Daniel Boone may have died more than 73,000 days ago, but that won’t stop hundreds of fans of the famed frontiersman from journeying to Defiance to Boone’s home on Saturday as the historic site commemorates the 200th anniversary of his death.
Kristine Madras, program coordinator with the Daniel Boone Historic Home, said more than 350 people are anticipated to participate in the two-day celebration that kicks off on Saturday and wraps up on Sunday.
She said she hopes attendees at this weekend’s event will walk away with a better understanding of the pioneer who was a pillar of pop culture in the late 1960s thanks in part to an NBC series, featuring Fess Parker as the titular character.
“What we have found is that a lot of the people who come to the Daniel Boone historic home come because of the television show in the 1960s. They have this idealized vision of Daniel as some kind of nostalgic frontier hero and have him on this pedestal in their mind. We try and connect visitors with the real Daniel Boone, the man who came westward not for adventure but because he was driven to find better opportunities for him and his family,” Madras said.
This weekend’s event, which will be held at the historic home, 1868 Highway F, in Defiance, will include performances from a number of historical actors.
“As we were planning for this weekend, we thought a lot about how this was a big milestone and how great it would be to present the life and death of Daniel Boone through first-person portrayals,” Madras said. Among the historical figures slated to appear this weekend are: Nathan Boone, Daniel Boone’s son; Elizabeth Hays, Daniel Boone’s granddaughter, and her husband, Isaac VanBibber; Zephaniah Sappington and his wife, Margaret, who were both friends of the Boone family; and the Rev. James Craig, who historians say delivered the sermon at Boone’s funeral in 1820.
“All of these portrayals will include moments where these ghosts of the past reminisce about Daniel Boone and the everyday moments that they shared with him,” Madras said.
The weekend schedule also includes presentations by Daniel Boone scholars, Ted Franklin Belue, a retired history professor from Murray State in Murray, Ky., and Ken Kamper of Hermann. Both will present in the outdoor pavilion, which Madras said has ample space for attendees to socially distance themselves from others and to adhere to current health guidelines related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Franklin Belue will present twice on Saturday. His first presentation, at 10:30 a.m., takes an in-depth look into Daniel Boone’s most famous portrait and the artist who painted it. His second presentation, at 1:30 p.m., will focus on Franklin Belue’s research into the mystery of Daniel Boone’s final resting place.
“He will be discussing his new book, ‘Finding Daniel Boone: His Last Days in Missouri and the Strange Fate of his Remains,’” Madras said.
According to local historians, Boone died at the family home in 1820 at the age of 85. Originally, Boone was buried near Marthasville on the north shore of the Missouri River next to his wife, Rebecca. However, in September 1845, Kentucky sent a delegation to exhume their remains and move them to Frankfort Cemetery in Frankfort, Ky. But local historians say they believe the husband and wife remain in Old Bryan Cemetery near Marthasville and that the Kentucky delegation exhumed the wrong remains.
Madras said while she believes she knows where Daniel Boone’s bones are, she and others are waiting to hear what Franklin Belue has to say on the matter.
Kamper, the Missouri historian who founded the Daniel Boone and Frontier Families Research Association, will discuss the life of Daniel Boone and his family prior to their arrival in Missouri and the legislative battle Missourians faced in their fight for statehood in the waning years of antebellum America. Kamper will present at 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.
Madras said it will likely take visitors two hours to complete their “journey back in time” and to hear from both presenters, with each presentation lasting approximately 45 minutes.
“It really depends on the person and what they want to see and hear, but within two hours they should be able to see everything,” Madras said. The itinerary for the day also includes presentations from volunteers who will demonstrate land surveying techniques used during Boone’s lifetime and skills such as woodworking, fiber making and more.
While the weekend’s historical portrayals and presentations are free and open to the public, there will be an $8 admission charge for adults, $6 for senior citizens and $5 for children between 5 and 12 years old, who wish to tour the historic Daniel Boone home. Active and retired military personnel and children younger than 4 are free to tour the home.
Madras said officials are not requiring attendees to wear masks at the event, but they are recommending they be worn. Officials are also recommending attendees practice social distancing whenever possible.
For more information about “Daniel Boone: A Bicentennial Remembrance,” call the park at 636-798-2005 or visit the St. Charles County Parks and Recreation Department at stccparks.org or visit the Daniel Boone Historic Home on Facebook.