New Appalachian Moments Blog Post by Scott Ballard
History has told us all too little of this young woman who married Daniel Boone in North Carolina. She had been nearly as tall as Daniel and very attractive with black hair and dark blue eyes that made an immediate impression on anyone who met her. She dressed simply and had a mild way of talking that reflected her Quaker background. But don’t let that sweet voice fool you! She was tough!
After meeting three years earlier and a frontier courtship, Daniel Boone committed to matrimony in 1756. He was 21. She was 17. Daniel had often said that all a man needed in life was “a good rifle, a good horse and a good wife.” Not necessarily in that order. And now had all three.
Daniel soon began his annual routine of coming home in the Spring to farm through the summer and then disappearing into the mountains again. Often in his travels he would find a slightly better place to live.
Over the first 25 years of their 57 year marriage, Rebecca would move at least 10 times and would be pregnant, on average, every 2 and a half years, giving birth to 10 children.
Because he was gone much of the time, Rebecca had to run these homesteads alone until the kids got old enough to help, sometimes for months on end; not knowing if she was a wife or widow, especially during the two years Daniel was gone during the Cherokee War.
Rebecca came to epitomize that famous pioneer spirit. She was known and respected as an accomplished midwife, leather tanner, doctor-of-sorts, marksman, and seamstress. By the time the Boones left North Carolina for Kentucky, she had nine children. By all accounts, she rarely complained about her hard life, and that might be due to the fact that she didn’t keep a journal…who had the time to write?
She died surrounded by family members in 1813, at the age of seventy-four. Daniel built a special coffin for her from local black walnut. Rebecca was laid to rest in a little hilltop cemetery on a nearby farm. Her burial place was chosen by Daniel.
He marked off his own grave right there beside her and told his family to make sure they put him there, with her, when his time came.
The bottom line is that if not for Rebecca keeping the family together, the story of Daniel Boone and the conquering of the early frontier might have been quite different.