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As seen through the eyes of Mistress Heasley sometime in early spring of 1780…

March 2010

We had been planning this scout for weeks in hopes that the harsh winter would break into spring in time for us to travel. It had been a bitter winter and those that had remained on their homesteads were aching to break away from the mundane hours of feeding the fire and trying to keep the livestock and children fed.

When time allowed we had ridden from cabin to cabin to pass the word of the day we should meet. The agreed upon place was the banks of Marble Creek where the old buffalo trace ends at the water. It was to be the first Saturday a fortnight after the vernal equinox.
Knowing that we would camp for a few days, I began packing the week before, gathering our supplies and the foodstuffs we would need for our camp. As our cabin was closest to the meeting place, Phillip and I had agreed to provide more supplies than the others knowing our trip would be shorter and less difficult

Marble Creek trek  KH 015a

Friday morning dawned bright and crisp, and I rose early to start my chores and make the final preparations. The children were going to stay with a family across the valley and they prepared their packs to make their short journey. They would enjoy a brief holiday from their daily chores and the watchful eyes of their father and I. They were nearly as excited as I was as they waved goodbye and set out with instructions to not tarry along the trail that would lead them to our closest neighbors, the Kirkpatricks. Mistress Kirkpatrick has twin boys that are hardly four seasons old. I know she will welcome the relief to have four extra hands to help entertain them while she sees to her daily chores.

I began to load the packhorses I would lead to our campsite while Phillip set out to finish his day’s work and secure the homestead for our departure. It would be dusk before he would join me, but I was quite accustomed to packing our loads and seeing to all the details. I had 2 dressed pullets and a large venison steak, along with enough other edibles, coffee, tobacco, and of course the spirits we would share with our fellow travelers. By the chill in the air it was sure to be a cold night, so I packed extra blankets and stockings along with the kettles and other items that would make for a comfortable camp. Lastly, I checked my rifle and horn and made sure there was powder and lead should we encounter game or perhaps even a savage or two that may have ventured into the area. None had been seen in these parts for a time, but one can never be too cautious.


We laid a fire and decided to scout the area a bit before the others arrived. I took Mr. Hagee to a cave that was just a short walk from our camp and told him we had heard that Daniel Boone had wintered here some years back. He would eventually return to this area and build four cabins near the mouth of the creek where it meets the Kentucky River. He would live here with Mrs. Boone and his grown daughters and their families. The first church in the area, Marble Creek Baptist Church, had as one of its charter members, Flanders Calloway, Boone’s son-in-law, married to his daughter Jemima. When Boone left this area, he moved on to Limestone to start a store and tavern on the great river to our north.

One of our fellow scouts, Jonathan Hagee, arrived at the cabin just after noon to accompany me to the meeting place. He led his pack horse as well and we set out with the horses, our hound, and a light heart, knowing that our adventure was about to begin. His woman would arrive the following day along with the Ginters who lived just a few miles from the Hagees.

We covered the miles with little difficulty and passed the cabin of Mistress Hobson where she lives with her man and three large dogs. Her man, Thomas, greeted us and bid us a fine day before we covered the last bit of trail to our destination and temporary home. We had chosen a perfect spot in a small clearing beside the creek bank near a stand of trees that would provide some cover. There was plenty of deadfall for firewood as a result of a terrible ice storm the previous winter. A spring was close by to supply our water.

We set about unpacking and building the shelters, knowing that the others would begin to arrive before nightfall. I dug a fire pit and carried stones from the creek to line the edges in hopes that the rocks would radiate extra warmth from the fire as the temperature was dropping steadily. It had been a dry month—much more so than in previous seasons. So the creek was rather lazy and inviting—far from the raging water we had encountered on our spring scout last season.

Marble Creek takes its name from the white rock that lines its banks. It is quite different than the limestone on our homestead, and it would later provide the steps and foundations for many homes that would spring up in the area in the coming years.

MC 27

We returned to camp and finished our preparations. I put the two birds on a spit over the fire to cook for our evening meal.

It was nearly dark when Phillip arrived with Manhawk, our Indian friend. As was his way, our Indian scout had materialized seemingly out of thin air just as Phillip was completing his work and preparing to leave. Manhawk often visited our cabin, and while still very much a savage, he had learned the ways of the white man and was always a welcome guest at our fire. We often speculated that it was because of our friendship with him that we had lived many years unmolested by the Shawnee who had terrorized the settlements nearly from the time the whites had ventured into Kan-tu-kee. Manhawk would serve as our fore scout as he has a natural ability, as most savages do, when it comes to tracking and scouting. He can find a trail where no trail is apparent and we will welcome his skill and companionship. He brought fresh fish to add to our meal, and with the birds and venison we had a fine feast for our first outing of the year.

