Daniel Boones 275th birthday
events statewide, new book
by author Brown, among Boone
activities planned in November
Helen E. McKinney
Kentucky Edition Cover
(November 2009) Even though he was born and
raised in New York City, Meredith Mason Brown has Kentucky blood running
through his veins. His ancestors knew and worked alongside Daniel Boone
on the Kentucky frontier, and it is this impetus that fueled him to
pen a new biography on Boone in time to celebrate Boones 275th
Boone was more complicated than youd think of a woodsman,
said Brown, 68. He has compiled hours of research into Frontiersman
Daniel Boone and the Making of America.
From the time he was old enough to remember, Brown recalls a rifle hanging
on the wall of his fathers study. This wasnt just any rifle;
it had belonged to his ancestor, Col. John Floyd. Floyd had been acquainted
with Boone and is credited with helping Boone rescue his daughter, Jemima,
and the two Callaway girls from Indians in July 1776 outside of Fort
Boonesborough, near present-day Richmond, Ky. It is this personal connection
to Boone and the knowledge of his own ancestors role in history
that spurred him to put pen to paper and recount Boones life in
a new light.
In Frontiersman, Brown has tackled a topic that has been
written about countless times. Relying upon his own perspective and
background, Brown created a work that provides a fresh perspective on
Boone when there are only the same primary sources to draw from that
have been referred to by many other authors over the last two centuries.
family roots inspired
(November 2009) For as long as I can remember, my
paternal grandmother told me we were related to Squire Boone.
Well, thats nice, but there are only 1,001 Squire Boones
out there living in the same time period as famed woodsman Daniel
Boone who were related to him. Which Squire Boone?
No one else in the family seemed to be able to tell me but all
were proud of their lineage. They knew they were Boones; they
didnt have to prove it on paper.
But I was always the different one. To me, it did matter which
Squire Boone. Not that I would have ever doubted my grandmothers
word, but I just had to know HOW I was related to Daniel Boone.
I couldnt comfortably tell people that I was descended from
a certain Boone ancestor if I couldnt prove that point.
So set out to prove it I did. Fifteen years later, I realize all
the time I spent sifting through family files, court records,
pension records, census records, marriage licenses, death certificates
(if available), traveling from county courthouse to county courthouse,
and chasing county historians for just a minute of their time
was well worth my time.
Obviously, it proved what I already knew: I was a Boone descendant.
But yes, I did discover quickly which Squire Boone my grandmother
was talking about. She meant Squire Boone (1696-1765), Daniel
Boones father who settled in North Carolina. Now I was getting
Of course, there was also Squire Boone Jr., Daniels younger
brother, who Im technically related to as well. But the
real jewel in the family was Samuel Boone (1728-1816), Daniels
I could claim him as my very own Boone. I am directly descended
from Samuel and his wife, Sarah Day, who is credited with teaching
her brother-in-law Daniel how to read and write.
Knowing that Samuels father was Squire Boone put everything
into perspective. I could safely say I was related to Squire Boone
through his son, Samuel Boone, and so on down the line.
But now what would I do with all of this research material I had
so meticulously amassed? Would my kids really appreciate what
I had done? Who else in this world would be interested in my direct
family line? Of course, I could always write that book about the
Boone family that I had wanted to write for sometime (maybe the
kids would take note then).
But for me, its enough just to know that part of the puzzle
is complete. Genealogy is like putting together a gigantic puzzle
of your family tree. Each time a piece of the puzzle fits, you
get that elated feeling of knowing you are one step closer to
realizing who you are, why you do the things you do, and why you
look the way you do. Genealogy can take you on a journey not only
to discover the past but to discover things about yourself that
you never knew. Researching my family tree has been like coming
full circle in life, as they say.
Several years ago, I applied all of the information Ive
gathered into a new hobby, one that you could say is in my genes:
living history re-enacting. As a re-enactor portraying someone
who lived in the Revolutionary War era, Im filled with thoughts
of my ancestor Samuel Boone and his family.
Of course, I knew about my family before I ever knew what re-enacting
was, and I was born with that strong attachment to history. Re-enacting
gave me a way to vent, shall we say, what I know about my family.
Or, in other words, to live out their lives while teaching others
about history. It was also the best way I knew of keeping my grandmothers
memory alive for others who had never known her.
Ive come full circle in my genealogy quest to the point
now where I have only one missing link: James Harvey Boone (1819-1899).
I know hes dead by now, but where in the world is that man
Ive searched all over Clark and Powell counties in Kentucky
for that man, in every nook and cranny that he must have walked
over in his lifetime. During the time Ive spent searching
for him, Ive met new relatives and made new friends, often
encountering people from the hills and hollars Ive tramped
through that Ill never forget.
