This section is from the "The New Student's Reference Work Volume 5: How And Why Stories" by Elinor Atkinson.
Once they got started, people kept coming and coming and coming to America as if they never would stop! In our own part of North America, that is now the United States, three million people were living a hundred and fifty years after the Puritans came. There were many thousands of negro slaves. Most of the white people were English. We owned all the land from the Atlantic ocean to the Mississippi River. This land was fifteen hundred miles long and a thousand miles wide. But all those three million people lived on a narrow strip of land along the sea coast. They began to feel crowded.
Why didn't they move back from the sea, and spread over the land? They couldn't. There was a wall. It was a wide, high, double wall of mountain ranges. The wall was nearly straight, but the seacoast bent in and out. Here the land ran away out into the water. There the water took a big bite out of the land. So in some places the seacoast land was more than a hundred miles wide. In others it was much narrower. The Indians were pushed and pushed back by the white people. At last they went over the mountain wall. They went by a trail that the white men could not find for a long time.
White men lived far up on the mountain slopes. The land there was rough, rocky hills. It was not good for growing corn and wheat. Men had to hunt like Indians to get enough to eat. They were strong and brave and hardy. They could do everything the Indians did. Much of the time they lived in the woods. While in the mountains back of the Virginia plantations, a party of white hunters found the Indian trail over the wall. It was through a high, narrow valley. The Cum-ber-land River started there, in mountain springs. It cut a deep pass through which men could ride on horseback. The pass was called Cum-ber-land Gap.
These daring hunters went through the Gap and down the Western slope. They built no fire. They kept their food pouches filled, their moccasins tied to their guns. They rolled in blankets at night, and slept on their guns. They thought the Indians might see them. On the least alarm they slipped into the deep woods. One morning they saw a park-like country at their feet. There were miles and miles of green meadows, with bright rivers and giant trees. The park was full of deer and other game.
The white men made up their minds to stay in this fair wilderness. They built some cabins inside a log fort. More men, and a few women and children were hurried over the Gap, and into the rude fort. A white baby was born there. There was even a wedding in the fort. Then began a life of daring and danger of many years. The earliest Puritans had not lived so hard a life as these hunters in Kentucky and Tennessee. They were hundreds of miles from the French towns on the Mississippi. The mountain wall was behind them. Ships could not come to them. They could neither buy nor sell anything.
Some years they dared not go outside the forts to grow corn. The men slipped out to hunt. Sometimes they did not come back. The Indians followed them and killed them. Sometimes painted red warriors danced around a fort. Very little boys had to learn to shoot, to protect their mothers and sisters. But more white people came. A hundred came for every one killed. They found another trail over the mountains to the Ohio River. They came down this river in keel boats. The Indians shot at them from the banks. Fleets of canoes followed the keel boats. Then soldiers came and fought battles with the Indians, so white people could live in that country. At last, after thirty-five years, there were little log towns and lonely cabins, scattered all through Kentucky and Tennessee.
Daniel Boone was one of the hunters who built the first forts. Find the story about him. Then we will tell you the story of a boy who was born when Daniel Boone was more than seventy years old. He was born in one of the lonely cabins in the woods of Kentucky. That was one hundred years ago. We will learn how he lived, what he did, and what kind of a man he became.