Settlement of Boonesborough Kentucky

The Kentucky Trail Blazers


The following is a greatly condensed and summarized version of information from “Daniel Boone, The Life and Legend of an American Pioneer“, by John Mack Faragher. The first edition was published in 1992. It was researched and produced from a large quantity of historical materials, some of which have not been published before. Additional information was obtained from “Daniel Boone” by John Bakeless, published in 1939.

Daniel Boone and a small company of hunters, had first come to a special site on the banks of the Kentucky River, known as Sycamore Shoals, in 1767. He returned many times to hunt and trap near this site during his famous “long hunts“. In 1773, he led an ill-prepared and ill-fated emigration attempt, through what was then known as the “Great Warrior’s Path”. This attempt resulted in the loss of his eldest son, and several others, to Indian attacks. These attacks were intended by Cornstalk, a principal chief of the Cherokees, to discourage the settlers from entering the Indian lands. And, in this case, they succeeded, and all returned to their homes in a state of depression. Many other settlers, and legions of Virginia surveyors already in Kentucky, were also driven out, or scared out, by the threat of Indian attack.

In late 1773 and early 1774, there were many attacks on the small forts along the length of Virginia’s Clinch Valley, including Moore’s Fort, near where the Boone family lived. Boone was placed in command of this fort, as a Lieutenant of the Rangers, the Virginia frontier militia, and later promoted to Captain, under Col. William Preston. All young men of the frontier served in the militias upon coming of age. Boone had already distinguished himself in many Indian skirmishes and as a guide and hunter for the militia. After the defeat of the major Indian forces in November, 1774, by a force led by Col. Andrew Lewis, and subsequent surrender of the Indian Chief Cornstalk, the local militia was disbanded.

The Wilderness Road

Late that year, the “Kentucky Fever” was in full force. Cheap land east of the Appalachians, was scarce. Many young men, needing land and crops to support their growing households, looked to the rich, virgin lands to the west. By 1774, attempting to seize the moment, and enormous profits, land speculators were eyeing the Kentucky lands. Among them were Richard Henderson, John Williams, John Luttrelle, William Johnson, Thomas Hart, and Nathaniel Hart. These speculators formed the “Transylvania Company”, and enlisted Daniel Boone to guide and lead an expedition into the new lands, to cut a trail and road, and to assist with the selection and settlement of an acceptable site for a fort and town. Boone joined in this venture, having been promised two thousand of acres of prime land for himself and his family.

The speculators negotiated a questionable pact and bill of sale with the defeated Cherokee Indians, on March 17th, 1775, that ceded the Indian lands west of the Appalachians to the Transylvania Company. However, the Indians and Henderson all knew that this pact was merely window dressing. Regardless, ads were placed, and more than a score of men were recruited from the Clinch valley, about ten more from the Yadkin valley, and seven from Rutherford County, NC, led by Capt. William Twitty. All had been promised ten pounds wages for a month’s work, and the opportunity to be the first on the lands to stake claims. And so the expedition was mounted.

This party of about 35 or so men, with Boone’s wife Rebecca and daughter Susannah as camp keepers, hacked out the beginnings of what came to be known as the “Wilderness Road“, starting from the original “Great Warrior’s Path“, and diverging to the northwest after passing through the Cumberland Gap. The new road basically followed many of the well-worn buffalo trails, which had also been used by the Indians, and many of the early explorers and hunters, including Boone. Boone took the lead, marking the way, and hunting game for the rest of the party. After four weeks of hard work, they finally reached their destination, near the banks of the Kentucky River, on April 14, 1775.

The Henderson’s following party, consisting of the other Transylvania Company leaders and their slaves, a number of mounted riflemen, and the Henderson and Hart families, arrived on April 20. Daniel Goodman was certainly a member of this group. See “The Henderson and Williams Family Connections”, later in this document. With the arrival of the Henderson and Hart party, the total count of those present at the new site of Boonesborough by the end of April, 1775, was about eighty. This was reduced further shortly after their arrival, as Capt. Nathaniel Hart had a disagreement with some of the other leaders, and moved his family and supporters at a separate location upriver.

The Establishment of Boonesborough

Additional disagreements and issues among the settlers of “Boone’s Fort”, or Boonesborough, its civil name, and its neighboring settler communities, led to the assembly of delegates from the various interests in May, 1775, which came to be known as the “Boonesborough Convention“. One day later, news of the battles of Concord and Lexington, fought nearly a month before, finally reached the settlement. Later, not satisfied with the results of the convention, which were heavily weighted in favor of Henderson’s Transylvania Company and its claims, many of the unhappy settlers drafted the following described petition to the General Assembly of Virginia, dated October 15, 1779.

