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Last Days And Death Of Daniel Boone, Kentucky's Great Pioneer
Old Pioneer Died Peacefully At Son's Home In Missouri In 1820
By C. L. S. - Ca. 1900
Every student of American history is familiar with the life and career of Daniel Boone, who opened up to settlement and civilization an extent of territory that is now an empire in wealth and resources. To do this he braved the wild animals in their native haunts, and grappled hand to hand in bloody combats with the still wilder red man of the forest, waging a relentless warfare against the latter until the advance of the tide of civilization drove him beyond the reach of his unerring rifle. His efforts were not in vain, and in his declining years he saw settlements spring up around him as at the magic touch of Aladdin's lamp, and where only a short period before was heard the sharp scream of the catamount, or the still more blood-curdling warwhoop of the Indian, now resounded the peaceful hum of industries of agriculture and commerce.
At last came old age and death, and we find him at this point settled in the state of Missouri. The closing years of his life were devoted to the society of his neighbors, his children, and grandchildren, of whom he was very fond. After the death of his wife, which event occurred March 18, 1813, wishing to be near her grave, he removed from his son Nathan's, on Femme Osage Creek, where they had lived several years before, and made his home with his eldest daughter, Mrs. Flanders Calloway; who lived with her husband and family on Teuque Creek, near the spot where Mrs. Boone was buried.
Flanders Calloway had removed from Kentucky to Missouri shortly before the purchase of the territory by the United States, and had received a grant of land from the Spanish Government.
Frequent visits were made by the old pioneer to the homes of his other children, and his coming was always made an occasion of an ovation to "Grandfather," as he was affectionately named by his grandchildren, who loved him dearly. Wherever he chanced to be, he was never idle, and his time was always employed at some useful occupation. He made powder-horns for his grandchildren and neighbors, carving and ornamenting many of them with much skill and taste. He also repaired rifles, and performed other kinds of handicraft with neatness and finish.
During the latter part of the year 1820, he was seized with a severe attack of fever which confined him to his bed for some time at Flanders Callaway's, but he rallied and was able to pay his accustomed visit to his son, Maj. Nathan Boone, on Femme Osage Creek. The children of the latter went wild over their beloved grandfather, and everything possible was done to make his visit agreeable, and to render him comfortable.
For a few days he was happy in their society, and his genial disposition and pleasant manners diffused joy and gladness throughout the entire household. His true character was never manifested in the presence of strangers, before whom he always appeared somewhat reserved, but in the company of his relatives or intimate acquaintances he was the soul of good humor and geniality. One day a dish of baked sweet potatoes, of which he was passionately fond, was prepared for him. He ate heartily of them and soon after had an attack of stomach trouble from which he never recovered. He continued to grow worse and after about four days' illness, expired on the 26th of September, 1820, in the 86th year of his age.
He died peacefully, without a single fear of death or doubts about a future existence. He had never made any profession of religion or united with any church, but his entire life was a beautiful example of the golden rule: "Do unto others as you would that they should do to you."
In a letter to one of his sisters a short time before his death, he said that "he had always tried to live as an honest and conscientious man should and was perfectly willing to surrender his soul to a just God." His mind was not such as could lean upon any one creed, but one that required a well considered reason for everything, and he died the death of a philosopher rather than that of a Christian. His death was quiet, peaceful, and serene. It has often been stated that he died at a deer "lick," with his rifle in his hands, watching for deer, and again that he died in a log cabin, as he had lived, but this was not correct, as the venerable old pioneer expired in the neat and substantial stone house of his son, Major Nathan Boone, and the building is still standing to bear truth to the assertion.
The remains of the departed pioneer were sorrowfully placed in a coffin that he had himself made and conveyed the next day to the home of Flanders Calloway. The news of his death had spread rapidly, and a vast concourse of people collected on the day of the funeral to pay their last respects to the distinguished and beloved dead.
The funeral sermon was preached by the Rev. James Craig, a son-in-law of Major Nathan Boone; and the house being too small to accommodate the people the remains were carried to the large barn near the house, into which the large assemblage crowded to listen to the funeral services.
At their close the body was borne to the cemetery and deposited in the grave that had been prepared for it, close by the side of Mrs. Boone. At the time of Boone's death the Constitutional Convention of Missouri was in session at St. Louis, and upon the receipt of the intelligence a resolution was offered by Hon. Benjamin Emmons, that the members wear the usual badge of mourning for 30 days, in respect to the memory of the deceased, and adjourn for one day. The resolution was unanimously adopted.
In the year of 1845 a new cemetery was dedicated by the citizens of Frankfort, Kentucky, and it was proposed to consecrate the ground by interring therein the bodies of Daniel Boone and his devoted wife, that had slumbered together in the sacred spot prepared by loving hands, on the banks of the Missouri, for a quarter of a century. The Kentucky Legislature appointed a committee to supervise the removal of the remains, and in the succeeding summer these gentlemen visited St. Louis and made known their mission, and were conducted by a delegation of citizens to the site of the interment.
The graves were situated upon land belonging to Mr. Harvey Griswold, who at first objected to their removal, as he intended to build a monument over them and beautify the place. He was supported in his objections by a number of influential citizens, who claimed that Missouri had as much right to the remains of Daniel Boone as Kentucky, especially as the old pioneer had selected the locations of his grave, and had given such particular instructions about being buried there.
The gentlemen from Kentucky finally carried their point, and on the 17th of July 1845, the remains of Boone and his wife were removed from their graves. The remains were placed in new coffins prepared for their reception, and conveyed to Kentucky, where they were re-interred, with appropriate ceremonies, in the cemetery at Frankfort, on the 20th of August 1845. A vast concourse of people from all parts of the state collected to witness the ceremonies. An ovation was delivered by Hon. John J. Crittenden, and Joseph B. Wells, of Missouri, made an appropriate address. A beautiful monument was erected over the graves of Boone and his wife a few years after their re-interment, on the four squares of which were carved scenes representing his conflicts with the Indians.