James Boone Cause of Death: The Tragic Fate of Daniel Boone’s First Son

James Boone was the first child of Daniel Boone, the famous American pioneer and explorer. He was born in 1757 in North Carolina, and grew up learning the skills of hunting, trapping, and scouting from his father. He also shared his father’s dream of exploring the vast wilderness of Kentucky, which was then a disputed territory between the British, the French, and the Native Americans.

The Journey to Kentucky

In 1773, Daniel Boone decided to lead a group of settlers from North Carolina to Kentucky, hoping to establish a new colony there. He was hired by Richard Henderson, a land speculator who had purchased a large tract of land from the Cherokee Indians. Daniel Boone’s family, including his wife Rebecca and their nine children, joined the expedition.

The journey was not easy, as they had to cross the Appalachian Mountains and face the dangers of the wilderness. They also had to deal with the hostility of some Native American tribes, who did not recognize Henderson’s purchase and considered the settlers as invaders.

The Attack at Wallen’s Creek

On October 9, 1773, the Boone party reached a place called Wallen’s Creek, near the Cumberland Gap, a natural passageway through the mountains. Daniel Boone decided to camp there for the night, while sending his eldest son James and six other men ahead to scout the route and notify their friend William Russell, who was waiting for them at Castlewood, Virginia.

However, James Boone and his companions never made it to Castlewood. They were ambushed by a band of Delaware, Shawnee, and Cherokee warriors, who had been tracking them for days. The Native Americans attacked them with tomahawks, knives, and guns, killing all of them except for one, who managed to escape and report the massacre to Daniel Boone.

The Torture and Death of James Boone

One of the most horrific details of the attack was the torture and death of James Boone, who was only 16 years old at the time. According to the survivor, James Boone was captured alive by the Native Americans, who proceeded to torture him in front of his dying friends. He was scalped, stabbed, and mutilated, while a Cherokee chief named Big Jim took pleasure in inflicting pain on him. James Boone called out for his father and his family in his final moments, but no one could help him. He died after enduring hours of agony.

The Aftermath of the Massacre

The massacre of James Boone and his companions was a devastating blow to Daniel Boone and his party. They buried the bodies of their fallen friends and returned to North Carolina, abandoning their plans to settle in Kentucky. Daniel Boone was heartbroken by the loss of his first son, and blamed himself for sending him on such a dangerous mission. He later wrote in his autobiography:

“I can’t reflect upon this dreadful scene, but sorrow fills my heart. A zeal for the defence of their country led these heroes to the scene of action, though with a few men to attack a powerful army of experienced warriors. When I call to mind the thoughts of my son, who was my darling, I am distressed.”

The Legacy of James Boone

James Boone did not live to see his father’s dream of Kentucky come true, but he did not die in vain. His sacrifice inspired many other pioneers to follow his footsteps and brave the perils of the frontier. His name and story are remembered as part of the legend of Daniel Boone, the man who opened the way to the West.

According to Find a Grave, James Boone’s remains were later moved to a cemetery in Middlesboro, Kentucky, where a monument was erected in his honor. The inscription reads:

“James Boone, son of Daniel and Rebecca Boone, killed by Indians at Cumberland Gap, October 10, 1773. Aged 16 years, 8 months, 10 days. This monument erected by the D.A.R. and the State of Kentucky, 1912.”

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