Historical information on Daniel Boone

Follow these links for much more information on Daniel Boone and other members of the Boone family. The site, Daniel Boone Homestead , has information on his fathers homestead where Daniel was born (now a museum) and its events.

For genealogical information on Daniel Boone and his family you may try this site:
Boone ancetors

Daniel Boone
From the original painting by Chappel in the possession of the publishers
Johnson, Fry & Co. Publishers, New York
Entered according to act of congress AD 1861 by Johnson, Fry & Co. in the clerks office of the district court of the southern district of New York.

The following is directly quoted from the History of Boone County, Missouri originally published in 1882. It is purported to be "written and compiled from the most authentic official and private sources". Please note that some sections of the text uses the "unique spelling of the period" and is as originally published.

It is certainly not inappropriate, but quite the contrary that, as this county was called in honor of Daniel Boone, and for this reason will forever remain a perpetual memory of his life, a short biographical sketch of him should accompany its history.

In regard to his birth, name and death, controversies have arisen among historians and biographers. It is, perhaps, not a remarkable circumstance that doubts and differences exist in regard to the time of Daniel Boone's birth, and as to the orthography of his name, but that there should be any contrariety of statement touching so recent an event as his death, is a little singular.

1. His Birth: He was born in Exeter township, Bucks county, PA, according to Bogant, February 11, 1735; Hartley, same date; Peck, February, 1735; the family record in the handwriting of his Uncle James, July 14, 1732; Flint (who wrote in 1840), 1746; Bogart (who wrote in 1881), August 22, 1734; Switzler (who wrote in 1877), adopts, in his "History of Missouri", the date of James Boone's family record - July 14, 1732. [The county of birth is WRONG here, see my editors note at the bottom.]

2. His Name: Was it Boone or Boon? Many of his descendants who, fifty years and more ago, lived in Missouri, for examples, William, Hampton L., Nestor and William C. Boon, and some of them who yet reside in the State, among whom is William C. Boon, of Jefferson City, omit the final "e". In consequence of this fact, perhaps, the early records of this county, as well as our first county seal, spelled it "Boon". And "Boon's Lick", as applied to the extensive region in Central Missouri known by that name, and in the name of the first newspaper ever published west of the Missouri river, at Franklin, in 1819, the "Missouri Intelligencer and Boon's Lick Advertiser", it is spelled without the "e". Nevertheless, the act of the Legislature organizing Boone county, November 16, 1820; the Franklin, Mo., Intelligencer of 1819, and Lewis C. Beck's Gazetteer of Missouri, 1823, when speaking of the county add the final "e". Yet there is higher authority than either of these for the "e", viz.: Daniel Boone himself, for he thus spelled his name. We have before us now, through the courtesy of Col. Thomas E. Tutt, of St. Louis, a lithographic copy of a letter from Boone addressed to Col. William Christian, of Kentucky, - called "Cristen" in the letter - dated August 23, 1785, and concluding, "you will oblyge your omble sarvent", to which he signs his name as "Daniel Boone". The original letter is now in the possession of Thomas W. Bullet, of Louisville, Ky., who is a grandson of Col. Christian. In the museum of the Louisville, Ky., Public Library there is a genuine autograph letter of Boone dated "Grate Conhoway July the 30th 1789", and addressed to "Col. Hartt & Rochester", which is subscribed as follows: "I am Sir With Respect your very omble Sarvent Daniel Boone". (See letter of Prof. P.A. Towne in the Courier-Journal, 1876). In a letter J.E. Paton, Circuit Clerk of Bourbon county, Ky., written at Paris Ky., December 20, 1876, to the Cincinnati Enquirer, he says there are in his office a number of the genuine signatures of Boone with the final "e". In Collins' "History of Kentucky", Vol. II, page 61, there is a fac simile of a letter of Boone, which, in 1846, was in possession of Joseph B. Boyd, of Maysville, and addressed to "Judge John Cobren, Sant Lewis", dated October 5, 1809, that concludes, "I am Deer Sir youres Daniel Boone". These authorities settle the question beyond cavil.

3. His Life: His father, Squire Boone, came from England, and took up his residence in a frontier settlement in Pennsylvania, where Daniel received the merest rudiments of education, but became thoroughly familiar with the arts and hardships of pioneer life. When he was 18 years old the family moved to the banks of the river Yadkin, in North Carolina, where he married Rebecca Bryan, and passed some years as a farmer. He made several hunting excursions into the wilderness, and finally, in 1769, set out with five others to explore the border region of Kentucky. They halted on Red river, a branch of the Kentucky, where they hunted for several months. In December, 1769, Boone and a companion named Stewart were captured by the Indians, but escaped, and Boone was soon after joined by his brother. They were captured again, and Stewart was killed; but Boone escaped, and his brother going shortly after to North Carolina, he was left alone for several weeks in the wilderness, with only his rifle for means of support.

