Granny's Notes - the writing of Sue Gerard

Rebecca Boone was resilient during her husband’s absences

Deep snowdrifts blocked my long driveway in two or three places a couple of weeks ago. Freezing mix and more snow followed, making the drifts impassable. My good neighbor, Therion Hinshaw, brought his tractor and broke through the snowdrifts but, even then, two truck loads had to be scooped out. I enjoyed the solitude and the beauty of it all.

It must have looked like this to Rebecca Boone that first winter, when she and Daniel moved from Kentucky to near St. Louis. Daniel said that she was "a strapping young creature ... handy enough with a rifle to kill a deer."

They met when Rebecca was only 15, a marriageable age at that time, but her Tory family, the Bryans, frowned on her interest in an unschooled woodsman.

An early biographer said she was "very fair to look upon with jet black hair and eyes, dark complexion, over the common size of her sex" and that she was "unaffectedly kind in all of her deportment."

They married when she was 17, when both families lived in the Yadkin Valley in North Carolina. John Bakeless, author of "Daniel Boone, Master of the Wilderness" (William Morrow & Co.), wrote: "The Boone and Bryan families, intimately linked by" several "intermarriages, were never afterwards separated."

He described Rebecca as a "rather tall brunette. Quite an ordinary girl. Quite an ordinary woman. There were a lot like that in the backwoods. It has been a good thing for these United States."

For years, I ignored mother’s family relationship to the Bryans, thinking that Rebecca must have been a bit "teched" to tolerate Boone’s being away from home so much. Men went on long hunts starting out in winter, after animal pelts were at their very best, but Daniel stayed much longer. Wouldn’t any father of several kids, living in a dark, one-room, dirt-floor cabin, welcome the peace and quiet of the forest? For much of her married life, his beloved Becky waited for his return and feared he was dead.

During his absences, she took care of their several children, kept food on the table, knitted sweaters and mittens, darned socks and walked the floor at night when anyone was ill. She tanned deer skins to make clothing and to tack over the window holes to keep out the snow and cold; glass panes were unknown on the American frontier.

Daniel’s brother Ned lived nearby and sort of helped take care of things during his brother’s absence. At least one trip lasted two years, while Becky and the children were alone in the Yadkin Valley. At least two historians report that Daniel returned to find Becky nursing a newborn baby. He accepted the girl as his very own and they didn’t discuss it further.

This morning I was thinking of Becky Boone’s life on the frontier. What would she think of my breakfast of British tea from India, grapefruit from Texas and preserves made by Dorothy Lawman from kumquats she picked from a tree in Florida? The imitation butter never knew a cow, the rice-flour toast was gluten free and the bacon was from a turkey!

Rebecca would think it untrue that I added chopped fresh mushrooms to my scrambled eggs!

Suddenly, I laughed out loud. What if one of Becky’s hens had laid an egg like mine with a message stamped on its snow-white shell? In neat red letters, it said, "Laid on December 17th, 1998."


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