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Running Mad for Kentucky

Running Mad for Kentucky: Frontier Travel Accounts

Edited by Ellen Eslinger
Copyright Date: 2004
Edition: 1
Pages: 304
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  • Book Info
    Running Mad for Kentucky
    Book Description:

    The crossing of America's first great divide -- the Appalachian Mountains -- has been a source of much fascination but has received little attention from modern historians. In the eighteenth century, the Wilderness Road and Ohio River routes into Kentucky presented daunting natural barriers and the threat of Indian attack.Running Mad for Kentuckybrings this adventure to life. Primarily a collection of travel diaries, it includes day-to-day accounts that illustrate the dangers thousands of Americans, adult and child, black and white, endured to establish roots in the wilderness. Ellen Eslinger's vivid and extensive introductory essay draws on numerous diaries, letters, and oral histories of trans-Appalachian travelers to examine the historic consequences of the journey, a pivotal point in the saga of the continent's indigenous people. The book demonstrates how the fabled soil of Kentucky captured the imagination of a young nation.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-4780-2
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-vii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. viii-viii)
  4. Preface
    (pp. ix-xii)
  5. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  6. Introduction Early Explorations
    (pp. 1-66)

    A number of Spanish, French, and English explorers and traders infiltrated the North American interior in the latter part of the seventeenth century. Perhaps the most important was Robert Cavalier Sieur de la Salle in 1669, who established the claim of France from the headwaters of the Ohio River down to the falls at the present site of Louisville. This expedition was followed by Father [Jacques] Marquette’s journey from Lake Michigan to the Mississippi and in 1682, a second journey by la Salle from the Illinois River to the Gulf of Mexico. A chain of French military outposts, trading houses,...

  7. Part One. The Revolutionary Era

    • 1 William Calk, 1775
      (pp. 69-74)

      1775 March 13th mond[ay] I set out from prince wm.[County] To travel to Caintuck. on tuesday Night our company all Got together at Mr Prises on Rapadan [River] Which was ABraham hanks philip Drake Eanock Smith Robert Whitledge & my Self. then abrams Dogs leg got broke by Drake’s Dog—¹

      wedns 15th we started Early from prises. made a good Days travel & lodge this Night at mr cars on North fork [of the] James River.

      thurs 16th we started Early. it Raind [the] Chief part of the Day. Snowd in the Eavening very hard & was very coald....

    • 2 Nicholas Cresswell, 1775
      (pp. 75-90)

      April 14th 1775. This morning, Rice and another man began to cut down a tree to make a Canoe. Have left entirely to his management. Captn. Douglas and Captn. Stephenson to the Steward’s Crossings to Major [Valentine] Crawfords. Returned to V. Crawfords in the evening. Agreed to go with Captn. Douglas for Fort Pitt to-morrow.

      Saturday, April 15th, 1775. Left Mr. Crawford’s in company with Captn. Douglas. Crossed Jacob’s Creek and Saweekly Creek.

      Got to Mr. John De Camp’s. Land very rich and level.

      Fort Pitt, Virginia, Sunday, April 16th, 1775. Left Mr. De Camp’s. Travelled over small hills, woods,...

    • 3 James Nourse, 1775
      (pp. 91-103)

      [April 21, 1775] ... the timber lofty, yet the country not so desirable, being more hilly; very disagreeable riding, especialy in wett weather, the side of the hills being dangerously slippy, and ride which way you will you are continualy mounting or descending-got my linen washed and Miss Gist altered my hunting shirt.¹ The inhabitants so distressed this spring that they are going [east] over the mountain continualy with pack horses for flour. Mr. Taylor gave 20 p[er] hundred P:C for flour at Gregg’s ordinary and 9 p lb for bacon

      Saturday 22d Tom not being at Gist’s, when the...

    • 4 James Smith, 1783
      (pp. 104-113)

      Mon. [October] 13th. Mr. Fendley [who had hosted Smith the previous night] having just returned from Kentucky, gave us the following information. That some Indian traders at the Chickeymogey [Chickamauga]⁴ nation had sent express to Col. [Joseph] Martin, superintendent of Indian affairs, residing at the long islands on Holstein [Holston River] informing him that a body of Indians in number about 150 had started from the nation, and it was conjectured that their destination was either for the Kentucky road or the Cumberland settlement [future Tennessee]. That the like information had been despatched to Col. Ben Logan at Kentucky. In...

    • 5 Peter Muhlenberg, 1784
      (pp. 114-122)

      March 10th [1784]—We rode ten miles to Turtle Creek, which was very high; and the ice breaking, we cut down trees, and with their assistance got over. We crossed first, and then drew our horses over by a long rope. We got over in about two hours, and arrived at Fort Pitt in the afternoon, where I found Colonel Anderson, the principal surveyor, Dr. Skinner, and some other of my friends, waiting the clearing of the river [of ice], in order to proceed to the Falls [of the Ohio River, modern Louisville]. Colonel Anderson was kind enough to offer...

