Page images
PDF
EPUB
[graphic]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

1775.

Grant by Cherokees.

137

mining the bounds of the proposed purchase. This done, he set forth with a party, well armed and equipped, to mark out a road from the settlement, through the wilderness, to the lands which were about to be colonized. Boone does not say when he started, but as he was within fifteen miles of Boonesboro' on the 20th of March, and the grant from the Cherokees is dated the 17th, he must have left the Council before the final action of the Indians took place; indeed, Henderson says (April 10th to 20th) that Boone did not know of the purchase with certainty. By that action the southern savages, in consideration of the sum of ten thousand pounds sterling, transferred to the Company two provinces defined as follows:

The first was defined as Beginning on the Ohio river, at the mouth of the Cantuckey Chenoee, or what, by the English, is called Louisa river; from thence running up the said river, and the most northwardly fork of the same, to the head spring thereof; thence a south-east course to the top of the ridge of Powell's mountain ; thence westwardly along the ridge of the said mountain, unto a point from which a northwest course will hit or strike the head spring of the most southwardly branch of Cumberland river, thence down said river, including all its waters, to the Ohio river, and up the said river, as it meanders, to the beginning.”

The other deed comprised a tract“ beginning on the Holston river, where the course of Powell's mountain strikes the same; thence up the said river, as it meanders, to where the Virginia line crosses the same; thence westwardly along the line run by Donaldson, to a point six Eng. lish miles eastward of the long island in said Holston river ; thence a direct course towards the mouth of the Great Canaway, until it reaches the top ridge of Powell's mountain; thence westwardly along the said ridge to the place of beginning.

This transfer, however, was in opposition to the ancient and constant policy, both of England and Virginia ; neither of which would recognize any private dealings for land with the natives; and, as much of the region to be occupied by the Transylvania Company was believed to be within the bounds of the Old Dominion, Governor Dunmore, even before the bargain was completed, prepared his proclamation warning the world against Richard Henderson and other disorderly persons, who, under pretence of a purchase from the Indians, do set up a claim to the

one

* Hall, i. 251. See also Butler, 504. Butler, instead of Cantuckey Chenoce,” has “Kentucky Chenoca."

138

Boonesboro' commenced.

1775.

lands of the crown.” This paper is dated but four days later than the treaty of Wataga.* When Colonel Henderson and his “ disorderly” associates, therefore, set forth early in April for their new colony, granted by the first named deed, clouds beset their path. Virginia threatened in their rear, and before them, the blood of Boone's pioneers soiled the fresh leaves of the young woodflowers. Upon the 20th or 25th of March, an attack had been made upon those first invaders of the forests, in which two of their number were killed, and one or two others wounded: repulsed but not defeated, the savages watched their opportunity, and again attacked the little band; but being satisfied by these attempts, that the leaders of the whites were their equals in forest warfare, the natives offered no further opposition to the march of the hunters, who proceeded to the Kentucky, and upon the 1st of April, 1775, began the erection of a fort upon the banks of that stream, sixty yards south of the river, at a salt-lick. This was Boonesboro'. This fort or station was probably, when complete, about two hundred and fifty feet long by one hundred and fifty broad, and consisted of block-houses and pickets, the cabins of the settlers forming part of the defences ;f it was, from neglect, not completed until June 14th, and the party, while engaged in its erection, appear to have been but little annoyed by the Indians, although one man was killed upon the 4th of April. To this station, while yet but half complete, Henderson and his companions came the 20th of April,|| following the road marked out by Boone. Of his journey, and the country itself, some parts of a letter, published entire by Judge Hall, will give a distinct picture, and are better than

any

abstracts.

#

Boonesborough, June 12th, 1755. No doubt but you have felt great anxiety since the receipt of my letter from Powell's Valley. At that time things wore a gloomy aspect; indeed it was a serious matter, and became a little more so, after the date of the letter than before. That afternoon I wrote the letter in Powell's Valley,S in our march this way, we met about 40 people returning, and in about four days the number was little short of

American Archives, Fourth Series, 174. + See Boone's Narrative, and his letter in Hall's Sketches, i. 254. They do not agree entirely.

# See plan of the fort, Hall's Sketches, i.
| Henderson's Letter, Hall ii. 269.
§ April 8th.

1775.

Henderson's Letter.

139

100. Arguments and persuasions were needless; they seemed resolved on returning, and travelled with a precipitation that truly bespoke their fears. Eight or ten were all that we could prevail on to proceed with us, or to follow after ; and thus, what we before had, counting every boy and lad, amounted to about 40, with which number we pursued our journey with the utmost diligence, for my own part, never under more real anxiety.

