By Carolyn Thomas Foreman
The name of Boone is intimately associated with Kentucky and Missouri, but few citizens realize that it also looms large in the history of Oklahoma because of the service of Daniel's youngest son, Nathan Boone, in the celebrated Dragoons.
Daniel Boone and his wife, Rebecca Bryan Boone, were living at Boone's Station, now Cross Plains, Kentucky, when Nathan was born on March 2, 1780 or 1781; the lad was twelve when his father, cheated out of his Kentucky lands, removed with his family to the Kanawah Valley where he engaged in farming for over a year. Early in 1788 Daniel, accompanied by his wife and eight-year-old Nathan, spent a month visiting friends and relatives at the family home in Berks County, Pennsylvania. Several hundred miles of this journey were made on horseback with young Nathan clinging on behind his father.1
In September, 1799, Boone took his family to Missouri; Daniel went overland with the stock while his two sons, Daniel Morgan and Nathan, started down the Ohio with their mother in a pirogue. When they reached Limestone (now Maysville) Nathan procured a marriage license and returned seventy-five miles to Little Sandy where he was married on September 26 to Olive Van Bibber, the daughter of Peter Van Bibber, whose older daughter Chloe had married Nathan's brother Jesse. The bride, said to be the prettiest girl north of the Ohio River, was sixteen and her youthful husband eighteen when, with stout hearts, they started on their great adventure. They traveled by way of Lexington, Louisville and Vincennes to St. Louis, leaving Little Sandy on October first.2
"Without any company but my husband," said Olive, "I started to Missouri. We had two ponies and our packhorse." One of their ponies became crippled which detained them in Vincennes almost three weeks; they arrived in St. Louis the last of October and went to St. Charles County. The youthful couple crossed the Missouri River in a skiff which also carried all of their possessions; Nathan rowed the boat while Olive steered and by his bridle guided their swimming horse.3
They settled twenty miles above the town of St. Charles in the Femme Osage District. Boone's settlement was made by the
1John Bakeless, Daniel Boone, New York, 1939, p. 333; Reuben Gold Thwaites, Daniel Boone, New York and London, 1924, pp. 211-12.
2Hazel Atterbury Spraker (compiler), The Boone Family, Rutland, Vermont,1922, p. 126. This writer cites the Draper Manuscripts, University of Wisconsin 6 S 18-254; W. S. Bryan and Robert Rose, A History of the Pioneer Families of Missouri, St. Louis, 1876, p. 7; Bakeless, op. cit., p. 360.
sons and some friends of Daniel Boone, on a tract of land granted to him in 1794 by the Spanish governor, Don Zenon Trudeau; the plantations extended along Femme Osage Creek for several miles.4 During 1802 Nathan Boone and William T. Lamme captured 900 beavers whose skins they sold at $2.50 each. Boone suffered a considerable loss when Indians found and looted a cache of one hundred pelts. The Indians were troublesome and Daniel and Nathan Boone were obliged twice with their families to race four miles in the night to the strong fort where Daniel Morgan Boone made his home to escape the ferocity of the savages.5 During the first few years of the century Boone was employed by the government in making surveys of St. Charles, Montgomery and Warren counties.6
During the autumn of 1804 Nathan Boone and Mathias Van Bibber went on a hunt, planning to go to the Kanzas; they proceeded up Grand River, trapping on the way to the source of the stream. After having trapped fifty-six beavers and twelve otters they were visited in their camp by twenty-two Osages who stole all the furs and three horses; the Indians warned them to clear out as another party of red men were hunting for them.7
Boone went among the Osages in the spring of 1805 in an attempt to recover his stolen property. He first visited the Big Osage town on Pomme de Terre Creek and from a trader there learned that it was the Little Osages who had robbed him and Van Bibber. When he went to the Little Osage town he was unable to recognize the thieves owing to their painted faces and changes of rude costume. White Hair, chief of all the tribe, sent some of his braves to get the horses belonging to the white men, but Boone recovered only two traps—the horses had been removed to a safe place before the messengers arrived.8
Part of the year 1806 was spent by Nathan and Daniel Morgan Boone with three other men in making salt. With forty salt kettles they left the Femme Osage settlement for what is now Howard County, Missouri. They remained all summer manufacturing salt, hence the place became known as Boone's Lick, although the Boones did not settle there. In the autumn they shipped their product to the settlements down the river in canoes constructed of hollow sycamore logs, with the ends closed by boards daubed with clay. At St. Louis the salt sold for $2 or $2.50 a bushel.
4Reuben Gold Thwaites (ed.) Brackenridge's Journal up the Missouri, 1811. Cleveland, 1904, vol. VI, p. 36, note 5.
5Louis Houck, A History of Missouri, Chicago, 1908, vol. 2, p. 93, n. 29; Bakeless, op. cit., pp. 364, 387.
6C. L. Lucas, The Milton Lott Tragedy and Other Stories of Early History . . . A Sketch of the Life of Col. Nathan Boone, Madrid, Iowa, [n.d.], p. 12.
7Wisconsin Historical Society, Notes on Border History . . Taken During a Trip to Missouri, from Sept. 22d to Dec. 31st, 1851, vol. ii, 1851. Lyman C. Draper, pp. 233-38.
The following year Boone and his companions erected a new furnace, increased their kettles to sixty, making a hundred bushels; a day, which required about 300 gallons of the spring water for a bushel of salt.9 That same year Braxton Cooper settled at Hancock bottom in St. Charles County where he bought salt from Nathan, who described the Boone's Lick country to him.10
The Osage Indians, almost constantly at war with other tribes, were also attacking white traders; because of these disturbances a body of troops under Capt. Eli B. Clemson11 ascended the Missouri River in the summer of 1808. He was followed by Gen. William Clark and Capt. Nathan Boone with a detachment of militia; Boone guided the force along the Boone's Lick road twenty miles westward from St. Charles, following the ridge between the Dardenne and Peruque.12 The expedition arrived at Fire Prairie 300 miles above the mouth of the Missouri on September 4 where they erected Fort Osage, which remained the extreme western outpost of the United States for many years.
The Indians not coming in, Clarke despatched Captain Boone, with an interpreter, Paul Loise, to the Osage towns to inform the Indians of his location; that trade and protection would be extended to the part of the tribe which acted peaceably and to all who wished their friendship; to those who would give up plundered property and conform to the regulations of the United States. Captain Boone returned on the twelfth accompanied by seventy-five chiefs and head men of the Great and Little Osages, and reported that all the nation, except the band on the Arkansas and a party that had gone to St. Louis with part of the stolen horses, were marching to the site.13 The chiefs of the tribe were White Hair of the Big Osages and Walk-in-the-Rain of the Little Osages.14
In 1851 Boone gave Dr. Lyman C. Draper further particulars concerning his negotiations with the Osages: "..the Indians held a Council - - - & Boone and his interpreter were ordered out
9Switzler's Illustrated History of Missouri from 1541 to 1877, St. Louis, 1879, p. 178; Houck, op. cit., vol. 3, p. 146; History of Greene County, Missouri, St. Louis, 1883, p. 623; Reuben Gold Thwaites (ed.), Early Western Travels, Cleveland, 1904, "Bradbury's Travels in the Interior of America 1809-1811," vol. 5, p. 52, n. 24; Draper Manuscripts, p. 244.
10Thwaites, op. cit., "Breckenridge's Journal up the Missouri, 1811," Cleveland, 1904, vol. 6, p. 48, n. 11.
11Eli B. Clemson of Pennsylvania who became a second lieutenant of the First Infantry March 3, 1799, reached the rank of captain March 4, 1807. He served as major in the same regiment and on March 9, 1814 was assigned as lieutenant colonel of the Sixteenth Infantry. Clemson was honorably discharged June 15, 1815, and died in 1845.
12Kate L. Gregg, Ph. D. (ed.), Westward with the Dragoons the Journal of William Clark, Fulton, Missouri, 1937, p. 46, n. 4.
