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Boone Society

The Importance Of The Burial Place Of Daniel Boone In Missouri A Paper Related To The Factual History Of Daniel Boone

by Ken Kamper Paper No. P 12.1210 Copyright© December 2012

Two independent research studies were made in recent years for determining the truth about Daniel Boone’s burial in Missouri, and the disinterment and removal of the remains of Daniel Boone and his wife, Rebecca, in 1845. Both studies were the result of years of accumulating background information from the original sources, and much time was spent in analyzing all of the known aspects of the subject. Both studies reached the same conclusions.

One study was made by Ralph Gregory. Ralph has spent much of his adult life involved with the study of Missouri’s early history associated with the region where Daniel Boone and his family lived. During his working career, he was employed with the original version of the Missouri State Parks and Historic Sites Division, where he was considered the state’s expert on the history of Mark Twain and similar subjects of national and Missouri interest. Through the years, Ralph, who is still active with history research and various history projects, at the age of 103, is called upon to find solutions to the more difficult research challenges.

The second study was conducted by the author of this paper, who’s current references include being the historian for the two main Boone history related national membership organizations, the Boone Society and the Daniel Boone and Frontier Families Research Association. Previous roles included a number of years as the historian for earlier Boone history and genealogy organizations. During the last twenty years the author has also reviewed most of the Boone biographies and youth books, for the authors or publishers, prior to the books being published.

The studies established that there were a number of documents written in the 1800s by persons who were at the burial of Daniel’s wife Rebecca in 1813, and Daniel’s burial in 1820. Most of the documents were found in the Draper Manuscript Collection owned by the State Historical Society of Wisconsin. Some of the documentation was from Daniel’s son Nathan, Nathan’s wife, and Nathan’s daughter Delinda Boone Craig. Delinda wrote a detailed account of how at the age of 18, she had sat and talked with Daniel during his last hours. All three of these persons were present when Daniel died, and all were present at the burial. A number of grandchildren wrote about what they had heard from their parents who were also present at the burial. For the disinterment, an excellent accounting of the event was made by a newspaper reporter from the St. Louis New Era, and for the reburial there was an excellent accounting in Kentucky documents written at that time. All of the written accounts during the past century or so, except for the book by Meredith Mason Brown’s, Frontiersman, in 2008, have ignored or overlooked most of these original sources.

The studies determined:  
  • that the Kentucky delegation sent to obtain Daniel Boone’s body for Kentucky, correctly located the grave.
  • that the DAR Granite Marker presently located in the cemetery was correctly located at the grave.
  • that the several Missouri rumors about how the Kentucky delegation missed the correct location for where Daniel was buried, and therefore mistakenly dug up the wrong body, were all tales with no factual basis.
  • that Daniel’s cuff links were found during the disinterment by one of the diggers, and given to a granddaughter.
  • that no immediate member of the family who was present at the burial mentioned anything other than Daniel being correctly placed next to Rebecca.
  • that no one who attended the burial offered any comment regarding something unusual about the burial.
  • that a number of the family members were disturbed that the Kentucky delegation dug up the graves.
  • that the newspaper account by a repotter from St. Louis offered important evidence that had always been missing from all modern accounts about the disinterment. That newspaper account related the following:
    • When the graves were dug up, the wooden coffins were entirely disintegrated except for the large boards that had been placed under the coffins, and the bodies were decayed to the point where nothing could be distinguished to separate body pa1ts from the soil, except for the bones. The small bones turned to powered when touched, while the larger bones were brittle and discolored, but still remained intact. The Kentucky delegation placed the remains of each body (the larger bones) into two wooden boxes (one for each body), and took those remains to Kentucky.
  • that documents from Kentucky offered the important evidence that had always been missing from all modern accounts. The documents showed the following:

There was a committee in Frankfort, Kentucky, made up of a number of leading citizens, headed by Judge Mason Brown. The committee was in charge of the efforts of the Kentucky delegation that traveled to Missouri. John Mason Brown, a son of the judge, and while 8 years old at the time still had a vivid memory of the occasion, stated that he was present in Kentucky when the bones were uncrated and removed from the boxes and placed in new caskets. The skull of Daniel Boone was handed to him to hold. Of the several men present, John Mason Brown stated how one of them put the bones of each body into their caskets in their correct position (to form the bones as skeletons).

A personal observation:

No matter how it is viewed the disinterment appears to be a rather misguided event. However, putting that issue aside, the fact is that even though Daniel Boone never went back to Kentucky after he arrived in present Missouri, and had strongly expressed that he never wanted to (as stated by at least twenty persons who talked with him during his last years), the Kentucky delegation dug up his grave and took the larger bones, then for the reburial in the prestigious cemetery across the Kentucky River ,rom the state capitol, the event was promoted into being perhaps the largest celebration event in Kentucky history. What followed was a sincere recognition in Kentucky of Daniel Boone as a state and national hero, followed by a tourism benefit for the state as persons from every state and many nations visit the burial site. Missouri on the other hand has all but overlooked the pre-state frontier and territorial history when Daniel Boone lived out his final 20 years. Also overlooked is the potential benefit to the state of Daniel Boone’s role in American history.

The author’s personal three-year experience, while taking care of the cemetery where Daniel and Rebecca Boone are buried, was that even though the Boone burial site in Missouri was not advertised in any manner, much less as a tourism site to visit, persons came regularly to the site from almost every state in the nation, including Alaska, as well as from Japan and countries in Europe. It is an important historic site, and it is time for Missourians to recognize it as such. The recognition of the Boone burial site by the DAR with a large granite marker at the grave has been significant, and it is time for the rest of the cemetery to be upgraded to a level worthy of a national treasure.

Since Missouri was Daniel Boone’s chosen home, where he and his wife died and were buried, there is an obvious opportunity for the state to capitalize on his universal recognition. A way to accomplish this is to:

    • establish the fact that the cemetery has been exempted for many years from private ownership and is currently under the stewardship of the Warren County Commissioners, and probably available for state ownership.
    • realize that the cemetery is within a few hundred yards of Missouri’s Katy Trail State Park, making it an important potential asset for the state to add to the park.
    • recognize Daniel Boone as one of the most exciting legendary person from the pages of American history. He was the image used when creating the Boy Scouts of America.
    If Kentucky can claim an important treasure for their state with the larger bones of Daniel Boone’s body, then Missouri, where 70 to 80 plus percent of his body still remains, might try to consider a similar approach to his burial place and the benefits that could be had if it were properly recognized. R-kPapcr-lmportance Of The Burial Place Of Daniel Boone In Missouri