Daniel Boone
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Daniel Boone is a 1902 biographical book by Reuben Gold Thwaites. Daniel Boone (November 2, 1734 [O.S. October 22] – September 26, 1820) was an American pioneer and frontiersman whose exploits made him one of the first folk heroes of the United States. Boone became famous for his exploration and settlement of what is now Kentucky, which was then beyond the western borders of the Thirteen Colonies.

Daniel Boone

Reuben Gold Thwaites

DanielBoone. From the portrait by Chester Harding made in 1819, when Boone was eighty-five years old. Daniel Boone.
the portrait by Chester Harding made in 1819, when Boone was eighty-five years old.

Chapter I.
Ancestry and Training

The grandfather of Daniel Boone — George by name — was born in 1666 at the peaceful little hamlet of Stoak, near the city of Exeter, in Devonshire, England. His father had been a blacksmith; but he himself acquired the weaver’s art. In due time George married Mary Maugridge, a young woman three years his junior, and native of the neighboring village of Bradninch, whither he had gone to follow his trade. This worthy couple, professed Quakers, became the parents of nine children, all born in Bradninch — George, Sarah, Squire, Mary, John, Joseph, Benjamin, James, and Samuel. All of these, except John, married, and left numerous descendants in America.

The elder Boones were ambitious for the welfare of their large family. They were also fretful under the bitter intolerance encountered by Quakers in those unrestful times. As the children grew to maturity, the enterprising weaver sought information regarding the colony which his coreligionist William Penn had, some thirty years previous, established in America, where were promised cheap lands, religious freedom, political equality, and exact justice to all men. There were then no immigration bureaus to encourage and instruct those who proposed settling in America; no news-letters from traveling correspondents, to tell the people at home about the Western world; or books or pamphlets illustrating the country. The only method which occurred to George Boone, of Bradninch, by which he could satisfy himself regarding the possibilities of Pennsylvania as a future home for his household, was to send out some of his older children as prospectors.

Accordingly — somewhere about 1712-14, family tradition says — young George (aged from twenty-two to twenty-four years), Sarah (a year and a half younger), and Squire (born November 25, 1696) were despatched to the promised land, and spent several months in its inspection. Leaving Sarah and Squire in Pennsylvania, George returned to his parents with a favorable report.

On the seventeenth of August, 1717, the Boones, parents and children, bade a sorrowful but brave farewell to their relatives and friends in old Bradninch, whom they were never again to see. After journeying some eighty miles over rugged country to the port of Bristol, they there entered a sailing vessel bound for Philadelphia, where they safely arrived upon the tenth of October.

Philadelphia was then but a village. Laid out like a checker-board, with architecture of severe simplicity, its best residences were surrounded by gardens and orchards. The town was substantial, neat, and had the appearance of prosperity; but the frontier was not far away — beyond outlying fields the untamed forest closed in upon the little capital. The fur trade flourished but two or three days’ journey into the forest, and Indians were frequently seen upon the streets. When, therefore, the Boones decided to settle in what is now Abingdon, twelve or fourteen miles north of the town, in a sparse neighborhood of Quaker farmers, they at once became backwoodsmen, such as they remained for the rest of their lives.

They were, however, not long in Abingdon. Soon after, we find them domiciled a few miles to the northwest in the little frontier hamlet of North Wales, in Gwynedd township; this was a Welsh community whose members had, a few years before, turned Quakers.

Sarah Boone appears, about this time, to have married one Jacob Stover, a German who settled in Oley township, now in Berks County. The elder George Boone, now that he had become accustomed to moving, after his long, quiet years as a Devonshire weaver, appears to have made small ado over folding his family tent and seeking other pastures. In 1718 he took out a warrant for four hundred acres of land in Oley, and near the close of the following year removed to his daughter’s neighborhood. This time he settled in earnest, for here in Oley — or rather the later subdivision thereof called Exeter — he spent the remainder of his days, dying in his original log cabin there, in 1744, at the age of seventy-eight. He left eight children, fifty-two grandchildren, and ten great-grandchildren — in all, seventy descendants: Devonshire men, Germans, Welsh, and Scotch-Irish amalgamated into a sturdy race of American pioneers.