My grandmother, Sally Clay Boone Dawson, was from Clark County.
Her Boone ancestors literally stepped out of Fort Boonesborough
in Madison County, Ky., and over what is now the county line into
Clark County, Ky. There they have remained for more than 200 years.
Thats a lot of history in one place.
Before my grandmother and my grandfather, Shirley Dawson, passed
away, they made sure I would take the sacred family photos and
cherish them as they had. And to this day, my great-grandfather,
Levi Daniel Boone, hangs above my bed in his original oval frame.
He smiles at me every night before I go to bed and every morning
when I wake up, reminding me that he, too, was a descendant of
RoundAbout contributing writer Helen E. McKinney
is a La Grange, Ky., native who resides in Shelby County. Email
her at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Men such as historical researchers Lyman Draper and John
Dabney Shane, who sought out oral histories of many early pioneers,
the Filson Historical Society in Louisville, and the Kentucky Historical
Society in Frankfort are major source holders for primary materials.
Any serious researcher will sift through voluminous records of musty
books and delicate original documents such as deeds, marriage licenses
and court order books to ascertain what history is really all about.
For individuals like Brown, its all about the person that Boone
really was. A glimpse of the true man can be found by digging deep and
piecing together what history has recorded of this sometimes larger-than-life
In addition to the already mentioned sources, Brown looked at many depositions
given by Boone involving land dispute suits. You can almost hear
Boone talking in those depositions, he said. Boone played
an important role in western settlement.
The Kentucky Historical Society houses the Martin F. Schmidt Library,
which contains a few original records in various collections that are
connected to Boone. These include land surveys in their online library
catalog and digital collections websites. The Kentucky Historical Society
also contains primary sources from some of Boones contemporaries,
and records pertaining to his relatives, including Squire Boone, said
Bill Morris, Library Technician.
We have a few historical researchers who come here to do research
on Boone, but the majority of our Boone researchers are family history
and genealogy researchers who have either an established or suspected
link to the man, said Morris. The most unique type of resource
we hold here at the library are our surname files, which contain research
notes, family group sheets, obits and clippings, which researchers have
left with us.
In honor of Boone and his accomplishments, the Kentucky Historical Society
plays host to an annual member gathering, which features scholarly speakers,
symposia and other special activities, said Russell Harris, Senior Associate
Editor of The Register. Known as Boone Day, it celebrates
the date, June 7, 1769, when Boone first viewed what is now known as
the Bluegrass Region of central Kentucky, after traversing the mountainous
terrain between the Cumberland Gap and the overlook at what came to
be known as Pilot Knob in present day Rockcastle County, Ky.
Both Morris and Harris agreed that Although Boone is not the only
early explorer to have a lasting association with Kentucky, he holds
the most prominent place among his peers in terms of popular folklore
and culture, if not historical significance.
At the time Boone lived, 1734-1820, there were many changes in America.
This is the overriding concept of Browns book. During his lifetime,
the United States was not officially the United States until 1776. Kentucky
was a territory of Virginia until becoming a state in 1792. A westward
drive of settlement (Kentucky being the west at the time), the killing
of precious game and the breaking of Indian power in the eastern United
States all took place during Boones lifestime. These were monumental
changes in a society that was still trying to define itself.
His achievements made him news, said Brown. Boone
was always on the frontier, whether it was in Kentucky, Missouri,
or wherever his sense of exploration took him.
It was his tales that drew settlers to Kentucky.
Bill Farmer, Fort Manager at Fort Boonesborough State Park, said, The
more things change, and the farther away from our founding principles
we get, the more important it becomes to recognize the type of people
who helped make this country great. Boone played a very significant
role in several aspects of the exploration and settlement of this part
of the country, was part of the larger picture at a national
level, and was a man of good character.
Part of his good character can be attributed to his Quaker upbringing.
The Bible was one of his two favorite books, the other being Gullivers
Travels, said Brown. He added that Boone was not an illiterate
woodsman. Boone was a compilation of many things: a hunter his entire
life, but also a surveyor, land investor, trader and tavern keeper.
What Boone Saw
Cumberland Gap National Park: Daniel Boone blazed the Wilderness
Road through the Cumberland Gap in the Appalachian Mountains and
hunted this area extensively. Visitors can view some of the same
beautiful vistas, unique sandstone formations, impressive underground
caverns and diverse animal and plant life that Boone saw. Visit
Daniel Boone National Forest: This forest stretches
along more than 700,000 acres of rugged terrain and steep forested
ridges, with more than 3,400 miles of sandstone cliffs. Within
the forest are the Red River Gorge Geological Area and Natural
Bridge State Resort Park. Visit www.fs.fed.us/r8/boone/ and www.parks.ky.gov.
