Monday, June 6, 2011

Daniel Boone Homestead

In a small log cabin in rural Berks County, future pioneer and frontiersman Daniel Boone was born. For the next 16 years, Daniel would wander the nearby forests trying to fulfill his need to explore. He would learn hunting skills from the local Native Americans he had befriended. Daniel received his first rifle in 1749 at 15 years old. He would soon be delegated to protecting the livestock from predatory attacks. These hunting skills would later prove to be very valuable in Daniel’s life.

Daniel’s father Squire Boone originally built a 1 ½ story home for his family to live in. They first settled in the foothills of Berks County in 1730, and in 1734 their most prominent son was born. Squire mainly made his living as a blacksmith, weaver and a dairy farmer. The family lived modestly but was not without controversy.

The Boone family was part of the strict Quaker religion. In 1742 the eldest Boone child, Sarah, married outside of the Quaker faith while visibly pregnant. To make matters worse, in 1747 son Israel decided to marry outside the Quaker faith as well. These acts caused quite a controversy in the nearby communities. In 1750 the Boone family left Pennsylvania and relocated to North Carolina. It’s speculated that the marriages outside of the faith forced the Boone family to move.

“Many heroic actions and chivalrous adventures are related of me which exist only in the regions of fancy. With me the world has taken great liberties, and yet I have been a common man.” Daniel Boone used these words to describe himself and they seem to be pretty accurate. There are many folktales and fictionalized characters based on Daniel Boone. Though Daniel was not a very educated person, he was always searching and exploring to learn. He fought in the French and Indian War, and is most known for exploring and settling Kentucky. Daniel Boone gained most of his fame when at age 50 his autobiography began to circulate. People from all over were fascinated by his life, adventures, and his upbringing in his Pennsylvania boyhood home. Boone soon became a folk hero for all of America. One of the biggest misconceptions about Daniel Boone is the raccoon-skin hat. Daniel actually considered that hat style rather uncivilized. Daniel Boone regained a lot of popularity when a television show of his frontier escapades appeared in the 1960’s.

After the Boone family moved from Pennsylvania in 1750, relatives of the family bought the home. Shortly after, the home was expanded and drastically remodeled. Today the Daniel Boone homestead still stands, though it looks much different than the 1 ½ story log cabin home Daniel was born in. It wasn’t until 1926 when the state acquired the home and began restoration. The home is encompassed by 579 acres, which is used to help interpret the life of early settlers to our country. Also on the property are a blacksmith shop, a smokehouse, a nearby neighbor’s home and a bake house. Even though parts of Daniel’s life are shrouded in controversy, most regard him as a hero and great statesman to our country. What better way to pay tribute than to visit his boyhood home, and retrace his first footsteps.

No comments: