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a publication centered on life in Mississippi.
December 12, 2013
Curiosity is natural to man, and objects found along the way hold some peculiar power over his affections, so this day and more to follow will be given to a pleasing ramble. Such has coaxed me often to resign my domestic happiness for a time and explore what lies ahead. I behold a portion of Kentucky, once a howling wilderness but now a habitation of civilization. We hear in this place of late the adorations of our Creator.
But let me observe; that was not always true. Once, the hand of violence shed blood here. Groans of the distressed were heard.
My own beloved son James fell in this soil. Though the event is distant in time, it is close in memory. Oct. 10, 1773; I shall possess this date in recall until I, as did he, return to the dust from whence I was formed. Grievous, but my footsteps have too often been marked in blood.
Now, a protracted number of years since that tragic meeting and dreadful loss, I have concluded it unnatural for a man to outlive his progeny. Indulge me please to recount our progress in those early days that led to this land of marvels.
It was early May—as it is as I stand here in reflection. The year 1769. I left my family and peaceable habitation on the Yadkin River in North Carolina in quest of Kentucky, this in the company of John Finley and others. Progress was successful, and we found ourselves on the Red River the seventh day of June. From the top of an eminence there, we saw with pleasure beautiful Kentucky.
I must observe here that we had for some time been exposed to most uncomfortable weather. This could have been a prelibation of our future sufferings. We sheltered in an attempt to defend ourselves from this inclement season and began to hunt and reconnoiter. Wild beasts were abundant. I had never seen cattle more frequent in the settlements than were the buffalo here. We practiced hunting with great success. My rifle was new, and may I say now through the pain of worn bones and grey hair, so was my body.
We encamped here until December. It was then John Stewart and I rambled and allowed fortune to change the scene. There was a great forest covered with a myriad of trees, some with blossoms and some with fruits. Nature here was a fund of delight. She displayed her ingenuity and industry. These discoveries and others have since beckoned and have been both a bounty of rich rewards and burdensome sorrows.
This will be my last adventure. The country, though more accepting than it once was, is yet a place for the young. I am 64; my rifle is battered and well worn. Upon my return I will seek tranquility, perhaps along the Ohio. There the limp from a shattered ankle that received the ball of a rifle will be of lesser consequence. There, in a rope bed and cabin, aging legs and back and hips will complain not so frequently as when these must arise from a blanket on the forest floor. And there I will be surrounded by those I love and who love me. The wilderness will be inside me but I will not any longer be inside the wilderness.
Tony Kinton has been an active outdoors writer for 30 years. His books, “Outside and Other Reflections,” “Fishing Mississippi” and his new Christian historical romance novel, “Summer Lightning Distant Thunder,” are available in bookstores and from the author at www.tonykinton.com, or P.O. Box 88, Carthage, MS 39051.
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