Over the 4th of July weekend, My Own True Love and I headed toward southwest Missouri and the Toler family reunion.
A family reunion is a worthy goal in itself. Especially when it includes homemade ice cream and Grandma Toler’s Chocolate Cake. But as far as we’re concerned, a road trip isn’t a road trip without a historical site, a museum, or at the very least a historical marker or three. (Have I mentioned how much we like historical markers?) So we planned a detour. Then we took a detour from our detour.
Our original goal, in addition to the reunion, was the murals at the state capital in Jefferson City. We got there. We saw them. They are fabulous. (See them here and here. Better yet, go visit.) But what kept us talking on the drive from Jeff City to Springfield was our stop at the Daniel Boone home outside Defiance, Missouri.
The house is not quite what you picture when you think Daniel Boone. In fact, it turns out Daniel Boone wasn’t quite what you picture when you think Daniel Boone either. (Forget the coonskin cap. His trademark was a wide brimmed Quaker-style hat.)
Boone was 65 when he moved with his wife and several of his children to what was then the Upper Louisiana Territory in 1799. At that point, Upper Louisiana was a Spanish possession. (You thought it belonged to France, didn’t you? France ceded the territory to Spain at the end of the French and Indian War. Napoleon Bonaparte took it back in 1800. France sold the territory to the United States three years later. )
Even though the house was built on the edge of the wilderness, it was no log cabin. It took Boone and his son Nathan seven years to build a four-story house out of blue limestone and black walnut. Boone carved the fireplace mantel himself. The house is a beautiful Georgian -style manor, with a twist: the Boones built gunports into the 2-½ foot thick walls. Close the shutters and pull out the rifles and the manor becomes a wilderness fortress.
Today the Boone home is part of a historic interpretation site owned by Lindenwood University. In addition to tours, they run history day camps in the summer. I don’t know know about you, but I’d have signed up in a heartbeat. The day we visited, the campers learned about muzzle-loading rifles and made wax candles. Sure beats making potholders and singing 100 Bottles of Beer on the Wall.