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This webpage reproduces a chapter of
Pioneers of the Old Southwest

Constance Lindsay Skinner

in the
Chronicles of America edition,
Yale University Press,
New Haven, 1919

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
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please let me know!


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Chapter 2
This site is not affiliated with the US Military Academy.

 p1  Chapter I
The Tread of Pioneers

The Ulster Presbyterians, or "Scotch-Irish," to whom history has ascribed the dominant rôle among the pioneer folk of the Old Southwest, began their migrations to America in the latter years of the seventeenth century. It is not known with certainty precisely when or where the first immigrants of their race arrived in this country, but soon after 1680 they were to be found in several of the colonies. It was not long, indeed, before they were entering in numbers at the port of Philadelphia and were making Pennsylvania the chief center of their activities in the New World. By 1726 they had established settlements in several counties behind Philadelphia. Ten years later they had begun their great trek southward through  p2 the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia and on to the Yadkin Valley of North Carolina. There they met others of their own race — bold men like themselves, hungry after land — who were coming in through Charleston and pushing their way up the rivers from the seacoast to the "Back Country," in search of homes.

These Ulstermen did not come to the New World as novices in the shaping of society; they had already made history. Their ostensible object in America was to obtain land, but, like most external aims, it was secondary to a deeper purpose. What had sent the Ulstermen to America was a passion for a whole freedom. They were lusty men, shrewd and courageous, zealous to the death for an ideal and withal so practical to the moment in business that it soon came to be commonly reported of them that "they kept the Sabbath and everything they could lay their hands on," though it is but fair to them to add that this phrase is current wherever Scots dwell. They had contested in Parliament and with arms for their own form of worship and for their civil rights. They were already frontiersmen, trained in the hardihood and craft of border warfare through years of guerrilla fighting with the Irish Celts. They had pitted and proved  p3 their strength against a wilderness; they had reclaimed the North of Ireland from desolation. For the time, many of them were educated men; under the regulations of the Presbyterian Church every child was taught to read at an early age, since no person could be admitted to the privileges of the Church who did not both understand and approve the Presbyterian constitution and discipline. They were brought up on the Bible and on the writings of their famous pastors, one of whom, as early as 1650, had given utterance to the democratic doctrine that "men are called to the magistracy by the suffrage of the people whom they govern, and for men to assume unto themselves power is mere tyranny and unjust usurpation." In subscribing to this doctrine and in resisting to the hilt all efforts of successive English kings to interfere in the election of their pastors, the Scots of Ulster had already declared for democracy.

It was shortly after James VI of Scotland became James I of England and while the English were founding Jamestown that the Scots had first occupied Ulster; but the true origin of the Ulster Plantation lies further back, in the reign of Henry VIII, in the days of the English Reformation. In Henry's Irish realm the Reformation, though  p4 proclaimed by royal authority, had never been accomplished; and Henry's more famous daughter, Elizabeth, had conceived the plan, later to be carried out by James, of planting colonies of Protestants in Ireland to promote loyalty in that rebellious land. Six counties, comprising half a million acres, formed the Ulster Plantation. The great majority of the colonists sent thither by James were Scotch Lowlanders, but among them were many English and a smaller number of Highlanders. These three peoples from the island of Britain brought forth, through intermarriage, the Ulster Scots.

The reign of Charles I had inaugurated for the Ulstermen an era of persecution. Charles practically suppressed the Presbyterian religion in Ireland. His son, Charles II, struck at Ireland in 1666 through its cattle trade, by prohibiting the exportation of beef to England and Scotland. The Navigation Acts, excluding Ireland from direct trade with the colonies, ruined Irish commerce, while Corporation Acts and Test Acts requiring conformity with the practices of the Church of England bore heavily on the Ulster Presbyterians.

It was largely by refugees from religious persecution that America in the beginning was colonized. But religious persecution was only one of the  p5 influences which shaped the course and formed the character of the Ulster Scots. In Ulster, whither they had originally been transplanted by James to found a loyal province in the midst of the King's enemies, they had done their work too well and had waxed too powerful for the comfort of later monarchs. The first attacks upon them struck at their religion; but the subsequent legislative acts which successively ruined the woolen trade, barred nonconformists from public office, stifled Irish commerce, pronounced non-Episcopal marriages irregular, and instituted heavy taxation and high rentals for the land their fathers had made productive — these were blows dealt chiefly for the political and commercial ends of favored classes in England.

