Showing posts with label Cumberland Gap. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Cumberland Gap. Show all posts

Friday, September 26, 2014

Daniel Boone – Folk Hero, Frontiersman and Explorer

Fess Parker as Daniel Boone

Daniel Boone
Most of us have heard the story of Daniel Boone, the pioneer and frontiersman who helped blaze a trail into America’s early frontier. Or maybe we remember the TV show “Daniel Boone,” which ran from 1964 to 1970 – not exactly a lesson in history, but it did have a catchy intro song …

Daniel Boone was born on November 2, 1734 the sixth of eleven children that Squire and Sarah (Morgan) Boone would have. The Boones were Quakers and lived in the Oley Valley, near what is now Reading, Pennsylvania. Daniel grew up learning to hunt with the Lenape Indians who lived nearby.

Boone had very little formal education but could read and write, and enjoyed reading Gulliver’s Travels to his hunting buddies around a campfire.

French and Indian War
Daniel volunteered for the French and Indian War in 1755 and served under Captain Hugh Waddell as a wagoner in North Carolina. While serving, Boone met John Findley who told him stories about the abundance of game and beautiful settings of the Ohio Valley. Boone’s interest was peaked but it took 12 years before he would make that hunting trip into Kentucky.

Mrs. Boone
In August 1756, Boone married Rebecca Bryan and settled down in North Carolina saying he now had all he needed, "a good gun, a good horse, and a good wife."  Over the years, they had a total of ten children. Boone supported his large family by hunting and trapping, leaving every autumn on long hunts that could last for months.
Squire Boone

Daniel again served in the military during the “Cherokee Uprising” in 1758, moving his family to safety in Virginia until the conflict was over. In 1767, Boone reached Kentucky with his brother, Squire. While there he ran into his old friend, John Findley who convinced him to take a long hunting expedition through Kentucky.

Through the Cumberland Gap
Boone left in 1769 to clear a trail through the Cumberland Gap; he was gone for two years. When he returned, he packed up his family and moved with another 20 or so families along the Wilderness Road and into Kentucky. Boone led the pioneers to a spot along the Kentucky River and named it Boonesborough.

The American Revolution
With the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War, the Indians saw a chance to drive the colonists out of Kentucky. By 1776 less than 200 people remained in the area. Those that did were staying in the fortified settlements of Boonesborough, Harrodsburg, and Logan’s Station.

Rescuing Jemima
Then on July 14, 1776 Boone’s daughter, Jemima and two other local girls were captured by a Cherokee and Shawnee war party. Boone and a group of local men were able to get the girls back two days after the ambush. (A fictionalized version of the story was written and entitled Last of the Mohicans in 1826.)
Boone Taken Captive

Two years later, Boone was captured by the Shawnee Indians. He eventually escaped and returned to Boonesborough to help defend it against Indiana raiders. He then left to purchase land for the settlers but was robbed of the monies. He was forced to repay all of the settlers and was never able to escape from the lawsuits and debt.

Daniel Boone
Boone was elected to several government offices including sheriff, lieutenant colonel, and as a legislative delegate. But Kentucky had lost its appeal and Boone moved his family to Upper Louisiana; what is now Missouri, in 1799.
Hunting in Missouri
Spain owned this part of the country and Boone was treated well by the Spanish government, receiving a large land grant and a leadership title. Boone was happy with his life until the U.S. took over the land and denied his claim to the land. It wasn’t until 1814 that Congress restored a part of his landholdings to him.

Nathan's Home
Rebecca Boone died in 1813 and Boone moved near St Charles, Missouri to live with his son, Nathan.  Daniel Boone died in Defiance on September 26, 1820. He was 85 years old.

Daniel Boone was buried next to his wife in an unmarked grave in Marthasville, Missouri. The graves were marked with stones sometime in the mid-1830s. But in 1845, Boone’s remains, along with Rebecca’s, were disinterred and moved to the new cemetery in Frankfort, Kentucky, the state’s capital. But were they? Controversy has existed over this for almost 170 years.

The Missouri Stone
The folks in Missouri claimed that Daniel Boone’s grave stone was actually placed over the wrong grave but no one had done any thing about it. When the Kentuckians arrived, they took the wrong remains back with them.

Carving on Kentucky Stone
Kentucky Monument
In 1983, a forensic anthropologist examined the plaster cast that had been made of Boone’s skull before the remains were buried in Frankfort. The verdict was that the skull belonged to an African American. Officials in Frankfort quickly disputed the findings.

Today, both Frankfort Cemetery in Kentucky and the Old Bryan Farm Graveyard in Missouri claim to have Daniel Boone’s remains, a conundrum that might have tickled his fancy …

~ Joy

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Celebrating 'Daniel Boone Day'

Daniel Boone

Today is “Daniel Boone Day”.  It was on this date in 1769 that frontiersman and American folk hero, Daniel Boone first saw the great land of what would one day become known as Kentucky.

