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Tag Archives: Daniel Boone

Happy Birthday, Daniel Boone!

Daniel Boone
The above 1820 portrait is the only known portrait of him created during his lifetime.

American explorer and frontiersman Daniel Boone was born on November 2, 1734, in a log cabin in Exeter Township, near Reading, Pennsylvania. His father, Squire Boone, Sr., was a blacksmith and a weaver who met his wife, Sarah Morgan, in Pennsylvania after emigrating from England. They were Quakers. Daniel Morgan, famous for his win at the Battle of Cowpens, was a first cousin to this Daniel.

Daniel, the couple’s sixth child, received little formal education. Boone learned how to read and write from his mother, and his father taught him wilderness survival skills. Boone was given his first rifle when he was 12 years old. He quickly proved himself a talented woodsman and hunter, boldly shooting his first bear when most children his age were too frightened.

Boone Home in Pennsylvania

At age 15, Boone moved with his family to Rowan County, North Carolina, on the Yadkin River, where he started his own hunting business.

Daniel Boone did not attend school. His older brother’s wife taught him to read and write. Though he mastered the basics, Boone’s grammar and spelling remained poor. Boone could sign his name, though, which set him apart from most frontiersmen, who used an “X” for their signature.

Boone traveled the frontier wearing buckskin leggings and a loose-fitting shirt made of animal skin. On his leather belt he attached ahunting knife a hatchet, a powder horn, and a bullet pouch. Many images portray Boone wearing a coonskin cap, which was popular with trappers. Boone preferred wide-brimmed beaver felt hats to keep the sun out of his eyes.

In August 1756, Boone wed Rebecca Bryan, and the couple set up stakes in the Yadkin Valley. Over a 24-year period, the couple would have 10 children together. At first Boone found himself content with what he described as the perfect ingredients to a happy life: “A good gun, a good horse and a good wife.” But adventure stories Boone had heard from a teamster while on march ignited Boone’s interest in exploring the American frontier.

1778 depiction of Boonesboro

Boone’s fame stems from his exploits during the exploration and settlement of Kentucky. One time he said, “I can’t say as ever I was lost, but I was bewildered once for three days.” He first arrived in the future state in 1767 and spent the better part of the next 30 years exploring and settling the lands of Kentucky, including carving out the Wilderness Road and building the settlement station of Boonesboro.  His son, Nathan Boone, was the first white man born in Kentucky.

 Daniel Boone Escorting Settlers through the Cumberland Gap (1851–52) is a famous depiction of Boone by George Bingham.

After his death, he was frequently the subject of heroic tall tales and works of fiction. His adventures—real and legendary—were influential in creating the archetypal Western hero of American folklore. In American popular culture, he is remembered as one of the foremost early frontiersmen. The epic Daniel Boone mythology often overshadows the historical details of his life.

Walt Disney hired Fess Parker to bring Daniel Boone to life in a series by the hero’s name. It ran for six seasons, and my brother and I enjoyed each episode. The theme song described this hero as the “the rippin’est, roarin’est, fightin’est man the frontier ever knew,” and we believed it.

As Daniel Boone said, “I was happy in the midst of dangers and inconveniences.”

On September 26, 1820, Daniel Boone died of natural causes at his home in Femme Osage Creek, Missouri. He was 85 years old.

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Citation, A Triple Crown Winner

The Triple Crown of horse racing consists of the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and Belmont Stakes. It traditionally starts on the First Saturday in May with the Kentucky Derby, then two weeks later with the Preakness Stakes followed by the Belmont Stakes three weeks after that.

The race is known in the United States as “The Most Exciting Two Minutes In Sports”, and I can’t wait to watch the Derby in two days. I have listened to it on the radio at Mirror Lake Farm, my grandmother’s farm in Kentucky, and watched it on television with family and friends for all of my life.

My dad always made us stand up to sing “My Old Kentucky Home,” and it is a pleasure to continue that tradition. He instilled in us a love of his birth state, and that included the horses.