Among the early Welsh Quakers in the rustic neighborhood of North Wales were the Morgans. On the twenty-third of July, 1720, at the Gwynedd meeting-house, in accordance with the Quaker ceremony, Squire Boone married Sarah Morgan, daughter of John. A descendant tells us that at this time “Squire Boone was a man of rather small stature, fair complexion, red hair, and gray eyes; while his wife was a woman something over the common size, strong and active, with black hair and eyes, and raised in the Quaker order.”

For ten or eleven years Squire and Sarah Boone lived in Gwynedd township, probably on rented land, the former adding to their small income by occasional jobs of weaving, for he had learned his father’s trade. They were thrifty folk, but it took ten years under these primitive conditions to accumulate even the small sum sufficient to acquire a farm of their own. Toward the close of the year 1730, Squire obtained for a modest price a grant of 250 acres of land situated in his father’s township, Oley — a level tract adapted to grazing purposes, on Owatin Creek, some eight miles southeast of the present city of Reading, and a mile and a half from Exeter meeting-house. Here, probably early in 1731, the Boones removed with their four children. Relatives and Quaker neighbors assisted, after the manner of the frontier, in erecting a log cabin for the new-comers and in clearing and fencing for them a small patch of ground.

In this rude backwoods home, in the valley of the Schuylkill, was born, upon the second of November (new style), 1734, Daniel Boone, fourth son and sixth child of Squire and Sarah. It is thought that the name Daniel was suggested by that of Daniel Boone, a well-known Dutch painter who had died in London in 1698, “and who may have been known, or distantly related, to the family.” The other children were: Sarah (born in 1724), Israel (1726), Samuel (1728), Jonathan (1730), Elizabeth (1732), Mary (1736), George (1739), Edward (1744), Squire, and Hannah, all of them natives of Oley.

Born into a frontier community, Daniel Boone’s entire life was spent amid similar surroundings, varying only in degree. With the sight of Indians he was from the first familiar. They frequently visited Oley and Exeter, and were cordially received by the Quakers. George Boone’s house was the scene of many a friendly gathering of the tribesmen. When Daniel was eight years of age, the celebrated Moravian missionary, Count Zinzendorf, held a synod in a barn at Oley, a party of converted Delaware Indians, who preached in favor of Christianity, being the principal attractions at this meeting. Thus young Boone started in life with an accurate knowledge of the American savage, which served him well during his later years of adventurous exploration and settlement-building.

Squire Boone appears soon to have become a leader in his community. His farm, to whose acres he from time to time added, was attended to as closely as was usual among the frontiersmen of his day; and at home the business of weaving was not neglected, for he kept in frequent employment five or six looms, making “homespun” cloths for his neighbors and the market. He had an excellent grazing range some five or six miles north of the homestead, and each season sent his stock thither, as was the custom at that time. Mrs. Boone and Daniel accompanied the cows, and from early spring until late in autumn lived in a rustic cabin, far from any other human beings. Hard by, over a cool spring, was a dairy-house, in which the stout-armed mother made and kept her butter and cheese; while her favorite boy watched the herd as, led by their bell-carriers, they roamed at will through the woods, his duty at sunset being to drive them to the cabin for milking, and later to lock them for the night within the cow-pens, secure from wild animals or prowling cattle-thieves.

While tending his cattle, a work involving abundant leisure, the young herdsman was also occupied in acquiring the arts of the forest. For the first two or three years — his pastoral life having commenced at the tender age of ten — his only weapon was a slender, smoothly shaved sapling, with a small bunch of gnarled roots at the end, in throwing which he grew so expert as easily to kill birds and other small game. When reaching the dignity of a dozen years, his father bought him a rifle, with which he soon became an unerring marksman. But, although he henceforth provided wild meat enough for the family, his passion for hunting sometimes led him to neglect the cattle, which were allowed to stray far from home and pass the night in the deep forest.

