Aug 7, 2008 issue

Daniel Boone Not A Good Family Man, Says Family Member

Clears Up Confusion About Boone’s Children

Story by Bernadette Cahill

Editor’s Note: On Friday, September 5, Robert Morgan, author of Boone: A Biography, will conduct a symposium on Daniel Boone as part of the inaugural Daniel Boone Days festival. High Country Press is presenting a series of historical articles about the frontiersman to stimulate interest in local history and provide background material to stimulate questions and discussion at the symposium. For more information about Daniel Boone Days, click to

Daniel Boone was a great explorer when the United States was young and had a strong belief in God, but unfortunately he didn’t live up to family values, according to a local woman several times Boone’s great-niece.

Sandra Blankenship, several times great-niece of frontiersman and national icon Daniel Boone, wishes he could have been more of a family man.  Sandra Blankenship of Deep Gap is a descendant of the Boone family from Boone’s older brother, Israel, born in 1726. Israel’s wife Martha died in 1755 and Israel followed in 1756. Boone and his wife Rebecca, who married August 14, 1756, gave his brother’s orphans a home. Israel’s son Jesse Boone was Blankenship’s ancestor. She has read extensively about Jesse’s famous uncle.

“What I really do like about Daniel Boone is his strong faith in God. That was a very, very good quality he had,” said Blankenship, who features in the current issue of High Country Magazine. “He really did care for his brother and what happened to the children. That was a good thing about him.”

But Blankenship doesn’t rate his pioneering nearly as highly.

“In my way of seeing it, he wasn’t a family man, he wasn’t a husband and he wasn’t a father. He was just who he was, wanting to just go wandering around. He wasn’t the greatest man on earth,” she said.

“I don’t think [he] was the greatest person because he left his family and left his wife too much. You should put your family first. Taking in the children—that was a good thing about him [but] he did run off and leave them with Rebecca.”

She added that Boone’s parents also helped to care for the orphans.

“Marriage is so sacred,” she said. “What was [Daniel] doing? Why did he marry [Rebecca]? Why didn’t he just wander around?”

Boone had his good points, said Blankenship, but “he was restless, a rambler. What did he need all that land in different places for? He ended up with nothing. He wasn’t much of a role model for his children.

“I wish he could have been more of a family man, more devoted to his own,” she said.

Confusions about Boone Children

Daniel Boone’s own first child was born in 1757—after he took in Israel’s orphans—and this seems to have led to confusion about which children were his. A historian writing a century ago attempted to clarify the relationships to Daniel Boone.

“Jesse, Anna and Hannah Boone were the children of Israel, a brother of Daniel Boone, not his own children. The same is true of Jonathan Boone…,” John Preston Arthur wrote in A History of Watauga County.

“John Preston Arthur said people thought that Jesse was Daniel Boone’s son, but he wasn’t. [He] took Jesse and Jonathan, Israel’s sons in. That’s where they got confused that Jesse was the son of Daniel,” said Blankenship.

“None of Daniel’s children was named Jesse…” Arthur also wrote in A History of Western North Carolina. He also listed one of Boone’s children as “John B.”
According to Robert Morgan’s 2007 biography of Boone, however, the famous pioneer did have a son named Jesse—Jesse Bryan, born in 1773.

Forbears In—And Out—Of Three Forks Baptist Church

Sandra Blankenship always giggles when she talks of her ancestor’s brother and nephew of Daniel Boone, named Jonathan Boone. He was once a member of Three Forks Baptist Church, but was sent down from the church in May 1819 for drinking, getting drunk and not attending meetings. From this distance in time, Blankenship enjoys the notoriety.

Blankenship’s direct ancestor, Jesse, also belonged to Three Forks Baptist Church, but withdrew in September 1820 over an unspecified dispute.
“I liked that Jesse worked in the church,” said Blankenship, “He did a whole lot better in the Yadkin Baptist Church in Caldwell County, but I don’t know if it was before or after the Three Forks church.”

Blankenship has also seen a copy of Jesse’s will, and the disposition of his property shocks her.

“He didn’t leave his daughters anything,” she said. “Women were just chattels then.”