Daniel Boone: Biography, Facts & Timeline

Instructor: Nate Sullivan

Nate Sullivan holds a M.A. in History and a M.Ed. He is an adjunct history professor, middle school history teacher, and freelance writer.

In this lesson, we will learn about the life of Daniel Boone. We will highlight key facts about his life, and learn why he was an important figure in American history.

Daniel Boone the Folk Hero

'Daniel Boone was a man//Yes, a big man!//He was brave, he was fearless//And as tough as a mighty oak tree!'

This is a popular folk song written about Daniel Boone. Maybe you've heard folk tales about Daniel Boone. Maybe you've heard the name, but are somewhat unsure of exactly what he did. In this lesson, we will learn about who Daniel Boone really was, and why he is an important figure in American history. Along with Davy Crockett, Daniel Boone is an early American folk hero. There have been a lot of tall tales about Daniel Boone, but don't believe everything you hear: he wasn't really as big as a mountain. But he was a real man and, in many ways, was pretty ordinary. So who was he and what did he do exactly? Well, he was an explorer, a woodsmen, and an officer during the Revolutionary War to begin with. Let's dig deeper and find out more about him.

Daniel Boone Escorting Settlers

Daniel Boone: The Early Years

Daniel Boone was born near Reading, Pennsylvania in 1734. He was the sixth of eleven children. Young Daniel learned to hunt at a young age, and developed a keen interest in the outdoors. In 1750, his family moved to the Yadkin River Valley region of North Carolina. Because this area was the frontier at the time, Boone received little formal education, and instead devoted his energies to woodsmanship. In 1754, the French and Indian War broke out. It lasted until 1763. Boone volunteered to join a local militia. He served as a wagon driver under the command of General Edward Braddock. On one occasion, he narrowly escaped death when his wagon train was attacked by Native Americans. In 1756, Boone married Rebecca Bryan. The couple would eventually have ten children. Tension with local Native American groups led to the Boones moving temporarily to Virginia.

Settling Kentucky

During this time, Boone kept hearing fantastic stories about the land of Kentucky to the north and west. He began exploring the land and hunting there. On one occasion he was captured by Native Americans, but was eventually released. In 1773, Boone and his family, along with a group of immigrants, set out to establish a permanent settlement in Kentucky. It would eventually be called Boonesborough. Big surprise, right? Two years later, Boone was hired to blaze a trail to Kentucky through the Cumberland Gap. This trail became known as the Wilderness Road. The road extended from Fort Chiswell, Virginia into central Kentucky. It became the principal route by which settlers passed through the Appalachian Mountains and entered Kentucky.

Daniel Boone shows the way through the Cumberland Gap

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