Some of the settlers began to live out on their clearings Rude little corn

Some of the settlers began to live out on their

This preview shows page 138 - 140 out of 258 pages.

and by the end 1783 the old stations had been rebuilt and many new ones founded. Some of the settlers began to live out on their clearings. Rude little corn-mills and "hominy pounders" were built beside some of the streams. The piles of furs and hides that had accumulated in the stockades were sent back to the coast country on pack-horses. After this year there was never any danger that the settlements would be abandoned. CHAPTER XXI. WHAT THE WESTERNERS HAD DONE DURING THE REVOLUTION, 1783. When the first Continental Congress began its sittings the only frontiersmen west of the mountains, and beyond the limits of continuous settlement within the old Thirteen Colonies, were the two or three hundred citizens of the little Watauga commonwealth. When peace was declared with Great Britain the backwoodsmen had spread westward, in groups, almost to the Mississippi, and they had increased in number to some twenty-five thousand souls, of whom a few hundred dwelt in the bend of the Cumberland, while the rest were about equally divided between Kentucky and Holston. This great westward movement of armed settlers was essentially one of conquest, no less than of colonization. Thronging in with their wives and children, their cattle, and their few household goods, they won and held the land in the teeth of fierce resistance, both from the Indian claimants of the soil and from the representatives of a mighty and arrogant European power. The chain of events by which the winning was achieved is perfect; had any link therein snapped it is likely that the final result would have been failure. The wide wanderings of Boone and his fellow hunters made the country known and awakened in the minds of the frontiersmen a keen desire to possess it. The building of the Watauga commonwealth by Robertson and Sevier gave a base of operations, and furnished a model for similar communities to follow. Lord Dunmore's war made the actual settlement possible, for it cowed the northern Indians, and restrained them from
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seriously molesting Kentucky during its first and most feeble years. Henderson and Boone made their great treaty with the Cherokees in 1775, and then established a permanent colony far beyond all previous settlements, entering into final possession of the new country. The victory over the Cherokees in 1776 made safe the line of communication along the Wilderness Road, and secured the chance for further expansion. Clark's campaigns gained the Illinois, or northwestern regions. The growth of Kentucky then became very rapid; and in its turn this, and the steady progress of the Watauga settlements, rendered possible Robertson's successful effort to plant a new community still farther west, on the Cumberland. The backwoodsmen pressed in on the line of least resistance, first taking possession of the debatable hunting-grounds lying between the Algonquins of the North and the Appalachian confederacies of the South. Then they began to encroach on the actual tribal territories. Every step was accompanied by stubborn and bloody fighting with the Indians. The forest tribes were exceedingly formidable opponents; it is not too
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