Soon each summer of herding came to be succeeded by a winter’s hunt. In this occupation the boy roved far and wide over the Neversink mountain-range to the north and west of Monocacy Valley, killing and curing game for the family, and taking the skins to Philadelphia, where he exchanged them for articles needed in the chase — long hunting-knives, and flints, lead, and powder for his gun.

In those days the children of the frontier grew up with but slight store of such education as is obtainable from books. The open volume of nature, however, they carefully conned. The ways of the wilderness they knew full well — concerning the storms and floods, the trees and hills, the wild animals and the Indians, they were deeply learned; well they knew how to live alone in the forest, and to thrive happily although surrounded by a thousand lurking dangers. This quiet, mild-mannered, serious-faced Quaker youth, Daniel Boone, was an ardent lover of the wild woods and their inhabitants, which he knew as did Audubon and Thoreau; but of regular schooling he had none. When he was about fourteen years of age, his brother Samuel, nearly seven years his senior, married Sarah Day, an intelligent young Quakeress who had more education than was customary in this neighborhood. Sarah taught Daniel the elements of “the three R’s.” To this knowledge he added somewhat by later self-teaching, so that as a man he could read understandingly, do rough surveying, keep notes of his work, and write a sensible although badly spelled letter — for our backwoods hero was, in truth, no scholar, although as well equipped in this direction as were most of his fellows.

In time Squire Boone, a man of enterprise and vigor, added blacksmithing to his list of occupations, and employed his young sons in this lusty work. Thus Daniel served, for a time, as a worker in iron as well as a hunter and herdsman; although it was noticed that his art was chiefly developed in the line of making and mending whatever pertained to traps and guns. He was a fearless rider of his father’s horses; quick, though bred a Quaker, to resent what he considered wrong treatment; true to his young friends; fond of long, solitary tramps through the dark forest, or of climbing hilltops for bird’s-eye views of the far-stretching wilderness. Effective training this, for the typical pioneer of North America.

Chapter II.
The Nimrod of the Yadkin

The lofty barrier of the Alleghany Mountains was of itself sufficient to prevent the pioneers of Pennsylvania from wandering far westward. Moreover, the Indians beyond these hills were fiercer than those with whom the Quakers were familiar; their occasional raids to the eastward, through the mountain passes, won for them a reputation which did not incline the border farmers to cultivate their further acquaintance. To the southwest, however, there were few obstacles to the spread of settlement. For several hundred miles the Appalachians run in parallel ranges from northeast to southwest — from Pennsylvania, through Virginia, West Virginia, the Carolinas, and east Tennessee, until at last they degenerate into scattered foot-hills upon the Georgia plain. Through the long, deep troughs between these ranges — notably in the famous Valley of Virginia between the Blue Ridge and the Alleghanies — Pennsylvanians freely wandered into the south and southwest, whenever possessed by thirst for new and broader lands. Hostile Indians sometimes penetrated these great valleys and brought misery in their train; but the work of pioneering along this path was less arduous than had the western mountains been scaled at a time when the colonists were still few and weak.

Between the years 1732 and 1750, numerous groups of Pennsylvanians — Germans and Irish largely, with many Quakers among them — had been wending their way through the mountain troughs, and gradually pushing forward the line of settlement, until now it had reached the upper waters of the Yadkin River, in the northwest corner of North Carolina. Trials abundant fell to their lot; but the soil of the valleys was unusually fertile, game was abundant, the climate mild, the country beautiful, and life in general upon the new frontier, although rough, such as to appeal to the borderers as a thing desirable. The glowing reports of each new group attracted others. Thus was the wilderness tamed by a steady stream of immigration from the older lands of the northern colonies, while not a few penetrated to this Arcadia through the passes of the Blue Ridge, from eastern Virginia and the Carolinas.

