The Life and Times of Robert B. McAfee, continued ______________
land. As to my father, the world had become a blank; all was dark before him, he appeared inconsolable, and mixed but little in society. He finally determined to prepare for a voyage to New Orleans in a flat boat with flour, bacon, lard, and such other articles as he could obtain. Having raised a fine crop of wheat, he ground it on his own mill & packed in a large room of his house, and about the last of January 1795, he commenced his boat at Armstrong’s ferry on the Kentucky river and had all ready by the 1st of March.
The summer of 1794, I continued at school and made rapid progress in writing and arithmetic in a class with a youth by the name of Benjamin Hensley, a year or two older than I was. We went through all the rules in Dilworth’s Arithmetic, setting down our sum and writing as much as we could every day. Dilworth was then the only book used, and in con- sequence myself and Mr. Hensley learned to write as good a hand as we ever did afterwards. This was just after I had completed my tenth year, and I had now acquired the reputation of an extraordinary pensman of my age. Mr. Hensley afterwards became a highly respected citizen of Frankfort, and ever afterwards [we] were warm friends and often talked over our school incidents while I attended the legislature. He is now the keeper of the Indiana Penitentiary at Jef- fersonville and a more worthy upright man does not live.
While attending this school, although I was living with my sister who was kind to me, my heart was at home and I have often retired by myself to take a hearty cry when I thought of home and the death of my mother. Every two weeks on Friday evenings or on Saturdays I walked eight miles over a new cut out road, filled with small stumps of underbrush, although I knocked off nearly all my toenails on the way. On Monday morning it was almost death to start back although my father always sent me on Horseback. After my school was out, I remained at home assisting my father when I could in his prepa- rations, and in the month of February 1795 previous to his departure I was taken back to Lexington, and by the advice of Mr. John Breckenridge was placed at an English school kept by a man by the name of Duty who kept a school on Water Street opposite the Public square. I was boarded at Mr. Samuel Ayers (a silver smith) who then lived on High Street in the upper part of the town, but afterwards moved down
on Main Street opposite the Seceder church, built the next year for the Revd. Adam Rankin of whose church my father was a member. The parting with my father was a severe trial; he took leave of me in the door of my cousin James McCoun’s store who was to have the superintendence of money matters and see that I was well taken care of. I well recol- lect the long anxious look my father gave me with his eyes filled with tears, which were also trickling down my cheeks as he took my hand for the last time, exhorting me to be a good boy and keep out of bad company. [My father] gave me a handful of money & then got on his horse and slowly rode down the street from opposite the court house while I stood like a statue looking after him until he turned round the corner into Main Cross street. Something seemed to tell me I was never again to see him. All my troubles were upon me at once, my heart was still with him at home, and I thought I never could be reconciled to live away from it – and often after- wards have cried myself to sleep. Mr. and Mrs. Ayres were kind to me and were indeed to me a second father & mother. At school I soon became a favorite, my teacher proved an excellent omen and I was so far advanced for my age that I was soon made one of the Monitors. I now reviewed my Arithmetic, writing, grammar, &c. This school continued three months, and I then entered Transylvania Seminary under the charge of the Revd. Harry Toulman, a Unitarian Preacher from England. In the latter part of August news reached me that my Brother Sam’l had returned from Orleans and that my father had been killed by some unknown person while sleep- ing in his boat. The circumstances, as related by my brother, were as follows: he had nearly sold out his boat load, and had but few articles left. He lay in the fore part of the boat & my brother slept in the stern, & some person came in & struck him with the edge of an axe on the side of his head near his ear. Being a very athletic man & watchful, he sprung up & the villain, alarmed for fear that his blow had not taken effect, made his escape, [My father] called to my brother who hastened to him & was told that he was badly wounded & then tied a handkerchief round his head. This was about an hour before daylight on the 10th day of May 1795. He still continued in his senses until an hour by sun when he began to grow delirious and died about ten o’clock A.M., only say-
2007 Kentucky Ancestors V42-4