Irish Pioneers in Kentucky: a series of articles published in the Gaelic American

May 30, 2015 by

irish pioneersIrish Pioneers in Kentucky: a series of articles published in the Gaelic American was originally published in 1916.

Here’s a fascinating tidbit I just learned from this book:

The True Discoverer of Kentucky.
Not Daniel Boone, as is Generally Supposed, but an Irish Pioneer named James McBride. Testimony of Impartial Historians. Our Irish-American literary and historical associations could do no better work than turn the searchlight on the early records of Kentucky. Of all the original Thirteen Colonies, none present a wider, more prolific or more interesting field for historical research than that portion of the Colony of Virginia, originally called Fincastle County, and which, in 1779, was formed into the State of Kentucky.

It may be said that the early history of Kentucky is contemporary with that of Virginia and the Carolinas. It was from those Colonies that the pioneers of the “Blue Grass State” set out in search of adventure and fortune in the unknown land beyond the great ranges of the Appalachians, and although historians invariably give the credit to the renowned hunter, Daniel Boone, as having been “the discoverer of Kentucky,” we shall quote authorities to show that long before the valiant Boone ever saw the sky over fair Kentucky, another daring hunter from Virginia had blazed a path through that region and paved the way for the more famous explorers that succeeded him. And it is not the least bit remarkable to find that the first white man who traversed that region and made known its possibilities to a waiting world, bore an Irish name, James McBride.

In all likelihood he was a native of Ireland. Our authorities for this statement are no less than the eminent historians of Kentucky, Judge Lewis Collins and John Filson. Collins is the leading authority on early Kentucky history. He was the author of “Kentucky, Its History, Antiquities and Biography.” It is a graphic story of the early settlement of the West, vivid, enthusiastic and minute; compiled with a loving and reverent industry from original records, and from the letters and papers of the pioneers themselves. These he sought out and rescued “from moths and mice in the lumber rooms of original log houses of the backwoods, or taken from the aged lips of some surviving relics of the olden time.” The details are interesting, not only to every Kentuckian for the sake of the abundant family history, but to every student of the part played by Irish immigrants in the early days of the great Southwest.”

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