Pioneers of the Old Southwest
Part 4 out of 4
junction of the Elk and the Kanawha, where Charleston now lies.
Others, who had been later in starting or had come from a greater
distance, gathered along the banks of the Kanawha. At last shouts
from those stationed farthest up the stream echoed down the
valley and told the rest that what they had come out to see was
Several pirogues drifted into view on the river, now brightening
in the sunshine. In the vessels were men and their families;
bales and bundles and pieces of household furnishings, heaped to
the gunwale; a few cattle and horses standing patiently. But it
was for one man above all that the eager eyes of the settlers
were watching, and him they saw clearly as his boat swung by--a
tall figure, erect and powerful, his keen friendly blue eyes
undimmed and his ruddy face unlined by time, though sixty-five
winters had frosted his black hair.
For a decade these settlers had known Daniel Boone, as
storekeeper, as surveyor, as guide and soldier. They had eaten of
the game he killed and lavishly distributed. And they too--like
the folk of Clinch Valley in the year of Dunmore's War--had
petitioned Virginia to bestow military rank upon their protector.
"Lieutenant Colonel" had been his title among them, by their
demand. Once indeed he had represented them in the Virginia
Assembly and, for that purpose, trudged to Richmond with rifle
and hunting dog. Not interested in the Legislature's proceedings,
he left early in the session and tramped home again.
But not even the esteem of friends and neighbors could hold the
great hunter when the deer had fled. So Daniel Boone was now on
his way westward to Missouri, to a new land of fabled herds and
wide spaces, where the hunter's gun might speak its one word with
authority and where the soul of a silent and fearless man might
find its true abode in Nature's solitude. Waving his last
farewells, he floated past the little groups--till their shouts
of good will were long silenced, and his fleet swung out upon
As Boone sailed on down the Beautiful River which forms the
northern boundary of Kentucky, old friends and newcomers who had
only heard his fame rode from far and near to greet and godspeed
him on his way. Sometimes he paused for a day with them. Once at
least--this, was in Cincinnati where he was taking on
supplies--some one asked him why, at his age, he was leaving the
settled country to dare the frontier once more.
"Too crowded," he answered; "I want more elbow-room!"
Boone settled at the Femme Osage Creek on the Missouri River,
twenty-five miles above St. Charles, where the Missouri flows
into the Mississippi. There were four other Kentucky families at
La Charette, as the French inhabitants called the post, but these
were the only Americans. The Spanish authorities granted Boone
840 acres of land, and here Daniel built the last cabin home he
was to erect for himself and his Rebecca.
The region pleased him immensely. The governmental system, for
instance, was wholly to his mind. Taxes were infinitesimal. There
were no elections, assemblies, or the like. A single magistrate,
or Syndic, decided all disputes and made the few regulations and
enforced them. There were no land speculators, no dry-mouthed
sons of the commercial Tantalus, athirst for profits. Boone used
to say that his first years in Missouri were the happiest of his
life, with the exception of his first long hunt in Kentucky.
In 1800 he was appointed Syndic of the district of Femme Osage,
which office he filled for four years, until Louisiana became
American territory. He was held in high esteem as a magistrate
because of his just and wise treatment of his flock, who brought
him all their small bickerings to settle. He had no use for legal
procedure, would not listen to any nice subtleties, saying that
he did not care anything at all about the EVIDENCE, what he
wanted was the TRUTH. His favorite penalty for offenders was the
hickory rod "well laid on." Often he decided that both parties in
a suit were equally to blame and chastised them both alike. When
in March, 1804, the American Commissioner received Louisiana for
the United States, Delassus, Lieutenant Governor of Upper
Louisiana, reporting'on the various officials in the territory,
wrote of the Femme Osage Syndic: "Mr. Boone, a respectable old
man, just and impartial, he has already, since I appointed him,
offered his resignation owing to his infirmities. Believing I
know his probity, I have induced him to remain, in view of my
confidence in him for the public good."*
*Thwaites, "Daniel Boone. "To this and other biographies of
Boone, cited in the Bibliographical Note at the end of this
volume, the author is indebted for the material contained in this
Daniel, no doubt supposing that a Syndic's rights were
inviolable, had neglected to apply to the Governor at New Orleans
for a ratification of his grant. He was therefore dispossessed.
