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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

So why do I care if Daniel Boone lived in Booneville, Kentucky?

I got started on this present moderate tirade when one of my friends came to me with a Mayflower ascendancy chart showing his relationship to the passengers. Two of his ancestors listed on the chart were reportedly born in Booneville, Kentucky, a very small town, now the county seat of Owsley County. The crucial date here is 1783, the birth date of the earliest of the two ancestors. Why is that date crucial? I will review a little elementary history.

It is generally accepted that Kentucky's first permanent settlement was by James Harrod, who led the first group of European settlers and founded Harrodsburg in 1774. Harrodsburg is located almost in the middle of the modern state of Kentucky in modern Mercer County. At that time, all of the present state of Kentucky was in one Virginia county called Kentucky County which was formed from Fincastle County in 1776. Kentucky County was then divided into three Fayette, Jefferson and Lincoln counties in 1780. All of modern Mercer County lay in Lincoln County. In 1775, Daniel Boone came from Virginia into Kentucky and laid out the settlement of Booonesborough. See Library of Congress:The First American West:The Ohio River Valley, 1750-1820. Kentucky was admitted as a state in 1792.

The location of "Booneville" was listed in Bourbon County, Kentucky. It took just a few minutes to determine that the present Owsley County was created from Breathitt, Clay and Estill counties in 1842. It took a little longer, but the town, now known as Booneville, was never in Bourbon County. See Atlas of Historical County Boundaries. So I knew that the places listed on the Mayflower chart were likely wrong. I say likely, because I still only had a few historical facts. Meanwhile, I began looking at the history of Booneville, Kentucky. The Owsley County Historical Society claims "Booneville, the seat of Owsley County, is located on the South Fork of Kentucky River at KY 11 and KY 30. The site was once known as Boones Station, Daniel Boone having once camped in the area, and Moores Station, for a family of late eighteenth century settlers. Elias Moore donated land for a seat for the new county in 1843 and the town was incorporated Booneville in 1846. The Owsley Court House and post office opened in 1844 and was renamed Booneville in 1846."

Now, we have a structure to start answering the question of whether or not Danial Boone ever lived in the area of Booneville, Kentucky. But if he did, it was long before Kentucky was a state and so the question is whether or not Booneville, as a town or village, pre-dates any of the above dates. One thing is clear, my friend's ancestor listed as born in Kentucky in 1783 is inaccurately reported, since at that time Kentucky was still part of Virginia.

As for Daniel Boone, he did live in Boone Station, but the location of Boone Station is very well known since it is a Kentucky State Historic Site. As I noted previously, Booneville is not Boone Station. So what about Moore's Station? In an un-sourced list of North American Forts, we have the following entry: "Crab Orchard Station (1784), possibly the same site as Baughman's Station. Also known as Moore's Station" all located in historic Lincoln County. Now the historical record is getting real interesting.

Back to the original question in this post. The answer as to whether or not Daniel Boone ever lived in a location near Booneville, Kentucky is fairly easy to answer. He did not. According to well settled history, he lived in Boone's Station until 1791 when he lost the property due to property disputes. In about 1791, Boone's Station ceased to exist as a settlement. See Kentucky State Parks.

That still leaves the question of why do I care? My initial questions involved the issue of my friend's ancestors. That is still the underlying issue. We later found conflicting records putting the ancestor's birthplace in Ketucky, Ohio or even North Carolina! What about the Owsley County Historical Society? Can they defend their claim to fame?

My friend has a challenge. He now has to find the real birth places for at least two of his ancestors. The inaccurate information certainly calls into question the entire Mayflower Ancestry claim. I need to keep writing so I can show how all this relates to establishing a proof.  I also need to go back to the question of whether or not to start with an a priori assumption, or simply gather information. Check back for the next installment (exciting or otherwise).

1 comment:

  1. Reminds us all to check out the 'facts' regarding the birthplaces in our family trees before blindly accepting them.

    ReplyDelete