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Westward into Kentucky

Westward into Kentucky: The Narrative of Daniel Trabue

Edited by Chester Raymond Young
With a New Foreword by Daniel Blake Smith
Copyright Date: 1981
Edition: 1
Pages: 234
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  • Book Info
    Westward into Kentucky
    Book Description:

    In his youth Daniel Trabue (1760--1840) served as a Virginia soldier in the Revolutionary War. After three years of service on the Kentucky frontier, he returned home to participate as a sutler in the Yorktown campaign. Following the war he settled in the Piedmont, but by 1785 his yearning to return westward led him to take his family to Kentucky, where they settled for a few years in the upper Green River country. He recorded his narrative in 1827, in the town of Columbia, of which he was a founder. A keen observer of people and events, Trabue captures experiences of everyday life in both the Piedmont and frontier Kentucky. His notes on the settling of Kentucky touch on many important moments in the opening of the Bluegrass region.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-4926-4
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. vii-x)
    Daniel Blake Smith

    Kentucky began as a dream. For some, it promised an edenic paradise across the mountains; for others, it was hope for a second chance, a place to start over. One of the many virtues of Daniel Trabue’s colorfulWestward into Kentuckylies in the evocative way that it captures the seductive sense of wonder and hope that beckoned borderers. Just as memorably, it suggests the gritty and bitter reality of dashed dreams in early Kentucky.

    As a young adolescent in revolutionary Virginia, Daniel Trabue’s interest in Kentucky was stimulated initially with the stories told by his older brother James. James...

  4. Preface
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-34)

    When Daniel Trabue came home from Yorktown in the fateful autumn of 1781—home to his widowed mother’s farm on Tomahawk Creek in upper Chesterfield County, Virginia—his head was full of unforgettable memories and his pockets were full of jingling specie, the coin of several kings’ realms. The memories he would use as the stock-in-trade of the raconteur, not that of the historian or the philosopher. The coin he would use in pursuing business enterprises. Daniel was destined to tell and retell the things he himself had experienced and the happenings friends had recounted to him. Calling back his...


    • 1 The Huguenot Heritage
      (pp. 37-43)

      The Biography of Daniel Trabue.¹ I was born March 31, 1760,² as per Register, in chesterfield county, Virginia, 15 Miles from the city of Richmond. My Progenitors was from France. My Grandfather Anthony Trabue Fled from France in the year of our lord 1687³ at a time of a bloody persicution against the Desenters by the Roman Catholicks.⁴

      The law against the Desenters was very Rigid at that time. Who Ever was known to be one or Evin suspected—if they would not swear to suite the priest—their lives and estates was forfited and they put to the most...

    • 2 A Martial Introduction to the Kentucky Wilderness
      (pp. 44-50)

      The same Fall or begining of Winter Col. G. Rogers Clark from Hanover’ was Fixing for a Campaighn to go Down the Ohia to the Falls.² The Virginia Legislator had authorised him to raise an army and go westward,³ and my Oldest brother—to wit, James Trabue—agreed with him to inlist some men and go with him as Lieut.⁴ I agreed to go with him. I got well and hearty and in the last of January or February 1778 we set out for our Jurney.⁵ The most of the men that had enlisted with my brother had gone on...

    • 3 Disruptive Indian Incursions
      (pp. 51-56)

      The indians was very troublesome this summer. They was almost or very often waching the roads, killing Men, or steeling our horses, or killing our cattle.

      Col. Harrod lived at Hirrodsburgh. His wif’s father and mother lived at our Fort-to wit, Loga’s Fort. Thir name was Cobern.¹ They moved to Herodsburgh and anumber of men conducted them when they moved but they Did not Remove all their Goods, etc., and old Mr. Cobern came up for the ballance of goods and had only 2 Men with him—To wit, Mr. Walker and Mr. McCoy. And in the morning when he...

    • 4 The “Big Siege” of Boonesborough
      (pp. 57-68)

      James Trabue started to Virginia¹ to go home and also to go to Williamsburgh at the seat of government to get Mony for to pay for the provesions we had bought.²

      About this time Mr. Hincock,³ who had lived at Boonsbourrough [and] who had been a presoner with the shoney Indians and at Detroyt, made his escape and Came to boonsbourough and informed them that the Indeans in a great army⁴ was a coming to take boonsbourough; that Col. Daniel Boon was at Detroyt⁵ and had agreed with the british officers⁶ that he would come with the Indians, and that...