Not until 1810, and after he had enlisted the Kentucky
Legislature in his behalf, did he succeed in inducing Congress to
restore his land. The Kentucky Legislature's resolution was
adopted because of "the many eminent services rendered by Colonel
Boone in exploring and settling the western country, from which
great advantages have resulted not only to the State but to the
country in general, and that from circumstances over which he had
no control he is now reduced to poverty; not having so far as
appears an acre of land out of the vast territory he has been a
great instrument in peopling." Daniel was seventy-six then; so it
was late in the day for him to have his first experience of
justice in the matter of land. Perhaps it pleased him, however,
to hear that, in confirming his grant, Congress had designated
him as "the man who has opened the way for millions of his
The "infirmities" which had caused the good Syndic to seek relief
from political cares must have been purely magisterial. The
hunter could have been very little affected by them, for as soon
as he was freed from his duties Boone took up again the silent
challenge of the forest. Usually one or two of his sons or his
son-in-law, Flanders Calloway, accompanied him, but sometimes his
only companions were an old Indian and his hunting dog. On one of
his hunting trips he explored a part of Kansas; and in 1814, when
he was eighty, he hunted big game in the Yellowstone where again
his heart rejoiced over great herds as in the days of his first
lone wanderings in the Blue Grass country. At last, with the
proceeds of these expeditions he was able to pay the debts he had
left behind in Kentucky thirty years before. The story runs that
Daniel had only fifty cents remaining when all the claims had
been settled, but so contented was he to be able to look an
honest man in the face that he was in no disposition to murmur
over his poverty.
When after a long and happy life his wife died in 1813, Boone
lived with one or other of his sons* and sometimes with Flanders
Calloway. Nathan Boone, with whom Daniel chiefly made his home,
built what is said to have been the first stone house in
Missouri. Evidently the old pioneer disapproved of stone houses
and of the "luxuries" in furnishings which were then becoming
possible to the new generation, for one of his biographers speaks
of visiting him in a log addition to his son's house; and when
Chester Harding, the painter, visited him in 1819 for the purpose
of doing his portrait, he found Boone dwelling in a small log
cabin in Nathan's yard. When Harding entered, Boone was broiling
a venison steak on the end of his ramrod. During the sitting, one
day, Harding asked Boone if he had ever been lost in the woods
when on his long hunts in the wilderness.
* Boone's son Nathan won distinction in the War of 1812 and
entered the regular army, rising to the rank of Lieutenant
Colonel. Daniel Morgan Boone is said to have been the first
settler in Kansas (1827). One of Daniel's grandsons, bearing the
name of Albert Gallatin Boone, was a pioneer of Colorado and was
to the forefront in Rocky Mountain exploration. Another grandson
was the scout, Kit Carson, who led Fremont to California.
"No, I never got lost," Boone replied reflectively, "but I was
BEWILDERED once for three days." Though now having reached the
age of eighty-five, Daniel was intensely interested in California
and was enthusiastic to make the journey thither next spring and
so to flee once more from the civilization which had crept
westward along his path. The resolute opposition of his sons,
however, prevented the attempt.
A few men who sought out Boone in his old age have left us brief
accounts of their impressions. Among these was Audubon. "The
stature and general appearance of this wanderer of the western
forests," the naturalist wrote, "approached the gigantic. His
chest was broad, and prominent; his muscular powers displayed
themselves in every limb; his countenance gave indication of his
great courage, enterprise and perseverance; and, when he spoke,
the very motion of his lips brought the impression that whatever
he uttered could not be otherwise than strictly true."
Audubon spent a night under Boone's roof. He related afterwards
that the old hunter, having removed his hunting shirt, spread his
blankets on the floor and lay down there to sleep, saying that he
found it more comfortable than a bed. A striking sketch of Boone
is contained in a few lines penned by one of his earliest
biographers: "He had what phrenologists would have considered a
model head--with a forehead peculiarly high, noble and bold, thin
compressed lips, a mild clear blue eye, a large and prominent
chin and a general expression of countenance in which
fearlessness and courage sat enthroned and which told the
beholder at a glance what he had been and was formed to be." In
criticizing the various portraits of Daniel, the same writer
says: "They want the high port and noble daring of his
countenance.... Never was old age more green, or gray hairs
more graceful. His high, calm, bold forehead seemed converted by
years into iron."
