|Pilot Knob view travelling east on the Mountain Parkway|
Now historians report that Boone never made this trip and discovery without the help of another great pioneer, John Finley. Old John Finley actually was Boone's guide into the wilderness after Boone's first attempt, two years earlier, ended in dismal failure. So how is it that John Finley knew so much about the Kentucky wilderness that he could lead Boone? Well, John Finley had somehow, established a trading store in the very Shawnee town. He carried on a good trading business with the residents of Eskippakithiki until he and the entire village was burned and destroyed in 1754. I actually wrote an article on the subject in the former "Kentucky Parks" magazine.
Just imagine what the Shawnee Town would have looked like to Finley when he first saw it. It must have been a sight to see spread out along the flat plain that actually marks the very eastern edge of the so-called Cincinnati Arch, a geological configuration that actually produces the Bluegrass region.
With all this in mind, I would like to offer you a small excerpt from the book, Swift. This is the first time Finley sees Shawnee Town (Eskippakithitki.)
The site of the
town shocked John Finley as they crossed over a low hill and the entire levels of the town came into full view. They had already greeted others along the path coming out from the town and observed other small parties of five and six hunters moving out in various directions. As they made their way into the village some took notice but seemed apathetic to the arrival of the group containing two white men. The people of the village assumed the warriors would not have brought trouble to their town. Shawnee
Eskippakithiki positioned on a level plain near the foot hills of the last remnants of the mountains located to the east. The village appeared a scattering of long bark houses, the kind of permanent house most southeastern tribes built. Several poles were set in a general rectangular -shape, stockade style. Smaller, flexible rafter poles arched across the top of the structure as roof supports. Mud, moss, leaves, dry grass and bark was mixed in random fashion to cover the entire structure. Despite the unusual materials, the long bark houses provided water tight housing. Numerous cooking fires scattered about the camp sent straight columns of smoke into the blue cloudless sky. Surrounding the village flat fields of green grasses and crops being cultivated by the
made the whole scene welcoming. At least one notable stream meandered nearby supplying a continuous fresh water source. A well worn path led from the village, westward to the long hill, then downward to the meandering creek. Women and children traveled at various distances along the path carrying skins and pots of water to their various homes in the town. Hunting seemed good in every direction. Bison located north, south, and west of the town while deer and elk were plentiful east in the mountains. A good source of flint outcropped nearby in the mountainous area. The flint, a precious resource, provided the raw material for practically every tool for everyday life. This group of Shawnee had begun to acquire metal objects including axes and even some now had rifles they obtained from the British. Shawnee
John Finley and George Mundy were ignored by their traveling companions as each hunter separated off to their own house and waiting families. The hunters brought back numerous trade items but they never divulged their origins to either John or George. The two strangers moved right though the village and, though were stared at by the inhabitants, they exhibited no hostility. John Finley moved to the eastern edge of the town. He found a big Burr oak tree in the hot savanna plain well outside of the town at the edge of the woods and adjacent to a well used path. John assumed the path an old bison trail but later would learn it to be the Warrior’s Path. John discarded his heavy pack and set about making a hasty temporary camp. John gathered firewood, built a cooking pit from stones and made ready for his first night’s stay in a big town. George Mundy rested under the shade of the big oak tree, watching John hurry about setting up camp. Some of the
kids came around just to see the newcomers, the white-skinned new comers. Shawnee
“Aren’t you going to lay a camp?” John asked.
“I will in a little while. Do you know what Eskippakithiki means?” George said, changing the subject.
“I don’t speak
, so it’s pretty likely I don’t know what it means,” John replied with a touch of sarcasm. Shawnee
“Means a place called Blue Licks. Eskipp means Blue Licks, ak means place and the ithiki
“A place called Blue Licks,” John chuckled.
“Yes sir. Funny thing to me too. Back east they call this country out here Kentakee. I think some hunters confused the last part of this town’s name and came up with Kentakee. You take the ‘Ki-thi-ki from the last part of Eskippa and it would be pretty easy for some of them devils to make Kee-taa-kee sound like Ken-ta-kee. It always seemed like it to me anyway.”“Well, if nothin’ else, it sure is something to ponder.”