Squire and Sarah Boone, of Oley, now possessed eleven children, some of whom were married and settled within this neighborhood which consisted so largely of the Boones and their relatives. The choicest lands of eastern Pennsylvania had at last been located. The outlook for the younger Boones, who soon would need new homesteads, did not appear encouraging. The fame of the Yadkin Valley, five hundred miles southwestward, had reached Oley, and thither, in the spring of 1750, the majority of the Boones, after selling their lands and surplus stock, bravely took up the line of march.

With the women and children stowed in canvas-covered wagons, the men and boys riding their horses at front and rear, and driving the lagging cattle, the picturesque little caravan slowly found its way to the ford at Harper’s Ferry, thence up the beautiful valley of the Shenandoah. By night they pitched their camps beside some gurgling spring, gathered the animals within the circle of the wagons, and, with sentinel posted against possible surprises by Indians, sat around the blazing fire to discuss the experiences of the day — Daniel, as the hunter for the party, doubtless having the most interesting adventures of them all.

Tradition has it that the Boones tarried by the way, for a year or more, on Linnville Creek, six miles north of Harrisonburg, in Rockingham County, Va. In any event, they appear to have resumed their journey by the autumn of 1751. Pushing on through the Valley of Virginia — an undulating, heavily forested table-land from three to ten miles in width — they forded the upper waters of numerous rivers, some of which, according to the tilt of the land, flow eastward and southeastward toward the Atlantic, and others westward and southwestward toward the Ohio. This is one of the fairest and most salubrious regions in America; but they did not again stop until the promised land of the Yadkin was reached.

The country was before them, to choose from it practically what they would. Between the Yadkin and the Catawba there was a broad expanse of elevated prairie, yielding a luxuriant growth of grass, while the bottoms skirting the numerous streams were thick-grown to canebrake. Here were abundant meadows for the cattle, fish and game and wild fruits in quantity quite exceeding young Daniel’s previous experience, a well-tempered climate, and to the westward a mountain-range which cast long afternoon shadows over the plain and spoke eloquently of untamed dominions beyond. Out of this land of plenty Squire Boone chose a claim at Buffalo Lick, where Dutchman’s Creek joins with the North Fork of Yadkin.

Daniel was now a lad of eighteen. Nominally, he helped in the working of his father’s farm and in the family smithy; actually, he was more often in the woods with his long rifle. At first, buffaloes were so plenty that a party of three or four men, with dogs, could kill from ten to twenty in a day; but soon the sluggish animals receded before the advance of white men, hiding themselves behind the mountain wall. An ordinary hunter could slaughter four or five deer in a day; in the autumn, he might from sunrise to sunset shoot enough bears to provide over a ton of bear-bacon for winter use; wild turkeys were easy prey; beavers, otters, and muskrats abounded; while wolves, panthers, and wildcats overran the country. Overcome by his passion for the chase, our young Nimrod soon began to spend months at a time in the woods, especially in autumn and winter. He found also more profit in this occupation than at either the forge or the plow; for at their nearest market town, Salisbury, twenty miles away, good prices were paid for skins, which were regularly shipped thence to the towns upon the Atlantic coast.

The Catawba Indians lived about sixty miles distant, and the Cherokees still farther. These tribesmen not infrequently visited the thinly scattered settlement on the Yadkin, seeking trade with the whites, with whom they were as yet on good terms. They were, however, now and then raided by Northern Indians, particularly the Shawnese, who, collecting in the Valley of Virginia, swept down upon them with fury; sometimes also committing depredations upon the whites who had befriended their tribal enemies, and who unfortunately had staked their farms in the old-time war-path of the marauders.