Although we are indebted to these and other early chroniclers for
many details of Boone's life, there was one event which none of
his biographers has related; yet we know that it must have taken
place. Even the bare indication of it is found only in the
narrative of the adventures of two other explorers.
It was in the winter of 1803 that these two men came to Boone's
Settlement, as La Charette was now generally called. They had
planned to make their winter camp there, for in the spring, when
the Missouri rose to the flood, they and their company of
frontiersmen were to take their way up that uncharted stream and
over plains and mountains in quest of the Pacific Ocean. They
were refused permission by the Spanish authorities to camp at
Boone's Settlement; so they lay through the winter some forty
miles distant on the Illinois side of the Mississippi, across
from the mouth of the Missouri. Since the records are silent, we
are free to picture as we choose their coming to the settlement
during the winter and again in the spring, for we know that they
We can imagine, for instance, the stir they made in La Charette
on some sparkling day when the frost bit and the crusty snow sent
up a dancing haze of diamond points. We can see the friendly
French habitants staring after the two young leaders and their
men--all mere boys, though they were also husky, seasoned
frontiersmen--with their bronzed faces of English cast, as in
their gayly fringed deerskins they swaggered through the hamlet
to pay their respects to the Syndic. We may think of that
dignitary as smoking his pipe before his fireplace, perhaps; or
making out, in his fantastic spelling, a record of his primitive
court--for instance, that he had on that day given Pierre a dozen
hickory thwacks, "well laid on," for starting a brawl with
Antoine, and had bestowed the same upon Antoine for continuing
the brawl with Pierre. A knock at the door would bring the
amiable invitation to enter, and the two young men would step
across his threshold, while their followers crowded about the
open door and hailed the old pathfinder.
One of the two leaders--the dark slender man with a subtle touch
of the dreamer in his resolute face--was a stranger; but the
other, with the more practical mien and the shock of hair that
gave him the name of Red Head among the tribes, Boone had known
as a lad in Kentucky. To Daniel and this young visitor the
encounter would be a simple meeting of friends, heightened in
pleasure and interest somewhat, naturally, by the adventure in
prospect. But to us there is something vast in the thought of
Daniel Boone, on his last frontier, grasping the hands of William
Clark and Meriwether Lewis.
As for the rough and hearty mob at the door, Daniel must have
known not a few of them well; though they had been children in
the days when he and William Clark's brother strove for Kentucky.
It seems fitting that the soldiers with this expedition should
have come from the garrison at Kaskaskia; since the taking of
that fort in 1778 by George Rogers Clark had opened the western
way from the boundaries of Kentucky to the Mississippi. And among
the young Kentuckians enlisted by William Clark were sons of the
sturdy fighters of still an earlier border line, Clinch and
Holston Valley men who had adventured under another Lewis at
Point Pleasant. Daniel would recognize in these--such as Charles
Floyd--the young kinsmen of his old-time comrades whom he had
preserved from starvation in the Kentucky wilderness by the kill
from his rifle as they made their long march home after Dunmore's
In May, Lewis and Clark's pirogues ascended the Missouri and the
leaders and men of the expedition spent another day in La
Charette. Once again, at least, Daniel was to watch the westward
departure of pioneers. In 1811, when the Astorians passed, one of
their number pointed to the immobile figure of "an old man on the
bank, who, he said, was Daniel Boone."
Sometimes the aged pioneer's mind cast forward to his last
journey, for which his advancing years were preparing him. He
wrote on the subject to a sister, in 1816, revealing in a few
simple lines that the faith whereby he had crossed, if not more
literally removed, mountains was a fixed star, and that he looked
ahead fearlessly to the dark trail he must tread by its single
gleam. Autumn was tinting the forest and the tang he loved was in
the air when the great hunter passed. The date of Boone's death
is given as September 26, 1820. He was in his eighty-sixth year.
Unburdened by the pangs of disease he went out serenely, by the
gentle marches of sleep, into the new country.
The convention for drafting the constitution of Missouri, in
session at St. Louis, adjourned for the day, and for twenty days
thereafter the members wore crape on their arms as a further mark
of respect for the great pioneer. Daniel was laid by Rebecca's
side, on the bank of Teugue Creek, about a mile from the Missouri
River. In 1845, the Missouri legislators hearkened to
oft-repeated pleas from Kentucky and surrendered the remains of
the pioneer couple. Their bones lie now in Frankfort, the capital
of the once Dark and Bloody Ground, and in 1880 a monument was
raised over them.
