Introducing Daniel Boone
You remember that when the Last French War began, in 1756, the English colonists lived almost entirely east of the Alleghany Mountains. If you will look at your map, you will see how small a part of our present great country they occupied.
Even up to the beginning of the Revolution the Americans had few settlers west of the Alleghanies, and had done very little there to make good their claims to land.
Yet at the close of the war we find that their western boundary-line had been pushed back as far as the Mississippi River. How this was done we shall see if we turn our attention to those early hunters and backwoodsmen who did great service to our country as pioneers in opening up new lands.
One of the most famous of these was Daniel Boone. He was born in Pennsylvania, and, like many of the heroes of the Revolution, he was born in the “thirties” (1735).
As a boy, Daniel liked to wander in the woods with musket and fishing-rod, and was never so happy as when alone in the wild forest. The story is told that while a mere lad he wandered one day into the woods some distance from home and built himself a rough shelter of logs, where he would spend days at a time, with only his rifle for company.
As he was a “good shot,” we may be sure he never went hungry for lack of food. The game which his rifle brought down he would cook over a pile of burning sticks. If you have done outdoor camp cooking, you can almost taste its woodland flavor. Then at night as he lay under the star-lit sky on a bed of leaves, with the skin of a wild animal for covering, a prince might have envied his dreamless slumber.
This free, wild life made him thoroughly at home in the forests, and trained him for the work he was to do later as a fearless hunter and woodsman.
When Daniel was about thirteen years old his father removed to North Carolina and settled on the Yadkin River. There the boy grew to manhood. After his marriage, at twenty, he built himself a hut far out in the lonely forest, beyond the homes of the other settlers.
But he was a restless man and looked with longing toward the rugged mountains on the west. Along the foothills other pioneer settlers and hunters had taken up their abode. And young Boone’s imagination leaped to the country beyond the mountains, where the forest stretched for miles upon miles, no one knew how far, to the Mississippi River. It was an immense wilderness teeming with game, and he wanted to hunt and explore in it.
He was twenty-five when he made the first “long hunt” we know about. At this time he went as far as what is now Boone’s Creek, in eastern Tennessee.
Other trips doubtless he made which increased his love for wandering; and in 1769, nine years after his first trip, having heard from a stray Indian of a wonderful hunting-ground far to the west, he started out with this Indian and four other men to wander through the wilderness of Kentucky.
For five weeks these bold hunters threaded their way through lonely and pathless mountain forests, facing many dangers from wild beasts and Indians.