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Daniel Boone was a man. November 4, 2009

Posted by ourfriendben in wit and wisdom.
Tags: , , ,

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:

a. Kentucky

b. Pennsylvania

c. England

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?

a. 5’7″

b. 5’10”

c. 6’1″

d. 6’6″

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.



1. fairegarden - November 4, 2009

And here I thought Daniel Boone was from TN! There are numerous schools here named for him and some sort of historical monument too. Maybe he just camped out around here, or slept here like G. Washington. Glad to hear he lived to a ripe old 85, probably a rarity at the time. 🙂

Ha! It was Davy Crockett, not Daniel Boone, who was the Tennessean, Frances! And while 85 was amazing for someone who put himself in the path of danger as often as Boone, it wasn’t really that unusual then: Think of John Adams, who died at 90, and Thomas Jefferson, at 83; our hero Ben Franklin, who made it to 84, and puny little James Madison, who despite his lifetime of fragile health lasted to 85. I’ve long believed that all this stuff about dying early in older times was nonsense: If a person made it through childhood and childbirth, they were just as likely to make it into their 70s and 80s as we are. The gravestones tell the tale. Which, I suppose, is both good news and bad news!

Tom - September 27, 2013

Bad news is that “the wages of sin is death”, good news is that “the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ”. Romans 6:23.

2. nancybond - November 4, 2009

A very interesting post — I’m afraid I didn’t get a very good mark on the “quiz” though. 🙂

No worries, Nancy! The legend of Daniel Boone has so distorted the reality that I doubt anyone, including me, would have managed a very high score!

3. Gail - November 4, 2009

Oh my! I did know a few! But, what I know best is that d*** song that I am now humming and singing over and over again! Before that I was singing Crosby, Stills and Nash from Frances’ post! gail

Better get back to “Woodstock,” Gail! That Daniel Boone theme song is pretty bad!

4. Tatyana - November 4, 2009

Thanks for educating me!

Most welcome, Tatyana! Daniel Boone was a true original!

5. Jen - November 4, 2009

A much-needed refresher. I always get him mixed up with Davy Crockett. Isn’t that pathetic? Well they were both 70s TV shows, right? How interesting about Fess Parker!

Yeah, who’d have thought Fess Parker would have had such drive? Guess some of that pioneer spirit must have rubbed off on him!

6. fairegarden - November 4, 2009

Oh right, I got my coonskin hats mixed up! I think I had one as a child, and a toy rifle named ole betsy.

Ha! Ole Betsy!!!

7. rosey pollen - November 4, 2009

All I ever knew about good ol Danny was learned from a terribly inaccurate Disney song. Thanks for straightening out the fantasy in my brain. Very interesting!

Thanks, Rosey! Wonder if Dan’l ever hunted elk?

8. Patrick Lee - November 5, 2009

I’ve portrayed Daniel Boone professionally since 1994 to convention audiences around the nation. Your quiz is good, and your answers provide great explanation.
The only ones I missed are those where I take exception with your answers. Boone’s height depends on whom you read. Faragher and Brown put him at about 5′ 8″, Bakeless 5′ 10″ but on the basis a single witness.Nothing I’ve read indicates Boone had a fondness for finery in his dress (he was never “prosperous”) or was “fluent” in native languages.
You are far more accurate than most! Boone has NOTHING to do with Fess Parker, coonskin caps or cillin’ bars when he was only 3.
What I find most remarkable about Boone is his indomitable, optimistic, forward-looking spirit, in the face of great personal tragedy and loss.
Keep up the good work!

Wow, Patrick, that must be really fun! Daniel Boone really was an amazing person, like so many of our Founding Fathers. Talk about being larger than life! Speaking of which, I too had had the impression that Boone was of moderate height until I read that he was 5’10”, so perhaps that stat is inaccurate; certainly I’d think that being shorter (to a point) would actually have helped him as a hunter and frontiersman. As for his clothes, oops, I didn’t mean to imply that Boone was a dandy, just that he wore the clothes that were current for his time and station. The only known authentic portrait of him shows him wearing what then would have been considered standard men’s clothes, not opulent by any means but certainly not shabby. You’ll have to tell us what you wear when you take on the role! And of course, I have to recommend one of my all-time favorite childhood novels featuring Boone, “Wilderness Road, Virginia.” If you haven’t read it, I think you’ll enjoy it! Thanks again for stopping by and for the kind words!

Tom - September 27, 2013

Hemp is what Daniel wore, as many Americans did. It was the cloth of that day. Sturdy, but not like linen or cotton of today. Almost like burlap, but not that rough. Actually it get softer as it ages. Can be a bit scratchy, but very strong and durable. Look for it in some foot wear today, mostly sandals

Thanks so much, Tom! I knew hemp was used in Boone’s time to make rope, but didn’t realize that it was used for clothing. You’re so right, it’s now used for clothes, backpacks, and etc. What goes around comes around!

