Daniel Boone’s Last Adventure
From the pages of history… Through clay and bronze… Into the heart of the Bluegrass
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Daniel Boone Portrait by Chester Harding
Unfinished painting of Daniel Boone by Chester Harding, the only portrait of Boone painted from life. This was painted when Boone was 84 years old, a few months before his death. Harding painted Boone in June 1820 while Boone was living with his daughter Jemima Boone Callaway in Missouri.
Boone’s Place on the Memorial
Daniel Boone was chosen as a prominent feature of the Kentucky National Guard Memorial from the outset. He is uniquely linked to Kentucky and our military history. His presence pays tribute to the roots of today’s Kentucky National Guard in the militia that hacked a state from “Dark and Bloody Ground” for an opportunity to make a better life. Boone is also a tribute to the location, Boone National Guard Center, the headquarters for the Kentucky Army and Air National Guard.
A Legend in His Own Time …
A legend in his own lifetime, Daniel Boone was an explorer and hunter whose exploits made him one of the most famous frontiersmen in American history. One of 11 children raised in a Quaker household, he was born on November 2, 1734, in Berks County Pennsylvania. Little is known of his formative years, other than he aspired to be a woodsman rather than a farmer.
Family “scandals” resulted in his father's expulsion from the Society of Friends and the family moved to the Yadkin Valley of North Carolina, arriving in 1751 or 1752. From there Boone explored west into Kentucky in the 1760s and 1770s. In 1775 he established the frontier outpost of Boonesborough, one of the first white settlements in Kentucky. When the Kentucky territory became part of Virginia, Boone was named an officer in the Virginia militia and spent the next several years trail blazing and fighting Indians. His “autobiography,” written by John Filson and published in 1784, depicted Boone as wily and adventurous and made him a folk hero.
Boone tried to establish extensive land claims in Kentucky, but was unable to retain them and many were invalidated after 1780. After living in western Virginia, where he served three times in the state legislature, Boone moved in 1799 to what is now Missouri. He settled there with his son, Daniel Morgan Boone, and was later granted land by the U. S. Congress. He died near St. Louis in 1820 at the age of 85 and is now buried in the Frankfort Cemetery.
Commencing in the 1820s, several actors have portrayed Boone in various buckskin costumes, all of which included a coonskin cap. The most popular of these portrayals was by the actor Fess Parker in the TV series Daniel Boone from 1964-70. The real Boone thought coonskin caps were silly and impractical unlike these actors he always wore a beaver or felt hat instead, which had a wide brim for keeping out the sun and rain.
Daniel Boone was chosen as the center piece of the memorial because he is uniquely linked to the establishment of Kentucky and his presence pays tribute to the roots of today's Kentucky National Guard. New KYNG officer candidate school graduates are sworn in at Daniel Boone's grave site in homage to his place in Kentucky Military History. Boone National Guard Center, the state’s National Guard headquarters was named in his honor in 1962.
Sculptor Wyatt Gragg based the clothing and equipment on his Boone on period re-enactors and the rifle on an actual period fowling piece.
Original maquette submitted by sculptor Wyatt Gragg. A maquette is a small model of an intended sculpture – a first draft of the sculptor’s vision
The maquette was cast in bronze for promotional purposes.
The next step in the process was the creation of a one-third scale model of the final Boone statue. The scale model gives the artist his first real opportunity to give detail and exacting attention to what will eventually become a larger than life bronze.
Here sculptor Wyatt Gragg puts the finishing touches on the scale clay of Daniel Boone. The type of shoes and hat Daniel Boone would have worn became much discussed points in the development of the scale model.
The scale clay of Boone was cast in bronze by the Bright Foundry in Louisville. Boone was one of several items being cast that day. Below: Workmen pour the bronze. Left: Detail showing the lower portion of Boone after the pouring.
At right: Boone peaks out of the mold after the bronze has begun the cooling process and the molding material is being removed.
Below: The pieces of Boone removed from the mold and cleaned and ready for the assembly process.
Assembled scale bronze showing details of Boone’s clothing and equipment
Sculptor Wyatt Gragg poses with his Boone creation after the bronzing process is complete.