Daniel Boone

November 2, 1734–September 26, 1820

Daniel Boone is an American legend, famous for his exploits as a Frontiersman during the Colonial Era and the early days of the United States. Boone played an important role in the settlement of Kentucky by blazing the Wilderness Road, an important step toward the era of Westward Expansion and Manifest Destiny.

Daniel Boone, Portrait, Harding

Portrait of Daniel Boone by Chester Harding. Image Source: Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery.

Biography and Essential Facts

Daniel Boone was a hunter, explorer, soldier, and politician who rose to fame for his exploits as a Frontiersman and trailblazer who played an important role in the settlement of Kentucky. Boone has long been remembered as one of the men responsible for opening the West to further exploration and settlement. He is memorialized in popular culture, which often exaggerates his exploits, including James Fenimore’s classic novel “The Last of the Mohicans.” Regardless, Boone’s willingness and desire to blaze a path into Western Virginia played an important part in helping form the state of Kentucky and inspiring Americans to move westward.

  • Date of Birth: Daniel Boone was born on November 2, 1734, in Berks County, Pennsylvania.
  • Parents: Boone’s parents were Squire Boone and Sarah Morgan, and they were Quakers.
  • Married: He married Rebecca Bryan on August 14, 1756.
  • Children: Boone had 10 children, six sons, and four daughters. Their names were James, Israel, Susannah, Jemima, Levina, Rebecca, Daniel Morgan, Jesse Bryan, William, and Nathan.
  • Date of Death: Boone died on September 26, 1820, at his son’s home in Missouri. He was buried nearby, at his daughter’s home.
  • Fun Fact: He had a near photographic memory and was able to remember the trails he traveled.
  • Famous Quote: The most famous quote attributed to Boone is, “I’ve never been lost, but I was mighty turned around for three days once.”
  • Nickname: His nickname, given to him by the Shawnee, was “Big Turtle.” He is also known as “The Great Pathfinder.”
Daniel Boone, Cumberland Gap. Bingham
Daniel Boone Escorting Settlers through the Cumberland Gap by George Caleb Bingham, 1851–1852. Image Source: Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum.

Daniel Boone History

Life and Career of the Great Pathfinder

Daniel Boone is one of the most celebrated explorers and Frontiersmen in American history and is linked to the concepts of American Exceptionalism and Manifest Destiny.

Although there were a handful of people who explored Kentucky before him, Boone’s success helped inspire a generation of frontiersmen who followed in his footsteps, including Davy Crockett, Jim Bridger, and Kit Carson.

Daniel Boone is Born in Pennsylvania

Boone was born on November 2, 1734, in Oley, Bucks County, Province of Pennsylvania on November 2, 1734. He was the sixth child born to Squire and Sarah Boone.

Boone’s father was an English immigrant, from Bradninch in Devon, England, and his mother was born in Pennsylvania. The two were married on September 23, 1720, in Gwynedd, Pennsylvania. They moved to the Oley Valley in 1730.

A Quaker Family

The Boones were members of the Society Friends (Quakers). Squire Boone was first a member of the Abington Meeting and transferred to the North Wales Gwynedd Meeting, where he met Sarah.

Childhood in Pennsylvania

Growing up on the frontier exposed Boone to hunting and farming. By all accounts, he became an expert marksman and exceptional hunter. However, he still spent time working on the farm, helping tend to the family’s milk cows and fields.

Like many children who grew up on the frontier, Boone’s childhood education was limited. However, his brother’s wife, Sarah, eventually taught him to read and write. In his adult years, he was known as an educated man, who enjoyed reading.

Boone in North Carolina

In 1748, Squire Boone was expelled from the Society of Friends after his son, Israel, married a woman who was not a Quaker and refused to adopt her husband’s faith. In Quaker terms, Israel “married out” but it reflected poorly on his father.

The family responded by leaving Pennsylvania and moving to the Province of North Carolina. Daniel was 16 years old at the time.

By October 1750, Squire Boone had acquired 650 acres of land in the Yadkin River Valley, in present-day Davie County, North Carolina. Boone helped his father clear and farm the land, but his love for the woods and skills as a hunter often pulled him away.

Daniel Boone, the Long Hunter

Soon after moving to North Carolina, Boone went on his first “long hunt” in the Blue Ridge Mountains with his friend, 13-year-old Henry Miller, who worked as an apprentice to Squire Boone. Enjoying the experience so much, Boone declared hunting was his “business of life.”

