Family Stories

Daniel Boone’s Frankfort Grave?

img_8455Daniel Boone, November 2, 1734 – September 26, 1820.  Rebecca Bryan Boone, January 9, 1739 – March 18, 1813.

Where is Daniel Boone buried?  I suppose it depends on who you ask!  Daniel died in Marthasville, Missouri, in 1820, his wife, Rebecca, seven years earlier.  Their bodies were buried in the Bryan Cemetery, on a family member’s farm, on the banks of the Missouri River.

Daniel Boone moved to Missouri from Kentucky because he thought the latter too crowded – too many people.  He must have been disheartened with his land speculation deals that drove him deeply in debt.  Missouri would be a fresh start – and less people.  Since life was very hard in Kentucky, I’m surprised the descendants agreed to have the bodies returned to the state.


from A Short History of Franklin County, Kentucky, by C. E. James, for the Fourth of July, 1876, 1881

Remains of Daniel Boone

At its session of 1844-’45, the Legislature of Kentucky adopted measures to have the mortal remains of the celebrated pioneer, Daniel Boone, and those of his wife, removed from their place of burial on the banks of the Missouri River, for the purpose of interment in the cemetery at Frankfort.  The consent of the surviving relations of the deceased having been obtained, a commission was appointed, under whose superintendence the removal was affected.  The 13th of September, 1845, was fixed upon as the time when the ashes of the venerable dead would be committed with fitting ceremonies to the place of their final repose.  It was a day which will be long remembered in the history of Franklin County.  The deep feeling excited by the occasion was evinced by the assembling of an immense concourse of citizens from all parts of the state; and the ceremonies were most imposing and impressive.  A procession, extending more than a mile in length, accompanied the remains to the grave, where were gathered a vast multitude.  The hearse, decorated with flowers and evergreens, was drawn by four white horses, and was accompanied by the following distinguished pioneers as pallbearers, viz:  Col. Richard M. Johnson, of Scott; Gen. James Taylor, of Campbell; Capt. James Ward, of Mason; Gen. Robert B. McAfee and Peter Jordan, of Mercer; Waller Bullock, Esq., of Fayette; Capt. Thomas Joyes, of Louisville; Mr. Landon Sneed, of Franklin; Col. John Johnson, of the state of Ohio; Maj. E. E. Williams, of Kenton; and Col. William Boone, of Shelby.  The procession was accompanied by a number of military companies, and by the members of the Masonic fraternity, and the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, in rich regalia.  The funeral services were performed in a beautiful hollow near the grave.  The hymn was given out by the Rev. Mr. Godell, of the Baptist Church; prayer by Bishop Soule, of the Methodist Episcopal Church; oration by the Hon. John J. Crittenden; closing prayer by the Rev. J. J. Bullock, of the Presbyterian Church, and benediction by the Rev. P. S. Fall, of the Christian Church.  The coffins were then lowered in the graves.  The spot where the graves are situated is as beautiful as nature and art could make it, being on the brink of a river bluff, and commanding a magnificent view.  A monument of Kentucky marble, four feet square and twelve feet high, marks the spot.

img_8452Lovely view of the Kentucky River from Boone’s Grave

And what does Kentucky Educational Television say about this?

‘Daniel Boone wasn’t born in Kentucky, and he didn’t die here, but we still regard him as our favorite son. He was held in such high regard that 25 years after his death in Missouri in 1820, Kentuckians brought his bones, and those of his wife, Rebecca, back to Kentucky. The bones were reinterred at Frankfort Cemetery on a scenic spot overlooking the Kentucky River. A granite monument was erected.

The gravesite is the number one tourist attraction in the city—but is Daniel Boone really buried there?

The Friends of Daniel Boone’s Burial Site in Marthasville, Missouri, aren’t so sure, and the controversy has simmered for years. Much has been disputed: Did Daniel’s son Nathan really give permission for the bones to be disinterred? Was the proper grave dug up? If so, were all of the bones removed?

Some say that back in Missouri, Daniel was originally buried at Rebecca’s feet, so the bones next to her weren’t Daniel’s. Over the years, researchers have pored over old records trying to solve the mystery. The skull buried in the Frankfort grave has even been exhumed and examined, but results were inconclusive.

Finally, some say that not all of Daniel’s bones were removed to Frankfort. In fact, some Missouri historians say their research shows that only the larger bones were taken by the Kentucky delegation—which would mean that Daniel Boone has two graves.’

img_8460I suppose we will never know for sure – but it is indeed a pleasure to visit the grave in Frankfort.  At the very least we can call it a monument to this great American pioneer.

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