After spending the 244th birthday of America in Washington on July 4th, we traveled on towards West Virginia and Kentucky.
Ironically, 244 years to the day, July 5th, 1776, Indians captured Daniel Boone’s daughter Jemima and two of her companions in Boonsborough, Kentucky. Boone quickly staged an ambush and rescued the girls, inspiring the historical novel, The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper.
Baby Boomers like me grew up with heroes like The Lone Ranger, Roy Rogers, Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone. It was a natural bucket list choice to visit Boone country.
Actor Fess Parker played the movie and television roles of both Crockett and Boone, American explorers and frontiersmen. It was Boone who blazed a trail through the Cumberland Gap, providing access to America’s western frontier.
Because of Parker, the Coonskin Cap became a national craze in the late 1950s and early 1960s. He starred in the TV series Daniel Boone from September 24, 1964, to May 7, 1970, on NBC for 165 episodes.
Ed Ames co-starred as Mingo, Boone’s Cherokee friend, for the first four seasons of the series. Even Country Western singer (“Big Bad John”) Jimmy Dean was a featured actor as Josh Clements during the 1968–1970 seasons. Actor and former NFL football player Rosie Grier made regular appearances as Gabe Cooper in the 1969 to 1970 season.
When Boone founded the colony of Boonsborough, Indian attacks were common causing many settlers to eventually leave Kentucky. But Boone brought his family to live.
In February 1778, Shawnee Chief Blackfish captured Boone and adopted him as his own son. But Boone escaped four months later and helped Boonsborough defeat the Shawnee at the Siege of Boonsborough.
After establishing the settlement of Boone Station in December 1779, he relocated to present-day West Virginia and served in the Virginia legislature.
When elected as a representative in the Virginia legislature, he shouldered his pack, took his gun, and walked the entire trip to Richmond and return on foot. Boone served in the legislature with George Clendennin, the founder of Charleston.
He became a resident of a valley that resulted in Boone County, WV being named for him. About 1795 there was a family of Flinns living on Cabin Creek. The Flinn home was attacked by Indians. The mother and father were killed and a daughter named Cloe Flinn was taken prisoner.
When Boone learned of the tragedy, he knew the location of the Indians and succeeded in rescuing her from their camp. Now being an orphan, Boone took the girl into his own home and her a member of the family.
When he moved to Missouri, he became a respected leader and in 1807 was appointed a justice of Femme Osage township by Meriweather Lewis, famed leader of the Lewis and Clark Expedition who at the time was serving as governor of the region.
At the age of 78, Boone volunteered for the War of 1812 but was denied admission. In 1817, the lifelong outdoorsman went on a final hunt into his beloved wilderness.
He lived the last years of his life in Missouri, where he died of natural causes on September 26, 1820, at the age of 85.
Some years later, a proposal came before the Virginia legislature to form two counties from Logan County. St. Clair Ballard, a grandson of the Cloe Flinn who was rescued by Daniel Boone, was a member of this legislature from Logan county.
When the time came to give the new county a name, Mr. Ballard told the story of his grandmother’s rescue by Boone and moved by way of acknowledgment to Boone’s services, that the county be given his name. The motion was unanimously passed.
When Boone died in the Femme Osage River Valley in Missouri, he was buried beside his wife, Rebecca, on the farm of his daughter, Jemima.
In 1845, the Boones were disinterred and their remains were moved to Frankfort, Kentucky.
Charleston, WV was granted a charter to the community in 1794 under the name Charles Town. It was shortened to Charleston in 1818. Booker T. Washington grew up in nearby Malden, then known as Kanawha Salines.
In 1834, James Craik, grandson of George Washington’s personal physician, built a house on the east side of Charleston.
It was sold in 1859 to the wife of George Smith Patton, who had come to the Kanawha Valley to practice law. At the outbreak of the Civil War, Patton organized the Kanawha Riflemen and fought for the Confederacy. He was mortally wounded at the Battle of Winchester. His great-grandson was General George S. Patton, Jr., a hero of World War II. The Craik-Patton House is now a historic landmark.
The state is just beautiful…almost Heaven.
John Denver performed it best:
Almost heaven, West Virginia
Blue Ridge Mountains, Shenandoah River
Life is old there, older than the trees
Younger than the mountains, growing like a breeze
Country roads, take me home
to the place I belong
West Virginia, Mountain Mama
Take me home, country roads