Every group of travellers we saw, or strange bells which were heard in front, was a fresh alarm; afraid to look or inquire, lest Captain Boone or his company was amongst them, or some disastrous account of their defeat. The slow progress we made with our packs, made it absolutely necessary for some person to go on and give assurance of our coming, especially as they had no certainty of our being on the road at all; or had even heard whether the Indians had sold to us or not. It was owing to Boone's confidence in us, and the people's in him, that a stand was ever attempted in order to wait for our coming.

The general panic that had seized the men we were continually meeting, was contagious ; it ran like wild fire; and, notwithstanding every effort against its progress, it was presently discovered in our own camp; some hesitated and stole back, privately ; others saw the necessity of returning to convince their friends that they were still alive, in too strong a light to be resisted; whilst many, in truth, who have nothing to thank but the fear of shame, for the credit of intrepidity, came on, though their hearts, for some hours, made part of the desert. ing company. In this situation of affairs, some few, of genuine courage and undaunted resolution, served to inspire the rest; by help of whose example, assisted by a little pride and some ostentation, we made a shift to march on with all the appearance of gallantry, and, cavalier like, treated every insinuation of danger with the utmost contempt. It soon became habitual; and those who started in the morning with pale faces and apparent trepidation, could lie down and sleep at night in great quiet, not even possessed of fear enough to get the better of indolence.

To give you a small specimen of the disposition of the people, it may be sufficient to assure you that when we arrived at this place, we found Captain Boone's men as inat. tentive on the score of fear, (to all appearances,) as if they had been in Hillsborough. A small fort which only wanted two or three days' work to make it tolerably safe, was totally neglected on Mr. Cock's arrival ; * and unto this day remains unfinished, notwithstanding the repeated applications of Captain Boone, and every representation of danger from ourselves.

Our plantations extend near two miles in length, on the river, and up a creek. Here people work in their different lots; some without their guns, and others without care or * A messenger sent ahead of the main body.

[ocr errors]

140

Henderson's Letter.

1775.

caution. It is in vain for us to say any thing more about the matter; it cannot be done by words.

* Our company has dwindled from about eighty in number to about fifty odd, and I believe in a few days will be considerably less. Amongst these I have not heard one person dissatisfied with the country or terms; but go, as they say, merely because their business will not admit of longer delay: The fact is, that many of them are single, worthless fellows, and want to get on the other side of the mountains, for the sake of saying they have been out and returned safe, together with the probability of getting a mouthful of bread in exchange for their news.

We are seated at the mouth of Otter Creek on the Kentucky, about 150 miles from the Ohio. To the west, about 50 miles from us, are two settlements, within six or seven miles one of the other. There were, some time ago, about 100 at the two places; though now, perhaps, not more than 60 or 70, as many of them are gone up the Ohio for their families, &c.; and some returned by the way we came, 10 Virginia and elsewhere.

* On the opposite side of the river, and north from us, about 40 miles, is a settlement on the crown lands, of about 19 persons; and lower down, towards the Ohio, on the same side, there are some other settlers, how many, or at what place, I can't exactly learn. There is also a party of about 10 or 12, with a surveyor, who is employed in searching through the country, and laying off officers' lands; they have been more than three weeks within ten miles of us, and will be several weeks longer ranging up and down the country. *

Colonel Harrod, who governs the two first mentioned settlements, (and is a very good man for our purpose.) Colonel Floyd, (the surveyor) and myself, are under solemn engagements to communicate, with the utmost despatch every piece of intelligence respecting danger or sign of Indians, to each other. In case of invasion of Indians, both the other parties are instantly to march and relieve the distressed, if possible. Add to this, that our country is so fertile, the growth of grass and herbage so tender and luxuriant, that it is almost impossible for man or dog to travel, without leaving such sign that you might, for many days, gallop a horse on the trail. To be serious, it is impossible for any number of people to pass through the woods without being tracked, and of course discovered, if Indians, for our hunters all go on horseback, and could not be deceived if they were to come on the trace of footmen. From these circumstances, I think myself in a great measure secure against a formidable attack; and a few skulkers could only kill one or two, which would not much affect the interest of the company."

Upon the 23d of May, the persons then in the country, were called on by Henderson to send representatives to Boonesboro', to

Hall'8 Sketches, ii. 260 to 271.

« PreviousContinue »