Daniel Boone was born on October 22, 1734 but because the Gregorian calendar was adopted during his lifetime, his birth date was changed to November 2, 1734.  Boone only accepted the October 22 date.  He was born the sixth of eleven children in Berks County, Pennsylvania to Squire and Sarah Morgan Boone.  His parents were of English and Welsh decent and were practicing Quakers. 

Boone spent his childhood hunting and trapping in Pennsylvania, before his parents moved to Davie County, North Carolina in 1750. Although his formal education was limited, Boone was often the only literate person in a group of frontiersmen. 

Boone and his dog
He served with the British militia during the French and Indian War.  Then, on August 14, 1756, he married Rebecca Bryan.  The couple settled in a cabin on Boone’s father’s farm in the Yadkin Valley in North Carolina.  Boone supported his family as a market hunter.  During the autumns, he would go on “long hunts", which lasted several weeks or months.  During that time he would collect hundreds of deer, beaver and otter skins to sell to the commercial fur traders on his return in the spring.  Once asked if he ever became lost during these long hunts, Boone supposedly replied, “I’ve never been lost, but I was once bewildered for three days.  By the late 1760’s, Boone was traveling up and down the Ohio River trapping for furs in the Cumberland and Green Valleys.

Daniel Boone is well known for founding the first settlement west of the Appalachian mountain in what is now the Commonwealth of Kentucky.  This region was beyond the western boundaries of the original thirteen colonies and legally belonged to the Commonwealth of Virginia, and the Indians.  

On September 25, 1773, Boone moved with his family and about 50 other pioneers, to begin the first settlement in Kentucky, ignoring the British ban on westward migration. During their attempt to establish a settlement, Boone’s older son James and another man, William Russell, were captured, tortured and killed by Indians.  The killings were so brutal; Boone’s party decided to abandon the idea of a settlement and turned back.  This massacre was one of the first events in what would become known as Dunmore’s War.

Crossing the Cumberland Gap
In the spring of 1775, Boone blazed a trail through the Cumberland Gap, opening up what became known as the Wilderness Road from North Carolina and Tennessee into Kentucky.  Once in central Kentucky, Boone built a fort in what is now Madison County and founded the community of Boonesborough, Kentucky.  On September 8, 1775, he brought his family and other settlers to Boonesborough to live in one of the first English-speaking settlements west of the Appalachians. Boone told the pioneers there were three elements vital to survival here, “A good gun, a good horse and a good wife.  Thousands of pioneer families poured through the steep and rough pass on foot or horseback, heading for the ‘promised land.’   In 1792, the newly formed Kentucky legislature provided money to upgrade the Wilderness Road.  In 1796, the road was improved enough for wagon travel.  By 1800, over 200,000 pioneers had traversed Boone’s road and crossed the Cumberland Gap to settle in Kentucky.  Forty years later, in 1840, the Wilderness Road was abandoned.

Capture of Jemima
Up until this time, Boone’s life had been an adventure, but he began to suffer hardships in the summer of 1776.  In July, his daughter Jemima was captured by the Shawnee and Cherokee Indians.  He rescued her but only two years later the Shawnee seized him.  

Capture of Boone
He managed to escape and warn Boonesborough of an impending attack, thus saving them from capture.  After the uprising, he set off East to purchases lands for some of the settlers.  Along the way, he was robbed of all the money he had been given.  He repaid the settlers out of his own money and was never able to get out of debt again.

In 1781, Boone was elected to the Virginia legislature.  In 1786, he was elected again.  Two years later, he left Kentucky after he lost all of his land claims due to an error in the records. He moved west to what is now Missouri.  When asked why he had left Kentucky Boone reportedly replied, “Too crowded, too crowded!  I want some elbow room.”

Boone Half Dollar
Boone was an explorer, a frontiersman and a legend in his own time.  His deeds and accomplishments were woven into an assortment of fact, legend and folklore, weaving him into the fabric of American history as a folk hero.  Boone’s autobiography, called “Adventures” was published in 1784, making him famous throughout America and Europe.

Boone's Grave Site
at Frankfort, KY
View from Boone's Kentucky
Grave Site
Daniel Boone died on September 26, 1820 at his son’s home on Femme Osage Creek in Missouri.  He was buried on Teuque Creek, next to his wife, Rebecca, who had died in 1813.   In 1845, Boone’s remains were taken and reburied in the new cemetery (Frankfort Cemetery) in Frankfort, Kentucky.  Legend has it that the wrong bones were dug up in Missouri and taken back to Kentucky.  Both cemeteries still claim to have Boone buried there.

Engraving on Grave Marker
Regardless, Daniel Boone will always be remembered as one of the earliest frontiersmen in America, a hunter, explorer and pioneer, a true and fearless leader of the great westward migration of our country.

~ Joy