Portrait of Daniel Boone by Chester Harding. Image Source: National Portrait Gallery.
In 1780, Ned Boone, the brother of famous frontiersman Daniel Boone, was ambushed and killed by a group of Shawnees while he and Daniel were returning to Boone’s Station in present-day Fayette County, Kentucky.
The Story of the Death of Edward “Ned” Boone
In 1780, Ned Boone, the brother of famous frontiersman Daniel Boone, met his untimely death while returning to Boone’s Station in present-day Fayette County, Kentucky. The two men were returning from a hunting trip at Blue Licks on the Licking River, where they had been hunting and had paused in a meadow to crack nuts from a nearby grove of trees. Despite Daniel’s warning that the area was a likely spot for an ambush by Native Americans, Ned reportedly stated that “I don’t believe there is an Indian in one hundred miles of this place.”
Tragically, Ned’s words proved to be false, as they were ambushed by a group of Shawnees. Ned was killed in the attack, while Daniel escaped by hiding in a canebrake, an area dense with tall cane plants. The Shawnees sent their dog after Daniel, but he was able to kill it with his rifle and evade capture. The Shawnees, believing they had killed Daniel Boone, did not pursue him further.
Daniel made the remaining twenty miles to Boone’s Station on foot, and led a party back to the spot where Ned had been killed. There, they found Ned’s body being devoured by a wildcat. It was reported that the Shawnees had taken Ned’s decapitated head as proof that they had killed Daniel Boone. The area where Ned was killed is still referred to as the Cane Ridge, and was once known for its abundance of cane plants, which grew as tall as 20 feet and were a popular food source for wildlife.
Ned’s death was a significant loss for his family, including his widow Martha and their five children. In a letter to Dr. Lymon Draper, Ned’s daughter Sarah said that her father did not usually go with his famous brother on expeditions, but stayed with his family and served their community.
Only in October of 1779, when Daniel led a large party of family members to Kentucky for the promise of free land, Ned decided to move his family to Kentucky with them. Unfortunately, Ned’s life was cut short only one year later, in October of 1780.