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Felix Walker's [husband of 1265 Susan Robertson] Narrative of His Trip With Daniel Boone from Long Island of Holston to Boonesborough in March 1775


In the month of February in that year Capt. William Twetty [Twitty], Samuel Coburn, James Bridges, Thomas Johnson, John Hart, William Hicks, James Peeke and myself, set out from Rutherford County, North Carolina, to explore a country by the name of Leowvisay, greatly renowed, and highly spoken of as the best quality of land, abounding in game, now the state of Kentucky.

We placed ourselves under the care and direction of Capt. Twetty, an active and enterprising woodsman, of original good mind and great benevolence, and although a light habited man, in strength and agility of bodily powers was not surpassed by any of his day and time; well calculated for the enterprise.

We proceeded to Watawgo River, a tributary stream of Holsteen, to the residence of Col. Charles Robertson, now in the State of Tennessee, where a treaty was held by Col. Richard Henderson and his associates, with the Cherokee tribe of indians, for the purchase of that section of country we were going to visit, then called the Bloody Ground, so named from the continual wars and quarrels of the hunting parties of indians of different tribes who all claimed the ground as their own, and the privilege of hunting the game; who murdered and plundered each other, as opportunity afforded.

We continued to Watawgo during the treaty, which lasted about twenty days. Among others, there was a distinguished chief called Atticulaculla, the Indian name, known to the white people by the name of Little Carpenter — in allusion, say the Indians, to his deep artful, and ingenious diplomatic abilities, ably demonstrated in negotiating treaties with the white people and influence in their national councils; like as a white carpenter could make every notch and joint fit in wood, so he could bring all his views to fill and fit their places in the political machinery of his nation. He was the most celebrated and influential Indian among all the tribes then known; considered as the Solon of his day. He was said to be about ninety years of age, a very small man, and so lean and light habited, that I scarcely believe he would have exceeded more in weight than a pound for each year of his life. He was marked with two large scores or scars on each cheek, his ears cut and banded with silver, hanging nearly down on each shoulder, the ancient Indian mode of distinction in some tribes and fashion in others. In one of his public talks delivered to the whites, he spoke to this effect: he was an old man, had presided as chief in their council, and as president of his nation for more than half a century, had formerly been appointed agent and envoy extraordinary to the king of England on business of the first importance to his nation; he crossed the big river, arrived at his destination, was received with great distinction, had the honor of dining with his majesty and the nobility; had the utmost respect paid him by the great men among the white people; had accomplished his mission with success; and from the long standing in highest dignities of his nation, he claimed the confidence and good faith in all and everything he would advance in support of the rightful claims of his people to the Blood Ground then in treaty to be said to the white people. His name is mentioned in the life of General Marion, at a treaty held with the Cherokees at Kewee in South Carolina in the year 1762 or '63.

The treaty being concluded and the purchase made, we proceeded on our journey to meet Col. Daniel Boone, with other adventurers bound to the same country; accordingly we met and rendezvoused at the Long Island on Holsteen River, united our small force with Col. Boon and his associates, his brother, Squire Boon, and Col. Richard Callaway of Virginia. Our company, when united, amounted to 30 persons. We then, by general consent, put ourselves under the management of Col. Boon who was to be our pilot and conductor through the wilderness, to the promised land; perhaps no adventurers since the days of Don Quixote, or before, ever felt so cheerful and elated in prospect; every heart abounded with joy and excitement in anticipating the new things we would see, and the romantic scenes through which we must pass; and, exclusive of the novelty of the journey, the advantages and accumulations ensuing on the settlement of a new country was a dazzling object with many of our company. Under the influence of these impressions, we went our way rejoicing with transporting views of our success, taking our leave of the civilized world for a season.

About the 10th of March we put off from the Long Island, marked out our track with our hatchets, crossed Clince and Powell's river, over Cumberland mountain, and crossed Cumberland River — came to a watercourse called by Col. _____ Rockcastle River, killed a fine bear on our way, camped all night and had an excellent super.

On, leaving that river, we had to encounter and cut our way through a country of about twenty miles, entirely covered with dead brush, which we found a difficult and laborious task. At the end of which we arrived at the commencement of a cane country, traveled about thirty miles through thick cane and reed, and as the cane ceased, we began to discover the pleasing and rapturous appearance of the plains of Kentucky. A new sky and strange earth seemed to be presented to our view. So rich a soil we had never seen before, covered with clover in full bloom, the woods were abounding with wild game – turkeys so numerous that it might be said they appeared but one flock, universally scattered in the sight so delightful to our view and grateful to our feelings, almost inclined us, in imitation of Columbus, in transport to kill the soil of Kentucky, as he hailed and saluted the sand on his first setting foot on the shores of America. The appearance of the country coming up to the full measure of our expectations, and seemed to exceed the fruitful source of our imaginary prospects.

