Hunting With Daniel Boone

This article originally appeared in Pennsylvania Trail of History Cookbook

Although Daniel Boone (1734-1820) is often associated with North Carolina, Kentucky, West Virginia, and Missouri, he was born and raised in the Oley Valley of Pennsylvania near Reading, Berks County.

At the time the Boone family arrived in the Oley Valley, the land was still a frontier, and the area was a melting pot of various European immigrants and Indian tribes. During his adolescence, Daniel gained valuable outdoor skills, including hunting and trapping, in the dense Pennsylvania forest. This experience would be pivotal to his legendary exploits later in life. Until a pioneer family could establish a farm, it depended on hunting, fishing, and trapping for survival. Turkeys, deer, rabbits, pheasants, ruffed grouse, partridge, and other small game served as food for the dinner table.

When Daniel turned twelve, he received his first firearm, a short-barreled rifle. Hunting was permitted on all the commonwealth's lands from 1683 by William Penn. The first formal hunting regulations were put into effect in 1721 by provincial governor Sir William Keith, who instituted a deer season from January 1 to July 1 (Native Americans were exempt), allowed improved lands to be put off bounds to hunters by their owners, and outlawed the hunting of "pigeon, dove, partridge or other fowl" in the city of Philadelphia.

Around 1750, the Boone family moved to North Carolina, and William Maugridge, a cousin of Daniel's father and a friend of Benjamin Franklin, purchased the Boone homestead. A November 3 letter from Benjamin Franklin's wife, Deborah, to her husband commented, "Speaking of buckwheat cakes *, our good friend Mr. Maugridge has sent some of the best flour that I ever saw and we had them hot."

From about 1770 to 1831, John DeTurk and his son Abraham worked the soil and raised their families at the homestead. DeTurk family inventories reveal the animals and plants raised on the farm, as well as items that were used to hunt or trap and to process the food. The inventories include wheat, corn, buckwheat, rye, and oats. Other items listed were a teapot, cabbage tub, grindstone, half barrel of mackerels, and fishing rod.

In 1779, the DeTurks replaced the walls of the original one-story log home with a larger two-story stone structure but left the original foundation and spring cellar intact. They can still be viewed today.

Today the Daniel Boone Homestead, Birdsboro, Berks County, showcases the families that called the farm home. Cooking demonstrations showcase the foodways of the three families who lived here during the eighteenth century, including dishes of goose, squirrel, venison *, and even groundhog.

* Recipes are available in the Pennsylvania Trail of History Cookbook


Daniel Boone Homestead, Birdsboro, PA
The homestead includes the Boone House, restored and furnished with period collections.

For Further Reading

pa-trail-of-history-cookbook-sm.gif Pennsylvania Trail of History Cookbook
Edited by Kyle R. Weaver, Diane B. Reed, and Fred Lauver
Forward by William Woys Weaver

Stackpole Books and Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission
daniel-boone-toh.gif Daniel Boone Homestead: Pennsylvania Trail of History Guide
by Sharon Hernes Silverman

Stackpole Books and Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission
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Hunting With Daniel Boone