In 2018, the St. Charles County Parks Department finished restoration of the Daniel Boone Hays Home at Matson Hill Park in Defiance. The beautiful 1830s stone home was built by Daniel Boone Hays, grandson of famous frontiersman Daniel Boone. During the first weekend of Christmas Candlelight Walks at The Historic Daniel Boone Home, the Hays Home will open to the public as a museum featuring displays about the Hays and Boone families and life in the Femme Osage Valley during the 19th century. More information will be posted soon on the Parks website. I am excited that the public will soon be able to see this amazing home and learn more about its history.
Ahead of the Hays Home opening, please enjoy reading this brief history compiled by the St. Charles County Parks Department about the family, home, property and restoration. There will be much more to read and discover at the museum:
Born in 1789, Daniel Boone Hays was the son of William and Susannah (Boone) Hays. In 1799, famous frontiersman Daniel Boone, Susannah’s father, moved to the Femme Osage Valley in St. Charles County with several family members and acquaintances. Daniel Boone was drawn to Missouri by the promise of free land in the Spanish territory. The Hays family, including 9-year-old Daniel Boone Hays, was a part of his group. Captain William Hays and Susannah received a land grant for 510 acres near the confluence of the Femme Osage Creek and Missouri River and settled on the property.
Daniel became orphaned after his mother passed from a bilious fever in 1800 and his father was killed by James Davis, William’s son-in-law, over a trespassing dispute in 1804. Daniel was the only witness to his father’s death, and his testimony that the shooting was in self-defense cleared Davis of murder. Daniel was then raised by members of his extended family. He was close to his grandparents and uncles and became a skilled frontiersman, farmer and soldier. He fought in the War of 1812 and sustained neck and leg injuries that caused him to walk with a limp the rest of his days.
In 1813, Daniel met Mary “Polly” Bryan. The Bryan family were close friends of the Boones and also early settlers of the valley. The pair were married and went on to have 12 children, though only half survived to adulthood due to illness. The surviving Hays children, Willis (1819-1873), Anzania (1821-1881), Francisco (1827-1902), William (1829-1851), John (1836-1913), and Armilda (1839-1860), were among the first to be born in the Femme Osage Valley.
In 1820, Daniel purchased the current Hays home property, which was situated between the properties of Daniel’s two uncles, Daniel Morgan Boone and Nathan Boone. Before the stone home was built, Daniel and Mary lived in a log cabin on site. The home was finished by 1835. Daniel passed away in 1866, leaving the property to John, his son. John Boone Hays married Julia Alice Howell in February 1866, just before his father’s passing, and it is likely that they lived on the farm at that time. In 1880, John sold 82 acres of the farm to Charles Kruger, a German neighbor who was good friends with the Hays family. Later in 1911, John sold the remainder of the farm to Judge George H. Shields. In 1926, Judge Shields sold the property to Shelby H. Curlee, who in turn sold the property to St. Charles County Parks in 2007.
Restoration of the Hays Home occurred in two phases. Phase I addressed exterior renovations, including removal of the metal roof as well as removal of tuckpointing and a second story window that had been added. A historically appropriate roof and mortar were installed, and doors and locks were repaired. Phase II involved extensive interior restoration to return the inside of the home to its original design. Walls that had been removed were added back in and original staircases rebuilt. The inside flooring was refurbished, walls were painted and HVAC installed. Each phase took a year to complete. The restoration was funded through the voter-approved local use tax that supports the St. Charles County Parks Department.