Dad taught me how to bid at auctions. Our neighbor Paul Riggs had passed away, and his personal things were being sold. I wandered around, found a book I had to own and stood idly near it as the crowd moved and the auctioneer yelled, "How much for all these books?"
Paul was a reader, and several hundred books were spread out on tables. The auctioneer asked again, saying, "OK, then, how much for your choice book, any one book on any of these tables?"
"Twenty-five dollars!" I called out in a loud voice. People stared at me.
Dad’s advice paid off. "Decide how much you’ll pay," he said, "and bid it first."
I grabbed up my copy of "Daniel Boone, Master of the Wilderness" by John Bakeless. Its 400 pages of text with 10 pages of footnotes were published in 1939. Bakeless’ book is the most complete and accurate account of the Boones and other very early pioneers in Missouri. It was a daring move those people made from European homelands to the unknown world of wild animals and American Indians. The author’s first 65 pages are down-to-earth details of people from southern England, near Exeter, adjusting to the unknown New World of wild animals and not-very-tame American Indians.
Sometime before 1713, George Boone, the "cautious weaver of Cullompton" - in Devon - sent three of his children on a voyage to see what the New World was like and to report back.
Young George Boone, daughter Sarah and son Squire sailed off to Pennsylvania. They found religious tolerance; the people were Mennonites, Amish, Dunkers, Quakers and others. Horses were almost unknown, and farmers plowed with oxen, which were stunted and gave only a small amount of milk for those large pioneer families.
The French were in control of the government - and there was land! Even the best fields were dotted with stumps, and farmers planted around them and cultivated by hand with hoes. Livestock grazed where there was grass, ran wild and had no shelter in winter, and some animals were never found.
The Boones were "wanderers born," and they wanted land; they first lived a few miles north of Philadelphia, in Abingdon, Pa. The Quaker policy of fair dealing was as strong in the Boones as the desire for land. The marriage of young Squire Boone and Sarah Morgan was "decently Accomplish’d."
"Ye Squire Boone Took ye said Sarah Morgan by ye Hand and did, in Solemn Manner Openly Declare Ö"
Daniel’s father, also named Squire Boone, had learned weaving, but young Daniel’s interests were in the woods. Today we’d call him a brat, full of mischief and more interested in animals and the rugged woods than in "larnin’." Daniel’s wife, Rebecca Bryan Boone, was my maternal grandmother’s aunt, four generations removed - my "sixth-generation-removed aunt." Daniel Morgan Boone and Nathan Boone were salt makers; the salt-making "factory" was recently celebrated as a Missouri historical site; new explanation panels were dedicated.
Three weeks ago, my daughter, Nancy Russell, and I made our third visit to the spot in Missouri where these distant cousins made salt. There’s little to see except some new, mounted information panels at eye level, high above where the saltwater oozes out of the earth. A very steep ravine path kept me from going, but Nancy wanted to know how salty the water from a salt spring had to be to produce salable salt. She ventured down to the spring and reported: "Ugh - dark gray stuff. Very, very salty."
I was relieved she made the climb back up with no problem.
To be continued.