Squire Boone Chapter 1: An original Shelby Countian

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By Ron Van Stockum



Squire Boone is well remembered for his establishment of the first settlement in Shelby County, known as “The Painted Stone Station.”

And for 10 years a group of history buffs in our county has presented a reenactment of “The Long Run Massacre & Floyd’s Defeat,” depicting the fate of settlers fleeing that station in 1781 to seek security at Linn's Station, the eastern-most of the Beargrass stations, near the “Falls of the Ohio,” which became Louisville.

But Squire Boone, despite his legend, has lived for all in the shadow of his famous brother, Daniel.

It was 240 years ago this week, June 6, 1769, that Daniel Boone first saw Kentucky and opened to pathway for Squire to Shelby County.

That trek to our homeland was long and arduous, but many of the facts have languished among historians and in legends.

For the next several weeks, we will attempt to unravel the legend of the man who had such an important role in the establishment of our community, an original Shelby Countian.

  Chapter 1: The Boone brothers

Squire Boone, brother of the famous trailblazer and pioneer Daniel Boone, has been overshadowed by his brother and largely neglected in frontier history.

Daniel, 10 years older, gained international fame as a result of being singled out as the prototypical frontiersman by Kentucky's first historian, John Filson.  Just as William Boswell magnified the image of 18th Century literary great Samuel Johnson, so Filson created an image of Daniel Boone that was larger than life.

This he did in his small book The Discovery, Settlement and present State of Kentucke, first printed in Philadelphia in 1784 and soon thereafter in France, Germany and England.

Included in this book was an appendix entitled "The Adventures of Col. Daniel Boon; containing a Narrative of the Wars of Kentucke," purporting to be the personal narrative of Boone himself.

Filson, accepting Boone's story as entirely factual, edited it in such a way that Boone was seen to have literary accomplishments to match his skills as Indian fighter.  Even so, Filson’s Kentucke is the only Boone autobiography that has survived and as such, when taken with several grains of salt, provides a summary of his activities in Kentucky from May 1, 1769 until his encounter with Filson in 1784.

During the early part of his life, when Squire Boone was closely involved in the activities of Daniel, their 10-year age difference must be given due consideration.

Squire was a child of 10 or 1 when Daniel, 21, a teamster for Braddock's army, first met John Finley, who was to have such a significant impact upon the careers of the both Boone brothers.

In 1775, while there were associated with Daniel a number of backwoodsmen who subsequently became well-known, it was Daniel, a hunter, an explorer, and a man with great experience on the frontier, who was picked by Judge Richard Henderson to blaze the trail into Kentucky.

Though Henderson's colony of Transylvania was short-lived, it was of monumental significance in the opening of Kentucky and the West.

On that trip, Daniel was 41, and Squire, 31, was at the prime of his life.

  The young Squire

Squire Boone stood about 5 feet 9 inches or 10 inches tall and carried 160 pounds on a muscular frame and had the strong arms of a smithy.

Two of his sons, in their descriptions to historian Lyman C. Draper, agree that he had sandy hair and complexion, but one describes his eyes as blue, the other as hazel.

Squire Boone had learned well how to survive in the wilderness and how to cope with the Indians.  He was always fond of hunting, but not as much as Daniel was.

Squire did not demonstrate the diplomatic talents of his brother in dealing with the Indians and in explaining such dealings to his fellow pioneers.  More active as an Indian-fighter than Daniel, he would "rather fight than switch."

In many ways, he was just like his famous older brother.

Squire Boone Sr. (1696-1765), born in  Devonshire, England, emigrated to Pennsylvania in 1713.  In 1720 he married Sarah Morgan in the Friends' meetinghouse in Gwynedd, then in the County of Philadelphia and later in Berks County.

The first of 11 children of this union, Sarah, was born in 1724; the last, Hannah, in 1746.  Daniel, born on October 26, 1734, the sixth child; and Squire, Jr., on October 5, 1744, the 10th, were both born in Berks County.

Squire Sr. maintained a good standing in the Society of Friends, the Quakers, becoming a trustee of the Oley Friends Meeting in 1736 and an overseer in 1739.  However, in 1748 following the marriage of a second child outside the faith, the Friends expelled him.

  A new home

Shortly thereafter, when Daniel was 15 and Squire a young lad of 5, the family set out for North Carolina, where greater freedom would prevail.  Many of the children later became Baptists.

En route the family may have spent a year or two in Virginia, near Winchester, probably arriving in late 1751 at the Forks of the Yadkin River in North Carolina, where Squire Boone Sr. had purchased a 640-acre tract of land.

Within two years he purchased a second 640-acre tract near present-day Mocksville, N.C.  Certainly, ownership of these 2-mile-square tracts indicates that the Boones were a reasonably affluent family.

On Oct. 12, 1759, the Boones deeded one of these two tracts, the Bear Creek tract, to Daniel and Rebecca Bryan Boone and the other tract, that on Elisha and Dutchman creeks, to young Squire.

Deeding land to Daniel, who had been married three years and was the father of two children at this time, could be understood.  However, the rationale for deeding an equivalent parcel to 15-year-old Squire, unmarried and about to commence an apprenticeship, is unclear.

In 1759 or 1760, Squire Jr., who had developed a great interest in guns, was taken by his mother on horseback to Pennsylvania.  Here he remained for five years as an apprentice to his cousin Samuel Boone to learn to be a gunsmith.

He became a "neat workman, in stocking and ornamenting guns with brass and silver." [Spraker, 73, 96; Draper 19 C 57, 22 S 241-68]

  A new wife

About a year before his apprenticeship was up, he or his parents purchased the balance of his time, and he returned to North Carolina

S[Spraker, 73].  [Neal says 2 B 74 discusses apprenticeship of Squire and this account departs considerably from Spraker’s regarding Squire’s age at the time].

quire obviously developed a fondness for Samuel, son of a brother of the elder Squire and thus a first cousin.  Samuel was 8 years Squire's senior, more of a contemporary of Daniel’s.

His [Draper 19 C 120-154] apprenticeship with Samuel had a significant effect upon Squire's life, for he developed skills in working with iron and an inventiveness that later made him a valuable companion on the frontier.

It would seem that Samuel, in his own way, like Daniel, became a role model for the younger Squire.  Squire was to remain close to both, and each had the effect of enlarging his life, Samuel at the forge and Daniel in the wilderness.

Soon after returning from his apprenticeship, Squire married Jane Van Cleve, though she was not yet 16.

And in the same year that [Bond signed 11 July 1765, see DAR Magazine of October 1916] Squire and his young wife established their home at the Glades, Squire Boone Sr. died.

It wasn’t long after that when Squire the newlywed started to be away from home for long periods of time, and thus the legend was born.

  Next: The Long Hunts  

A petition to Congress

“To the Honorable the President of the United States and the Rest of the members [of] Congress Assembled --

Living on the Frontier caus'd many misfortuns to befal me, in indeavouring to support the Country, and no [    ],  that your petitioner had Rec'd Eight Bullet Holes through him and has been in seventeen engagements with the Indians in support of his Country and lost his property by unforeseen accidents and Indian afore said and the many wound that your Petitioner has Rec'd render him incapable of Labour for a suport.”

 – Squire Boone