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Editorial: Behind every successful man is a ….

Kudos to Betty West, the Cana and Pino community correspondent for the Enterprise Record who writes about goings on in her neighborhood and at Wesley Chapel Church.

A history buff, she had previously written about our presidents and shared those articles with our readers.

Then she set out to write about the women behind those presidents — the First Ladies. She did a wonderful job, and it still amazes me how popular the series proved to be. People came in to get extra copies to send to their grandchildren, hoping they would become a bit more patriotic as they learn about the women who also helped to shape our country.

Think about it. Wives do have at least some influence over their husbands, whether the husbands will admit it or not. The smart ones admit it. The others go through life with their heads in the sand, or maybe their heads held too high to see the things and people below them — the important things and people that actually aren’t below them — but beside them.

I had just finished reading the book “Boone, A Biography,” by Robert Morgan. It’s a historical  novel of sort, well worth the read if you’re interested in how folks lived in these parts some 250 years ago.

Yes, Daniel Boone called Davie County home from the time he was a teenager until he headed for parts west. And yes, Daniel Boone was famous during his own time. Newspaper articles and books were written while he was still alive, many, according to Morgan, portraying Boone as a mythical hero rather than the down-to-earth, solid principled man that he was.

But what about his wife?

Daniel Boone married Rebecca Bryan, the daughter of Joseph and Aylee Bryan, who lived in what is now the Farmington community of Davie County.

Their marriage lasted until their deaths, which is somewhat remarkable considering the hardships they both endured.

Daniel Boone, it seems, wasn’t home that much. He was a surveyor and path builder. But most of all, he was a hunter, a woodsman, a man comfortable living off the lands he explored.

He went on hunting trips that lasted for months, sometimes years, leaving his wife at home, not only with their children, but at times caring for children of relatives, as well. Home life was no picnic back then. This area was the Wild West, with roving bands of Indians who could attack at any minute, with roving bands of rogues ready to rape and steal at any minute. The homes weren’t really houses as we know them. They were cabins, sometimes with only one room. Privacy wasn’t common back then.

But Rebecca Boone was tough. Daniel usually helped get crops in the ground before going on a long hunt, but not always. Sometimes he was gone for so long that Rebecca had to wonder if he were dead or alive, if he would ever return.

She had children to care for and feed. Yes, feed. Historians argue about her prowess with a gun. Some say she was as good of a shot as Daniel, others say she was better. For sure, she taught her children the use of a gun because their father just wasn’t there. She had to tend the crops, kill and dress animals for the table, help the sick. The list goes on.

Morgan writes: “Though no portrait of her has ever been found, we have a vivid sense of her beauty and vitality. She was a woman capable of the hard work and childbearing and dangers, and excitement, of the American frontier.

“Without a woman as strong and resourceful as Rebecca, he could not have gone into the forest again and again for extended periods. Without a woman as steady and independent as Rebecca, he could not have even considered the many moves to strange places. Without her, his world would have collapsed under debt and uncertainty. The tall, buxom Rebecca inspired him and always drew him back from his great voyages of discovery and business. It is clear she also had what men most truly desired and needed in a wife: she could be relied on to keep the household together and raise the children, whether he was around or not.”

The one thing better about our modern times is that women are getting more of the credit they deserve. Rebecca Boone wasn’t the woman behind the hero.

She was the hero.

Mike Barnhardt is editor of the Davie County Enterprise Record.