Jack Hart came to Kentucky in 1774 as an enslaved person and bodyguard of Captain Nathaniel Hart. He was often referred to as Captain Jack Hart, Big Jack, or Hart’s Jack.
He was present in 1775 at the signing of the Sycamore Shoals Treaty in Tennessee, which resulted in the purchase of “Kaintucke” from the Cherokees. Early records show that Jack played a central role in Daniel Boone’s early exploration of the state during the mid-1770s serving as the pioneer’s guide or “pilot” and was likely was an integral part of selecting the site for Fort Boonesborough.
When Nathaniel Hart was killed in 1782 and his daughter married Isaac Shelby, the first Kentucky governor, Jack moved to Lincoln County. He purchased his freedom from Nathaniel Hart Jr. for the sum of $400 in July 1803. The emancipation paper is filed in the Lincoln County Courthouse with Isaac Shelby and Ephraim McDowell as witnesses. Jack is buried at Traveler’s Rest cemetery in Lincoln County. He died sometime before 1850, having lived a long life.