Granny's Notes - the writing of Sue Gerard

Daniel Boone was known as a mighty hunter,...

Daniel Boone was known as a mighty hunter, a skilled woodsman and as a leader of groups of settlers who pushed the frontier westward into “Upper Louisiana” -- now called Missouri. His youngest son, Nathan, was a surveyor, salt maker, soldier and an effective mediator between the Native Americans and settlers.

Nathan, with the help of his brother, Daniel Morgan Boone, surveyed the 130 mile route from St. Charles to the salt springs in western Howard County. This wagon trail became the overland feeder route for later trails west. Called Boone’s Lick Trace, the whole central area became known as Boone’s Lick Country. In 1827 the legislature passed a law naming it Boone’s Lick Road, the first such designation in Missouri.

After the Lewis and Clark expedition was completed, President Thomas Jefferson appointed Lewis governor of the Louisiana Territory and Clark as Indian agent for all of the tribes -- except the Osage. Clark faced increasing problems with the Indians. The Osage, responding to encroachment on their lands, went on rampages of stealing horses, killing cattle, burning homes and threatening the residents. Other tribes were also becoming more hostile.

Lewis recognized that Native Americans loved merchandise and they feared punishment, therefore ~Jefferson advised that, “Commerce is the great engine by which we are to coerce them, and not war.” They therefore planned to placate natives by providing good merchandise at a reasonable price at a new trading post and to entice the tribe to live near the new site -- east of present-day Kansas City.

That’s when the popular Nathan Boone came into the picture. He had mediated border disputes, was a widely recognized surveyor and the owner and builder of a unique limestone mansion. More importantly, he was an officer in the prestigious Dragoons.

Nathan was the picture of authority. Dragoons rode beautiful, matched horses and wore colorful uniforms. Their fitted coats had tall collars and their chests were adorned with two rows of brass buttons. Their light color trousers had wide side stripes and their leather hats had horse hair plumes. Their swords commanded additional respect!

Clark chose Nathan to go to Osage country and convince the tribe that they should move to be near the new Fort Osage on a high bluff overlooking the Missouri River. Access to merchandise and renewed protection by the government were powerful incentives. After some problems were worked out, a treaty was signed in 1809 whereby the Osage tribe released about 200 acres of land and gained protection plus the use of a blacksmith shop and a mill at the fort.

Nathan reached the rank of major in the Missouri Mounted Rangers and of lieutenant colonel in the Dragoons. He continued his surveying, which extended into what is now Illinois, Kansas, Oklahoma and Iowa, where a county was named for him. He was also one of the 41 influential men who framed Missouri’s Constitution in 1820.

Nathan and Olive Boone had 10 girls and three boys. Olive and her mother-in-law, Rebecca, spent many anxious weeks wondering if Nathan or Daniel would return alive. Nathan signed the bond of a friend who disappeared and he had to sell his land to pay that debt. They later sold the stone house and built a double log cabin with second story on a beautiful site near Springfield, two miles north of Ash Grove. Nathan, Olive and others are buried in the family cemetery there. Rightfully, their home is to be restored as a historical site.

Some of this information comes from articles by the late Lucille Morris Upton, a Greene County historian. Carolyn Bills edited and compiled material about Nathan Boone into a booklet appropriately titled, “Nathan Boone, The Neglected Hero.”

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