Morgan Daniel Boone was the son of our greatest American pioneer, Daniel Boone, and was probably the first American-born white man to step foot in what was to become Jackson County. Morgan arrived on Osage hunting grounds in 1787 to hunt and trap fur bearing animals along the Blue River. He was probably here long before the Americans had any right to be. His father had taught him how to get along with the Indians, and those skills served him well throughout his entire lifetime.

Morgan Daniel Boone was the son of our greatest American pioneer, Daniel Boone, and was probably the first American-born white man to step foot in what was to become Jackson County. Morgan arrived on Osage hunting grounds in 1787 to hunt and trap fur bearing animals along the Blue River. He was probably here long before the Americans had any right to be. His father had taught him how to get along with the Indians, and those skills served him well throughout his entire lifetime.

Morgan Daniel Boone took his wife and their 11 children into Indian Territory, settling along the north bank of the Kansas River about seven miles from where the city of Lawrence is today. They were sent there to teach the Kanza Indians how to farm the white man’s way. It was shortly thereafter that the luckiest baby in Kansas was born.

Little Napoleon Boone was born on Aug. 22, 1828, and that is why he was so lucky. He was not only the first white child born in Kansas, but he was named on behalf of Napoleon Bonaparte, the great French leader. Except for his uncle, Gabe Phillibert, and a storekeeper, Frederick Chouteau, all of Napoleon’s neighbors were Indians.

One of those neighbors was White Plume, a chief of the Kanza tribe. The chief brought the lucky new baby a present of a buffalo robe that had been scraped and pounded as soft as a chamois, a necklace of elk’s teeth, and an eagle feather painted red. White Plume’s wife brought him a pair of colored moccasins made of soft fawn’s skin.

Napoleon’s mother and father were the only white farmers in Kansas at the time, and they knew well how to live off the land and make almost everything they needed. Morgan cut the trees and built their log cabin. He plastered the inside with lime that he made himself. They had no stove, but Mrs. Boone cooked supper on the fireplace they made of field stones.

Every spring, Napoleon’s father would cut the wool from the sheep and his mother spun the wool on her spinning wheel. As Napoleon began to grow, Morgan taught him how to hunt deer, which they dressed out for the evening meal. They would then tan the hides for deer skin coats and trousers. Mr. Boone shot and skinned a buffalo when he needed a new robe. For bed covers, they had buffalo robes and wool blankets, which mom had also made. She made all the soap for the family from the fat of hogs in a big kettle out in the back yard. She made candles from the fat of cattle.

Candles were the only kind of lights they had on the Kansas frontier, except maybe the light of the fireplace. Napoleon loved to sit by the fireplace at night and listen to his father tell stories of his adventures among the Indians and stories about his grandfather, Daniel Boone. Napoleon had many playmates, not only his many brothers and sisters, but the neighborhood Indian children as well. In the summer, they had lots of fun picking wild strawberries, wild grapes, wild plums and other wild fruit.

The Boones lived in Kansas for about 20 years before they settled in Jackson County, where they farmed the fertile soils just south of Westport for the remainder of their lives. This writer doesn’t know too many more details about Napoleon, but Morgan Daniel Boone is buried in a family cemetery at 63rd and Brooklyn, north of Research Medical Center.



Reference: Early Days in Kansas by Bliss Isely.

George Caleb Bingham was a Union officer, politician and an artist. His famous painting of Order No. 11 is now on loan from the Missouri Historical Society at the Truman Library, 500 U.S. 24, through Sept. 8, in celebration of the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War.