Daniel, no doubt supposing that a Syndic's rights were inviolable, had neglected to apply to the Governor at New Orleans for a ratification of his grant. He was therefore dispossessed. Not until 1810, and after he had enlisted the Kentucky Legislature in his behalf, did he succeed in inducing Congress to restore his land. The Kentucky Legislature's resolution was adopted because of "the many eminent services rendered by Colonel Boone in exploring and settling the western country, from which great advantages have resulted not only to the State but to the country in general, and that from circumstances over which he had no control he is now reduced to poverty; not having so far as appears an acre of land out of the vast territory he has been a great instrument in peopling." Daniel was seventy-six then; so it was late in the day for him to have his first experience of justice in the matter of land. Perhaps it pleased him, however, to hear that, in confirming his grant, Congress had designated him as "the man who has opened the way for millions of his fellow-men."
The "infirmities" which had caused the good Syndic to seek relief from political cares must have been purely magisterial. The hunter could have been very little affected by them, for as soon as he was freed from his duties Boone took up again the silent challenge of the forest. Usually one or two of his sons or his son-in-law, Flanders Calloway, accompanied him, but sometimes his only companions were an old Indian and his hunting dog. On one of his hunting trips he explored a part of Kansas; and in 1814, when he was eighty, he hunted big game in the Yellowstone where again his heart rejoiced over great herds as in the days of his first lone wanderings in the Blue Grass country. At last, with the proceeds of these expeditions he was able to pay the debts he had left behind in Kentucky thirty years before. The story runs that Daniel had only fifty cents remaining when all the claims had been settled, but so contented was he to be able to look an honest man in the face that he was in no disposition to murmur over his poverty.
When after a long and happy life his wife died in 1813, Boone lived with one or other of his sons* and sometimes with Flanders Calloway. Nathan Boone, with whom Daniel chiefly made his home, built what is said to have been the first stone house in Missouri. Evidently the old pioneer disapproved of stone houses and of the "luxuries" in furnishings which were then becoming possible to the new generation, for one of his biographers speaks of visiting him in a log addition to his son's house; and when Chester Harding, the painter, visited him in 1819 for the purpose of doing his portrait, he found Boone dwelling in a small log cabin in Nathan's yard. When Harding entered, Boone was broiling a venison steak on the end of his ramrod. During the sitting, one day, Harding asked Boone if he had ever been lost in the woods when on his long hunts in the wilderness.
* Boone's son Nathan won distinction in the War of 1812 and entered the regular army, rising to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. Daniel Morgan Boone is said to have been the first settler in Kansas (1827). One of Daniel's grandsons, bearing the name of Albert Gallatin Boone, was a pioneer of Colorado and was to the forefront in Rocky Mountain exploration. Another grandson was the scout, Kit Carson, who led Fremont to California.
"No, I never got lost," Boone replied reflectively, "but I was BEWILDERED once for three days." Though now having reached the age of eighty-five, Daniel was intensely interested in California and was enthusiastic to make the journey thither next spring and so to flee once more from the civilization which had crept westward along his path. The resolute opposition of his sons, however, prevented the attempt.
A few men who sought out Boone in his old age have left us brief accounts of their impressions. Among these was Audubon. "The stature and general appearance of this wanderer of the western forests," the naturalist wrote, "approached the gigantic. His chest was broad, and prominent; his muscular powers displayed themselves in every limb; his countenance gave indication of his great courage, enterprise and perseverance; and, when he spoke, the very motion of his lips brought the impression that whatever he uttered could not be otherwise than strictly true."
Audubon spent a night under Boone's roof. He related afterwards that the old hunter, having removed his hunting shirt, spread his blankets on the floor and lay down there to sleep, saying that he found it more comfortable than a bed. A striking sketch of Boone is contained in a few lines penned by one of his earliest biographers: "He had what phrenologists would have considered a model head--with a forehead peculiarly high, noble and bold, thin compressed lips, a mild clear blue eye, a large and prominent chin and a general expression of countenance in which fearlessness and courage sat enthroned and which told the beholder at a glance what he had been and was formed to be." In criticizing the various portraits of Daniel, the same writer says: "They want the high port and noble daring of his countenance.... Never was old age more green, or gray hairs more graceful. His high, calm, bold forehead seemed converted by years into iron."
Although we are indebted to these and other early chroniclers for many details of Boone's life, there was one event which none of his biographers has related; yet we know that it must have taken place. Even the bare indication of it is found only in the narrative of the adventures of two other explorers.