Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Filson, John

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FILSON, John, explorer, b. in Chester county, Pa., in 1747; d. in Ohio, in October, 1788. He was an early explorer of the western country, and before he was thirty-seven had traversed the territory now occupied by the states of West Virginia, Kentucky, Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Louisiana. After spending several years in Kentucky collecting information for a history of the country, he purchased from Mathias Denman a one-third interest in the site of Cincinnati, which he called Losantiville, a name formed by Filson from the Latin “os,” mouth, the Greek “anti,” opposite, and the French “ville,” city, from its position opposite the mouth of the Licking river. While exploring the country between this place and the Great Miami, he disappeared, 1 Oct., 1788, having been killed, it is supposed, by hostile Indians. After his disappearance his interest in the site of Cincinnati was transferred by his partners, Denman and Patterson, to Israel Ludlow, and his heirs never reaped any benefit from the subsequent increase in the value of the land. Mr. Filson was the author of “The Discovery, Settlement, and Present State of Kentucke” (Wilmington, Del., 1784; London, 1793; Paris, 1785); “A Map of Kentucky” (Philadelphia, 1784); and “A Topographical Description of the Western Territory of North America,” in association with George Imlay (1793). He also left in manuscript “A Diary of a Journey from Philadelphia to Vincennes, Ind., in 1785”; “An Account of a Trip by Land from Vincennes, Ind., to Louisville, Ky., in 1785”; “A Journal of Two Voyages by Water from Vincennes to Louisville,” and an account of an attempted voyage in 1786. See “Life and Writings of John Filson,” by R, T. Durrett (Louisville, 1884).