Lucien Beckner, "John Findley: The First Pathfinder of Kentucky," THE FILSON CLUB HISTORY QUARTERLY 1 (1927) 111-22

1927

Lucien Beckner, "John Findley: The First Pathfinder of Kentucky," THE FILSON CLUB HISTORY QUARTERLY 1 (1927) 111-22

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1: The first Kentucky "boomer." Taught DB many of the topographical names. Born in Ireland in 1722, Emigrated with parents soon after, grew up around Lancaster, learning the languages and trading customs of the Delawares and Shawnees. Licensed as Indian trader by Pennsylvania in 1744. The same year he married Elizabeth Harris, daughter of John Harris the Indian trader and ferry owner at Harrisburg. Home in Paxtang township. By 1748 he was trading as far west as the Allegheny. Headquarters at Shanopinstown, small trading post at the site of Pittsburgh. In 1751 he was captured and held prisoner by the French. In 1752 was partner with Paul Pierce and William Bryan on a commercial venture to Pickawillany, the big Pict town near present Piqua, Ohio. Goods valued at L1142. In the French attack on this town he lost these goods. Only 32 he had twice lost what was then considered a fortune. Fall of 1752 he bought a stock of goods and with four assistants paddled down the Ohio. Stopped awhile at Shawneetown. Then to the falls of the Ohio, turned back to the mouth of Big Bone Creek. Met a party of Shawnees returning from a hunt in Illinois, invited him to o with them to the town of Eskippakithiki in the Kentucky Plain where they assured him he would find a rich harvest of furs and skins. There he built a cabin and surrounded it with a stockaded pound where he might shelter his horses at night and protect himself from his Indian neighbors when they were excited. His gate posts and cabin were still standing when the whites came in 1775. The town was on the great Warriors' Trace. Other stopping places on the trace: Upper Blue Lick, Indian Old Fields, caves of the Pictured Rocks at the head of Station Camp Creek, Flat Lick in Knox County. Findley learned the lay of the land and its names: Licking river, Kentucky Plain, Pilot Knob, Wasioto Pass. Pilot Knob was important because it directed to the Kentucky Plain; Kentucky River because it was the route to the Kentucky Plain. He later gave this information to Boone. Attacked by a band of Ottawas and Caghnawagas -- French praying Indians. Lucien Beckner, "John Findley: The First Pathfinder of Kentucky," FILSON CLUB HISTORY QUARTERLY 1 (1927):111-22.

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1927

Lucien Beckner, "John Findley: The First Pathfinder of Kentucky," THE FILSON CLUB HISTORY QUARTERLY 1 (1927) 111-22

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Major William Trent, a leading trader, to Governor Hamilton of Pennsylvania, 4/10/1753: <I have received a letter just now from Mr. Croghan, wherein he acquaints me that fifty-odd Ottawas, Coneqagos, one Dutchman, and one of the Six Natons, who was their captain, met with some of our people at a place called Kentucky, on this side of Allegheny River, about one hundred and fifty miles from the Lower Shawneetown. They took eight prisoners, five belonging to Mr. Croghan and me, the others to Lowry: they took three or four hundred pounds worth of goods from us; one of them made his escape after he had been a prisoner three days. Three of John Findley's men are killed by the little Pict town Eskippakithiki, and no account of himself.> This may be the earliest appearance of the word "Kentucky" Lucien Beckner, "John Findley: The First Pathfinder of Kentucky," FILSON CLUB HISTORY QUARTERLY 1 (1927):114-115

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1927

Lucien Beckner, "John Findley: The First Pathfinder of Kentucky," THE FILSON CLUB HISTORY QUARTERLY 1 (1927) 111-22

