BUCKNER – Emigrating To Louisville, Kentucky

GRANDMOTHER’S STORY:

When our family emigrated from Virginia to this country, we traveled in emigrant wagons, those big covered things sometimes called “Schooner” wagons. The country was full of Indians, most of them hostile to the whites, who were taking possession of the hunting grounds, and some of them had old grudges to settle after their encounters with Simon Kenton and Rogers Clark, and so the men of our party were well armed and constantly on guard. When we camped at night the wagons were arranged in horseshoe form, the wheels chained together, the cattle in the center and the men stood guard by night, taking turns, two at a time. The roads were awful, and we crawled along, the feet of horses and oxen sticking in the mud at every step. Sometimes we would hear the whoops and yells of Indians, which terrified the women and children almost to death; for there were several families of us traveling together for mutual protection.

We had been within the borders of Kentucky some time, when, at one of our stopping places, a poor, frightened, hungry woman came into camp with her clothes hanging in rags and tatters, with bare and bleeding feet, and a wild look in her eyes which made us afraid of her. We gave her food, and some articles of clothing and allowed her to take a good sleep, before she told her story.

She said she had been captured by the Indians the year before, who kept such close watch on her, that it was impossible to escape. During that time she had to perform the hardest labor, and was often beaten when her strength failed. A few days previous the Indian braves had gone on a big hunt leaving her guarded by an old Indian, who kept close watch on her. To put him off his guard she pretended to be cheerful and contented. When he finally fell asleep she made her escape noiselessly and in all haste. She had no idea which way she should go to reach the nearest settlement, but ran on in frantic haste to escape pursuit. For several days she subsisted on roots and berries and was growing very weak when she came to a swamp, there hearing the whoops of the Indians in pursuit she crawled inside of a big hollow log lying in the swamp and prayed fervently for deliverance. She heard the Indians running, and one of them stood on the log within which she was concealed, whooping and calling.

At last she heard them going away and after a long time, when all was quiet, she crawled out and walked for hours till she came to a road which she followed till it parted in two directions. Fearing that one of them might lead her to the Indian camp, she hid in the bushes and prayed to be directed. Soon a little bird came chirping and fluttering about her, then flew off up one of the roads. Believing that God had sent the bird to guide her, she followed that road till it brought her to our camp. We were the first white people she had seen for a year and she cried for joy, poor thing. For a while she journeyed with us, then with our assistance, she finally reached her home and kindred.

T’he farm which Thomas Buckner selected was in a beautiful and fertile region twenty miles from what is now the city of Louisville, but which must have been a small town then as it was founded in 1778, only seventeen years before grandfather emigrated to Kentucky. On that farm his children were raised, and later I, myself, was born there. I have heard some of the aunts and uncles say it was a busy community, where besides the farm work, in which grandfather and the bigger boys took part, as well as the negroes, there was the weaving, spinning, dyeing, knitting and sewing to be done for that large family of whites and Cracks. The shoemaker in those days traveled from farm to farm making and repairing shoes for the family for his board and wages, and he must have found the Buckner farm the most profitable one in that region. Uncle Ben one of the youngest sons used to tell of how the mischievous ones, of whom he was the leader, would beg the shoemaker to put “squeaks” in father’s, mother’s and other’s shoes, that the children might have warning of their approach, when they were in mischief. For all that they grew up a fine looking, energetic and capable set of men and women much respected in the communities in which they lived. After my father and mother had settled in Louisville, a distant cousin of the family called Col. Nick or Nicholas Buckner used to come to our house and he told us many stories about the Indians. He was a great Indian fighter, and hated “the red devils” as he called them, and we children were spell- bound listeners to his tales. He had a dramatic way of acting them out, taking aim with his gun at an imaginary foe in a way which thrilled us to the marrow.

Source: “Reminiscences of The Buckner Family”, by Mrs. Priscilla Aylette Buckner Reardon, about 1901, pages  6-9.