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In , Boone's parents were compelled to apologize publicly after their eldest child, Sarah, married John Willcockson, a "worldling" non-Quaker. Because the young couple had "kept company", they were considered "married without benefit of clergy". When the Boones' oldest son Israel married a "worldling" in , Squire Boone stood by him.
Both men were expelled from the Quakers; Boone's wife continued to attend monthly meetings with their younger children. In , Squire Boone sold his land and moved the family to North Carolina. Daniel Boone did not attend church again. He identified as a Christian and had all of his children baptized. This was in the western backwoods area. Because Boone grew up on the frontier, he had little formal education, but gained deep knowledge of the woods.
According to one family tradition, a schoolteacher once expressed concern over Boone's education, but Boone's father said, "Let the girls do the spelling and Dan will do the shooting. Historian John Mack Faragher cautions that the folk image of Boone as semiliterate is misleading, and argues that he "acquired a level of literacy that was the equal of most men of his times. He was often the only literate person in groups of frontiersmen.
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Boone would sometimes entertain his hunting companions by reading to them around the evening campfire. Waddell's unit was assigned to serve in the command of General Edward Braddock in , and Boone acted as a wagoner , along with his cousin Daniel Morgan , who would later be a key general in the American Revolution. Boone remained critical of Braddock's blunders for the rest of his life. While on the campaign, Boone met John Findley, a packer who worked for George Croghan in the trans-Appalachian fur trade. Findley first interested Boone in the abundance of game and other natural wonders of the Ohio Valley.
Findley took Boone on his first fateful hunting trip to Kentucky 12 years later.
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Her brother married one of Boone's sisters. The couple initially lived in a cabin on his father's farm.
They eventually had 10 children. Boone supported his growing family in these years as a market hunter and trapper , collecting pelts for the fur trade. Almost every autumn, Boone would go on "long hunts" , extended expeditions into the wilderness lasting weeks or months. Boone went alone or with a small group of men, accumulating hundreds of deer skins in the autumn, and trapping beaver and otter over the winter.
The hunt followed a network of bison migration trails, known as the Medicine Trails. When the long hunters returned in the spring, they sold their take to commercial fur traders. Robert Morgan's biography of Boone says that according to legend, Boone was away for two years, and during that time Rebecca had a daughter. Historian Lyman Draper said Rebecca, believing Boone was dead, had a relationship with his brother Ned, and Boone accepted the daughter as if she were his.
Frontiersmen often carved messages on trees or wrote their names on cave walls, and Boone's name or initials have been found in many places. A tree in present Washington County, Tennessee reads "D. Boon Cilled a. Bar on tree in the year ". Boon Kilt a Bar, In , a conflict erupted between the British forces and the Cherokee , their allies in the French and Indian War which continued in other parts of the continent.
Boone served in the North Carolina militia during this "Cherokee Uprising". His militia expeditions went deep into Cherokee territory beyond the Blue Ridge Mountains and he was separated from his wife for about two years. By the mids, with peace made with the Cherokee, colonial immigration into the area increased. The competition of new settlers decreased the amount of game available. Boone had difficulty making ends meet; he was often taken to court for nonpayment of debts. He sold his land to pay off creditors.
After his father's death in , Boone traveled with his brother Squire and a group of men to Florida , which had become British territory after the end of the war, to look into the possibility of settling there. According to a family story, Boone purchased land near Pensacola , but Rebecca refused to move so far away from her friends and family. Boone first reached Kentucky in the fall of while on a long hunt with his brother Squire Boone , Jr.
Boone's first steps in Kentucky were near present-day Elkhorn City.
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Boone and Findley happened to meet again, and Findley encouraged Boone with more tales of Kentucky. At the same time, news had arrived about the Treaty of Fort Stanwix , in which the Iroquois had ceded their claim to Kentucky to the British. This, as well as the unrest in North Carolina due to the Regulator Movement , likely prompted Boone to extend his exploration.
