Sunday, August 12, 2012

Guest Blogger: Allison Bruning With Her Ongoing Topic: The Life and Times of Daniel Boone

The Life and Times of Daniel Boone Part Five:

This week we end our series on Daniel Boone with a joyous event. His courtship and marriage to Rebecca Bryan. Who was this woman and how did Daniel come to meet her?

Mr. and Mrs. Daniel Boone
From: Virginia State Park
Known as Becky by her family and friends, Rebecca Ann Bryan was born on January 9, 1739 in Winchester, Fredrick County, Virginia to Joseph Bryan, Sr. There is no documentation of who her birth mother was. Some say her mother was Hester Hampton, who died in childbirth. Rebecca was raised by her father's second wife Alice (Aylee) Linville. The first ten years of her life she spent in Virginia. Like Daniel, her family were Quakers. In 1749, Rebecca and her father moved to the Yadkin River Valley of North Carolina with her grandfather. Her grandparents, Morgan and Martha Bryan were Quakers who had met on a voyage across the Atlantic Ocean bound for Pennsylvania. Morgan and Martha married, settled in Pennsylvania had seven children. Morgan and his family never joined a meeting house. After ten years of marriage, Morgan grew discontent with the restrictions and ostracism of Pennsylvania. He decided to move his family to Virginia in 1734. In her late sixties, Martha died in 1747. Two years later, when he was nearly eighty, Morgan led his married sons and daughters into the Yadkin Valley. Squire and Daniel Boone had already been hunting in the area as of 1750. Squire may have met Morgan and his family during this time. Two years later, Daniel and his family would move into the same valley.

After Squire Boone moved his family to the area, his family had become friends with the Bryan family. Daniel was five years older than Rebecca. He often went hunting with her older brothers. When the French and Indian War began, Daniel Boone left the valley to serve as a supply wagon driver and a blacksmith for the British commander General Edward Braddock. It was during his service with the Britsh that Boone met John Findley. The two men would become friends and later on explore Kentucky together. John had filled Daniel's head with dreams about Kentucky. After Braddock's defeat at the Battle of Monongahela, which Boone had barely escaped, Daniel went back home to his family with only one thing on his mind. Courtship.

Daniel had probably already heard about Rebecca from one of  his many hunting trips with her brothers in his youth. When he had returned to the valley he was reminded of her again during the series of weddings. On the morning of any wedding, the men would gather, pass a jug of alcohol and roam the countryside urging the neighbors to attend the festivities. In 1753, there were two Boone-Bryan weddings. Daniel's younger sister, Mary, married Morgan's son, William. Daniel's sixteen year old sister thus became Rebecca's aunt. The two women were the same age.Since Rebecca's brothers had been in attendance it is likely Daniel heard stories about her from her rowdy brothers. Later that year, Daniel's brother John married Morgan's daughter, Rebecca. He became Rebecca's (Daniel's future wife) uncle. It was at this wedding that Rebecca and Daniel first took notice of each other. Daniel was smitten by her.

Legend says Daniel had first began courting Rebecca when one summer evening he had decided to go fire-hunting. Fire-hunting is when a hunter decides to hunt a night using only a torch as his means of light. Any deer who caught sight of the flames would freeze in fear and the light would reflect off of the deer's eyes. The eyes would then become the hunter's target. According to the legend, Rebecca was out in the night looking for stray cows when her own eyes had reflected Daniel's torch. He had no idea she wasn't a deer so he took aim upon her. Sensing something was wrong, Daniel held his fire and paid closer attention to his target. He notices the light coming off the eyes were different then he realized he was aiming at a person. Daniel held his aim long enough that Rebecca ran for her life.  Daniel never again took up fire-hunting. When Daniel's family had first heard this story none of them believed it. One of Daniel's nephews once said the story was "Without foundation. As fabulous as it is absurd."

