“It isn’t how you die, It’s what you live for” is a quote attributed to Daniel Boone. This song is a loose overview of his life and how he personified his own words.
Daniel Boone was one of the most famous frontiersmen of early America. His true home was in the wilds, hunting and trapping for many of his days, being away from whatever house he had at the time for months on end. During his life he had enough adventures to fill volumes of literature. Stories of his achievements are many and some legendary.
Born November 2, 1734 in Berks County, Pennsylvania, he moved with his English Quaker family to the Yadkin Valley area of North Carolina. While there, young Daniel drove a wagon for the North Carolina militia. In August, 1756 he married Rebecca Bryan. They would have six children by 1768. During that time he took many long excursions into the unsettled lands, and first went on a hunt through the Cumberland Gap in the fall of 1767, with a few other trips to the area soon afterward. In 1773, Boone attempted to move his family through the Cumberland Gap to settle into Kentucky but were turned around after a band of Indians attacked and killed his oldest son, James, and others who had separated from the main group to bring in additional supplies (see song “Wallen’s Creek” for more of that story).
In March 1775, Boone and approximately 30 companions were hired by the investor group, Transylvania Company, to blaze what is now known as the Wilderness Road. The team cut through nearly 200 miles of territory using buffalo traces, game trails and the native American’s Warrior’s Path. In April, 1775 the group reached their destination in what is now Madison County, Kentucky. Fort Boonesborough was established there. Boone would move his family to the fort the same year.
Boone was commissioned a captain in the Virginia Militia in 1777. Later he was injured and captured by the Shawnee Indians. He spent 5 months with them and escaped, traveling vast miles of wilderness to warn the settlers of Boonesborough and then being instrumental in defending against the Shawnee in a siege lasting 11 days. Rebecca had their 10th child in 1781. Daniel was elected a member of the Virginia State Legislature the same year, and served three terms while fighting in the militia. Kentucky didn’t become a state until 1792.
Boone had many land claims but lost most of what he owned in several disputes. He moved from Kentucky to modern day West Virginia, and to Louisiana and to Missouri. He also worked as a land surveyor and store/tavern owner during his life. Daniel Boone died on September 26, 1820. He was residing in the home of his son, Nathan, near Defiance, Missouri. He was 85 years old.