These attacks, aimed through his religious conscience at the sources of his livelihood, made the Ulster Scot perforce what he was — a zealot as a citizen and a zealot as a merchant no less than as a Presbyterian. Thanks to his persecutors, he made a religion of everything he undertook and regarded his civil rights as divine rights. Thus out of persecution emerged a type of man who was high-principled and narrow, strong and violent, as tenacious of his own rights as he was blind often to the rights of others, acquisitive yet self-sacrificing,  p6 but most of all fearless, confident of his own power, determined to have and to hold.

Twenty thousand Ulstermen, it is estimated, left Ireland for America in the first three decades of the eighteenth century. More than six thousand of them are known to have entered Pennsylvania in 1729 alone, and twenty years later they numbered one-quarter of that colony's population. During the five years preceding the Revolutionary War more than thirty thousand Ulstermen crossed the ocean and arrived in America just in time and in just the right frame of mind to return King George's compliment in kind, by helping to deprive him of his American estates, a domain very much larger than the acres of Ulster. They fully justified the fears of the good bishop who wrote Lord Dartmouth, Secretary for the Colonies, that he trembled for the peace of the King's overseas realm, since these thousands of "phanatical and hungry Republicans" had sailed for America.

The Ulstermen who entered by Charleston were known to the inhabitants of the tidewater regions as the "Scotch-Irish." Those who came from the north, lured southward by the offer of cheap lands, were called the "Pennsylvania Irish." Both were, however, of the same race — a race twice  p7 expatriated, first from Scotland and then from Ireland, and stripped of all that it had won throughout more than a century of persecution. To these exiles the Back Country of North Carolina, with its cheap and even free tracts lying far from the seat of government, must have seemed not only the Land of Promise but the Land of Last Chance. Here they must strike their roots into the sod with such interlocking strength that no cataclysm of tyranny should ever dislodge them — or they must accept the fate dealt out to them by their former persecutors and become a tribe of nomads and serfs. But to these Ulster immigrants such a choice was no choice at all. They knew themselves strong men, who had made the most of opportunity despite almost superhuman obstacles. The drumming of their feet along the banks of the Shenandoah, or up the rivers from Charleston, and on through the broad sweep of the Yadkin Valley, was a conquering people's challenge to the Wilderness which lay sleeping like an unready sentinel at the gates of their Future.

It is maintained still by many, however often disputed, that the Ulstermen were the first to declare for American Independence, as in the Old Country they were the first to demand the separation of  p8 Church and State. A Declaration of Independence is said to have been drawn up and signed in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, on May 20, 1775.​1 However that may be, it is certain that these Mecklenburg Protestants had received special schooling in the doctrine of independence. They had in their midst for eight years (1758‑66) the Reverend Alexander Craighead, a Presbyterian minister who, for his "republican doctrines" expressed in a pamphlet, had been disowned by the Pennsylvania Synod acting on the Governor's protest, and so persecuted in Virginia that he had at last fled to the North Carolina Back Country. There, during the remaining years of his life, as the sole preacher and teacher in the settlements between the Yadkin and the Catawba he found willing soil in which to sow the seeds of Liberty.

There was another branch of the Scottish race which helped to people the Back Country. The Highlanders, whose loyalty to their oath made them fight on the King's side in the Revolutionary War, have been somewhat overlooked in history. Tradition, handed down among the transplanted  p9 clans — who, for the most part, spoke only Gaelic for a generation and wrote nothing — and latterly recorded by one or two of their descendants, supplies us with all we are now able to learn of the early coming of the Gaels to Carolina. It would seem that their first immigration to America in small bands took place after the suppression of the Jacobite rising in 1715 — when Highlanders fled in numbers also to France — for by 1729 there was a settlement of them on the Cape Fear River. We know, too, that in 1748 it was charged against Gabriel Johnston, Governor of North Carolina from 1734 to 1752, that he had shown no joy over the King's "glorious victory of Culloden" and that "he had appointed one William McGregor, who had been in the Rebellion in the year 1715 a Justice of the Peace during the last Rebellion [1745] and was not himself without suspicion of disaffection to His Majesty's Government." It is indeed possible that Gabriel Johnston, formerly a professor at St. Andrew's University, had himself not always been a stranger to the kilt. He induced large numbers of Highlanders to come to America and probably influenced the second George to moderate his treatment of the vanquished Gaels in the Old Country and permit their emigration to the New World.