A second story of how Daniel and Rebecca had begun their courtship does not come from folktales but from his own family. The Bryan family were not of the same class as Daniel. Rebecca had come from a family who had money and land. Daniel's family did not fare so well. Daniel had decided to show Rebecca that he was a strong provider and hunter. As was the tradition of their time, Daniel had killed a deer then went to Rebecca's house with it. He stood outside her house, cleaned it then began to cook the meat over a fireplace. His shirt was still covered in the gore and blood from his butchering but he didn't care. Rebecca and her sisters found Daniel's gesture amusing and appalling.They laughed and made fun of him. Daniel had always been sensitive to criticism but he didn't let his hurt feelings stop him. Daniel ignored their taunts, picked up a cup to drink, peered inside it then remarked to them "You, like my hunting shirt, have missed many a good washing." The insult was meant to remind Rebecca her place. He wouldn't stand for a proud woman.

The two began courting in the summer of 1756. Romance did not play a large factor. It was more of a time of mutual testing to be certain they were right for each other. The couple had told the tale to their children about the first time they had been left alone together. They had been out cherry picking, a common thing for wooing couple to do together, when they had decided to sit underneath a cherry tree. Daniel had been in his hunting shirt and she wore a white apron, to show her domestic talents. Daniel was feeling uncomfortable. He halted their conversation, pulled out his hunting knife and cut several large gashes in her apron. He put his knife away and never apologizes, only waiting to see what her reaction would be. He once told his children he had done so "to try her temper." When she did not fly into a fiery rage he knew she was the right woman for him.

Daniel and Rebecca were married on August 14, 1756 by Daniel's father, Justice Squire Boone. There were two other couples married at the same time. After the wedding the couple joined in a feast that Rebecca's sisters had prepared for them and their guests. Usually the celebration would have been at the couple's home but since they had none of yet, they had to live with his parents.  The celebrated lasted throughout the day with plenty of cider, rum, whiskey and food. All of Rebecca's belongings had been sprawled out so the guests could examine them. Since Rebecca came from the upper class she had brought with her a large amount of linens, furniture and cooking equipment. At mid evening, as was the custom of their time, the bridegrooms and bridesmaids escorted Daniel and Rebecca to the bedroom. The attendants tucked them into bed then left to rejoin the party downstairs. Daniel and Rebecca consummated the union. As Rebecca laid underneath Daniel, they could hear the rude jokes and comments coming from underneath the floorboards. Nine months after the wedding, Rebecca gave Daniel a son they named James. She would give him nine more children - five sons and four daughters. Each child averaged only two and half years apart in age. On top of her own children she and Daniel also raised his two nephews, whom they has taken in as their own soon after their wedding. By the time Rebecca has turned twenty she was already rearing four children. Their marriage lasted fifty-seven years.

The Executive Director of the Kentucky Young Writers Connection, a non-profit agency of writers who promote young authors throughout the state of Kentucky. Allison originally hails from Marion, Ohio. Her father, Roland Irving Bruning, was the son of German immigrants who came to the United States at the turn of the 20th century. Her mother's family had been in the United States since the 17th century. Allison is a member of the Peter Foree Chapter of the Daughters of American Revolution. Her linage traces to Private Reuben Messenger of Connecticut. Her educational background includes a BA in Theater Arts with a minor in Anthropology and a Texas Elementary Teaching certificate. Both acquired at Sul Ross State University in Alpine, Texas. Allison received National Honor Society memberships in both Theater Arts and Communication. Allison was also honored her sophomore year with admission into the All American Scholars register. She holds graduate hours in Cultural Anthropology and Education. In 2007 she was named Who's Who Among America's Educators. She is also the recipient of the Girl Scout Silver and Gold Awards. She is currently working on her Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing for Entertainment at Full Sail University.
Allison lives with her husband in Kentucky.  Calico is book one from the series, Children of the Shawnee. It is available at Allison's interest includes Ohio Valley history, anthropology, travel, culture, history, camping, hiking, backpacking, spending time with her family and genealogy. Her genres include historical fiction, paranormal, romance, and suspense.
You can reach her at:
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Twitter: @emeraldkell

Allison Bruning
20 Fairground Road
Bedford, Kentucky 41045
502-466-0014 (home)
502-310-2515 (cell)

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