Award-winning author Randell Jones will present a special program based on his book, In the Footsteps of Daniel Boone, at the Iredell Museums at 134 Court Street in Statesville on Thursday, Nov. 9, at 6:30 p.m. That book and several others have received Willie Parker Peace History Book Awards from the North Carolina Society of Historians. Mr. Jones has twice received Kentucky History Awards from the Kentucky Historical Society as well as the National History Award medal from the Daughters of the American Revolution in 2014 for his body of work during the prior 10 years.
Randell Jones is the author of several other books touching on America’s frontier including Trailing Daniel Boone and In the Footsteps of Davy Crockett. His 2013 book, Daniel Boone Wagon Train: A Journey through the Sixties, is a fun look at a decade of celebrating Daniel Boone which took place each June and July in Wilkes and Watauga counties 50 years ago. He has been a keynote speaker at both the Kings Mountain National Military Park and Moore’s Creek National Battlefield ceremonies speaking from Before They Were Heroes at King’s Mountain.
Jones says that the, “250th anniversary of Boone's first excursion through Cumberland Gap is only a year-and-a-half away. Cumberland Gap later became America's first gateway to the West. Now is a good time to become acquainted with the life of Daniel Boone. His life is our most popular connection and entry point into learning about the Westward Movement and the pioneer era of American history.”
Mr. Jones is historian, author, and exciting speaker who has spoken to large crowds at the Statesville library in the past. Since 2007, he has served as an invited member of the Road Scholars Speakers Bureau of the North Carolina Humanities Council, a statewide nonprofit and affiliate of the National Endowment for Humanities which is providing funding for Thursdays free program
Jones says Daniel Boone has a strong connection to North Carolina. “Too many people associate Daniel Boone exclusively with Kentucky. Surprising to many, he lived in North Carolina for 21 years and in Kentucky for 24. Daniel Boone arrived in the Forks of the Yadkin in 1752 with his parents and left in 1773 to move his own family to Kentucky. Tragedy delayed his arrival for two years. Another misconception is the time period of Daniel Boone. Many people place him in the French & Indian War era exclusive of the American Revolution. He lived as an adult during both, and was actually wounded during the American Revolution. He served as a colonel in the Virginia militia on the western frontier, later Kentucky.”
Jones says that, “Several of Daniel and Rebecca's children were born in North Carolina, notably his first two children, sons, James and Israel. Daughters Susannah and Jemima were born in Virginia for safety reasons during the Cherokee War. Then Lavina, Rebecca, Daniel Morgan, and Jesse Bryan were also born in North Carolina. Baby William died in infancy here. The last child, Nathan, was born in Kentucky. Most people are surprised to learn the extent of Daniel Boone's travels, having footprints in 11 eastern states today. He was born in Pennsylvania, died in Missouri, and traveled in between to Detroit as a prisoner-of-war and to north Florida all on foot, horseback, and canoe.”
Boone’s travels as a hunter, explorer, and ranger most certainly took him through Iredell County. His family “forted” at Fort Dobbs for protection, but he was not a soldier there. And Mr. Jones points out that from his home in the Forks of the Yadkin (today's Davie and Yadkin counties), Daniel Boone hunted extensively throughout the Brushy Mountains during the 1750s and 1760s. “In 1766, he moved his family to the upper Yadkin River near today's Ferguson,” Jones said. “He built three cabins in that area. From there he could quickly get up on the Blue Ridge plateau and hunt. He ranged west into the Holston and Watauga river valleys and from that base left his home at Beaver Creek on May 1, 1769, on his first excursion through the Cumberland Gap into what would become Kentucky. He was gone two years.”
The Iredell Museums is hosting Randell Jones as part of their “Return to the Land of My Ancestors, A Visual Storytelling Odyssey” exhibit by Robert Alvin Crum which focuses on the history of the North Carolina backcountry during the time of Daniel Boone. The artist is a descendant of the Daniel Boone family. For more information contact the Museum at (704) 873-7347 or go to www.iredellmuseums.org.
Joel Reese, Local History Librarian
Iredell County Public Library
This article appeared in the Statesville Record and Landmark as “Hear Daniel Boone stories Thursday” on Nov. 7, 2017