Geographic Connection to Pennsylvania: Birdsboro, Berks County
Born in Berks County, frontiersman Daniel Boone blazed the Wilderness Road to Kentucky.
Daniel Boone was born in October 1734, in Reading, Pennsylvania. He served in the French and Indian War (1754-1763) under the British, but he later fought against them in the American Revolutionary War (1775-1783). He founded Boonesborough on September 8, 1775, and later served in the Virginia state assembly (1781, 1784, and 1791). He died in Femme Osage creek in September 1820.
Daniel Boone was born on October 22, 1734, near Reading, Pennsylvania. The exact location and date of his birth are still under dispute. Boone was born to Squire and Sarah Boone, and he was the sixth of 11 children. His father worked primarily as a blacksmith and weaver, and he and his wife, Sarah Morgan, built a log cabin in the Oley Valley in 1731, which is where Daniel Boone was later born.
Boone received very little formal education, but he became very proficient at hunting and trailblazing the wilderness. He grew up as a Pennsylvania Quaker, since his mother was a Quaker from Wales. He received his first rifle in 1747 and picked up hunting skills from local Indians and neighbors. This same year, the Boone family became the subject of scrutiny and controversy in the Quaker community. The eldest child, Sarah, had married a "worldling," or non-Quaker, which was not permitted. The Boone's oldest son also married a "worldling" and the debate that ensued resulted in the expulsion of Boone's father from the church. Daniel Boone never attended church again, although he always thought of himself as a Christian and baptized all of his children.
At the age of 18, Boone married a local woman, Rebecca Bryan, and they spent time farming. He made several small hunting expeditions, and in 1768, he decided to formally explore the Kentucky border with five other frontiersmen. During his hunting expeditions, he was almost always the most literate even though his reading abilities were very limited. He often brought his two favorite books on the expeditions: The Bible and Gulliver's Travels. He often read the books to the other frontiersmen around the campfire. During the next year, he was repeatedly captured by Indians, but each time Boone was able to escape. He continued the explorations with his brother until 1771, when they returned home.
In 1773, Boone moved with his family and five others to Kentucky. They were attacked by Indians and had to retreat to the Virginia border, but in the meantime Boone was granted a captain's commission to keep back hostile Indians. He and his three garrisons set up camp at a fort on the Kentucky River, which he later founded as the town of Boonesborough.
In 1778, Boone was once again captured by Indians at Blue Licks. Due to his knowledge of Indian culture and his cunning, he was eventually adopted into one Indian family. He later escaped to help defend Boonesborough, in which he successfully repelled the attack. He was later court-martialed for surrendering his party at Blue Licks, but he was later acquitted and promoted to major.
Boone moved back with his family to Boonesborough in 1780, but much of his land claim was invalidated. Boone then moved into present day West Virginia. While in western Virginia, Boone served three times in the state legislature (1781, 1784, and 1791). In 1798, he moved into the Missouri region. When asked why he was moving, he replied his former home had been "too crowded." He lived in Missouri for the remainder of his life, although he did revisit Kentucky twice.
In 1800, Boone was appointed magistrate of the Femme Osage District in St. Charles County, Missouri. When Missouri was acquired by the Louisiana Purchase, Boone lost his land to creditors. He moved to his son Nathan's home, where he spent his remaining time. He went on his last hunting trip at the age of 83.
He died on September 26, 1820, at the age of 85, and he was buried next to his wife. A quarter of a century later Boone and his wife were moved to the Frankfort Cemetery in Kentucky as a monument to the wilderness that they had helped explore and settle. There is controversy over Boone's final remains, and some have demanded that his remains be brought back to Missouri, his place of death. Nevertheless, Boone helped explore much of the frontier for America, forming bonds and defending new territory. There are many myths and misinterpretations associated with Daniel Boone that have often been passed as fact over the years. One myth maintains that a young Daniel Boone was hunting in the woods with some other boys. When they heard the scream of a panther, all the boys except Daniel Boone screamed and were frightened away. Boone, meanwhile, cocked his gun and shot the panther in the heart. There is also myth that Boone authored a book titled The Discovery, Settlement, and Present State of Kentucky (1784). It was written by John Filson, a schoolteacher. A misconstrued image of Boone maintained that he held little affinity for civilized society. However, Boone was a popular man and served on the Virginia State Assembly three times. Daniel Boone was also featured in many comic strips, radio stations, and films in the 20th century. He had his own television series, which ran from 1964 to 1970, but it was riddled with many inaccuracies depicting Boone's character. Boone never wore a coonskin hat, as seen in the series, and he was not a big man. It was also inaccurate because the actor who played Boone, Fess Parker, was reprising his role of Davy Crockett in an earlier series. Despite the inaccuracies in the portrayals of this story, Boone remains an American icon.