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Sunday, 17 February 2013

Daniel Boone

Daniel Boone was born in Pennsylvania on October 22, 1734 into a family of Quakers - his father had come to the colonies from England in 1713 and settled in Pennsylvania. 

Later the Boone family left the Quakers and relocated to the Yadkin River Valley of North Carolina. It seems that Mr. Boone’s children kept marrying outside their faith and sometimes a child would be on the way before the actual marriage ceremony.

Boone received his first rifle at the age of 12. He was trained by locals, both Europeans and Indians. One tale that became part of his image was of calmly shooting down a panther as it attempted to pounce on him.

Unfinished portrait by Chester Harding 1820 Wikipedia Commons Public Domain

Daniel Boone married Rebecca Bryan (January 9, 1739 – March 18, 1813) in Yadkin River, North Carolina on August 14, 1756.  Rebecca was nearly as tall as her husband and was very attractive with black hair and dark eyes.

He did have a daughter named Jemima, but what many historians now agree on is Jemima was actually fathered by Daniel’s brother Ned. Boone knew this but brought Jemima up as his own along with the many other children he and Rebecca had together. It seems that the relationship started between Rebecca and the brother as Boone had been away a couple of years on one of his hunting trips.

Two of his sons were killed by native Americans. One was tortured to death as a warning for settlers to leave Kentucky, which under Daniel’s protest, was heeded. And two of his daughters were kidnapped by an Indian war party. Boone was able to get the girls back and scare the war party off.

Boone was captured by Native American groups several times. In 1775 he was taken and adopted by a Shawnee Chief, who gave him the name, Shel-tow-ee, meaning “Big Turtle” because he carried a large pack and moved very slow. Boone stayed with the Shawnees for five months before escaping and riding a stolen horse 160 miles back to Fort Boonesborough. By this time his family had returned to North Carolina thinking he was dead.

He cleared a forest path called the Wilderness Road (East Virginia–Kentucky) in 1775 for the first westward migration of settlers.

George Caleb Bingham's Daniel Boone Escorting Settlers through the Cumberland Gap (1851–52) 

Boone wasn't just a hunter, trapper, guide, and adventurer. He saw military action in the French and Indian War, the American Revolution, and many other Indian conflicts such as Dunmore's War. In his lifetime he was a tavern owner, surveyor, land speculator, legislator, horse trader, and slave owner.

Boone reportedly did not like coonskin caps.

Boone spent his final years living in Missouri. He moved there in 1799 when it was still part of Spanish Louisiana. There he was appointed as “judge and jury” as well as military leader of the Femme Osage district.

This engraving by Alonzo Chappel (circa 1861) depicts an elderly Boone hunting in Missouri.

Before the end of the 18th century, more than 200,000 European people migrated to Kentucky and Virginia by following the route marked by Boone.

Daniel Boone died September 26, 1820. He and his wife Rebecca Boone were buried on Tuque Creek in Missouri. In 1845 they were reburied in the Frankfort Cemetery in Kentucky.


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