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2: Kentucky was restricted to the big level on the Warriors' trace, located in present Clark County, and to the river that drained it. Its wider usage grew out of the Virginian and Carolinian custom of speaking of the country beyond the mountains as the "western waters," and out of the further fact that the first settlements were made on the Kentucky River. Findley escaped with John Falkner, his fourth servant. Crossed the snow-clad wintry mountains to Findley's home in Pennsylvania. Findley was back at Shanopinstown in 1753. He probably enlisted in Braddock's army in the company of his brother-in-law, Captain John Harris. He is lost to history from 1755-57. In 1758 he was in Captain Charles McClung's company, mustered in his own neighborhood, for the defense of the frontier. Was a civilian resident at Fort Pitt in 1760. Probably owned a trading store there. 1764, for the trading house of Baynton, Wharton & Morgan he sailed down the Ohio with a trading fleet to the Mississippi French post of Fort Chartres. Thinks he may have been a horse trader, and that is why Moses Boone mentions the horse. Equipment on the Kentucky exploration: rife, tomahawk, hunting knife, traps, hunting shirts, leggins, buckskin drawers, fur caps, blankets or bearskins for the night, camp kettles, salt and provisions, powder horn and bullet pouch, ammunition, tools for casting bullets, extra powder, small articles such as flint, steel, and tinder. Route: over Blue Ridge; Stone Mountain at the "stairs," Iron Mountain and through the valley of Holston; through ;Moccasin Gap in Clinch Mountain; through Clinch River valley; across Walden's Ridge, Powell's Mountain, and Powell's Valley to the Hunter's Trail; and along it to Cumberland Bap, where they entered the Warriors'Trace. In Kentucky they left the Warriors' Trace after a distance, and from it went westward to the headwaters of Roundstone Creek, Rockscastle County, where they made a camp near a gap skill known as Boone's Gap. Lucien Beckner, "John Findley: The First Pathfinder of Kentucky," FILSON CLUB HISTORY QUARTERLY 1 (1927):111-22.

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1927

Lucien Beckner, "John Findley: The First Pathfinder of Kentucky," THE FILSON CLUB HISTORY QUARTERLY 1 (1927) 111-22

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3: <Only those who have seen the southwestern Virginia valleys inthe springtime, seated like emerald gems in their encircling mountain ridges, can appreciate what our explorers saw and felt. In that spring the beauty of the wilderness was the primeval beauty of a forest before the hand of man has desecrated it to the purposes of livelihood. As the men passed along, wild flowers carpeted their pathway; the newly dressed shrubs and towering trees gently filtered the hot rays of the spring sun on them; the voices of birds ans streams and fluttering leaves sopke to them; and wherever they lifted their eyes, they saw the purple mountains haloed with drifting clouds. No wonder that men who walked amid such scenes found will, courage, and honor amplified; and though small in numbers, but great in faith, boldly stepped beyond the bounds of civilization and braved the dangers of the unknonw that they might build their future upon foundations so good and beautiful.> Lucien Beckner, "John Findley: The First Pathfinder of Kentucky," FILSON CLUB HISTORY QUARTERLY 1 (1927):120

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1927

Lucien Beckner, "John Findley: The First Pathfinder of Kentucky," THE FILSON CLUB HISTORY QUARTERLY 1 (1927) 111-22

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4: Boone's first glimpse of the levels of Madison and Garrard counties: probably from present Bear Mountain in southern Madison County. This convinced him that Findley's stories were correct. Findley must have worried as they took so long to pass through the laurel-clad mountains. Boone's report brought the men new courage, and they moved eastward to the waters of Station Camp Creek, on which they built their camp. Leaving the others, Findley and Boone set out in quest of the country of kentucky -- where Findley had had his trading post. Findley told Boone that Pilot Knob, near the corner of Montgomery, Powell, and Clark counties, was the landmark for the beginning of the Kentucky Plain, and from the top he could locate the goal. It is still one of the most charming view in the state. They made their permanent camp on Lulbegrud Creek, a mile and a half from Findley's old cabin. This was the hunters' paradise which they had come to find. Quotes Filson: "we found everywhere abundance of wild beasts of every sort, through this vast forest. The buffalo were more frequent than I have seen cattle in the settlements, browsing on the leaves of the cane, or cropping the herbage on those extensive plains." So in Kentucky Findley was robbed a third time. On his return he found his wife had died. Again he fitted out for a trip into the wilderness, perhaps using part of his wife's estate. He was again robbed of L500 pounds of goods, according to the Philadelphia report, published in London in 1/3/1772. He returned to Lancaster and transferred to his two daughters his life estate in two pieces of land which had belonged to his wife. According to family tradition he outfitted one last time and died on that trip. Lucien Beckner, "John Findley: The First Pathfinder of Kentucky," FILSON CLUB HISTORY QUARTERLY 1 (1927):111-22

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