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British Association for American Studies


Issue 16, Spring 2010: Article 5


Issue 16, Spring 2010: Article 5

U.S. Studies Online: The BAAS Postgraduate Journal

Life in the Woods: The Influence of Hunting on Frontier Leadership in Revolutionary Kentucky

Blair M. Smith

© Blair M. Smith. All Rights Reserved. 

In investigating the influence that a hunter would have on the region commonly referred to as ‘the frontier’, one need only look at the nineteenth century interpretations of Daniel Boone and the Kentucky frontier, and the influence they were to have on constructions of heroism and leadership in America during this period. From James Fenimore Cooper’s Leatherstocking tales and the Presidency of Andrew Jackson, to the historical understandings of Frederick Jackson Turner, the frontier would provide national symbols and heroes who carried the westward advance across the continent. It is the endurance of these symbols that can provide an explanation as to why Turner’s understanding of the frontier is still discussed today when approaching the topic.[1] From Cooper’s Natty Bumppo to Jebediah Springfield and the cultural juggernaut of The Simpsons, one does not need to have an extensive knowledge of the arguments surrounding frontier history to recognise the image of a buckskin-clad hunter blazing a trail through the wilderness for civilisation to follow.[2] In the foundations of such images, Daniel Boone has been the most prominent of these frontier hunters, due in no small part to John Filson’s 1784 publication The Discovery, Settlement and Present State of Kentucke to which is added the Adventures of Daniel Boon. Yet Boone’s role merely represents how the figure of the hunter was used to create a viable national hero, and does not provide an answer as to why the frontier hunter would emerge as a viable option for such transcendence.[3] This paper will consider the definition of ‘leadership’ during this period and the notion of where authority emanates from in the social hierarchy of backcountry Virginia and Kentucky during the revolutionary period. In this region there appears to be a conflict between the established or traditional authority of the gentry classes, and the charismatic authority of prominent frontiersmen, such as Daniel Boone.[4] Due to this apparent conflict one of the major questions that arises – and needs further investigation – is from where did these prominent frontiersmen gain the experience of leadership to challenge the established hierarchy? The answer surely lies in the development of commercial hunting in this region in the middle part of the eighteenth century. This article will therefore focus on the findings that relate to the organisation of hunting parties to Kentucky in the late 1760s and early 1770s which provide an image of the frontier leader that is very different to the Boone image of the nineteenth century, an image that is arguably central to the establishment of an ad hoc political structure in revolutionary Kentucky. For this discussion to begin, though, a brief understanding of the role hunting played in backcountry society during the period prior to Kentucky settlement is required.

As settlement pushed into the backcountry regions of Virginia and Pennsylvania during the eighteenth century, hunting rose in importance to these new communities. Not only did this area develop as a viable commercial activity but, as Stephen Aron has argued, it provided an avenue for young men to gain respite from farm work and emasculating dependence.[5] Before this activity could become a commercial endeavour, however, learning to hunt was one of the greatest adjustments these early settlers to the backcountry regions made. It is unsurprising that for early settlers to Western Pennsylvania and Virginia hunting would have contributed little to a family’s subsistence, and many of those choosing to settle in these regions came from backgrounds with no hunting heritage. In Britain, for example, hunting was a sport confined to the elites, and strict poaching laws discouraged the labouring classes from legally participating on a subsistence level.[6] Having been previously excluded from a hunting culture, immigrants developed their skills gradually and, by the time settlement pushed into the mountain valleys of Virginia and North Carolina, hunting had become an ever more crucial part of backcountry life. However, the question remains as to how these skills were developed if the vast majority of backcountry immigrants did not possess any sort of hunting experience. Of the early settlers to these regions, only Scandinavian Pennsylvanians had any expertise in this field, and the core skills needed—appropriate dress, tracking, patience, stealth—were gained through observing local Indian populations and their techniques.[7]  The endurance of this Indian influence has been observed in the dress codes of adolescent hunters, and it was in this arena where a young Daniel Boone learned his skills.[8] By the middle part of the eighteenth century, frontier settlers had taken the original Indian skills and made them their own, with crucial elements differentiating them from their indigenous neighbours. One distinctive difference concerns the relationship each group had with the animals they hunted. Where Indians viewed the hunt as a spiritual quest, which credited the animal for surrendering itself, backcountry hunters saw it as an act of mastery with the animal falling to the most skilful hunter. However, the most profound difference in the hunting practices concerned gender roles. It was not uncommon for women to accompany Indian men on a hunting expedition, and while they never directly participated in the hunting, they fulfilled roles in keeping with traditional Indian labour division. While the men hunted, the women who accompanied them would tend to the camp, prepare meals, smoke meat and dress the skins. In some respects, the absence of women among settler hunting parties is understandable when one considers the labour divisions within European society in this period that had men at the head of all subsistence systems. However, it also highlights the socio-economic divisions in colonial Virginia where hired hands and slaves, rather than women, were used to tend the domestic needs of a hunting party. The absence of women is important as it raises some issues when trying to determine how many people participated in a hunting party; slaves, like women, were often omitted from the records and there is no way of ascertaining who was there to hunt or provide domestic assistance. These service divisions in hunting parties were also significant in other ways.[9] As backcountry hunters altered elements of Indian methodology and made it their own, the greatest development to occur concerning future westward development was the influence hunting would have on the well-ordered hierarchies idealised by colonial gentry. In adding wild meat to their subsistence repertoire, early settlers went beyond simply adapting to their environment; they also altered the organisation of the social hierarchy.