In the year 1754, the entire American border, from the Yadkin to the St. Lawrence, became deeply concerned in the Indian question. France and England had long been rivals for the mastery of the North American continent lying west of the Alleghanies. France had established a weak chain of posts upon the upper Great Lakes, and down the Mississippi River to New Orleans, thus connecting Canada with Louisiana. In the Valley of the Ohio, however, without which the French could not long hold the Western country, there was a protracted rivalry between French and English fur-traders, each seeking to supplant the intruding foreigner. This led to the outbreak of the French and Indian War, which was waged vigorously for five years, until New France fell, and the English obtained control of all Canada and that portion of the continent lying between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mississippi.

As early as 1748, backwoodsmen from Pennsylvania had made a small settlement on New River, just west of the Alleghanies — a settlement which the Boones must have visited, as it lay upon the road to the Yadkin; and in the same season several adventurous Virginians hunted and made land-claims in Kentucky and Tennessee. In the following year there was formed for Western fur trading and colonizing purposes, the Ohio Company, composed of wealthy Virginians, among them two brothers of George Washington. In 1753 French soldiers built a little log fort on French Creek, a tributary of the Alleghany; and, despite Virginia’s protest, delivered by young Major Washington, were planning to erect another at the forks of the Ohio, where Pittsburg now is. Thither Washington went, in the succeeding year, with a body of Virginia militiamen, to construct an English stockade at the forks; but the French defeated him in the Great Meadows hard by and themselves erected the fort. It is thought by some writers that young Boone, then twenty years of age, served in the Pennsylvania militia which protected the frontier from the Indian forays which succeeded this episode. A year later (1755) the inexperienced General Braddock, fresh from England, set out, with Washington upon his staff, to teach a lesson to these Frenchmen who had intruded upon land claimed by the colony of Virginia.

In Braddock’s little army were a hundred North Carolina frontiersmen, under Captain Hugh Waddell; their wagoner and blacksmith was Daniel Boone. His was one of those heavily laden baggage-wagons which, history tells us, greatly impeded the progress of the English, and contributed not a little to the terrible disaster which overtook the column in the ravine of Turtle Creek, only a few miles from Pittsburg. The baggage-train was the center of a fierce attack from Indians, led by French officers, and many drivers were killed. Young Boone, however, cut the traces of his team, and mounting a horse, fortunately escaped by flight. Behind him the Indian allies of the French, now unchecked, laid waste the panic-stricken frontiers of Pennsylvania and Virginia. But the Yadkin, which Boone soon reached, was as yet unscarred; the Northern tribes were busied in the tide of intercolonial warfare, and the Catawbas and Cherokees thus far remained steadfast to their old-time promises of peace.

Daniel was now a man, full-grown. He had brought home with him not only some knowledge of what war meant, but his imagination had become heated by a new passion — the desire to explore as well as to hunt. While upon the campaign he had fallen in with another adventurous soul, John Finley by name, who fired his heart with strange tales of lands and game to the west of the mountains. Finley was a Scotch-Irishman of roving tendencies, who had emigrated to Pennsylvania and joined a colony of his compatriots. As early as 1752 he had become a fur-trader. In the course of his rambles many perilous adventures befell him in the Kentucky wilds, into which he had penetrated as far as the Falls of the Ohio, where Louisville is now built. Hurrying, with other woodsmen, to Braddock’s support, he enrolled himself under George Croghan, a famous trader to the Indians. But the expert services of Croghan and his men, who, well understanding the methods of savages upon the war-path, offered to serve as scouts, were coldly rejected by Braddock, who soon had occasion to regret that he had not taken their advice.

Finley found in the Yadkin wagoner a kindred spirit, and suggested to him with eagerness a method of reaching Kentucky by following the trail of the buffaloes and the Shawnese, northwestward through Cumberland Gap. To reach this hunter’s paradise, to which Finley had pointed the way, was now Boone’s daily dream.