Boone became known as a “Long Hunter,” a frontier explorer and hunter who went off to the western frontier for months — or even years — at a time. Boone also hunted as far west as the Shenandoah Mountains, which are in present-day Virginia and West Virginia.

The Boone Family’s Growing Reputation

While living in North Carolina, the Boone family became well-respected.

In 1753, the area where the Boone family lived was organized into Rowan County. Squire Boone was named the Justice of the Peace. Meanwhile, Daniel’s ability to acquire deerskins increased his reputation as a hunter.

When the settlers encountered trouble with the local Native American Indians in 1753, Daniel joined the Rowan County Militia.

Boone at the Battle of the Monongahela

Following the outbreak of the French and Indian War, Boone volunteered with other men from North Carolina to take part in the British expedition to recapture Fort Duquesne (present-day Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) from the French.

General Edward Braddock led the expedition, and Boone served as a teamster, responsible for tending to wagons and driving them.

During the long journey from Virginia to Pennsylvania, Boone learned about the vast forests that stretched westward and were filled with game. Boone’s cousin, Daniel Morgan, was also part of the expedition.

The fiasco that took place at the Battle of the Monongahela helped turn both Boone and Morgan against the British. When the expedition ended, they returned to their families.

Daniel Boone’s Children and Marriage

Boone went home to the Yadkin River Valley, where he met Rebecca Bryan. The two of them were married on August 14, 1756. Boone’s father, who was still Justice of the Peace, presided over the wedding.

After the wedding, they moved to a small farm near Farmington, North Carolina, where they started their family.

Daniel and Rebecca had a large family. They had 10 children of their own — six sons and four daughters — which expanded further to take care of 8 more children of relatives who were killed or died over the years. Their notable children were:

  • James Boone (May 3, 1757)
  • Jemima Boone (October 4, 1762)
  • Daniel Morgan Boone (December 23, 1769)
  • Nathan Boone (March 2, 1781)

Anglo-Cherokee War

In late 1758, the Virginia Militia attacked and killed some Cherokee warriors who were returning to their homes after fighting against the French. The attack came after the Virginians accused the Cherokee of stealing some of their horses. The Cherokee responded by carrying out raids on American settlements, including some in the Yadkin River Valley.

Boone was part of the North Carolina Militia during the war and helped lead expeditions into Cherokee territory during this conflict, which is known as the Anglo-Cherokee War (1758–1761).

Boone in Virginia

In 1759, Boone moved to Culpepper County, Virginia, for safety, as did many other families. While living there, he found work hauling tobacco from plantations to towns where it was sold in the markets.

However, he continued to hunt and explore further west. In 1760, he went on another Long Hunt. According to legend, he carved an inscription on a tree in present-day Washington County, Tennessee that read “Cilled a bar.”

In 1762, Boone moved his family back to Rowan County, North Carolina.

The Proclamation of 1763 Restricts Westward Expansion

Following the French and Indian War, hostilities broke out between the British and a confederation of Indian Tribes. This conflict is known as Pontiac’s Rebellion.

To restore peace, King George III issued the Proclamation of 1763, which prohibited colonists from settling west of the Appalachian Mountains. The King reserved those lands for the Indians as Hunting Grounds.

Despite the new law, Boone and many of his fellow Long Hunters continued hunting and exploring westward, over the mountains. Boone’s desire to reach the legendary hunting grounds in the place the Indians called “Kentake” grew stronger.

Boone’s journeys were not limited to the West. In 1765, he went as far South as Florida.

In 1766, Boone moved his family again. He disliked having other people living near him, so he moved to present-day Wilkes County, North Carolina, near the mouth of the Beaver Creek. The family’s cabin is believed to have been a half-mile east of the Yadkin River.

Through the Cumberland Gap and Into Kentucky

In 1767, Boone and a group of men, including his brother, Squire, tried to reach Kentucky but failed. After returning to North Carolina, Boone’s friend, John Finley proposed another expedition to Kentucky. Finley had already been there and suggested following the “Warrior’s Path,” which was used by the Cherokee to carry out raids on the Shawnee and other Indian tribes.