Until 1792, when it became a state, Kentucky was a County of Virginia. According to “Petitions of the Early Inhabitants of Kentucky to the General Assembly of Virginia, 1769 to 1792“, Ansel Goodman and Daniel Goodman were among those listed as present in Boonesborough in its early days, including the famous pioneer, Daniel Boone. This is “Petition No. 9” in the aforesaid book. This historic petition is officially entitled: “Statement of grievances by the inhabitants of Boone’s Fort and request for a grant of six hundred and forty acres for a town site and board of trustees“. Daniel Goodman had been killed, and Ansel had returned to Bedford County, but their names on this famous petition still places them in the midst of these historical events.

The main intent of this petition was to prevent certain powerful and ambitious individuals from monopolizing all the best land around the fort for their own purposes, while the rest of the community had to be exposed to risk of Indian attacks. It recognizes the military deeds of one Capt. Nathaniel Hart (Nat. Heart), one of the organizers and leaders of the expedition, and his associates. It also recognizes the great risks and contributions of a group of men, who’s primary purpose was to guard and protect the fort and settlers from hostile Indian attacks. As will be shown, Ansel Goodman was among this group. Special mention is made of Daniel Boone, who found the site on the Kentucky River, and guided the settlers to it. It establishes certain building codes, such as, “a house of at least twelve feet square, with a stone, brick, or mud chimney”, to be built on blocks of land around the fort. The chosen lots must be surveyed and staked, and the houses must be completed and occupied within three years of the grant, or be forfeit back to the town. A duly elected Board of Trustees is named, to replace the one pushed through the previous convention by Henderson and his associates.

Although Henderson’s Transylvania Company vigorously contested the settler’s petition in the Virginia General Assembly, and to the Continental Congress, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, among others, denied the validity of Henderson’s and most of the Transylvania Company claims, and asserted the rights of Virginia and North Carolina to all of the lands of Kentucky. From that time, the attentions of the settlers turned to the war with England, and in particular to defending their property and kin from the Indians, now allied with the British and the French-Canadians in their efforts to drive the American settlers back to the east.

Goodmans at Boonesborough

Several events are documented in the annals of the Boonesborough settlement of this time, in which Daniel and/or Ansel Goodman played a part.

Daniel Goodman

Thomas Henderson first mentions Daniel Goodman in his diary on Sunday, 11th June, 1775. This was shortly after their arrival at Boonesborough, and the initial Boonesborough Convention. In this passage, he writes: “Daniel Goodman went away with ..(others).. Wrote by Daniel Goodman to my wife, Daniel Williams, and Jno. Christmas.”. This diary is now in the “Lyman Draper Collection“, of the University of Wisconsin, along with many other documents about the settlement of Kentucky. This establishes that This Daniel Goodman was closely related to the Henderson family, to be entrusted with that correspondence.

On April 24th, 1777, the cattle refused to leave the fort. Boone sent two men out to investigate. Finding nothing, they were returning to the fort when they were attacked and fired upon by a small band of Shawnees. One fell, and was set upon and scalped. The other escaped into the woods. The other men of the fort were soon on the heels of the attackers, but ran into an ambush not far from the fort, and barely made it back to the fort with their lives. As Simon Kenton subsequently reported in his journal, also now in the “Lyman Draper Collection“, “40 or 50 Indians attacked Boonesborough, killed and scalped Danl. Goodman, wounded Capt. Boone, Capt. Todd, Mr. Hite, and married Stoner. Indians ‘tis thought sustained much damage.”.

Daniel Goodman’s heirs were granted 1400 acres of land on Brashear’s Creek, in what was to become Shelby County, Kentucky, and probably close to Squire Boone’s Station, also in Shelby County:

re at:

1.)  Preemption Warrant #: 219  Cropped Image | Original Scanned Image
Name: Goodman, Daniel (deceased) County: Kentucky
Type #1: Settlement Acreage #1: 400
Type #2: Preemption Acreage #2: 1000
Location/WaterCourse: South Fork of Brashear’s Creek of Salt River; tract called the Vineyard; includes a tree marked “D.G.” and a “shaving” by Daniel Boone Assignee #1: Goodman, Daniel (heirs)
Issue Date: 12/23/1779 Authorized: OK 3324.0*; OK 3325.0; OK 3326.0; OK 3327.0; OK 3664.0

Decedent raised a crop of corn “in the country” in 1776.