To us it seems rather that Kentucky itself is Boone's monument;
even as those other great corn States, Illinois and Indiana, are
Clark's. There, these two servants unafraid, who sacrificed
without measure in the wintry winds of man's ingratitude, are
each year memorialized anew; when the earth in summer--the season
when the red man slaughtered--lifts up the full grain in the ear,
the life giving corn; and when autumn smiles in golden peace over
the stubble fields, where the reaping and binding machines have
hummed a nation's harvest song.
The Races And Their Migration
C. A. Hanna, "The Scotch-Irish," 2 vols. New York, 1902. A very
full if somewhat over-enthusiastic study.
H. J. Ford, "The Scotch-Irish in America." Princeton, 1915.
A. G. Spangenberg, Extracts from his Journal of travels in North
Carolina, 1752. Publication of the Southern History Association.
Vol. I, 1897.
A. B. Faust, "The German Element in the United States," 2 vols.
J. P. MacLean, "An Historical Account of the Settlements of
Scotch Highlanders in America" (1900).
S. H. Cobb, "The Story of the Palatines" (1897).
N. D. Mereness (editor), "Travels in the American Colonies." New
York, 1916. This collection contains the diary of the Moravian
Brethren cited in the first chapter of the present volume.
Life In The Back Country
Joseph Doddridge, "Notes on the Settlements and Indian Wars of
the Western Parts of Virginia and Pennsylvania," from 1763 to
1783. Albany, 1876. An intimate description of the daily life of
the early settlers in the Back Country by one of themselves. J.
F. D. Smyth, "Tour in the United States of America," 2 vols.
London, 1784. Minute descriptions of the Back Country and
interesting pictures of the life of the settlers; biased as to
political views by Royalist sympathies.
William H. Foote, "Sketches of North Carolina," New York, 1846.
See Foote also for history of the first Presbyterian ministers in
the Back Country. As to political history, inaccurate.
Early History And Exploration
J. S. Bassett (editor), "The Writings of Colonel William Byrd of
Westover." New York, 1901. A contemporary record of early
Thomas Walker, "Journal of an Exploration in the Spring of the
Year 1750." Boston, 1888. The record of his travels by the
discoverer of Cumberland Gap.
William M. Darlington (editor), "Christopher Gist's Journals."
Pittsburgh, 1893. Contains Gist's account of his surveys for the
Ohio Company, 1750.
C. A. Hanna, "The Wilderness Trail," 2 vols. New York, 1911. An
exhaustive work of research, with full accounts of Croghan and
Findlay. See also Croghan's and Johnson's correspondence in vol.
VII, New York Colonial Records.
James Adair, "The History of the American Indians," etc. London,
1775. The personal record of a trader who was one of the earliest
explorers of the Alleghanies and of the Mississippi region east
of the river; a many-sided work, intensely interesting.
C. W. Alvord, "The Genesis of the Proclamation of 1763."
Reprinted from Canadian Archives Report, 1906. A new and
authoritative interpretation. In this connection see also the
correspondence between Sir William Johnson and the Lords of Trade
in vol. VII of New York Colonial Records.
Justin Winsor, "The Mississippi Basin. The Struggle in America
between England and France." Cambridge, 1895. Presents the
results of exhaustive research and the coordination of facts by
an historian of broad intellect and vision.
"Colonial and State Records of North Carolina. 30 vols. The chief
fountain source of the early history of North Carolina and
W. H. Hoyt, "The Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence." New
York, 1907. This book presents the view generally adopted by
historians, that the alleged Declaration of May 20, 1775, is
Justin Winsor (editor), "Narrative and Critical History of
America." 8 vols. (1884-1889). Also "The Westward Movement.
"Cambridge, 1897. Both works of incalculable value to the
C. W. Alvord, "The Mississippi. Valley in British Politics." 2
vols. Cleveland, 1917. A profound work of great value to
R. G. Thwaites and L. P. Kellogg (editors), "Documentary History
of Dunmore's War," 1774. Compiled from the Draper Manuscripts in
the library of the Wisconsin Historical Society. Madison, 1905. A
collection of interesting and valuable documents with a
R. G. Thwaites, "Daniel Boone." New York, 1902. A short and
accurate narrative of Boone's life and adventures compiled from
the Draper Manuscripts and from earlier printed biographies.
