The Fort Boonesborough Living History program describes the trail across Kentucky to Daniel Boone's fort as being a hunting trail that was too narrow for a wagon. The earliest newcomers had to literally clear a trail as they traveled with all their worldly goods, their children, and their hopes for the new frontier. For decades the trail continued to have a reputation for being "the roughest, most disagreeable road on the continent."
There were two motivating factor inspiring Easterners to make the journey. The very earliest arrivals were taking advantage of land warrants awarded for Revolutionary War service. The second wave of new settlers occurred after the Land Law of May 1779 was enacted. This act meant affordable land!
It was a simple process. Anyone who planted a crop before January 1, 1778 was entitled to a Certificate of Settlement for 400 acres. If they wanted the 1,000 acres adjacent to their cropland, they could purchase it. Settlers who wanted to move there between January 1, 1778 and May 1779, could purchase a warrant for 400 acres.
The Kentucky Secretary of State Land Office maintains a database of those early settlers. There were a small variety of eligibility requirements and the database indicates whether the applicant was qualified.
In fact, there are several databases online that are useful for genealogical research.
- Kentucky Cities and Counties – incorporation date and boundary information
Military Registers and Land Records
- Revolutionary War Warrants – 4,748 bounty land warrants issued by Virginia to Revolutionary War veterans can be searched by veteran name
- West of Tennessee River Military Patents – this database contain nearly 9,400 patents of the Jackson Purchase which includes Hickman, Calloway, Graves, McCracken, Marshall, Ballard, Fulton, and Carlisle counties
Non-Military Registers and Land Records
The Kentucky Land Office overview explains the four steps involved in land patenting; the database includes Land Law of May 1779 land patents and Virginia Treasury Warrants granted under Chapter XIII, Land Law B of May 1779, and the transformation of Kentucky County Virginia, into Jefferson, Fayette, and Lincoln counties.
So the next time someone claims to have a family connection to Daniel Boone, you can verify it online. And, it is quite likely their story is true.