Daniel Boone was a man. November 4, 2009Posted by ourfriendben in wit and wisdom.
Tags: Daniel Boone, Daniel Boone history, Daniel Boone quiz, Fess Parker
It’s me, Richard Saunders of Poor Richard’s Almanac fame, here today to talk about a man who celebrated his 275th birthday this past Monday, November 2nd, 2009. Daniel Boone is unquestionably the most famous pioneer who ever lived. But how much do you really know about the legendary founder of Boonesborough? Take this quiz and find out. As always, I’ll give the answers at the end. But no cheating, now!
1. Daniel Boone was born in:
d. North Carolina
2. Daniel Boone was a contemporary of:
a. George Washington
b. Davy Crockett
c. Doc Holliday
d. Fess Parker
3. How tall was Daniel Boone?
4. Which of these statements about Daniel Boone’s education is true?
a. He was illiterate.
b. He could barely read the Bible, but that was about it.
c. He was fluent in several Native American languages as well as English.
d. He loved literature and often read the Classics, as well as contemporary novels and histories, to his companions around the fire.
5. Which of these statements best describes Daniel Boone’s appearance?
a. He was never seen without his coonskin cap.
b. He was always dressed in buckskins.
c. He typically wore Native American attire except on formal occasions, famously claiming that “Them Injuns is the on’y ones who knows how to be comf’table.”
d. He dressed like any prosperous gentleman of his day, in a linen shirt, breeches, vest, jacket, stockings, and top boots or buckled shoes, and was meticulous about his appearance when not on extended hunts.
6. How many people did Daniel Boone kill?
a. 46 in the French and Indian War, 30 in the American Revolution, and another 147 during his settlement of Boonesborough.
b. There is no precise record, but it’s believed that the number he killed during his settlement of the frontier numbered in the thousands.
c. A devout Quaker, Boone was actually a pacifist who claimed he’d only killed three people in his life, and then only in self-defense.
d. The number of people killed by Boone has been grossly exaggerated. In reality, he killed less than 50 people.
7. Daniel Boone was a hunter, a surveyor, a soldier, a statesman, a pioneer, and a leader. At which professions did he excel?
a. soldier, surveyor, statesman
b. hunter, leader, pioneer
c. soldier, hunter, pioneer
d. statesman, soldier, pioneer
8. Boone is best known today for:
a. killing a bear
b. founding Boonesborough
c. wearing a coonskin cap
d. opening the frontier
9. In his own time, Boone:
a. fought the traitors Benedict Arnold and Aaron Burr
b. was awarded the Medal of Honor by George Washington
c. was lionized in Europe by such great figures as Lord Byron and Rousseau
d. owned over 100,000 acres of land
10. How old was Daniel Boone when he died?
a. he was killed at the Alamo when he was 45
b. he died of an infected wound at Boonesborough when he was 37
c. he was killed during an Indian raid when he was 52
d. he died in his bed at age 85
Now for the answers. Ready?
1. Daniel Boone was born in Pennsylvania of English ancestry. His father later moved the family to the Yadkin River Valley in North Carolina, and Boone eventually settled Boonesborough in Kentucky, ultimately moving his family to the Missouri frontier. The Daniel Boone Homestead in the Oley Valley, Berks County, Pennsylvania—a handsome log home—is now a park less than an hour’s drive from our friend Ben and Silence Dogood’s home at Hawk’s Haven.
2. Daniel Boone was a contemporary of George Washington and fought with him in the French and Indian War. When we think of pioneers, we think of folks heading out to the Midwest or Wild West in their Conestoga wagons. But in Boone’s day, the frontier was just over the Appalachian Mountains. Like the Founding Fathers, Boone was a citizen of Britain until the Colonies revolted and won their independence, not a product of the 1890s heading out to stake a homestead claim or pan for gold out on the West Coast. We’re talking “1776” here, not “Bonanza.”
3. The song says “Daniel Boone was a man, yes a big man.” And yes, for his day, he was a big man, towering over most of his contemporaries at 5’10” in an age when a man averaged 5’5″ to 5’7″. But he was far from the tallest of the Colonials—George Washington and Gouverneur Morris both hit 6’4″—and he certainly fell far short of the height of the actor who brought him to life for children in the 1960s and ’70s, Fess Parker, who was (and presumably still is) 6’6″ even without the coonskin cap.
4. Believe it or not, the answers to this are c and d. Daniel Boone spoke excellent English and learned a number of Native American languages over his lifetime. But even more surprising, Boone was highly literate and loved to read, voraciously devouring every book available in his day and sharing them with his compatriots by reading to them aloud at the end of their working day. The famous inscription carved on the tree, “D. Boon Cilled a bar” etc. is now believed to be a fake, since Boone always signed his name with the “e” at the end.
5. Sorry, but it’s d again. Boone was extremely fastidious about his appearance. That coonskin cap and buckskin business is pure TV; Boone himself dressed according to the standards of a gentleman of his time.
6. By now, you’re probably ready for anything, so hopefully you won’t be too appalled to learn that the correct answer is c. The rip-roaring frontiersman is a legend; the truth is that Boone killed a lot of game as a hunter, but as few people as possible, and the three that he did kill weighed on his conscience all his life.
7. The correct answer is b. Boone was a very inept surveyor (unlike his contemporary, George Washington, a skilled surveyor), and equally incompetent as a soldier. His career as a statesman was, let’s just say, undistinguished at best. But he was undoubtedly the greatest hunter of his day and the foremost pioneer, and the fact that he was able to get numerous people to follow him into uncharted territory to found Boonesborough and other settlements proves his leadership skills beyond dispute.
8. Boone never wore the coonskin cap reprised on TV by Fess Parker from his earlier role as Davy Crockett. And though he killed many bears and founded Boonesborough, it was his role as the foremost pioneer and frontiersman, opening the “West” (Kentucky and beyond) for settlement, that stands as his great achievement.
9. You’re correct if you answered c and/or d. Boone did at one time own 100,000 acres, a vast fortune in land, but lost it through naivete, placing his trust in unscrupulous speculators. But what he never lost was the reputation he acquired in Europe as the perfect “natural man” as described by Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Lord Byron, another admirer, dedicated part of his epic poem “Don Juan” to Boone, who, however, was a devoted family man and no Don Juan.
10. Daniel Boone, against every odd, after being captured several times by Indians, shot at by the French and British, and enduring the unending hardships of pioneer life, died in his bed at age 85. Ironically, Fess Parker, who portrayed Boone in a wildly successful TV series in the ’60s and ’70s, is 85 now himself, the owner of a hugely successful winery and numerous other enterprises. No doubt old Daniel would be proud.