An early American adage proclaimed, “The frontier was heaven for men and dogs—hell for women and mules.” Since the 1700s, when his name first appeared in print, Daniel Boone has been synonymous with America’s westward expansion and life on the frontier. Traces is a retelling of Boone’s saga through the eyes of his wife, Rebecca, and her two oldest daughters, Susannah and Jemima. Daniel became a mythic figure during his lifetime, but his fame fueled backwoods gossip that bedeviled the Boone women throughout their lives—most notably the widespread suspicion that one of Rebecca’s children was fathered by Daniel’s younger brother. Traces explores the origins of these rumors, exposes the harsh realities of frontier life, and gives voice to the women whose vibrant lives have been reduced to little more than scattered footnotes within the historical record. Along the path of Daniel’s restless wandering, the women were eyewitnesses to the clash of cultures between the settlers and the indigenous tribes who fought to retain control of their native lands, which made life on the frontier an ongoing struggle for survival.
Patricia Hudson gives voice to these women, all of whom were pioneers in their own right. The Boone women’s joys and sorrows, as well as those of countless other forgotten women who braved the frontier, are invisibly woven into the fabric of America’s early years and the story of this country’s westward expansion.