  8. Part Two. Postwar Expansion

    • 6 Samuel Shepard, 1787
      (pp. 125-129)

      October 4 moved on for Kentucky. I started in company with two other men going to Kentucky one Hadrian Moss [?] & I hired him to take about 13th [lbs.] weight of my load mostly clothing. I had still about 23 wt to carry beside my gun. I have lived the past summer with a good farmer & lived well.

      5 arrived at Lancaster.

      6 crossed the Susquehannah [River, Pennsylvania].

      10 crossed into the state of Maryland as Mr Froman [who] I was with had business there.

      11 Froman having many places to go to I took all my property...

    • 7 Mary Coburn Dewees, 1788
      (pp. 130-145)

      September 27th 1788. Left Philadel. about 5 oclock in the afternoon and tore ourselves from a number of dear friends that assembled to take a last farewell before we set off for Kentucky, made our first stay 6 miles from the City, being very sick the greatest part of the way.

      28th We left the sign of the Lamb [a tavern] at half past six A.M. and proceeded to Col. Websters 7 Miles. Where we breakfasted, and then set off for [a tavern known as] the United States which we reached at 5 oclock P.M. and put up for the...

    • 8 John May, 1788
      (pp. 146-156)

      Thursday, May 8: nothing extraordinary—my people catching fish and cooking and eating our chief business. I took a ramble this afternoon, up a very high mountain from whence I could look up and down the rivers a long distance, and see every house in Pittsburgh, distinctly so as to count them. one Fredrick Bossman unfortunately fell out of a scow in plain sight of my window this afternoon, and was drowned

      Friday, May 9: large numbers of people raking and grappling after Poor Fredrick. all kinds of supersticious incantations and old traditions are recalld and used to find the...

    • 9 Joel Watkins, 1789
      (pp. 157-172)

      There is nothing perhaps that renders any Persons Travels in a New Country more entertaining than taking a Just memorandum of what ever appears new or curious, Curiosity which is the great Promoter of man kind both to Action and speculation—For several years Past, I have had the greatest Curiosity of seeing the much famed Country Kentucky but could never make Conveniency Comply with my Curiosity untill the much wish’d for Opportunity from which time I began my Journey and Jurnal being Tuesday the 28th of April in year 1789—After taking Leave of my old Cottage and parting...

  9. Part Three. A New Era of Peace

    • 10 Moses Austin, 1796
      (pp. 175-182)

      On the 8. day of Decemb’r 1796 in the Evening I left Austin Ville on Hors Back takeing Jos. Bell as an assistant and a Mule to Pack my baggage and that night went to Mr. James Camp bells who on the morning of the 9 started with me for Kentuckey. Nothing of note took place from Mr Campbells to Capt Craggs where we arrived on the 11th at Eve furnishing ourselves with Blankets &c at [the town of] Abington as we pass.d.

      the Morning of the 12 I left Capt Cragg, in Companey with a Mr Wills from Richmond...

    • 11 Francis Baily, 1796
      (pp. 183-221)

      October17th, 1796 ... Pittsburgh is pleasantly situated at the junction of the Monongahela and Allegany rivers; the union of which two forms the beautiful river Ohio. The southern bank of the Monongahela is near 300 feet high, and almost perpendicular; the top of which subsides into a level country. The town, which is situated in north latitude 40° 25’ 50” is built on a beautiful plain at the point of the two rivers, which plain extends a considerable way along the banks of both, and at a small distance from them is terminated by the high country. This appearance...

    • 12 David Meade, 1796
      (pp. 222-235)

      Lexington, September ye 1st 96 My dear friend & Sister—In the short letter which I wrote you by Mr. O. Byrd I promised you that I would avail myself of the return of Judge Fleming to give you a more particular account of our present circumstances & the prospect we have before us of our future establishment, but will begin first with a narrative of our progress towards this Country and arrival at Lexington to which I may subjoin for the information of your sons particularly Brett & Ryland (who are the most likely to be interested by such...

    • 13 Andrew Ellicott, 1796
      (pp. 236-248)

      [September] 28th, Cloudy: left Greensburgh at seven o’clock in the morning, and rode to Col. John Irwin’s and took breakfast, from thence to M’Nair’s and dined. Left M’Nair’s in a heavy rain, which continued till I arrived at Pittsburgh.-Thermometer 60° in the morning, rose to 68°.

      The morning after my arrival at Pittsburgh I waited upon Major Craig, and found that he had two boats ready, one of them flat-bottomed, commonly called a Kentucky boat, the other a second hand keel-boat. These being insufficient he was requested to procure another, which he did in a few days, it was likewise...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 249-276)
  11. Sources
    (pp. 277-278)
  12. Index
    (pp. 279-288)