We shared news from the area and from the north and learned that at least one traveler had crossed the Spaywaylaytheepi and would join us before dawn. Young Cody Miller from the Ohio territory had crossed the big river and had traveled for several days to join our scout. He arrived weary yet safely, and joined us at the fire to warm his body and rest his spirit. We shared the remnants of our meal and the men smoked their pipes and passed a jug of ale. It was a beautiful night with many stars and a bright, nearly full moon. We thought that bode well for the next day’s adventures. When we finally turned in, we were thankful for the extra blankets and the warmth of the dog at our feet as the night air had grown quite cold. But we were well fed and felt a glow from the spirits we’d imbibed. We fell asleep to the sound of the crackling fire and the peaceful flow of Marble Creek as it tumbled over the rocks not 20 yards away.

It was rather brisk when we arose for our morning necessary. The grass crunched beneath my soles and the frost glistened in the morning moonlight. Our young friend, Cody, had made his bed by the fire and had already rekindled the flames. I had to break ice in the kettle to see to the morning coffee and then began to prepare a hot breakfast for our small group. We ate heartily knowing it would be an arduous day and many hours before our next meal.

I was just retting up camp when the others began to arrive. Mr. Barnett had come from near Jim Harrod’s fort. Mr. Richardson has a place west of Hickman Creek. Mr. Selter and his bride hail from the knob country. And the Ginters who live just to our north near the headwaters of Hickman Creek. They brought along Mistress Hagee who was anxious to join her husband. It was a fine group who had assembled here, and we were nearly ready to start our scout.

Marble Creek trek  KH 004

Mistress Ginter and Mistress Hagee had decided to stay with our camp. And as we packed our haversacks and checked our rifles, their men gave them instructions to keep a watchful eye in our absence.

MC 5

It was a glorious spring morning, and the dogs were prancing about our feet. They were as eager as we to be on the way. The sun was fairly high in the sky as we set out up the hill along the same route we had traveled just the day before. Our plan was to follow the buffalo trace that would lead us back to the creek several miles upstream from our camp. We would explore this part of the creek and search for a route that would take us all the way to the river. We had traveled but a mile or two when we spotted what appeared to be a grave among some trees to the right of our trail. A stone marked “Thomas Ricketts” looked to be fairly new, and we speculated that he may have perished in a military campaign against the king’s army in the East. I had heard tell of his surname in these parts, but we were quite surprised to find this small graveyard in such an uninhabited place. After a look about the nearby trees and underbrush, we returned to the trail and continued along our way.

This part of the journey would prove to be the easiest as we were unencumbered by the thick growth that we would encounter later. The game had cut a wide swath and we wondered if we would see any of the great beasts that had been so plentiful just a few years back. Game had become scarce as more and more white folks were venturing beyond the original settlements. We lamented this fact as in the early years the deer and buffalo and elk had seemed limitless. But the demand for hides in the East and across the great water had brought hunters and trappers into this land. It was evident that wherever the white man made his home, the game began to vanish. Had Colonel Boone not been placed in charge of conservation efforts in 1775, our prospects for fresh meat would have been even less.

Marble Creek trek  KH 005

My moccasins were in grave disrepair and I had not had time to sew new ones. The only other footwear I own are the sturdy leather shoes I had brung with me from Maryland. I could hardly risk destroying them as a cobbler was not available in the area. I wore them over the buffalo trace, but now that we had traveled a bit down the creek I decided I should take them off, along with my stockings, so that I could spare both from further damage. The water was cold but almost soothing to my bare feet that had become tender over the winter. Mrs. Selter following behind me removed her stockings and shoes as well.

When we reached the creek, we took a brief rest and surveyed the landscape. Indeed the creek was a bit low for this time of year, but that may prove to be in our favor and perhaps make the going a bit easier. We pondered whether to stick to the creek bank and creek bed or travel overland in the woods alongside, staying close to enough to use the water as our guide. This was a futile decision as it became apparent quite quickly that our trail would angle back and forth from one side of the creek to the other as we traversed the rocks, ridges, deadfalls and thick growth. At times the easiest route was simply to walk right down the middle of the creek being wary of loose and slippery rocks that can land one on his backside in an instant. More than one of our travelers took a spill during the day. But thankfully no one was injured beyond a few bumps, scrapes, strained muscles and bruised pride.

