By Susan Jackson
Did you notice in “The Birds and Bees” when Jamie was showing Bree the view from the Ridge, and Bree mentions Daniel Boone? Very likely, she was familiar with the television show that aired in the 60’s, if not from history class in school. Boone was a trapper, hunter, frontiersman, landowner, politician, and in spite of his Quaker birth and upbringing, owned slaves. He is credited with “discovering” the state of Kentucky. He was born in Pennsylvania in 1734, but his family moved to North Carolina around 1750, settling on the Yadkin River in what is now Wilkes County.
Boone was not afraid to defend the white settlements from the Native Americans, and at 16, joined a militia for that reason. 1755 brought the French and Indian War to his region, and he served as a wagoner, and when that was done, he married. He built two cabins, one near the Yadkin, and one on Beaver Creek, and settled down. Eight children later, he and his wife Rebecca moved to Kentucky, and in 1755, he helped arrange a treaty between the Transylvania Company and the Cherokee, who sold the majority of what is now Tennessee and Kentucky to a Richard Henderson, owner of the Transylvania Company. Boone and other settlers built and lived at a settlement called Boonesboro. The land is now a state park in Kentucky, complete with camping sites and a living history museum.
Boone never returned to North Carolina, and, after losing his land in spite of being a Kentucky representative in the Virginia General Assembly, moved his family to what is now Missouri, where he was given land by the US Government in exchange for clearing the land. Upon his death in 1820, he still owned 850 acres of the homestead.
Much of what was written in the early history books and biographies about Daniel Boone are stuff of legend, and mostly untrue. One author interviewed Boone, but elaborated a great deal in his book, and other biographies were written about him, mainly to encourage people to settle in Kentucky. One story goes that he dictated his life story to his grandson, but the papers were eventually lost when a canoe he was traveling in tipped over, and the “manuscript” was lost in the water.
He was somewhat famous, however, and he didn’t like it much, stating, “Nothing embitters my old age [more than] the circulation of absurd stories … many heroic actions and chivalrous adventures are related of me which exist only in the regions of fancy. With me the world has taken great liberties, and yet I have been but a common man.” Wonder what he’d have thought of the television series?!
According to findagrave.com, “Seven counties, a national forest, and numerous towns and schools across the United States are named for him.” The lovely mountain town of Boone, North Carolina is one of those namesakes. Those of us at the recent Fraser’s Ridge Homecoming got to visit Whippoorwill Academy, where there is a replica of the cabin Daniel and Rebecca lived in and raised their family. The rocks that form the chimney are from the original cabin.
Appropriately, in Boone, NC, you’ll find the Hickory Ridge Living History Museum, and during the Summer months, they produce the long-running outdoor drama, Horn in the West, portraying the life of Boone and other settlers in the region before and during the Revolutionary War.
Oh, and, according to his son Nathaniel, Daniel Boone never wore a coonskin hat.
Susan Jackson is a mother of four who lives in coastal North Carolina, and is an avid Outlander fan. Besides reading, she loves cooking and baking, and music. She is a thyroid cancer survivor and has worked in education most of her life. She hopes to one day blog about her thyroid cancer journey. She is a contributing author for Outlander North Carolina and, among other articles, has previously written about the infamous Stede Bonnet in Will The Real Stephen Bonnet Please Stand Up?
Very interesting. I think Daniel Boone (Fess Parker version) was my first crush. I as unable to visit the landmarks around Boone the last time I was in NC. You’ve given me even more reason to the next time I come! Thanks!
It was really interesting to learn about Daniel Boone in real life, Lisa! And like you, I missed Hickory Ridge when I visited Boone a few years ago. I will be going next time I head west!
Thank you Susan for this very interesting and informative piece. I heard that Boon town is located in a beautiful area, where a lot of artists live.
Boone, NC is a wonderful place! When I went there almost three years ago, I fell head-over-heels in love, and think I left my heart somewhere in Valle Crucis! I dream of moving there, having lived on the coast for most of my life–the mountains just called to me.
I don’t know if I knew his family lived in PA at first. I looked up the Pennsylvania Heritage Foundation and the Homestead is on the list so I will have to use my membership and check it out this year!
Boone was also adopted into a Native American tribe, with whole he loved for many months. When the tribe planned to attack Fort Boonesborough, he snuck away and travel for six days to warn the settlers. His daughter Jemima was captured by a different set of natives and Boone led an expedition to free them, this true story was used as a plot point in The Last of the Mohicans. While he’s fought them and lost children to them, Boone respected Native Americans very much.
He did own 4 women slaves, they worked in the tavern he owned.
Boone learned surveying from George Washington.
While the man was more mythologized, his real life was far more impressive….he walked to Yellowstone and back only a few years before dying in his 80s. Amazing!