Much has been written about the famous pioneer, Daniel Boone, and his adventures. He became a legend and folk hero yet much of what was written about Daniel is myth. For example, he never wore a coonskin cap but preferred a wide-brimmed beaver felt hat to keep the sun out of his eyes.
Daniel also led a life filled with contradictions. He was not innately "war-like" but found himself in situations requiring violence. He preferred a life in the remote wilderness where he could hunt and fish, yet wherever Daniel went, others followed and soon the communities became over-populated according to Boone, and the wilderness resources of game were depleted. He was constantly moving west seeking more "elbow room" as he said.
Daniel often owned many acres of land, yet, through faulty deed procesing or the need to sell it to pay his debts, Daniel often found hiself "landless". While regarded as a hero, Daniel did not receive accolades or reward for his efforts on behalf of the people and the government of the United States. It was the Spanish government which recognized his achievements and ability to lead people with a grant of land in eastern Missouri (now St. Charles County) in 1798. When the US purchased this territory in the Louisiana Purchase in 1804, it disallowed Boone's claim to the Spanish grant. It was not until 1814 after prolonged lobbying that the US granted Daniel 1000 arpents of land near Matson, Missouri.
At the end of this article is a timeline of Daniel's life and a map showing all of his homes. References for further study including information on Daniel’s genealogy will be listed at the end. This summary will focus on the major highlights of his life, especially as it related to his family. There is a long interrelationship between the Boones and the Scholls as Daniel Boone and William Scholl are sometimes thought to be cousins through a Morgan connection (this has not been documented).
Daniel was born on October 22, 1734, to Squire and Sarah Morgan Boone in Exeter Township, Berks County, Pennsylvania (near Reading)1. He was their sixth child and he had 10 brothers and sisters. He was brought up in a Quaker household and loved to hunt and wander. He could read and write but was an atrocious speller. Through his spelling, however, we get a clear sense of how he talked.
In 1750, Daniel’s father, Squire, took his family to Frederick County, Virginia, near Winchester2, intending to eventually go to North Carolina where land was inexpensive. Squire probably had several reasons for leaving Pennsylvania, but one was his disenchantment with the Quaker neighborhood and the censures he had received. While most of the family stayed near Winchester, Squire went on to North Carolina to scout for cheap land and Daniel, along with his friend, Henry Miller, set out into the wilderness of west Virginia for a "long hunt". Near Winchester also lived the Peter Scholls, the Linvilles, and the Lincolns, all of whom later married Boones and migrated with them.
By 1753, Squire and family were in the Yadkin River valley in North Carolina where he had purchased land near Holman’s Ford in Rowan County, now Davidson County, near Wilkesboro3. This land suited Daniel just fine as he was able to hunt and explore in this wilderness.
Daniel is said by his son, Nathan, to be approximately 5’8’ and stout with light hair and blue eyes. Although there are several images of him, he sat for only one – the Chester Harding portrait shown below – in 1820 in Missouri.
In 1755, at the age of 21, Daniel was with General Braddock and General Washington serving as wagoner and blacksmith in the French and Indian War at Fort Duquesne in Pennsylvania. That battle ended in a routing of Braddock’s forces but Daniel escaped on the back of one of the wagon horses4.
Daniel married Rebecca Bryan, daughter of Joseph and Alee Bryan, on August 14, 1756, in the Yadkin Valley in Rowan County, North Carolina. Squire Boone, the groom’s father and Justice of the Peace, married three couples in that ceremony5. [See more about Rebecca Bryan Boone below.]
They had 10 children, all born in North Carolina:
James, born May 3, 1757
Israel, born January 25, 1759
Susannah, born November 2, 1760
Jemima, born October 4, 1762
Levina, born March 23, 1766
Rebecca, born May 26, 1768
Daniel Morgan, born December 23, 1769
Jesse Bryan, born May 23, 1773
William, born June 20, 1775, died in infancy
Nathan, born March 2, 1781
Daniel and Rebecca set up housekeeping in a log cabin on Daniel’s father’s land but they soon moved to Sugar Tree a few miles north of Squire Boone’s6 where our Levina Boone was born.
