Thomas Hall, the well-educated son of a tidewater Virginia family, had settled in upper Albemarle County after having lost his fortune to a dishonest relative. In the upper country, he had married a young Methodist woman who had come down into Virginia from Pennsylvania. After their marriage, Mrs. Hall bore four children, two boys and two girls.
Of all the children, the oldest girl was by far her father’s favorite. She had been named Dione, out of Greek mythology, but everyone called her Diony and spelled her name with a “y.” Diony, with her father’s help and the use of his small library, educated herself as best she could.
During the middle 1770’s, visitors occasionally stopped at the Hall house, really little more than a large cabin, as they passed from the Fincastle country or perhaps from even farther away in the cane meadows of Kentucky. Word came to the Halls in that manner of Boone, Henderson, and Harrod, and of the settlements those men had begun in the Kentucky country. The accounts of the back country held smaller charms for Diony than thoughts of visiting her rich relatives on the coasts of Virginia and Maryland; as a girl, she believed a life of balls, great houses, carriages, and fancy clothes far more enticing than the rigors of the wilderness.
Among the Halls’ neighbors was a family named Jarvis. Of the several boys of the Jarvis clan, there was one who was more than six feet tall, taller even than Diony’s older brother. He was the first to succumb to travelers’ tales of the Kentucky country. While he was gone, he sent back word by a trapper that he hoped Diony would wait for his return before she accepted a husband. She had one suitor, a man from the tidewater, but Berk Jarvis so captured her imagination that she had her father send a letter ending the suit with the man of wealth and position who had been seeking her hand.
When Berk returned, Diony quickly agreed to marry him and to go with him immediately into the wilderness, to the new settlement called Harrodsburg in the Kentucky country. Cloth was woven, garments were sewed, cattle were gathered together, kitchen utensils were selected, and seeds for a garden packed away. At last, all was in readiness for the marriage and the wilderness trek to follow immediately. Thomas Hall had had the banns cried in the Angelican Church, according to the British law of the Virginia colony, but the couple and Diony’s mother wanted the Methodist minister to perform the ceremony. He did, but many of the people, including Diony and Berk, had some misgivings as to the legality of the marriage, even though the argument of the newly signed Declaration of Independence was brought forth.
After the marriage Diony, Berk, his mother, and a number of other Virginians set out on the wilderness road across the Appalachian highlands to Kentucky. They followed the trail laid out by Daniel Boone. Without...
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