Most Honorable Order of the
Transylvania Colonel International

Main page image of the Transylvania Constitutional Convention
The Transylvania Constitutional Convention, May 23, 1775 at Boonesborough. Anonymous sketch: "On May 23, 1775 a convention of the people in the deep wilderness of Kentucky gathered in a constitutional convention, meeting under the shade of a huge elm tree (the limbs of which extended at least a hundred feet wide), and which its president, Col. Richard Henderson, called "our Church, State-house, Council Chamber, etc." (Public domain)

Order of the Transylvania Colonel

Established on May 23, 1775 in Boonesborough

The Most Distinguished Colonial Order of Pioneers in America

Before the Colonels of Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, New Mexico, North Dakota, and the Lieutenant Colonels of the State of Georgia was the Transylvania Colonel. The Colonial Order was born in 1775 under a giant elm tree in Boonesborough at the end of the Wilderness Road, when Colonel Judge Richard Henderson and the legendary pioneer Colonel Daniel Boone held a Constitutional Convention with colonels and delegates from four settlements, who together founded what was known as the 14th Colony of America.

It was a colony chartered and founded by civilian colonels for all the right reasons, with dignity, honor, order, peace, and the hard work of the first pioneer settlers who held great respect for human rights, civil order, equality, the rule of law, indigenous peoples and the environment, it was called Transylvania (Presently known as Kentucky and Tennessee). Originally called Richard Henderson and Company, the company name was first changed to the Louisa Company, and finally to the Transylvania Company on January 6, 1775. Its creation resulted in the first democratically established government in North America, enshrined in the Kentucky Magna Charta on May 23, 1775. The founding of Transylvania is one of the most significant moments in American history, overshadowed only by the American Revolution that started two months earlier a thousand miles away.

Col. Daniel Boone
Col. Daniel Boone

Original Colonial Title

The honorary title of Colonel is conferred today by more than ten states in the USA and by certain military units of the Commonwealth of Nations which also confer it as the honorary title of Colonel-in-Chief. It is a title that is awarded under a wide-range of conditions to civilians based on their actions, abilities, achievements, and accountable deeds in society.

The origins of the titular colonelcy are traced back to colonial times long before the Revolutionary War, when men of the landed gentry (gentlemen) were given the title for financing local militias and in civil commissions without expectations of forming a military command. This practice can be traced back to the English Renaissance when a colonelcy was purchased by a lord or a prominent gentleman, but the actual command would fall to a lieutenant colonel, who would be deputized by the proprietor of the title. The title was first used in the colonies by the Plymouth and London Companies which were responsible for organizing the Thirteen Colonies starting in 1607. [1]

In English the word "colonel" is a relative term to the word "colony" and likewise symbolic in connection with the name "Colon" which is the actual Spanish surname of Christopher Columbus (Cristóbal Colón) and is also relative to "Columbia" a name used since the 1730s to refer to a mythical personification of the goddess of America, today the national capital is in the District of Columbia, however this may be subjective coincidence. It is a fact however, that most of the first governors of the colonies were commissioned as colonels by authorities under the Provincial Crown prior to the American Revolution. The Colony of Virginia was the first of the thirteen colonies. All thirteen declared independence in July 1776 and expelled the British governors.

This is significant in our use of it, because Transylvania was never known or recognized as one of the US States, but as the "Transylvania Colony" and was founded the year prior to the end of colonial (provincial) rule, before the United States made its Declaration of Independence. It was also founded based on the legally established "Transylvania Company" which could only be done by someone with permission who was commissioned as a "Colonel" with letters patent, which Judge Richard Henderson was given by the government of North Carolina authorizing him to head the Transylvania Company.


  1. Concurrently the rank of Colonel was the highest rank known in the militias of the time, before the existence of the General in the colonies. Col. Benjamin Church was commissioned as a Captain and credited with forming the first ranger force (predecessor of today's Army Rangers) who earned the rank of Major and ended his service in retirement as a Colonel, which was used honorarily to recognize his achievements and service.