13Clarke to Secretary of War, February 20, 1810; American State Papers, "Indian Affairs," vol. I, p. 765; Grant Foreman, Indians and Pioneers, New Haven, 1930, p. 36.
of the Council, & treated rudely - - - said they had not sent for him. Boone said he would go when they gave him an answer whether they would go to the Fire Prairie (Fort Osage) to attend the treaty. They at length reluctantly agreed, White Hair favoring - - - and several hundred of them went and made a treaty."15
An interesting account of the Boone family published in 1818, shows the high esteem in which it was held: "... The family of col. [Daniel] Boone, consisting of his sons and daughters, with their wives and husbands, live near each other and form a most interesting group... the sons are described to us as well bred gentlemen, distinguished by some of those grand features of mind which are so often found in our native sons of the forest. They own a fine estate in land granted to the individuals of the family by the crown of Spain. They are eminently useful to strangers who explore the lands on the Missouri and Osage, and the hospitality of every branch of this family is the theme of every traveler who extends his journeys to the neighborhood of their settlement."16
The Indians north of the Missouri River became so troublesome to the pioneer settlers that Governor Benjamin Howard of Louisiana Territory ordered Capt. Timothy Kibby of St. Charles to call out the militia; the governor also visited that settlement to organize a company of rangers made up of daring woodsmen, who were to patrol the territory between Salt River and the Missouri near Loutre Island. Nathan Boone was one of this body of hardy men who scouted in the region. He and his brother Daniel Morgan Boone were noted leaders in organization of the militia.17 The Rangers were enlisted for the term from March 3, 1812, to June 3, but the organization was continued to June 7, 1812, by the order of his excellency.
On August 15, 1813, Captain Boone with seventeen men reconnoitred and selected a route for the army to advance against the Indian towns near Peoria. The detail started from Cap au Gris, Lincoln County, Missouri, forty miles northwest of St. Louis; crossed the Mississippi and the second day encamped between it and the Illinois River. There were no signs of Indians at the time, but about midnight the sentinels discovered the savages trying to surround the camp, which was located in a woods on a small branch. Boone ordered the men away from the camp fire, doubled the sentinels and directed the soldiers to take to the trees. When a sentinel and an Indian fired at the same time the fight became general; the Red Men rushed upon the camp but the whites escaped to the opposite side of the stream where Boone ordered them to retreat. He wheeled and ran from the tree behind which he had
been posted, but on the first or second jump one of his feet went into a sink hole causing him to fall. This probably saved his life, as the Indians fired at him at that instant. "He recovered and ran some sixty steps, 'treed' and ordered his men to rally and take to the trees..." The firing had caused the horses to run away; Boone ordered them pursued but only half of them were taken, after which the detail returned to Cap au Gris. It was later learned there were from sixty to eighty Sauks and Foxes in this fight; they had followed Boone and his men thirty or forty miles before attacking.18
In September, 1813, Gen. Benjamin Howard19 with a large force of men left Portage des Sioux above St. Louis on an expedition against the Illinois Indians. When the troops reached Fort Mason they swam the Mississippi to join the Illinois troops. The army marched up the Mississippi bottoms to a point above Quincy, whence it crossed the country to Peoria to encamp for several weeks near the lake. General Howard ordered Boone with 100 men to march to Rock River in search of Indians. This campaign is said to have been largely responsible for checking Indian aggressions.20
The troops returned the latter part of October; there was snow on the ground and the men suffered greatly, as their shoes were worn out and they had been obliged to make hide shoes or wind strips of hide around their feet.21
According to "Aunt Mary" Hosman, the youngest child of Nathan Boone, her father surveyed the Boone's Lick Road in 1814; this, the first state highway in Missouri, ran from St. Charles to Old Franklin. It was the forerunner of the Santa Fe Trail and the old Oregon Trail.22
President Madison, in March, 1812, signed Nathan Boone's commission as a captain of the Missouri Rangers, organized to keep the Indians quiet on the frontier. On December 10, 1813, Boone became a major in the regiment and was honorably discharged in June, 1815. The succeeding years he spent in improving his farm, on which he built a large two-story stone house where his celebrated father lived with him for some time before moving to La Charette where he died September 26, 1820.23
Among old records in St. Charles, Missouri, is one dated November 4, 1819, setting forth that Louis Taylor and Loise Taylor, his wife, for $1025.31 sold to
19Benjamin Howard, born in Virginia, was appointed to the army from Louisiana. He became a brigadier general March 12, 1813; died September 18, 1814.
20Houck, op. cit., vol. 3, p. 113. This account was taken from Reynolds Pioneer History of Illinois, p. 343.
21Wisconsin State Historical Society Collections (1855), "Shaw's Narrative" by Col. John Shaw, vol. 2, pp. 211, 12.
23Lucas, op. cit., p. 13; Francis B. Heitman, Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army, Washington, 1903, vol. I, p. 230; Missouri Historical Review, Columbia, Mo., "Daniel Boone," by Floyd C. Shoemaker, vol. 21, no. 2, p. 212.
Nathan Boone's the ½ of the Ile or Square of ground on which Taylor now lives, 150 ft. front on 2nd St. by 300 ft. to the 3rd St. including the old horse mill.
The convention to frame a constitution under which Missouri was admitted to the Union met in St. Louis June 12, 1820; Nathan Boone, a delegate from St. Charles County, took a prominent part in this meeting. A committee composed of Duff Green, William T. Rector and Boone had charge of the convention's printing, to which all bids were to be submitted. Boone tried to have the temporary capital of the state located at St. Charles instead of St. Louis but his efforts failed.24
The year 1832 was an active one for Nathan Boone; In June he was reported in Iowa, where he commenced the survey of the southern boundary of the neutral ground on June 19 from the mouth of the Upper Iowa to two miles west of Painted Rock, where he set a two-mile post; he quit work there because of the hostility of the Indians.25
James Craig reported to Secretary Cass from St. Louis, December 14, 1833, that he had recently returned from making a survey, part of which consisted in running the line on the high ground separating the waters of the Des Moines from those falling into the Missouri and continuing up these grounds one hundred and fifty miles to the small lake forming the source of the Boya River in north latitude 42° 20'. "From this point I run and corrected a line 47 miles and 62 chains, to the upper forks of the Des Moines river, where Major Boone established his corner last season..."26
Endorsed by the people of St. Charles, Boone became a captain of the Mounted Rangers June 16, 1832; with Gen. Henry Atkinson and Col. Zachary Taylor be crossed the Wisconsin River in pursuit of Indians under Black Hawk; he also rendered valiant service at the head of his company at the Battle of Bad Axe where Black Hawk was defeated and captured.27
During the Black Hawk War a raid was made upon the Ramsey family who lived on the Femme Osage about six miles above Nathan Boone's home in St. Charles County; Boone with other settlers went to the place where they found the five year old son of the Ramseys at the point of death; he was still breathing and when he
24Floyd Calvin Shoemaker, A. B., A. M., Missouri's Struggle for Statehood 1804-1821, Jefferson City, 1916, pp. 135, n. 1; pp. 171, 196, n. 9.
25Annals of Iowa, Des Moines, "Iowa Under Territorial Government and the Removal of the Indians" by Col. Alonzo Abernathy, vol. 7, no. 6, p. 438.
26Correspondence on the Subject of the Emigration of the Indians (Document 512), Washington, 1835, vol. 4, pp. 757-58.
