Daniel Boone - North American Explorer
I have never been lost, but I will admit to being confused for several weeks.”
~ Daniel Boone~
Before Washington began to fight the battles of the Revolution in the east, Daniel Boone and other famous hunters were fighting bears and Indians in what was then called the west. By that war in the woods, these brave and hardy men helped us to get possession of that part of the country.
Daniel Boone was born in Pennsylvania. His father moved to North Carolina, and Daniel helped him cut down the trees round their log cabin in the forest. He ploughed the land, which was thick with stumps, hoed the corn that grew up among those stumps, and then,—as there was no mill near,—he pounded it into meal for "johnny-cake." He learned how to handle a gun quite as soon as he did a hoe. The unfortunate deer or coon that saw young Boone coming toward him knew that he had seen his best days, and that he would soon have the whole Boone family sitting round him at the dinner-table.
When Daniel had grown to manhood, he wandered off with his gun on his shoulder, and crossing the mountains, entered what is now the state of Tennessee. That whole country was then a wilderness, full of savage beasts and still more savage Indians; and Boone had many a sharp fight with both.
More than a hundred and thirty years ago, he cut these words on a beech-tree, still standing in Eastern Tennessee,—"D. Boon killed a bar on (this) tree in the year 1760." You will see if you examine the tree, on which the words can still be read, that Boone could not spell very well; but he could what was considered more important then and that was to shoot to kill.
The tree is still standing on the banks of Boone's Creek, near Jonesboro, Washington County, Tennessee.
Nine years after he cut his name on that tree, Boone, with a few companions, went to a new part of the country. It was called Kentucky. There he saw buffalo, deer, bears, and wolves enough to satisfy the best hunter in America.
This region was a kind of No Man's Land, because, though many tribes of Native Americans roamed over it, none of them pretended to own it. These bands of Indians were always fighting and trying to drive each other out, so Kentucky was often called the "Dark and Bloody Ground."
In 1775 Boone, with a party of thirty men, chopped a path through the forest from the mountains of Eastern Tennessee to the Kentucky River, a distance of about two hundred miles. This was the first path in that part of the country leading to the great west. It was called the "Wilderness Road." Over that road, which thousands of emigrants travelled afterward, Boone took his family, with other settlers, to the Kentucky River. There they built a fort called Boonesboro'. That fort was a great protection to all the first settlers in Kentucky. In fact, it is hard to see how the state could have grown up without it. So in one way, we can say with truth that Daniel Boone, the hunter, fighter, and road-maker, was a state-builder besides.
One day Boone's young daughter was out, with two other girls, in a canoe on the river. Suddenly some Indians pounced on them and carried them off.
One of the girls, as she went along, broke off twigs from the bushes, so that her friends might be able to follow her track through the woods. An Indian caught her doing it, and told her that he would kill her if she did not instantly stop. Then she slyly tore off small bits of her dress, and dropped a piece from time to time.
Boone and his men followed the Indians like bloodhounds. They picked up the bits of dress, and so easily found which way the savages had gone. They came up with the Indians just as they were sitting down round a fire to eat their supper. Creeping toward them behind the trees as softly as a cat creeps up behind a mouse, Boone and his men aimed their rifles and fired. Two of the Indians fell dead, the rest ran for their lives, and the girls were carried back in safety to the fort.
Boone Captured by Indians
Boone himself was caught and carried off by the Indians. They respected his courage so much that they would not kill him, but decided to adopt him; that is take him into the tribe as one of their own people, or make an Indian of him.
They pulled out all his hair except one long lock, called the "scalp-lock," which they left to grow in Indian fashion. The squaws and girls braided bright feathers in this lock, so that Boone looked quite gay. Then the Indians took him down to a river. There they stripped him, and scrubbed him with all their might, to get his white blood out, as they said. Next, they painted his face in stripes with red and yellow clay, so that he looked, as they thought, handsomer than he ever had before in his life. When all had been done, and they were satisfied with the appearance of their new Indian, they sat down to a great feast, and made merry.
Later in life
Boone lived to be a very old man. He had owned a good deal of land in the west, but he had lost possession of it. When Kentucky began to fill up with people and the game was killed off, Boone moved across the Mississippi into Missouri. He said that he went because he wanted "more elbow room" and a chance to hunt buffalo again.
He now begged the state of Kentucky to give him a small piece of land, where, as he said, he could "lay his bones." The people of that state generously helped him to get nearly a thousand acres; but he appears to have soon lost possession of it. If he actually did lose it, then this brave old hunter, who had opened up the way for such a multitude of emigrants to get farms at the west, died without owning a piece of ground big enough for a grave. He is buried in Frankfort, Kentucky, within sight of the river on which he built his fort at Boonesboro'.
Daniel Boone, a famous hunter from North Carolina, opened up a road through the forest, from the mountains of Eastern Tennessee to the Kentucky River. It was called the "Wilderness Road," and over it thousands of emigrants went into Kentucky to settle. Boone, with others, built the fort at Boonesboro', Kentucky, and went there to live. That fort protected the settlers against the Indians, and so helped that part of the country to grow until it became the state of Kentucky.
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