Born: Nov. 2, 1734 in Berks County, Pa.
Died: Sept. 26, 1820 in St. Charles County, Mo.
Known for: His efforts trailblazing Wilderness Road as part of the Cumberland Gap.
Daniel Boone was the archetypal American frontiersman, most notably remembered for blazing Wilderness Road through the Cumberland Gap in 1775 — a road thousands of European settlers would follow. His exploits on the American frontier, and interactions with Native Americans from Pennsylvania to Florida to Missouri, were widely reported in the American colonies and across Europe in all types of publications.
Boone was the sixth of 11 children born to blacksmith, weaver, and land speculator Squire Boone, and his wife, Sarah Morgan Boone, near Reading, Pa. The family was Quaker, but several married outside the faith, causing a rift that led to the expulsion of Squire and his eldest son. Such tensions and the growing population of the colony caused the Boones and several neighboring families to sell their land in 1750 and move south, down the Great Wagon Road, to the back country of North Carolina. The families settled on land along the Yadkin River near the border of today’s Davie and Forsyth counties. Daniel Boone spent a great deal of time trapping and hunting in the region, making him invaluable to Maj. Gen. Braddock during the French and Indian War, when he served as a wagoner.
Boone lived in this area for 21 years, making it the place he called home the longest. Records show the family came to Bethabara, the nearest medical aid, at least once when his eldest brother, Israel, was fatally ill with “consumption” (tuberculosis) in 1775. It was also during this time Boone cut through Cumberland Gap and moved his family to Boonesborough, Ky., a fort town he established during his frontier explorations.
In Boonesborough, Boone served as captain of the county’s militia in the Revolutionary War, later moving to present-day West Virginia where he was elected three times to the Virginia General Assembly.
Throughout his life, he was a surveyor, merchant, and sheriff, but failed miserably at land speculation, which left him deeply in debt. In 1799, he moved to eastern Missouri and spent the last 20 years there with his son. A monument located on Reynolda Road at Summit Street recognizes Boone’s life and contributions; it’s part of the Daniel Boone Heritage Trail that was established in 1927.