We entered the wilderness in high spirits. . . . Every thing look new to me. Travelling along in Powls Valley where the Indians had broak up some people, Seeing wast[e] [and] Desolate Cabbins I began to feel strange.
Like many young men in the back settlements of revolutionary America, John Dyal first viewed the Ohio Valley as a soldier. Raised near Pittsburgh, he joined a company of dragoons in 1781 and traveled down the Ohio River to guard the new Kentucky settlements against British and Indian attack. Years later Dyal recounted his early impressions, describing a countryside chiefly notable for its lack of human habitation. "There was then not a stick cut at Maysville," he recalled; "from Wheeling down to the falls, no settlement at all." Louisville was "a fort, and a few cabins around it." Several miles east of the falls, a number of small fortified settlements called stations stood on various branches of Beargrass Creek: Floyd's Station, Hoagland's, the Dutch Station, Sturgus's, Sullivan's, and Spring Station. Dyal's western landscape suddenly bloomed with detail as he named and precisely situated each frontier station that he had helped to guard, and eventually had joined to settle. 1
Only three years after John Dyal's dragoons floated down the Ohio