Daniel Boone Home and Village - Defiance, MO
18 Jul 2009
|July 18, 2009
Dear Family and Friends,
We are in Hawn State Park near Farmington, Missouri. We have been here all week visiting Don’s Mother. The Park is a beautiful place. Our site has only electric. There are 59 camp sites in the park… eight ‘first-come, first-served’ sites with electricity. It has filled up for the weekend. A lot of families with children are here and it is wonderful for them to play on the paved roads with their scooters and bicycles. Most of the people are camping in pop ups and tents.
Don’s Mother is doing well. We would visit about two hours each day. Then she would be tired out. Her speech has greatly improved, but she is still unable to walk on her own.
She has started eating solid food. Up until this week, she had been on pureed food.
Yesterday we had quite a great adventure. We went to Defiance, Missouri to see the Daniel Boone Home and Village State Historic Site. Jann and Roger, friends we met when we stayed in Fredericksburg, Texas are living there for one year as caretakers. It was about a two hour drive from the State Park. The place is the final home of Daniel Boone and is now owned by Lindenwood University.
Daniel Boone was born in Pennsylvania, then moved to North Carolina in his teen years , then became the adventurer that found the Cumberland Gap through the Blue Ridge Mountains. He lived in Kentucky and founded a settlement. But later in years he eventually lost his land there. So the Spanish offered him free land in their colony of Missouri. The Spanish wanted their land settled to keep it from the British and French. So they were thrilled to get someone famous like Boone to settle and bring people with him. He brought his large family.
Defiance is very close to the Missouri River. Boone and several of his children each received land grants of 700-800 acres as long as they settled and developed it. Boone’s oldest son, built a place nearby and later Boone’s youngest son, Nathan Boone, came and settled on the present restored site that is now Boone’s Farm. His mother, Rebecca and father, Daniel both lived with him in the large four story home they built together.
The home is so large and ornate that it is hard to believe it was built as early as 1810. There is some beautiful woodwork in it especially on the mantels. The limestone walls are 2 ½ feet thick. They laid one row of stone, placed junk in the middle, then an inside row of limestone made the interior walls. The walls are plastered on the inside now, but was rock at that time. The floors are beautiful wide planks. It has seven fireplaces and the top floor is one open garret which was used as a ballroom and a bedroom for the boys. The bottom floor is the kitchen, the second floor is the drawing room and two bedrooms where the adults slept, the third floor was where the girls slept, and the boys slept on the fourth floor, the garret or attic. We could only see the first three floors. You enter what was the back of the house originally. It opens onto level ground and you enter the large hall which leads to the drawing room and two of the bedrooms. Daniel Boone made the door locks, which Jann, who guided us, said are very tricky to open. You cannot walk around on your own. You must have a guide.
Daniel did not develop his own acreage, so he helped his youngest son, Nathan, build this house and lived here until his death in 1820. There are disputes about where he is buried. The Missourians say he is buried on a nearby place, where Rebecca was buried. The Kentuckians say they moved his and Rebecca’s bodies to Kentucky. But the Missourians say they moved the wrong bodies. So I guess they are buried somewhere. You have to drive a few miles from the village to the burial site and we did not have time.
In the drawing room, which is where the Boones would have received guests is seating for company and the family would be together in the evenings. Over the mantle hangs the only portrait of Boone that was done from his actual posing. Daniel did not like it, thinking it made him look too old. But to me, being 83 years old at the time it was done, he looked quite good. In the hall is a huge grandfather’s clock and a lithograph portraying when Daniel’s daughter, Jemima, and two of her girlfriends were captured by Indians, when the Boones were in Kentucky. Daniel and a party of men rescued the three girls. The Indians threw a hatchet at the rescuers and Jemima kept the hatchet. The head of it is in a case under the lithograph. That would be over 220 years old!
The exposed beams of the house are easily seen to be hand hewn. They are mostly walnut and are quite fantastic to see. They are seen on every floor.
The house currently has glass windows but originally would have been covered on the inside with thick wooden shutters, primarily for protection from the Indians. The gun openings were closed (covered up) when the house was lived in by others after the Boones, but have been put back in during restoration (you can see the gun holes in this picture on each side of the shutter). The house had to be like a fortress, as the whole area was a wilderness at that time. It had to be able to be protected and used as a fort if there were trouble. Glass windows would have been a complete endangerment.
Daniel Boone died on September 26, 1820 after a brief illness. He died in the Boone house. They do not have the original bed but it is neat to see the original room.
On the basement floor is a large dining room and winter kitchen. T he New Madrid earthquake damaged the original huge cooking fireplace and was walled up. The University hopes to put it back to original size when money is available. Now you see a rock wall, where it was and the original warming hearth, still remaining. In the dining room is another fireplace with an original Kentucky rifle over the mantle. It is said that Daniel could load and fire a rifle like that one three times in a minute, on the run. It took over a minute to simply explain how to load and fire it!
