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Daniel Boone: An early traveler through Johnson County

To me one of the most interesting men to tread the ground of what is now Johnson County was that intrepid explorer, Daniel Boone. Between his birth November 2, 1734, in Berks County Pennsylvania, and his death September 26, 1820, in St. Charles County, Missouri, he explored and scouted the way through the wilderness that was then North Carolina, what would later become Tennessee and Johnson County, and on into a land called Kentucky.
One of Boone’s treks through what would later be Johnson County came through what is now Trade, Shouns, Mountain City, Laurel Bloomery, Damascus and Abingdon, Virginia. He arrived in the Abingdon area where his party was attacked by wolves and for many years the area was called Wolf Hills.
Some have questioned that route, but if he was headed toward and eventually came to what is now Abingdon, it isn’t likely he would have gone any other way because that route was the shortest and most logical. Of course, Boone on other trips turned left at Shouns down what is now Roan Creek and through what is now Elizabethton and beyond.
Several markers were erected to memorialize Boone’s trail. There are markers in North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and Kentucky. In Tennessee the trail goes through four eastern counties: Johnson, Carter, Washington and Sullivan. The first marker in Tennessee is at Trade. There are also markers at Shouns, Butler, Elizabethton, Watauga, Austin Springs, Old Fort, and Kingsport. I’m sure there are others that I have not mentioned. Also in Tennessee there is a marker at Laurel Bloomery.
Daniel Boone’s family moved from Pennsylvania to the Yadkin River Valley. While there, he grew somewhat bored and felt that it was getting too crowded. After all, there were people living a few miles away and he just couldn’t abide folks living that close. As early as 1760, he would leave his home and family and go far away for long periods of time to hunt and explore in the wilderness.
He and men like him were called “Long Hunters” because of the great distance they traveled and the long time spent hunting in the wilderness.
Boone is probably best known of all the hunters not just due to his adventures but also because he was a great explorer that first led actual settlers through the Cumberland Gap into what is now Kentucky.
Boone visited John Honeycutt at his cabin on Roan Creek during one of his travels through what is now Johnson County. Honeycutt was one of the earliest settlers in Johnson County. Also visiting Honeycutt was James Robertson who would come to be called the “Father of Tennessee” For his efforts in settling middle Tennessee. There is a story that is probably familiar to many folks concerning how Roan Creek was named. The story goes that Boone on one of his trips through Johnson County, found himself with a lame roan horse as he made his way down the creek. He turned the horse loose and went on his way. When he returned much later, he found the horse in good shape. That, according to legend, is how Roan Creek was named.
Daniel Boone by historical accounts was an extraordinary man — a man of valor and determination. He braved the hardships of the wilderness of what was then the western frontier. His trips through Johnson County will be remembered as a small but significant part of his push to settle Kentucky.