Boone, Daniel 1734–1820

Daniel Boone lived an extraordinary life. In his lifetime, Boone engaged in a variety of notable vocations; however, he gained fame as a legendary hunter, explorer, and Indian fighter. As a frontiersman in the colonial American West, Boone explored the wilderness and worked toward the settlement of Kentucky. As many stories surrounding Boone’s adventures have served to catapult him to mythical status, separating myth from fact has become an ongoing labor for historians over the years. Boone’s grandfather, George Boone, was a Quaker, a weaver, and a farmer in Exeter, England. In 1717, George Boone immigrated with his family to the North American colonies. Daniel Boone was born near Reading in Berks County, Pennsylvania, in 1734. His parents, Squire Boone and Sarah Morgan Boone, raised him as a Quaker. Squire Boone was a blacksmith and a stock raiser, and he taught his son these trades. Aside from his father’s training, Boone received little formal education. From a very early age, however, Boone exhibited a great aptitude and fondness for the wilderness, and when he was 12, his father gave him a rifle, which he used for hunting. In 1753, the Boone family moved to the Yadkin River valley, which placed the Boones in close contact with Native Americans. In fact, Boone befriended some local Native Americans and gleaned many wilderness survival skills from them. Living on the frontier afforded Boone the opportunity to practice his skills, and he soon became an excellent hunter, tracker, and trapper. In 1756, Boone married Rebecca Bryan, the 17-year-old daughter of his neighbor. During the French and Indian War, Boone served as a teamster and a blacksmith under General Edward Braddock, and he took part in Braddock’s campaign against Fort Duquesne, which ended in failure. In 1758, however, Boone served in a successful march against the fort under General John Forbes. During the war, Boone met John Finley, a hunter, who told him about the Kentucky wilderness. The stories piqued his interest, but he set his sights on Pensacola, Florida, instead. When his wife refused to move to Florida, Boone reconsidered Kentucky. The exploits of Pennsylvania-born frontiersman and Indian fighter Daniel Boone had attained legendary status even before his death in 1820. Mythologized or not, Boone made important contributions as an explorer, surveyor, and settler. (Special Collections, University of Chicago Library, Illinois) A few years later, John Finley rejoined Boone, and they made plans for a Kentucky expedition. In 1769, Boone and a few other men explored eastern Kentucky by following a trail through the Cumberland Gap. When Judge Richard Henderson, a North Carolina land speculator and owner of the Transylvania Company, heard about Boone’s journey, he decided the Kentucky wilderness was a business opportunity too good to pass up. Henderson hired Boone to negotiate a sale of land in Kentucky from the Cherokees. After returning from a successful mission, Boone was ordered by Henderson, who planned to settle Kentucky, to fix a road that settlers could use to reach the newly acquired land. Consequently, in 1775, Boone and a small group of armed men passed through the Cumberland Gap, cleared the way for the Wilderness Road, and built a fort in Boonesborough, by the Kentucky River. In the years that followed, Boone led settlers, including his own family, to Kentucky and aided them as a hunter and an Indian fighter. Native American raids were a constant threat to the new settlement. In 1776, for example, Shawnees captured three girls, including Boone’s 14-year-old daughter, Jemima, and he immediately sprang into action. Boone organized a small party of men, tracked the Shawnees, and freed the captives. In the years that followed, the new settlement continued to suffer through several Native American raids, and Boone was taken prisoner by the Shawnee tribe in 1778. After four months of captivity, however, he managed to escape and resumed his settlement activities. During the American Revolution, Boone became a captain in the Virginia militia and defended Kentucky against the British and their Native American allies. After the colonial period, Boone served as sheriff, lieutenant colonel of the Fayette County militia, delegate to the Kentucky legislature, and deputy surveyor. Due in great part to his efforts, Boonesborough continued to prosper and Kentucky was eventually settled. The Transylvania Company awarded Boone a large tract of land in Kentucky as payment for his labors, but he lost it a few years later when the company suffered an economic downturn. In 1784, Daniel Boone gained world fame and legendary status with the publication of John Filson’s The Discovery, Settlement, and Present State of Kentucke. The American author James Fenimore Cooper was so impressed by Boone’s frontiersman image that he used Boone as inspiration for the character of Natty Bumppo in the novels that make up his Leatherstocking Tales. Lord Byron paid tribute to Boone posthumously in a poem titled Don Juan. In fact, so many works of fiction were inspired by Boone that, by the time of his death in 1820, he had become the most famous American frontier hero. Daniel Boone Stock Photos & Daniel Boone Stock Images – Alamy Daniel Boone Stock Photos & Daniel Boone Stock Images – Alamy Daniel Boone – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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