Daniel Boone visit honors frontiersman’s legacy

Photos by Sarah Ann Jump/The Herald
Danny Russel of Indianapolis portrays Daniel Boone shooting a rifle during a program at the Dubois Branch Library on Thursday evening.


DUBOIS — Daniel Boone marched barefoot up Fourth Street in Dubois on Thursday evening. As cars cruised by him, he walked with a rifle in his hand, a beaver hat covering his straw-like hair and pioneer clothing cloaking his lanky frame.

It was unclear where the walking anachronism had wandered in from when the legendary frontiersman strolled into the town’s library.

Little more than an hour after he arrived to lead an educational speech about his adventures, the pathfinder bolted out of the establishment’s doors and into the sunset, calling on the event’s eight attendees to join him for a hunt.

But by the time they exited the building, Boone had disappeared just as mysteriously as he had arrived.

“This is all almost too fantastic to believe,” Danny Russel, an Indianapolis man who portrayed Boone at the event, said of Boone’s life prior to his presentation. “But it’s true. They say truth is stranger than fiction. Daniel Boone certainly is.”

During Russel’s visit, he recounted the years of adventure, hardship and danger the famed trailblazer experienced throughout his life. Boone was born in 1734 and played a big hand in the westward expansion of the United States.

Roman Schneider, 6, of Haysville, talks with his father, Dave, as Danny Russel of Indianapolis portrays Daniel Boone during a program at the Dubois Branch Library on Thursday evening. Roman wore a raccoon tail attachment that he got when the family visited Boonesborough, Kentucky on vacation. 

He cut the Wilderness Road, for example, which was a trail that connected hundreds of thousands of travelers to the west. Boone also founded the village of Boonesborough, Kentucky, and Russel told stories of how the famed explorer heroically rescued his kidnapped daughter and defeated a Shawnee siege after escaping captivity.

He was a man who survived nearly 86 years of living in the elements before he died in 1820.

“The best I can do is try to honor his legacy,” Russel said, acknowledging that his scrawny body doesn’t match Boone’s, who was shorter and built like a bull. “But I try to capture the spirit of Boone and that’s the best I can hope for.”

After his departure, attendee Theresa Hopf of Dubois said she liked the event because of Russel’s enthusiasm. She remembered reading books and stories about Daniel Boone when she was in school, and she wished more people would have come to Thursday’s performance.

Russel explained prior to his presentation that he wanted people to appreciate life on the frontier and what Boone was able to achieve.

“I think he represents the best of America,” he said. “This rugged individualism. This restlessness. This need to explore. The hunting, the trapping, the expert gunsmith. It’s a lot to respect.”

Danny Russel of Indianapolis runs out of the room as he portrays Daniel Boone during a program at the Dubois Branch Library on Thursday evening.

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