John P. Hale, "Daniel Boone, Some Facts and Incidents not
Hitherto Published." A pamphlet giving an account of Boone in
West Virginia. Printed at Wheeling, West Virginia. Undated.
Timothy Flint, "The First White Man of the West or the Life and
Exploits of Colonel Dan'l Boone." Cincinnati, 1854. Valuable only
as regards Boone's later years.
John S. C. Abbott, "Daniel Boone, the Pioneer of Kentucky." New
York, 1872. Fairly accurate throughout.
J. M. Peck, "Daniel Boone" (in Sparks, "Library of American
Biography." Boston, 1847).
William Henry Bogart. "Daniel Boone and the Hunters of Kentucky."
New York, 1856.
William Hayden English, "Conquest of the Country Northwest of the
River Ohio, 1778-1783," and "Life of General George Rogers
Clark," 2 vols. Indianapolis, 1896. An accurate and valuable work
for which the author has made painstaking research among printed
and unprinted documents. Contains Clark's own account of his
campaigns, letters he wrote on public and personal matters, and
also letters from contemporaries in defense of his reputation.
Theodore Roosevelt, "The Winning of the West," 4 vols. New York,
1889-1896. A vigorous and spirited narrative.
J. G. M. Ramsey, "The Annals of Tennessee." Charleston, 1853.
John Haywood, "The Civil and Political History of the State of
Tennessee." Nashville, 1891.
(Reprint from 1828.) These works, with the North Carolina
"Colonial Records," are the source books of early Tennessee. In
statistics, such as numbers of Indians and other foes defeated by
Tennessee heroes, not reliable. Incorrect as to causes of Indian
wars during the Revolution. On this subject see letters and
reports by John and Henry Stuart in North Carolina "Colonial
Records," vol. X; and letters by General Gage and letters and
proclamation by General Ethan Allen in American Archives, Fourth
Series, vol. II, and by President Rutledge of South Carolina in
North Carolina "Colonial Records," vol. X. See also Justin
Winsor, "The Westward Movement."
J. Allison, "Dropped Stitches in Tennessee History." Nashville,
1897. Contains interesting matter relative to Andrew Jackson in
his younger days as well as about other striking figures of the
F. M. Turner, "The Life of General John Sevier." New York, 1910.
A fairly accurate narrative of events in which Sevier
participated, compiled from the "Draper Manuscripts."
A. W. Putnam, "History of Middle Tennessee, or Life and Times of
General James Robertson." Nashville, 1859. A rambling lengthy
narrative containing some interesting material and much that is
unreliable. Its worst fault is distortion through sentimentality,
and indulgence in the habit of putting the author's rodomontades
into the mouths of Robertson and other characters.
J. S. Bassett, "Regulators of North Carolina," in Report of the
American Historical Association, 1894.
L. C. Draper, "King's Mountain and its Heroes." Cincinnati, 1881.
The source book on this event. Contains interesting biographical
material about the men engaged in the battle.
French And Spanish Intrigues
Henry Doniol, "Histoire de la participation de la France d
l'etablissement des Etats-Unis d'Amerique," 5 vols. Paris,
1886-1892. A complete exposition of the French and Spanish policy
towards America. during the Revolutionary Period.
Manuel Serrano y Sanz, "El brigadier Jaime Wilkinson y sus tratos
con Espana para la independencia del Kentucky, anos 1787 a 1797."
Madrid, 1915. A Spanish view of Wilkinson's intrigues with Spain,
based on letters and reports in the Spanish Archives.
Thomas Marshall Green, "The Spanish Conspiracy." Cincinnati,
1891. A good local account, from American sources. The best
material on this subject is found in Justin Winsor's "The
Westward Movement and Narrative and Critical History" because
there viewed against a broad historical background. See Winsor
also for the Latin intrigues in Tennessee. For material on
Alexander McGillivray see the American Archives and the Colonial
Records of Georgia.
Edward S. Corwin, "French Policy and the American Alliance of
1778." Princeton, 1916. Deals chiefly with the commercial aspects
of French policy and should be read in conjunction with Winsor,
Jay, and Fitzmaurice's "Life of William, Earl of Shelburne." 3
vols. London, 1875.
John Jay, "On the Peace Negotiations of 1782-83 as Illustrated by
the Secret Correspondence of France and England." New York, 1888.
A paper read before the American Historical Association, May 23, 1887.
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