The front of the house has a two story porch. The restorers know the original 1810 house had a porch because Daniel’s son, Nathan, wrote that his father went out on the porch the day before he died and said “if I feel better tomorrow, I will ride my horse around the farm.” The porch really makes the house look much like a mansion.
Near the house site is a large downed tree trunk, which was a tree known as the “Judgment tree.” The Spanish named Boone the ‘judge’ of the entire area. Since there was no courthouse, Boone held court under the large tree. The tree was an elm and died. What was left of the tree was a section lying horizontally on the ground. You could see where attempts at saving the tree was made by evidence of concrete that had been poured in the hollow areas of the tree. Lying there on the ground, the tree almost looked like it was petrified.
The Boonesfield Village lies out in a field at the base of the Boones house. None of these places were here originally but are old buildings moved from other places by Lindenwood University so they could be saved. There are about a dozen structures and they are adding to them all the time. You also have to have a guide to tour these.
First is an 1831 school building. It is called Mt. Hope School because there was a church named Mt. Hope located across from it in O’Fallon, (St. Paul) Missouri. It is a log building. The desks are split logs with pegged legs.
Then there is a millener’s shop from 1840, moved from north St. Charles County. All of these buildings have period furnishings and easily can be used as demonstration of old- time work. They have a loom, spinning wheel, carder, and so forth.
Behind the dressmaker’s shop is a potter’s shop, which is a reconstructed place to show how pots were once made. There is an outdoor kiln. Pottery made there is sold in the gift shop.
Then there is a woodworking shop built in Flint Hill, Missouri around 1837. It is full of old wood making tools. One of the guides demonstrates the purpose of these tools on his tour.
The most impressive building that has been moved is The Old Peace Chapel. They rent it out for weddings and would be simply beautiful for that. It was moved from New Melle, Missouri and was built around 1840-1860. It had been used as a store at one time (and Roger said that it had even been a brothel at one time,) and in 1904 was remodeled into a church. The floor and pews are made of long leaf red pine. The center floorboard runs the entire length of the building, about 30 feet. The ceiling is painted a bright blue in contrast to the white walls. The glass is old and wavy because it is cylinder glass.
It has a tower clock built in 1865 in St. Louis. It hangs on the back wall of the chapel. The clock mechanism runs three separate clock dials. A tiny clock dial on the top right side of the works, another above the organ case and a third on the front exterior of the building. It also is connected to the bell in the bell tower, which happens to ring on the hour and quarter hour.
In the choir loft is a pipe organ. It is newly made but uses some very old pipes dating from the 1800s. The church has two circular stairways. One leads to the balcony where the pipe organ is located and one to a downstairs classroom. In the yard of the church is a gazebo and a small round building, which was the minister’s study. They are both white and quite beautiful.
Next is a detached kitchen, which is used to demonstrate cooking from the 1800s. There is a huge working fireplace, a bread oven, a hot water heater, which is over a firebox, butter churn, bread kneading trays and outside they have a covered area with large tables for eating. Jann and Roger have had two meals cooked and served there the 1800 way.
Next is a small frame house, which was used as a shoemaker, harness shop and post office. Now it is equipped as an 1800 print shop.
Then a general store. It was built in 1830 and moved from Schlersburg, Missouri. Jann and Roger said that the University had just received a grant to buy original store goods to fill it.
The Borgmann Animal Driven Grist Mill is from 1840. It is reputed to be the only animal driven mill left in the U.S. It was originally constructed in Missouri’s Femme Osage Valley. They moved it from Highway D in nearby Warren County. It is a two story building of wood measuring approximately 24 by 20 feet. The heavy oak timbers make up the wheel, which the animals were harnessed to walk around and round to grind the grain. The sign said not to touch but Don accidentally on purpose tripped against the thing that the animals would be harnessed to and the entire wheel moved virtually effortlessly. That whole things was a neat thing to see.
The Sappington Dressel House is a log and stone house built in 1806-1808. It was once on the Ulysses S. Grant farm which is not far from here. It stood next to Whitehaven, the home of Ulysses S. Grant. The structure was moved here in 2000 and is used as a classroom.
Not open to the public yet is the Flanders Callaway House built around 1872. It was the home of Daniel Boone’s daughter, Jemima (the one captured and rescued,) who married a Callaway. It was moved from nearby Marthasville, Missouri. It is the house in which Rebecca Boone died.
They have also moved Daniel Boone’s brother’ log cabin. His name was Squire Boone.
They have an old Grape Arbor covered bridge and recently moved a small Spanish Fort, called Fort San Carlos.
The entire setup is quite wonderful. The only drawback Jann and Roger have found is that it should be used more with demonstrations of 1800s living. They have added chickens in the chicken coop, two lambs in the barn and worked on the herb garden.
They live in an apartment above the gift shop. It is not large but as large as an RV. He has to check the lockups of everything at night. She helps as a guide at times. They will be there year round.
We had a great time, exploring the place. I think it is so great to see these old things preserved and used for teaching. I think I will have to read a biography of Daniel Boone now.
Our next adventure is to have another cataract removed and have a grand girl. These adventures should be fun too.
Hope you enjoyed your tour. Sandra