Chapter III.
Life on the Border

It was many years before Daniel Boone realized his dream of reaching Kentucky. Such an expedition into the far-off wilderness could not be lightly undertaken; its hardships and dangers were innumerable; and the way thither from the forks of the Yadkin was not as easily found, through this perplexing tangle of valleys and mountains, as Finley had supposed. His own route had doubtless been over the Ohio Company’s pass from the upper waters of the Potomac to a tributary of the Monongahela.

Another reason caused Daniel long to linger near his home. A half-dozen years before the Boones reached the Yadkin country there had located here a group of several related families, the Bryans, originally from Ireland. Pennsylvanians at first, they had, as neighbors crowded them, drifted southwestward into the Valley of Virginia; and finally, keeping well ahead of other settlers, established themselves at the forks of the Yadkin. They took kindly to the Boones, the two groups intermarried, and both were in due course pioneers of Kentucky. Rebecca, the daughter of Joseph Bryan, was fifteen years of age when Daniel first read his fate in her shining black eyes. In the spring following his return from Braddock’s slaughter-pen he led her to the altar, the ceremony being performed by old Squire Boone — farmer, weaver, blacksmith, and now justice of the peace for Rowan County.

An historian of the border, who had studied well the family traditions, thus describes Daniel and Rebecca at the time when they set forth together upon the journey of life: “Behold that young man, exhibiting such unusual firmness and energy of character, five feet eight inches in height, with broad chest and shoulders, his form gradually tapering downward to his extremities; his hair moderately black; blue eyes arched with yellowish eyebrows; his lips thin, with a mouth peculiarly wide; a countenance fair and ruddy, with a nose a little bordering on the Roman order. Such was Daniel Boone, now past twenty-one, presenting altogether a noble, manly, prepossessing appearance…. Rebecca Bryan, whose brow had now been fanned by the breezes of seventeen summers, was, like Rebecca of old, ‘very fair to look upon,’ with jet-black hair and eyes, complexion rather dark, and something over the common size of her sex; her whole demeanor expressive of her childlike artlessness, pleasing in her address, and unaffectedly kind in all her deportment. Never was there a more gentle, affectionate, forbearing creature than this same fair youthful bride of the Yadkin.” In the annals of the frontier, as elsewhere, all brides are fair and grooms are manly; but, allowing for the natural enthusiasm of hero-worshipers, we may, from the abundance of testimony to that effect, at least conclude that Daniel and Rebecca Boone were a well-favored couple, fit to rear a family of sturdy borderers.

It was neither the day nor the place for expensive trousseaus and wedding journeys. After a hilarious wedding-feast, Boone and his wife, with scanty equipment, immediately commenced their hard task of winning a livelihood from the soil and the forest. At first occupying a rude log cabin in his father’s yard, they soon afterward acquired some level land of their own, lying upon Sugar Tree, a tributary of Dutchman’s Creek, in the Bryan settlement, a few miles north of Squire Boone’s. All of this neighborhood lies within what is now Davie County, still one of the richest farming districts in North Carolina. Save when driven out by Indian alarms and forays, they here lived quietly for many years.

The pioneers in the then back country, along the eastern foot-hills of the Alleghanies, led a rough, primitive life, such as is hardly possible to-day, when there is no longer any frontier within the United States, and but few districts are so isolated as to be more than two or three days’ journey from a railway. Most of them, however, had been bred, as were the Boones and the Bryans, to the rude experiences of the border. With slight knowledge of books, they were accustomed to living in the simplest manner, and from childhood were inured to the hardships and privations incident to great distance from the centers of settlement; they possessed the virtues of hospitality and neighborliness, and were hardy, rugged, honest-hearted folk, admirably suited to their self-appointed task of forcing back the walls of savagery, in order that civilization might cover the land. We may well honor them for the great service that they rendered to mankind.

