Skip to Main Content

New documentary offers insights into the life and legacy of Daniel Boone


New documentary offers insights into the life and legacy of Daniel Boone

For Release: 04/13/15 1:37 PM

Against the backdrop of the American Revolution, the new documentary Daniel Boone and the Opening of the American West traces the footsteps of Boone, an ordinary man living in extraordinary times who found himself called to settle and defend the beautiful, but fiercely unforgiving wilderness of Kentucky. The program premieres Monday, May 4 at 9/8 pm on KET.

“Boone’s urge to settle what became Kentucky was born out of necessity. I came to understand that it was literally the only path offered to him to escape poverty,” said  producer/director Kent Masterson Brown, who spent three-and-a-half years making the film. In the course of his lifelong research on Boone, Brown says he has come to see him as a “reluctant leader”: Boone led “only because he was thrust into the position,” Brown said. “By nature he preferred being alone or with his family.”

Boone’s modest, unassuming nature may have been at the root of his somewhat surprising decision late in life to give away virtually all of his land to his children – a choice that has baffled some historians – and instead make his home in a one-room log cabin, said Brown.

Over the years, the Boone legend has at times overshadowed the truth of the real man. Brown set out to find that truth, drawing on the research of noted Boone scholars at every stage of the film’s production. The documentary follows Boone from his birth near Reading, Pennsylvania, in 1734 through his death in St. Charles County, Missouri in 1820.

Featuring extensive archival research, the film showcases a vast array of original Boone documents as well as many live action reenactments of Boone’s early explorations of Kentucky, his skirmishes against Native American peoples, including the famed Siege of Boonesborough; and his role in the American Revolutionary War, including the disastrous Battle of Blue Licks – where Boone lost his 23-year-old son, Israel.

Ultimately, Brown hopes the film is able to help “reintroduce Kentucky and the world to the life of a person as worthy [of remembrance], and yet as humble, as Daniel Boone,” he said.

Daniel Boone and the Opening of the American West is a production of Witnessing History, LLC, produced and directed by Kent Masterson Brown.

KET is Kentucky’s largest classroom, serving more than one million people each week via television, online and mobile. Learn more about Kentucky’s preeminent public media organization on Twitter @KET and and at


Todd Piccirilli
Senior Director, Marketing and Communications