 p10  In contrast with the Ulstermen, whose secular ideals were dictated by the forms of their Church, these Scots adhered still to the tribal or clan system, although they, too, in the majority, were Presbyterians, with a minority of Roman Catholics and Episcopalians. In the Scotch Highlands they had occupied small holdings on the land under the sway of their chief, or Head of the Clan, to whom they were bound by blood and fealty but to whom they paid no rentals. The position of the Head of the Clan was hereditary, but no heir was bold enough to step into that position until he had performed some deed of worth. They were principally herders, their chief stock being the famous small black cattle of the Highlands. Their wars with each other were cattle raids. Only in war, however, did the Gael lay hands on his neighbor's goods. There were no highwaymen and housebreakers in the Highlands. No Highland mansion, cot, or barn was ever locked. Theft and the breaking of an oath, sins against man's honor, were held in such abhorrence that no one guilty of them could remain among his clansmen in the beloved glens. These Highlanders were a race of tall, robust men, who lived simply and frugally and slept on the heath among their flocks in all weathers, with no  p11 other covering from rain and snow than their plaidies. It is reported of the Laird of Keppoch, who was leading his clan to war in winter time, that his men were divided as to the propriety of following him further because he rolled a snowball to rest his head upon when he lay down. "Now we despair of victory," they said, "since our leader has become so effeminate he cannot sleep without a pillow!"2

The "King's glorious victory of Culloden" was followed by a policy of extermination carried on by the orders and under the personal direction of the Duke of Cumberland. When King George at last restrained his son from his orgy of blood, he offered the Gaels their lives and exile to America on condition of their taking the full oath of allegiance. The majority accepted his terms, for not only were their lives forfeit but their crops and cattle had been destroyed and the holdings on which their ancestors had lived for many centuries taken from them. The descriptions of the scenes attending their leave-taking of the hills and glens they loved with such passionate fervor are among the most pathetic in history. Strong men who had met the ravage of a brutal sword without weakening  p12 abandoned themselves to the agony of sorrow. They kissed the walls of their houses. They flung themselves on the ground and embraced the sod upon which they had walked in freedom. They called their broken farewells to the peaks and lochs of the land they were never again to see; and, as they turned their backs and filed down through the passes, their pipers played the dirge for the dead.

Such was the character, such the deep feeling, of the race which entered North Carolina from the coast and pushed up into the wilderness about the headwaters of Cape Fear River. Tradition indicates that these hillsmen sought the interior because the grass and pea vine which overgrew the inner country stretching towards the mountains provided excellent fodder for the cattle which some of the chiefs are said to have brought with them. These Gaelic herders, perhaps in negligible numbers, were in the Yadkin Valley before 1730, possibly even ten years earlier. In 1739 Neil MacNeill of Kintyre brought over a shipload of Gaels to rejoin his kinsman, Hector MacNeill, called Bluff Hector from his residence near the bluffs at Cross Creek, now Fayetteville. Some of these immigrants went on to the Yadkin, we are told, to unite with others of their clan who had been for some time in  p13 that district. The exact time of the first Highlander on the Yadkin cannot be ascertained, as there were no court records and the offices of land companies were not then open for the sale of these remote regions. But by 1753 there were not less than four thousand Gaels in Cumberland County, where they occupied the chief magisterial posts; and they were already spreading over the lands now comprised within Moore, Anson, Richmond, Robeson, Bladen, and Sampson counties. In these counties Gaelic was as commonly heard as English.

In the years immediately preceding the Revolution and even in 1776 itself they came in increasing numbers. They knew nothing of the smoldering fire about to break into flames in the country of their choice, but the Royal Governor, Josiah Martin, knew that Highland arms would soon be needed by His Majesty. He knew something of Highland honor, too; for he would not let the Gaels proceed after their landing until they had bound themselves by oath to support the Government of King George. So it was that the unfortunate Highlanders found themselves, according to their strict code of honor, forced to wield arms against the very Americans who had received and  p14 befriended them — and for the crowned brother of a prince whose name is execrated to this day in Highland song and story!