27Adjutant General's Office, Old Records, McComb to Cass, Sept. 13, 1832; Heitman, op. cit., vol. I, p. 230; Proceedings of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin, October 20, 1927, "Wisconsin Historical Landmarks" by Louise Phelps Kellogg, Appendix pp. 90, 91; Lucas, op. cit., p. 14; Holman Hamilton, Zachary Taylor, Indianapolis and New York, 1941, p. 91. On August 2, 1832, Nathan Boone and Olive his wife of St. Charles County, sold to William Cashon a tract of 258 acres in Femme Osage Bottom for $1032.00.
saw his father he said: "Daddy, the Indians did scalp me" just before he expired.28
In command of a company of rangers Captain Boone arrived at Fort Gibson, Indian Territory, November 22, 1832; his company and that of Capt. Lemuel Ford were encamped during the winter of 1832-33 one and a half miles below Fort Gibson, on the opposite side of the river; the place was called Camp Arbuckle. While at Fort Gibson Boone was employed by the commissioners to survey the boundary between the Creek and Cherokee nations during twenty-five days in March and April, 1833.29
For this service from October 1, 1832, to September 30, 1833, Captain Boone received $600 in pay; for subsistence he was allowed $292.00; for forage $192.00; servant's pay $60.93; servant's subsistence $66.80 and servant's clothing $27.50. From October 1, 1833, to September 30, 1834, fifty dollars was added to the Captain's pay; he was given $96 more for forage and a substantial raise for his servant's pay, food and clothing.
For "transportation from Fort Gibson to Jefferson Barracks, in October, 1833, 510 miles; from St. Louis to Franklin, Missouri, 165 miles; thence to St. Charles, 145 miles; thence to Franklin, 145 miles; thence to Independence, 108 miles; thence to Franklin, 108 miles, in December, 1833, and January, 1834: 1,181 miles," Captain Boone was allowed $141.72. While recruiting at Franklin, Missouri, from October 15, 1833, to April 29, 1834, he was reimbursed $61.2430
Congress having decided a mounted force was necessary to meet the wild Indians on equal terms, passed a bill March 2, 1833, to raise a regiment of dragoons. Officers were selected from the infantry and mounted rangers; Henry Dodge became the colonel, Stephen W. Kearny lieutenant colonel, Richard B. Mason a major. Boone was a captain, his rank dating from August 15, 1833. The officers were instructed to commence recruiting immediately; soldiers were limited to men between twenty and thirty-five years of age; "Native citizens who, from previous habits, were well qualified for mounted service."31
On May 6, 1833, Colonel Matthew Arbuckle at Fort Gibson ordered out a force of rangers and two companies of the Seventh Infantry to scour the territory between the North Fork of the Canadian and Red River in order to drive to the west, Wichita and Comanche Indians; Lieut. Col. James B. Many was in command
29Adjutant General's Office, Old Files, Arbuckle to Jones, Nov. 24, 1832; Grant Foreman, Pioneer Days in the Early Southwest, Cleveland, 1926 p. 59, n. 78; ibid., Advancing the Frontier, Norman, 1933, p. 40; Charles Joseph Latrobe, The Rambler in North America, New York, 1835, vol. I, p. 189; Chronicles of Oklahoma, "Captain Nathan Boone's Survey Creek-Cherokee Boundary Line" Introduction by Grant Foreman, vol. 4, no. 4, pp. 356-65; ibid., vol. 3, no. 2, p. 102.
of the expedition, while the rangers were led by captains Boone, Jesse Bean and Ford. Arbuckle directed Colonel Many to keep a journal and Boone to make a survey of the march.32
The command departed from Fort Gibson May 7 and on June 2 when approaching Red River, George B. Abbay of Boone's company was carried off by a band of Indians, estimated by Captain Boone at one hundred fifty to two hundred savages. The troops spent twelve days in pursuit but were forced to abandon hope of recovering Abbay when their food gave out near where Fort Sill was later established. The soldiers, weary and ill, arrived at Fort Gibson early in July.33
Captain Boone advertised in the Jefferson Republican, City of Jefferson, October 26, 1833, under the head lines "Franklin & Palmyra, U. S. Recruiting Rendezvous for Dragoons", as follows: "The undersigned being anxious to make up his Company of the United States Dragoons, entirely from the State of Missouri, gives notice to the enterprising and able bodied citizens of Missouri, who may be disposed to enlist in the new Regiment, now about to be organized, 'for the more perfect defence of the frontier' that they can have an opportunity of doing so, by applying to the under signed at Franklin, Howard County, Mo. or to Lieut. James W. Shaumburgh, in Palmyra." Boone refused to enroll anyone whose character for honesty and integrity was not well established or whose life had been noted for loose or disorderly actions. None such need apply, he said.
"The term of service is fixed by law at three years. All necessary expenses, such as clothing, food, horses, forage and medical attendance, will be furnished by the Government; in addition to which the following rates of pay will be allowed to the Dragoons, viz: Private $8 per month. $288 for 3 years." This notice was signed Nathan Boone, Capt. U. S. Dragoons, St. Louis, Oct. 10, 1833.
According to an observer: "The First Dragoons was the finest body of men I ever saw! Their uniforms were black jackets, with straight hat, from which waved long and beautiful black plumes." The horses provided by the government were the best that could be bought and each company had animals of a uniform color,34 but differing from those of other companies.
Col. Henry Dodge who followed Boone to Fort Gibson wrote to the adjutant general, February 2, 1834, of his disappointment at
32Adjutant General's Office, A. 1833. Arbuckle to Many, May 6, 1833; Grant Foreman, Fort Gibson A Brief History, Norman, 1936, p. 21; American Indian (Tulsa, Oklahoma), "Expedition of 1833" by Roy Benedict, June, 1928, p. 9; ibid., Editorial on "The Kiowa Country," December, 1928, p. 4.
33Grant Foreman, Pioneer Days in the Early Southwest, Cleveland, 1926, pp. 104-06. Abbay, orderly sergeant, had enlisted for one year. He was a native of Missouri, the son of J. Abbay of Mount Paraira, Ralls County (Foreman, op. cit., p. 106; History of St. Charles, Montgomery and Varren Counties, Missouri, St. Louis, 1885, p. 163).
conditions at the post but he spoke of Captain Boone in high terms and asked that he be placed in command of one of the companies of dragoons. He wrote, "Captain Boone is a first rate officer for the woods service. He commanded a company of U. S. Rangers under my command in 1812. He is a good woodsman and would be valuable on an expedition and has good knowledge of the southwestern frontier."35
Nathan Boone was in command of Company H when the First Dragoons, under Colonel Dodge, marched from Fort Gibson in 1834 to the frontier west of Arkansas to impress the Pawnee Pict and Comanche Indians with the power of the United States. The infantry had not been able to cope with the mounted Indians and it was thought the dragoons, who had been especially recruited for the purpose, would handle them better.
No treaties had ever been negotiated with these wandering tribes who were a constant menace to white hunters and traders. The principal object of the expedition was to meet the chiefs of the two tribes in council. When the order to march was given on June 15 five hundred men in nine companies started on one of the most trying undertakings in the annals of the army. The dragoons were ferried across the Washita on July 4 whence they continued their march to the west. The following day when a number of buffalo were seen in the distance several hunting parties were organized to go after them. Captain Boone had charge of a group of six; he took his way through a dense thicket of briers, seemingly impassable, to find two of the beasts that had been killed the night before by some of the Indians accompanying the regiment. The party returned with as much of the meat as they could carry and joined the dragoons already on the march.36
Several months later a party of officers were discussing a stampede of many of the regimental horses, picketed for the night, by a stream of buffaloes on their way north. "Boone . . . a quiet unimpulsive, truthful man, like his father, Daniel, whom he is said to have much resembled, studied the matter carefully, and gave us these data for an estimate of the number: 'They were excited, and traveled at the rate of four miles per hour continuously, the stream was a half-mile wide, and it flowed steadily for twenty-four hours. Allowing a square rod to each animal, more than ample, you can make your own calculation as to the number. I make it over ten millions . . . and I believe there were many more.'"37
All through July the dragoons pushed on through the prostrating heat; early in the month Dodge had been obliged to divide his men and leave eighty-six of them at a sick camp, called Camp
36Louis Pelzer, Marches of the Dragoons in the Mississippi Valley, Iowa City, Iowa, 1917, pp. 34, 35; Dragoon Campaigns to the Rocky Mountains . . . by a Dragoon (J. Hildreth), New York, 1836, p. 149.
37The Iowa Historical Record (Iowa City), October, 1890, "Early Explorations in Iowa" by Albert Miller Lea, p. 536.