On May 11, , he began a two-year hunting expedition in Kentucky. On December 22, , Boone and a fellow hunter, Benjamin Cutbirth , were captured by a party of Shawnees, who confiscated all of their skins and told them to leave and never return. The Shawnees had not signed the Stanwix treaty, and since they regarded Kentucky as their hunting ground, they considered white hunters there to be poachers. Boone, however, continued hunting and exploring Kentucky until his return to North Carolina in , and returned to hunt there again in the autumn of On July 5, , Boone packed up his family and, with a group of about 50 immigrants, began the first attempt by British colonists to establish a settlement in Kentucky.
Boone was still an obscure hunter and trapper at the time; the most prominent member of the expedition was William Russell , a well-known Virginian and future brother-in-law of Patrick Henry. On October 9, Boone's eldest son James and a small group of men and boys who had left the main party to retrieve supplies were attacked by a band of Delawares , Shawnees, and Cherokees.
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Following the Treaty of Fort Stanwix, American Indians in the region had been debating what to do about the influx of settlers. This group had decided, in the words of historian John Mack Faragher, "to send a message of their opposition to settlement".
James Boone and William Russell's son Henry were captured and gruesomely tortured to death. The brutality of the killings sent shock waves along the frontier, and Boone's party abandoned its expedition. The massacre was one of the first events in what became known as Dunmore's War , a struggle between Virginia and, primarily, Shawnees of the Ohio Country for control of what is now West Virginia and Kentucky.
In the summer of , Boone volunteered to travel with a companion to Kentucky to notify surveyors there about the outbreak of war. Upon his return to Virginia, Boone helped defend colonial settlements along the Clinch River , earning a promotion to captain in the militia, as well as acclaim from fellow citizens. After the brief war, which ended soon after Virginia's victory in the Battle of Point Pleasant in October , the Shawnees relinquished their claims to Kentucky.
Following Dunmore's War, Richard Henderson , a prominent judge from North Carolina, hired Boone to travel to the Cherokee towns in present North Carolina and Tennessee and inform them of an upcoming meeting. In the treaty, Henderson purchased the Cherokee claim to Kentucky to establish a colony called Transylvania.
Afterwards, Henderson hired Boone and Cutbirth to blaze what became known as the Wilderness Road , which went through the Cumberland Gap and into central Kentucky. Along with a party of about 30 workers, Boone and Cutbirth marked a path to the Kentucky River , where they founded Boonesborough. Other settlements, notably Harrodsburg , were also established at this time.
Despite occasional Indian attacks, Boone returned to the Clinch Valley and brought his family and other settlers to Boonesborough on September 8, Violence in Kentucky increased with the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War — Native Americans who were unhappy about the loss of Kentucky in treaties saw the war as a chance to drive out the colonists. Isolated settlers and hunters became the frequent target of attacks, convincing many to abandon Kentucky.
By late spring of , fewer than colonists remained in Kentucky, primarily at the fortified settlements of Boonesborough, Harrodsburg, and Logan's Station. On July 5, , Boone's daughter Jemima and two other teenaged girls were captured outside Boonesborough by an Indian war party, who carried the girls north towards the Shawnee towns in the Ohio country.
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Boone and a group of men from Boonesborough followed in pursuit, finally catching up with them two days later. Boone and his men ambushed the Indians while they were stopped for a meal, rescuing the girls and driving off their captors. The incident became the most celebrated event of Boone's life. James Fenimore Cooper created a fictionalized version of the episode in his classic novel The Last of the Mohicans Boone was shot in the ankle while outside the fort, but he was carried back inside amid a flurry of bullets by Simon Kenton , a recent arrival at Boonesborough.
While Boone recovered, Shawnees kept up their attacks outside Boonesborough, killing cattle and destroying crops. With the food supply running low, the settlers needed salt to preserve what meat they had, so in January , Boone led a party of 30 men to the salt springs on the Licking River. Because Boone's party was greatly outnumbered, Boone returned the next day with Blackfish and persuaded his men to surrender rather than put up a fight. Blackfish wanted to continue to Boonesborough and capture it, since it was now poorly defended, but Boone convinced him that the women and children were not hardy enough to survive a winter trek.
Instead, Boone promised that Boonesborough would surrender willingly to the Shawnees the following spring.