“A lot has been written about Boone, but earlier biographers had made a number of mistakes,” said Morgan. These included tales of 15 tons of ginseng Boone and his sons supposedly dug in 1788, his surveying abilities, and the myth that one of Boone’s children was fathered by one of his brothers.
A point he found highly relevant to a biography about Boone was the fact that “no previous historians had noticed that Boone was a Freemason, which was significant in the era of the American Revolution. Freemasonry was a part of the Revolutionary spirit,” he said.
It took Morgan four years to pen this biography about Boone. His primary source documents included the Draper Collection housed at the Wisconsin Historical Society, the archives of the Kentucky Historical Society at Frankfort, The Filson Club in Louisville, the Henderson Papers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the Durrett Collection at the University of Chicago, The Boone Family files at the Missouri Historical Society in St. Louis, among many others. He also used anthropological studies of the Shawnee Indians that “no Boone scholars seemed to have paid any attention to,” he said.
Morgan also relied upon research he had uncovered years before for a poem about Boone that was never written. “I have always been interested in the Indians and the frontier,” he said. Morgan has had a prolific career writing short stories, poems and novels.
One reason Morgan said he admires Boone so much is because of “How well Boone’s character stood up under scrutiny.” As human as anyone else, Boone “made mistakes and failed in business, but often because he trusted people, and was willing to share what he had. He was a good surveyor, but lost land because he hated to go to court. He was peaceable, and respected people different from himself. He had an endless capacity of wonder and curiosity.”
Morgan said he learned a lot first-hand from Kentucky writers and fellow book fair attendees, Neal O. Hammon and Richard Taylor. As a special bonus to his research, Morgan was able to spend an afternoon with Dr. Thomas Clark a few months before his death discussing the history of land in Kentucky.
But some of the best advice he ever received was from his first writing teacher, novelist Guy Owen, while attending North Carolina State. Owen encouraged Morgan to write stories and poems about the places and people he had known while growing up. When Owen brought one of Morgan’s stories to class and read it one day, he announced he had wept while reading the story of Morgan visiting his great-grandmother in an old house in the mountains. “This was better praise than I had gotten in math class, and I was hooked on writing,” said Morgan. Luckily for Boone enthusiasts, he has stuck with it.
To find out more about author Robert Morgan visit www.robert-morgan.com.
“The Life and Times of Daniel Boone”
Paul Sawyier Library
November 15, 2008
· 9:30 a.m. – Michael P. Spradlin, author of Daniel Boone’s Great Escape
· 11:00 a.m. – Meredith Mason Brown, author of Frontiersman/Daniel Boone and the Making of America
· 1:30 p.m. – Robert Morgan, author of Boone: A Biography
**These authors will be signing their books at the Kentucky Book Fair, Frankfort Convention Center, at other times throughout the day. Morgan will only be signing from 3-4:30 p.m.