After the American Revolution, the hardy settlers of Southwest Virginia sought to populate and civilize the howling wilderness. One of these was Barbary Slemp Shoun, who accompanied her husband to what became Mountain City, Tennessee, there to bear and rear seventeen children. Shy of people, Barbary finds personal strength while confronting the predatory fauna of the surrounding forest.
Although largely fiction, this story incorporates the early history of Johnson County, Tennessee. It brings to life the genealogy of the Slemp family and Shoun family, and includes a fictionalized visit to early Washington, D.C. for the inauguration of Andrew Jackson.