Daniel Boone's family traces its heritage back to Devonshire in southeast England. In the seventeenth century family members were living in an around Exeter. They worked as weavers. Squire Boone was born in 1696 in Bradninch, the son of George and Mary Boone. George and Mary joined the Quaker community in the early years of the eighteenth century. Following the Treaty of Utrech in 1713 the local economy fell on hard times and George decided to immigrate to America. He and Mary settled in Oley, Pennsylvania, in 1717. In 1720 their son, Squire Boone, married Sarah Morgan. Squire had a small farm, operated a gristmill and worked as a weaver, blacksmith, and gunsmith. On November 2, 1734, Sarah gave birth to their sixth child, Daniel Boone. Daniel grew up with little formal education, but somewhere along the line learned how to read and write. His first love, however, was the forest. As he matured he became an accomplished hunter. He befriended Shawnee, Delaware and other Indians living in the vicinity of his home and learned much from them about life in the wilderness. At age thirteen Daniel was given his first rifle and quickly developed into an excellent marksman. As he matured he provided his family with meat, furs, and hides.
During Daniel's youth, Squire Boone appears to have drifted away from the Quaker way of life and may even have become a Freemason. In about 1750 Squire Boone moved his family south to Linnville Creek, just north of Harrisonburg, Virginia and then in 1751 continued on to the Yadkin Valley in North Carolina. In the Yadkin, land was cheap and Squire Boone soon owned a substantial amount of it. Other settlers arrived and eventually a small community grew up around the Boone farm. Squire Boone served as justice of the peace and helped to lay out the town of Salisbury. First in Virginia and then in North Carolina, Daniel began going on long hunts into the wilderness. He made good money from his hunting and trapping but failed to invest it wisely. In 1753 the Ohio River Valley in western Pennsylvania became a battle ground in the French and Indian war, also known as the Seven Years War. French allied Shawnee, Delaware, Huron, and Mingo tribes attacked English settlements and the English urged their allies the Iroquois, Cherokees, and Tuscaroras to respond in kind against French settlements in Canada and along the Mississippi. In 1754 the French forced Lieutenant George Washington to surrender Fort Necessity near the Forks of the Ohio River. In 1755 the English general Edward Braddock was sent to drive the French away from Fort Duquesne at the Forks of the Ohio. Daniel Boone joined Washington's militia force as a teamster in support of Braddock's campaign. It is believed that Boone joined the Freemasons at this time. Boone escaped Braddock's defeat and returned on foot to the Yadkin.
On August 14, 1756, Squire Boone in his role as Justice of the Peace, officiated at the marriage of his son Daniel to Rebecca Bryan. Daniel and Rebecca would have a total of ten children and would adopt at least six more during their lifetime. Shortly after their marriage they moved a short distance up the valley to the vicinity of present-day Farmington. They established a small farm and, in the winter, sold maple syrup. Boone continued to hunt and trap and Rachel took care of the homestead. The French and Indian wars spilled over into the Carolinas and English settlers living in the Yadkin Valley were threatened by Shawnee and Cherokee warriors and by white outlaw gangs said to be in league with the French. (The Cherokee Tribe was allied with Great Britain against the French, but they also resented English encroachment on their hunting grounds.) Boone served in the local militia. In 1760 the extended Boone family left the Yadkin and went to live with friends in Culpeper, Virginia. While working as a teamster in Virginia it is thought that Daniel Boone may have attended meetings at the Fredricksburg Freemason Lodge. On November 19, 1761, the Cherokees signed a treaty and, in 1762, the Boone family returned to the Yadkin Valley. Boone continued to make long hunts into the wilderness and began exploring the area that was to become Kentucky and Tennessee. Boone's prowess as a hunter began generating stories that found their way into the folklore of the region. A man who excelled as a hunter might be called a "Boone." Daniel was also known as an accomplished story teller and wit. Many sayings associated with his name were widely quoted. Gradually myth mixed with fact and created a living legend.
Boone frequently met Indians while roaming through the wilderness and was sometimes robbed of his rifle and furs, but most of the encounters were friendly and he often traveled and hunted with Indians. As he grew older he appears to have fallen increasingly into debt, due in large part to his disinterest in business affairs. This too became part of his reputation and he became known as a man who did not readily pay what he owed. By 1764 Richard Henderson became interested in organizing a company to settle the region across the Allegheny Mountains. He appears to have hired Boone to provide information about the lands in Kentucky and Tennessee. Daniel's father, Squire Boone, died on January 2, 1765. That same year Daniel joined with one of his brother's, Squire Boone, and traveled to Florida to investigate rumors of cheap land. On his return to the Yadkin at the end of the year he informed Rebecca that he had purchased land in Florida and would be moving there. Rebecca said no and the move was cancelled. In the fall of 1766 they did move several miles further up the Yadkin Valley and the following spring moved again even further up the valley. In 1767 they moved across the valley and built a cabin. It appears that Daniel did not like to live in areas that became too settled by strangers. In 1768 the Iroquois signed the Treaty of Fort Stanwix and thereby gave up their claim to their traditional hunting grounds in Kentucky. In 1768 the British signed the Treaty of Hard Labor by which the Cherokee tribe was recognized to have at least some claim to the same area. The Shawnee were not party to either treaty and claimed that the area was their traditional hunting grounds.