The Incredible Adventures of Daniel Boone's Kid Brother, Squire by W. Fred Conway
reviewed by Gerti
By size and weight, this seems like a throw-away pamphlet, but W. Fred Conway’s work on Squire Boone has more substance than it would appear at first glance. He takes the story of the Boone family, especially famous brother Daniel and less-famous sibling Squire, from their early days in the Yadkin Valley of North Carolina, through Squire’s burial in Boone Caverns, which he discovered while hiding from Indians in southern Indiana.
The story is almost apochryphal, with Daniel Boone constantly getting into scrapes, captured by Indians, etc. and his baby brother coming to his rescue. The first story told by Conway shows how several other companions of the Boone boys were killed or lost in the Kentucky woods, but the Boone boys always managed to survive their trials and return to their wives back in Yadkin. So competent were they as woodsmen, that they were able to explore the country separately for a year and then keep an appointment to meet at noon on a specific July day in a hidden encampment.
The Boone’s traversed much of Kentucky, and would eventually help found several forts against Indian attacks, including Fort Painted Stone near Shelbyville, Fort Boonesborough near Winchester, and Fort Harrod, near Harrodsburg. Squire was an important figure in the history of Indiana as well, since he founded the first Baptist Church in the state, near Laconia. He was a self-ordained Baptist minister, who also performed the first marriage west of the Appalachians, with the bride one of three teenaged girls he saved after Indians abducted her. He is also considered one of this country’s first environmentalists, as he was very concerned, despite bringing many settlers here, about maintaining the wonderful wilderness in our region, too. He even spoke to that point while a delegate in Kentucky’s first legislative assembly.
Squire’s enduring legacy, however, seems to be Squire Boone Village near Corydon, Indiana. He built a gristmill there with his son after going broke when some land speculation deals fell through. They used the water flowing out of the caves to power the mill, and apparently, it still grinds grain the way it did two centuries ago. Nowadays the tourist attraction “village” also has a bakery, and soap and candle-making displays. You can see his burial casket, or at least the monument erected by the Daughters of the American Revolution in his honor, as both Daniel and Squire were made honorary Army Captains by a special act of Congress.
While not as laudable as it once seemed, Squire Boone clearly fought many battles with the Native Americans in order to settle the wilderness that became the states of Indiana and Kentucky. He saved many settlers lives, and even came up with primitive fire extinguishers made from rifles to deal with flaming arrows shot into forts. Squire was an educated man who believed in God, knew the woods, and had many skills valuable in the new territories, acting as a carpenter, a miller and a gunsmith during his lifetime.
While Conway’s language is sometimes awkward, he tells a good tale about a fascinating historical figure of great regional importance. This book would be appreciated by any child, teen or adult with an interest in the early battles that created our state and, ultimately, our nation. It’s a shame Squire Boone is not as well known as his brother.