9. Patrick Lee - November 6, 2009

The only painting made of Boone was at age 85, and most renderings are taken from that 1820 work of Chester Harding. I suspect Harding (or others) added Boone’s clothing. You’ll see the same face but with different clothing.
Faragher insists Boone always wore a breechclout and leggings. (I doubt that.) The people in Pennsylvania who sold me my Boone apparel absolutely insisted that wasn’t true. Depends on whom you read.
I wear a coarse linen hunting shirt, a wrap-around version belted in place rather than an over-the-head one. It’s an oatmeal color, with green fringe, for evaporation. It has a large double collar that cover my shoulders. I have a long-sleeve cotton undershirt. (Linen would be more accurate.) I wear front-fly linen knee pants, leggings and soft sole moccasins. My hat is a wide-brimmed black affair, such as a Quaker might wear. Boone was raised Quaker.
Accouterments are a ‘hawk, scalping knife, a bag of parched corn, haversack, possibles bag and hunting bag, all filled with supplies. And of course … Ticklicker, a 59″ long, 55 caliber flintlock rifle.
I don’t consider myself a purist, but as clearly as I can tell, I present an accurate image and 1st person account.
I’m NOT a history teacher or a story-teller. I am a motivational speaker, and I become Daniel Boone to inspire 21st century audiences to embrace the future by bringing wisdom from Daniel Boone’s past. (I do the same with 2 other characters, Thomas Jefferson and Lewis & Clark Co-Leader William Clark.)
Learn more about me at http://www.PatrickLee.com

I checked out your website and the portrayals and inspiration you provide look fantastic, Patrick! Loved the Boone outfit, and you really look convincing as Jefferson, too! What an inspired concept! We were just watching a Lewis & Clark documentary a couple of weeks ago, and it was quite a lesson to see how differently their lives turned out.

10. mark - December 2, 2011

I saw this article, about 2 years later, and was happy to read the “facts” that you had included. I am glad that someone took the time to distinguish between the facts and myths about Daniel Boone. I am actually a great grandson of Daniel Boone (6 generations great) and I enjoyed your quiz and information. Keep up the good work.

Thanks, Mark! Lucky you to be descended from Daniel Boone! One of our most fascinating historical figures, and so much more interesting than the popular characterization!

11. David - April 2, 2012

Daniel Boone was more Welsh and in fact a Quaker.

Hi David! Thanks for setting the record straight. I knew Boone was a Quaker, but didn’t realize he was of Welsh descent.

Craig - March 26, 2013

Boone’s grandparents emigrated from Bradninch, Devon (near Exeter, England) in 1717. He joined the Society of Friends aka Quakers after he settled in PA – it is doubtful his family was originally Quaker. Daniel’s father, Squire, married Sarah Morgan who was a Welsh Quaker. Therefore, Boone was half English/half Welsh. The family were practicing Quakers until Squire’s daughter and son took up with “worldlings” and while Squire publicly apologized for the first “affront”, he would not for the second, and so he was expelled from the Quaker community. Although he considered himself a Christian, Daniel would not set foot in a church again.

– Craig (A Descendent of Kit Carson) “Watch yer topknot!”

Thanks Craig, this is priceless information!

12. Tjefferson-Patrick Lee - April 3, 2012

This looked familiar when it popped up in my inbox today: “David commented on Daniel Boone was a man..” I answered that quiz several years ago!
Shifting from Boone to Thomas Jefferson, this might interest you, Richard … Mr. Jefferson now blogs! Several times each week he posts briefly on a variety of topics, from agriculture to slavery.
Yesterday’s post (4-2-12) was on doing what he said he’d do. Last Friday’s (3-30-12) was on capital punishment. Very soon, he will be adding an occasional video post.
See all of his posts here:

Patrick Lee
aka Th: Jefferson, D. Boone, Capt. Wm. Clark

Congratulations, Mr. Jefferson! High time you showed up and started blogging. We look forward to reading your posts! Now (hint, hint), if only Daniel Boone and William Clark had blogs to report on their adventures. Imagine how exciting it would have been back in the day to get daily updates from the trail!

13. Christy - July 26, 2012

Thank you very much for this Blog! I really enjoy history instead of tall tales! :O)

Thank YOU, Christy! It’s readers like you who keep us writing!

14. Trebor der Kojote - November 2, 2014

The greatest personal attribute of Boone to account for his long life was INTELLIGENCE and CURIOSITY. He was not a coarse ignoramus – nor did he live in mindless “fear and loathing” for those of different ethnicity or cultural background. He was interested in other peoples, new places and new things and always learning and living by his wits. Considering the risks taken in the adventurous course of his life, comparing the longevity of Daniel Boone to that of Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and other famous politicians and aristocratic gentlemen of the day is simply not applicable. Clearly Boone was an exemplary, 18th century outdoors man – physically hardy with his share of physical courage (which has never been in short supply in America until perhaps recently). Still, Boone was NOT a “dumb redneck” who would kill animals or other people for sport or self-indulgent “pleasure.” What he did and accomplished was driven by survival needs and a share of a higher vision of what 18th century humanity was about. He was a man of the age and place in which he found himself.

Excellent points, Trebor!

15. Trebor der Kojote - November 2, 2014

One further comment since it is 2.November – Happy Birthday, Mr. Boone!

A toast is definitely in order! Though it wouldn’t surprise me at all to learn that Daniel Boone was a teetotaler. He was always full of surprises!

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