So mythical is his buckskin stature in the story of early America that it’s sometimes difficult to imagine what Daniel Boone might have been like as a boy.
While a visit to the Daniel Boone Homestead in Exeter Township in Pennsylvania's Americana Region may stir up memories of Fess Parker’s television portrayal of the frontiersman, there’s a much deeper story here of how the young Boone wandered away from his parent’s log home and spent days hunting for game and exploring the woods in the rolling Oley Valley of eastern Berks County, stoking his love of adventure.
“It’s important to come here and connect to Daniel Boone and how this area shaped his life before his legendary expeditions,” says Paul Kahan, site director at the homestead. “It was here that he learned to work with an already growing, diverse society — Germans, English, Swedes, African-Americans, Scots, French, Native Americans.”
Only the basement of the homestead is original to the log home where Boone, born in 1734, spent the first 15 years of his life before the family moved to North Carolina. The original spring still gurgles along the south wall, a living link to a time when cool water preserved food.
The stone house seen today was started by a Boone cousin, William Maugridge after the Boones left Oley Valley. It was purchased in 1770 by John DeTurk, a Pennsylvania German farmer who lived here for decades and made numerous additions but still maintained the home’s German and English influences. Guided tours detail how the home evolved and provide an honest assessment of how historic preservation has been interpreted since the homestead was dedicated as a state historic site in 1938.
Across more than 570 picturesque acres, you’ll also discover a smokehouse, bakehouse, a water-powered sawmill, blacksmith shop and a Pennsylvania German bank barn from which curious sheep extend their wooly heads, perhaps searching for Boone’s father, Squire Boone Sr., a weaver by trade.
The buildings, while not all original to the property, still awaken a sense of what life was like on this land during the Boone’s time there. There are areas for hiking, picnicking, fishing in Daniel Boone Lake and group camping facilities.
In spring and summer, the historic area is open Thursdays through Saturdays 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sundays noon to 4 p.m. Many weekends include living history events, especially around holidays. Tap into your inner child and plan to visit soon.