Despite a few difficulties in maneuvering, we were making good time. While exploring our trail was the main objective of our scout, the beauty of the area was not lost on even one of us. The early spring had caused everything to bud and blossom, and we were seeing the earliest wildflowers in bloom and the trees beginning to leaf out. The sun filtered through the trees and reflected off the water. In places where it tumbled over ledges, the waterfalls nearly sparkled. The trees created shadows on the walls of rock and in places where they rose on either side of us, it created an almost eerie effect as we trudged through this gorge cut by centuries of running water through ancient stone.

We kept a watchful eye on the ridges above and Manhawk and young Miller climbed up and scouted the ridge tops and then returned to join us downstream. The dogs were having a grand time trailing rabbits and digging in stumps for unseen critters. They would take off into the brush and just when they had been missing long enough to believe them lost, they would reappear with tails wagging and tongues lolling from the chase. It’s a good thing there were no savages in the area as the sound of the dogs howling would have made us easy to find and easy targets for an ambush from the ridgeline.

MC 20
MC 13

What a sight we must have been—one savage, seven men, two hounds, and two barefoot women traipsing through the woods; We traveled along the moss-covered ledges; in the water; out of water; over rocks; under and over fallen trees. I must say I envied the men in their breeches as I hoisted my petticoats over dead trees; hiked them up through calf deep water; and snatched them away from briars. Climbing is the worst in a petticoat. One must take care not to step on the hem, lest ye fall and crack your skull on a rock.

MC 25
MC 8
MC 10
MC 17

The twists and turns of the gorge can be deceiving, and after several miles we began to speculate that our camp was just around the next bend. But then we’d round the bend only to find there was more water, more rocks, and more trees for as far as we could see. In one particularly rough area, we followed a deer path that skirted the edge of the hillside quickly realizing our four-legged friends are much nimbler than we, as we slipped and slid along the slope. In more than one spot I had to put my shoes back on to scramble a few yards over some rough stones. As soon as I could, I removed them again and carried them in my pack.

MC 21
MC 29
MC 24
MC 35
MC 34

Finally we rounded a bend and the woods had a familiar feel. I could see a large rock outcropping above me to the left. I was sure this was the place I had hidden back in the winter. That day I had been following some tracks on the hillside when I heard voices from the trail below. I had crouched between the rocks, invisible to the small hunting party below. I had waited for them to pass before making my way back to my horse that I had hobbled in a stand of trees. I had been lucky to go undiscovered as they were a rough looking lot—three hunters and an Indian, perhaps looking to steal a cache of hides or molest an unwary traveler. But we encountered none of their kind today thankfully, especially since the other women in our group were back in camp alone.

We were just a short distance from our camp at this point, and we walked the last bit thinking how good it would be to rest our bruised feet and nurse our sore muscles. One can surely become soft over the winter when the longest distance traveled is from the cabin door to the woodpile.


Phillip and Doc Muzzy were taking it slow while Manhawk, Cody and Mr. Hagee had climbed up the hillside and were taking the high route. We arrived at the cave and climbed up to view the area and show the women what a great place this would be to make camp for a night, a few days, or even weeks. Below us we could see a beaver dam and several saplings that had been gnawed off close to the ground. I made a mental note to tell Phillip that he and I should lay traps in this area come wintertime. Shortly, he came along with Doc, and with a few pulls and shoves, he had made the climb to join us.

There is a spectacular view from this point, and while we were admiring the scenery, we heard a noise and then a loud splash in the pool below us. We were naturally startled and the men and I grabbed our rifles and looked up at the mouth of the cave. Above us on the cliff, we could see our Indian scout along with Cody and Mr. Hagee. They were grinning with mischief and took off at a trot across the cliff tops.

After a short time, the ladies and I climbed down and Phillip helped Doc make his way down. We crossed the creek, balancing from stone to stone, hoping to keep our feet dry. I wanted to show my friends a huge hollow sycamore we had discovered last winter. We had easily fit four of us in it on a previous scout, and we commented on what a great shelter it would be in a storm. The tree stands beside a deep pool with large flat rocks that would make a fine place for relaxing and bathing. But that would have to wait for another day as we were still trying to reach the river before sundown. We needed time to make the trip and return to our camp before dark.


Marble Creek trek  KH 011

The dogs announced our arrival and we made our way into camp to thankful greetings from the ladies that we were back safely and unharmed. There were our own sounds of gladness that the women were safe and that we had arrived in good time and in good spirits. Mrs. Ginter and Mrs. Hagee had not been idle in our absence. To the contrary, they had prepared what seemed to us a feast…not only for our empty bellies, but for our eyes as well.