In 1759, there was trouble with the Indians in North Carolina, so Daniel went with his family to Culpeper County and hauled tobacco to make a living. He was back in the Yadkin Valley by 17617.
Daniel made several exploratory hunting trips into Kentucky and was intrigued with the fresh game and abundant fertile land available there. Daniel and his family along with his brother, Squire, and his family first tried to migrate to Kentucky on September 25, 1773. They made it as far as Powell’s Valley below the Cumberland Gap where five other families and 40 men joined them. On October 6, they were attacked by Indians who killed six young men of their party, including Daniel’s oldest son, James, who was 16 years old, and they had to retreat. They temporarily settled on the banks of the Clinch River in southwestern Virginia. In 1775, they migrated to the Boone fort (Boonesborough) on the Kentucky River.
Also in 1775, a friend hired Daniel to cut a path into Kentucky for a new settlement on land purchased from the Cherokee. Boone led a party of about 30 axmen through the wilderness to clear a path, which eventually became a route to the new frontier called the Wilderness Road. Other settlers followed.
Daniel was captured by the Shawnees in February, 1778, and remained so long in captivity at Detroit and Chillicothe that his family believed him dead and returned to the Bryan cabin on the Yadkin. When Daniel returned, the family once again trekked to Boonesborough in the summer of 1779. Families joined the Boones near Moccasin Gap including Abraham Lincoln from the area of Linville Creek in the Shenandoah Valley (the grandfather of President Abraham Lincoln), William Scholl perhaps from the Smith’s Creek area in the Shenandoah Valley (ancestor of my Scholl family and early settlers of Missouri with Boone), Edward Boone (Daniel’s brother) and others.
By this time, even Boonesborough had become too populous and too dirty for Daniel. The Boone families settled at Boone’s Station Kentucky – a stockade holding approximately 10 families. With Daniel were the families of his brother Samuel, his son-in-law William Hays, and his brother-in-law, William Scholl. Edward Boone, his brother, had been killed by Indians in 1780 but his family remained on at Boone’s Station.
He continued to take hunting trips and in 1765 went as far as Pensacola, Florida. He did not find much game there and did not return. Some think that Daniel also may have made it as far west as Yellowstone.
He was a Lt. Colonel of the Fayette County Militia in 1782 at the Battle of Blue Licks, and a referred to as Colonel often thereafter. In 1781, he was elected to the legislature for Fayette County. He surveyed land for clients and worked with the Transylvania Company and the Henderson Company.
While at Boone’s Station, the Boones and the Scholls (William’s sons – Abraham, Peter and Joseph) along with other groups of young men in the vicinity rode to the aid of nearby Bryan’s Station which was attacked by Indians on August 15-17, 1782. The Indians withdrew on the August 17th and the settlers followed them to the lower Blue Licks. Although called the Battle of Blue Licks, the event on August 19th was generally a massacre of the settlers’ relief party. Israel Boone, Daniel’s son, and approximately 70 others were killed and several others kidnapped8.
In the fall of 1784, Daniel Boone and his sons-in-law, William Hays and Joseph Scholl, moved from Boone’s station and settled about five miles away on Marble Creek, north of the Kentucky River. Boone enjoyed tapping maple trees for sugar and gathering ginseng as cash crops.
About 1786, Daniel left the neighborhood of the Kentucky River and lived some time at Limestone (now Maysville, Kentucky), at the mouth of the Limestone Creek, a tributary of the Ohio, in then Bourbon (now Mason) County. He was there a tavern-keeper and merchant and one of the first trustees of the town.
Searching for more wilderness
Disenchanted with Kentucky and with all his land claims disavowed, in 1788 he moved from Limestone to the mouth of the Great Kanawha River, near Point Pleasant, at the junction of the Kanawha and Ohio rivers, in what was then the northwest part of Virginia, now within the limits of Mason County, West Virginia. In the same year, Boone and his wife and son, Nathan, went by horseback to the old Pennsylvania home in Berks county to visit kin and friends9.”
Sometime between 1796 and 1799, Daniel and some members of his family (Nathan, Jemima and Flanders Callaway) moved to Upper Louisiana, now Missouri, and settled in the wilderness in the old St. Charles County. He had received a grant of land from the Spanish government. He was one of the first, if not the first, Americans to settle in this region, and was named “syndic” or magistrate of this region in 1800.