After forming a partnership with Richard Henderson, a North Carolina merchant, Boone set out for Kentucky on May 1, 1769, with a small group of men, including Finley and his brother-in-law, John Stuart. Henderson likely funded the expedition. In return, Boone looked for land Henderson could buy from the Cherokee. This time, Boone successfully made it through the Cumberland Gap and entered Kentucky.

Hunting in Kentucky

Boone and the others camped near the Rockcastle River. It was there, on June 7, 1769, that Boone climbed to the top of a hill and looked out over Kentucky for the first time.

The men spent the next few months hunting and trapping in the area. However, they ran into trouble with the Shawnee in December. A party of warriors confronted them in late December 1769, took their pelts, and warned them to leave and never return.

Meanwhile, Squire Boone Jr. and Alexander Neely were on their way to Kentucky, to join the hunting party. They met Daniel and the others on the trail, as they were returning to North Carolina.

The Boone brothers decided to return to Kentucky and resume hunting. Neely and Stuart elected to join them, while the others went back to North Carolina. On the way back to Kentucky, Boone avoided the Warrior’s Path, hoping it would keep the Indians from seeing them.

Boone and his companions were attacked by Indians again in February 1770, and John Stuart was killed. Afterward, Alexander Neely decided to return to North Carolina but the Boone brothers remained.

On at least two occasions, Squire left Daniel in Kentucky to take their pelts to markets in North Carolina. While he was on his own, Daniel explored along the Kentucky River, the Licking River, and the Ohio River.

In 1771, the Boone brothers decided it was time to return home. As they made their way back, they were held up by a group of Indians who took their pelts.

Soon after, Boone moved his family to the Wautaga area of Tennessee, closer to the rich Kentucky hunting grounds.

Daniel Boone, First View of Kentucky, Painting, Ranney
Boone’s First View of Kentucky by William Tylee Ranney, 1849. Image Source: Thomas Gilcrease Institute of American History and Art.

Lord Dunmore’s War

Richard Henderson still wanted to purchase land west of the mountains and create a fourteenth colony, called Transylvania. However, his plans were delayed by the threat of hostilities with the Indians.

Back in North Carolina, Boone came under pressure from creditors for failing to pay his debts. He decided it was time to move again, so he decided to push ahead and organized his own expedition to Kentucky.

On September 25, 1773, the expedition started for Kentucky, with Boone leading a group that included his family and five others — approximately 50 men, women, and children.

The expedition went well for roughly two weeks until it reached present-day Powell’s Valley, Tennessee.

A small group, including Boone’s eldest son, James, was sent for supplies. They were camping and sleeping when Indians attacked. Everyone was killed, including James and another, who were tortured. This was one of the first attacks that led to Lord Dunmore’s War.

When the bodies were found, Boone wanted to continue the journey to Kentucky but the other men disagreed and voted to return to North Carolina. Boone was forced to delay his plans and return to North Carolina.

Once again, Boone joined the North Carolina Militia, working as a scout and guide. He remained there until Lord Dunmore’s War ended in 1774. 

Transylvania Colony

By early 1775, Richard Henderson was negotiating with the Cherokee Tribe to buy land in Kentucky and Tennessee and move ahead with his plan for the Transylvania Colony. Boone helped with the negotiations, which were completed in March with the signing of the Treaty of Sycamore Shoals.

Henderson bought approximately 20 million acres of land from the Cherokee. The territory was bordered on the North by the Ohio River and lay between the Kentucky River and the Cumberland River. The Transylvania Company paid £10,000 silver for the land, which today makes up most of present-day Kentucky, along with portions of Tennessee and West Virginia.

Henderson’s agreement included a “Path Grant Deed,” which allowed settlers to migrate to his colony by traveling through the Cumberland Gap.

Boone’s Trace and Sycamore Hollow

Even before the agreement was completed, Boone left and led 35 men to cut a road through the wilderness and open Kentucky to settlement. The road started at Fort Caswell, Virginia, and ran to roughly the center of Henderson’s land in Kentucky.

Around April 1, 1775, Boone and the others came to an area at the mouth of Otter Creek on the Kentucky River, where they were surprised by a herd of buffalo. One of the men, Felix Wright, wrote, “Such a sight some of us never saw before, nor perhaps may never again.” The buffalo crossed the river and disappeared into the wilderness.

