Mary Boone Bryan

Historical Marker #2390 in Campbell County commemorates Mary Boone Bryan, the wife of William Bryan and a sister of Daniel Boone.

Mary was born in Pennsylvania and was the seventh child of Squire and Sarah M. Boone. She was about fourteen years old when her family moved to North Carolina. There, she met William Bryan, whom she married in 1755. At the time of their marriage, Mary was eighteen and William was twenty-one.

The French and Indian War had already begun, and, by 1759, conflicts with Native Americans were happening throughout the Yadkin Valley. William was often gone with the militia and Mary was left at home with two children. Although Mary's parents and many family members left for the safety of Virginia for several years, she and William stayed. In 1762, family members began returning home. Three years later, in January of 1765, Mary's father died, her husband left for a job as road overseer in Salisbury, and Mary bore her fifth child.

William Bryan was with Daniel Boone in 1773 on their first ill-fated attempt at settling Kentucky. William's company was in Kentucky at Boonesborough by the fall of 1775. Mary stayed at home and managed the farm and family without her husband for months at a time.

In January of 1777, Mary had her tenth and last child. By 1779, William had built homes and planted crops in Kentucky. In late July, he returned to North Carolina for his family, and about three hundred members of the Boone-Bryan families moved to Kentucky together in the fall of that year.

That winter was one of the coldest in history; Indians raided the livestock and ambushed unwary travelers. Mary's husband and three youngest sons died within seven months of reaching Kentucky. Mary returned over the Wilderness Trail to North Carolina with her remaining family. When she arrived back on the Yadkin, the Revolutionary War was raging. General Cornwallis marched through the region, wreaking havoc and destruction.

In 1786, Mary moved to Kentucky with her family for the last time. She lived on her son Samuel's farm near Paris. By 1793, Samuel had discovered salt in northern Kentucky and the family moved to Campbell County. Samuel and his Boone family cousin, John Grant, were in the salt business together. Daniel Boone also had a business relationship with Grant (his nephew), and John's brother, Squire Grant, who was the surveyor of Campbell County in 1796.

In 1818, after nearly forty years of widowhood, Mary wed Charles Smith, Sr., of Harrison County. She was eighty-two years old. Mary died seven months later, in July 1819, and was buried on Samuel's farm in Campbell County at Grant’s Lick. Mary's descendants moved her remains to the Oakland Cemetery at Grant's Lick in 1929 and erected a monument to her at that location.