Daniel Boone didn’t actually wear a raccoon-skin cap.

  • Pioneer Daniel Boone
Pioneer Daniel Boone
Credit: Christine_Kohler/ iStock

If you know one thing about Daniel Boone, it’s probably that he wore a raccoon-skin fur cap. But alas, it turns out you might know zero things about the legendary frontiersman, as Boone never wore such a head covering at all. “My father, Daniel Boone, always despised the raccoon fur caps and did not wear one himself,”  his son Nathan Boone said in an 1851 interview with historian Lyman Draper. The elder Boone instead preferred a wide-brimmed, Quaker-style hat made of felt or beaver fur, which would have offered better protection from the elements and shielded his eyes from the sun during his many long hunting trips.

We may have an actor named Noah Ludlow (1795–1886) to thank for the myth of Boone’s raccoon-skin cap. He was hired to make frames for prints of a portrait of Boone first painted by artist Chester Harding in 1820. Later, he played a character in a performance called “The Hunters of Kentucky” and drew inspiration from Boone to create his look, which included the cap we now associate with the storied frontiersman. The performances were a hit, which was good for Ludlow, but not so much for historical accuracy.

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