June 7, 1769 — Today, Daniel Boone began exploring the Bluegrass State of Kentucky. He wrote: “I surveyed the famous river Ohio, that rolled in silent dignity, marking the western boundary of Kentucky with inconceivable grandeur.”
Born in eastern Pennsylvania in 1734, Boone moved with his family to North Carolina in 1753. It was from there that he made his first excursion across the Appalachian Mountains into neighboring Kentucky, where found the lush countryside teeming with game. He devoted the next two years to roaming the region.
Boone again ventured into Bluegrass Country in 1775 as a leader of a team clearing a road through the wilderness from Virginia to central Kentucky. This “Wilderness Road” pierced the barrier of the Appalachian Mountains through the Cumberland Gap.
With the end of the American Revolution, this route became a major avenue for the westward migration of the early pioneers. In the same year, Boone moved his family to Kentucky and founded the settlement of Boonesborough. In the following years, tales of his exploits magnified his image, blurring the line separating fact from fiction and transforming Boone into a symbol of America’s self reliance and independent spirit.
A description of Boone’s exploits is well told by author John Filson, who made his way to Kentucky in 1783 to seek his fortune. He connected with Boone, and felt compelled to chronicle Boone’s adventures. A book was the result, and it was first published in 1784 before being republished in England and Europe. This text established Boone as a folk hero.
Words of Wisdom
It was on the 1st of May in the year 1769, that I resigned my domestic happiness for a time, and left my family and peaceable habitation on the Yadkin river, in North Carolina, to wander through the wilderness of America, in quest of the country of Kentucky, in company with John Finley, John Stewart, Joseph Holden, James Monay, and William Cool.
We proceeded successfully; and after a long and fatiguing journey, through a mountainous wilderness, in a westward direction, on the seventh day of June following we found ourselves on Red river, where John Finley had formerly been trading with the Indians, and, from the top of an eminence, saw with pleasure the beautiful level of Kentucky.