William Monroe Wright, successful entrepreneur and owner of Calumet Baking Powder, established Calumet on a small Lexington, Kentucky farm in 1924. This Thoroughbred nursery resounds with the beauty of the Bluegrass State. http://calumetfarm.com/photos

Citation was born, raised, and trained at Calumet. He won the Triple Crown in 1948, the year I was born. Citation became the 8th Triple Crown winner.

Here is his Derby win. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MK4lGpFi5lY

My dad took Critt and me to Calumet Farm every year that we visited my grandmother in Shelbyville. This was one of our day trips. Not only would we tour the stables to pat the horses, he would take us to the back roads to find the horses in the fields. Apples in hand, Daddy would bribe the horses to the fences for us to talk to and pet.

In my mind today, they were huge, magnificent animals. I stood in awe and wariness of their beauty and strength. Daddy had no fear, as he savored being in their presence.

Yes, Kentucky, horses, and the Kentucky Derby are all on my mind this week.

I tend to agree with what Daniel Boone said about Kentucky: “Soon after, I returned home to my family, with a determination to bring them as soon as possible to live in Kentucky, which I esteemed a second paradise, at the risk of my life and fortune.”

Daniel Boone

My dad was raised on a farm in Shelbyville, Kentucky, and this was our vacation spot when my brother and I were growing up. It was a twelve hour drive to get there, and leaving at 5:00 in the morning was part of the journey. This was before interstates, but not before our going through the Cumberland Gap from Tennessee into Kentucky.

The Smithsonian Channel has this video.

 http://bit.ly/1M7Jc1f

Daddy started the ritual of yelling with glee as we crossed the state lines, and we all followed suit. There was always laughter next. This man loved his home and family, and it always showed. He was thrilled to be in the same state as Mirror Lake Farm, his relatives, thorougbred horses, Churchill Downs, Rebecca Ruth bourbon balls, and the blue grass.

John and I told Mother and Daddy to Kentucky when they were 84. Though he had lost part of his sight to macular degeneration, he leaned forward in the back seat as we moved closer to the state line. His holler was loud and clear; he was in his home state that he loved. We went to the races at Keeneland, visited his cousin Toodlie, ate at Claudia’s Kitchen, and visited the farm. Even though he could see little, he regaled us with his memories at each stop.

Daddy and Mother were content to stay in the car at the farm, but the new owners were kind to show John and I around the house. Their improvements on the farm house built in 1924 were minimal. The wealth of memories that flooded my mind and heart were amazing, and I savored walking again in this house.

Boonesborough was a favorite site for us to stop on some of our trips. By this time, we were all enamored with Fess Parker portraying Daniel Boone. One year, the folks bought Critt a coonskin hat that he begged for. He loved that hat and sported it until it was rotten and fell apart.

“All you need for happiness is a good gun, a good horse, and a good wife,” said Daniel Boone.

Daniel Boone was born on November 2, 1734, near Reading, Pennsylvania. In 1755, he left home on a military expedition during the French and Indian War. In 1769, Boone led an expedition and discovered a trail to the far west though the Cumberland Gap. In 1775, he settled an area he called Boonesborough in Kentucky.

Daddy’s mother was a storyteller and avid reader; she shared these with us. One of the ones she told us was about Daniel Boone rescuing his daughter and her friends from the Shawnee. Critt and I used to pretend to be these characters and play out the story in our backyard; he always wore his coonskin hat.

Here is a video about that rescue.

http://www.biography.com/people/daniel-boone-9219543/videos/daniel-boone-jemimas-rescue-2080045648

Daniel Boone left Kentucky and moved to Missouri, because Kentucky had become too crowded He died and was buried there in 1820. But his body and his wife’s Rebecca were moved to Frankfurt, Kentucky in 1845. From his grave, a person can look over the beautiful and winding Kentucky River and the gray dome of the capitol building. Yes, Daddy took us to this site, too.

Daniel Boone was an adventurer and was always looking around the next bend. He was inquisitive and a man of action. As he said, “Curiosity is natural to the soul of man and interesting objects have a powerful influence on our affections.”

Perhaps we all need to be more curious about what is around the corner; we might miss a surprise blessing if we don’t take that first step forward.