Boone, Lincoln, and Countless Others Obeyed the Westward Tug

Daniel Boone and Abraham Lincoln (President Lincoln’s grandfather) made the journey. They obeyed the “tug.” It was something inside them that made them move westward. Through the Cumberland Gap they went-and many would follow their footsteps afterward. Some have labeled it “Manifest Destiny.” I know don’t if that’s what it was. I don’t think they were thinking about that. I think they were looking for new lives and new opportunities. Boone and Lincoln were some of the earlier ones that went. I have walked some of the Wilderness Road from which they blazed and traveled. Even today, it’s amazing to think that they made that hazardous trek through them mountains filled with danger at every turn. Boone and Lincoln eventually settled in Kentucky. Abraham Lincoln would be killed there. Boone would live in Kentucky for a time but then move even farther west-finally ending out his final years in far-off Missouri.

My direct paternal ancestor Rowland Judd was no different. He came to America in 1747 landing in Philadelphia. He came from England-as did the Boone and Lincoln families. Judd probably knew both families. In fact, Judd was living very near Daniel Boone during their North Carolina days-they were neighbors one might say. All three families intermarried, as well. Rowland Judd made the westward migration. He left Philadelphia having learned a trade. Like Boone and Lincoln he served in the American Revolution. Judd made his way to North Carolina and died there years afterward. His sons then took up the wesward movement. They went to Kentucky. After Kentucky, some of my Judd kin went south to Tennessee.

And that’s a part of the story of the Lincolns, the Boones, and the Judds-and a whole lot of other families. Starting from the east they packed it all up, risked lives and fortunes, and traveled ever westward. I heard a college teacher once remark that the whole history of civilization was one of westward movement. Horace Greeley made the famous statement: “Go west young man.” By his day many folks had done just that.

So when Abraham Lincoln was born in that tiny cabin in Kentucky in 1809, it was by no accident. His grandfather had put the Lincolns in Kentucky. His grandfather had followed a dream and planted his family there.  He didn’t live out his life as long as he might have, but his direct line would produce a president of the United States and one of the greatest men of it’s history-if not the world. Little did he know as he plod that dark path through the Cumberland Gap- on down the Widerness Road- that he would be ever remembered by generations afterward for his move into Kentucky where grandson Abraham would be born. Glad he obeyed the call.

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