They were led by Allan MacDonald of Kingsborough; and tradition gives us a stirring picture of Allan's wife — the famous Flora MacDonald, who in Scotland had protected the Young Pretender in his flight — making an impassioned address in Gaelic to the Highland soldiers and urging them on to die for honor's sake. When this Highland force was conquered by the Americans, the large majority willingly bound themselves not to fight further against the American cause and were set at liberty. Many of them felt that, by offering their lives to the swords of the Americans, they had canceled their obligation to King George and were now free to draw their swords again and, this time, in accordance with their sympathies; so they went over to the American side and fought gallantly for independence.

Although the brave glory of this pioneer age shines so brightly on the Lion Rampant of Caledonia, not to Scots alone does that whole glory belong. The second largest racial stream which flowed into the Back Country of Virginia and  p15 North Carolina was German. Most of these Germans went down from Pennsylvania and were generally called "Pennsylvania Dutch," an incorrect rendering of Pennsylvänische Deutsche. The upper Shenandoah Valley was settled almost entirely by Germans. They were members of the Lutheran, German Reformed, and Moravian churches. The cause which sent vast numbers of this sturdy people across the ocean, during the first dozen years of the eighteenth century, was religious persecution. By statute and by sword the Roman Catholic powers of Austria sought to wipe out the Salzburg Lutherans and the Moravian followers of John Huss. In that region of the Rhine country known in those days as the German Palatinate, now a part of Bavaria, Protestants were being massacred by the troops of Louis of France, then engaged in the War of the Spanish Succession (1701‑13) and in the zealous effort to extirpate heretics from the soil of Europe. In 1708, by proclamation, Good Queen Anne offered protection to the persecuted Palatines and invited them to her dominions. Twelve thousand of them went to England, where they were warmly received by the English. But it was no slight task to settle twelve thousand immigrants of an alien speech in  p16 England and enable them to become independent and self-supporting. A better solution of their problem lay in the Western World. The Germans needed houses and the Queen's overseas dominions needed colonists. They were settled at first along the Hudson, and eventually many of them took up lands in the fertile valley of the Mohawk.

For fifty years or more German and Austrian Protestants poured into America. In Pennsylvania their influx averaged about fifteen hundred a year, and that colony became the distributing center for the German race in America. By 1727, Adam Müller and his little company had established the first white settlement in the Valley of Virginia. In 1732 Joist Heydt went south from York, Pennsylvania, and settled on the Opequan Creek at or near the site of the present city of Winchester.

The life of Count Zinzendorf, called "the Apostle," one of the leaders of the Moravian immigrants, glows like a star out of those dark and troublous times. Of high birth and gentle nurture, he forsook whatever of ease his station promised him and fitted himself for evangelical work. In 1741 he visited the Wyoming Valley to bring his religion to the Delaware and Shawanoes. He was not of those picturesque Captains of the Lord who  p17 bore their muskets on their shoulders when they went forth to preach. Armored only with the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the spirit, his feet "shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace," he went out into the country of these bloodthirsty tribes and told them that he had come to them in their darkness to teach the love of the Christ which lighteth the world. The Indians received him suspiciously. One day while he sat in his tent writing, some Delawares drew near to slay him and were about to strike when they saw two deadly snakes crawl in from the opposite side of the tent, move directly towards the Apostle, and pass harmlessly over his body. Thereafter they regarded him as under spiritual protection. Indeed so widespread was his good fame among the tribes that for some years all Moravian settlements along the borders were unmolested. Painted savages passed through on their way to war with enemy bands or to raid the border, but for the sake of one consecrated spirit, whom they had seen death avoid, they spared the lives and goods of his fellow believers. When Zinzendorf departed a year later, his mantle fell on David Zeisberger, who lived the love he taught for over fifty years and converted many savages.  p18 Zeisberger was taken before the Governor and army heads at Philadelphia, who had only too good reason to be suspicious of priestly counsels in the tents of Shem: but he was able to impress white men no less than simple savages with the nobility of the doctrine he had learned from the Apostle.

