Editorial: Help celebrate our most famous woodsman

Published 9:40 am Thursday, May 19, 2022

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Daniel Boone would think we are a bunch of  tenderfeet.

And we are.

As we celebrate the 270th or so anniversary of the yet-to-be famous frontiersman first stepping foot on what is now Davie County soil this weekend in Mocksville, let’s think a little bit about the man, and what he might think of us today.

The Daniel Boone Family Festival is scheduled for all day Saturday in Downtown Mocksville. It will include tours to some pretty cool historic sites in the county. Even if you’ve seen them before, they’re worth another visit.

This is a re-scheduled festival. There was a threat of rain on the first Saturday this month, the original date.

A threat of rain?

I’d bet that Daniel Boone could have told the festival folks that yes, it would be windy, but almost all of the rain would go further north until well into the evening. He wouldn’t need the latest radar. He wouldn’t need a computer screen monitoring the storm from every angle.

He could just look at the sky. He could feel the changes in the air. Things even smelled differently.

Anyone who lived in the woods – without shelter, mind you – for more than a year at a time and often during their lifetime – had to be pretty good at predicting the weather. Not much has been written about that, but common sense tells you it had to be a valuable skill of a frontiersman, as Daniel Boone was called.

He considered himself more of a woodsmen, according to the book “Boone” by Robert Morgan. James Wall’s “History of Davie County” is also filled with Boone facts. Many of my thoughts on Boone come from what I’ve learned from those two trusted sources. Both are good reads about local history.

Cancelling a festival because of a threat of rain?

I doubt Daniel Boone ever even used an umbrella. He probably saw some parasol types in the cities he visited, but if it rained … you got wet. Hats and clothes could help. But you got wet.

When the North wind blew, you got cold.

The Boone family became quickly prominent here, although they left their religious sect in Pennsylvania because of a rift over Daniel’s sister and brother marrying outside of the religion. Apparently, the Boones could think for themselves.

Daniel was different. Yes, he was smart. And yes, he too could think for himself. And yes, he was good around people – all kinds of people – even natives who were considered the enemy by most at that time. It seems that Daniel Boone got along with everyone.

Speculators would pay him to chart roads, locally and to western areas. Most wanted Boone to map the areas in his rudimentary but highly efficient ways so they could claim them for their own.

While Boone was a good woodsman – maybe the best ever – he wasn’t much of a businessman. He often defaulted on loans. He often didn’t deliver what those speculators had expected.

Some scholars said he finally moved his family further and further west to get away from the crowds in these parts. Others say it was to escape debt collectors. Looking back, there’s probably some truth to both of those theories.

Nobody likes to be harassed for a debt.

And nobody more than Daniel Boone liked the site of wilderness as far as the eye could see.

Daniel Boone was famous worldwide in his own time, and one of the things written about him was that he liked to happily sing – often by himself in the woods and grasslands with nothing but the birds and animals to hear him.

So postpone a festival because of the threat of rain?

Daniel Boone would have approved if it meant an afternoon and early evening of free music in the great outdoors.

Just don’t expect him to show up in a coonskin cap. He never wore one.

– Mike Barnhardt