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
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."