I am in Kingsport, Tennessee. Better known in 1775 as Long Island of the Holston. It was a sacred counsel and treaty location for the Native Americans in this area and served as a trading post. It is possible the state got its name from the Yuchi Indian word “Tana-see” which means “meeting place” and may have referred to this island.
In those days, however, this area was under the North Carolina Colony rule and the rule of the English Crown. Remember the Revolutionary War was in its infancy and Americans were still subjects of England.
Daniel Boone, Joshua Penix, and most of the pioneers were first generation Americans. They were the first to be born on American soil and they were feeling distant from the rulers over the Atlantic. A desire to move west, and make a life on their own terms, was building in their hearts.
This growing feeling of independence is what Richard Henderson was banking on to make his fortune selling plots in the “promised land” over the Alleghenies. But how would they get the pioneers past the foreboding wall of rock that ran hundreds of miles and blocked this bluegrass paradise? That’s precisely why Boone was the man for the job. He was one of just a few white men who knew the way and was already known far and wide for his navigation and woodsman skills.
I can’t find a primary source to tell me what day Boone left Long Island of the Holston. We know the purchase was signed on March 17th by the Indian Chiefs in Sycamore Sholes. But it is suggested Boone left prior to the signing, confident the deal was as good as done. A few internet sources (nps.gov and foresthistory.org) as well as the December 1985 issue of National Geographic give the date of March 10th as the day Boone began blazing the trail.
Also, we don’t know the exact location from which Boone left. Long Island is 4 miles long and averages 1/2 mile wide. Today most of the island is privately owned industrial property. Therefore, I will be starting my trek tomorrow, across the river from the north end of the island, at the Netherland Inn, which is a museum of local history. On its grounds is a cabin, relocated from Duffield, Va., that was owned and occupied by Boone and his family in the 1770’s. This is the beginning of the auto route laid out by the Daniel Boone Wilderness Trail Assoc.