Leavenworth, because of illness. Food was also a problem which caused anxiety to the commander; on July 19 it was said the men had not had a bite of bread for a month. They marched too fast to have much time for hunting and the small amount of game killed was divided with great care.
When the regiment arrived at the Toyash village after five weeks of marching Colonel Dodge encamped about a mile away; the weary soldiers were soon feasting on corn, beans, watermelons and wild plums brought by the Indians, who were glad to exchange dried meat and corn for tobacco, knives, vermilion and garments.
Colonel Dodge opened the grand council July 22 after bands of Comanches, Pawnee Picts, Wacos and Kiowas arrived; he explained that they had come, not as enemies, but as friends to represent "the great American captain" who wished them to go to Washington to make a treaty. At a later meeting not less than two thousand armed and mounted warriors were present when Colonel Dodge gave assurances of friendship and brought the meeting to a happy termination by returning to her relatives a Kiowa girl brought from Fort Gibson.
The return march was commenced July 25; the troops were accompanied by Kiowa, Comanche, Pawnee and Waco Indians, who amused the soldiers with their wild songs. The jaded command arrived at Fort Gibson August 15, 1834, and nine days later Colonel Kearny returned with his body of weary dragoons and worn horses. Colonel Dodge wrote to George W. Jones: "Perhaps there never has been in America a campaign that operated More Severely on Men & Horses. The excessive Heat of the Sun exceeded any thing I ever experienced..."38
An order of May, 1834, from the war department had directed Colonel Kearny to march with three companies of dragoons from Fort Gibson to take up winter quarters on the right bank of the Mississippi near the mouth of the Des Moines River; this force was made up of companies B, under Capt. Edwin V. Sumner, H under Captain Boone, and I commanded by Capt. Jesse B. Browne. With only a short time given for rest after their strenuous trip to the West these dragoons set out in September 3 for Iowa "where they are to be Wintered in the Sac Country."39
After leaving Fort Gibson Captain Browne and some of the men became ill and the Captain was unable to proceed. The troops passed Union Mission where several Osage families were living on game, fish and a few vegetables which they raised in patches. About twenty miles a day were made by the force; the Missouri River was crossed on September 19 at Booneville and their station was reached six days later.
Colonel Kearny was greatly disgruntled on arrival to find that
39Military Order Book, letter from Dodge to Major General Gaines, dated Fort Gibson, September 7, 1834 (Pelzer, op. cit., p. 249, n. 73).
quarters for his officers and men were not ready and not a log had been laid for stables for the horses. The troops were sheltered in tents while Quartermaster Crossman and the soldiers built willow log huts for three companies around three sides of a square; the fourth side was partly closed by a snug house for Kearny, Sumner and Boone. The latter was described by Lieutenant Lea as a "good and honest man, a brave and skillful frontiersman and Indian fighter, but was inexperienced in the duties of a dragoon officer in garrison." This post, called Fort Des Moines (I), Michigan Territory, is now the site of Montrose, Iowa. The winter of 1834-35 was a bitter one for the troops recently serving in the south. Officers and men suffered because of poor quarters and meager supplies.40
Colonel Kearny was ordered in the spring of 1835, with three companies, to proceed up the Des Moines River to the Raccoon Fork, in search of a location for a new military post; from thence the force was to advance to the Sioux villages near the highlands of the Mississippi and return in a westward direction to Fort Des Moines (I). The territory through which the dragoons had marched was occupied by Sioux, elk and buffalo. The dragoons arrived at the fort after an absence of more than ten weeks with the proud record of not having lost a man, horse, tool or wagon.41
The route they had followed lay along the divide between the Mississippi and Des Moines rivers; they found the ground very soft from excessive rains but strawberries were so abundant as to make the whole track red for miles together..." Captain Boone was attacked in the upper Des Moines valley by a band of Sioux outnumbering his soldiers three to one. The fight lasted from the middle of the afternoon to dark, when Boone and his force eluded the savages and marched south.42
News of the death of Lieut. James F. Izard of the dragoons, in Florida, March 5, 1836, brought sorrow to army posts all over the country, as he was greatly admired and loved in the service. A meeting was held at far away Fort Des Moines on April 29, 1836, at which resolutions of respect were adopted and signed by Col. S. W. Kearny and Captain Boone.43
From Fort Crawford (Prairie du Chien), Wisconsin, a report was sent to Washington June 15, 1836, that trouble was brewing in the north among the savages and troops were being moved as a consequence. A detachment under the command of Captain Sumner, senior officer at Fort Des Moines, made up of two companies of dragoons under captains Boone and Browne, left the post on June 5 and 6, via Chicago for Green Bay to visit the Winnebagoes.
40The Iowa Historical Record (Iowa City), October 1890, "Early Explorations in Iowa" by Albert Miller Lea, pp. 542, 546; Pelzer, op. cit., pp. 49-52.
41Ibid., pp. 53, 59; Annals of Iowa, Des Moines, Third Series, "Historical Sketches—Northwestern Iowa," by Maj. William Williams, vol. I, no. I, p. 132.
The troops and horses were said to be in fine condition. A later report was that these dragoons went to Green Bay to be present at the execution of the Indian murderers of Mr. Burnett.44 A Menominee Indian confined at Fort Howard (Green Bay) at that time was to be tried on June 12 "for the murder of a Mr. Bennett, the surveyor. There is little doubt of his execution and this may be laid hold of by the Menominee Indians for the commencement of operations, when they will be sustained by their allies the Winnebagoes."
The expected uprising did not occur; General Brady visited all of the military posts on the northern lakes and reported that there was not the slightest foundation for reports of hostile intentions by the Indians.45
Dodge resigned as colonel of the First Dragoons July 4, 1836, to become governor of Wisconsin. Settlement had increased so materially in the country that another cession of lands was demanded of the Sauk and Foxes in the Iowa country, then a part of Wisconsin Territory. On September 16, at Davenport, Governor Dodge signed a treaty with these Indians, in the presence of Captain Boone and Lieutenant Lea, by which the red men were to move farther to the west.46
Part of the dragoons were sent to the north through Illinois and to portions of Wisconsin, leaving only a feeble garrison at Fort Des Moines under the command of Col. Richard B. Mason, who was ordered to abandon the position on June 1, 1837; the remnants of company H, under Boone and company I departed for Leavenworth.
During the three years Boone was stationed in Iowa he explored much of the unknown territory. When Lieut. Albert Miller Lea47
44Ibid., July 7, 1836, p. 12, col. 2, copied from the Missouri Republican; July 28, 1836, p. 61, col. 2, from the Chicago American. Probably Ellsworth Burnett, who was killed in November, 1835 (Wisconsin Historical Collections, vol. 6, pp. 137, 477).
47Albert Miller Lea, a native of Tennessee, was appointed to the Military Academy July 1, 1827. He served in the artillery and the Seventh Infantry before being transferred to the Dragoons March 4, 1833. He resigned from the army in May, 1836, to become chief engineer of his native state. He was U. S. commissioner to determine the boundary between Missouri and Iowa in 1838. From 1839 to 1840 he served as assistant engineer of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. The next year he was chief clerk of the War Department and later became professor at East Tennessee University. He was chief engineer of the Arkansas Railroad Company in Texas, and of the Rio Grande, Mexico, and the Pacific Railroad Company in Mexico from 1857-60. During the Civil War he served as lieutenant colonel of engineers in the Confederate Army and died January 17, 1891 (Heitman, op. cit., Vol. I, p. 621; George W. Cullom, Biographical Register of the Officers and Graduates of the Military Academy, New York, 1868, vol. I, pp. 380-81). The town of Albert Lea, Minnesota, was named for Lea.
