Daniel Boone's Missouri Days Fueled by Family, Faith
In October 1816, Daniel Boone wrote in a letter: “The religion I have is to love and fear God, believe in Jesus Christ, do all the good to my neighbor and myself that I can, do as little harm as I can help, and trust on God’s mercy for the rest.”
That quote was cited by historian Bill Federer on his American Minute radio program September 26, 2010. The letter was written to Sarah, widow of Boone’s brother Samuel.
Here’s the context for my discovery of that storied pioneer’s clear affirmation of his Christian faith.
A few weeks ago, I was walking down the brick-paved Main Street in St. Charles, Missouri. It was time travel. I was walking through history, and right there about midway down Main, I spotted Boone’s Colonial Inn. It was news to me that Daniel Boone’s big footprint on this nation included St. Charles.
I’m not a historian by any means, but I am always intrigued to discover new stories about America’s founders and pioneers. So this Boone connection to St. Charles prompted me to embark on a little R&R (that is, reading and research), and that’s when I uncovered that clarion declaration of faith.
Good food and family fun
Lunch at the Boone Colonial Inn was a bonus that day. The historic inn (circa 1837) is near the place where, according to history, Boone and his wife Rebecca lived for a short time in 1809 so they could be near their grandson James, who was attending school in St. Charles. There’s also a Daniel Boone Homestead and Heritage Center in nearby Defiance, Missouri.
A couple of days earlier, our hosts had treated us to a twilight horse-drawn carriage ride down the 10-block collection of buildings dating back as far as the 1790s, and to a jaw-dropping progressive dinner including stops at Lewis & Clark Restaurant and ending at Mother-in-Law House Restaurant for the creamiest, tastiest coconut pie you can imagine.
Now, they were turning us loose to do some exploring on our own. For me, other highlights on the historic Main Street included a first quick stop at Picasso’s Coffee House, then countless small shops catering to all interests, unique places such as Hardware of the Past, Little O’s Old Time Soda Fountain, Kilwins chocolate shop (samples, anyone?), Main Street Books, and F&H General Store & Amish Cupboard. Plus assorted crafts and art and gift and antique shops. And more. Add a wide variety of restaurants, a few museums, the historic first St. Charles Borromeo Church, and other attractions, and you get a feel for this little slice of history. It’s both encouraging and instructive to discover little symbols such as the reconstructed old church with its vertical log construction, a throwback to the original 1769 structure, which fell victim to deterioration over time.
Behind shops lining the east side of Main, Frontier Park fronts the Missouri River. Explorers Lewis and Clark began their westward trek here, and their names are attached to numerous attractions in the area. For hiking or bicycling, Katy Trail, the nation’s longest rails-to-trails project, runs through the park and continues for 237 miles following the Lewis and Clark path up the river.
And still more family fun
The St. Charles Main Street historic neighborhood is, indeed, a haven for history buffs, but this serene pocket of peace is bordered by a bustling, vibrant small city with all the contemporary amenities a visitor or a family could ask for.
And then … only half-an-hour away is downtown St. Louis, a city with an exhaustive array of family activities – for example, the Cardinals’ stadium, the Arch, and a world renowned zoo (with free admission). In fact, on a trolley tour, the driver frequently pointed out museums, attractions, and family places that boast no admission fee. He called attention to children and parents playing in the fountains and pools in public parks – all legally. That’s no small draw for kids on a summer day. At every turn, both cities just seem to cry out, “Family-friendly!”
Now, back to Daniel Boone. Talk about family values! These grandparents moved across the country in a time when travel was time-consuming, challenging, and dangerous – just to support their grandson. With all of today’s craziness and political correctness trying to disassemble the institution of family and deny faith-based values, it’s reassuring to recall that the men and women who pioneered this country were, by and large, committed to family and rooted in Christian faith.
I pray the nation’s Christian roots are deep enough for this republic to survive. We desperately need a resurrection of the kind of faith Boone expressed – love and fear God, believe in Jesus, do good, and trust God’s mercy for the rest.