He was rejoined by his brother, and they continued their explorations till March, 1771, when they returned home with the spoils which they had collected. In 1773 he sold his farm and set out with his family and two brothers, and five other families, to make his home in Kentucky. They were intercepted by Indians and forced to retreat to Clinch river, near the border of Virginia, where they remained for some time, Boone in the meanwhile conducting a party of surveyors into Kentucky for Patrick Henry, the Governor of Virginia. He was afterward appointed, with the commission of a captain, to command three garrisons on the Ohio, to keep back the hostile Indians, and in 1775 was employed to lay out lands in Kentucky for the Pennsylvania Company. He erected a stockade fort on the Kentucky river, which he called Boonsborough, which is now in Madison county, and removed his family to the new settlement, where he was again employed in command of a force to repel the Indians.

In 1778 he went to Blue Licks to obtain salt for the settlement, and was captured and taken to Detroit. His knowledge of the Indian character enabled him to gain favor with his captors, and he was adopted into one of their families. Discovering a plan laid by the British for an Indian attack upon Boonsborough, he contrived to escape, and set out for the Kentucky settlement, which he reached in less than five days. His family, supposing that he was dead, had returned to North Carolina; but he at once put the garrison in order and successfully repelled the attack, which was soon made. He was court-martialed for surrendering his party at the Licks, and for endeavoring to make a treaty with the Indians before the attack on the fort; but, conducting his own defence, he was acquitted and promoted to the rank of major.

In 1780 he brought his family back to Boonsborough, and continued to live there till 1792. At that time Kentucky was admitted into the Union as a State, and much litigation arose about the titles of settlers to their lands. Boone, losing all his possessions for want of a clear title, retired in 1795 in disgust into the wilderness of Missouri, settling on the Femme Osage Creek, in St. Charles County. This region was then under the dominion of Spain, and he was appointed commander of the Femme Osage district, and received a large tract of land for his services, which he also lost subsequently because he failed to make his title good. His claim to another tract of land was confirmed by Congress in 1812, in consideration of his eminent public services.

The latter years of his life he spent in Missouri, with his son, Nathan Boone, near Marthasville, where he died September 26, 1820, aged eighty-six. The only original portrait of Boone in existence was painted by Mr. Chester Harding in 1820, and now hangs in the State-house at Frankfort, Kentucky. His remains were interred by the side of his wife's, who died March 18, 1813, near the village named, where they continued to repose until August, 1845, when they were removed for interment in the public cemetery at Frankfort.

The consent of the surviving relations of the deceased having been obtained, a commission was appointed under whose superintendence the removal was effected; and the 13th of September, 1845, was fixed upon as the time when the ashes of the venerable dead would be committed with fitting ceremonies to the place of their final repose. It was a day which will be long remembered in the history of Franklin County, Kentucky. The deep feeling excited by the occasion was evinced by the assembling of an immense concourse of citizens from all parts of the State; and the ceremonies were most imposing and impressive. A procession extending more than a mile in length accompanied the coffin to the grave. The hearse, decorated with evergreens and flowers, and drawn by four white horses, was placed in its assigned position in the line, accompanied, as pall-bearers, by the following distinguished pioneers, viz.: Col. Richard M. Johnson, of Scott; Gen. James Taylor, of Campbell; Capt. James Ward, of Mason; Gen. Robert B. McAfee and Peter Jordan, of Mercer; Walter Bullock, Esq., of Fayette; Capt. Thomas Joyes, of Louisville; Mr. London Sneed, of Franklin; Col. John Johnson, of the State of Ohio; Maj. E.E. Williams, of Kenton, and Col. William Boone, of Shelby. The procession was accompanied by several military companies and the members of the Masonic Fraternity and the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, in rich regalia. Arrived at the grave, the company was brought together in a beautiful hollow near the grove, ascending from the centre on every side. Here the funeral services were performed. The hymn was given out by Rev. Mr. Godell, of the Baptist Church; prayer by Bishop Soule, of the Methodist Episcopal Church; oration by the Hon. John J. Crittenden; closing prayer by the Rev. J.J. Bullock, of the Presbyterian Church, and benediction of the Eld. P.S. Fall, of the Christian Church. The coffins were then lowered into the graves. The spot where the graves are situated is as beautiful as nature and art combined can make it. It is designed to erect a monument on the place.

