When pioneer hero Daniel Boone was born, the American colonies still belonged to Britain. An unexplored wilderness lay to the west of the rugged Appalachian Mountains. A man of the frontier, Boone earned a place in American history as an explorer who helped open the wilds of Kentucky to pioneers in the 1700s.
Boone was born in 1734 in Reading, Pennsylvania. In 1753, his family moved to North Carolina. A backwoods boy, Boone received little formal schooling. But from an early age he learned to track, hunt, and trap.
In 1755, during the French and Indian War, Boone served as an American volunteer under British general Edward Braddock. Boone drove a supply wagon. One of the other wagon drivers told Boone about a beautiful land rich with wild animals west of the Appalachians. The stories of this land, called Kentucky, captivated Boone.
HOW DID BOONE GET TO KENTUCKY?
Between 1769 and 1771, Boone undertook his most famous mission exploring Kentucky. Boone set out from North Carolina and traveled west. He trekked across the Cumberland Mountains into Kentucky through a narrow natural pass known as the Cumberland Gap. He passed through the gap using the Warriors Path, a trail long used by Native Americans.
THE ROAD TO BOONESBOROUGH
In 1775, a North Carolina trading company hired Boone. They wanted him to establish a road other people could follow into the West. Boone headed back to Kentucky and founded a settlement called Boonesborough. It became one of the first pioneer settlements west of the Appalachian Mountains.
Boone then led a group of settlers through the Cumberland Gap into Boonesborough. The trail Boone used became known as the Wilderness Road.
During the American Revolution, Native Americans who sided with the British attacked Boonesborough. In 1778, a Native American raiding party captured Boone. But Boone and Boonesborough survived, and the settlement grew.
During the 1780s, the United States government told Boone his land claims at Boonesborough were not valid. Boone then moved his family to Boone’s Station in Kentucky.
WHERE DID BOONE GO THEN?
Like many frontiersmen, Boone couldn’t settle in one place for long. For a few years he lived in what is now West Virginia. About 1799, he went west again, this time traveling to an area near St. Louis, Missouri. At that time, the area was part of Spain. In 1803, the Louisiana Purchase made it part of the United States. This time, the U.S. government accepted Boone’s land claims. He died on his Missouri land in 1820.
Daniel Boone, frontiersman and explorer, provided a path to open the American West.