Rebecca died March 18, 1813, and Daniel lived with his children in Missouri. He died on September 26, 1820, in a stone house built by his son, Nathan, and himself about 10 miles from what is now Defiance, Missouri. He and Rebecca were buried in a family plot near the Teuque River in Warren County, Missouri, 1.5 miles southeast of the present site of Marthasville. The state of Kentucky later removed the bodies to Frankfort Kentucky as a memorial to this great pioneer. Some say that the bodies removed were not those of the Boones and their remains are still resting peacefully in Missouri.
Throughout Daniel’s life, he had been a leader yet had encountered numerous problems with keeping the land he settled. Primarily because he did not complete the paperwork and register his claims in Williamsburg or later Richmond, Virginia, others came in with registered claims to nullify his. He wearied of the litigation and always yearned to be in the wild where there was plentiful game and few neighbors. It was ironic that while Boone wanted the isolated lifestyle, because he was a natural leader, others followed him and he then itched to move on. Daniel Boone, more than anyone, popularized the quest for westward exploration.
Rebecca Bryan Boone
Rebecca was born to Joseph and Alee Bryan on January 9, 1737/38 in Virginia10 .Her stature as pioneer could be written as large as Daniel’s. It is said that it was she who also taught the young sons to shoot and certainly she had the responsibility to raise all the children. She also took in 7 children orphaned when her uncle died. She managed the farms and household duties most of the time as her husband was away.
The Bryans and Boones were closely allied from Pennsylvania, through Virginia and North Carolina into Kentucky. More about the Bryans can be found in some of the following references. There are also sources that claim to trace the Bryan ancestry to the 1400s in England.
1. Spraker, Helen Atterbury: The Boone Family, Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., Baltimore, 1974, page 64 [Originally published in Rutland, Vermont, 1922].
2. Spraker, Helen Atterbury: The Boone Family, Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., Baltimore, 1974, page 36 [Originally published in Rutland, Vermont, 1922].
3. Spraker, Helen Atterbury: The Boone Family, Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., Baltimore, 1974, page 65 [Originally published in Rutland, Vermont, 1922].
4. Spraker, Helen Atterbury: The Boone Family, Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., Baltimore, 1974, page 566 [Originally published in Rutland, Vermont, 1922].
5. Spraker, Helen Atterbury: The Boone Family, Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., Baltimore, 1974, page 567 [Originally published in Rutland, Vermont, 1922].
6. Spraker, Helen Atterbury: The Boone Family, Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., Baltimore, 1974, page 568 [Originally published in Rutland, Vermont, 1922].
7. Spraker, Helen Atterbury: The Boone Family, Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., Baltimore, 1974, page 568 [Originally published in Rutland, Vermont, 1922].
8. Thompson, Jess M.: Pike County History, Pike County [Illinois] Historical Society, 1967, Chapter 43 – Indians on the Warpath Made 1782 a Year of Battle for Pioneers in Kentucky, page 126.
9. Thompson, Jess M.: Pike County History, Pike County [Illinois] Historical Society, 1967, Chapter 43 – Indians on the Warpath Made 1782 a Year of Battle for Pioneers in Kentucky, page 130.
10. Spraker, Helen Atterbury: The Boone Family, Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., Baltimore, 1974, page 64 [Originally published in Rutland, Vermont, 1922].
*indicates what I consider to be the best
Bryan, Wm. S., and Rose, Robert: A History of the Pioneer Families of Missouri, Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., Baltimore, 1984
*Draper, Lyman C.: Draper Collection of Manuscripts, Library of the Historical Society of Wisconsin
Faragher, John Mack: Daniel Boone: The Life and Legend of an American Pioneer, Henry Holt and Company, New York, 1992
Morgan, Robert: Boone, A Biography, Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, 2007
*Spraker, Helen Atterbury: The Boone Family, Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., Baltimore, 1974 [still available from the publisher at www.genealogical.com for $45]
*Thompson, Jess M.: Pike County History, Pike County [Illinois] Historical Society, 1967 [based on a series of articles published in the Pike County Republican from 1935-1939 including essays written with information from Abraham Scholl, a grandson of Daniel Boone]