The speaker said that in digging in the area of the monument and doing other research, she was able to locate "lots and lots" of evidence that the fort was indeed where the monument indicated it had been. She showed a number of slides taken during the dig.
The exact location of the fort wasn't the only controversy, O'Malley said. She noted that the Transylvania Co., organized in 1774 by Richard Henderson and others, purchased a large amount of land from the Cherokee Indians in 1774. Henderson had dreams of colonizing the new area, but the Virginia Legislature would disallow Henderson's pact with the Indians in 1778, she said.
In March 1775, O'Malley said Henderson dispatched Daniel Boone, who already had scouted Kentucky, and a crew of 30 men plus slaves, to cut a path into the area. The party was beset with difficulties, she said, noting two men were killed in one attack and two more in a second attack before arriving at the site of Boonesborough on April 1. Henderson, she said, arrived 10 days later. While the initial population of the fort was about 60 people in 1775, those numbers kept fluctuating, the speaker said.
There was an initial "terrible waste" in the killing of game and hunters soon had to travel 15 or 20 miles from Boonesborough to find food, she said. Henderson's "top down" approach to governing did not set well with the settlers and they began to dispute the prices being set on land, she said. "Generally, it was like herding cats, it was pretty hard to get anyone to cooperate," she said.
One of the problems was in getting the settlers together to build the fort, she said. While they had built cabins, they weren't concerned enough about Indians to want to build fences. However, eventually blockhouses were built, she said.
The speaker said the Siege of Boonesborough in 1778 produced a "a lot of good stories." One was of the Indians trying to tunnel from the river under the fort, apparently egged on by the British, she said. The settlers saw what the Indians were doing and were beginning to dig their own tunnel when rain gave the settlers much-needed drinking water and caused the Indians' tunnel to collapse, she said.
Another tale was of a cannon Squire Boone made from a log, O'Malley said. It's first shot was successful, but the "cannon" blew up on its second shot, she said. A third tale, she said, was of a German settler who tried to take refuge under a bed, but was chased out by a woman.
"I be a potter, not a fighter," O'Malley said the man was quoted as saying.
Although Henderson gave up in 1778, Boonesborough applied for and granted a town charter in 1779 "for the reception of traders." It later became known as a tobacco inspection site, she said. The town was laid out in lots and a ferry was established between the fort and the opposite side of the Kentucky River, O'Malley said.
Boonesborough had 100 houses in 1790, according to a Canadian source, O'Malley said, adding it never really flourished as a town, even though there was an attempt to make it Kentucky's capital in 1792. By the U.S. census of 1810, Boonesborough had eight households containing 68 people, she said.
One reason Boonesborough did not thrive was because it was located on bottomland and subject to flooding, O'Malley said. Clearcutting caused erosion that dumped a lot of silt into the Kentucky River, which flooded then left it on the site. She estimated that between one-third and one-half of the site is left today.
Steve Caudill will portray Daniel Boone during a special program at the museum, 217 S. Main St., at 6:30 p.m. March 22. A soup and bean supper will be served from 5 until 6 p.m. as a fundraiser to help pay for the installation of a new elevator at the museum. Reservations are required and may be made by calling 745-1358 by March 20.
Former Mayor Dodd Dixon will discuss "Mayors of Winchester' at the April 12 Second Thursday program.