Kentucky's Removal of the Bodies of Daniel and Rebecca Boone in 1845
by Ken Kamper, Copyright © October 2008
Part of an In-progress "Research Paper"

Published here with specific permission from the author

Each time I looked at the wording on the old bronze plaque on the Boone Monument at the Bryan Cemetery (Boone Burial Place) I read down to the part that states "REMOVED TO FRANKFORT, KY. 1845," and found myself hesitating. The reason for my hesitation was because I knew that there was something that wasn't really correct with that part. Then after the pause, I somewhat pushed my feelings aside and continued on with reading the rest.

What seemed to bother me regarding that line on the plaque, wasn't the old stories about how the Kentucky delegation in 1845 missed the body of Daniel Boone, when the delegation supposedly moved Daniel and Rebecca's bodies to Kentucky, but rather my thoughts about the real story about what took place at that time. The real story of what took place, as researched and pieced together by Ralph Gregory and myself, is something quite different from the old stories that have surfaced over the years in Missouri. Both Ralph and I conducted our research separately, and both of us arrived at the obvious conclusion, that the Kentucky delegation dug up the right graves, however they returned to Kentucky with only the larger skeleton bones, with everything else related to the bodies remaining in Missouri. Such a conclusion comes from the following;

What took place with the digging up of the bodies is found in an eyewitness newspaper account, as found in the St. Louis New Era newspaper, datelined Marthasville, Missouri, July 17th, 1845, the day when the bodies were removed. The article recorded the events of the day, including the discussions with the land owner, the gathering of friends and relatives to the grave, and the eloquent address by the Kentucky leader, and the disinterment.

Regarding the disinterment, the first issue of note is that the Kentucky delegation didn't remove and take the bodies in the form that everyone in present day imagines, by digging out the caskets and taking the caskets with the bodies intact. What the grave diggers actually found was that both of the wooden caskets had disintegrated and no longer existed. With that being the case, the diggers would have dug right through the top of the casket areas and into the area of the bones before realizing that the wooden caskets no longer existed. Per the newspaper account, the diggers found that the larger bones were still solid and could still be handled, but were light in weight and dark in color. The smaller bones crumbled to powder when touched and the non-bone parts of the body (including heart and brain as Ralph Gregory states it), had become part of the soil. By removing the larger bones that could be removed, the diggers worked their way down to the large planks that had been placed under the caskets.

Since the original caskets no longer existed, in order to take the "supposed bodies" back to Kentucky, the Kentucky delegation came up with two wooden boxes for taking the larger bones. As a result they obtained essentially all of the main skeletal bones and from all logical reasoning very little else. The body removal effort was rather crude as the bodies were often referred to as relics instead of bodies, and as further suggested by the story that Harvey Griswold had later found the jaw bone of Daniel Boone later laying on the ground. His find is supported by the fact that the jaw bone is missing from the cast of Daniel's skull on display at the Kentucky Historical Society. Based on logical reasoning, the Kentucky delegation did not throw the dirt into the boxes with the bones, since the needed amount of the dirt to account for all of the decomposed body area would have more than the boxes would be able to contain, the weight would have been an obstacle for moving and carrying boxes, and the known intent for the contents of the boxes when back in Kentucky would have been to put the bodies (without dirt) into fancy caskets for reburial. What the Kentucky delegation put into the boxes is substantiated by another account from Kentucky by a man, John Mason Brown, who when a lad of eight years old held Daniel's skull and saw the rest of the bones (something he would never forget). John Mason Brown was with his father, Judge Mason Brown, and in the room when the boxes with the bones were opened. Judge Mason Brown was the man in charge of the Kentucky Committee responsible for obtaining the bodies from Missouri. John Mason Brown recalled how the bones were removed from the wooden boxes and placed neatly into elaborate coffins, with the bones placed in the correct locations to recreate the skeletons.

John Mason Brown's great-grandson, Meredith Mason Brown, has written the most current Daniel Boone biography. The book went on sale nationally this month (October 2008). In his end notes (p.340) on the above subject, Meredith Mason Brown mentions my name and calls my version of how the larger bones were removed to Kentucky, while the smaller items and no longer visible items were left in Missouri, "sensible."

The wording "REMOVED TO FRANKFORT, KY. 1845," when placed on the plaque originally made some sense because at the time (1915) the wording was accepted by everyone as being correct. However, at this point, the statement is somewhat misleading, and tends to downgrade the Missouri burial place by implying that a professional effort at removing the caskets took place. The idea that both cemeteries are valid, is appealing, and that Rebecca is not totally absent from Missouri while Daniel "might" still be here, is also appealing.

Of note is that King Bryan, Henry Augbert, and Jefferson (Jeff) Callaway, (about 38 years of age, and at one time a slave of Flanders Callaway), were the men who dug up the graves of Daniel and Rebecca. Jeff Callaway found both of the silver sleeve buttons [with] Daniel Boone's initials and gave them to the sister of Eviza Howell Coshow. Eviza saw the cuff links as mentioned in one of her many letters to the historian Lyman Copeland Draper.

End of Report

~~Mr. Kamper's articles are under copyright and may not be copied or republished by any means (Internet or otherwise) without his written permission.~~

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