In 1751 the Moravian Brotherhood purchased one hundred thousand acres in North Carolina from Lord Granville. Bishop Spangenburg was commissioned to survey this large acreage, which was situated in the present county of Forsyth east of the Yadkin, and which is historically listed as the Wachovia Tract. In 1753, twelve Brethren left the Moravian settlements of Bethlehem and Nazareth, in Pennsylvania, and journeyed southward to begin the founding of a colony on their new land. Brother Adam Grube, one of the twelve, kept a diary of the events of this expedition.3

Honor to whom honor is due. We have paid it, in some measure, to the primitive Gaels of the Highlands for their warrior strength and their fealty, and to the enlightened Scots of Ulster for their enterprise and for their sacrifice unto blood that free conscience and just laws might promote the  p19 progress and safeguard the intercourse of their kind. Now let us take up for a moment Brother Grube's Journal even as we welcome, perhaps the more gratefully, the mild light of evening after the flooding sun, or as our hearts, when too strongly stirred by the deeds of men, turn for rest to the serene faith and the naïve speech of little children.

The twelve, we learn, were under the leader­ship of one of their number, Brother Gottlob. Their earliest alarms on the march were not caused, as we might expect, by anticipations of the painted Cherokee, but by encounters with the strenuous "Irish." One of these came and laid himself to sleep beside the Brethren's camp fire on their first night out, after they had sung their evening hymn and eleven had stretched themselves on the earth for slumber, while Brother Gottlob, their leader, hanging his hammock between two trees, ascended not only in spirit — a little higher than his charges, and "rested well in it." Though the alarming Irish man did not disturb them, the Brethren's doubts of that race continued, for Brother Grube wrote on the 14th of October: "About four in the morning we set up our tent, going four miles beyond Carl Isles [Carlisle, seventeen miles southwest of Harrisburg] so as not to be too near the  p20 Irish Presbyterians. After breakfast the Brethren shaved and then we rested under our tent. . . . People who were staying at the Tavern came to see what kind of folk we were. . . . Br Gottlob held the evening service and then we lay down around our cheerful fire, and Br Gottlob in his hammock." Two other jottings give us a racial kaleidoscope of the settlers and wayfarers of that time. On one day the Brethren bought "some hay from a Swiss," later "some kraut from a German which tasted very good to us"; and presently "an Englishman came by and drank a cup of tea with us and was very grateful for it." Frequently the little band paused while some of the Brethren went off to the farms along the route to help "cut hay." These kindly acts were usually repaid with gifts of food or produce.

One day while on the march they halted at a tavern and farm in Shenandoah Valley kept by a man whose name Brother Grube wrote down as "Severe." Since we know that Brother Grube's spelling of names other than German requires editing, we venture to hazard a guess that the name he attempted to set down as it sounded to him was Sevier. And we wonder if, in his brief sojourn, he saw a lad of eight years, simple, tall, and  p21 blond, with daring and mischievous blue eyes, and a certain curve of the lips that threatened havoc in the hearts of both sexes when he should be a man and reach out with swift hands and reckless will for his desires. If he saw this lad, he beheld John Sevier, later to become one of the most picturesque and beloved heroes of the Old Southwest.

Hardships abounded on the Brethren's journey, but faith and the Christian's joy, which no man taketh from him, met and surmounted them. "Three and a half miles beyond, the road forked. . . . We took the right hand road but found no water for ten miles. It grew late and we had to drive five miles into the night to find a stopping-place." Two of the Brethren went ahead "to seek out the road" through the darkened wilderness. There were rough hills in the way; and, the horses being exhausted, "Brethren had to help push." But, in due season, "Br Nathaniel held evening prayer and then we slept in the care of Jesus," with Brother Gottlob as usual in his hammock. Three days later the record runs: "Toward evening we saw Jeams River, the road to it ran down so very steep a hill that we fastened a small tree to the back of our wagon, locked the wheels, and the Brethren held back by the tree with all their  p22 might." Even then the wagon went down so fast that most of the Brethren lost their footing and rolled and tumbled pell-mell. But Faith makes little of such mishaps: "No harm was done and we thanked the Lord that he had so graciously protected us, for it looked dangerous and we thought at times that it could not possibly be done without accident but we got down safely . . . we were all very tired and sleepy and let the angels be our guard during the night." Rains fell in torrents, making streams almost impassable and drenching the little band to the skin. The hammock was empty one night, for they had to spend the dark hours trench-digging about their tent to keep it from being washed away. Two days later (the 10th of November) the weather cleared and "we spent most of the day drying our blankets and mending and darning our stockings." They also bought supplies from settlers who, as Brother Grube observed without irony,

