As to your assertion that:"For items concerning which there is no proof or evidence, there is no reason to accept them as factual. One can 'believe' whatever one wishes," this is, of course, correct.However, if writing a paper about American History, you would not need to footnote or cite authority to the assertion that George Washington was the first American President.It is true that we 'believe' Washington was President, but that belief is based upon well-established, documentary evidence, for which no authority need be cited.
The comments that you have made indicate an ignorance of Kentucky history, or at least an unwillingness to do any sort of research.If you are unwilling to go to a library, but can make about 16 keytrokes on your keypad, you can 'google' the term "Thomas Walker" and receive thousands of 'hits' to cites that contain information such as the following (all of which appear in the first 10 results):
"While Daniel Boone is the name most associated with Cumberland Gap, it was Dr. Thomas Walker who first recorded the existence of the Gap." [This from a website maintained by the National Park Service of the United States government, at http://www.nps.gov/archive/cuga/walker.htmhttp://www.nps.gov/archive/cuga/walker.htm This is the first site to be listed in such a search, and will provide you with plenty of information.However, if you need authority cited to establish the proof of existence of the United States or of the National Park Service, you'll have to 'google' that yourself.]
"Although Daniel Boone is often remembered as Kentucky's most famous pioneer, Dr. Thomas Walker was actually the first frontiersman in Kentucky, preceding Boone by 17 years.
"A physician and surveyor, Walker led the first expedition through Cumberland Gap in 1750. Dr. Walker was an agent for the Loyal Land Company of Virginia and was exploring the western wilderness seeking land for settlement. Near the river, which he named the Cumberland; Dr. Walker built the first cabin in Kentucky, a replica of which stands on the site today. Dr. Walker’s journal, recorded during his four-month exploration, described plentiful wildlife, thickly tangled woods and rugged terrain.
"Come visit the Dr. Thomas Walker State Historic Site and follow in the footsteps of the famous--and not so famous--Kentucky pioneers."[all of this appears on a website maintained by the government of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, Department of Parks, at http://parks.ky.gov/findparks/histparks/tw/http://parks.ky.gov/findparks/histparks/tw/
for the "Dr. Thomas Walker State Historic Site"If you will only 'click' on this link, you will see a photo of what appears to be a monument, apparently at the site of sthe "First House in Kentucky", with the name of the members of his party, and Henry Lawless' name clearly appears on it.However, again, surely you need no authority cited for the proposition that Kentucky is a state.]
"During Walker’s expedition of the Loyal Land Company’s claims, he gave names to many topographical features including the Cumberland Gap, was also part of the party that built the first Anglo-Saxon house (cabin) in Kentucky, and kept a daily journal of the trip." [from a website created by a University of Virginia project, http://www2.vcdh.virginia.edu/lewisandclark/students/projects/adventurers/walkerbio.html]http://www2.vcdh.virginia.edu/lewisandclark/students/projects/adventurers/walkerbio.html]
"Dr. Thomas Walker (January 15, 1715–November 9, 1794) was a physician and explorer from Virginia who led an expedition to what is now the region beyond the Allegheny Mountains area of British North America in the mid-18th century. He was responsible for naming what is now known as the Cumberland Plateau and by extension the Cumberland River for the hero of the time, the Duke of Cumberland. His party were some of the first Englishmen to see this area—previous white explorers were largely of Spanish and French origins. Walker explored Kentucky in 1750, 19 years before the arrival of Daniel Boone.
"Walker was the father of two Congressmen: John and Francis Walker. Walker also served as guardian for Thomas Jefferson after the death of Jefferson's father, Peter Jefferson, in 1757."this from Wikipedia, and online encyclopedia.
"Dr. Thomas Walker was one of the great explorers of southwestern Virginia, crossing Cumberland Gap (what he called Cave Gap) on April 17, 1750 and "discovering" Kentucky. Walker was one of the early Virginia explorers who pushed westward across the Appalachian Mountains, expanding the European settlements into the Cumberland River watershed."[http://www.virginiaplaces.org/settleland/thomaswalker.html
a website used in connection with a course on Virginia geography taught at George Mason University]
"Doctor Thomas Walker's Journal
(6 Mar 1749/50 - 13 Jul 1750)
A Record of His Travels in
Present-day Virginia, Tennessee and Kentucky" [appears at a site maintained by the Tennessee Geneological Network, and contains a portion of the journal, at http://www.tngenweb.org/tnland/squabble/walker.html]http://www.tngenweb.org/tnland/squabble/walker.html]
All of this appears in the first 10 results returned from the aforementioned 'google' search.
I looked at Amazon.com to try to find the journals of Dr. Walker.I could only find books about him.Such as:
First explorations of Kentucky: Doctor Thomas Walker's journal of an exploration of Kentucky in 1750, being the first record of a white man's visit to ... notes and sketch (Filson Club publications) by J. Stoddard Johnston [the Filson Club is one of the two leading historical societies in Kentucky]If you trust the Filson Club or Amazon, you can buy the journal for $45;
Gateway : Dr. Thomas Walker and the Opening of Kentucky by Adam Jones
Dr. Thomas Walker diary of exploration, 1750 by Thomas Walker [if you can trust the journal he himself wrote]
Doctor Thomas Walker;: First white man of any distinction to explore Kentucky (1749/50) He named the Cumberland mountains; gap and river by Annie Walker Burns
Daniel Boone's predecessor in Kentucky,: Who was Dr. Thomas Walker of Albemarle County Virginia by Annie Walker Burns
Dr. Thomas Walker family history records by Annie Walker Burns
I hope this is of some help to you in understanding how history is recorded, and why some things can be accepted as "self-evident", i.e., needing no body of authority to support its assertion.We aren't talking about somebody "believing" that the CIA was responsible for Kennedy's assassination, or some other ridiculous 'belief', but instead, upon matters of established history that we all can assume are legitimate.