Gentry commentators blamed hunting for the deficiencies of the backcountry and regarded the activity as the ‘lowest mode of subsistence’. However, while British poaching laws contained repressive ‘bloody codes’ to awe potential transgressors, colonial game laws, especially Virginian, exempted frontier counties from many restrictions, preferring fines and a regulated hunting season to harsher penalties.[10] While lawmakers were more understanding of the needs of backcountry life than British courts would have been, they still held to the hierarchical values that underwrote Virginian society’s political order. During the eighteenth century, a small band of elites controlled the key institutions in most Virginia counties and, in light of concerns over status and authority, distinguished themselves over their ability to command the deference of the common people.[11] Despite this expectation of deference from the gentry, as hunting developed as a viable economic avenue for backcountry settlers, the aforementioned importance placed on skill gave rise to alternative options outwith the traditional social hierarchy of backcountry Pennsylvania and Virginia. Albert H. Tillson, Jr. has examined the impact that hunting played on the social hierarchy of backcountry Virginia and has clearly stressed the ways in which this activity contributed to altering the relationship between the gentry and their subordinates. However, it would not be until these hunters crossed the Appalachians in search of economic gain that the impact of the organisation of hunting parties on the social hierarchy of this region could be seen.

Lyman Copeland Draper, who corresponded with a number of hunters’ descendants in the nineteenth century, helped create an image for the commercial hunters who breached the Appalachian barrier in search of economic gain in the hunting grounds of Kentucky and Tennessee, and it is with this Appalachian barrier that we can truly think of these figures as ‘Long Hunters’. By coining the term, Draper supplies a misleading image due to the heroic connotations present. Ted Franklin Belue echoes this sentiment with the description of them as ‘the first true American frontiersmen to push beyond the Blue Ridge’. In reality, though, they can be easily described as trespassers who broke treaties by entering Indian lands to hunt, and the heroic connotations of the title do not explain where the name came from either, or even if it is appropriate.[12] A good definition of ‘Long Hunter’ can be taken to mean either the distance that a hunting party travelled in order to reach a specific hunting ground, or the time spent on an individual hunting trip. Draper’s correspondence the Long Hunters’ descendants presents a number of different lengths involved and although there was no fixed time limit, a rough estimate suggests that seven months to a year was standard for this occupation. A number of factors had to be considered when defining the length of a hunting trip: the intended destination, the distance to intended markets and the simple fact of how long the ammunition lasted.[13] As with the length of a hunting trip, there is also some uncertainty over the time of year these hunts would have started, and there are conflicting accounts when it comes to determining the best time to commence a trip. Both Stephen Aron and Ted Franklin Belue suggest that hunting was something that could be pursued year-round but the general consensus seems to be that extended hunting trips could only be undertaken once the harvest had been completed.[14] However, as with the factors determining the length of a hunting trip, start dates would often be determined by the kind of animal one was hunting.