4. His Death: Timothy Flint, in his biography (1840), states that it occurred "in the year 1818, and in the eighty-fourth year of his age;" Hartley, on September 26, 1820, in his eighty-sixth year; Bogart, the same; Switzler, the same, except that his age was eighty-eight; and Chester Harding, who painted from life the celebrated portrait of him in June, 1820, and who fixes his age at ninety, also fixes his death as occuring in 1820. (See Harding's "Egotistigraphy", for a copy of which we are indebted to his son, Gen. James Harding, one of the Board of Railroad Commissioners for Missouri).

We have, however, recently met with higher authority than either of the above writers, and one that conclusively settles the date of his death. In the Franklin (Mo.) Intelligencer of Oct. 14, 1820, there is copied from the St. Louis Enquirer an obituary notice of Daniel Boone, the first paragraph of which is as follows:

DIED.-On the 26th ult. [Sep.] at Charette Village [which was on Femme Osage Creek, in St. Charles County, Mo.], in the ninetieth year of his age, the celebrated Col. DANIEL BOONE, discoverer and first settler of the State of Kentucky.

This disposes of the question conclusively.

He died at the residence of his son, Maj. Nathan Boone, which was an old-style two-story house, the first of the kind erected west of the Missouri river, and it is yet standing. A good wood cut of it can be found in "Switzler's History of Missouri", page 180.

The obituary in the Enquirer also says that on the 28th September, Mr. Emmons, Senator from Saint Charles County, communicated the intelligence of his death to the Legislature, then in session in St. Charles, and that "both branches of that body, through respect to his memory, adjourned for the day, and passed a resolution to wear crape on the left arm for twenty days".

One of his sons, Jesse B. Boone, was at the time a member of the Legislature from the county of Montgomery.

Editors note about Daniel Boone's birth.
As some knowlegable and observant viewers have pointed out, there is significant confusion over the date and location of Daniel Boone's birth. While we are not attempting to be a definitive source, we will reference some other researchers information so that you may judge for yourself.

According to a contemporary of Switzler, the book "A History of the Pioneer Families of Missouri" by Wm. S. Brian and Robert Rose, published by Bryan, Brand and Co., St. Louis in 1876, p 3. :
"Daniel Boone was born in Bucks county, Pennsylvania, October 22, 1734. His grandfather, George Boone, was a native of England, and resided at Brandwich, about eight miles from Exeter. In 1717 he emigrated to America, with his family, consisting of his wife and eleven children, two daughers and nine sons. Soon after his arrival in America he purchased a large tract of land in what is now Bucks county Pennsylvania, settled upon it and named it Exeter, after his native town. The township still bears that name."

A later, and presumably better researched work, "Dictionary of Missouri Biography", edited by Christensen published in 1999 by University of Missouri Press, ISBN 0-8262-1222-0. p98 says :
"Born on a farm on the banks of Owantin Run in Oley township, Pennsylvania (Present-day Exeter township, near Reading), on October 22 1734, ..."

As for other current researchers, I would like to point out the work of Jesse Proctor Crump which can be found on the Boone Ancestors and Descendants webpages (no longer active link - http://booneinfo.com/daniel.htm) where Mr. Crump states in his biography :
"In the year 1730 Squire Boone purchased ..., a tract ... situated in his father's Township of Oley, in the then Philadelphia County, ..., eight miles Southeast of the present City of Reading ... . In the home established here Daniel Boone was born October 22, 1734."

He goes on further to say:
"The records of the Exeter Monthly Meeting show that Daniel, son of Squire and Sarah Boone, was born "8-22-1734"; this being Julian or Old Style of reckoning time, the first month of the year being March, the eighth month would be October, making the date of his birth October 22, 1734, same as shown in his Bible.

He delves into Julian vs Gregorian calendars and why several biographers set the birth date as November 2, 1734. View the text at the original webpage for the complete details.

Doing a little research on the counties in Pennsylvania shows : The County of Berks contains the town of Reading (in the center of the county), and has a township named Exeter and another Oley. Searching the counties in PA for townships of the name Exeter, locates only the counties of Berks, Luzerne and Wyoming, but noticably not Bucks. (source: USGS) In addition, Berks was formed in 1752 from the earlier counties of Chester, Lancaster, Philadelphia. (source: PAGenWeb)

While Bucks county is in the area of Berks (the eastern edge of Pennsylvania), it does not contain any of the features mentioned by any of the sources above.

As I suspect most will, I give more weight to the recent researchers work referenced above. I therefore conclude that both Switzler and Bryan are wrong in stating that D. Boone was born in Bucks County, but instead was born in Berks County Pennsylvania. As for the date, I would have to state that as 8-22-1734, and otherwise I leave it to Mr. Crump and his calculations.

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Last updated 8 September 2002