The dress of a backwoodsman like Daniel Boone was a combination of Indian and civilized attire. A long hunting-shirt, of coarse cloth or of dressed deerskins, sometimes with an ornamental collar, was his principal garment; drawers and leggings of like material were worn; the feet were encased in moccasins of deerskin — soft and pliant, but cold in winter, even when stuffed with deer’s hair or dry leaves, and so spongy as to be no protection against wet feet, which made every hunter an early victim to rheumatism. Hanging from the belt, which girt the hunting-shirt, were the powder-horn, bullet-pouch, scalping-knife, and tomahawk; while the breast of the shirt served as a generous pocket for food when the hunter or warrior was upon the trail. For head-covering, the favorite was a soft cap of coonskin, with the bushy tail dangling behind; but Boone himself despised this gear, and always wore a hat. The women wore huge sunbonnets and loose gowns of home-made cloth; they generally went barefoot in summer, but wore moccasins in winter.

Daniel Boone’s cabin was a simple box of logs, reared in “cob-house” style, the chinks stuffed with moss and clay, with a door and perhaps but a single window. Probably there was but one room below, with a low attic under the rafters, reached by a ladder. A great outside chimney, built either of rough stones or of small logs, coated on the inside with clay mortar and carefully chinked with the same, was built against one end of this rude house. In the fireplace, large enough for logs five or six feet in length, there was a crane from which was hung the iron pot in which the young wife cooked simple meals of corn-mush, pumpkins, squashes, beans, potatoes, and pork, or wild meat of many kinds, fresh and dried; in a bake-kettle, laid upon the live coals, she made the bread and corn pone, or fried her steaks, which added variety to the fare.

Dishes and other utensils were few — some pewter plates, forks, and spoons; wooden bowls and trenchers, with gourds and hard-shelled squashes for drinking-mugs. For knife, Boone doubtless used his belt-weapon, and scorned the crock plates, now slowly creeping into the valley, as calculated to dull its edge. Over the fireplace deer’s horns served as rests for his gun. Into the log wall were driven great wooden pegs, hanging from which flitches of dried and smoked bacon, venison, and bear’s-meat mingled freely with the family’s scanty wardrobe.

With her cooking and rude mending, her moccasin-making, her distaff and loom for making cloths, her occasional plying of the hoe in the small vegetable patch, and her ever-present care of the children and dairy, Rebecca Boone was abundantly occupied.

Boone’s Powder-HornandBake-Kettle.In possession of Wisconsin State Historical Society. The horn once belonged to Daniel’s brother Israel, and bears the initials “I B”.Boone’s Powder-Horn and Bake-Kettle. In possession of Wisconsin State Historical Society. The horn once belonged to Daniel’s brother Israel, and bears the initials “I B”.

In these early years of married life Daniel proved a good husbandman, planting and garnering his crops with regularity, and pasturing a few scrawny cattle and swine upon the wild lands adjoining his farm. Doubtless at times he did smithy-work for the neighbors and took a hand at the loom, as had his father and grandfather before him. Sometimes he was engaged with his wagon in the caravans which each autumn found their way from the Yadkin and the other mountain valleys down to the Atlantic cities, carrying furs to market; it was as yet too early in the history of the back country for the cattle-raisers to send their animals to the coast. In the Valley of Virginia, hemmed in upon the east by the Blue Ridge, packhorses were alone used in this traffic, for the mountain paths were rough and narrow; but wagons could be utilized in the more southern districts. The caravans brought back to the pioneers salt, iron, cloths, and a few other manufactured goods. This annual expedition over, Boone was free to go upon long hunts in the forest, where he cured great stores of meat for his family and prepared the furs for market.

The backwoodsmen of the Yadkin had few machines to assist them in their labor, and these were of the simplest sort. Practically, every settler was his own mechanic — although some men became, in certain lines, more expert than their neighbors, and to them fell such work for the entire settlement. Grinding corn into meal, or cracking it into hominy, were, as usual with primitive peoples, tasks involving the most machinery. Rude mortars and pestles, some of the latter ingeniously worked by means of springy “sweeps,” were commonly seen; a device something like a nutmeg-grater was often used when the corn was soft; two circular millstones, worked by hand, were effective, and there were some operated by water-power.

