A Big Man – the Daniel Boone Story

A Big Man – the Daniel Boone Story

Daniel Boone (1734-1820) was one of the most famous frontiersmen in the history of the United States, helping explore and open up wilderness areas for settlement during the second half of the 18th century. In an amazing life he became a skilled hunter, trapper and pioneer and maintained an extraordinary relationship with Native Americans – involving friendship and deadly conflict lasting many years.

Even allowing for the exaggerations and embellishments to his story that have certainly taken place down the decades, Daniel Boone was undoubtedly a larger than life character, who was brave, resourceful and physically tough – the archetypal American frontiersman of the era.

Some key events of his action-packed life include:

  1. His parents were Quakers who left England to enjoy the religious freedoms of Pennsylvania in 1713. Daniel was born there in 1734.
  2. In 1756 he married Rebecca Bryan, and the couple eventually had 10 children.
  3. Boone’s son James was attacked and tortured to death by a band of Shawnees and Cherokees in 1773.
  4. In 1775 Boone was hired to find a trail through the Appalachian Mountains and open up the area around today’s Kentucky and Tennessee. This became known as the Wilderness Road and was used by thousands of settlers travelling westward over the next 50 years. During this time he helped establish Boonesborough, one of the earliest settlements in Kentucky.
  5. Boone was caught up in the American Revolutionary War (1775 -83) – that in the Kentucky area was fought between the American settlers and the Native Americans who were aided by the British. Boone’s daughter Jemima was captured by an Indian war party in 1776, but freed when Boone and a group of men from Boonesborough ambushed the Indians two days later.
  6. Boone was captured by a party of Shawnees in February 1778, when he was 44 years of age. He managed to escape some 4 months later and warn the residents of Boonesborough that the local Native Americans were planning an attack. Forewarned, the settlers were able to hold off the invading force that laid siege to the settlement for a nine-day period in September 1778.
  7. In 1784 a Kentucky land speculator John Filson published a book called “The Discovery, Settlement and Present State of Kentucke”, designed to attract settlers to the area. In this publication Daniel Boone’s adventures were a central theme and he became a famous figure in both America and Europe.
  8. Daniel Boone was the subject of a television show called simply “Daniel Boone” that played from 1964 to 1970. The introduction was accompanied with a song made famous by the series.

Daniel Boone was a man. Yes a big man.
With an eye like an eagle and as tall as a mountain was he.
Daniel Boone was a man. Yes a big man.
He was brave, he was fearless and as tough as a mighty oak tree.
From the coonskin cap on the top of ol’ Dan to the heel of his rawhide shoe
The rippin’est roarin’est fightin’est man the frontier ever knew.


Image: A painting of Daniel Boone completed in 1820 by the artist Chester Harding. Boone was 86 years old at the time and died soon after, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.