They had brought berries and baked bread and provided us with all sorts of bounty—dried fruit, nuts, cheese, sausage, little squares of hard bread, and even fresh butter. With our mugs full of ice cold spring water, we reclined in the grass and savored the food, the warm sunshine, and the company of dear friends.

Doc Muzzy had arrived in camp while we had been out, so the women hadn’t been alone for long. We had not been sure he would make the journey but were glad that he had. Doc has seen many a scout, but as the years and a hip injury have taken their toll, his scouts have become shorter and fewer. We were thrilled to be graced with his presence, to share in his knowledge and his humor. His woman had not come with him, but no matter to Doc. He loves ALL the ladies, and with a twinkle in his eye, delighted in flirting with each and every woman present.

Our respite would not be for long as we still had a good distance to travel to reach the river. We re-checked our rifles and powder; re-donned our packs, and said goodbye again---this time not to Mrs. Ginter or Mrs. Hagee, but to Mr. Barnett, Mr. Ginter, and Mr. Richardson. Mr. Richardson was setting off for home, hoping to arrive before nightfall. The other two men had volunteered to guard our camp so the ladies could see a bit of the countryside. They were especially eager to see the cave that Mr. Hagee and I had visited the day before. Doc decided to accompany us as well, and we assured him this portion of the trail would be easy to maneuver. We hopped across the creek and started down a well worn path through the woods. The ground vegetation along this stretch of trail is thick and beautiful. Mistress Selter commented on the abundance of edible and medicinal plants such as Bloodroot, Wild Ginger, Twinleaf, Jacob’s Ladder, and Squirrel Corn. We stopped to break the twigs of a spice bush to smell the pungent aroma that could be used to flavor soups and stews.


Marble Creek trek  KH 026

The going was not terribly easy as we scrambled over rocks and logs, back and forth from one side of the creek to the next. I was beginning to think the men had had the right idea going overland. We had not seen them for quite some time, and we were a bit concerned. I was the only one carrying a rifle as Phillip had returned to camp with Doc Muzzy. I continued to scan the ridgelines thinking I might see one of our men but also being watchful for other predators. We cautiously made our way along enjoying the freedom from our daily chores and the beautiful weather which had blessed us this day. In places we tried to choose the course of least resistance. And at times, we were not sure our choice had been the right one. We still had not seen the men, and a feeling of uneasiness was beginning to fall upon our group. Four women alone in the wilderness is certainly not common, and while the area was familiar from previous scouts, I was hoping to run across our men soon.

We reached a steep muddy bank and contemplated the best way to descend. I found what I thought would be the easiest route and used the butt of my rifle for support as I slipped and slid down the incline. The other ladies broke off branches to use for support to follow me. We had given up on trying to stay dry and were walking right through the water. As we scrambled up the opposite bank I saw a flash of red. The other women had not seen it. Young Cody was lying on his belly on the creek bank and our Indian scout was crouched behind a tree. He held his finger to his lips indicating I should be quiet

MC 38
MC 28

I quickly scanned the area around us. What or who was about? And then I realized what was happening. They were waiting to startle us. Had I not seen them first, their prank may have been successful. Scoundrels! All of them! But I couldn’t help but grin to myself. It had indeed been a day to enjoy with high spirits. Just then a shot rang out and I heard the startled cries of my lady companions. I dropped to one knee and raised my rifle toward the hillside expecting Cody and Manhawk to do the same. Just then I saw Mr. Hagee scrambling down the hillside grinning like a young boy. He had thoroughly scared us out of our wits and was enjoying the result. We all shared a good laugh as we tried to calm our pounding hearts The men recounted their journey over the hillsides to the same point we had reached by following the creek.

It seems they had discovered an old trail – perhaps cuts by deer or elk or by natives hunting in the area. I would have to follow that route another time as it was getting late and we needed to get back. We knew the river was just around the next bend, so instead of crossing the creek yet again, we decided to head back toward our camp. It was a lazy walk back, and we were delighted to be safe and together again.

We climbed back up the bank, past the deep pools, past the hollow tree, past the beaver dam and the cave, and finally picked up the path that would lead us back to the crossing and to our camp. Before we reached camp we heard voices and could smell something cooking. They were welcome sounds and smells, and we were happy to rejoin the rest of our companions. We arrived to find Miss Paula stooped over the fire stirring a kettle. She had arrived in our absence and was preparing an evening meal of pork along with dried apples baked together with potatoes and bits of bacon in my dutch oven. There was even a freshly baked apple pie for dessert. She had been very busy and must have arrived just after we left in order to have had time to prepare this lovely feast. The others were already loading their trenchers as we settled down and removed our packs and stashed our belongings

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Mistress Hagee had stumbled in the creek and was quite wet, so she warmed herself by the fire. We told of our adventure and how we had nearly been ambushed by savages which turned out to be our own companions. We shared the experiences of the day as we filled our bellies and rested our weary bones.

