Wednesday, March 12, 2008

A Connection to Daniel Boone, America's greatest pioneer

Jackson County and the Two Egg/Dellwood area have a unique and little known connection to the famed American frontiersman and pioneer Daniel Boone.

Boone himself passed through Jackson County while visiting Spanish Florida to decide if he should settle there. He crossed overland from St. Augustine to Pensacola and actually acquired land in the latter city. He ultimately decided against moving to Florida, though, and resettled in Missouri (also then a Spanish territory) instead.

Some of his family members, however, later followed his footsteps to Jackson County and descendents of the pioneer Boones still live here to this day.

The tombstone at right marks the grave of Gilley Crawford Neel at Cowpen Pond Cemetery near Dellwood. Born in 1823, she was the great granddaughter of Daniel Boone's brother, Squire Boone. She came to Jackson County with her husband, Benjamin Harrison Neel, during the early 1800s and settled first at present-day Neal's Landing. The couple lost a child there to fever in their first year in Florida. They later moved south to a farm near the Port Jackson community (now under Lake Seminole) and finally settled in the Paront area just south of Dellwood. She was the first member of the Boone family to settle in Jackson County and named her son, Daniel Boone Neel, after her famous great-great uncle.

Many Jackson County families have connections to the Boones of Kentucky fame. Among them are the Neel, Hamilton, Jackson, Mears, Nobles and Cox families, among many others. Some of these families still preserve traditions about the famed pioneer. One favorite story, told to me by my grandmother when I was a young boy, was that he never wore a coonskin cap (as he is often portrayed as wearing by Hollywood). According to her, he wore a black flat-brimmed hat similar to the ones worn by the Amish of today. Since the Boones were Quakers, this makes perfect sense even if it doesn't match well with Hollywood's depictions of the man!

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