We felt ourselves to be passengers through a wilderness just arrived at the fields of Elysium, or at the garden where was no forbidden fruit. Nothing can furnish the contemplative mind with more sublime reflections, than nature unbroken by are; we can there trace the wisdom of the Great Architect in the construction of his work in nature's simplicity, which, when he had finished he pronounced all good. But, alas! the vision of a moment made dream of a dream, and the shadow of a shade. Man may appoint, but One greater than men can disappoint. A sad reverse overtook us two days after, on our way to Kentucky river. On the 25th of March 1775, we were fired on by the Indians, in our camp
asleep, about an hour before day. Capt. Twetty was shot in both knees, and died third day after. A black man, his body servant, killed dead; myself badly wounded, our company dispersed. So fatal and tragic an event cast a deep gloom of melancholy over all our prospects, and high calculations of long life and happy days in our newly discovered country were prostrated; hope vanished from the most of us and left us suspended in the tumult of uncertainty and conjecture. Col. Boon, and a few others, appeared to possess firmness and fortitude. In our calamitous situation, a circumstance occurred one morning after our misfortunes, that proved the courage and stability of our few remaining men (for some had gone back). One of our men, who had run off at the fire of the Indians on our camp, was discovered peeping from behind a tree, by a black woman belonging to Col. Callaway, while gathering some wood. She ran in and gave the alarm of Indians. Col. Boon instantly caught his rifle, ordered the men to form, take trees, and give battle, and not to run until they saw him fall. They formed agreeably to his directions and I believe they would have fought with equal bravery to any Spartan band ever brought to the field of action when the man behind the tree announced his name and came in. My situation was critical and dangerous, being then a youth three hundred miles from white inhabitants. My friend and guardian, Capt. Twetty, taken dead from my side, my wounds pronounced by some to be mortal, produced very serious reflections. Yet withal I retained firmness to support me under the pressure of distressed, and did not suffer me languish in depression of mind.

But shall I begin, or where can I end, in thanks and grateful acknowledgement to that benign and merciful Protector who spared and preserved me in the blaze of danger and in the midst of death! I trust I shall remember that singular and protecting event with filial sensations of gratitude, while I retain my recollections. We remained in the same place twelve days. I could not be removed sooner without the danger of instant death. At length I was carried in a litter between two horses, twelve miles to Kentucky river, where we made a station, and called it Boonsborough, situated in a plain on the south side of the river, wherein was a lick with two sulphur springs strongly impregnated. On entering the plain we were permitted to view a very interesting and romantic sight. A number of buffaloes, of all sizes, supposed to be between two and three hundred, made off from the lick in every direction, some running, some walking, others loping slowly and carelessly, with young calves playing, skipping and bounding through the plain. Such a sight some of had never saw before, nor perhaps may never again. But to proceed, Col. Richard Henderson, Col. Luttrell, from North Carolina, Capt. William Cock, since the Honorable Judge Cock, of Tennessee, and Col. Thomas Slaughter, of Virginia, arrived in the month of April with a company of about thirty men. Our military forces, when united, numbered about sixty or sixty five men, expert riflemen. We lived plentifully on wild meat, buffalo, bear, deer, and turkey, without bread or salt, generally in good health; until the month of July, when I left the country. Col. Richard Henderson, being the chief proprietor in the purchase of the bloody ground (indeed so to us), acted as Governor, called an assembly in May 1775, consisting of eighteen members, exclusive of the speaker, passed several laws for the regulation of our little community, well adapted to the policy of an infant government.

This assembly was held under two shade trees in the plains of Boonsborough. This was the first feature of civilization ever attempted in what is now called the Western Country.

This small beginning, that little germ of policy, by a few adventurers from North Carolina, has given birth to the now flourishing State of Kentucky. From that period the population increased with such rapidity, that in less than twenty years, it became a State. In justice to Col. Henderson, it may be said, that his message or address to the assembly alluded to was considered equal to any of like kind ever delivered to any deliberate body in that day and time.

In the sequel and conclusion of my narrative I must not neglect to give honor to whom honor is due: Col Boone conducted the company under his care through the wilderness, with great propriety, intrepity and courage; and was I to enter an exception to any part of his conduct, it would be on the ground that he appeared void of fear and of consequence too little caution for the enterprise. But let me, with feeling recollection and lasting gratitude: ever remembering the unremitting kindness, sympathy, and attention paid to me by Col. Boone in my distress. He was my father, my physical [physician] and friend; he attended me as his child, cured my wounds by the use of medicines from the woods, nursed me with paternal affection until I recovered, without the expectation of reward. Gratitude is the only tribute I can pay to his memory. He is now beyond the praise or the blame of mortals, in that world unknown from whose bourne no traveler returns. I also was kindly treated by all my companions, particularly John Kennedy. From Capt. Cock I received kind and friendly attentions.

Col. James Herrod, my old acquaintances in North Carolina come up to see me tarried a few days. Being a little recovered, I went home with him to his station, since called Herodsburgh, where he had a few men. I tarried there two weeks, and returned to Boonsborough. These two stations contained the whole population of that country, which did not exceed in number one hundred men.

The company in our station continued to traverse the country through woods and wilds, choosing their lots of future inheritance, until the month of July, when I returned home to my father's residence in North Carolina and I have not seen Kentucky since, which I have often regretted.

I have often been soliticited to make a publication of this adventure, but still declined. Until late, there appears something like it in the newspapers, which is not correct. I, therefore thought it incumbent on me, as one of the company, and in possession of all the facts, to make this statement, and give it publicity, which I know to be truth by hard experience; and perhaps I may be the last solitary individual of that number left to give a correct relation of that adventure.

Source: George W. Ranck, Boonesborough Its Founding, Pioneer Struggles, Indian Experiences, Transylvania Days and Revolutionary Annals (Louisville, Kentucky: J.P.Morton and Co., 1901), Appendix G. Written about 1824 and originally published in DeBow's Review, February 1854.

Last updated: Friday, March 14, 2003

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