Daniel Boone’s courtship and marriage

Jadon Gibson

In springtime a young man’s or maiden’s, fancy turns to thoughts of love.

We studied Davey Crockett’s difficulty in wooing and winning his wife. Daniel Boone had much less difficulty. When Daniel reached that point in life he began making usable pieces of furniture and acquiring other items with the thought of setting up housekeeping.

He met Rebecca Bryan at the wedding of his sister to Rebecca’s brother. Although she was just 15 years of age, she looked hearty and her smile made Daniel’s knees weak.

Sometime later Rebecca learned that Daniel was coming to pick cherries in the orchard and she dressed in her finest to catch his eye.

“Rebecca was wearing a white cambric apron, priceless finery in the mind of a frontier girl,” according to John Bakeless, author of Daniel Boone.

Rebecca Bryan

Daniel was advised by his brothers to learn her temperament.

“Your life can end up like having a hornet’s nest in your cabin, if you don’t,” he was told.

As the afternoon passed, Daniel and Rebecca were sitting near a murmuring stream. Daniel took out his hunting knife and proceeded to whittle on a piece of wood before cutting at the grass. He then proceeded to cut a hole in Rebecca’s dress.

Bakeless and other historians felt that he cut her dress intentionally to gauge her reaction. Rebecca responded beautifully by showing her good temper if that was the case.

On the borderland there were limited opportunities for wooing so it was important for Rebecca’s parents to approve of Daniel. A courtship of a few weeks was considered enough time to warrant a proposal of

marriage. Much of the courting took place within the one-room cabin. If the parents accepted their daughter’s suitor, they would retire early and go to bed.

If they disapproved of the young man’s intentions they would stay up until the wee hours of the morning in order to prevent the couple from becoming close.

Joseph Bryan, Rebecca’s father, told his daughter that her life with Daniel would be much happier if he had a good sense of humor.

A custom in the frontier period was for the groom-to-be to bring a newly-killed deer to the home of his lady fair so as to show his mettle as a provider. Daniel did so and cut up the deer in front of Rebecca and her friends but he was so messy that the girls giggled and joked about him. He pretended not to hear.

When they all sat down to feast, Daniel studied his bowl of milk and saw an opportunity to get back at the girls for teasing him.

“This bowl is like my hunting shirt,” he said and then said with a sly grin. “It has missed a good washing.”

Rebecca and her friends giggled and she knew that Daniel had a likeable sense of humor.

Hunting was done mostly for need instead of sport in that era. Throughout Daniel’s life he told about going “fire hunting” during this period. The hunter moved quietly with a lit torch, looking for a reflection in the eyes of the deer that were attracted by the light.

“I was beading on these eyes and afixin’ to shoot when all at once I noticed it was Rebecca,” Daniel explained on several occasions.

Rebecca would smile and say she had gone looking for Daniel and came upon a panther and it chased her home.

Editor’s note: Gibson looks back at Daniel and Rebecca’s wedding next week at Berea Online .com. He is a freelance writer from Harrogate, Tn. His writings are both historical and nostalgic in nature and can be read periodically at Berea online .com. Don’t miss a single posting!

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