Mr. Joseph Hampton Rich was the founding face and sole manager of the Boone Trail Highway and Memorial Association during its 25-year history between 1913 and 1938. Mr. Rich was born on July 14, 1874 in Davie County, NC to Samuel Chase Rich and Bettie Caroline McMahon Rich. His birthplace is associated with Boone-Bryan families of colonial North Carolina.
Mr. Rich graduated from the College at Wake Forest in the Class of 1898, the year the U.S. Battleship Maine was sunk in Havana Harbor, Cuba and the subsequent Spanish-American War. He attended the Baptist Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. In 1901, he married Miss Ina Bagby and to this union were born four children: Catherine, Edith, Charles and Frederick.
He had several careers: public school teacher, newspaper publisher, business representative, and preacher besides his long service with the Boone Memorial Association. He concluded his professional life as Clerk Librarian for the North Carolina State Senate. He was an advocate for improved highways: he was a speaker at the National Good Roads Congress meeting in Niagara Falls, NY in 1910; he organized local NC school students in maintaining rural gravel roads with their own farm animal teams (a program that eventually became the Highway Safety Patrol in schools across the nation).
In 1913, Mr. Rich was the visionary that brought together businessmen and civic leaders in North Wilkesboro, NC to form The Boone Trail Highway & Memorial Association. Their primary objective was to build "an arterial highway to reclaim the counties of the northwestern part of the state (NC)." Whereas Daniel Boone, a transplanted native son (born in PA, raised in NC) was a historic trail-blazer, Mr. Rich sought his aid in being a modern highway-builder.
Soon the Association added the goals of patriotism, education, memorializing the sailors lost on the Battleship Maine, and building a transcontinental highway to the memory of Daniel Boone, America's foremost pioneer hero: a soldier, statesman, conservationist, family man, and Christian.
The book, Rich Man: Daniel Boone, describes Mr. Rich's many other labors and memorials. He was a man proud of his heritage and dedicated a great part of his life to passing on America's positve patriotic legacy to the following generations. He erected monuments to last as they displayed historical tribute to communities across the nation. He was a man of merit and is here remembered as a great citizen-servant.
His footstone indicates he died on December 1, 1949. It notes that his final resting place in the cemetery of Eaton's Baptist Church near Cana, NC is "at the end of the trail." His headstone is the familiar shape of a large indian arrowhead, as he frequently used for his monuments along the memorial Boone Trail Highway.