Celebrating a frontier woman

Published 8:39 am Tuesday, April 24, 2018

One of the defining elements of the region is just how rich in American history it is. Arguably, the most important historical figure is Daniel Boone — the famed frontiersman and pioneer of the Cumberland Gap and Wilderness Road region.

There is an age-old axiom that reads “behind every great man there is a great woman,” and a play arriving in June at the Cumberland Gap National Historical Park will focus on the great woman behind the great man — Rebecca Boone.

The play, titled “Love Makes a Home: The Life of Rebecca Boone,” was researched and written by Kiesa Kay, who lives in Yancey County, North Carolina. Kay is a writer and plays the old-time fiddle. She received a masters degree in English from the University of Kansas as well as an undergraduate degree in journalism.

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Kay’s interest in history and her great admiration for Rebecca Boone is what inspired her to write the play.

“She gave birth to ten children and raised others, too, and she moved more than 20 times. Through all her struggles, she never stopped loving her husband. Her courage inspires me. She and her husband opened up the Cumberland Gap, so it’s really important to me to bring this play to the Cumberland Gap National Historical Park! In a way, it feels like we’re bringing Rebecca Boone home,” said Kay.

Kay’s research for the play was extensive.

“I visited several sites where Rebecca Boone had traveled, including the home of her son, Nathan Boone, in Missouri, and the Yadkin Valley in North Carolina, and the Daniel Boone National Forest. I’ve read books by John Mack Faragher, Robert Morgan, Lyman Draper, Neal O. Hammon, and many others, and I read some of Daniel Boone’s letters online. I spent many hours online doing research, too,” she said.

The play features the acting of Patti Louise Smith and historically authentic tunes played by renowned old-time fiddler Bruce Greene.

The play is set to premiere on June 9 at 8 p.m. at the Cumberland Gap National Historical Park.