Revisiting A Very Important Historic Site In Missouri
And its Tremendous Potential
By Ken Kamper
This article revisits the Daniel Boone Home, located six miles west of the town of Defiance in St. Charles County, Missouri. The Daniel Boone Home site has been operated as a commercial tourism site for over fifty years, and is presently owned by Lindenwood University in St. Charles. The site operates perhaps in an acceptable financial manner, but the historic potential that was there a half dozen years ago when the former president had plans made for site development, is now missing.
The author of this article was at the site at that time, and functioned closely with the former university president. rt was the author that the former president chose for making an evaluation of the existing site and conditions, as well as for making accompanying conceptual drawing plans for showing how the site could be developed into the future. This article des?ribes the conceptual plans which b· 0ught to the forefront the tremendous potential for the historic site.
Part of the history of Daniel Boone that gives an importance to the Daniel Boone Home site:
Daniel Boone died in his son Nathan’s stone home. The stone home is the centerpiece of the site. Daniel Boone had been born in Pennsylvania, October 22, 1734, and died in Missouri September 26, 1820. He married at the age of 21 to 17 year old Rebecca Bryan, and during their lives together they had ten children. They also raised ten additional children, most being close relatives, who had been orphaned.
Daniel Boone, at first without his family and from 1775 on, with his family, as part of the Kentucky frontier. The times were from 1769-1771, 1775-1789, and 1795-1799, for a total of 20 years. He and his family were in Missouri, where he stayed until he died in the latter part of 1820, for a total of 21 years. This detail is mentioned because many persons tend to ignore or minimize the Missouri part of Daniel Boone’s life. Another reason for mentioning that fact is to allow realization that the Boone events and sites are a very important part of the Boone story, and therefore worthy of everyone’s knowledge. Five of the Boone’s seven children, Jemima (Boone) Callaway, Susannah (Boone) Hays, Daniel Morgan Boone, Jesse Bryan Boone, and Nathan Boone, plus 68 of their 70 grandchildren moved to Missouri or were born in Missouri, and like Daniel and Rebecca, made Missouri their home.
During his adult years Daniel Boone was the foremost person involved with exploring the lands up ahead toward the west. While not recognized in that manner in modern time, he was seen as the main figure by many of the leading men and most of the population during and after his lifetime. Daniel’s recognition came from being involved with blazing the paths, for establishing the first settlements on the new frontier, and then leading the defense of the settlement against the Indians. As time went on the Indian hostilities continued until a major offense was put in play until the Indians sued for peace and treaties were made forcing the Indians to withdraw from the frontier region. Once the process of paving the way had been completed, the former frontier became the next important step westward for our country as the land opened to the white settlers that then flowed to the area in massive numbers. The original trails followed by settlers heading west as part of America’s westward expansion, from 1769 through 1820, were trails that he marked from North Carolina to Missouri, with his sons Nathan and Daniel Morgan Boone locating and marking the trails across Missouri.
Daniel Boone patiicipated in all of the major wars during his time, usually serving as the ranking officer of a contingent of men. Those wars expanded the English and then American territories from the east coast to the Mississippi River, and included the Cherokee Indian Wars, French and Indian War, Lord Dunmore’s War, and the lengthy frontier Indian wars as western part of the Revolutionary War. Daniel held the ranks from Lieutenant to full Colonel. During the War of 1812, when Daniel was too old to serve in an official military role, two of his sons, Daniel Morgan and Nathan, and a grandson, James Callaway, were commanding officers of U.S. Ranger Companies, and his third still living son, Jesse, was on the staff of the commanding officer in Kentucky.
Daniel served in the legislatures of the Colony of Transylvania (1775) and Virginia (1781, 1787, and 1792), and in those capacities became personal friends with such men as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry, and Light-horse Harry Lee. The latter became Virginia Governor Henry Lee and father of Robert E. Lee. Daniel was also a personal friend of Gen. William Clark of Lewis and Clark fame, and many other distinguished men. In his time he was highly respected and recognized as the main leader of America’s all-important westward migration.
Daniel had been captured by Indians three times and had escaped each time. He was also captured once by the British when British General Lord Cornwallis attempted to capture the Virginia legislators, as well as a special prize, Governor Thomas Jefferson.
When Daniel moved to Spanish Upper Louisiana in 1799, the Spanish soon made him the Commandant of a large district. It is this type of history that the site could elaborate upon.
The Daniel Boone Home:
The Daniel Boone Home Historic Site presently includes 1100 acres and is owned by Lindenwood University of St. Charles.
In the realm of real things Daniel Boone was one of the most famous men in early American history. He walked and hunted on the grounds of the Boone Home near Defiance, from 1805 until his death in 1820. He died in the house on September 26th, 1820, at age of nearly 86, having lived in Missouri over 20 years ( certainly equal to his time in Kentucky, although not of an age anymore to be the man who was involved in so many key events during that great period of Kentucky’s history). Missouri was his chosen home, and it is well documented that once he arrived in what is now Missouri he never went back to Kentucky. He felt so strongly about how he and others were treated badly in the way they had “legally” lost their lands, and with the court decisions that involved so much of his time to explain the background of the many surveys he had made, that he said he would rather put his head on a chopping block than return to Kentucky.
When we realize what other historic sites such as for Washington, Jefferson, and Patrick Henry, offer, it is easy to see that something very similar could be created at the “Boone Home” site. There is the magnificent house, beautiful rural countryside setting, and all that is required for a serious upgrade would be the addition of a serious Boone library, landscaping and special gardens, and a factual presentation of the experiences of his time.
The Daniel Boone Home site could become highly recognized throughout the country if it presented factual history in the form of educational tourism, even if based on just the home itself. But there is more. As it turns out the home is only a small part of what could be presented at the site according to conceptual plans that were made for the development of the site. A few examples of the other features include the following:
1&2)-These first two features have never gotten beyond the planning stage, but it would have added considerably to interesting and important history presented at the site. It was a plan to have two separate Indian presentations in a wooded area some distance from each other, and from everything else at the site. The two features would describe the Indians who controlled what is now Missouri prior to and during the transition period with white settlers. The plan included two separate Indian lodges, one for presenting living history of the Osage Indian nation and one for doing the same for the Missouri Indian tribe. Both were powerful groups of Indians. The Osage had their main villages south of the Missouri River, in a large territory that they controlled from the Missouri River to the Arkansas River, and from the Mississippi River into the plains of Oklahoma and Kansas, and their allies, the equally powerful Missouri Indian tribe controlled the lands north of the Missouri River and into southern Iowa.
3) -The third feature is a stone Spanish fort that had been built ca.1793 at St. Charles, and moved to the Boone Home site some years ago, presently sets mostly isolated, unattended, and unutilized in a wooded area north of the Boone Home. The fort has a very interesting documented history, and is the oldest known existing structure to be built by Europeans west of the Mississippi River, except for those few in the southwest and along the west coast. The plan for the fort that was never carried out was to offer living history during the French and Spanish (pre-1804) period of Missouri’s history.