Ansel Goodman Enlists

In August of 1777, the settler’s pleas to the eastern government for relief were answered. Among those answering the call were fifty volunteers from Bedford County, VA, recruited and led by Capt. Charles Gwatkins. Bedford is just at the eastern base of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Bedford and its neighboring county to the west, Botetourt, were on the western edge of the Piedmont Plateau, at the gateway to the Appalachians, and to the Cumberland Gap.

These men were to serve as “defenders of the residents” and some, including Ansel, were also “Indian Spies”, or scouts. Daniel Goodman was killed at Boonesborough, April 7th, 1777, the year Ansel enlisted. Ansel was not present when Daniel was killed, but may have known of the events from other kin, or heard it from Capt. Gwatkins. The Bedford contingent also included some of the men’s families. These may have included Ansel’s wife, Edith, and their children if any. However, her name does not appear on any list of Fort Boone settlers, so it is likely she remained at home in Bedford. His petition for pension details his recruitment by Capt. Gwatkins, and the march to Boonesborough, but no details about his family. See the text of that pension, included later in this document, for details of this and his other adventures.

Ansel did not arrive at Boonesborough until mid-1777, so he was probably not directly related to the Daniel Goodman killed at Boonesborough in April of that year, and who was of the Granville Co., NC Goodman family. However, they may well have been cousins. 

Ansel Captured at Blue Licks

In January of 1778, the Boonesborough salt supplies, essential to the settlers for many reasons, were desperately low. Daniel Boone agreed to lead a party of men to the lower salt spring on the Licking River, known as The Blue Licks, to make salt for the Kentucky settlements. On January 8th, Boone left with a party of about 30 men, on horseback, with large iron kettles for the boiling of the salt waters. Ansel Goodman was in this party, which was involved in one of the most controversial escapades of Col. Boone’s life. After four weeks of back breaking work, in the miserable January weather, they had produced several hundred bushels of salt. The river having risen, they were idled, waiting for Capt. Gwatkins and his relief column.

On February 7, while hunting and trapping for the men, Boone and two others encountered a large war party of Indians under Chief Blackfish. Boone and the others were captured taken prisoner. Knowing that the war party was heading for the weakened Boonesborough, he managed to work out a deal with Blackfish. He and his men at the salt lick would become Blackfish’s prisoners, go with the Indians to be prisoners of war, and then accompany them back to the fort in the spring to surrender its occupants. Of course, he had no intention of doing any such thing. Upon their return to the site, the other men thought it was the relief party. Instead, Boone told them to lay down their arms and surrender, as they were totally surrounded by Indians. This they grudgingly did. They were then tied with buffalo thongs, or “tugs”, heavily loaded with salt, kettles and other supplies, and forced to march to Old Chillicothe, on the Little Miami, which was then a large Indian town. There, some were to be “adopted” into the Indian families. List of those captured with Boone and Ansel Goodman at The Blue Licks.

According to Ansel’s statement in his petition, and in his words (sic): “The night after he was taken, his arms were tied behind him, a rope or Buffaloe’s Tug tied fast around his middle and then made fast to an Indian on each side of him, and the one around his arms was made to go around his neck and tied fast to a tree, and in that position he had to sleep in the snow, a little while before he reached the Indian Town he was compelled to strip himself, and was entirely naked, his arms again made fast and a load of Bare meat packed upon him. It was a heavy load. Indeed, he was packed heavily from the time he was taken until he arrived at the town.” On nearing the town, Ansel and others were forced to run a “Gantlet”, during which they were beaten and bruised. Prior to entering the town, on Feb. 28th, 1778, they were also forced to strip naked, and required to commence singing at the top of their voices, to give notice of their approach.

Later, Boone was adopted by Blackfish. Ansel and about ten others were adopted by other Indian families. On March 10th, 1778, Boone and the rest of the captives who were not adopted, about 20 in all, were taken by Blackfish to the British fort at Detroit, to be sold for a bounty of twenty pounds for each man. Only Boone returned with Blackfish to Chillicothe Town. The rest were to remain with the British as prisoners of war. A few died in captivity, but most eventually escaped or were released.

Some Prisoners Escape

Boone escaped from Blackfish’s tribe in June, and made it back to Boonesborough on June 20th, 1778. William Hancock, another of the salt makers, escaped some time later, and on his return to Boonesborough on July 17th, warned the settlers of a large war party of Shawnees, led by British officers and Blackfish, that was headed their way. Duly warned, the settlers were able to prepare for and withstand the siege, which began on September 7th, 1778. Eleven days and nights of fighting ensued. On Thursday, September 17th, 1778, the attackers made their final charge, and upon failing, lifted the siege and departed. On Friday, the settlers finally ventured out of the fort. A few days later, reinforcements arrived from Virginia, too late for the siege.

