Thursday, May 14, 2009

friday's frontier fact

Ever wonder what those first Kentucky settlers read on long winter nights by the fire? I do know some burned double-wick candles to better see by. Deep in the wilderness, the standard reading fare, if you could read at all, included the Bible, history books, Robinson Crusoe, and Gulliver's Travels. Daniel Boone had a fondness for all of the above, and even read the latter to his hunting cronies around the fire. He even christened a Kentucky creek, "Lulbegrud," after a town in Swift's book.

The Virginia Gazette was also circulated through the settlements and this newspaper provided more than the goings-on in England and the Colonies, runaway slaves, horses for sale, etc. I had fun researching some very old editions bound to have made those first settlers cackle (or tsk in dismay). Here are two very common notices printed in the Virginia Gazette, February 4, 1779:

Whereas my Wife Lucy hath behaved in a very unfriendly manner to me, this is to forewarn all Persons from trusting her on my Account, as I will not pay any Debts she may contract, I intend to leave the Colony soon, and return in a few months. James Atherton

Poor James. Suffice it to say, I couldn't find a single notice by a wife complaining about her wayward husband! Here's another:

Whereas my Wife Delphia hath been a naughty, furious Housewife for some Years past, and hath invented, and reported certain slanders, to the Prejudice of my Character, and have often threatened to ruin me...

Wonder what old Boone thought when reading that?

Only 11 more Friday's till The Frontiersman's Daughter is on shelves.
Happy Friday!

Boone: A Biography, Robert Morgan


  1. It sure is funny what was considered "news" in those days! It shows, in comparison, how awful our society is today.
    What would they think of rape, murder, assault, kidnapping, etc. that is all over our news these days?

  2. Sadly, you are right, Lisa. There's little to chuckle at in today's news. I actually hide the paper (we rarely get it, anyway) from my sons.
    Thank you for reading my frontier facts! It always makes my day!