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Bill Thayer

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Pioneers of the Old Southwest
Constance Lindsay Skinner

The Author and the Work

Constance Skinner (1877‑1939) is best known as a novelist, but in tapping her for this little book of just under three hundred small pages, the editor of Yale Chronicles of America series did very well: that series may be popular history, but is proof that such books can be accurate and well-written, as this one is. In her background passages on the wilds of the new country the prose may sometimes be, well not quite purple, but varying shades of lavender, yet it all works to paint a very vivid picture; and the author gives us some excellent pages, as in her account of the remarkable James Adair in chapter 3, or in her crystal-clear summary of the French and Spanish intrigues in chapter 10, the best I've ever read of this murky topic.

 p. vii  Acknowledgment

This narrative is founded largely on original sources — on the writings and journals of pioneers and contemporary observers, such as Doddridge and Adair, and on the public documents of the period as printed in the Colonial Records and in the American Archives. But the author is, nevertheless, greatly indebted to the researches of other writers, whose works are cited in the Bibliographical Note. The author's thanks are due, also, to Dr. Archibald Henderson, of the University of North Carolina, for his kindness in reading the proofs of this book for comparison with his own extended collection of unpublished manuscripts relating to the period.

C. L. S.

April, 1919.

The Tread of Pioneers




The Trader


The Passing of the French Peril


Boone, the Wanderer


The Fight for Kentucky


The Dark and Bloody Ground




King's Mountain


Sevier, the Statemaker


Boone's Last Days

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Technical Details

Edition Used

The edition transcribed here is the "Textbook Edition" in the Chronicles of America Series, Yale University Press. It was copyright 1919 and is thus now in the public domain: details here on the copyright law involved.


As almost always, I retyped the text by hand rather than scanning it — not only to minimize errors prior to proofreading, but as an opportunity for me to become intimately familiar with the work, an exercise I heartily recommend: Qui scribit, bis legit. (Well-meaning attempts to get me to scan text, if success­ful, would merely turn me into some kind of machine: gambit declined.)

Just as I was wrapping up, I discovered that Project Gutenberg also has the book (drat): but in fact I hardly regret the eight days I spent on it. Their version, too, may be more useful to some, since it comes in various flavors — Kindle, EPUB, etc.

At any rate, my own transcription has been minutely proofread. In the table of contents above, the sections are shown on blue backgrounds, indicating that I believe the text of them to be completely errorfree. As elsewhere onsite, the header bar at the top of each chapter's webpage will remind you with the same color scheme.

The edition I followed was almost perfectly proofread, the two typographical errors are on p23 and p263; my corrections are marked, when important (or unavoidable because inside a link), with a bullet like this;º and when trivial, with a dotted underscore like this: as elsewhere on my site, glide your cursor over the bullet or the underscored words to read what was actually printed. Similarly, bullets before measurements provide conversions to metric, e.g., 10 miles.

A number of odd spellings, curious turns of phrase, etc. have been marked <!‑‑ sic  in the sourcecode, just to confirm that they were checked.

Any over­looked mistakes, please drop me a line, of course: especially if you have a copy of the printed book in front of you.

Pagination and Local Links

For citation and indexing purposes, the pagination is shown in the right margin of the text at the page turns (like at the end of this line); p57  these are also local anchors. Sticklers for total accuracy will of course find the anchor at its exact place in the sourcecode.

In addition, I've inserted a number of other local anchors: whatever links might be required to accommodate the author's own cross-references, as well as a few others for my own purposes. If in turn you have a website and would like to target a link to some specific passage of the text, please let me know: I'll be glad to insert a local anchor there as well.

[image ALT: A montage of five portraits of 18c men: Daniel Boone, Alexander McGillivray, John Sevier, Richard Henderson, James Robertson.]

The icon I use to indicate this subsite is a montage of contemporary portraits of some of the book's principals: the westernmost is Daniel Boone, and after him, clockwise, Alexander McGillivray, John Sevier, Richard Henderson, James Robertson. They look West to the setting sun that colors their faces, taking a cue from two passages in the book (p37p271).

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Site updated: 4 May 13