On their return to Chillicothe after the failed siege at Boonesborough, Blackfish and his war party came across Ansel Goodman, Aaron Foreman and George Hendricks. They had escaped from Chillicothe, taking advantage of the Indian warriors’ absence during the siege. Knowing that the Indians had intended to lay siege to Boonesborough, and thinking it to be doomed, they were making their way to the Falls of the Ohio, where they had heard from the Indians that there were white men. Hendricks was recaptured, and punished heavily by the Indians for his attempted escape. However, Goodman and Foreman escaped, and eventually made it to the Falls of the Ohio, where Capt. Harrod had established a fort and settlement known as Ft. Harrod, or Harrodsburg. There they served as soldiers for two months, before returning to Boonesborough, and then to their homes in Virginia. In all, according to his petition, Ansel was in service on the frontier for one year and nine months.

Ansel Returns to Bedford

When the salt makers were captured, and the sad news reached Boonesborough and their families, all were thought dead and lost. So, about two months later, in March of 1778, Rebecca Boone and many of the other families of the captured men went back east to their own families. They were accompanied and protected by some of the Rangers, who had mutinied, and were abandoning Kentucky. Upon their return to Virginia, a local paper published an account of the capture at The Blue Licks. In “Historical Register of Virginians in the Revolution, 1775-1783” by John H. Gwathney, on p. 316 is mentioned a Bedford newspaper article regarding Ancill(sic.) Goodman of the Kentucky Expedition, “Edith Goodman, wife of militia soldier ‘captivated’ by the Indians in Kentucky.”

Ansel eventually returned to Bedford about April or May 1779, to rejoin his family. He later appears on a tax list in Bedford as “Anselam” in 1782. Also in 1782, a John Goodman was in Bedford, and James Goodman was in Botetourt County, just west of Bedford. My ancestor Amos Goodman was born in 1782 in Bedford, son of Ansel’s brother John Goodman.

Miscellaneous Notes

“Ansylem” Goodman appears next in the Stokes County, NC census of 1790, but not in Bedford, VA. Bedford County, VA is due north of Stokes County NC. In that census, he is shown with two male children under 16, 3 female children, and probably his wife. The 1790 census of NC also has an Ancil Ferrell in Franklin Co. (p. 59). Peter Goodman is in Wilkes Co. (p. 124), and Ansel Bailey in Wilkes Co. (p. 122).

By 1810, and also in 1820, Ansel was in Adair Co., KY, later divided, and that part where he resided became Russell Co. When Ansel Goodman filed his petition in 1832 in Russell County, KY, for a pension for service as a private in the Rev. War, he was about 80. That would place his date of birth at about 1752.

Other Goodmans in Bedford County marriage records at about that time include: David Goodman who married Nancy Deal in 1789. Martha Goodman married Matthias Reynolds in 1788, the Rev. John Goodman presiding, and they removed to Barren / Hart co., KY. Robert Goodman married Ann Neal in 1796. This Robert Goodman was probably the son of either Ansel Goodman or Bartellot Goodman. Rhody Goodman married Matthias Cane in 1794, her father Bartellot Goodman giving permission. Robert may have been the son of Ansel Goodman, since the Robert Goodman who was the son of the John Goodman who d. 1790 in Greene Co., TN, married Sarah Bowles in Cumberland Co., VA in 1797. Bartelott Goodman may have been an older brother or uncle of Amos and John Goodman. A Bartellot Goodman was in Capt. Throgmorton’s Company of Rangers in 1759, and Capt. Bullit’s Company of Rangers in 1762, He resided in Louisa Co., between Hanover and Albemarle counties, where he paid taxes in 1777, and was granted land in Louisa Co. in 1779 and 1780 for service in the Virginia Colonial Militia.

At the end of the Revolutionary War, and once the Kentucky lands were relatively well secured from Indian attacks, many of the early settlers who had left Kentucky because of the dangers, returned to Kentucky, or sent their children and heirs, to reclaim their previously staked lands. Many veterans of the Revolutionary War were granted lands on the frontier by the new Congress, and many Goodmans were among them. Ansel Goodman eventually moved back to Kentucky, as well, settling in that part of Adair county that eventually became Russell county. The Goodman clans certainly would have sent word to their other kin in Virginia, North Carolina, and the new state of Tennessee, that the new frontier was the place to be!


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