Is Daniel Boone another folk hero created by himself?
|As a truth-seeking historian, I've grown to be skeptic when reading about people history holds up as folk heroes, or above average individuals. We've all grown up hearing about Davy Crockett, Jim Bowie, and Daniel Boone. We know through records these people actually existed, but few seem to know what inspired historians to paint their lives in glory and heroism. I like to get past the dime novels, written about them in their time, to what the actual record has to say about them.
Daniel Boone was born in 1734 and history remembers him as an American pioneer, explorer, woodsman, and frontiersman. He was part of the Kentucky militia and fought in the American Revolutionary War from 1775 - 83. He fought mostly against the British ally, the Shawnee Indian tribe. He founded the village of Boonesborough, Kentucky, one of the first American settlements west of the Appalachians. Before the end of the 18th century, more than 200,000 Americans migrated to Kentucky/Virginia by following the route marked by Boone.
Unlike Davy Crockett, Boone did not write about himself or produce an autobiography making unsubstantiated claims about his life. Author, historian, founder and surveyor, John Filson, worked as a schoolteacher in Lexington, Kentucky and in 1784 wrote "The Discovery, Settlement and Present State of Kentucky". The book is regarded as the first written history of Kentucky. In the book, he includes much about the life of Daniel Boone and accounts for most of what we know about the man today. Filson gives factual accounts of Daniel Boone's adventures and exploration of Kentucky during the American Revolution. Boone first wandered the lands of Kentucky in 1769, in the company of John Finley, John Steward, Joseph Holden, James Monay, and William Cool. The natives in this area caused Boone and his men many complications by continuously attacking during their travels. Amidst the battles, Filson describes Boone as a positive man throughout his entire visit. Boone believed that his narrative would inform others of how remarkable Kentucky was. He claimed that Kentucky was, "one of the most opulent and powerful states on the continent of North-America; which with the love and gratitude of my country-men, I esteem a sufficient reward for all my toil and danger."
Filson also writes that Boone was a quiet and humble man and did not like bragging about himself or his exploits. When asked to explain how he was the only survivor of a Shawnee raid, Boone replied, "Because I could run faster than everyone else".
So, after completing this research on another folk hero, I feel confident what history has to say about Daniel is not only true, but may be lacking in a lot more good deeds than we will ever know. Unlike Davy Crockett, who wrote his own flattering tale, Boone is a real folk hero and played a big part in forming Kentucky.