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Document Number: AJ-158
Author:
Title: Selected Land Records of Daniel Boone [manuscript]
Source: Draper Manuscripts: Daniel Boone Papers, 25 C 4, 27, 58 and 26 C 81, 143, Wisconsin Historical Society.
Pages/Illustrations: 6 / 1
Citable URL: www.americanjourneys.org/aj-158/

Author Note

Daniel Boone was born in 1734 to a large farm family in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, where he received little if any formal education. When he was sixteen the family moved to the wilds of western North Carolina and at the age of twenty-one, in 1755, he enlisted in the American militia. He participated in Braddocks failed attack on the French Fort Duquesne (modern Pittsburgh), where he met explorer John Findley.

After marrying and farming in North Carolina for more than a decade, in 1767 Boone and two companions crossed the Cumberland Mountains to the edge of Kentucky on a winter hunting trip. The next year he received a visit from Findley, who asked his help finding a viable route for emigration into the West.

They left in May 1769, passed through Cumberland Gap, and a month later were in Kentuckys fertile valleys, where Boone spent two years hunting and exploring. See AJ-159 for his sons recollections of his stories about this trip. In 1773 he led a group of family and friends to settle there but they were driven back by Indians. In 1775 they tried again, cutting the Wilderness Road and founding Boonesborough.

The Indian inhabitants attempted to eject white interlopers for most of the next two decades. Important encounters took place in 1776, 1778, and 1782 before hostilities effectively ended in 1794. In 1778 Boone was captured by the Shawnee, as described in AJ-150.

In the 1780s and 1790s Boone held virtually all important public offices in the region. He became one of its wealthiest landowners and speculators, controlling nearly one hundred thousand acres. Legal and financial difficulties plagued him, however, and when in 1799 the Spanish government invited him to start a new settlement in Missouri, he headed further west and planted roots near present-day St. Charles. He finally paid off his Kentucky debts in 1814 and died in Missouri in 1820, at the advanced age of eighty-six.

Document Note

These few pages are selected from volumes 25C and 26C of the Draper Manuscripts (Daniel Boone Papers), two of the thirty-three volumes of manuscripts that Lyman Copeland Draper collected for his unfinished biography of Boone. In an advertisement for that book, Draper said he had acquired all the original papers of Boone “carefully rolled up in the pieces of deer skin in which he left them” and he supplemented these with hundreds of pages of interview notes, letters, and reminiscences by people who had known the Kentucky frontiersman. For more documents on early Kentucky, see AJ-125, AJ-150, AJ-151, AJ-155, AJ-157, and AJ-159.

Other Internet and Reference Resources

The literature on Daniel Boone and the exploration and settlement of Kentucky is immense. A convenient online source of digitized images is the Kentuckiana Digital Library at http://www.kyvl.org, a project of the Kentucky Virtual Library.

Another useful website is “The First American West: the Ohio River Valley 1750-1820” http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/, a collection of fifteen thousand pages of original historical materials documenting the land, people, exploration, and transformation of the trans-Appalachian West, selected from the collections of the University of Chicago Library and the Filson Historical Society of Louisville, Kentucky.

A discussion of Daniel Boone as an iconic figure in American history can be found at http://xroads.virginia.edu/~HYPER/HNS/Boone/smithhome.html, produced by the American Studies Program, University of Virginia. This article assesses and examines Boone as “civilizer,” “colonizer,” “natural man,” and the “real Daniel Boone” as depicted in works published between 1784 and 1992, including books by John Filson, Daniel Bryan, W.H. Bogart, Timothy Flint, John Metcalfe, Theodroe Roosevelt, and J.M. Faragher.

Finally, the University Library, University of Louisville, http://library.louisville.edu/government/states/kentucky/ kyhistory/boone.html provides links to Daniel Boone biography, Boone family history, and Boone historic sites.

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