Walking began at 8:03 a.m.
When Boone first came to Kentucky as a long hunter in 1767, and again in 1769, he followed many paths that already existed. Buffalo and Indians had already created the network of trails and long hunters used them to get around. Boone was particularly gifted with knowing which trails to connect to get where he wanted to go.
A well known intersection in this crisscross of paths was at Hazel Patch. The already established Skagg’s Trace separated from Boone Trace at this point. It was named after the abundance of hazelnut trees that grew in the area. The nuts served the hunters well as a ready source of portable nutrition. It served the game well to which made the area good for hunting.
In 1793, the first permanent building in Kentucky was built here beside Hazel Patch Creek. John Woods was the owner and it was called Wood’s Blockhouse. It served many years as a protective retreat for travelers in the dangerous wilderness. First mention of it in writing was from Bishop Frances Asbury, who was one of the first two ministers in the Methodist Episcopal Church in America. Asbury traveled extensively on horse back to minister to the frontier families and established several schools. He kept a journal most of his life and chronicled frontier culture. Bishop Asbury’s journals are still studied today by historians.
A strong thread that runs through these writings is one of pessimism. As Asbury himself put it, he was “a true prophet of evil tidings, as it suits my cast of mind”. His journals were filled more with the failures of his ministry than his successes and although his friends knew him to be a sensitive caring man, he was subject to periods of morbid depression. Asbury displayed many a gloomy opinion when writing of his travels and Boone Trace was not spared his cynicism.
He writes, “What a road we have passed! Certainly the worst on the whole continent even in the best weather; yet bad as it was there were four or five hundred crossing the rude hills whilst we were.”
His review continues, “I found amongst my other trials I have taken the itch; and, considering the filthy houses and filthy beds I have met with, in coming from the Kentucky conference, it is perhaps strange that I have not caught it twenty times. I do not see that there is any security against it but by sleeping with a brimstone shirt.”
Tonight Givan and I will sleep at the sight of Wood’s Blockhouse. At our camp site will be the stone marker with this inscription.
Woods Block House
The Hazel Patch
1769 Skaggs Trace 1795
1775 Boone Trace 1795
Bishop Frances Asbury
April 10 1793
I wont be so harsh in my Yelp review.