For hunters, each game animal had a season that promised the greatest rewards. Joseph Doddridge noted the different hunt seasons which included ‘The fall and early part of the winter…for hunting deer, and the whole of the winter…for bears and fur skinned animals’. While it is more likely deer were hunted in the summer and early fall, as the thicker winter skins tended to crack along vein lines, it is clear that this was a year-round process, one that was designed to preserve ammunition.[15] By laying traps for smaller animals such as beaver, mink and otter, hunters could preserve ammunition in the periods between hunting for deer and the larger elk, buffalo and bear. With these extended trips and variety of game targets, hunters were required to have a great deal of skill in order for the journey to be a success. Not only would they require enough knowledge to repair guns and traps and to shoe horses, but a group would also have to understand the nature of their animal targets. Renowned frontier hunter Michael Stoner was regarded as fairly ‘indifferent’ when shooting at a standing target but excelled at bringing down deer and other game as he ‘seemed to understand the motions of living animals’.[16] These skills distinguished some hunters from others, and it was the veneration of such skills that played an important part in the qualities of those sought to lead hunting parties across the Appalachians. In addition to hunting skills, a leader would have needed the ability to successfully navigate a party to their intended region and such experience would have been necessary for any potential leadership candidate. However, Long Hunters had greater requirements than simply reaching their destination, and it is with this selection of leaders that hunting parties deviated from the well-ordered hierarchies idealised by Virginian gentry.[17]

The ability to coordinate the hunting and organise a large number of men would have been an essential skill, in addition to selecting an appropriate site for the central camp, referred to as a station camp, where all the hunters could return to and store the gathered skins. While those employed as camp-keepers would stay at the station camp, the leader of the hunt would organise the main body into smaller groups for more economical hunting in the vast wilderness, and pass on knowledge of the best places to lay traps. Large groups were more likely to scare the skittish deer and significantly lessen the potential rewards, although the decision to break hunting parties into smaller groups was as much for safety as economic reasons. Hunting in small groups was less likely to attract the attention of Indian groups, who could be less than friendly to intruders on their hunting grounds.[18] After an extended period hunting, the small bands would rendezvous at the station camp where a small hut would have been constructed to store the gathered skins. After a few days’ resting and repairing traps and guns, the groups would break off and return to the wilderness, having first coordinated their next rendezvous. The leader, or leaders, of a hunting party would have considered all these factors during a hunt, and it is for these reasons that backcountry hunters placed such a premium on skill and experience. Placing the leadership in the hands of these men, rather than traditional authority figures, would hopefully increase the chances of financial success. However, it is not only in the selection of these leadership candidates, but the ways in which their charges expected them to lead, that serve as an example of what would follow in Kentucky during the 1770s.

The best example of the leadership structure of a hunting party is the group Draper entitled the ‘Long Hunters’. James Dysart arrived in Philadelphia from Ireland aged 17 in 1762, having agreed with his grandfather to return to Ireland the following year. Over the next several years, however, he gradually made his way to the western settlements of Pennsylvania and, once there, grew fond of hunting as an occupation.[19] Towards the end of 1769, Dysart joined a party that were in the process of equipping themselves for a hunting expedition to Kentucky. As one of around forty men to sign on Dysart became one of Draper’s ‘Long Hunters’.[20]

Due to the significant number of surviving accounts of this expedition, and of those involved, Draper’s ‘Long Hunters’ offer the most thorough example of the organisational structure of a trans-Appalachian hunting party. In addition, the group offers the best example of the identification process of potential leaders and the authority they could command. Furthermore, research into these Long Hunters in the Draper Manuscripts reveals the number of different candidates who vied for authority. The legacy of nineteenth century writers such as Humphrey Marshall and Mann Butler has helped perpetuate a traditional notion of hierarchy in the region by crediting the sole leadership of the party to James Knox. The role of Knox as leader appears to have been retroactively applied due to the success Knox enjoyed in Kentucky as a landowner, but one cannot discount the impact that Knox himself had on the elevation of his status.[21] However, while Knox was a member of the party and likely captained one of the smaller groups, evidence suggests that he was not the one who led the group into Kentucky. That honour fell to Henry Skaggs and Joseph Drake, ‘being two of the oldest of this party and first rate woodsmen’ and the pair were elected leaders through a consensus decision of the group.[22] The election of Skaggs and Drake highlights the standing that hunting skills could afford men in backcountry communities, and while hunters were never regarded as the type of men likely to make good sons-in-law, successful hunters held a great deal of respect among their peers. Not even the rumours surrounding the illegitimate paternity of one of his children could diminish Skaggs’ standing as a man with a ‘high sense of honour’. Not only does the choice in leadership highlight the importance placed on skill and experience, but it also alludes to the extent of the authority the leaders could exercise in the decision-making process.[23]