of the Dragoons was writing his report on explorations to determine the site for Fort Des Moines (2) he was ably assisted by Captain Boone who furnished valuable data for his map of Iowa.48
"...it occurred to me that I could get an outline of the region between the Mississippi and Missouri, and by filling it in with my sketches...I could make a map that would interest the public, gain me some reputation and perhaps a little money. By the aid of Capt. Boone my success in getting the data was beyond expectation. A well-filled map, 24x30 inches, was soon made...I named it 'Map of Iowa District of Wisconsin Territory.'"49
Gen. J. C. Parrott, who as a young man served as sergeant of Company I of the Dragoons, in a description of Nathan Boone said: He "much resembled his father in taste and habit. He was at that time past middle life...one of the most celebrated woodsmen on the frontier, though a rather ordinary looking man, small of stature, and with little of the military about him. He was much loved by his men to whom he was friend and father. When horses were lost it was always Captain Boone who attended to the details of finding them." General Parrott saw him many times carefully adjust his glasses, dismount his horse, get down on his knees to examine the ground for a trail.50
Boone saw hard service in Iowa where he suffered danger and hardships, but his name has been preserved by appreciative citizens who named a river and a county of the state for him.51
Projects for the defense of the frontier were much in the public notice; they included the survey of a military road from the Mississippi to Red River, sites for military posts, removal of Fort Gibson to a position on the Arkansas. A commission consisting of Colonel Kearny, Maj. T. F. Smith and Captain Boone was appointed. These officers went to the frontier from St. Louis and after an examination reported on December 11 recommending that Fort Gibson be retained as the position was too important to be abandoned. For the future Fort Coffee they selected a beautiful site on bluffs overlooking the Arkansas. This was the only work accomplished by the commission, since the examination had commenced so late in the season, but it was renewed the next year.52
In a very early day Nathan Boone explored Southwest Missouri, being one of the first white men to traverse that part of the state. He was so pleased with the country that he selected a tract.
48Gregg, op. cit., p. 23, n. 19; Lucas, op. cit., p. 11; Annals of Iowa, Des Moines, Third Series, "Whence Came the Pioneers of Iowa" by F. I. Herriott, vol. 7, no. 6, p. 452.
49The Iowa Historical Record (Iowa City), October, 1890, "Early Explorations in Iowa" by Albert Miller Lea, p. 550.
50Annals of Iowa, "Reminiscenses of Gen. James C. Parrott" [Keokuk, Iowa], by Mary R. Whitcomb, vol. 3., nos. 5-6, pp. 369-70.
52Beers, op. cit., p. 121; Army and Navy Chronicle, October 27, 1836, p. 268, col. 1; ibid., January 12, 1837, p. 32, col. 1.
in the west part of the present Greene County and sent his son Howard to take out preemption rights. This land was in the heart of Ash Grove, a large tract covered with walnut and ash timber. In 1837 Captain Boone took his family and slaves to his land two miles north of Ash Grove, where they made their home, although it was years later that they were joined by their husband and father.
Boone and his wife were the parents of fourteen children. His sons were James, John Coburn, Benjamin Howard. James is said to have been the first male white child born in Missouri, west of St. Charles County. Boone's daughters were considered the belles of the county. They were Delinda Boone Craig, Jemima Boone Zumalt, Susan Boone Van Bibber, Nancy Boone, Olive Boone Anthony, Levica Boone Caufield, Melcina Boone Frazier, Mary Boone Hosman, Sarah Boone Wright, Mahala Boone Printy and Mela Boone.53
In 1837 Capt. Charles Dimmock was appointed by the War Department as U. S. civil engineer for the location and construction of a military road from posts on the upper Mississippi to those on Red River. He departed from his home in Fredericksburg, Virginia, to join the commissioners appointed by congress, who were to decide upon the route. A letter from Fort Leavenworth reported that Colonel Kearny, Captain Boone, Lieutenants Kearny and Thompson of the civil engineers with Captain Dimmock and Mr. Minor, left Fort Leavenworth September 5, 1837, to make a reconnaissance for this military road to Fort Gibson.54
During 1837 intruding Osages created many disturbances in western Missouri; Gov. Lilburn W. Boggs called out state troops, who drove the Indians across the line. In spite of this the Osages returned in the spring of 1838. Two white men were killed and several Indians killed and wounded; two companies of dragoons sent to the scene were joined by Major Wharton and Captain Boone. Such affairs proved the necessity of having military posts closer together.
The line of the western frontier was divided into four sections which were assigned to various officers for survey; the northern section, extending from Fort Leavenworth to Fort Snelling, was surveyed by Captain Boone and Captain Augustus Canfield of the Topographical Engineers. When Camp Kearny, near Davenport, Iowa, was abandoned the Pottawatomies were left to the mercy of the Sioux who made raids on them. It was planned to establish a fort there and Colonel Kearny, Captain Boone and a detachment of dragoons, in the spring of 1838, after examining the area, selected
54Army and Navy Chronicle, August 10, 1837, p. 89, col. 2; September 7, 1837, p. 158, col. 2; October 26, 1837, p. 264, col. 1; Thomas Kearny, General Philip Kearny, New York, 1937, p. 44.
a site near the mouth of Table Creek. The officers reported to the Quartermaster General April 25, but the Indians were left unprotected until their removal.55
The original site of Fort Wayne in the Cherokee Nation proving a most unhealthful location, the garrison was removed in the autumn of 1839 to a site near Spavinaw Creek, across the line from Maysville, Arkansas. Captain Boone was commandant of the post where the troops were quartered in tents until log cabins were built defended by three blockhouses.
Excelling as a woodsman, Captain Boone was always in demand when an expedition into the wilderness was projected. It had become the custom to send out troops for a reconnaissance along the frontier during the months when the grass would sustain the horses. It was deemed a wise policy to keep watch on Indians who were in the habit of depredating on white settlers or committing outrages on other tribes. Reports were received of a bad disposition among the Otoes; this was manifested particularly against government employes living among them. As a precaution, Colonel Kearny in command of two squadrons of dragoons under Captain Boone and Capt. James Allen, proceeded from Fort Leavenworth September 5, 1839, to investigate.
The old Council Bluffs road on the south side of the Missouri River was followed by easy marches across a beautiful country. At times it was necessary to cut down the high banks of streams to allow passage of the wagons and frequently they were obliged to head hollows where marshy bottoms prevented a foothold for horses.
Among the streams crossed were Wolfe River, the Great and Little Nemashaw, Table Creek and L'eau qui pleut before they arrived on the banks of the Great Platte. Fortunately the water was low so that the horses could ford, but quicksand made it impossible to send the wagons across. This gave an excellent opportunity to use Captain Lane's rubber boat which would transport 1500 pounds.
Through Agent Hamilton the Otoes were called into council on September 16. After a long delay the Indians came into camp in great numbers. Having passed the ring of sentinels, about twenty of the head men dismounted and approached, but the commanding officer refused to confer with them as long as they were armed. When they had laid aside their weapons Colonel Kearny told them that he had come among them as a consequence of reports of their miseonduct. He did not wish to punish the whole nation because of the bad actions of a few of their people. Kanzas Tunga, Waronisa, Le Voleur and other leading men replied that some of their young men had acted badly, but they were unable to restrain them. Le Voleur and Waronisa offered to give themselves up for punishment in place of the youths.
Colonel Kearny, after consideration, agreed to turn the prisoners over to Agent Hamilton who promised to be answerable for their good conduct. The Otoes had been greatly alarmed, thinking it was the intention to kill the men and that was their reason for appearing at the council armed for conflict.
