The famous Daniel Boone lived to a ripe old age and spent his final years in Missouri, often in the company of children and grandchildren, and he continued to hunt and trap as much as his health and energy levels permitted.
According to one story, in 1810, Boone went with a group on a long hunt as far west as the Yellowstone River, a remarkable journey at his age. If true, he was 79.
In 1816, a United States officer at Fort Osage in Jackson County, Missouri wrote, "We have been honored by a visit from Colonel Boone, the first settler of Kentucky; he lately spent two weeks with us, and left us for the River Platt, some distance above. Colonel Boone is eighty-five years of age, five feet seven inches, stoutly made, and active for one of his years; still of vigorous mind, and is pretty well informed. He has taken part in all the wars of America, from before Braddock's war to the present hour.”
Daniel Boone died of natural causes on Sept. 26, 1820, at Nathan Boone’s home on Femme Osage Creek. His last words were, "I'm going now. My time has come."
His obituary, printed in the Missouri Gazette, October 3, 1820, says, "At the age of eighty, in company with one white man and a black man, whom he laid under strict injunction to return him to his family dead or alive; he made a hunting trip to the headwaters of the Great Osage, where he was successful in trapping of beaver, and in taking other game." Other stories of Boone around this time have him making one last visit to Kentucky to pay off his creditors, although some or all of these tales may be folklore.
American painter John James Audubon claimed to have gone hunting with Boone in the woods of Kentucky around 1810. Years later, Audubon painted a portrait of Boone, supposedly from memory, although skeptics have noted the similarity of this painting to the well-known portrait by Chester Harding. Boone's family insisted he never returned to Kentucky after 1799, although some historians believe Boone visited his brother Squire near Kentucky in 1810 and have therefore reported Audubon's story as factual.
According to "The Boone Family" by Hazel Atterbury Spraker (1982), he “was buried near the body of his wife, Rebecca, who had died on March 18, 1813, in a cemetery established in 1803 by David Bryan, upon the bank of a small stream called Tuque Creek about one and one-half miles southeast of Marthasville, it being at that time the only Protestant cemetery North of the Missouri River."
The graves were unmarked until the mid-1830s. In 1845, the Boones' remains were supposedly disinterred and reburied in Frankford Cemetery in Frankford, Kentucky. Resentment in Missouri about the disinterment grew over the years, and a legend arose that Boone's remains never left Missouri. According to this story, Boone's tombstone in Missouri had been inadvertently placed over the wrong grave, but no one had ever corrected the error. Boone's relatives in Missouri, displeased with the Kentuckians who came to exhume Boone, kept quiet about the mistake, and they allowed the Kentuckians to dig up the wrong remains. There is no contemporary evidence that this actually happened, but in 1983, a forensic anthropologist examined a crude plaster cast of Boone's skull that was made before the Kentucky reburial and announced it might be the skull of an African American. Black slaves had also been buried at Tuque Creek, so it is possible the wrong remains were mistakenly removed from the crowded graveyard. Both the Frankfort Cemetery in Kentucky and the Old Bryan Farm graveyard in Missouri still claim to have Boone's remains.
Reference: "The Boone Family," by Hazel Atterbury Spraker.
To reach Ted W. Stillwell send e-mail to Ted@blueandgrey.com or call him at 816-896-3592.