    • 5 The “Hard Winter” of 1779-1780
      (pp. 69-78)

      Two of the men that came out with the powder and lead which lived near Col. Calleway when he lived in Bedford county by the name of Moses Mcilwain¹ and Ambres White.² They stopt at Boonsbourough and in a few Days Mr. Muckilwain and Mr. White went to the woods with some other men to explore and see the rich land on the other side of the Ky. River. A party of Indians found them out and way laid them. Mr. Muckilwain was took prisoner, also Mr. White was taken prisoner and badly wounded. The Indians took them to their...

    • 6 The Captivity and Escape of Two Trabue Brothers
      (pp. 79-94)

      It was concluded upon, that I should conduct uncl [Bartholomew] Dupuy, Col. Sherwin,¹ Docter scott, all from Amelia county, Virginia, to Leuisvile to see the country and git provisions to go to virginia. Mr. S. Smith also sent a young man with us. We took 2 or 3 pack horses.

      We called on Col. Floyd on bear Grass.² Floyd informed us the Indians was very Troublesome in small companies, Done much Mischief in steeling their horses and killing people. Floyd said he was Determined upon waching on perticular places on the Ohia for them and kill one or more. I...

    • 7 Militia Service in Old Virginia
      (pp. 95-105)

      In January 1781 the british¹ came to Richmond,² 15 Miles from where we lived. Brother William and my self Got on our horses and went Down to Manchester,³ the oppeset side of the River from Richmond. All our county men also meet their. We remained their until the neighbouring countys also came.⁴ And when the Britsh found out so many Militia a gethering⁵ they burned the ware houses of Tobaco and some other houses and went Down the River and got in their ships and went of[f] again.⁶ Col. Robert Haskins⁷ Commanded this army. We was soon Discharged.⁸

      And in...

    • 8 Wartime Stress on Civilian Life
      (pp. 106-113)

      Col. Good,¹ the Commander of the Militia in our county, wanted some body to go with Despaches to General Layfatte. Our Goviner Tom Jefferson was at this time up the River at charlottsvil with our Legislator.²

      I agreed to go for Col. Good and started on sunday Morning [June 3, 1781 ]. I crossed James River at the Manekin town ferry² and in Gochland county about 18 Miles from home. As I was a going on I meet people the roadfull a runing and was rideing. The cry was, “British! British!”⁴

      “Where are they at?”

      “Col. Dandridge’s.”⁵

      I went one...

    • 9 Yorktown and War’s End
      (pp. 114-127)

      There is now a Great Difference in seeing people plenty stiring about in the country and at their homes. When Corn Wallis and Talton was roveing about I could hardley see any person. Although the Militia is all called on to go to camp,¹ now you may often see people—old men and boys, Old woman and girles, and negros—and Don’t offer to run and hide as formerly; but would run to us for the knews, sending letters and other things to their men in camp—like a little coffey, chockelitt, or cloathing—and enquereing and saying, “Do you...

    • 10 The Separate Baptists of Revolutionary Virginia
      (pp. 128-133)

      I had sold my land and Mill to Col. Fleming¹ for which he was to pay me a goodly sum of mony but Failed in the payment of the mony.² His credit with the Merchants of Richmond was Good, and I took up the most of it in Merchandise. I got the goods at holesale prices so that I thought I could advance on them. I also turned other Debts to Merchandise so that I thought I had a pirty good assortment of Merchandise³ and I could trade of[f] the Goods to a good advantage in Ky.

      This was in...

    • 11 Postwar Conditions in Trans-Appalachia
      (pp. 134-145)

      We Did intend to start to Kentucky the first of september [1785] but we Did not git off so soon. Capt. John Watkins and his family and his sonin-law James lockit¹ went with us.

      When we first started when Sunday came we lay by and would not travil. But on one sunday when we was between winchester and Red stone² we concluded to travel, as we thought we ought to hurry on for fear the cold weather might ketch us. And as we passed by one of the Squers he sent two young men to his big gate on the...

    • 12 Violence on the Kentucky Frontier
      (pp. 146-154)

      And on the day¹ appointed they² come. I Furnished them with Mony for their expences and ammonition, etc., and they set out. They persued Down the River³ and often heard of them [the Harpes], and when they was in the Checkeesaw Nation⁴ 2 of the McFarlins was took with the Ague and fever. Remained their some time and in the fall they Returned but had Done nothing. The legislater passed a law in their favour⁵ and gave them $[150], which sum nearly satisfyed them includeing what I gave them at ther start.

      Account of the Harps. It is sayed these...

  7. Notes
    (pp. 155-199)
  8. Bibliographical Essay
    (pp. 200-208)
  9. Index
    (pp. 209-218)