Rachel, a single mom, moved to Warrensburg where she worked as a servant for several families. She married his step-father, James Harrison Hendrick, May 17, 1871, when Willie was 8. She wanted her son to have a good education, so with the help of friends, he was sent to St. Louis in 1872/3 to the School of the Blind where he would be taught a trade, so he could support himself when he grew up, but he was not happy there, mostly because he was bored with the subjects he was forced to learn such as making brooms and Braille. He soon was expelled for skipping classes and a train conductor kindly sent him home after finding him living on the streets.
Boone had a fine mind with a good memory and could remember how to play the music he heard. Recognizing Boone's musical talent, John B. Lange, Jr. (1840-1916) became his manager, forming the Blind Boone Company. Willy married Eugenia Lang (1870-1931), his manager's youngest sister.
They traveled in the US, Canada, and Mexico where Boone gave as many as 8,000 public concerts during his lifetime, but was known to visit friends to play a song or two. He always played hymns during his concerts and one of his favorites was "Nearer, My God to Thee", words by Sarah F. Adams, 1841, and music by Lowell Mason, 1856.
He passed away October 4, 1927 while visiting his half-brother, Sam Hendrick, in Warrensburg, with Eugenia following on March 16, 1931. Both were buried side by side in the Columbia City Cemetery.
Willie's Personal Motto: "Merit, Not Sympathy, Wins."
More to Read:
1.) Dr. Ashley's biography: Click Here
2.) Blind Boone: His Early Life and Achievements. By Mrs. Melissa Fuell-Cuther, B.S.D., (First edition: Burton Pub., Kansas City, MO. 1915; Second Edition: Evangel Pub. Society, Robbins, TN; 1918.)
3.) "Historic Missourians: John William "Blind" Boone (1864-1927). Retrieved from the State Historical Society of Missouri. Retrieved from this website.
4.) "Blind" Boone: Missouri Honors Its Ragtime Pioneer. By Phoebe Prioleau. Retrieved from this website here.
5.) The African American Atlas. Black History & Culture an Illustrated Reference. by Molefi K. Asanta and Mark T. Mattson. Macmillan USA, Simon & Schuster, New York. Retrieved from website: African-American Registry.
6.)Retrieved from website: John William "Blind" Boone's Home. By Think You Colors.
7.) Retrieved from website: History Off the Shelf -- John William "Blind" Boone. By Think You Colors.
8.) Merit, Not Sympathy, Wins: The Life and Times of Blind Boone. By Dr. Mary Barile and Christine Montgomery. Retrieved from website: Blind Boone. By Mo Sec of State.
9.) "Presenting Blind Boone: A Life from Rags to Ragtime Riches" By Leslie Lyon. Columbia Missourian Newspaper. 1975-11-30. No. 58.
10.) "J.W. Boone Was County Celebrity." By John Jaeger. Columbia Missourian Newspaper. 1971-08-22. No. 289.
11.) MO. Death Certificate
12.) Findagrave, # 4391.
Poem written about Blind Boone: Blind Boone's Vision. By Tyehimba Jess.
Places to Visit:
1.) Boone's Home (built by Eugenia's brother, Thaddeus Lange), 10 North Fourth Street, Columbia (National Register of Historic Places).
2.) Second Missionary Baptist Church. North 4th St, Columbia. Stained Glass window donated by John Lange, Blind Boone's brother-in-law and manager.
3.) John B. Lange, Jr. lived at 912 Park Ave, Kansas City. He and his wife, Ruth, are buried in the Highland Cemetery, Jackson County, Kansas City.
4.) Blind Boone Sculpture. Artist: Ai Qiu Hopen. Blind Boone Park, 402 W. Pine St., Warrensburg.
5.) Boone County Historical Museum, 3801 Ponderosa St, Columbia
6.) Columbia Cemetery, E. Broadway & 163 Hwy, Boone county, Columbia.