Pioneer Days




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By Dan Beard

All loyal Sons of Daniel Boone and all good American boys should observe the pioneer days, the first of which is

Lincoln's Day

February 12th; little Abe was born on this day in I809.  We must count the great Lincoln in among the Buckskin Knights, for he himself said that in his youth his wardrobe consisted of a coonskin cap, a linsey-woolsey shirt, a buckskin wammus, deerskin breeches and moccasins.

Johnny Appleseed Day

The exact day of Jonathan Chapman's birth is uncertain, but Arbor Day is his day and the day which we celebrate where Arbor Day is observed. In a country where Arbor Day is not observed we choose the first day of spring, when the ground and conditions are right, for tree-planting. Next comes the birthday of

Simon Kenton

on April 3d, which is celebrated by :he first out-door camping expedition. After that quickly follows

Audubon's Day

on the 4th day of May. This should be devoted to nailing bird boxes on all the trees within reach. Next in order is the midsummer holiday,

David Crockett's Day

on August 17th. This may be celebrated by camping, out-door games, and athletic contests. After that comes the hunting season. When the leaves have lost their beautiful autumn coloring and those that have not fallen are withered and brown, it is

Boone's Day

November 2d. This day can be devoted to out-door sport, throwing the tomahawk, and archery for all the boys, but

Daniel Boone

the older lads may engage in rifle practice. Right in midwinter, the day before Christmas, is

Kit Carson's Day

because he was born on December 24th, and any Son of Daniel Boone who cannot think of something bully to do at that time can find it in the following pages. Snow forts, skating contests, running the gantlet, tracking in the snow, and, if the weather is bad, in-door games are in order. Kit was not only a great scout, but he was also a grandson of Daniel Boone, so be sure to remember him with a lively and enthusiastic day of fun.

Boone Day

does not come until autumn, but we are Boone boys, so a word about our patron saint is in order right here. There will be no attempt at a lengthy biography of any of our heroes. The reader can find books giving the lives of these men at all libraries, and a good biography of any one of the Pioneers would fill all the pages of this book; but a short sketch of some of our different characters may interest the reader, so a few such will be found in these pages.

Daniel Boone

Meeting descendants of an old hero whom we admire makes him more real to us.  It is as if we were at the near end of the bridge, which spans the length of days, separating us from the object of our interest.

I personally know a number of the people who are descendants of the great, simple hearted hunter, Daniel Boone.   Among these are Dr. Albert Shaw, editor of Review of Reviews, and Mr. John Cassel, whose excellent illustrations frequently appear in the magazines.  Cassel has that dark, reddish hair of the old Boone tribe.

Boone Day comes very appropriately in the hunting season, for the great hunter, pioneer, backwoodsman, and State builder was born on November 2, 1734, in Oley Township, on Oatin Creek, Pennsylvania.  He was of Quaker ancestry, and all through life retained many of the characteristics of the members of the religious Society of Friends, and never was guilty of using vulgar or coarse language.  Rough as he was, he was not profane, but was a man of great action though of few words.

Daniel Boone was what is called a fighting Quaker, that is to say, he believed in self-defense, when his own life or those of his friends or family were threatened, and there were many Quakers of this kind on the Ohio frontier.  Daniel Boone was a religious man, and firmly believed that he was an instrument ordained of God to open up the wilderness to be settled by Christians.

If our hero was a birthright Quaker, he was also a born hunter.  When he was not more than eight or ten years old, he managed to kill birds and small game with no better weapon than a smooth rod with a small bunch of hard roots at one end.

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Fig. 22.
Daniel Boone's camp axe 
(From a photograph).

His heart's desire, however, was a rifle, and when he was twelve years old his father gave him one. Never did a gift delight a boy more. Of course it was a man's size, for in those days no rifles were made for lads, and the men's rifles were, lock and stock, more than six feet long.

We may fancy little Daniel Boone dragging about after him this great shooting-iron and looking about for a convenient stump or log upon which to rest it when he fired.   Young Boone, however, in the due course of time, became strong enough to hold the long gun without a rest, and so expert in its use that it was no trouble to keep his family supplied with "meat fixings."

The young hunter left farming to the rest of the family and built himself a little lodge in the forest's depths, where he spent months at a time all by himself, especially in the fall and ' winter.  He found more profit in the skins he dressed and sold at the nearest market towns than at the farm or the forge, for Daniel's father was a blacksmith.

When he came to the years of manhood, and after his return from Braddock's defeat, he married Rebecca Bryan, a sweet and pretty dark-haired girl of seventeen, who proved a good, faithful wife to him all her life long.

At the time he was married he was a powerfully built young man, five feet eight or ten inches tall, with the deep chest and broad shoulders of a modern foot-ball player or oarsman on a college crew.  He had a firm, wide mouth with the thin lips of a man of strong character; his hair was reddish-black and long, after the style of the day; his eyes were blue and his sunburned eyebrows were bleached to a yellowish color; his nose had a hint of the Roman in its form; his color was ruddy and fine from exposure, and his countenance noble, dignified, and striking.