The men explored the area, near present-day Union, Kentucky, and found a salt lick, along with various sources of clean water. Boone and the men decided it was the right spot to establish the settlement and started building cabins at the place they called “Sycamore Hollow.”

Boonesborough

A little more than two weeks later, Richard Henderson and a group of settlers arrived. However, flooding forced the settlement to move to higher ground, where it became known as “Boonesborough.”

Soon after, the settlers started to organize a government for the colony, and Boone was elected as a representative and tasked with organizing the defenses of Boonesborough.

Boone returned to North Carolina to retrieve his family. He led them back to Boonesborough, arriving in September 1775, about three months after the Battle of Bunker Hill (June 17, 1775) took place.

The End of the Transylvania Colony and the Begining of Financial Troubles

Unfortunately for Henderson, his dreams for a colony were short-lived. After the Second Continental Congress refused to accept Transylvania as a separate entity, Virginia voided the Treaty of Sycamore Shoals in 1777. Instead of a new colony, Transylvania became a county in Virginia.

This move eventually caused legal troubles for Boone, because he failed to properly file his land claims and his deeds were technically invalidated. He ended up losing most of the land he had earned as payment for blazing the road and helping establish the Transylvania Colony.

The path Boone and the men cut was originally known as “Boone’s Trace,” but came to be known as the “Wilderness Road.” The Wilderness Road contributed to the fulfillment of Westward Expansion and America’s Manifest Destiny.

Effect of the American Revolutionary War in Kentucky

As the American Revolutionary War dragged on, many of the settlers in Kentucky left, due in large part to attacks from Indians and the hardship of life on the frontier. However, the settlements at Boonesborough, Harrodsburg, and Logan’s Station remained.

The Kidnapping of Jemima Boone

Boone’s daughter, Jemima, and two girls were kidnapped by Shawnee and taken toward Ohio in July 1776. Boone organized and led a party that rescued the girls, further adding to his reputation as a skilled hunter, tracker, and Indian fighter.

Daniel Boone, Daughters Kidnapped by Shawnee, Illustration
This illustration depicts the girls being abducted by the Shawnee. Image Source: Daniel Boone, the Pioneer of Kentucky by George Canning Hill, 1866.

Saved by Simon Kenton

In 1777, British officials recruited the Shawnee and other Indians to carry out attacks on the Kentucky settlements. Boone was shot in one of the attacks but was rescued by another legendary frontiersman, Simon Kenton. While Boone healed from his wound, the Shawnee continued their attacks, and Boonesborough ran short on food and supplies.

Captured and Adopted by the Shawnee Tribe

In January 1778, Boone led 30 men outside of the settlement on a hunting trip. While they were out searching for food, they were captured by the Shawnee.

Fearing for the lives of everyone in the settlement, Boone worked out an agreement with Blackfish, the Shawnee leader. Blackfish agreed to leave the settlement alone until the following spring. In return, Boone and some of the men agreed to go stay with the Shawnee as their prisoners. They also agreed togo with them to Chillicothe, their principal village, which was in Ohio.

Some of the Americans, including Boone, were adopted by Shawnee families, according to Shawnee customs. Boone was given the name “Sheltowee,” which means “Big Turtle.”

In June 1778, Boone discovered Blackfish intended to send a large force of warriors to attack Boonesborough. Boone escaped from the Shawnee and — according to legend — traveled nonstop for five days and about 160 miles until he reached Boonesborough.

The Siege of Boonesborough

Starting on September 7, 1778, Blackfish and the Shawnee laid siege to Boonesborough. On September 8 and 9, Blackfish and Boone negotiated.

At first, Blackfish questioned the right of the Americans to settle in the region, but the purchase of the land was confirmed by a Cherokee chief. Blackfish was still not satisfied and threatened to attack the fort unless the settlers pledged loyalty to King George III. Apparently, Boone agreed to this condition.

However, as the leaders of both sides went to shake hands, chaos ensued. It is unclear exactly why, but a scuffle broke out, which led to armed guards for both sides opening fire on each other. Boone and the Americans ran back to the gates of the fort, and the Shawnee chased after them.

Fort Boonesborough, Kentucky, Illustration
This illustration depicts Fort Boonesborough. Image Source: Daniel Boone by Reuben Gold Thwaites, 1902.

