Daniel Boone: ‘The religion I have is to love and fear God, believe in Jesus Christ, do all the good to my neighbor”

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Published on: September 26, 2014

Daniel Boone served with George Washington in 1755 during the French and Indian War, under British General Edward Braddock.

In 1765, Daniel Boone explored Florida. 

He once exclaimed:

“I can’t say I was ever lost, but I was bewildered once for three days.”

In 1767, Daniel Boone, whose Quaker family had pioneered North Carolina’s Yadkin River Valley, began to explore Kentucky. 

In 1769, Boone traveled through the Cumberland Gap in the mountains and spent two years hunting and trapping in eastern Kentucky with his friend, John Stewart. Indians captured and separated them, and, unfortunately, Boone eventually found John Stewart’s body shot dead.

In 1773, Daniel Boone and Captain William Russell were ordered by Virginia’s Governor, Lord Dunmore, to settle an area called Castle Woods.

Boone’s 17-year-old son, James, and Captain Russell’s 17-year-old son, Henry, were bringing supplies to Castle Woods when they were ambushed by Indians and brutally massacred. Lord Dunmore wrote:

“In the past year, 1773, the Indians killed…a very promising young man…in one of the back countries…Captain William Russell…was the first that discovered the dismal spectacle of the dead body of his son, mangled in horrible manner.”

Captain William Russell left Daniel Boone in charge of Moore’s Fort in lower Castle Woods from 1773-1775.

When the Revolution began, Lord Dunmore fled and Patrick Henry was elected the first American Governor of Virginia. A fort named him, Fort Patrick Henry, was where Daniel Boone set off from in 1775 to survey Kentucky for the Pennsylvania Company.

Daniel Boone erected a fort on the Kentucky River, which he named Boonesboro. 

On July 14, 1776, Boone’s daughter Jemima and her teenage friends, Fanny and Betsy Callaway, decided to leave the confines of Boonesboro and were captured by Shawnee Indians.

Boone and his men caught up with them two days later, ambushed the Indians while they were stopped for a meal, and rescued the girls. James Fenimore Cooper drew from this incident in writing his classic book, The Last of the Mohicans (1826).

On April 24, 1777, Shawnee Indians were recruited by the British Governor of Canada to attack Boonesboro. Led by Chief Blackfish, the attack was repelled, though Daniel Boone was shot in the leg.

As Shawnees destroyed cattle and crops, food supplies running low and settlers needed salt to preserve meat. 

In January 1778, having recovered from his wound, Boone led a party to get salt from Licking River. They were captured by Chief Blackfish’s warriors, some taken to Chilicothe, and others to near Detroit.

Boone and his men were made to run the gauntlet, as the Indian custom was to adopt prisoners into their tribe to replace fallen warriors. Boone was given the name, Sheltowee (Big Turtle).

On June 16, 1778, Boone learned that Chief Blackfish planned to attack Boonesboro. Boone escaped and raced 160 miles in five days, on horseback, then on foot, to warn the settlement.

Beginning September 7, 1778, Boone successfully repelled the ten-day siege by Chief Blackfish’s warriors.

In the autumn of 1779, Boone led another party of immigrants to Boonesboro, among whom, according to tradition, was the family of Abraham Lincoln’s grandfather.

Daniel Boone joined General George Rogers Clark’s invasion of Ohio, fighting the Battle of Piqua on August 7, 1780.

In October, 1780, Daniel Boone was hunting with his brother, Edward, when Shawnee Indians attacked. They cut off Edward’s head and took it back as a trophy.

Boone was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel in the Fayette County militia, November 1780. 

In April 1781, Boone was elected as to Virginia’s General Assembly, and as he traveled to Richmond to take his seat, British dragoons under Colonel Banastre Tarleton captured him near Charlottesville. 

The British released Boone on parole, and not long after Cornwallis surrendered at Yorktown in October 1781.

Boone returned to Kentucky, and though Cornwallis had surrendered, some British continued to fight. 

One of the last battles of the Revolution took place, August 19, 1782. In the Battle of Blue Licks, fighting hand-to-hand against 50 British Loyalists and 300 Indians, Daniel Boone’s son Israel was shot in the neck and killed.

In November 1782, Daniel Boone was a part of the last major campaign of the war with Clark’s expedition into Ohio.

In 1782, Boone was elected sheriff of Fayette County. He bought land in Kentucky but lost it due to poorly prepared titles.

Boone left Kentucky in 1799 and bought land in the Spanish Territory of Missouri, west of the Mississippi River. 

When Spain transferred this land to France, and France sold it to the United States as the Louisiana Purchase, 1803, Boone lost his title to this land too.

A special act of Congress gave him back his land just six years before his death. 

When the War of 1812 started, Daniel Boone volunteered for duty but was turned down due to his age of 78.

Daniel Boone was known to have a habit of taking the Bible with him on hunting expeditions, often reading it to others around the campfire. 

Daniel Boone and his wife Rebecca had all of their ten children baptized.

Daniel Boone died SEPTEMBER 26, 1820, and was buried in the Old Bryan Farm graveyard. His remains were moved to Kentucky’s Frankfort Cemetery, though some claim the wrong bones were moved. Hazel Atterbury Spraker wrote in The Boone Family (1982, page 578):

“Daniel was buried near the body of his wife, in a cemetery established in 1803 by David Bryan, upon the bank of a small stream called Teuque Creek about one and one-half miles southeast of the present site of the town of Marthasville in Warren County, Missouri, it being at that time the only Protestant cemetery North of the Missouri River.”

In The Works of Theodore Roosevelt, Vol. IX-The Winning of the West-An account of the exploration and settlement of our country from the Alleghanies to the Pacific (NY: Charles Scribner’s Sons, National Edition, 1926, p. 43), Theodore Roosevelt wrote:

“Boone…occupied quite a prominent position, and served as a Representative in the Virginia legislature, while his fame as a hunter and explorer was now spread abroad in the United States, and even Europe. 

To travelers and newcomers generally, he was always pointed out as the first discoverer of Kentucky; and, being modest, self-contained, and self-reliant, he always impressed them favorably…

Boone’s creed in matters of morality and religion was as simple and straightforward as his own character.”

Late in life, he wrote to one of his kinsfolk (sister-in-law, Sarah Boone, October 17, 1816):

‘The religion I have is to love and fear God, believe in Jesus Christ, do all the good to my neighbor, and myself that I can, do as little harm as I can help, and trust on God’s mercy for the rest.’

The old pioneer always kept the respect of red men and white, of friend and foe, for he acted according to his belief.”

A direct descendent of Daniel Boone is the award-winning actor and singer, Pat Boone.

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