Medicine was at a crude stage, many of the so-called cures being as old as Egypt, while others were borrowed from the Indians. The borderers firmly believed in the existence of witches; bad dreams, eclipses of the sun, the howling of dogs, and the croaking of ravens, were sure to bring disasters in their train.

Their sports laid stress on physical accomplishments — great strength, dexterity with the rifle, hunting, imitating the calls of wild birds and beasts, throwing the tomahawk, running, jumping, wrestling, dancing, and horse-racing; they were also fond, as they gathered around one another’s great fireplaces in the long winter evenings, of story-telling and dramatic recitation. Some of the wealthier members of this primitive society owned negro slaves, to whom, sometimes, they were cruel, freely using the whip upon both women and men. Indeed, in their own frequent quarrels fierce brutality was sometimes used, adversaries in a fist-fight being occasionally maimed or otherwise disfigured for life.

There was, for a long time, “neither law nor gospel” upon this far-away frontier. Justices of the peace had small authority. Preachers were at first unknown. Many of the borderers were Presbyterians, and others Quakers; but under such social conditions these were little else than names. Nevertheless, there was a sound public sentiment among these rude, isolated people, who were a law unto themselves. They respected and honored candor, honesty, hospitality, regular habits, and good behavior generally; and very severe were the punishments with which they visited offenders. If a man acted as a coward in time of war, shirked his full measure of duty to the public, failed to care for his family, was careless about his debts, stole from his neighbors, was needlessly profane, or failed to treat women respectfully, he was either shunned by his fellows or forced to leave the settlement.

Amid such surroundings and of such stuff was Daniel Boone in the days when he was living uneventfully in the valley of the Yadkin as farmer, blacksmith, wagoner, and hunter, before the Indian wars and his explorations west of the long-shadowed mountain-range made of him a popular hero.

Chapter IV.
Red Man against White Man

The borderers in the Valley of Virginia and on the western highlands of the Carolinas were largely engaged in raising horses, cattle, sheep, and hogs, which grazed at will upon the broad slopes of the eastern foot-hills of the Alleghanies, most of them being in as wild a state as the great roving herds now to be seen upon the semi-arid plains of the far West. Indeed, there are some strong points of resemblance between the life of the frontier herdsman of the middle of the eighteenth century and that of the “cow” ranchers of our own day, although the most primitive conditions now existing would have seemed princely to Daniel Boone. The annual round-up, the branding of young stock, the sometimes deadly disputes between herdsmen, and the autumnal drive to market, are features in common.

With the settlement of the valleys and the steady increase in the herds, it was necessary each season to find new pastures. Thus the herdsmen pushed farther and farther into the wilderness to the south and west, and actually crossed the mountains at many points. Even before the arrival of the Boones, the Bryans had frequently, toward the end of summer, as the lower pastures thinned, driven their stock to a distance of sixty and seventy miles to green valleys lying between the western buttresses of the mountain wall.

This gradual pressure upon the hunting-grounds of the Cherokees and the Catawbas was not unnoticed by the tribesmen. There had long been heard deep mutterings, especially by the former, who were well-disposed toward the ever-meddling French; but until the year of Daniel Boone’s wedding the southern frontiers had not known an Indian uprising.

The year previous (1755) the Cherokees had given reluctant permission to the whites to build two posts in their country for the protection of the frontiers against the French, who, with their Indian allies, were continually active against the New York, Pennsylvania, and Virginia frontiers, and were known to be attempting the corruption of the Southern Indians. Fort Prince George was accordingly erected upon the Savannah River, and Fort Loudon upon the Tennessee. In 1756 Fort Dobbs was constructed a short distance south of the South Fork of the Yadkin. These three centers of refuge were upon the extreme southwestern borders of the English colonies.

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