Fort Boonesbor-ough: On Boones third trip
into Kentucky in 1775, he and his companions built the fort along
the Kentucky River near present-day Richmond. The reconstructed
fort and museum give a glimpse of what 18th century life was like.
Nearby in Athens is the site of Boone Station, which Boone built
after leaving Fort Boonesborough in 1779 with 15-20 families.
Boone Tavern: South from Fort Boonesborough on I-75
to Berea is this restaurant and inn named after Boone and operated
by Berea College. Visit www.boonetavernhotel.com.
Frankfort Cemetery: Downtown Frankfort is the final
resting place for Daniel Boone and his wife, Rebecca. The graves
are located on a bluff above Kentuckys capitol, overlooking
the Kentucky River. For more information call (502) 227-2403.
Boone was able to adapt to his surroundings and use them
to his advantage. While growing up in Exeter, Pa., Boone became
fond of life in the woods, writes Brown. He became acquainted
with the nearby Native Americans, learning many things from them, which
added to his skills and knowledge as a hunter and woodsman.
He was capable of fighting and killing when he had to, but he
was not an indiscriminate hater and killer of Indians, said Brown.
Boone was also a family man, married to Rebecca Bryan for more than
50 years and the father of 10 children.
We celebrate all sorts of birthdays and occasions in this country,
and rightly so for Daniel Boone, especially here in Kentucky,
said living history re-enactor Michael Fields. Fields often portrays
Blackfish, the Shawnee chief that adopted Boone in 1778 after Boone
and a party of 27 men were taken captive while on a salt making expedition
on the Licking River. Boone remained with Blackfish and his family for
a time and was harshly criticized by white settlers for not escaping
and returning to Fort Boonesborough sooner than he did.
If not for Daniel Boone, how would Kentucky have been settled?
How would history in Kentucky have been remembered? asks Fields.
Daniel Boone and Kentucky are synonymous; we should remember our
past no matter how far removed it is from our present.
born on Oct. 22, 1734,
if one follows the Julian calendar. He was born
on Nov. 2, 1734, if one
follows the Gregorian calendar, which was
Fields said he has been interested in history since
I was a kid. I was outside playing Daniel Boone, building shelters,
running the creeks, spending most of the time outdoors. Basically,
enjoying the same things Boone would have enjoyed.
But Fields sees a difference in kids today. With each generation,
history taught in schools takes a back seat to other subjects or activities
or is generally ignored, and with the electronic age, kids no longer
have the attachment to land and outdoor activity like days past.
But Kentuckians still seem to have an attachment to Boone, 189 years
after his death. Fort Boonesborough draws an average of 35,000 to 40,000
visitors annually, said Farmer. A huge percentage of these are
residents or former residents of Kentucky.
Students and adults alike can witness first-hand the who, why
and how of early settlement of Kentucky, Farmer said, not just
read about it in a book. Most people dont realize that the
biggest incentive and driving force for coming to Kentucky was to acquire
Boone conducted more than 170 land surveys totaling about 400,000 acres,
said Brown. He writes in Frontiersman that surveying
was important in part because without a survey by an official surveyor,
land would not be allocated and registered. Surveying was also highly
Boone knew where to find good land, and where springs and salt licks
were located features important to the settlers. But opinions
vary as to how competent a surveyor he was. Oftentimes, the land claims
he filed were also claimed by others; the land was tied up in litigation
and title fights and as a result did not become a lasting fortune for
With emphasis on Boones 275th birthday, many individuals are re-discovering
or perhaps discovering Boone for the first time.
A visit to Fort Boonesborough, which played a major part of Boones
life in Kentucky, can enlighten the visitor to Boones 18th century
by Helen McKinney
Mason Browns family
connection to Boone
inspired him to write
a new biography
on the man.
One can learn what a large part African Americans
played in the successful building of farms and homesteads and completing
the required building and crop cultivation to claim land. They can learn
which Native American tribes were most affected by the arrival of European
setters, and why/how they were affected, said Farmer. They
can learn how these folks got here, who they were, why they came, where
they came from, and the results of their efforts.
As the results of Boones efforts to settle Kentucky are remembered,
it must be noted that he thought humbly of himself. He was often quoted
as remarking that he was but a common man, a phrase that
has stuck with his image.
I think that is true because there are hundreds of others with
the spirit, drive and dream to wander a new land that was owned by another
people that were hostile toward them for months and years at a time,
said Fields. He was in search of new life and betterment, with
the acquisition of land.
In todays world, betterment is sought in monetary terms, he said.
There are hearty souls out there, but most could hardly endure
living in the wild for such a length of time.
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