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The Frontiersmen: A Narrative

by Allan W. Eckert

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5221032,601 (4.25)13
The frontiersmen were a remarkable breed of men. They were often rough and illiterate, sometimes brutal and vicious, often seeking an escape in the wilderness of mid-America from crimes committed back east. In the beautiful but deadly country which would one day come to be known as West Virginia, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois, more often than not they left their bones to bleach beside forest paths or on the banks of the Ohio River, victims of Indians who claimed the vast virgin territory and strove to turn back the growing tide of whites. These frontiersmen are the subjects of Allan W. Eckert's dramatic history. Against the background of such names as George Rogers Clark, Daniel Boone, Arthur St. Clair, Anthony Wayne, Simon Girty, and William Henry Harrison, Eckert has re-created the life of one of America's most outstanding heroes, Simon Kenton. Kenton's role in opening the Northwest Territory to settlement more than rivaled that of his friend Daniel Boone. By his eighteenth birthday, Kenton had already won frontier renown as woodsman, fighter, and scout. His incredible physical strength and endurance, his great dignity and innate kindness made him the ideal prototype of the frontier hero. Yet there is another story to The Frontiersmen. It is equally the story of one of history's greatest leaders. Tecumseh, the brilliant Shawnee chief, welded together by the sheer force of his intellect and charisma an incredible Indian confederacy that came desperately close to breaking the thrust of the white man's westward expansion. Like Kenton, Tecumseh was the paragon of his people's virtues, and the story of his life, in Eckert's hands, reveals most profoundly the grandeur of the American Indian. No less important, The Frontiersmen is the story of wilderness America itself, its penetration and settlement, and it is Eckert's particular grace to be able to evoke life and meaning from the raw facts of this story. In The Frontiersmen, not only do we care about our long-forgotten fathers-we live again with them.… (more)



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» See also 13 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
Frontier life in the early 19th century, featuring the Shawnee ( )
  JackSweeney | Jan 9, 2017 |
The Frontiersmen is incredibly immersive, often reading like a novel bringing to life the old frontier of Ohio and Kentucky from about 1774 to 1810, the bloody period when it was settled by Americans and the Indians were pushed west (or dead). Despite it's strong narrative it's also a history and reliable for the most part. Published in 1967, Allan W. Eckert used creative non-fiction techniques before the style was respectable and so he has taken some flak for accuracy, and indeed there are some significant goofs - for example Blue Jacket was probably not white. Even if a few tales may be frontier legend they are archetypal and thus still of value. If not Blue Jacket there were other whites who went 'native'.

As an avid outdoor adventure/history reader it's embarrassing how much I know about, say, Antarctica, yet so little about the history of the land I live in and around so this book is a reminder one doesn't need travel far to find great adventure. ( )
  Stbalbach | Jul 14, 2014 |
These intertwined biographies of Simon Kenton, William Henry Harrison, and Tecumseh are very informative and a swiftly moving read. We have three paradigms here:, the Romantic Frontiersman, Kenton; the Valiant Indian, Tecumseh,; and the Manipulative politician : William Henry Harrison. Eckert would later write a longer biography of Tecumseh, the most attractive of the trio.
But if more people had read this chapter in Eckert's history of the Old Northwest, perhaps there might be a reduction in the amount of trouble caused by the modern attempts to substitute myth for understanding.
Eckert's more intimate style certainly humanizes the past. If one reads the introduction, this was not written as a piece of fiction, but puts dialogues into the text of the historical account when indicated by the sources. ( )
  DinadansFriend | Jun 25, 2014 |
The author calls this a novel about the settling of whites beyond the Allegheny Mountains, primarily in Kentucky and Ohio, but also a bit beyond to Indiana, Tennessee and Missouri. It reads like non-fiction--straightforward narrative with chapter notes. The author does impute emotions to the characters in a novelistic way. The dialog is supposedly taken from diaries and published accounts. I found the writing plain but the history fascinating, especially since I grew up in Ohio and was somewhat familiar with many of the characters. And there are a lot of characters. Allan W. Eckert deals with all the leading Native Americans, U.S. and British military leaders, frontiersmen, settlers, merchants and con-men that lived or visited Kentucky and the Northwest Territory. He covers the establishment of nearly every city and village (native or settler) in the area; every raid and murder (again on both sides) and military actions. It sometimes became a bit overwhelming, but his "touchstone" characters were the famous frontiersman Simon Kenton and legendary Shawnee chief Tecumseh. He filled in the background on their parents, siblings and lives from birth to death. Eckert began and ended the book with Kenton's story and regularly returned to him during the narrative.

In general, I enjoyed the book. The middle sagged a bit and, as I mentioned, the detail could get overwhelming. I would give it three stars for reading pleasure and the fourth for the great research. I will be reading the sequel. One chapter note struck me. According to Eckert, Andrew Jackson (our 7th president) was likely born at sea and ineligible for the Presidency. He presents some compelling firsthand accounts (one, a woman who claimed to have delivered him on the boat) and muddy dates (Simon Kenton mentioned meeting Jackson leading a gang of men in Kentucky when, according to the official biography, Jackson would have only been twelve years old.) Our first birther controversy! I recommend this book for those serious about early US expansion history. If you're looking for a romantic story or more traditional HF, this isn't the book for you. ( )
  MarysGirl | Dec 13, 2012 |
This historical narrative is engaging and interesting. It tells the disturbing story of settlement of Indian lands in Kentucky, Ohio, and Indiana in the 1700s and early 1800s. Simon Kenton is the main focus of the narrative, but other important characters include Daniel Boone, George Rogers Clark, Mad Anthony Wayne, Tecumseh, and William Henry Harrison. Although I grew up in Indiana, I learned a lot about this history that I did not know. ( )
  proflinton | Oct 23, 2012 |
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For a friend in the deepest sense of the word - one who has roamed with me through many miles and many years, Joseph H. Click
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Prologue ∙ For the first time in many hours, Mark Miller Kenton relaxed wholly, marveling in the pleasantness of Mark's ministrations to her body.
Chapter 1 ∙ Life on the Kenton farm was a constant drudgery in which all but two menbers of the family took part.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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