In 1788 the first new permanent American settlement northwest of the Ohio River (not including French villages) within the borders of the Northwest Territory was established at Marietta, Ohio. However, American involvement in that frontier region had begun nearly 20 years prior to that, before the Revolutionary War started, with pioneers moving into wilderness areas on the edge of the Northwest territory. These lands were east and south of the Ohio River, in present-day western Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Kentucky.
This site has several early books about that frontier, authored by people who had lived there. Each of the books below combine first-person accounts with anecdotes the authors collected, to describe life on the frontier and to portray some of the most memorable characters and events.
Click on the page name to open it in a new tab, and you’ll find the recommended works there. They are listed alphabetically, by author.
For tips on reading online and downloading, see the note at the bottom of this page.
Doddridge, Joseph, Notes, on the Settlement and Indian Wars, of the Western Parts of Virginia & Pennsylvania (etc) (1824)
Finley, James B., Autobiography of Rev. James B. Finley; Or, Pioneer Life in the West (1853)
McClung, John, Sketches of Western Adventure (1832)
McDonald, John, Biographical Sketches of General Nathaniel Massie, General Duncan McArthur (etc) (1838)
Tips for Reading Online and Downloading
More than half the books on our website at History of the Great Lakes States are hosted by Internet Archive or Open Library. They are sister organizations and use the same online viewer application. In most cases this viewer will give you nearly perfect text if you;
1. switch from the double-page to the single-page view by using the icons in the bottom right corner, and;
2. Keep zooming in until the text snaps into a clear focus.
Using the single-page view allows you to scroll pages down with your mouse wheel.
You can download books from these two sites by clicking on the book name at the top-left corner of the page (in the viewer) to get to the download menu.