Appointed through general consensus, Skaggs and Drake were expected to lead by example. However, appointing leaders did not mean the hunting party had relinquished all rights, and they expected to be consulted on the major decisions. In this light it is possible to view the instructions given by leaders in a hunting party as suggestions rather than orders which no-one appears to have been under any obligation to follow.[24] In terms of leading by example, Skaggs appears to have justified his selection as one of the leaders. It was during this trip that Skaggs is reputed to have killed 1500 deer and it is through this feat that Skaggs not only justified selection based on skill, but also revealed the fragility of his elected position. After a spell hunting, Charles Ewing began a dispute with Skaggs, the origins of which are not clear. In one version of events recounted by Draper, Ewing became jealous of  Skaggs’ success—something not uncommon in the competitive nature of this employment—and as a result of the dispute 24 members of the party returned to Virginia with Ewing.[25] It is possible to overstate Ewing’s influence over the number of men returning to Virginia as there is no way of knowing the motives of each man who chose to leave the hunt. Reasons could include dissatisfaction with Skaggs and Drake’s leadership, or simply that they had exhausted their supplies or had had enough of the wilderness. However, the event displays the agency available in the hierarchy of a hunting party, and with just over half of the party returning east the remaining hunters suffered the added misfortune of having their station camp ransacked by Indians. Faced with a dilemma, the consensual nature of the leadership became evident once more. The remaining hunters were unanimous in their decision to continue in the region until their supplies were exhausted, and their decision was justified as the remaining hunters eventually acquired their loads of skins and returned home ‘in good health’.[26] While this party’s trip could be deemed a success, and Skaggs was able to purchase two slaves from his share of the skins sold, Ted Franklin Belue has argued that few men ever got rich through hunting alone and the aforementioned experience of Skaggs, Drake and Boone with Indians points to an uncertain reward for such high costs of equipping a hunting party.[27] Therefore, to return to the factors determining the destination of a hunt, one can underestimate the impact of members of the gentry. It would not be unusual for hunters to supplement their income by conducting land surveys for eastern speculators, a tactic favoured by people such as George Washington who financed hunting trips for this purpose.[28] Skaggs and Drake were not alone in terms of hunting experience during this period and, regardless of who was funding the trip, practical leadership resided in the most skilled woodsmen. The experience of these men and others of their mould would transcend the hunting world in the years following their return to Virginia, and increasingly affect the formation of the militia hierarchy. As settlement pushed into Kentucky in the 1770s, the recognition of authority would increasingly mirror the impact that hunting was to have on Virginia’s militia.

While the social elites of the backcountry settlements of Virginia and Pennsylvania differed from their Tidewater counterparts in many ways, the most distinctive of which was the prevalence of Presbyterianism in the former, backcountry social aspirations favoured the eastern model.[29] In analysing the relationships between the social classes, the militia offers the most insightful example of leaders and subordinates in the backcountry. Here, the Virginia militia was organised in the following manner: a lieutenant supervised the militia in each county. As a member of the gentry with ties to the Tidewater elites, the county lieutenant would be assisted by several field officers taken from the most prominent social leaders of their area. These field officers would then appoint the company captains and lesser officers, and make the majority of the decisions concerning the defence of their counties.[30] As a microcosm of the social hierarchy of the backcountry, the militia offers the best example of the nature of leadership and the changes that were taking place. It was through the militia that the disruption of hunting practices on the role of leaders could be seen in the early 1770s and in this period, the conflict between traditional understandings of a leader’s role and charismatic leadership comes to the fore. While the militia hierarchy was previously organised with the most prominent county citizens—the gentry—at the top, in practice other figures were breaking into this elite group.[31] For example, during Dunmore’s War in 1774, a number of non-gentry were present in the officer ranks in positions as ensigns or lieutenants and, in some cases, captains. While the upper command positions still eluded frontiersmen, the fact they were appointed to command positions at all is significant, as was the manner of their appointment.[32] In October 1774, Captain Daniel Smith forwarded a petition to William Preston, the county lieutenant for Fincastle County. The petition was from the settlers of the Lower Clinch River asking that Preston commission Daniel Boone as a captain and place him in command of the forts in that area. With the petition granted, Boone was elevated to a rank usually held by members of the gentry, and the settlers of the region had a commander they had selected, one with a reputation for leadership gained through skill as a woodsman and hunter. Yet this was not the only way in which a frontier hunter could be granted a commission.[33]

