Worthy Namesake - Daniel Boone

Worthy Namesake - Daniel Boone

Defined North Carolina Frontier


He was a legend in his own lifetime, and the passing of time has done nothing to diminish the stature of Daniel Boone. Boone's namesake in many ways defined the wild northern mountains he so often returned to for hunting and solitude; changeable, contradictory, and irresistible.

Boone first came to the High Country as a young man from his home in the foothills, hunting, trapping, and eventually setting up a series of camps and cabins to which he returned for decades. As with many of America's most famous figures, the legends painted a somewhat distorted portrait of Boone, as an inveterate animal and Indian killer.

In fact, although the premiere hunter and frontiersman of his time, Boone was raised a Quaker and did not kill for sport or consider the Native Americans his enemies; descriptions of his expeditions included Indians as his friends and companions, and in the wilderness more often than not dressed and lived as they did.

Born in Pennsylvania in 1734, Boone was raised in a landed, close-knit family, one of eleven children. Daniel_Boone He early exhibited the traits that would later serve and define him; love of solitude and independence, a need of community yet a certain misanthropy that often led him to avoid human contact.

He was well-educated and well-read (putting to rest the story of carving 'D Boon Killed A Bar Here' on a tree - he would hardly have misspelled the words) and carried the Bible and another favorite volume, Gulliver's Travels, with him on expeditions. At peace, rural western Pennsylvania afforded Boone close proximity to many tribes of Indians as peers, and he befriended them.

He insisted that in his entire life he had "killed but three" Indians, all in self-defense. "I am very sorry to say that I ever killed any," Boone told a visitor shortly before his death; "for they have always been kinder to me than the Whites."

He moved to North Carolina in 1750, coming down the Shenandoah Valley to start a farm in the Yadkin Valley. From there he went further and further afield into the western wilderness, hunting and trapping on Grandfather Mountain and along the Watauga River Valley before continuing west to found the Boonesborough settlement in Kentucky, and then further to Ohio and Missouri.

Hired often as a guide and leader, he took many settlers with him, including one couple who were later to have an even greater impact on American history; the parents of Abraham Lincoln. He died in 1820 as complex, controversial and contradictory a figure as he had always been; visionary, failed businessman, reluctant warrior, community leader, and recluse. When asked to describe himself, however, he made a simple statement; "I am a Woodsman, and a common man."

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