What Brought Daniel Boone To Missouri
by Ken Kamper, Copyright © September 1999

Published here with specific permission from the author

There are several reasons why Daniel Boone moved to Spanish Upper Louisiana (now Missouri).

One reason was that he had been appointed as one of the surveyors in the mid-1770s, to survey out the many parcels of land for settlers and land claimants in Kentucky. Kentucky at that time was the western part of Virginia and for the most part an unsettled wilderness. There was a large number of appointed surveyors and some like Daniel surveyed many thousands of acres within a relative few years. At the time the recording of surveys and surveying methods and laws were quite awkward and confusing. And at one point, after many surveys had already been made, the Virginia survey laws were changed to a much more refined method. Complications came onto the scene when later surveys by other surveyors were made through and over the original surveys. The situation of legal ownership of the parcels of land became a major problem for most of the original settlers. While it seems Daniel never defended his own land in court, he had made many surveys for other persons and became involved in the court cases, and at times he was required to travel considerable distances to sites where he had made surveys in order to identify the survey corners. With many of these cases and others he was required to make legal depositions. When people lost their lands through legal challenges most became bitter, and many blamed Daniel and the other early surveyors for their losses. In some instances the feelings toward Daniel became quite ugly, even though he had performed his tasks as required at the time. Eventually Daniel deeded all of his land to close relatives, and told his children to never contest in court any land disputes against him.

All of Daniel Boone's many biographers prior to 2008, had stated that Daniel Boone ran into trouble due to poorly made surveys and/or being careless and failing to get his land recorded and/or because he lost all his land through court decisions. Neal Hammon, an excellent and serious researcher, and author of many books and articles related to the land situation in early Kentucky, and himself a Professional Architect and former County Land Surveyor in Kentucky, pointed out recently that Daniel Boone's personal problems in Kentucky were related to none of those issues. Hammon found that Daniel was a better than average and capable surveyor, had recorded the land titles as well as others had, and also established that there were no court records relating to Daniel's personally owned parcels of land.

A second reason for Daniel Boone moving to Spanish Upper Louisiana was that many of the persons who had lost their lands that Daniel surveyed, wanted Daniel to make restitution for them. Besides feeling badly for them, they often hounded him and at times threatened him. He moved from time to time, but apparently the situation had no long term solution.

A third reason was that Virginia taxed the land, which is something that wasn't done during the early period of other states such as Pennsylvania and Missouri. The taxing of land caused many of those who were poor to have to give up their lands. In some cases, like Daniel's, persons who owned thousands of acres found it impossible to make enough money to pay all of the taxes. In Daniel's case he either had to sell large parcels of land at low prices to pay the taxes, or when he couldn't come up with the money his land was sold on the courthouse steps to pay back taxes. Some of these issues such as taxing seemed to be political manipulations to let political influential persons back in Virginia, arrive in Kentucky at a later period after most of the dangers were gone, and pluck away the lands of the earlier settlers. Many families lost all of their land holdings.

A fourth reason for Daniel Boone's moving to Spanish Upper Louisiana took place during and following the Revolution War. During that time the money situation became critical. During that period Virginia paper money became greatly inflated. The price of land and everything else skyrocketed and then turned into a situation where many of the land investors, which Daniel had become, who had purchased land seemingly wisely as the price was constantly increasing, ended up with overvalued land and no way to sell it at a reasonable price. When such persons, including Daniel, became desperate for money due to previous borrowing and due to needing the essential things for just getting by, they ended up selling their land at greatly reduced prices compared to what they had paid for it. This seems to be his main reason for moving, since he had lost a great fortune in land, and the lack of money due to the land price situation equated to his losing land because of not being able to pay the taxes.

There actually was a fifth reason. By the 1790s, Daniel was a real American hero in the eyes of Americans, and he was also noted as such by the frontier Indians and by other countries, such as the Spanish. He was a living legend. With continual difficulties in Kentucky, Daniel became open toward a new direction that would take him far away from his beloved, but sometimes hostile, Kentucky. In 1798, the Lt. Governor of Upper Louisiana offered Daniel and his family and friends free parcels of land in Upper Louisiana, if Daniel would come to Spanish Louisiana and set up a colony of Americans. The reason for the invitation was because while Spain claimed and controlled the lands west of the Mississippi River, the people in Spanish Louisiana were mostly of French heritage, who had been displaced from east of the Mississippi River, when France lost the French and Indian War with England. The French lived in villages as a means of protection from the sometimes hostile acts of the Indians who claimed all of the wilderness areas. The French people more-or-less refused to move out to populate the countryside. This created problems because Spain had to try to populate and control the regions they claimed in North America, or else another country such as France or England would penetrate into the region and control it. England was already penetrating from Canada to the north, by trading with the northern Indians, and the Indians to the west were uncontrollable since there was only a small Spanish militia in Upper Louisiana. And to the east of Spanish Upper Louisiana, the Americans were creeping ever westward, and had already settled what was called the American Bottoms, along the east side of the Mississippi River. The idea of Daniel Boone moving to Spanish Upper Louisiana, was based on his reputation for leading and drawing other Americans with him. In that manner the Spanish could visualize how they would be able to extend settlement westward into the wilderness as Daniel Boone and the frontiersmen had done in Kentucky. By doing so as Spanish citizens, the frontier types would keep the Indians, England, and the Americans from penetrating into the Spanish territory. The approach by the Spanish was working, and seemingly would have continued to work, even under the French who took over Louisiana from the Spanish. However all came to an end with the Louisiana Purchase.

After the Move to Missouri .....

After Daniel's move to what is now Missouri, his first several years were occupied with his role as the Spanish Commandant for the Femme Osage District. His district seems to never have been defined on paper, but for certain ran from his Spanish Land Grant at the Missouri River near present day Matson, and included to the north what is now the Busch Wildlife and Conservation Area, and then on westward to a few miles west of present day Marthasville. After the Louisiana Purchase, his district and his role dissolved as all of the land north of the Missouri River became the St. Charles District. Within those few years his sons came more into prominence as Daniel, about age seventy, fit more into the role of hunter and family patriarch. His sons and grandsons became the ones to get involved with civil and military appointments, while at first Daniel carried out a small business of trading (something he did on a larger scale in Kentucky and what is now West Virginia), and during his winters for the first dozen years or so he went on long hunts with family members. The long hunts, along many of the western rivers of what is now Missouri, lasted usually for several months and included trapping beaver and hunting mainly deer and bear. During the War of 1812, and after his health started to become a problem, he hunted closer to home and at times went with one of his son's [Daniel Morgan Boone] slaves during some of the winters when he felt well enough to do so. 1816 was his last long hunt, during which he became ill and returned back to the settlements. At that time it is felt that he and his hunting companion went as far as the Platte River in Nebraska. However, more and more his health kept him at home where he entertained and was entertained by all of the little grand children and great-grandchildren.

~~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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