For the next seven days, the two sides exchanged gunfire. On September 11, a small contingent of British troops, led by Lieutenant Antoine Dagneaux de Quindre, arrived to provide support for Blackfish. De Quindre conceived a plan to blow up the fort, by digging a tunnel under it, but the plan failed when the tunnel collapsed.

The siege ended on September 17 when a final assault by the Shawnee failed. They tried to set fire to the fort, but heavy rains put the fire out. Fortunately, only two Americans were killed during the siege.

Court Martial

Afterward, Boone was criticized for many of the actions he had taken. He was even suspected of conspiring with the Shawnee and being a Loyalist. The charges were made by Colonel Richard Callaway and Captain Benjamin Logan.

Boone was court-martialed at Logan’s Fort. After the testimony, the court cleared him of the charges — and promoted him to the rank of Major. Despite his acquittal, he was embarrassed and humiliated by the incident.

Settlement at Boone’s Station

In 1779, he led another group of settlers from North Carolina to Kentucky, including Captain Abraham Lincoln, whose grandson, also named Abraham Lincoln, became the 16th President of the United States.

Upon his return to Kentucky, Boone established a new settlement called “Boone’s Station.” It was located near present-day Athens, Kentucky, about 10 miles southeast of downtown Lexington, Kentucky.

While living at Boone’s Station, he started to rebuild his reputation, primarily working as a surveyor, in exchange for land.

Around this time he sold some of his land and intended to use the money to buy new lands in other areas. Some friends of his, trusting his judgment, also gave him money to invest in new lands. While sleeping at an inn overnight, he was robbed, and all the money he had with him was stolen. This contributed to the financial troubles that plagued Boone for the rest of his life.

Battle of Piqua

The following year, 1780, Kentucky, which was still part of Virginia, was divided into three counties. Boone was made Lieutenant Colonel of the Fayette County Militia.

In the fall, General George Rogers Clark organized an expedition to attack the Shawnee at their village, Piqua, near present-day Springfield in West-Central Ohio.

Boone joined Clark for part of the journey, and Clark pushed the Shawnee out of the village and then burned it to the ground. It is estimated that somewhere between 450 and 1,300 of the 3,000 Shawnee were killed. The Shawnee were forced to relocate to present-day Piqua, Ohio, and ended their participation in the war. 

After the Battle of Piqua, Boone went home, accompanied by his brother, Ned. During the journey, Shawnee warriors shot and killed Ned, believing it was Daniel (see Death of Ned Boone, Daniel Boone’s Brother).

While Clark carried out his expedition, Boone stayed near present-day Cincinnati, Ohio. It is believed Boone helped build a blockhouse that became known as Fort Washington.

Boone Meets Tarleton, Cornwallis Surrenders

In 1781, Boone was elected to represent Fayette County in the Virginia House of Delegates. The American Revolutionary War was still going on, and the British were trying to take control of Virginia.

While traveling to Richmond for meetings, Boone was captured by British forces led by Lieutenant Colonel Banastre Tarleton, near Charlottesville, Virginia. He was held for a few days and then released on parole.

Soon after, Cornwallis surrendered at Yorktown. However, fighting between Americans, the British, and their Indian allies continued in some places, including Kentucky.

The Battle of Blue Licks

On August 19, 1782, a small contingent of Loyalists and Indians attacked the settlement at Bryan Station, Kentucky. Militia forces from Lincoln County and Fayette County joined to intercept the attackers. Boone was second-in-command to Colonel John Todd of Fayette County. The Kentuckians caught up to them near the Lower Blue Licks.

Against Boone’s wishes, the Kentuckians launched an attack — and moved right into an ambush. They were overwhelmed, and Boone ordered his men to retreat.

As they prepared to fall back, Boone’s son, Israel was shot and killed.

Furious over the Battle of Blue Licks, which came nearly 10 months after the British surrender, George Rogers Clark organized another expedition. He organized another expedition in Ohio against Shawnee villages. This was the last major offensive of the American Revolutionary War.

George Rogers Clark, Portrait, Longacre
George Rogers Clark by James Barton Longacre. Image Source: Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery.

Daniel Boone Becomes a Celebrity

Following the war, Boone settled in present-day Maysville, Kentucky. While living there, he worked as a surveyor and ran a tavern. He also traded horses and became involved in land speculation.

