By Allen Hamrick
“All you need for happiness is a good gun, a good horse and a good wife.” These words of wisdom are a direct quote from one of the greatest frontiersman of the early years of this nation. Daniel Boone, all 5 feet 8 inches, is a legend whose story is nearly lost to generations of young people whose lives could be enriched by his endeavors. Like Simon Kenton, Boone was a woodsmen who trapped and loved the outdoors so much that he pursued the life of a loner. As a hunter, he left for months without seeing anyone but Native peoples. He is most known for opening Kentucky up to settlements. However, Daniel Boone spent some years in this state when, as was true when Simon Kenton was here, the elk herds and beaver were plentiful. He and his wife Rebecca lived in Point Pleasant for a while before moving to the Kanawha River on the opposite side of Campbell’s Creek. They lived here until 1799 before he made his last journey to Missouri where he died in 1812.
While he was here in what is now West Virginia, he impacted many lives and spent many days trapping and hunting near Kanawha Falls and up the New River. He also spent time in the wilderness area of the Elk River hunting and trapping. Exactly how far he travelled is left to the imagination as the particulars have not been recorded. There is no day to day record of his travels or adventures while he was in the state. What is known is that he went on many trapping expeditions, often bringing home colonies of beaver from Kanawha Falls. Most of the time when he wasn’t trapping, he was surveying. He surveyed most of what is now known as Logan and Boone Counties. He was a lieutenant colonel in the Kanawha militia and was elected as the delegate to the Virginia legislature. When he went to Richmond to fulfill his duties as a delegate, he traveled with pack and gun and did the whole trip by foot. Boone County is named after him because of his heroics in saving a girl from the Natives.
When he left the Kanawha Valley, friends and admirers from all around the region came to bid him farewell. They were a mix of some of the toughest people of the area at the time – warriors, hunters and adventurers. They came over land and water to the event, and after the last farewell was given, Daniel Boone and his fellow companion, Dan Bibber, embarked on their journey to Missouri starting from where the Elk River dumps into the Kanawha. Like many people of that time, all have said at one time or another that their time on earth was quick as if they had just started breathing. If you get the opportunity, there are many different places you can go to get information on Daniel Boone, many books and publications that chronicle his life and exploits between 1755 and the 1770’s.
One story recorded is that he once heard of a Native attack that was going to take place against his fort, Boonesburough. He was in Ohio at the time, nearly 160 miles from the fort. He knew the people had to be warned so he ran the entire distance to warn them. It only took three days for him to get there by running day and night. People think that we live in harsh times now, but compared to other days of this county’s youth, you had to keep one eye over your shoulder and the other eye everywhere else. It was tough times but times worth reading about. So, when you are on Kanawha Boulevard in Charleston and you pass over the Elk River, remember that Daniel Boone left the great state of Western Virginia (at the time) at that spot 221 years ago. Who knows? When you are on the Elk River fishing, you could be fishing in the same place he did so many years ago. So, pick up a book and get the facts about our history and those that led the charge. Daniel Boone said it best, “I had gained the summit of a commanding ridge, and looking around with astonishing delight, beheld the ample plains, the beauteous tracts below.”