are glad we have to remain here so long and that it means money for them. In the afternoon we held a little Lovefeast and rested our souls in the loving sacrifice of Jesus, wishing for beloved Brethren in Bethlehem and that they and we might live ever close to Him. . . . Nov. 16. We rose early to ford the river. The bank was so steep that we hung a tree behind the wagon,  p23 fastening it in such a way that we could quickly release it when the wagon reached the water. The current was very swift and the lead horses were carried down a bit with it. The water just missed running into the wagon but we came safely to the other bank, which however we could not climb but had to take half the things out of the wagon, tie ropes to the axle on which we would pull, help our horses which were quite stiff, and so we brought our ark again to dry land.

On the evening of the 17th of November the twelve arrived safely on their land on the "Etkin" (Yadkin), having been six weeks on the march. They found with joy that, as ever, the Lord had provided for them. This time the gift was a large deserted cabin, "large enough that we could all lie down around the walls. We at once made preparation for a little Lovefeast and rejoiced heartily with one another."

In the deserted log cabin, which, to their faith, seemed as one of those mansions "not built with hands" and descended miraculously from the heavens, they held their Lovefeast, while wolves padded and howled about the walls; and in that Pentecostal hour the tongue of fire descended upon Brother Gottlob, so that he made a new song unto the Lord. Who shall venture to say it is not better worth preserving than many a classic?

 p24  We hold arrival Lovefeast here

In Carolina land,

A company of Brethren true,

A little Pilgrim-Band,

Called by the Lord to be of those

Who through the whole world go,

To bear Him witness everywhere

And nought but Jesus know.

Then, we are told, the Brethren lay down to rest and "Br Gottlob hung his hammock above our heads" — as was most fitting on this of all nights; for is not the Poet's place always just a little nearer to the stars?

The pioneers did not always travel in groups. There were families who set off alone. One of these now claims our attention, for there was a lad in this family whose name and deeds were to sound like a ballad of romance from out the dusty pages of history. This family's name was Boone.

Neither Scots nor Germans can claim Daniel Boone; he was in blood a blend of English and Welsh; in character wholly English. His grandfather George Boone was born in 1666 in the hamlet of Stoak, near Exeter in Devonshire. George Boone was a weaver by trade and a Quaker by religion. In England in his time the Quakers were  p25 oppressed, and George Boone therefore sought information of William Penn, his coreligionist, regarding the colony which Penn had established in America. In 1712 he sent his three elder children, George, Sarah, and Squire, to spy out the land. Sarah and Squire remained in Pennsylvania, while their brother returned to England with glowing reports. On August 17, 1717, George Boone, his wife, and the rest of his children journeyed to Bristol and sailed for Philadelphia, arriving there on the 10th of October. The Boones went first to Abingdon, the Quaker farmers' community. Later they moved to the northwestern frontier hamlet of North Wales, a Welsh community which, a few years previously, had turned Quaker. Sarah Boone married a German named Jacob Stover, who had settled in Oley Township, Berks County. In 1718 George Boone took up four hundred acres in Oley, or, to be exact, in the subdivision later called Exeter, and there he lived in his log cabin until 1744, when he died at the age of seventy-eight. He left eight children, fifty-two grandchildren, and ten great-grandchildren, seventy descendants in all — English, German, Welsh, and Scotch-Irish blended into one family of Americans.4

 p26  Among the Welsh Quakers was a family of Morgans. In 1720 Squire Boone married Sarah Morgan. Ten years later he obtained 250 acres in Oley on Owatin Creek, eight miles southeast of the present city of Reading; and here, in 1734, Daniel Boone was born, the fourth son and sixth child of Squire and Sarah Morgan Boone. Daniel Boone therefore was a son of the frontier. In his childhood he became familiar with hunters and with Indians, for even the red men came often in friendly fashion to his grandfather's house. Squire Boone enlarged his farm by thrift. He continued at his trade of weaving and kept five or six looms going, making homespun cloth for the market and his neighbors.

