- Born 8 Jan 1724
- Son of James and Rachel Susannah (Moredock) Skaggs
- Died 4 Dec 1810
- Buried Barren County, Kentucky
As an early Kentucky explorer, Henry Skaggs was discussed in the book Isaac Shelby: Revolutionary Patriot and Border Hero, Vol. 1, by Archibald Henderson, 1918 (p. 125):
For years, in fact since 1764, Daniel Boone had been exploring expeditions to the westward in the interest of the land company known as Richard Henderson and Company. Another explorer for Richard Henderson, who later made hunting tours and explorations in Kentucky, was Henry Skaggs, who as early as 1765 examined the lower Cumberland region as the representative of Richard Henderson and Company and established his station near the present site of Goodlettsville, in Davidson County, Tennessee.
Henry Skaggs was one of the founders in 1770 of a company of Kentucky longhunters, as discussed in Reuben Thwaites’ book Daniel Boone, 1902 (pp. 91-95):
. . . about forty of the most noted and successful hunters of New River and Holston Valleys formed, in the summer of 1770, a company for hunting and trapping to the west of [the] Cumberland Mountains. Under the leadership of two of the best woodsmen of the region, Joseph Drake and Henry Skaggs, and including several of Stone’s party, they set out in early autumn fully prepared for meeting Indians and living on game. Each man took with him three packhorses, rifles, ammunition, traps, dogs, blankets, and salt, and was dressed in the deerskin costume of the times.
Pushing on through Cumberland Gap, the adventurers were soon in the heart of Kentucky. In accordance with custom, they visited some of the best licks – a few of which were probably first seen by them – for here wild beasts were always to be found in profusion. At Knob Licks they beheld from an eminence which overlooked the springs “what they estimated at largely over a thousand animals, including buffaloe [sic], elk, bear, and deer, with many wild turkies [sic] scattered among them – all quite restless, some playing, and others busily employed in licking the earth; but at length they took flight and bounded away all in one direction, so that in the brief space of a couple of minutes not an animal was to be seen.” Within an area of many acres, the animals had eaten the salty earth to a depth of several feet.
Successful in a high degree, the party ceased operations in February, and had completed preparations for sending a large shipment of skins, furs, and “jerk” to the settlements, when, in their temporary absence, roving Cherokees robbed them of much of their stores and spoiled the greater part of the remainder. “Fifteen hundred skins gone to ruination!” was the legend which one of them carved upon the bark of a neighboring tree, a record to which were appended the initials of each member of the party. A series of disasters followed, in the course of which two men were carried off by Indians and never again seen, and others fled for home. Those remaining, having still much ammunition and the horses, continued their hunt, chiefly upon the Green and Cumberland Rivers, and in due time brought together another store of peltries, almost as extensive as that despoiled by the savages.
Not long after the robbery, when the Long Hunters were upon Green River, one of the parties into which the band was divided were going into camp for the night, when a singular noise was heard proceeding from a considerable distance in the forest. The leader, Caspar Mansker, commanded silence on the part of his comrades, and himself crept cautiously from tree to tree in the direction of the sound. Imagine his surprise and amusement to find “a man bare-headed, stretched flat upon his back on a deerskin spread on the ground, singing merrily at the top of his voice!” The singer was our hero, Daniel Boone, who, regardless of possible Indian neighbors, was thus enjoying himself while awaiting Squire’s belated return to camp. Like most woodsmen of his day and ours, Boone was fond of singing, in his rude way, as well as of relating tales of stirring adventure. In such manner were many hours whiled away around the
camp-fires of wilderness hunters.
The Boones at once joined and spent some time with the Long Hunters, no doubt delighted at this opportunity of once more mingling with men of their kind. Among their amusement was that of naming rivers, creeks, and hills after members of the party; many of these names are still preserved upon the map of Kentucky. At one time they discovered that some French hunters from the Illinois country had recently visited a lick to kill buffaloes [sic] for their tongues and tallow, which they had loaded into a keel-boat and taken down the Cumberland. In after years one of the Long Hunters declared that this wholesale slaughter was so great “that one could walk for several hundred yards in and around the lick on buffaloes’ skulls and bones, with which the whole flat around the lick was bleached.”
It was not until August that the Long Hunters returned to their homes, after a profitable absence of eleven months. But the Boone brothers left their comrades in March and headed for the Yadkin, with horses now well laden with spoils of their chase. . . .
The book Kentucky Mountains by Mary Verhoeff, 1911 (p. 82) mentions the creek in Kentucky that has gone by the name of Skegg’s Creek, also known as Skaggs Creek:
The name was given it, probably, by Henry Skaggs, who hunted there before 1775. This was an old Indian trail . . . . According to Collins, “Skaggs trace” was “plainly visible” as late as 1873 in Rockcastle County.
Henry Skaggs is mentioned in the Draper manuscripts in connection with the longhunters’ station camp in Green Co., KY in 1771:
Henry Skaggs and brothers were a noted family of hunters, and nothing but hunters; and keeping pace with the advancing settlements, they pushed forward to Clinch River, and were in 1777 at Shadrack White’s Station in the neighborhood of Maiden Spring Fork of Clinch. In 1779, Henry Skaggs, accompanied by upwards of twenty men, started for Kentucky, were attacked by Indians in Powell’s Valley, lost part of their horses, when all returned, save Skaggs, his son John a mere youth, and a man named Sinclair. With eleven horses they went to the Green River country to hunt, and during the succeeding hard winter Sinclair got lost, probably drowned in Green River, and young Skaggs sickened and died, and amidst the severities of the season a hollow log was his burial place. His father was left alone to finish the hunt, and return home with the horses, pelts and furs. He settled on Pitman’s Creek in the Green River country, within the present Taylor County, Ky., in 1789, with his children and connections around him, sharing freely in the Indian difficulties of the times; and there he died in 1808 or ’09, aged upwards of eighty years. Possessing a large and bony frame, he was bold, enterprising and fearless. His brothers Charles and Richard also settled in that region, lived to a good old age.