Spanish, French and English explorers were among those who ventured into the territory that would become Kentucky during the 17th and early 18th centuries. One of the key explorers was John Finley or Findley, who would introduce the region to Daniel Boone in 1769. Findley had explored the site of the last of the Shawnee villages in 1752.
The first permanent white settlement was at Harrod's Town in 1774, named for James Harrod. Daniel Boone was sent to recall Harrod for military service, who would return to stay in 1775.
Boone would begin leading settlers into Kentucky through the Cumberland Gap by way of the Wilderness Trail in 1775. He established the village of Boonesborough . Boone would serve in the Virginia militia throughout the Revolutionary War, defending Kentucky against the Shawnee and other tribes. The Shawnee defeated Boone's militia at the Battle of Blue Licks in 1782.
Bryan's Station was established about 1774-75 at the site of modern-day Lexington. Louisville was founded by George Rogers Clark in 1778.
Kentucky was a Virginia county. Distance from Virginia's capital and control over Kentucky's trade were factors leading to the desire for Kentuckians to seek statehood. Beginning in 1784, a series of conventions were called to establish a constitution. General James Wilkinson proposed secession from Virginia and the US, with Kentucky forming an alliance with Spain. In 1792 Kentucky became the 15th state.
Family connections: The Gulley, Land, Cawby, Trisler and Barlow families established themselves in Kentucky between statehood and about 1820. The Simmons and Jennison families would call the state home off and on, moving back and forth from Indiana or Ohio to northern Kentucky.