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Daniel Boone

Folk Hero / Explorer

Born: 2 November 1734
Died: 26 September 1820
Birthplace: Berks County, Pennsylvania
Best known as: The frontiersman who settled Kentucky
A legend in his own lifetime, Daniel Boone was an explorer and hunter whose exploits made him one of the most famous frontiersman in American history. He was born in rural Pennsylvania, but moved to the North Carolina frontier around 1750. From there he explored west into Kentucky in the 1760s and 1770s. In 1775 he established the frontier outpost of Boonesborough, one of the first white settlements in Kentucky. When the Kentucky territory became part of Virginia, Boone was named an officer in the Virginia militia (1776) and spent the next several years trailblazing and fighting off Indians. His "autobiography," written by John Filson and published in 1784, depicted the hunter as wily and adventurous and made Boone a folk hero. He tried to establish extensive land claims in Kentucky, but was unable to retain them and many were invalidated after 1780. After living in western Virginia, where he served three times in the state legislature (1781, 1784 and 1791), Boone moved in 1799 to what is now Missouri. He settled there with his son, Daniel Morgan Boone, and was later granted land by the U.S. Congress. He died near St. Louis in 1820 at the ripe age of 85.
Extra credit: Boone was played by actor Fess Parker in the children's TV series Daniel Boone from 1964-70; the show's theme song described him as "the rippin'est, roarin'est, fightin'est man the frontier ever knew." Unlike Parker, the real Boone did not wear a coonskin hat... The Cumberland National Forest in Kentucky was renamed in 1966 as the Daniel Boone National Forest.

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