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Fig. 23

Boone dressed like other backwoodsmen, in a fringed buckskin drawers and leggins, with moccasins on his feet, a wammus or long-tailed hunting shirt with cape or ornamental collar, trimmed with fur or fringe; but, unlike the others, he wore a Quaker's hat of felt in place of the ordinary coonskin cap, and when all wearers of felt hats had them cocked (the rim turned up on three sides).  Boone wore his with a straight brim.  Thus he was dressed when he married the pretty seventeen-year-old Rebecca Bryan.

The primitive life led by these young people was almost the same as that of the mountaineers of Tennessee nowadays.

Boone was in no sense a scholar.  He knew how to read and write, but his spelling was exceedingly strange.  Education, however, has a broader sense than the acquisition of book knowledge, and Boone knew more about hunting and woodcraft than perhaps any man of his day or of ours.  No one could more quickly or accurately tread the thickest forests or use his rifle, hatchet, or knife, or track wild animals to their secret retreats.

He was the man for the work he had to do, and he did it well and bravely, and showed as much intelligence and manliness in what he accomplished as any individual who lived in his day or generation. He was a clear-minded man, and at forty years of age Boone still wore a felt hat, and showed his Quaker instinct by wearing buckskin clothes dyed black, his hair being long and clubbed in the back.

Boone said himself that he was an instrument of God to settle the wilderness, and proved it by his life.

The Sons of Daniel Boone stand for the preservation of our American birds and animals, and Daniel Boone himself was the first man in America to stand for game protection.

Before the Declaration of Independence was written, back in May, 1775, the hardy backwoodsmen of Kentucky formed themselves into an independent government of their own.   Representatives from Harrodsburg, St. Asaph's, Boiling Springs, and Boonesborough met, formed a government, and passed laws.  It was an assembly of backwoodsmen, but its proceedings were dignified and in due form.

In "Daniel Boone and the Hunters of Kentucky," by W. H. Bogart, published in 1854, we read that Boone was among the delegates, and one of his biographers says of him: "It was but a few months since he had been the only white man in all that country, with no form of human government about him; and here he was in the midst of a formal assemblage.  But he made his presence known, and, true to the practical, earnest habits of his life, doing that which he could do best, on the first day the entry is this:

"‘On motion of Mr. Daniel Boone, leave was given to bring in a bill for preserving game, and a committee was appointed for that purpose, of which Mr. Boone was chairman.’

"His next bill was one for improving the breed of horses.  Both of these bills passed, were signed by the proprietors, and became laws."

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Fig. 24. 
Boone's powder-horn

The laws of this unauthorized legislature did not long hold power, but when one considers how slight impression could have been made at that time on the natural abundance of game, one realizes what wonderful foresight Boone showed in introducing a measure for preserving it.

The first real Boone Day celebration was on June 15, 1906, at Louisville.

There was a reunion of the descendants of Daniel Boone in Cherokee Park pavilion, about a dozen lineal descendants of the great pioneer being present.  The statue of Boone, modeled by Miss Enid Yandell, of Louisville, was unveiled.  Following this a reproduction of one of the many stirring events in the life of Boone was given in another part of the park.

A stronghold situated a on the summit of a small elevation and called "Fort Boonesborough" was attacked by the hordes of "savages," who were on the point of overpowering and annihilating the garrison when a swarm of "pioneers," led by "Boone" in person, arrived in time to drive away the "Indians" and save the fort and its inmates.  The spectacle was given in a vivid and realistic manner, and evoked the hilarious cheers of the thousands who had gathered to witness it.

Open-air dancing finished the day in the park, the program being confined to reels and other dances in vogue a century ago.

In the evening there was a gorgeous illuminated parade.  Fifteen wagons, decorated as floats, were in the column, each representing some stage in the progress of Kentucky.

This was followed by a grand ball in the armory, for which twenty thousand invitations had been issued.  The grand march was led by the chairman of the ball and the members of the floor committee.  Behind them came the queen of the ball, Miss Clara Haldeman, and Daniel Boone, impersonated by W. W. Davies.  Following them came maids of honor.

The march ended at the foot of the queen's throne, which she mounted with Daniel Boone standing at her side.

A queen and a throne are about the last things that "ole Dan'l Boone" would have had anything to do with, but this was only a make-believe Daniel Boone.  The queen herself was pretty, and maybe she looked like seventeen year-old Rebecca Bryan, so we cannot blame Mr. Davies for climbing up to the throne.  There are many lives of Daniel Boone for the boys to read that are thrilling and interesting, but the one by Dr. Reuben Goldthwaites is the most authentic.


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Fig. 25.
Boone's spring trap. 
(Hand made)

The Boy Pioneers






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Last modified: October 15, 2016.