Thursday, September 16, 2021

Daniel Boone

Daniel Boone
1734 - 1820

Daniel Boone, a founding hero of Kentucky, was born on November 2, 1734 in Berks County, Pennsylvania.  Boone never did wear a coonskin cap (he thought them “uncivilized”) and he likely never carved “D. Boon kilt a bar” into a tree but he did become an American legend.  This courageous frontiersman and explorer was a Celtic Fighter who is sometimes confused with another Celtic Fighter -- Davy Crockett.

Boone was of mixed English and Welsh heritage. His parents were Quakers. In 1750 the family moved to North Carolina.

In 1756 he married Rebecca with whom he had ten children. 

The start of Seven Years’ War in 1756 brought an end to peace for the thirteen colonies and for Daniel Boone as well.  Boone signed on as wagon driver in General Braddock’s (Scottish from Perthshire) ill-fated Ohio River campaign.  Braddock and many of his men were killed in an ambush by French and Indian forces.  Boone managed to escape the carnage.

Daniel Boone Statue
Eastern Kentucky University
Richmond, KY

Boone participated in a campaign against the Cherokee in 1760.  In 1765 he explored Florida which had recently been acquired by Britain from Spain.

He first explored Kentucky in 1767 where he worked as a guide for fur trapping expeditions.  Fur hats were extremely popular in 18th century Europe and pelts could be easily turned into cash.

In 1774 Lord Dunsmore, the governor of Virginia sent Boone back to Kentucky to warn those on the frontier about the dangers of Indian attack.  Boone was made a captain in the colonial militia.

In 1775 he founded Boonesborough, Kentucky.

The start of the American Revolution made life more difficult for those on the frontier.  British gold helped to subsidize Indian hostility to the settlers.

Daniel Boone Indian Fighter
Boone Grave
Frankfort, KY

Boone himself was captured along with thirty others by the Shawnee in 1777.  He managed to talk his way into being adopted as a son by Chief Black Fish.  Five months after his capture in 1778 he managed to escape.

Boone assisted in defending Boonesborough from a Shawnee siege in September 1778.  His brother,Squire Boone Jr., was wounded in the shoulder during the siege. British-supported Shawnees assaulted Boonesborough on September 17, but were repelled after suffering heavy losses (thirty-seven were killed during the siege).  He was found not guilty in a court martial that followed the siege.

In August of 1780 he fought under General George Rogers Clark in the Battle of Piqua in Ohio.  The Americans earned costly victory over British and Shawnee forces.

In 1781 British forces invaded Virginia.  Lieutenant Colonel Boone took part in the defense of Charlottesville.  Again he was captured for a few weeks, this time by British troops.

Blue Licks Battlefield Plaque
Carlisle, Kentucky

In 1782 Boone led American forces at the Battle of Blue Licks in what is today Carlisle, Kentucky.  Fought ten months after Cornwallis’ surrender at Yorktown, this was one of the final battles of the American Revolution and a British victory.  Boone’s own son Israel was killed in the battle.

Following the 1783 Treaty of Paris that ended the American Revolution, Boone moved with his family to Limestone, Kentucky.  He opened up a tavern and served as an intermediary with the Native American population, helping to negotiate prisoner exchanges.

Daniel Boone's First Gravesite
Marthasville, Missouri


In 1799 Boone, who had been unsuccessful at a number of real estate ventures, moved to Missouri which was then Spanish territory.  In 1819 the only likeness of Boone made in his lifetime was painted by the artist Chester Harding.  Boone died in Missouri in 1820 at the age of eighty-five.  Many years later his body was exhumed and the bodies of Boone and his wife Rebecca were re-buried in 1845 in Frankfort, Kentucky (though some, especially Missourians, believe they got the wrong body!).

Boone’s legacy, enhanced by many a tall tale about the frontiersman, endures in film, television, fiction and many places from Boone’s Tavern in Berea, Kentucky to Boone Counties in eight different American states.  Disney’s 1964-1970 TV series labeled Boone “the rippin’est, roarin’est, fightin’est man the frontier ever knew.”

Daniel Boone Grave
Frankfort, Kentucky

101 Fighting Celts: From Boudicca to MacArthur is coming soon!