In what once was a valley noted for a Lenape sacred oak and a German witch doctor/abbess, Squire Boone Sr., a former weaver-blacksmith, built a log cabin, of which only the basement survives today. There, four miles from the cabin of Abraham Lincoln’s ancestors, Daniel Boone, the United States’s first folk hero, was born and raised. He watched cattle and learned to hunt from his Lenape and Quaker neighbors. Eventually, the Boones were forced to move after being shunned by their Quaker community for allowing their children to marry non-Quakers, after which they headed south to the frontier of rural North Carolina. The whole affair was a cause célèbre in the Quaker community, though Daniel’s mother still took them to Quaker meetings, while his father adamantly would not.
The house was then sold to William Maugridge, a shipwright friend of Ben Franklin who is believed to have renovated the house, including the creation of a popular nook known as a “bible closet,” which stored precious items. His additions transformed the house into two rooms and added a second floor. His successor, John De Turk, replaced the walls with stone, leaving only the basement as a remnant of Boone’s childhood.
The house is also the site of the famous legend of Boone shooting a panther in the heart just as it was about to maul him. While Boone was famous for his hunting skills, this story is very improbable, but his legend contributed to the modest house’s survival in an age when historical preservation was not too common.
After changing hands between farmers until the 20th century, it was eventually sold to the state and became a museum. In 1968, for unclear reasons, another period house was moved onto the site, which is now also a museum, displaying Pennsylvania Dutch cabin architecture. Other mock-colonial buildings were constructed in the 20th century, and the house is, according to the state, “restored and furnished with an outstanding collection of period Pennsylvania furniture, tools and farm implements.” It is also the largest site owned by Pennsylvania’s historical and museum commission, at 579 acres, with a lake, camping facilities, and more than 30 buildings.
On a somewhat humorous note, the homestead is located off of Old Daniel Boone Road, which in turn abuts Daniel Boone Road, which splits into two Daniel Boone Roads, and Daniel Boone Trailer Parking, which faces Daniel Boone Lake, which itself is about four miles from the Daniel Boone Area High School. Surrounded by encroaching suburbs and lots of places named after him, it is not a place Boone would recognize, except for, perhaps, the basement. 1
Know Before You Go
The Boone Homestead contains miles of trails for hiking and horseback riding. Reenactments and historical demonstrations are held there. Admission is free.