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The Taking of Mary Jemison

Mary Jemison


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Her name is synonymous with Adams County history and is one of the best known Indian captive stories of the French and Indian War period. On April 5, 1758, 15 year old Mary Jemison and her family along with the visiting neighbors were taken from their frontier home in Buchanan Valley (10 miles west of Gettysburg) by a raiding party of Shawnee Indians and their French allies. Mary's two older brothers escaped the raid by being at the barn and only Mary and one of the neighbor boys were spared by the Indians - the rest suffered cruel deaths during the trip to the forks on the Ohio (present day Pittsburgh).

Mary was adopted by two Seneca sisters as a replacement for their brother who had been killed in the French and Indian War. Mary remained by choice with the Seneca until her death in 1833 at age 91. As an Indian woman, she lived out most her life in the Genesee Valley of New York State at what is now known as Letchworth State Park. Monuments in her honor stand in both Letchworth State Park and in Buchanan Valley, the site of her capture. The Taking of Mary Jemison is historical artist Robert Griffing's masterful painting depicting that fateful day in April of 1758.


Resources

A Narrative of the Life of Mrs. Mary Jamison
An example of the Indian Captivity Narrative, written in 1823 by James E. Seaver from interviews with Mary Jamison.