D ANIEL BOONE was one of the first settlers in Kentucky. He had to fight wild animals and Indians, but he liked it. He loved adventure, and went forth to find a home for his family in the deep and unbroken forest. He came to Kentucky, in June, 1769, with five companions. We will let him tell his story in his own words:
"We found, everywhere, abundance of wild beasts of all sorts through the vast forest. The buffaloes were more numerous than cattle in the settlements, fearless because ignorant of the violence of man. Sometimes we saw hundreds in a drove, and the numbers about the salt springs were amazing.
"As we ascended the brow of a small hill, near the Kentucky River, some Indians rushed out of a thick cane-brake upon us, and made us prisoners. They plundered us of what we had, and kept us in confinement seven days. During this time we showed no uneasiness or desire to escape, which made them less suspicious of us. But, in the dead of night, as we lay in a thick cane-brake by a large fire, I touched my companion, and gently woke him. We improved this favorable opportunity, and departed, leaving the Indians to take their rest.
"Soon after this, my companion in captivity was killed by the savages, and the man that came with my brother returned home by himself. We were then in a dangerous, helpless situation, exposed daily to perils and death among savages and wild beasts, not a white man in the country but ourselves. One day I took a tour through the country, and the beauties of nature I met with expelled every gloomy and vexatious thought. I laid me down to sleep, and awoke not until the sun had chased away night.
"I returned to my old camp, which was not disturbed. I did not confine my lodging to it, but often slept in the thick cane-brakes to avoid the savages, who, I believe, often visited my camp, but fortunately in my absence. In this situation I was constantly exposed to danger and death. In 1772, I returned safe to my old home, and found my family in happy circumstances.
"I sold my farm and what goods we could not carry with us, and, in company with five families more and forty men that joined us, we proceeded on our journey to Kentucky. After two weeks, the rear of our company was attacked by a number of Indians, who killed six men and wounded another. Of these my eldest son was one who fell in the action. This unhappy affair scattered our cattle, and so discouraged the whole company that we retreated to the settlement on Clinch River.
"Within fifteen miles of where Boonesborough now stands we were fired upon by Indians, who killed two and wounded two of our numbers. Although surprised and taken at a disadvantage, we stood our ground. Three days later we were fired upon again, and two men were killed and three were wounded. Afterwards, we proceeded to the Kentucky River without opposition, and began to erect the fort at Boonesborough, at a salt lick, about sixty yards from the river on the south side.
"In July three girls, one of them my daughter, were taken prisoners near the fort. I pursued the Indians with only eight men, overtook them, killed two of the party, and recovered the girls. Shortly afterwards, a party of about two hundred Indians attacked Boonesborough. They besieged us forty-eight hours, during which time seven of them were killed. At last, finding themselves not likely to prevail, they raised the siege and departed.
"In October, a party of Indians made an excursion into the district called the Crab Orchard, and one of them, who was advanced some distance before the others, boldly entered the house of a poor, defenseless family, in which was only a negro man, a woman, and her children. The savage attempted to capture the negro, who happily proved too strong for him and threw him on the ground; in the struggle, the mother of the children drew an ax from a corner of the cottage, and cut his head off, while her daughter shut the door.
"The other savages appeared, and applied their tomahawks to the door. An old rusty gun-barrel, without a lock, lay in the corner; this the mother put through a small crevice in the door, perceiving which the Indians fled. In the meantime, the alarm spread through the neighborhood. The armed men collected, and pursued the savages into the wilderness. From that time the Indians did us no mischief.
"I can now confess that I have proved true the saying of an old Indian, who, on signing a deed for his land, remarked, 'Brother, we have given you a fine land, but you will have much trouble in settling it.' Many dark and sleepless nights have I been the companion of owls, separated from the cheerful society of men, scorched by the summer's sun, and pinched by the winter's cold, an instrument ordained to settle the wilderness."