One August I was in England at election time and voted by absentee ballot. I located a "solicitor" to verify my vote. He glanced at the ballot and said excitedly, "Boone County! You live in Boone County? That’s where Daniel Boone lived - in your county?"
Surprised, I stammered a bit because I knew so little about Boone. This professional man had watched Boone’s escapades on television, and I had not. I didn’t mention my distant relative, Rebecca Bryan Boone.
The first Bryan in America was Morgan Bryan, a native of Ireland. He married Martha Strode, whom he met on the long ocean trip to America. They lived in York County, Pa., and several other locations.
The Bryans settled in the forks of the fertile valley of the Yadkin River in North Carolina about 1746, having acquired a large acreage of choice land for almost no money. They could reach the nearest store by going 60 miles on foot or horseback.
The Boone family settled in Yadkin Valley in 1751. Morgan Bryan was the grandfather of Rebecca Bryan, who later married Daniel Boone.
George and Mary Boone were from Bradninch, England. They left the Church of England and became Quakers. In 1713, George Boone sent his three oldest children on the long, hazardous trip to America to investigate the possibility of his family settling in this wild New World. The children were George IV, 23; Sarah, 22; and Squire Boone, 17.
Later, Squire Boone would be the father of Daniel Boone. Daniel and Rebecca would be man and wife. Daniel was deeply involved in American history, but not much is known about Rebecca, my great aunt - six generations back! It’s easy to sympathize with "Becky" because Daniel went on long hunts, some lasting two years. They lived in a dirt-floor, one-room cabin!
Lyman Draper interviewed members of the Boone family 162 years ago, including the only surviving son, Nathan Boone. Draper left 800 pages of notes in longhand that were unpublished until four years ago. ("The Life of Daniel Boone," Stackpole Books, Mechanicsville, Pa., edited by Ted Franklin Belue; 1998; $39.95.) My copy was "hot off the press" when I visited historical sights in Kentucky.
Draper listed the children of Morgan and Martha Bryan as: Joseph, Eleanor, Morgan, Samuel, John, James, William and Thomas. Rebecca and Daniel’s children were James, Israel, Susannah, Jemima, Levina, Rebecca, Jesse and Jonathan - plus two motherless nephews. Joseph Bryan and his wife, Aylee, were parents of my distant aunt, Rebecca Bryan.
The Bryans and some of their grown children migrated to the sparsely populated Yadkin Valley in North Carolina. They were farmers and hunters living off the land.
The Bryans seemed bent on occupying the outskirts of civilization. The Yadkin area was infested with wolves, and in 1744 three of the Bryan men collected bounty for the scalps of 14 wolves.
Families lived on milk and cornbread served with wild game, nuts, wild greens and berries in season. Their livestock grazed on open range.
Occasionally the Bryans located their livestock, gave them the necessary salt and drove them back toward their farm; the young William was once gone several weeks on this errand.
In 1751 the Boones moved to Yadkin Valley. The historian observed, "The heart’s affections glow as warmly in a cabin as in a palace - in the woods as in the cities."
In the fall of 1753, William Bryan and Mary Boone were married. At their wedding, "Daniel, age 18, first saw the young and pensive face of the sweet 15-year-old Rebecca," daughter of Joseph and Aylee Bryan.