Joseph Drake, one of the leaders of the Long Hunters, also broke into this militia hierarchy during the same period as Boone. However, unlike Boone, Drake was not granted a commission based on a petition from the local population. Rather, Drake, responding to a perceived lack of faith in the official militia commanders on the Upper Holston, rallied his own independent company for the Point Pleasant campaign. While Drake may have been responding to local unrest to enhance his own status, there is also the sense that his raising of a company may have been an attempt to get his own commission.[34] Ultimately, Drake raised so many men from other companies that Arthur Campbell, who was to lead the Point Pleasant expedition, allowed the militia forces from the region to march under a commander of their choice, in order to get them to the rendezvous point.[35] The role of the frontier inhabitants in both the case of Drake and Boone cannot be ignored. Backcountry men in the militia now held the view that they determined whom they chose to serve under, and Boone and Drake benefited as local men with experience of leadership gained through hunting. Despite Dunmore’s War providing an opportunity for frontier hunters to gain commissions in the militia, there still existed clear distinctions between gentry and non-gentry. The letters from Dunmore’s War cited here refer to both Boone and Drake as ‘Mr’ rather than by rank, which indicates a clear distinction in the hierarchy. However, the relative success of these figures in breaking into the commissioned ranks displays the changes that had taken place and the precedence that had been set over the popular selection of leaders on the frontier. In terms of Kentucky settlement, the other significant commission during this period was James Harrod, another member of the non-gentry to gain leadership experience at this time.[36] During this revolutionary period on the Kentucky frontier, defence concerns were paramount and competition between gentry and non-gentry over leadership positions was to further intensify.

In 1775, Boone was elected to lead a party of road markers into Kentucky in a manner that was familiar to the elections of Skaggs and Drake with the Long Hunters five years previously. Not only was Boone the majority choice of the party but he was chosen above a more traditional candidate, both in terms of the militia and the social hierarchy. The thirty members of the party put themselves under the ‘management and control of Colonel Boon’ but of the thirty men, William Twitty also had a reputation as an able woodsman, while Richard Callaway would have been an equally appropriate choice.[37]  As a member of the gentry with ties to the East, Callaway was socially superior to Boone. Added to this, Callaway’s status of colonel outranked Boone’s captain in the militia. Therefore, if the ranks were decided on social standing or militia commission, Boone would not have led the party. What may have counted in Boone’s favour among the party was that he had travelled in the region before and had prior knowledge of what could be expected on the journey, as well as knowing how to reach the destination. However, over the course of the eighteenth century through the experience of hunting and, latterly, the militia, frontier men had become accustomed to having their voices heard, and by 1775 this had reached the stage that the gentry could no longer be guaranteed automatic deference from a party of backcountry settlers. As settlement pushed into Kentucky, defence concerns were of primary importance and the early social hierarchy reflected these concerns. Boone’s party of thirty had been subjected to an Indian attack in 1775, and by 1778 British-backed Indian raids on the settlements had reduced their number to three—Harrodsburg, Logan’s Station and Boonesborough.[38] The organisation of the social hierarchy in a period where settlement was hanging by a thread, unsurprisingly, replicates the backcountry militia. Also unsurprising was that leadership based on experience and skill would continue to play a role regardless of social background. In terms of the traditional versus charismatic argument, the most well known struggle for leadership would once more take place between Boone and Callaway during the siege of Boonesborough. In September 1778, Callaway, having deposed Boone upon his return from capture by the Shawnee earlier in the year, saw himself as the sole commander of the fort. Boone, responding to Callaway’s assertion, attempted to regain his status through an unsuccessful raid into Shawnee settlements. During the siege itself, Boone, Callaway and William Smith all presented themselves to the Shawnee as leaders of the fort, indicating that rank was by no means permanent and that leadership contests could continue even when the threat of attack was high.[39] The contests between Boone and Callaway were certainly not unique between woodsmen and members of the gentry, and by the late 1770s a new class of leadership candidates, so-called ‘Big Men’, rose to the fore when counties were threatened with attack, many of which had experience as hunters or in the militia during the early part of the decade. The likes of Simon Kenton and James Harrod had benefited from the experience of leading men in hunting expeditions, which gave them some advantage over more traditional candidates.[40]

