THE FIRST BAPTIST TO STAND ON KENTUCKY SOIL
SQUIRE BOONE II 1744-1815
(From the Boone Family and Kentucky Baptists
By Dr. Leo T. Crismon, 1946, PAGES 7-12)
Squire Boone II was the first of the Boone family to become a Kentucky Baptist preacher, and "he was the first Baptist preacher that planted foot in Kentucky."27 From the fifth generation from George Boone I, which Squire Boone II represents, to the present day (the ninth generation) there has been in every generation at least one Baptist preacher who has served at least a part of his ministry in Kentucky.
Squire Boone II was born October 5, 1744, in Berks County, Pennsylvania.28 The family moved by way of Winchester, Virginia to Wilkes County, ·North Carolina. In his youth he was apprenticed to his cousin, Samuel Boone, to learn the trade of gunsmithing, but after five years he gave it up and returned to his home. On August 8, 1765, he was married to Jane Van Cleve. To them were born five children, all of whom were given Bible narnes: Jonathan (1766); Moses (1769); Isaiah (1772); Sarah (1775); and Enoch (1778).
After the death of his father in 1765, Squire began to accompany his brother Daniel on hunting trips. In November, 1769, with a young companion he set out to find his brother, Daniel, whose return from Kentucky was overdue. Dr. Jillson says that Squire saved the life of his brother by coming to Kentucky in search of him.29 He and Daniel returned to North Carolina where Squire spent the next four years.
Since he had been removed from the influence of the Society of Friends back in eastern Pennsylvanin, he accepted the rugged Christian faith of the southern Appalachian uplands. Between 1770 and 1775, he became an occasional preacher among tho Calvinistic Baptists. George W. Ranck says that he was a "Baptist Elder as well as Indian fighter."30 Lewis Collins refers to him as "an occasional preacher in the Calvinistic Baptist Church," and Spencer lists him first in a group of Regular Baptist preachers in Kentucky in 1785. 31
Spencer (I, II) says they met about January 1, 1770. "Soon after this, John Stuart was killed by the Indians. The rest of the party having returned home, the Boone brothers spent the winter alone in the great western wilderness."
Squire Boone was, with his brother Daniel, a delegate to the Transylvania Convention which met at Boonesborough on May 25, 1775,32 and showing his interest as a hunter, he introduced a bill "to preserve the range."33 At Boonosborough on August 7, 1776, he performed the first marriage in Kentucky, uniting in wedlock Samuel Henderson and Elizabeth Callaway, who with her younger sister and Daniel Boone's daughter, was captured by the Indians while idly floating down the Kentucky River in a canoe.34 In the summer of 1777, Squire Boone was living with his family at Harrodsburg (Old Fort Harrod). In an encounter with the Indians he received a glancing blow on tho head from a tomahawk which resulted in a severe facial wound and which left a prominent scar which he carried the rest of his life.
In 1779, Squire Boone moved his family down the Kentucky and Ohio Rivers to Louisville where he purchased some lots and erected a cabin near the mouth of Bear Grass Creek. "He signed the early petitions of 1779 and 1780 presented by the residents of Louisville to the Legislature of Virginia for the establishment of the town. He - a Baptist - is said to have preached the first sermon in Louisville.35
In 1780-81, while serving as justice of the peace in Jefferson County, he married many couples at his station, "Tho Painted Stone," in what is now Shelby County which he had first visited as early as the summer of 1775.36 In April, 1781 while Squire Boone and others were attacked by the Indians, he rushed out garbed only in a white shirt - a rare garment in those days - and some Indians anticipating his action fired on him from their hiding places and severly wounded him. He received two bullet wounds and for a time it was thought that he would not live. "It was told that afterwards, Simon Girty, the renegade white who led the attack and planned tho Indian strategy, used to laugh and boast about how 'he had made Squire Boone's shirt tail fly'."37
In the summer of 1781, the station at "The Painted Stone" had to be abandoned. A little later Squire Boone returned after dark one night to the station to see if any damage had been done to the buildings and crops. As he returned late at night he decided to spend the rest of the night at Long Run Creek. He slept close to his horse. When morning came he discovered that some Indians had camped close to him, but since they greatly outnumbered him, "he slipped away without firing a shot which - he many times afterwards said - he greatly regretted.38 In 1783, he was a member of the Virginia Legislature from Kentucky,39 and on December 27, 178440, he was a member of the first Kentucky Convention at Danville, sitting as a delegate from Lincoln County. 41
Ho stayed in Kentucky until 1787 and then went by way of Vicksburg, Mississippi to New Orleans, Louisiana. After three years he then returned to Kentucky, but being dissatisfied with conditions, he went to Florida and then back to the old home in Berks, County, Pennsylvania. He came back to Kentucky in 1795, and stayed until 1799, when he went to Missouri. From 1802, until 1806, he was in Kentucky again.