The First Order of Pioneer Colonels

The Order of the Transylvania Colonel has been recalled from the historical landscape of Americana and is delivered as an International Title with some noble, prestigious and ambitious goals. The Order comes at a time when awards and honors are being recognized less frequently by the media and at a community level because they have become more commonplace or awarded too easily with less credence than they once held in our modern society of informality and neoliberalism.

The Most Honorable Order of the Transylvania Colonel in spirit and essence predates the ideals of today's politics, which have come to be known as one of the greatest dividing forces that has emerged in nations that were originally built on order in unity. The order and its purposes are based in the familiar phrase from colonial times that was introduced to Americana in July 1768, "United We Stand, Divided We Fall" by Founding Father, John Dickinson in the pre-Revolutionary War song, The Liberty Song. In the song Dickinson wrote: "Then join hand in hand, brave Americans all! By uniting we stand, by dividing we fall!". The phrase was so powerful, it became the state motto of Kentucky, six months following its admittance to the United States after the revolution in 1792, less than 20 years after the founding of Transylvania which was founded in this spirit.

Many of the founding defenders of Kentucky were civilian colonels themselves, including Col. Isaac Shelby, who worked for the Transylvania Company as a surveyor starting in August of 1775 before becoming a colonel in Sullivan County, North Carolina in 1779 and joining the Overmountain Men. Many of these colonels all had Kentucky counties named after them during its early days; Col. Hardin a distinguished officer of the western army, Col. Christian of Southwestern Virginia, Col. John Floyd one of the most enterprising pioneers of Kentucky and a delegate of Transylvania, and Col. Campbell of North Carolina who was one of the original proprietors of the Transylvania Company. Of course later several other counties were also named for some of the founders of Transylvania including Col. Richard Henderson and Col. Daniel Boone. In a sense this may lead us to believe that Kentucky was founded by American and Transylvania colonels!

Our ideal to recover the heritage of the ideals of these pioneers is to help balance modern-day trends by making our honorary commission and award more difficult to receive, while promoting the values of these courageous pioneers that founded Transylvania, as much of their motivational inspiration has become consistent with our values today.

Concurrently we are making our order accessible to everyone and recognized on a global scale instead of based on a person being from a particular state, from a political party, or focused on a particular place; much like the founders of the Transylvania Colony, who all came from many places. The Transylvania Colonels were truly visionary in their dreams and ideals towards peaceful colonization which were inconsistent with the ideals of imperialization and the Monroe Doctrine that drove the United States in the years that followed its early development resulting in many human rights violations when viewed in retrospect compared to our modern values and moral social behavior.

Daniel Boone Escorting Settlers through the Cumberland Gap - The Wilderness Road: a chartered project of the Transylvania Company
(George Caleb Bingham, oil on canvas, 1851–52)
(Public Domain)

American Life Histories

"When the Transylvania Company was organized [in] North Carolina for the purpose of establishing a colony in Kentucky, it was on the report of which Daniel Boone had carried back with him to his old home on the Yadkin River that Colonel Henderson decided to send a colony to Kentucky under the delegation of Daniel Boone to treat with the Cherokees Indians for a tract of land lying between the Cumberland and the Kentucky river’s."


Mrs. William Price.” Effie Cowan, interviewer; Marlin, Texas between 1936-1939. American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers’ Project, 1936 to 1940. Manuscript Division

Once Lived, Never Forgotten

In the 1920s and 1930s historians and family members of Col. Richard Henderson formed a society called the "Transylvanians", in 1935 they met in Boonesborough to charter a founding memorial to remember the legacy of the great pioneers that traveled the Wilderness Road and held their convention forming the Transylvania Colony.

Now in 2020 for the 245th Anniversary year of the founding of Transylvania the Most Honorable Order of the Transylvania Colonel has taken up the deed of the Transylvanians to dedicate the Order for the 250th Anniversary of the historic account with a reunion in Boonesborough and events in the Daniel Boone National Forest in 2025 when our members and supporters will receive medals commemorating the events of 1775.