This article has provided some isolated examples of the changes that had taken place in ideas of leadership on the frontier as settlement pushed towards Kentucky, and the influence of hunting on militia leadership needs further exploration in order to gain a greater understanding of the impact on social leadership as a whole. In the context of militia and defence, commercial hunting had provided backcountry men with leadership experience. With the consensual nature of the hunting leadership process, and the petitions to county lieutenants in the militia appointments, backcountry men had become accustomed to making a contribution towards major decisions. By the siege of Boonesborough in 1778, when the decision to defend the settlement was decided by the inhabitants, this interpretation of frontier leadership had evolved to the extent that in matters of defence, it could be argued, leaders were not needed until a course of action had been decided. From the growth of commercial hunting along the frontier of Virginia and into Kentucky throughout the eighteenth century, concepts of command and expectations of leaders had been altered. The charismatic notion of leadership had begun to assert itself and in order to maintain a degree of authority over a hunting party or militia force, the leader needed to justify his position and provide evidence for the faith placed in his abilities. For backcountry settlers, this could be defined as leaders acting boldly and decisively, such as Boone’s proposed raid on Shawnee settlements to regain authority from Callaway. Joseph Drake also used his experience with the Long Hunters to break into the commissioned ranks of the militia and James Harrod was another beneficiary in Kentucky. It is not clear how far this new class of frontier leaders were able to advance their status outside of a military context, or how many managed to rise beyond the rank of field officer. What is clear is that of the three remaining settlements in Kentucky in 1778, all were named after backcountry leaders, and in Boone and Harrod, men who had benefited from the change in frontier leadership. Much work remains to be done in determining other factors, besides hunting and militia experience, in appointing candidates for leadership, including whether these isolated incidents can be seen on a wider scale in Kentucky, and how far it affected the settlement process of the region. In light of the later misfortunes suffered by many frontiersmen such as Boone, the final question remains as to when – and why – the Virginia-based model of traditional landed gentry once more reasserted control over the charismatic and dynamic leadership of the bold Kentucky frontiersmen.

University of Dundee 


[1] For a greater understanding of Turner’s ideas see Frederick Jackson Turner, ‘The Significance of the Frontier in American History’, in Frederick Jackson Turner (ed.), The Frontier in American History, (New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1920), pp. 1-38.

[2] The role of the frontier in the cultural memory of America can be found in: Arthur K. Moore, The Frontier Mind: A Cultural Analysis of the Kentucky Frontiersman, (Lexington: University of Kentucky Press, 1957); and Richard Slotkin, Regeneration through Violence: The Mythology of the American Frontier, 1600-1860, (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2000).

[3] John Filson, The Discovery, Settlement and Present State of Kentucke to which is added the Adventures of Daniel Boon, (Wilmington: James Adams, 1784).

[4] For a more detailed understanding of the notion of ‘traditional’ and ‘charismatic’ authority see: Max Weber, The Theory of Social and Economic Organisation, (London: William Hodge and Company Ltd., 1947), translated from the German by A.R. Henderson and Talcott Parsons.

[5] Stephen Aron, How the West was Lost: The Transformation of Kentucky from Daniel Boone to Henry Clay, (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996), p. 26.

[6] Aron, How the West Was Lost, p. 14.

[7] Aron, How the West Was Lost, p. 23. Terry G. Jordan and Matti Kaups, The American Backwoods Frontier: An Ethnic and Ecological Interpretation, (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1989), pp. 211-32.

[8] Joseph Doddridge documented the appearance of the frontier hunter and in particular drew attention to their ‘Indian like dress’. From Doddridge’s description this Indian style seems especially appropriate for the lower half of a hunters ‘uniform’, with the breech clout, leggings and moccasins being adopted. The hazards that this dress, and the hunter’s life, could play on their future health is also discussed by Doddridge, with rheumatism appearing as a frequent complaint. See: Joseph Doddridge, Notes on the Settlement and Indian Wars of the Western Parts of Virginia and Pennsylvania, 1763-1783, (Wellsburg, VA: 1824), pp. 91-93. A good description of Daniel Boone’s early years learning to hunt in Pennsylvania can be found in: John Mack Faragher, Daniel Boone: The Life and Legend of an American Pioneer, (New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1992), pp. 9-39.