It would not be as cold this evening, but clouds had started to gather. We feared a storm might spoil what had been nearly a perfect scouting trip. Our group around the fire was much larger this evening, and we relished each other’s company. It was not often that we could be together as most days are filled with chores from sunup to sundown. It would soon be time for planting, and our cow was expecting a calf any day now. We hoped she had come to no harm while we’d been away as we had left her unattended along with the hogs and chickens and our old ewe. Phillip and I were beginning to miss the children, but we knew they were safe at the Kirkpatrick’s cabin.

We turned in before midnight still wondering when the rain would arrive. One could smell it in the air, so it was only a matter of time. We heard the first drops hitting canvas sometime in the wee hours of morning. I got up to stoke the fire and secure our things to prevent them from getting wet. My rifle was still propped against a tree, so I brought it in along our basket of foodstuffs and the hides we’d been sitting on the night before. Mrs. Selter appeared out of the darkness and nearly startled me. It seems she and Mr. Selter had packed up and were ready to start for home beings they had the furthest to travel. They knew the going would be slower in the rain and wanted to get an early start. We figured it must be about 4 a.m., so we quietly said our goodbyes, and I watched them make their way up the hill with their belongings on their backs.

Young Mr. Miller had left late last evening in anticipation of the coming storm. He hoped his horse would carry him a good distance before it hit.

Just as I lay back down next to Phillip, I saw the first flashes of lightning. I counted the seconds between the flash and the thunder and knew that the storm was still miles away. Being very frightened of storms, the dog was shivering beneath the blankets. As the thunder drew nearer, her shaking became more violent. I could not calm her, and one particularly loud clap sent her scurrying from our shelter. I was concerned for her and wondered if she would return, but I eventually fell back asleep to the gentle sound of rain falling on the canvas above me. Thankfully there was no wind---just a little thunder and a little rain.
We awoke at first light and rekindled the fire for our morning coffee. Mr. Barnett was already up and packing his bedroll and belongings to start back to Harrodstown. The Ginters had left as well, and just as Mr. Barnett started up the trail, the heavens opened. The fire sputtered and spit as the rain tried to put it out. We huddled under our canvas waiting for it to stop, still unsure where our dog had made off to. The shower did not last for long, so we were able to prepare a small breakfast and then began breaking camp and loading the horses all the while calling for the dog and hoping she would return unharmed.
It seems that so many of our camps, scouts, and hunts are rainy, and we must pack up soggy supplies only to arrive home and have to dry them out. Today would be no different.

MC 57
MC 51
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MC 60

Those of us that still remained decided that we would leave together and savor the last bit of our trip. We also wanted to make sure that everyone made it up the trace which was now muddy and slick from the morning downpour. The horses struggled at the top of the hill, and we had to urge them along as their hooves mired down in the deepening mud. With some extra pushing and pulling we made it to the top, and began the final bit of the journey to our cabin.

Mr. Hagee left us with a wave and a hearty handshake at the cut that leads to our cabin. We vowed to get together as soon as time would allow. Manhawk accompanied us to the cabin as did Mistress Reasoner. The children had arrived shortly before us and were glad to see us along with their dog and our visitors. We had nearly given up on the dog, but while we were packing our things, she appeared from the woods bone dry with her tail wagging. She must have found a hollow log or rock ledge to weather the storm, and she was no worse for the wear.

Marble Creek trek  KH 003

After a look about the place, and a cool refreshment, our Indian bade us goodbye. We asked him to accompany our friend Mistress Reasoner until she reached the trail that would lead to her cabin. We knew not when we would see him again but were certain one day soon he would simply appear at our cabin, and we would be grateful for his return.

I promised to send word to Mistress Reasoner when we were finished with our planting. She and I have patterns and fabric and recipes to share. It’s a pity she does not live closer, but we look forward to our next visit, whenever it might be.

Phillip and I went about the evening chores quietly, each remembering and cherishing some aspect of our scout. Our shelter was hanging in the barn and wet stockings and shoes were by the fire. The children were bedded down in the loft and the dog was curled up at the foot of the bed. As Phillip and I slipped into the comfort of our bed, we thanked the Lord for our dear friends, for a successful scout, and for our safe arrival at home. We prayed for the safety of our traveling companions, knowing some were yet on the trail. We rejoice in His blessings and look forward to our next adventure.


View the photos contained in the above article as a slideshow.

Click here to read about the 2009 Trek at Marble Creek

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