During that time, historian John Filson published a history of Kentucky called “The Discovery, Settlement and Present State of Kentucke.” The book included stories about Boone’s life and his exploits in Kentucky which made him a celebrity during the Confederation Era and beyond.

The Northwest Indian War

Boone returned to the battlefield during the Northwest Indian War and participated in an expedition in October 1786. Benjamin Logan led Kentucky Militia forces against Shawnee towns in Ohio.

Logan and his men burned 13 villages, took women and children prisoner, and murdered the elderly chief, Moluntha, who was trying to surrender. The events of Logan’s Raid infuriated the Shawnee and escalated the Northwest Indian War.

Kentucky and Western Virginia

Settling into his life in Kentucky, Boone continued to be elected to the Virginia House of Delegates, representing Bourbon County, but he ran into financial problems over his failed land claims and poor business decisions.

In 1789, he moved to present-day Point Pleasant, West Virginia, ran a trading post, and was involved with the county militia and the local Fur Trade. This move was likely to escape the constant harassment from creditors, who took him to court at least 10 times.

Two years later, he was elected to represent Kanawha County in the Virginia House of Delegates.

In 1795, he returned to Kentucky again, living near Blue Licks. Within three years, he was hounded by creditors again, and the lack of game made hunting difficult.

Boone County

In 1798, Boone County, Kentucky was named after him. However, Boone’s final years in Kentucky were plagued with disagreements over his debts and land claims, which turned him against the state.

Simon Kenton, Illustration, Dodson
Simon Kenton was Boone’s friend and saved his life. Image Source: Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.

West To Missouri

Boone’s son, Daniel Morgan Boone, traveled west and found land along the Femme Osage River in Missouri, which was part of Spanish Louisiana. Governor Zenon Trudeau encouraged Daniel Morgan and Daniel to move to the area and to bring more settlers with them.

Zenon offered Daniel, who was 65 years old, 1,000 acres of land if he moved and an additional 600 acres for every family that moved to Missouri with him. Boone agreed, and in September 1799, he left Kentucky, vowing never to return, and moved to Missouri.

At the time, Spain required people living in the territory to be Catholic but made an exception for Boone. When he arrived in October, Lieutenant Governor Charles de Hault Delassus appointed him as the Chief Administrative Officer for the Femme Osage District. In this role, Boone served as Justice of the Peace, approved land transactions, and was the head of the militia.

The Louisiana Purchase

Control of the territory transitioned to the French and then to the United States in 1803 when the Louisiana Purchase was completed.

Lewis and Clark

On May 23, 1804, some members of the Lewis and Clark Expedition visited the Boone settlement in Missouri to buy supplies. However, Boone may not have been present when they were there.

Joseph Whitehouse, one of the members of the Corps of Discovery, wrote in his journal, “This settlement was made by Colonel Daniel Boone, the person who first discover’d Kentucky, & who was residing at this place, with a number of his family and friends.”

Later Years

Despite his vow never to return to Kentucky, there are stories that Boone went back once or twice to pay off creditors and to visit his brother, Squire.

Boone hunted in Missouri for as long as his health allowed but was still troubled by legal issues.

In 1810, he went on a trip up the Missouri River, and may have gone as far as the Yellowstone River — he was 76. He took his last Long Hunt in 1815 and visited Fort Osage in Western Missouri.

His wife, Rebecca, died on March 18, 1813. After that, he spent most of his time with his daughter, Jemima, and her family.

In 1814, Congress restored 850 acres of land he had lost in the territory’s transition from Spain, to France, to the United States. His children settled on his land and two of them, Nathan and Daniel Morgan, eventually rose to prominence in state politics.

Artist Chester Harding visited him in 1819 and painted his portrait. Harding’s painting is believed to be the only one ever made of Boone.

On March 6, 1820, the Missouri Compromise was passed, allowing Missouri to join the Union as the 24th State and Maine as the 25th State.

The Death of Daniel Boone

On September 26, 1820, Boone was at his son Nathan’s home on Femme Osage Creek, Missouri when he died.

He was buried next to his wife near the home of their daughter, Jemima, near present-day Marthasville, Missouri, however, the graves were unmarked for a time.

When markers were put in place, they may have been put over the wrong graves. In 1845, Boone’s remains were supposedly dug up and moved to a cemetery in Frankfort, Kentucky.

As a result, both Missouri and Kentucky claim to be the last resting place of the backwoods legend Daniel Boone.