After swimming the Missouri on the 17th the command made camp at a Potawatomie village where a council was held the next day with dozens of the chiefs participating. Here, Kearny informed the Indians that the government wished them to enter into a new treaty providing for the exchange of their lands for other territory south of the Missouri. He told them of the advantage for them to live on land under the government of the United States instead of under state laws, and advised them to go with their agent to examine the lands offered them. After this council was finished the troops headed south, arriving at Fort Leavenworth September 25, 1839.56
In the late autumn of 1839 Kearny was called upon to move his force of 250 dragoons from Leavenworth to Fort Wayne because of General Arbuckle's fear of serious trouble among the Cherokees arising out of the murder of the Ridges and Boudinot. When the force reached Fort Wayne Kearny learned that the rumors of an uprising were without foundation. The dragoons remained three days at Fort Wayne while Kearny corresponded with General Arbuckle at Fort Gibson, distant sixty miles by express. The return trip was made in nine days, the force arriving at Fort Leavenworth November 20 after marching almost three hundred miles.57 This is said to have been the largest mounted force of regular troops to make an expedition in the United States up to that date. The men and horses returned to their station in fine condition in spite, of the long marches within the space of twenty-four days.58
Kearny's threats were ignored by the Otoes who committed bold acts of hostility by crossing the Missouri in February, 1840. They entered dwellings to demand food and whisky; killed cattle and other stock; waylaid a white man whom they stripped and threatened to kill until he promised to give them liquor if they would spare his life. The young men had been beyond control of the chiefs since the murder of Iotan in April, 1837.59
Once more Boone was sent among hostile Indians; with two companies of dragoons he left Fort Leavenworth on March 25, 1840, for the Nishabotna River in Missouri to expel the Otoes who had
56Army and Navy Chronicle, October 31, 1839, pp. 285-86; Pelzer, op. cit., pp. 82-85; Beers, op. cit., p. 137.
59Iotan, also called L'Ietan or Shaumonekusse, an Oto half-chief, rose by his own merits as a daring and successful warrior to the position of chief without any hereditary claims to the office. (Thomas L. McKenney and James Hall, The Indian Tribes of North America, edited by Frederick Webb Hodge, Edinburgh, 1933, col. 1, pp. 156-64).
been committing the depredations. Boone ordered the Indians out of the state and warned them not to return.60 As the Iowas were also creating disturbances at that time it was a good time to have Boone and his force in the vicinity.
After Gov. Pierce M. Butler located the Cherokee Agency at Fort Gibson he was informed that the officers objected to Indians about the garrison and was asked to remove the agency off the reservation. He got Captain Boone to survey a section of land south of the post, which included the dragoon quarters, and there he established his agency. When Gov. Montford Stokes died November 4, 1842, his body was interred at Fort Gibson with full military honors due this veteran of the Revolution. Captain Boone's company of dragoons formed the escort, although all of the troops at the garrison were turned out.61
Gen. Zachary Taylor, commanding the Second Military Department, wrote Adjutant General Roger Jones in the spring of 1843 that instructions had been given Colonel Davenport to prepare an expedition of dragoons under Captain Boone to make a reconnaissance near the western boundary. The force was to be made up of five officers and nearly one hundred men, who were to march from Fort Gibson to afford protection to Santa Fe traders. Boone was instructed to remain on the left bank of the Arkansas River to the crossing of the Santa Fe Trace; he was ordered to remain there several days to communicate with the traders, after which he was to strike south to the Canadian or Red River, learning if possible the exact location of the Great Salt Plains. Lieut. Abraham Robinson Johnston of the dragoons, at his own request, was to accompany Boone with all of the mounted men of his company. On the return trip Johnston would separate from the main body, fall back on Red River where his company was to be stationed. The General anticipated the happiest results from this expedition, as the demonstration of force would exert a salutary influence upon the prairie Indians and afford valuable information concerning a portion of the country imperfectly known.62
Boone left Fort Gibson May 14, 1843, with sixty non-commissioned officers and privates; he proceeded up the north side of the Arkansas, between it and the Verdigris, for about seventy-five miles to a camp on the Arkansas where he was joined by Lieutenants Johnston and Richard H. Anderson with twenty-seven men of Company D of the dragoons.
The command encountered a party of Osages who stole ten horses and two mules from the troops. On his arrival at the Santa
60Army and Navy Chronicle, April 16, 1840, p. 248, col. 1; Beers, op. cit., pp. 137-38; Pelzer, op. cit., pp. 86, 87.
62Adjutant General's Office, Old Records Division, Letter Book 8, "A" Fort Smith; William Brown Morrison, Military Posts and Camps in Oklahoma, Oklahoma City, 1936, p. 32; Grant Foreman, Fort Gibson, A Brief History, p. 27.
Fe Trace Boone crossed to the south side of the Arkansas where he could get buffalo; on June 13 Captain Cooke's command came in sight. Boone remained from the 13th to the 22nd. Cooke thought his force sufficient to protect the traders, so Boone set out on the southern route, planning to pass the salt plains. Wishing to avoid camping with a party of Osages, Boone changed his course and steered towards the Salt Rock where he arrived June 30. In his report Boone said: "I intended remaining here some days, and to make a thorough examination of the plain, but the next day a large party of Osages came, and encamped by us. Their chief was Tallee, who...told us the osages had stolen our horses. The Salt Rock as I have call'd it, is well worth a strict examination....I do not consider what I there saw, to be the Rock Salt proper, although it lies in great masses, but I do believe Rock Salt to be within a few feet of the surface..."
Learning of another salt plain from the Indians, Boone marched down the Red Fork thirty or forty miles but did not find it. About that time the command lost a man in the death of Private Bean of Company "E." Boone next "struck for the Canadian Fork of the Arkansas River,... On arriving at the Canadian, I crossed, and travell'd down between that stream, and the False Washita untill I parted with Lt. Johnson on the morning of the 14th July, when I again crossed the Canadian, keeping on its northern side, between it, the Little River, passing Choteau's Old Trading house. We struck the road leading from Edwards trading house (Old Fort Holmes) to Gibson 5 miles north of Edwards' and kept on to Fort Gibson. During the march we lost two men, one as already stated, the other was accidentally shot, dying a few minutes after...
"We subsisted on buffalo meat from the time we reach'd the great salt plain, untill we struck the settlements on the Canadian..." Captain Boone's journal giving a detailed account of the journey from May 14 to July 31, 1843, was sent with his report, which was dated August 11, 1843.63
Josiah Gregg, in his Commerce of the Prairies, related that when Boone came to the Canadian about the region of the western boundary he found the channel perfectly dry. Between the Canadian and Upper Arkansas Boone "found efflorescent salt in many places, as well as a superabundance of strongly impregnated saltwater; besides these, he visited two considerable salines."64
An item concerning Nathan Boone said that he passed Clintonville (a village in Bourbon County, Kentucky), in the summer of
63Pelzer, op. cit., pp. 97-102; Appendix, pp. 181-237; Chronicles of Oklahoma, "Salt Works in Early Oklahoma," by Grant Foreman, vol. 10, no. 4, p. 480; ibid., "One Hundred Years Ago in the Region of Tulsa", by James H. Gardner, vol. 11, no. 2, p. 744; ibid., "The History of Camp Holmes and Chouteau's Trading Post" by Howard Van Zandt, vol. 13, no. 3, p. 324.
64Thwaites, op. cit., vol. XX, pp. 212, 244; Josiah Gregg, Commerce of the Prairies, Philadelphia, 1855, vol. 2, pp. 147, 187, 189.
1843: "...Was said to have been a rough, slovenly, indifferent looking man."65
Several expeditions were sent out from Fort Washita to encourage friendly relations with the Indians; the first was led by Pierce M. Butler, to Tawakoni Creek in Texas in the spring of 1843; in the autumn Lieut. Col. W.S. Harney, with eighty troopers, carried out a similar service.66
Deaths of officers were frequently reported from Fort Gibson and July 22, 1844, it was thought that Capt. Nathan Boone could not live, but he recovered and took part in several more expeditions. Cherokee Agent Pierce M. Butler wrote Chief John Ross at Park Hill, Cherokee Nation, from Fort Gibson, November 9, 1843, requesting him to deliver to Captain Boone, "commanding Fort Gibson, the three following prisoners, half-breed Cherokees, namely, Eli Starr, David Reese, and Joseph Starr, accused of the murder of citizens of the United States."67
Commissioner of Indian Affairs T. Hartley Crawford, on August 31, 1844, wrote to Captain Boone at Fort Gibson that it had been decided "at the instance of our sister Republic of Texas, and in conjunction with her," that a third effort should be put forth to make treaties with the wild Indians on the border between the two republics. The two previous expeditions had failed because of circumstances not likely to happen again.
