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Harrodsburg: Kentucky's Jamestown

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Harrodsburg Kentucky is as important to the settling of the westward expansion of the United States as Jamestown was to the original colonists. Jamestown VA is commonly known as the first permanent American settlement for the colonist coming over from Europe. Little is commonly known about the western expansion of the United States outside of the original 13 colonies.

In 1934 President Franklin D. Roosevelt dedicated a marker near Fort Harrod celebrating this spot as the "first permanent settlement of the west." Not only was Fort Harrod the first permanent settlement west of the Appellation Mountains but it would also prove vital towards America’s western expansion.

The western frontier of colonial America abounds in stories from legendary figures such as Daniel Boone. Boone first reached Kentucky in the fall of 1767 while on a long hunt with his brother Squire. Daniel Boone probably knew Kentucky more thoroughly than any other white man.

As a result, Boone first tried to settle in Kentucky in 1773. Boone’s initial attempt at settlement included not only bringing families but also livestock and horses as well. The sight of a large group of white settlers with women, children, and livestock must have too much for the Native Americans to stomach, they attacked.

A number of Boone’s party well killed including Daniel's son James. The settlers were appalled at the ambush and refused to go any further. Boone then thought that settlement of Kentucky was impossible.

The next year, in May 1774, James Harrod led 32 men into a wilderness frontier for the reason to establish a settlement that would become the state of Kentucky. By 16 June they had found a suitable spot and began surveying for the building of a settlement.

Daniel Boone was sent by the governor of Virginia to warn the Harrod expedition of an impending Indian attack. In light of his failed attempt at settlement the year before, Boone could not help but be impressed at what he saw in Harrodsburg.

This had given Boone renewed interest in establishing a settlement in Kentucky. The following year in 1775 with help from Judge Richard Henderson from North Carolina, Boone started his own settlement that became known as Boonesborough.

The settlement of Kentucky would have happened sooner or later. However, the leadership and organizational skills demonstrated with the settlement of Fort Harrod, later known as Harrodsburg, helped the new nation expand and grow.

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