[9] Aron, How the West Was Lost, pp. 23-25. For more on the spiritual nature of Indian hunting techniques, and the Anglo-European differences see: James Axtell, The European and the Indian: Essays in the Ethnohistory of Colonial North America, (New York: Oxford University Press, 1981), pp. 53-54. Colin G. Calloway, New Worlds for All: Indians, Europeans, and the Remaking of Early America, (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998), pp. 55-56. An example of the use of slaves and hired camp tenders in hunting can be found in the case of Daniel Boone’s extended hunt into Kentucky between 1769 and 1771. Of the six to go on the trip only Boone, John Findley and John Stewart were hunting. The other three, and little is known of their social status, were James Mooney, Joseph Holden and William Cooley who were to act as camp keepers. Faragher, Daniel Boone, p. 76.

[10] Aron, How the West Was Lost, pp. 14-16.

[11] This small band of elites controlled the key institutions revolving around the county courts during the eighteenth century. These positions would include that of the county surveyor responsible for surveying the land for purchase. It is no surprise that land would help determine the membership to this elite group. In the pre-revolutionary era the gentry comprised roughly ten percent of the free population in Virginia. This ten percent owned half of all property in the colony, which in this context can be taken to mean land and slaves. Woody Holton, Forced Founders: Indians, Debtors, & the Making of the American Revolution in Virginia, (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1999), p. xviii. For more on the gentry’s expected deference from the common or ‘simple folk’ see: Albert H. Tillson, Jr., Gentry and Common Folk: Political Culture on a Virginia Frontier 1740-1789, (Lexington: The University Press of Kentucky, 1991), p. 18.

[12] Ted Franklin Belue, The Long Hunt: Death of the Buffalo East of the Mississippi, (Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 1996), p. 85.

[13] In many of Draper’s correspondence he seems to have compiled notes based on the information in each letter in order to get confirmation from all parties. The examples on the length of the trans-Appalachian hunting trips can be found in the Daniel Boone Papers of the Draper Manuscript Collection (Madison, Wis.: State Historical Society of Wisconsin, Microfilm Edition, 1980), DM5C41-46.

[14] Aron, How the West Was Lost, p. 23. Belue, The Long Hunt, pp. 85-96. Ted Franklin Belue, The Hunters of Kentucky: A Narrative History of America’s First Far West, 1750-1792, (Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 2003), pp. 90-91.

[15] Doddridge, Settlement and Indian Wars, p. 98. Belue, The Long Hunt, pp. 86-87.

[16] Belue, The Long Hunt, p. 86. John Dabney Shane interview with Samuel Treble, DM12CC43.

[17] Aron, How the West Was Lost, p. 24.

[18] The dangers of Indian attack while hunting have been well documented, and will be elaborated on later in this article. One of the best examples of the desire to avoid Indian contact can be seen through Daniel Boone, who had his hoard of skins confiscated, along with his rifle, twice, by Cherokee and Shawnee hunters during his two year hunt in Kentucky between 1769 and 1771. Aron, How the West Was Lost, p. 18. Belue, The Hunters of Kentucky, p. 92. Faragher, Daniel Boone, pp. 79-87.

[19] Letter from John B. Dysart to Lyman Copeland Draper, DM5C61.

[20] While the title of Long Hunter has now been applied to any commercial trans-Appalachian hunter, Draper applied the term to the members of a specific hunt that took place between 1769 and 1771. Draper researched the men involved in this hunting party with the intention of including their experiences as part of his biography of Daniel Boone. A sketch of the men and their experiences are included in chapter eight of Draper’s unpublished manuscript: Lyman Copeland Draper, The Life of Daniel Boone, DM3B54-84. Though Draper never completed his manuscript a transcribed version of the completed chapters, which covers Boone’s life up to 1778 is available; see: Lyman Copeland Draper, The Life of Daniel Boone, Ted Franklin Belue (ed.), (Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 1999), pp. 254-280.

[21] The endurance of Knox’s status as the hunt’s leader endured into the twentieth century, but much of this seems to have come from Humphrey Marshall who was furnished with his account of the hunting trip by Knox himself. In a letter to Draper, Robert Wickliffe was also insistent of Knox’s leadership, though from the letter it is once more apparent that the information has come from Knox himself. See: Brent Altsheler, ‘The Long hunters and James Knox their Leader’, in The Filson Club Historical Quarterly, vol.5, no.4. (October, 1931), pp. 169-185. Humphrey Marshall, The History of Kentucky, (Frankfort: George S. Robinson Printers, 1824), p. 9. Mann Butler, A History of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, (Louisville: Wilcox, Dickerman and Co., 1834), pp. 19-20. Letter from Robert Wickliffe to Lyman Copeland Draper, January 28th, 1849, DM5C54. Letter from Lyman Copeland Draper to Robert Wickliffe, October 25th, 1850, DM5C55.