Washington authorities had been informed that a council was to be held at Tawakoni Creek near the Brazos River on September 15 between the commissioner of Texas, Comanche and other Indians within her limits and the Texan government wished a representative from the United States to be present, empowered in promoting treaties and other matters affecting the tribes.
It was thought the Indians would not assemble before the end of the month and that they would wait for the agent from the United States. The secretary of war had selected Captain Boone as commissioner for the United States and he was directed to carry with him a company of dragoons "not from any apprehension of Danger to yourself or the Texan Commissioner, but to make an impression upon the Indians." As the time was short Boone was requested to set out as soon as possible.
A rough draft of the treaty was forwarded to Boone but he was advised to insert other obligations on the Indians if it appeared expedient to him. It was suggested that it might be difficult to collect the Indians; Boone was authorized to employ two or three runners to whom he was to supply a quantity of tobacco as presents
for the Indians, to go among the tribes to notify them of the time and place of meeting.68
Acting Charge d'Affaires Charles H. Raymond addressed a letter to Secretary of State Anson Jones from the Legation of Texas in Washington City, September 12, 1844, saying that Commissioner Boone, with his company of dragoons, would probably arrive at the council ground about the first of October. "...in any event it is to be hoped the Indians will be detained until his arrival."69 It is plain to be seen that not enough time was given the troops to reach the treaty grounds and when they arrived on Tawakoni Creek the Indians had left. Boone returned to Fort Gibson after an absence of six weeks. His expedition was the third unavailing effort of the government to make a treaty between Texas and the Comanches, who were said to rely very little on Texan promises since the massacre of a number of their head men and warriors several years before.70
The Cherokee council, on October 30, 1843, enacted a measure by which all of the salines in the Cherokee country were to revert to the nation except the one granted to Sequoyah in 1828; this law worked a hardship on some of the Old Settlers who had been operating salt works for several years. Capt. John Rogers, a chief of that faction, who had operated The Grand Saline, near the present Salina, Oklahoma, was particularly exasperated against the tribal government; he and other members of the Old Settlers circulated a call for a meeting at Tahlontuskee on September 16, 1844. The authorities of the Cherokee Nation, fearing the meeting was called to divide the tribe and overthrow the government, prepared to prevent the assembly.
Secretary of War William Wilkins recommended to President Tyler that he send a commission to the Cherokee Nation to look into affairs of the tribe and learn if the laws were equably enforced on all factions; the president named Adjutant General Roger Jones, Col. Richard B. Mason and Cherokee Agent Pierce M. Butler to act in this matter. The commission organized at Fort Gibson on November 15 and held its first meeting at Tahlontuskee on November fifteenth. The Cherokee government resented having the commission meet a faction of the tribe remote from the capital of the nation and refused to participate unless the commission came to Tahlequah. As a result of their investigations the commission reported on January 17 that complainants had not been deprived of their property.71
69Annual Report of the American Historical Association for the Year 1908, "Diplomatic Correspondence of the Republic of Texas," vol. 2, p. 310.
"On January 8, 1845, Gen. R. Jones, commanding at Fort Gibson,72 directed Capt. N. Boone and Lieut. Kirkman [sic]73 to examine the saline formerly occupied by Bluford West, and to estimate and report the value of the improvements." Captain Boone was ill and Captain S. Woods took his place. The letter of directions for carrying on the above work, dated Fort Gibson, January 8, 1845, was signed "R. Jones, U. S. A., Commissioner."74
In 1845 some Creek immigrants who settled in a remote section of their nation, near the site of the present Holdenville, became involved with a party of Osage and Wichita Indians, four of whom they killed. In a panic Creek women and children fled to Fort Gibson; traders on the Verdigris and Creek Agent James Logan also resorted to the post for protection. Captain Boone with his company of Dragoons, went to the mouth of Little River in February, but returned a week later, reporting that there was no cause for alarm.75
From Fort Smith, November 20, 1845, Gen. Matthew Arbuckle, commanding the Second Military Department, wrote George Lowrey, acting principal chief of the Cherokee Nation: "I have directed Captain Boone, with his company of dragoons, to remain near Evansville [Arkansas], and to notify all the refugees not to cross into the nation for the purpose of violence; that such a step on their part would forfiet for them the protection they now enjoy."76
Maj. B. L. E. Bonneville and Captain Boone sent a communication to General Arbuckle from "Camp near Evansville, Arkansas, December 31, 1845," which read: "This day came John Field, son of John Field of Stoney Creek; also a younger son of Archelaus Smith, both of the Cherokee nation. They report that, on Saturday evening the 27 inst., Charles, son of Archelaus Smith, was at a frolic at Joe Boling's on Caney, in the Illinois district. That while there, Little John Brown was boasting he was the one who killed Bean Starr..." This led to a fight between Smith and Brown; "...The same evening, Sunday the 28th inst., John Brown (a cousin of Little John Brown) came to the house of Charles' mother; near White Oak springs, in Tah le quah district, dragged Charles from his bed into the yard, where five or six men shot him dead."77,
Bonneville and Boone wrote Captain James H. Prentiss, Assistant Adjutant General 2d Military Department, Fort Smith,
72Roger Jones was adjutant general of the U. S. Army from March 7, 1825, to July 15, 1852, and was never in command of Fort Gibson.
73Ralph William Kirkham, a native of Massachusetts, was appointed to the Military Academy July 1, 1838. He served in the Sixth Infantry as a second lieutenant from February 27, 1843. He spent several years at Fort Gibson and was married there.
Arkansas, on January 2, 1846, reporting conditions in that part of the Cherokee Nation: "...No one charged with crimes by the Cherokee authorities is known to be receiving rations from the United States. Though idle and worthless individuals might escape the closest examination, yet, so soon as detected, they would at once be dropped from the provision list.
"2d. We are of the opinion that few, if any, of the common Indians who have left their homes could find a support there now; from the best of information we have, it is supposed most of their stock and grain has been destroyed.
"3d. Upon your suggestion, Captain Boone has excluded from his list all slaves, and such as he deems may be able to support themselves; thus reduced, the number to whom provisions will be hereafter issued will be 325 full rations, and 60 half rations.
"4th. We are of the opinion that children over five years of age should receive full rations; below that age, half rations.
"5th. The refugee Cherokees are living, by permission, in vacant buildings among their friends, scattered over a wide extent of country, without any intention of making a claim for such indulgences.
"There are many Cherokee families that have crossed the line about Beattie's prairie; but, from a report of Lieutenant Johnston, it is believed they can support themselves, and no issues will be made in that quarter unless otherwise instructed.
"Stand Watie is at old Fort Wayne with about 100 followers; they keep up an understanding with those near this. We do not apprehend any act of hostility on their part; they appear determined to abide the decision of the President of the United States upon their present situation."78
In the neighborhood of Fort Gibson were several houses to which the soldiers resorted when off duty. The most notorious was that of Polly Spaniard, where a fight occurred March 11, 1845, in which two Dragoons of Captain Boone's company were killed; the following night the house was attacked and burned by resentful. soldiers who were tried and acquitted at Little Rock.79
The year 1845 was comparatively peaceful in the Cherokee Nation until the autumn, when there was great disturbance after the killing of James Starr and Suel Rider, owing to the old trouble between factions of the tribe; the white people of Arkansas were greatly disturbed and sent many sensational reports to General Arbuckle concerning the desperate situation. Major George Lowrey, acting chief during the absence of Chief Ross, received a letter from General Arbuckle in the middle of November, stating that the Cherokee Light Horse must be disbanded at once and the
79Cherokee Advocate (Tahlequah, I. T.), March 20, 1845; Chronicles of Oklahoma, "Military Discipline in Early Oklahoma," by Carolyn Thomas Foreman, vol. 6, no. 2, p. 144.
murderers of Starr and Rider arrested. Without consulting the Cherokee authorities he ordered Captain Boone's company of dragoons to the Arkansas line.