About this time his great land holdings began to dwindle rapidly under the pressure of numerous land attorneys. Back and unpaid taxes were due on much of his land and he had no money with which to meet these necessary obligations. In this extremity, facing dire adversity and overwhelming indebtedness, the loss of his landed estates and merciless court action by land sharks, on May 18th, 1804, in his former home on his "Painted Stone" preemption tract in Shelby County, he issued his heart-breaking statement in which he said that he was "principaled against going into the town of Shelbyville upon any business whatsoever." Shortly thereafter he was imprisoned in Louisville for debts he could not pay, but was soon released by friends who were moved to pity by his extenuated circumstances.42
Because of those conditions he left Kentucky for the last time in 1806. He moved to Harrison County, Indiana where he erected a home and again took up gunsmithing.
With increasing years Squire's poligious impulses, overriding his Indian fighting proclivities, became increasingly dominant and found, in some instances, curious outlets for their expression. Among these were his attempts at verse, some lines of which at various and odd times he carved on sizeable building stones, "packed" in himself from distant fields, and implanted conspicuously in the outside walls of his now Indiana home. Typical of the couplets which have been thus preserved are the following:Squire Boone developed the practice of writing on stone for records of his deeds and claims. "In the court house yard at Richmond, Kentucky, stands a heavy tan sandstone slab on which the casual visitor may read '1770 Squire Boone'." It is thought that he carved his name and date on this stone after his return from North Carolina with supplies, before he located his brother, Daniel, on July 17, 1770 to let him know that he had safely returned.44"I set and sing my soul's salvation
And bless the God of my Creation."
"Keep close your intention
For fear of prevention."
"My God my life hath much befriended,
I'll praise him till my days are endod."43
In 1776, he planted a crop in Shelby County on Clear Crook and erected a rectangular s[t]one slab bearing his name, "In the spring of 1776, I came again to the same place and took a stone out of the creek, and with a mill pick, picked my name, in full, and the date of the year thereon, and with red paint, I painted the letters and figures all red. From which stone this Tract of land took the name of 'The Painted Stone tract'."45
Squire Boone died of dropsy in August, 1815, and was buried in a cave in Boone Township, Harrison County, Indiana, five miles from Laconia, across tho Ohio River from Brandenburg, Kentucky. A portrait of him appears in the Filson Club History Quarterly, July, 1942.46
Surrounded by tho rapidly changing and frequently dangerous vicissitudes of the frontier, the talents of Squire Boone were such that he could valiantly lead a hand to hand attack against the savages in the forest or return to the fort and bind up wounds and set broken bones with the assurance of a physician. His knowledge of woodcraft was little short of marvelous, so much so indeed that he was never captured or taken unawares by Indians when alone in the Wilderness, and his devotion to the Bible was so well known that his services were equally sought to preach the Word of the Gospel or perform the rites of marriage, as the occasion might demand.
As a leader on the border, where murder, scalping and arson were of common occurrence, Squire Boone was resolutely set against and without pity for his red-skinned foe. With his friends, who were legion, he was genial and large of heart, ever mindful of the weaknesses of human nature. As a man, throughout his life in both prosperity and adversity, he held the respect of thousands who admired his unique achievements in the Indian wars, his high personal courage and his incorruptible integrity.47
27 Lee, Walter M., A History of the Elkhorn Association, SBTS Thesis, 1905, p. 5.
28 Jillson, Willard Rouse, Squire Boone: A Sketch Of His Life, p. 142.
29 Op. cit., p. 148.
30 Ranck, George W., Boonesborough, p. 52.
31 Collins. Lewis, History of Kentucky, I, 511; Spencer, J.H., A History of Kentucky Baptists, I, 102.
32 Collins, op. cit., II, 501, 711.
33 Jillson, op. cit., p. 150.
34 Jillson, op. cit., p. 152.
35 Jillson, op. cit., p. 156.
36 Jillson, op. cit., p. 150.
37 Jillson, op. cit., p. 160.
38 Jillson, op. cit., p. 160, 167.
39 Collins, op. cit., II, 710.
40 Collins, op. cit., I, 21.
41 Jillson, op. cit., p. 162.
42 Jillson, op. cit., p. 163.
43 Jillson, op. cit., p. 163-164.
44 Jillson, op. cit., p. 148.
45 Jillson, op. cit., p. 151.
46 Jillson, op. cit., p. 145.
47 Jillson, op. cit., p. 141-142.
[From The Kentucky Baptist Heritage of the Kentucky Baptist Historical Society, December, 1970; via E-Text, SBTS Archives, Adam Winters, Archivist. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
More Baptist Bios
Baptist History Homepage