There are few focal heroes more popular than Daniel Boone. While many of the stories of his life are either embellished or completely fabricated, it was Boone who opened up the route to Kentucky through the Cumberland Gap that 200,000 settlers followed in the coming years.
However, despite Boone being most well known for his connection to Kentucky, did you know that he was born and grew up in eastern Pennsylvania? Today, the site of his family farm has been preserved as the Daniel Boone Homestead.
The homestead is located in the Oley Valley, in present day Berks County, near the community of Birdsboro. While the area around the home is still sparsely settled in the 21st century, this home was on the edge of the frontier when Boone was born in 1734.
Interestingly, one of the other settlers in the region was Mordecai Lincoln, the great-great grandfather of Abraham Lincoln. It is likely that the Boones and the Lincolns knew each other since they lived only about four miles apart.
The Daniel Boone Homestead is a 600-acre site that is administered by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. The log cabin that was built by Squire Boone, Daniel’s father, in 1731 is no longer standing.
When the Boones moved to North Caroline in 1750, they sold the home to William Maugridge, a relative from Philadelphia who greatly expanded the home. When Maugridge died in 1766, the home was purchased by John DeTurk, who also took it upon himself to remodel the home.
The current home was lived in until the early 20th century, when it was purchased by the state in 1937. The state immediately set to restore the home and to preserve Daniel Boone’s homestead. They also built and relocated several smaller buildings that could be used to teach about aspects of 18th-century frontier living.
Optional guided tours of the Daniel Boone Homestead take visitors through the home, which has been returned to what it was like under the Maugridges and the DeTurks. This gives visitors a chance to see what life was like for settlers in the region during the middle part of the 18th century, and how life changed over these decades.
The cellar of the home is the only part of the structure that dates to the Boone family. This cellar was built in the 1730s when the Boones built their cabins. Today, visitors can go into the cellar and see the spring that Daniel Boone would have used for drinking water when he lived in the home. In my opinion, the chance to enter the Boone’s cellar is the most interesting part of touring the home.
Visitors can also explore the historic grounds around the buildings with or without taking a guided tour of the home. Outbuildings include an 18th century blacksmith shop and a log house, both of which were built in the 18th century and moved to the site. There is also a large barn and several other interesting, but small buildings. These buildings give visitors a chance to better understand what life was like for settlers in the region, including the Boones.
While on site, don’t miss the visitor center, which offers a gift shop and is the starting point for tours. There is also a small museum here which tells the story of Daniel Boone and his family and features several artifacts related to the site.
If you can, visit the property during one of their regular events. These offer the ability to see more costumed interpreters and a chance to learn more about what life was like for the Boone family and other settlers in this part of eastern Pennsylvania during the 18th century.
In some ways, a visit to the Daniel Boone Homestead is less about Boone himself and more about Pennsylvania in the early to mid-18th century. However, this fact doesn’t make a visit here any less interesting. In fact, I can think of nowhere that does a better job showcasing frontier life during this time period in Pennsylvania.
Whether you take a guided tour of the home, walk through the historic area on a self-guided tour, or even walk the hiking trails through the property, a visit to the Daniel Boone Homestead in Berks County is sure to be an enjoyable and educational experience.
Note: My visit to the Daniel Boone Homestead was hosted by the site. However, the opinions expressed are my own.
Daniel Boone Homestead
Hours: Tuesday – Saturday: 10am-4pm
Cost: Adults: $7, Children: $4
Address: 400 Daniel Boone Rd