, and the Reverend Alexander Campbell. His statue of Henry Clay now stands on the capitol grounds at Richmond. Louisville and New Orleans each ordered a statue of Clay. After that came Hart's masterpiece, "Woman Triumphant," which stood for years at Lexington, Kentucky.

The Kentucky legislature appropriated twelve hundred[187] dollars for removing the remains of Joel T. Hart from Florence, Italy, and reinterring them at Frankfort.

Although born in California, Mrs. Mary Anderson de Navarro, an artist in another line, spent her girlhood in Louisville, so Kentuckians have ever claimed her as "Our Mary." Her brilliant stage career is known to all.


Kentucky, rich in themes for song and story, has attracted the attention of some of the master minds of literature. Sir Walter Scott in "Marmion" sings of

"Kentucky's wood-encumbered brake."

George Gordon (Lord Byron) in "Don Juan" names

"The General Boone, backwoodsman of Kentucky,"

while Alfred Tennyson tells of

"Kentucky's chambers of eternal gloom."
James Lane Allen. James Lane Allen.

Her own sons and daughters, native and adopted, have also sung her glories, and in many other themes have made a great contribution to American Literature. Gilbert Imlay was our first novelist. Since him it is impossible to name all who have brought honor to their state by their works, but among the writers of prose are the noted novelists James Lane Allen and John Fox, Jr. Gertrude Atherton's writings include "The Bell in the Fog," "Rulers of Kings" and "Rezanov." Alice Hegan Rice has delighted many with "Mrs.[188] Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch" and "Lovey Mary." Ingram Crockett's "A Year Book of Kentucky Woods and Fields" and "A Brother of Christ" give him a place in this group. Edwin C. Listey's "Love Story of Abner Stone" and "The Race of the Swift" are honors to their creator.

Abbie Carter Goodloe's "At the Foot of the Rockies" has been favorably compared with some of Kipling's works. Frank Waller Allen in "Back to Arcady" has given a pastoral romance. Mary Raymond Shipman Andrews has distinguished herself in "A Kidnapped Colony" and "The Perfect Tribute."

Young and old delight in the "Little Colonel Stories" by Mrs. Annie Fellows Johnston, "Emmy Lou" by Mrs. George Madden Martin, and Eva A. Madden's "Two Royal Foes." John Bacon gave us "The Pursuit of Phyllis"; Nancy Huston Banks, "Oldfield"; Eleanor T. Kinkead, "The Invisible Bond"; and Mrs. H.D. Pittman, "The Belle of the Blue-grass Country." Hallie Erminie Rives-Wheeler has given "Hearts Courageous" and "Tales from Dickens."

John Uri Lloyd has described mountain life in "Redhead"[189] and "Stringtown on the Pike," while his "Etidorhpa" shows a master mind.

James Tandy Ellis has delighted all with his dialect stories in "Sprigs o' Mint." Mrs. Fannie Caldwell Macauley (Frances Little) has written "The Lady of the Decoration," while "Aunt Jane of Kentucky" by Mrs. Eliza Calvert Obenchain (Eliza Calvert Hall) has attracted universal attention.

John Wilson Townsend in "Kentuckians in History and Literature" and "Kentucky in American Letters" has done a great work for an appreciative public.

Madison Cawein. Madison Cawein.

William C. Watts' "Chronicles of a Kentucky Settlement" is a great pen picture of early times; and Irvin S. Cobb's "Back Home" and "Cobb's Anatomy" have won him undying fame as a story teller and humorist.

In other lines of prose we find John Bradford's "Notes on Kentucky," histories of the state by Marshall, Lewis and R.H. Collins, Z.F. Smith, Elizabeth Kinkead, and Ed Porter Thompson; also the works of Humphrey Marshall, Mann Butler, Thomas Corwin, Fornatus Cosby, Samuel D. Gross, Henry Watterson, Bennett H. Young, and others.

Since our first poet, Thomas Johnson, there have been many who have won credit in verse.

Theodore O'Hara's immortal elegy, "The Bivouac of the Dead" is known to all. John Wilson Townsend has called Madison Cawein the successor of Sidney Lanier; Edmund Gosse calls him the "hermit thrush," while others have named him the "Kentucky Keats."[190] Cale Young Rice has won fame in dramatic verse. Thomas H. Chivers, a native of Georgia, spent some time in Kentucky. He accused Poe of stealing some of his words in "The Raven" from him.

Robert Burns Wilson, the poet-painter, has published several volumes of the highest merit. Bishop John L. Spalding, William O. Butler, Fornatus Cosby, Jr., George D. Prentice, Sarah T. Bolton, Mary E. Betts, Henry T. Stanton, Sarah N. Piatt, and a host of others have written verse that will compare favorably with that of many writers more renowned.


Whether we write of the hardy pioneer facing danger and privation, of the volunteer soldier freely offering up his life on the altar of his country, of the great general leading his men to victory, of the mature-minded statesman helping to guide the ship of state, or of the brilliant orator swaying thousands by his eloquence, we find Kentuckians in every rŰle. Likewise we find the skillful surgeon severing the diseased[191] part from that aglow with health, the learned lawyer tactfully pleading his client's cause, the able heads of our government discharging well their duty, the learned judge of our highest court presiding with wisdom and justice, and the consul to foreign countries shedding luster upon the post he holds. Again we note the scholarly heads of universities training the youth of the land, the sound business man striving for a better city, the patriot answering in any form his country's call, the great naturalist finding the many secrets of mother Nature, the historian cautiously collecting data and describing important incidents, and the sweet singer bringing cheer into every place. Further we find the humorist bringing smiles to every face, the consecrated minister leading thousands to a new life, the inventor bringing comfort and ease, and the artist skillfully using his brush or chisel to imitate Nature. Indeed, the roll call of eminent Kentuckians will show that they have played such important parts in both military and civil affairs that one or more, and often many, Kentuckians have filled each of these posts with credit to themselves and glory to their state.

None have been found braver, none more brilliant, and none more beloved, whether serving in their native or their adopted state.

More than eighty have represented us in foreign countries; more than fifty have been governors in other states; more than thirty have been United States senators from other states; and more than[192] eighty have been representatives in Congress from other states.

Scanning the pages of our national history, you will find the names of Henry Clay, Zachary Taylor, Jefferson Davis, Abraham Lincoln, John C. Breckinridge, Linn Boyd, John G. Carlisle, Adlai Stevenson, Thomas Corwin, Isaac Shelby, John M. Harlan, Ninian Edwards, Roger Q. Mills, and hundreds of others of the native or adopted sons of our commonwealth. Without their worth and works many chapters could not have been written, many policies could not have been perfected, and many victories could not have been won.


[1] The name given the white men by the Indians on account of the long knives they carried in their belts.

[2] There is a story of a little boy who, upon seeing a house with glass windows for the first time, rushed home crying, "O Ma, there is a house down town with specs on!"

[3] For some of the facts in this chapter, the author is indebted to Mr. Irvin S. Cobb.

End of Project Gutenberg's Stories of Old Kentucky, by Martha Grassham Purcell


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