Daniel's father owned grazing grounds several miles north of the homestead and each season he sent his stock to the range. Sarah Boone and her little Daniel drove the cows. From early spring till late autumn, mother and son lived in a rustic cabin alone on the frontier. A rude dairy house stood over a cool spring, and here Sarah Boone made her butter and cheese. Daniel, aged ten at this time, watched the herds; at sunset he drove them to the cabin for milking, and locked them in the cowpens at night.

 p27  He was not allowed firearms at that age, so he shaped for himself a weapon that served him well. This was a slender smoothly shaved sapling with a small bunch of gnarled roots at one end. So expert was he in the launching of this primitive spear that he easily brought down birds and small game. When he reached his twelfth year, his father bought him a rifle; and he soon became a crack shot. A year later we find him setting off on the author hunt — after driving the cattle in for the winter — with all the keenness and courage of a man twice his thirteen years. His rifle enabled him to return with meat for the family and skins to be traded in Philadelphia. When he was fourteen his brother Sam married Sarah Day, an intelligent young Quakeress who took a special interest in her young brother-in‑law and taught him "the rudiments of three R's."

The Boones were prosperous and happy in Oley and it may be wondered why they left their farms and their looms, both of which were profitable, and set their faces towards the Unknown. It is recorded that, though the Boones were Quakers, they were of a high mettle and were not infrequently dealt with by the Meeting. Two of Squire Boone's children married "worldlings" — non-Quakers — and  p28 were in consequence "disowned" by the Society. In defiance of his sect, which strove to make him sever all connection with his unruly offspring, Squire Boone refused to shut his doors on the son and the daughter who had scandalized local Quakerdom. The Society of Friends thereupon expelled him. This occurred apparently during the winter of 1748‑49. In the spring of 1750 we see the whole Boone family (save two sons) with their wives and children, their household goods and their stock, on the great highway, bound for a land where the hot heart and the belligerent spirit shall not be held amiss.

Southward through the Shenandoah goes the Boone caravan. The women and children usually sit in the wagons. The men march ahead or alongside, keeping a keen eye open for Indian or other enemy in the wild, their rifles under arm or over the shoulder. Squire Boone, who has done with Quakerdom and is leading all that he holds dear out to larger horizons, is ahead of the line, as we picture him, ready to meet first whatever danger may assail his tribe. He is a strong wiry man of rather small stature, with ruddy complexion, red hair, and gray eyes. Somewhere in the line, together, we think, are the mother and son who have  p29 herded cattle and companioned each other through long months in the cabin on the frontier. We do not think of this woman as riding in the wagon, though she may have done so, but prefer to picture her, with her tall robust body, her black hair, and her black eyes — with the sudden Welsh snap in them — walking as sturdily as any of her sons.

If Daniel be beside her, what does she see when she looks at him? A lad well set up but not over-tall for his sixteen years, perhaps — for "eye-witnesses" differ in their estimates of Daniel Boone's height — or possibly taller than he looks, because his figure has the forest hunter's natural slant forward and the droop of the neck of one who must watch his path sometimes in order to tread silently. It is Squire Boone's blood which shows in his ruddy face — which would be fair but for its tan — and in the English cut of feature, the straw-colored eyebrows, and the blue eyes. But his Welsh mother's legacy is seen in the black hair that hangs long and loose in the hunter's fashion to his shoulders. We can think of Daniel Boone only as exhilarated by this plunge into the Wild. He sees ahead — the days of his great explorations and warfare, discovery of Kentucky? Not at all. This is a boy of sixteen in love with his rifle. He looks ahead to  p30 vistas of forest filled with deer and to skies clouded with flocks of wild turkeys. In that dream there is happiness enough for Daniel Boone. Indeed, for himself, even in later life, he asked little, if any more. He trudges on blithely, whistling.

The Author's Notes:

1 See Hoyt, The Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence; and American Archives, Fourth Series, vol. II, p855.

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2 MacLean, An Historical Account of the Settlement of Scotch Highlanders in America.

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3 This diary is printed in full in Travels in the American Colonies, edited by N. D. Mereness.

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4 R. G. Thwaites, Daniel Boone, p5.

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