Iowa Article: "Colonel Nathan Boone: Biography of the Adventurous Pioneer"

The Annals of Iowa, 10(3) (Jul. 1872): 226-229


Nathan Boone, a captain of the Dragoons at the time of the 1835 expedition, spent his life on the edge of America over the course of the 19th century. Stepping from the shadow of his famous father, Daniel, Nathan Boone kept with the call of the age and headed west. The article provided limited insight into his life, but allows readers a glimpse of the Dragoon Captain.


Boone served first in the a Presidentially appointed group of mounted rangers in Missouri, before spending a great deal of time surveying the developing American territory west of the Mississippi. The article does not dive into specific detail of Boone's surveys, however, he set his sights on the 'Neutral Ground' following the 1830 Multinational Treaty of Prairie du Chien. The Neutral Ground survey took him as far into northcentral Iowa as Clear Lake.


Boone also served in the War of 1812 and Blackhawk War (on the side of the United States), before eventually becoming a captain in when the Dragoons formed in the 1830s. He accompanied the 1835 expedition, and spent nearly two more decades working his way up the ranks. He retired in 1853 as a Lieutenant Colonel of the 2nd Dragoons, four years before his death in 1857.


The article also relates a couple of anecdotal stories about Boone, meant to display his frontier-spirit and resourcefulness.


Boone stands as an important member of the expedition, and more research will need to be completed to further understand and illustrate the famous frontiersman's son.


"There is one name, which, whenever it is mentioned among military men and old frontier men, is always mentioned with respect, and that name is Nathan Boone. On account of his father, Col. Daniel Boone, of Kentucky, the fame of the son is not as wide-spread as it should be, nor is it such as he was justly entitled to." (226)


"He was born in Kentucky in 1782, in the settlement made by his father; lived there until he was grown to manhood, and then moved to the territory of Missouri, where, at thirty years of age, and on the 25th of March, 1812, he was made by the president of the United States a captain of mounted rangers." (226)


"These rangers, of which there were seven companies, were raised during the war with Great Britain, for the protection of the frontier of the United States against the Indians, and were to serve on foot or on horseback, as the exigencies of the service might require." (227)


"He had the passion peculiar to his family, for the chase, and often went off on long and lonely marches, far beyond the most extended frontier settlements, in pursuit of the denizens of the forest." (228)


"After leaving the army, he was sometimes employed as a surveyor, and laid off many Indian boundaries in the territory north of Missouri; and sometimes a trapper, when he indulged his love for hunting for months together." (228)


"There he lived (Ozark Mountains) until the breaking out of the Black Hawk war, when he was again called upon by the president to serve his country in the field. A battalion of mounted rangers was raised and placed under the command of Maj. Henry Dodge, the six companies of which it was composed being commanded respectively by Capts. Lemuel Ford, Benjamin V. Becks, Jesse B. Brown, Jesse Bean, Nathan Boone, and Matthew Duncan. Captain Boone's commission was dated June 16, 1832." (228)


"In August, 1833, the battalion of rangers was reorganized as the 1st regiment of United States dragoons, Major Dodge having been promoted colonel; Stephen W. Kearney, lieutenant colonel, and Richard B. Mason, major. Five of the captains in the rangers were retained, Capt. Becks having been discharged, and five other captains from the old army appointed to the regiment; these were Clifton Wharton, Edwin V. Sumner, Eustace Trenor, David Hunter, and Reuben Holmes." (228)


"While a captain, Boone was stationed at Fort Des Moines, and at Leavenworth, but every summer his company made long expeditions far out in the Indian country. He was the favorite pioneer captain of Col. Kearney, who had the most implicit confidence in his knowledge and sagacity." (228)


"It is related that at one time, while out in the buffalo range, several young and enthusiastic officers started out and followed a drove of buffalo a long distance. They became separated from the main command and from one another, and in fact, got lost. Night came on, but still the young gentlemen did not return, and all became exceedingly apprehensive in regard to their safety. A long night ensued, but with the first light of the following morning, Boone was on the trail, through in some places it had been obliterated by the hoofs of thousands of buffaloes; and after a long search, found them completely lost, almost insane." (228)


"He was promoted major in the 1st regiment on the 15th of February, 1847, and served as such until the 25th of July, 1850, when he was promoted lieutenant colonel of the 2d Dragoons. Feeling that old age was wearing upon him, and that he was no longer able to keep the field, he resigned out of the army, on the 15th of July, 1853, and died at his home in Missouri, in January, 1857, in the seventy-fifth year of his age." (229)


"Several of the paths leading towards the Rocky mountains were first traveled by parties under the leadership of Boone, and he discovered many of the water courses and streams along which travelers have since wended their way to the shores of the Pacific." (229)






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