[22] Dysart to Draper, DM5C61. Draper’s sketch of the Long Hunters, that ends his eighth chapter, suggests that the average age of the hunting party would be in the mid-20s. That Skaggs and Drake were older than many in the party does not seem to be a factor in the leadership decision. One member of the group was an elderly man named Russell, who, despite having poor eyesight, still killed a number of deer. Draper, The Life of Daniel Boone, DM3B59-69, 73-84.

[23] Aron, How the West Was Lost, p. 27.

[24] The decision-making process and consensual nature of a hunting party can be seen in a letter to Draper by Thomas Mitchell, where he asserts that there was no leader in the hunting party. Letter from Thomas Mitchell to Lyman Copeland Draper, November 1850, DM5C67.

[25] Letter from John Barbee to Lyman Copeland Draper, April 15th, 1849, DM5C77. Draper, The Life of Daniel Boone, DM3B54-84.

[26] Dysart to Draper, DM5C61.

[27] Letter from Lewis Barnet to Lyman Copeland Draper, July 15th, 1857, DM5C96. Belue, The Long Hunt, p. 86.

[28] Faragher, Daniel Boone, p. 74.

[29] Tillson, Jr., Gentry and Common Folk, p. 19.

[30] Tillson, Jr., Gentry and Common Folk, p. 47.

[31] Albert Tillson echoes the sentiments of Max Weber when arguing over the causes of indiscipline in the militia regiments coming from competing notions of the role of a leader. Tillson, Jr., Gentry and Common Folk, pp. 47-53. Weber, Theory of Social and Economic Organisation, pp. 330-331.

[32] While the Draper Manuscript collection contains a vast array of militia rolls from the period in the Preston Papers, many of these have been transcribed and published. See: Reuben Gold Thwaites and Louise Phelps Kellogg (eds.), Documentary History of Dunmore’s War 1774, (Madison: Wisconsin Historical Society, 1905), pp. 396-425.

[33] Letter from Daniel Smith to William Preston, October 13th, 1774, DM3QQ119. Aron How the West Was Lost, p. 27.

[34] The ways in which a militia commission was used to enhance status had been a tactic of the gentry in Virginia throughout the eighteenth century. By seeking a commission, Drake was treading a well-worn path for social advancement. Michael A. McDonnell, The Politics of War: Race, Class, and Conflict in Revolutionary Virginia, (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2007), pp. 37, 92-98.

[35] Letter from Arthur Campbell to William Preston, August 12th, 1774, DM3QQ75. Letter from Arthur Campbell to William Preston, August 28th, 1774, DM3QQ85. Tillson, Jr., Gentry and Common Folk, p. 58.

[36] Letter from Arthur Campbell to William Preston, August 3rd, 1774, DM3QQ70.

[37] This quote comes from Felix Walker’s account of the marking of the Wilderness Road. Boone referred to as a colonel in the account due to Walker writing many years after the event. In 1775 Boone still held the militia rank of captain. Felix Walker, ‘Felix Walker’s Narrative of His Trip with Boone from Long Island to Boonesborough in March, 1775 (Written About 1824. Published in Debow’s Review of February 1854)’, in Dale Payne (ed.), Narratives of Pioneer Life and Border Warfare: Personal Recollections, Memoirs and Reminiscences of Indian Campaigns, Captivities and Pioneer Life on the Eastern Frontier, (North Kansas City: Dale Payne, 2004), p. 2.

[38] Neal O. Hammon and Richard Taylor, Virginia’s Western War 1775-1786, (Mechanicsburg PA: Stackpole Books, 2002), pp. 49-50.

[39] John Dabney Shane interview with John Gass, DM11CC13. For a more detailed understanding of the siege of Boonesborough and the events of 1778 see: Faragher, Daniel Boone, pp. 141-202.

[40] Elizabeth A. Perkins, Border Life: Experience and Memory in the Revolutionary Ohio Valley, (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1998), pp. 132-141.