The Cherokees resented this high handed action and denied the right of the United States troops to invade their nation. The chief stated that the military force had been sent because of sensational rumors arising in Arkansas and not by his request.80 Stand Watie had collected a band of sixty men at Fort Wayne and the Cherokee Advocate, on January 29, 1846, said that they had "some object in view inimical to the peace of the country."
Captain Boone reported on December 10, 1845: "There is much to be feared from the Old Settlers and the Treaty Party." He had heard that Stand Watie was organizing the Fort Wayne refugees for an attack.81 General Arbuckle ordered two more companies of dragoons from Fort Washita to the border to prevent violence. "This force and the persuasion of Captain Boone and G. W. Adair prevented other recruits from joining Stand Watie...and organizing for a threatened aggressive movement against the established Cherokee officers." It was not until the summer of 1846 that a settlement of Cherokee affairs was brought about in Washington.
Several historians have written that Nathan Boone served in the Mexican War; a Missouri newspaper, in 1856, recounted that he had been eager to participate in that conflict but owing to his age he was retained in his old post.82 From the regimental returns of the First Dragoons it appears that Captain Boone, in command of Company H, was stationed at the Dragoon camp near Evansville, Arkansas, from January to October, 1846. He was granted a leave of absence for six months, beginning October 18, 1846.83
When Maj. Eustace Trenor, of the First Dragoons, died in New York City February 16, 1847, Nathan Boone, senior captain of the regiment, was immediately appointed in his place. The end of the Mexican War came in the spring of 1848; Boone was at Fort Leavenworth that summer, as he wrote from there July 13, 1848, reporting the death of the commandant of the post, Lieut. Col. Clifton Wharton.84
When Gen. Richard Barnes Mason died July 25, 1850, Lieut. Col. Thomas Turner Fauntleroy of the Second Dragoons was pro-
80Foreman, Pioneer Days in the Early Southwest, 176; ibid., The Five Civilized Tribes, 338, 341, 342; ibid., Marcy and the Gold Seekers, Norman, 1939, p. 340.
83The National Archives, Washington, D. C., Adjutant General's Office, Special Orders No. 82, September 1, 1846.
84Albert G. Brackett, History of the United States Cavalry, New York, 1865, p. 84; Pelzer, op. cit., p. 169.
moted to fill the vacancy and Nathan Boone became lieutenant colonel of the Second regiment of Dragoons in his place.
An account depicting the boredom of garrison life after his many surveys, expeditions and battles shows Colonel Boone at the age of about fifty: "At present there are a few officers at this post [Fort Leavenworth] who indulge quite too freely for their own health, or for the comfort of their friends. The most remarkable one in this respect is Colonel B- - - -, [oone] of the Dragoons, who can sit up night after night for a week imbibing his toddy, and relating anecdotes by the thousand. The old gentleman's vivacity, wit, and humor are exceedingly entertaining to strangers. Some of his subordinates, however, who have been stationed at the same post with him for several years, say, that after he begins to relate over his anecdotes a few times, they cease to excite any mirth, and become a nuisance.85 What a valuable historical record might have been preserved if some of the younger officers had made notes of the old Colonel's stories of his life instead of becoming bored with him. Dr. Lyman C. Draper of the University of Wisconsin was sufficiently interested in him and his father to write Colonel Boone in 1850, asking thirty-three questions concerning Daniel Boone's life, and after Nathan resigned from the army July 15, 1853, Dr. Draper visited him at his home in Greene County, Missouri, and compiled 294 pages of manuscript in interviews with him.86
Missouri historians appear to agree that Colonel Boone died in 1856; one of them gives October 16 as the time, while another states that he passed away November 16. Heitman says Nathan Boone died January 12, 1857. Olive Van Bibber Boone died November 12, 1858, in her seventy-fifth year. Some writers report that they had fourteen children, while it is stated in A Pioneer History of Families of Missouri that there were thirteen children. This book describes Nathan Boone as tall, square-shouldered; a powerfully built man, with blue eyes and light hair like his father.
It is said Boone became wealthy and at the time of his death that he owned 1200 acres of farm land and many slaves.87 "Aunt Mary" Hosman related to her son many accounts of her father's expeditions; at times he would be away from home for months and his family would fear that he was dead; "then one fine day he would come tramping down the hillside, hale and hearty....He would go into the bedroom and take off a concealed canvas belt on which had been sewed two canvas pockets....These pockets would be full of gold, for the government paid its soldiers in gold. Then the family would gather around while Mrs. Boone held her hus-
86"Draper Notes," State Historical Society of Wisconsin, 6 S 212-308 (Missouri Historical Review, vol. 32, no. 1, p. 88).
band's hat upturned to catch the shining gold pieces as he counted them.88
Six pages of one of the Greene County probate court record books were needed to inventory the estate of Nathan Boone; eleven of his slaves were sold at auction for prices ranging from $300 to $1257. Mrs. Boone paid, $800 for Reuben; her son-in-law Alfred Hosman purchased Cork for $1202; another son-in-law, Franklin T. Frazier, bought Peter for $726; apparently the other Negroes were sold outside the family. The report of the sale of personal property listed fifteen books, a large library for the time and place.89
The statement has been made by many writers that Nathan Boone built the first stone house in Missouri, but this is a mistake, as there were such dwellings long before Boone's was completed in 1813. Both John Thomas Scharf in his History of Saint Louis City and County and Maj. Amos Stoddard in Sketches Historical and Descriptive mention stone houses which had been erected before that date. The blue limestone for Boone's home was quarried from a hillside on his property and cut into blocks. There were three rooms downstairs and four above, with wide halls between. In one of the rooms on the first floor the pioneer Daniel Boone died.90 Daniel Boone, in September, 1820, after an attack of fever, regained his strength sufficiently to go for a visit to his youngest son, Maj. Nathan Boone. He suffered a relapse caused by an indiscretion in his diet and died on the twenty-sixth day of the month.91
Boone, his wife and several children are buried in the Missouri township named for him, a mile and a half north of Ash Grove. Only rough stones mark the graves which are covered with shrubs. No monument marks the grave of this man who bore such a fine part in the history of the West. In 1913 the Missouri State Legislature appropriated $3000 to place markers along the trail surveyed by Boone across the state, "yet the man who...laid it out...lies in an unmarked grave in an old field on the border of Greene and Dade Counties."92
88Lucile Morris, "The Story of a Neglected Hero, Nathan Boone." This delightful history of Boone appeared serially in the Springfield (Mo.) News and Leader, commencing August 30, 1931, and continuing in the Springfield Leader through September 4, 1931.
91Cecil B. Hartley, Life of Daniel Boone, Philadelphia, 1865, p. 330. Nathan Boone consented to the removal of the bodies of his father and mother from Missouri to Frankfort, Kentucky, when the legislature of that state sent William Boone to ask for the transfer (Spraker, op. cit., p. 132). An effort was made in 1927 in the Missouri legislature to have the state buy the Boone homestead and burial ground where a suitable memorial might be erected to the forgotten hero, but the bill died in committee (Morris, op. cit.)
92History of Greene County, Missouri, St. Louis, 1883., p. 623; Missouri Historical Review, vol. 23, no. 4, pp. 660-61; Young, op. cit., p. 43. Mrs. Mary Hosman, the last child of Nathan Boone, died in 1915 at the age of ninety-three.
Nathan Boone's life was one of usefulness and true devotion to his country; he was well educated, if self educated, and was an accomplished surveyor. His name has been more honored in Iowa than in his home state, as a river and county are named for him there.93
A fine tribute to Colonel Boone was written by an army officer who said: "He was a most finished woodsman, and it is doubtful if he had any superior in that respect in our army. The paths leading out on the plains of the Great West were familiar to him, and he was able to pilot parties in any direction. He was a worthy son of Daniel Boone of Kentucky."94
93Weekly Jefferson Inquirer, Jefferson City, Mo., November 1, 1856, p. 1, cols. 1, 2; History of St. Charles, Montgomery and Warren Counties, Missouri, St. Louis, 1885, p. 192.