Daniel Boone had a pat answer when asked, "Have you ever been lost?"
"No," he replied, "but one time I was bewildered for three days."If he managed not to get lost in life, Daniel Boone may have gotten lost since his death. It is no fault of his own. He was a very precise man and knew exactly where he and his wife Rebecca intended to be. He even made a coffin, tried it out and found it too small, so he made another for himself and one for his wife. Both were of cherry wood.
The problem is, the folks of Missouri say that Daniel Boone is buried at Marthasville, Mo., and folks of Kentucky say he is buried at Frankfort, Ky., alongside Rebecca. They both have markers and both make claims. Daniel would be the first to point out that he can only be in one place at a time.
It is an interesting story, and it all came out during a visit to Daniel Boone's rock home, at Defiance, Mo., where he lived out the last years of his life and died September 26, 1820.
The house still stands and is privately maintained as a tourist attraction. A guide, Rolla P. Andrea, almost as provincial as the house, rattles off the homespun stories of Daniel Boone as he guides groups from room to room. The house is fascinating and so are the stories. Andrea has put many of them in a book, "A True, Brief History of Daniel Boone."
Daniel's personal rifle hangs on the wall, a powder horn that he carved beside it. Family dishes, clothing, books and many of Daniel and Rebecca Boone's personal belongings are displayed in the home.
You can see Rebecca's butter churn, loom and many kitchen items which are displayed and demonstrated by Karen Chartrand, the historian resident. There is a fainting couch, where "ladies came to faint when they felt the pressure of their corsets becoming too great."
The furniture, much of it made by Daniel himself, is beautiful and functional. The bed had a roller at the foot so a quilt could be rolled on it and pulled up in the night if it became cold. A most intriguing cherry wood chest-desk-storage bureau, which had a hidden safe box that required a secret way to get it open, was demonstrated and the secret told.
Family pictures, genealogy charts, personal items from ladies gloves to chil dren's toys belonged to the family. You can see the notches on Daniel's gun. The notches denoted government military campaigns, not for people killed. Daniel Boone had contact with the French, British resistors and with the Indians, but he avoided killing as best he could, our guide explained.
Before the tour ends you will know that Daniel Boone was born at Exiter, Pa. He was mostly self-educated. He learned about Indians by watching their actions from a hilltop while he tended the family livestock.
He was a slight man, 5 feet 10 inches tall. He wore beaver and buckskin hats, not the popular coonskin cap. He learned surveying from George Washington.
He was a wagoner for Gen. Edward Braddock in the 1755 campaign against the French and Indians. He had been recommended by Washington as a blacksmith. He and one other man, John Finley, escaped an ambush by cutting the horses loose and riding to safety. It was Finley who talked him into going to "Kentuck," the unexplored frontier. The next year Daniel married Rebecca Bryan. By 1773 he had moved his family to Kentucky and, in the process of getting established, suffered the death of his oldest son, James, who was killed by Indians. Another son, Israel, was killed at age 23 in the Battle of Blue Locks, the last battle of the American Revolution. Daniel and Rebecca had 10 children.
The land he had pioneered quickly grew in population. Though he had claimed, surveyed and cleared a great deal of land, he lost it because of "vague titles." Discouraged, he left Kentucky, never to return, at least not while he was alive.
Daniel made a dugout canoe, 60-feet long, from a huge poplar tree and set sail on the Ohio River with family members, bound for another frontier, St. Louis. A son, Nathen, 18, and his 16-year-old bride made an adventurous trip overland to St. Louis. The Boone family established on a land grant from the Spanish. At age 70, Daniel built a cabin and then the permanent rock house that still stands. The interior was of walnut, the carving by Daniel himself. He made furniture, Rebecca's loom was assembled and they enjoyed the frontier comforts of the 1800s. Missouri was their home.
This was a busy time: He administered justice, doctored the sick and served in government offices. When offered a settlement for expenses, he said, "Gentlemen, you owe me nothing, I walked."
While visiting their daughter, Jemina Callaway, to make maple syrup, Rebecca became suddenly ill and died March 18, 1813. She was buried in the cherry wood coffin that Daniel had made, on the nearby knoll at Teuque Creek, Marthasville, Mo. This little cemetery is on the Bryan farm.
With Rebecca gone, 80-year-old Daniel became lonely and restless. He decided to make one last trip to the West, and with a black servant and an Indian scout, he traveled beyond the continental divide as far as Yellowstone and down to the Great Salt Lake before returning to Missouri.
In 1820, Daniel became ill while visiting the Callaways but fought for strength and rode his horse, Old Roan, back to his home. Three days later, after enjoying his favorite treat, sweet potatoes, he was taken with illness again.
"Death strode across the threshold of the old stone house Sept. 26, and the valiant frontiersman offered no fight this time," recited our guide at the old rock home. The cherry coffin was pulled from under the bed; Daniel was dressed in his fringed hunting clothes and transported to the Callaway home for a funeral. The house would not accommodate all the people who came to the service, so it was held in the entrance of the old log barn nearby.
The grave diggers opened the soil next to Rebecca only to find the bones and skull of a previous burial. These were hastily recovered, and since the other side was not suitable for digging, Daniel, in his cherry-wood coffin, was buried at the foot of Rebecca.
But it was not "rest in peace" for Rebecca and Daniel. In 1845, a delegation from Kentucky, who considered Daniel Boone their founder, came to recover the bodies for burial in their state. The local Missourians objected, but the Kentuckians persisted and removed the cherry-wood coffin containing Rebecca and the bones buried next to her. Those who stood by said nothing, satisfied to see the Kentucky group leave without Daniel Boone, as the story goes.
A large stone and plaque, placed by the Daughters of the American Revolution, marks the spot in the picturesque little Missouri cemetery on the knoll by the stream. At Frankfort, Ky., another monument marks the spot where Daniel Boone is buried. Road maps for both states identify the grave site of Daniel Boone.
Do you suppose Daniel Boone is lost or just bewildered?