I returned Sunday night from my 4th and final research trip to Kentucky before the March 10th beginning of the expedition. I spent all of Saturday running the back roads of Madison County with John Fox as he showed me the important turns I’ll need to make to stay on course. This staying on course business tends to get tricky when you’re trying to be historically and factually accurate.
The path itself has been a conundrum with all the fractured segments that can be anything from a major 4 lane highway to a bramble choked path you need to bend over to walk (I ripped my pants on the brambles).
Much confusion in the last hundred years or so has added to the trouble in identifying Boone Trace and its misidentification with The Wilderness Road. We’ll talk more about that in another post. After all the research I now know Boone Trace from top to bottom and can walk it with confidence knowing I’m walking with Joshua.
The search for the right path doesn’t end with just Boone Trace. This weekend I met with Dean Whitaker the president of The Society of Boonesborough. This organizations membership is populated by descendants of pioneers who were at Fort Boonesborough in the early years. He had consulted some very reliable sources to find out just how exactly was my 5X great grandfather involved with the fort and Daniel Boone.
There are several sources on the internet and in print which speak of Joshua Penix being a revolutionary soldier and fighting alongside Boone during the Indian siege of ’78. But other than secondary accounts, what is the hard, historical evidence? Mr. Whitaker located two documents which were signed by residents of Fort Boonesborough seeking help from Virginia and establishing Boonesborough as a permanent town, not just an outpost. These documents have Joshua Penix’s signature but they are dated Oct. 14th and 15th 1779, one year after the siege. Furthermore, the book AND THE BATTLE BEGAN LIKE CLAPS OF THUNDER, by Anne Crabb, which is an exhaustive account of the Indian siege of 1778, has no mention of Penix in the list of Boonesborough residents. We know Joshua was at the fort but when did he arrive? Those facts are elusive.
Finally, the last bit of misinformation is a modern day dilemma. Prior to Christmas I was interviewed by a reporter from the Middlesboro Daily News. She informed me the article would run after Christmas. It did run on Dec. 29th. In the following weeks two more news outlets, WKYT in Lexington and the Richmond Register newspaper, ran their own version of the story. According to them I am an eastern Kentucky resident and Grandpa Joshua cut the road with Boone in 1775. Oh well, any publicity is good publicity I guess.