Interesting Facts About Daniel Boone

  1. Boone’s father was excommunicated from the Quaker church after one of his daughters and his oldest son married non-Quakers. 
  2. Long Hunters like Boone usually traveled in groups, ignoring geographic boundaries established by the Native American Indians, British, and French.
  3. Boone was hired by Richard Henderson to help establish a 14th Colony, which was called Transylvania. Boonesborough was the capital of the short-lived colony. The Virginia General Assembly invalidated Henderson’s agreement with the Cherokee in 1778.
  4. John Filson’s book, “The Discovery, Settlement and Present State of Kentucke,” made Boone famous outside of Kentucky. Filson interviewed Boone and wrote the book to help inspire people to move to the region. The book included exaggerated stories of Boone’s exploits, which contributed to his status as a folk hero and American legend.
  5. Timothy Flint published “The Biographical Memoir of Daniel Boone, the First Settler of Kentucky” in 1833. Flint’s book portrayed Boone as a ferocious man who actively sought conflict with Indians, which was not true.
  6. His cousin, Daniel Morgan, was a hero of the American Revolutionary War. He led American troops during several major battles of the war, including the Battle of Quebec and the Battle of Cowpens. His leadership at Cowpens led the Americans to victory, which helped push Cornwallis to Yorktown.
  7. Legend has it that when Daniel Boone was just 14 years old, he killed his first bear. There are several trees throughout the area he explored that have carvings in them — supposedly made by Boone himself — that mark when and where he killed bears.

Significance of Daniel Boone

Daniel Boone is important to United States history because he played a key role in the exploration and expansion of the nation. He was an experienced woodsman and hunter, and he became well-known for his skills in exploring and mapping the wilderness. He is best known for his journeys into Kentucky, where he blazed the Wilderness Road through the Cumberland Gap, providing a path for settlers to move westward. The road helped open the West to settlement and played a significant role in the early history of Kentucky and the United States. He is remembered as one of the most important figures in the exploration and settlement of the American West.

Wilderness Road, High Bridge, Kentucky
The Old Wilderness Road, circa 1907, from an old postcard. Image Source: New York Public Library Digital Collections.

Daniel Boone APUSH

Use the following links and videos to study Daniel Boone, Manifest Destiny, and Westward Expansion for the AP US History Exam. Also, be sure to look at our Guide to the AP US History Exam.

Daniel Boone APUSH Definition

The definition of Daniel Boone for the AP US History exam is an American frontiersman and legendary folk hero who helped blaze a trail through Cumberland Gap, a notch in the Appalachian Mountains near the juncture of Virginia, Tennessee, and Kentucky. Boone escorted settlers over the mountains, opening the western territory of Virginia to settlement, which eventually led to the establishment of Kentucky as a state.

Daniel Boone APUSH Video

Daniel Boone is the famous frontiersman who helped settle Kentucky. He had a long and full life with many adventures and over time he has been turned into a legend. This video from the Kentucky History Channel provides an overview of his life and career.

Daniel Boone on American History Central

Learn More About Daniel Boone

Suggested Reading and Resources

  • Daniel Boone, the Pioneer of Kentucky, by George Canning Hill (1866).
  • Daniel Boone, by Reuben Gold Thwaites (1902).
  • Daniel Boone, by John Bakeless (1933).
  • Daniel Boone: The Life and Legend of an American Pioneer, by John Mack Faragher (1992)
  • The Kentucky Encyclopedia, edited by John E. Kleber (1992).
  • Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture, edited by Carroll Van West (2002).
  • Blood and Treasure: Daniel Boone and the Fight for America’s First Frontier, by Bob Drury and Tom Clavin (2022).

Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations, including APA Style, Chicago Style, and MLA Style.

  • Article Title Daniel Boone
  • Date November 2, 1734–September 26, 1820
  • Author
  • Keywords Daniel Boone, Cumberland Gap, Wilderness Road, Frontiersman, Long Hunter, Boonesborough, Transylvania Colony, Battle of the Monongahela, Anglo-Cherokee War, Lord Dunmore's War, Siege of Boonesborough, Boone's Station, Battle of Blue Licks
  • Website Name American History Central
  • Access Date May 26, 2024
  • Publisher R.Squared Communications, LLC
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update May 16, 2024

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