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State Research Guide: Kentucky
3/1/2008
Make a run for your roots in the Bluegrass State.

 
Although it's known for the genteel world of thoroughbred horses and mint juleps, America's 15th state has a more rough-and — tumble legacy than you might think. Frontiersmen including George Rogers Clark and Daniel Boone blazed paths over the Appalachians into the Kentucky wilderness, and legions of Americans followed them. Whether your Bluegrass State ancestors arrived with these early birds or later on, our guide will have you galloping up your family tree.

Out of the gates

Before white settlement, Shawnee Indians from north of the Ohio, and Cherokee and Chickasaw from south of the Cumberland River fought for control over the rich Kentucky hunting grounds. But when settlers came from the East, drawn by rich game and richer soil, Indian attacks turned on the new outposts. In 1763, England, having won French possessions east of the Mississippi in the French and Indian War, tried to stabilize relations with the Indians by forbidding colonists from settling west of the Appalachians.

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