PUBLICATION 3 - 1967
By Luther F. Addington
Of all the young women taken into captivity by the Indians from Virginia's western frontier none suffered more anguish, nor bore her hardships more heroically, nor behaved with more thoughtfulness toward her captors than did Mary Draper Ingles.
Mary was born in 1732 to George Draper and Eleanor Hardin Draper within the present limits of Philadelphia. Her parents had come from the North of Ireland.
The Ingles were dissatisfied with their home in Pennsylvania and removed to Col. James Patton's grant of land in the Valley of Virginia. Patton had also come from the north of Ireland and no doubt they were acquainted before coming to America. Patton's settlement at the headwaters of the James River was known as Pattonsville.
This place also did not please George Draper; he wanted to move on again and make his home in the wilderness. So, one day he set out on a quest for a homesite, or to hunt game, and never returned.
Mrs. Eleanor Draper, not wanting to be left alone at Pattonsville, followed some of her neighbors to a new homeplace on New River, later to be called Draper's Meadows. Beside her two children, a son, John, born 1730, and Mary, she was accompanied by the family of Adam Harmon.
Here in the Draper's Meadows settlement Mary fell in love with young William Ingles, son of another settlers, and they were married early in 1750, their wedding being the first one on this frontier.
At the time of her marriage Mary was eighteen years old. There was no women living on this frontier blessed with better health, nor one more able to cope with the hardships of frontier life.
Dr. J. P. Hale, a descendant of Mary, writing in his TRANS-ALLEGHANY PIONEERS, said that he got much of his information about Mary from a sketch left to posterity by Mrs. John Floyd, wife of Governor Floyd of Virginia. Mrs. Floyd, who was born a Preston, had lived in the vicinity of Draper's Meadows and had long been a friend of Mary's.
So, from this source and from information left to him by his ancestors, Dr. Hale wrote of Mary as follows: "She spent much of her time in her girlhood days with her only brother in his outdoor avocations and sports. She could jump a fence or a ditch as easily as he; she could jump straight up nearly as high as her head; she could stand on the ground beside a horse and leap into the saddle unaided."
On July 30, 1755, (1) a band of Shawnees swooped down upon Draper's Meadows and killed, wounded or captured every person there.
Col. James Patton, Mrs. George Draper, Casper Barrier and a child of John Draper were killed; Mrs. John Draper, and James Cull were wounded; Mary Ingles, Mrs. Bettie Draper, John's wife, and Henry Lenard, were taken prisoners. (2)
At the time Mrs. John Draper was outside the house and was the first to see the Indians coming. Believing that they were up to mischief, she ran into the house to give the alarm and to get her sleeping baby.
Picking the child up, she ran out opposite the approaching Indians and tried to make her escape. However, the savages saw her, fired at her and the ball broke her right arm, causing her to drop the baby; but she managed to pick it up and continued her flight. However, she was overtaken and made prisoner. The child was brutally brained against the end of a house log and left lying on the ground.
In the house at the time was Col. James Patton, who had large land interests in the area. His nephew, William Preston, had also been in the house but had gone to Sinking Creek to ask Philip Laybrook to come over to Draper's Meadows and help harvest grain the next day.
Col. Patton, who was in command of the Virginia militia serving the region, had just brought a supply of powder and lead to be used by the settlers.
When the Indians attacked the house, Col. Patton was sitting at a table writing; beside him was his long broadsword which he seized upon the entrance of the Indians, and with it he began to fight. He cut down two of them but in the meantime he was shot by one of the attackers out of his range and immediately he died.
Quickly the attackers gathered up all the guns and ammunition and all the household goods they could get. Then, they set fire to the houses in the community.
At the time
attack William Ingles, Mary's husband, was in the
fields some distance
from the house, looking over his grain field which was
to be harvested
on the morrow. Seeing the flames and smoke, he started
hoping he could be of assistance in protecting his
family. But when he
drew near the flaming houses, he saw that the Indians
who were loading
plunder on the horses, were well armed; and he
stopped. He could see
the Indians had not
When two Indians with tomahawks in their hands dashed after William, he ran into the woods. In jumping over a log he fell; and there he lay while the pursuers ran around the roots of the upturned tree instead of jumping over it as he had. When the Indians passed on, still looking for him, he eluded them by running in the opposite direction.
After the Indians and their captives had gone, a company of settlers gathered and started in pursuit; but by that time the raiding party had got so far ahead that nothing could be seen of them.
Some distance out on their trail, the Indians stopped at the home of Philip Barger, an old white-haired man, attacked him and cut off his head. They put the head into a bag and carried it to the house of Philip Laybrook on Sinking Creek, where they gave it to Mrs. Laybrook, telling her to look into the bag and she'd see one of her acquaintances.
Philip Laybrook, as well as young Preston, whom Col. Patton had sent on an errand, had left the house and had gone by a near trail back to the Meadows, else they might have met the same fate as Philip Barger.
It is most likely that Col. Patton, who had brought powder and lead to the settlement, had warned the people of possible Indian attacks. Already the French moving down into the upper Ohio Valley from Canada, had incited Indian tribes living in the valley to rise against the English who were slowly pushing over the Alleghenies.
Very little had been done in the new settlement at the Meadows to meet a possible attack; a few miles distant, at the head of Roanoke River, was Fort Vause but it was poorly fortified.
"On the third day out, the course of nature, which waits not upon conveniences nor surroundings, was fulfilled; and Mary Ingles, far from habitation, in the wild forest, unbounded by walls, with only the bosom of mother earth for a couch, and covered by the green trees and the blue canopy of heaven, with a curtain of darkness around her, gave birth of a daughter." (3)
Owing to her strong physical condition, Mary Ingles was able next day to resume the journey. After mounting a horse, she was allowed to take the newly-born baby into her arms, although Indians ordinarily would have killed it to get it out of the way. Dr. Hale said that the most likely reason it wasn't killed was because the Indians wanted to keep Mary alive and as contented as possible so that she might live until they could demand a big ransom for her.
About forty miles down New River the party crossed to the west side, coming out near the mouth of Indian Creek. From the mouth of Indian Creek they continued to follow New River to the mouth of Bluestone River, up which they had to travel until they could find a suitable ford. Upon crossing the stream they went over the headwaters of Paint Creek and came to Kanawha River, the same stream whose upper portion was called New River.
Eventually they reached the mouth of Campbell's Creek where there was a salt spring. Here the Indians went into camp, wishing to hunt and get a supply of salt to take with them to their villages.
Some of the Indians set up the pots which they had stolen from Mary's house, built fires under them, filled them with briny water and directed Mary and the older captives to boil the water down.
Mary proved very adept at salt making; and her skill, the Indians knew, would prove of value to them after they reached their Ohio River homes. Since animals were plentiful int he wood around the salt spring, a sojourn of several days was made in order that enough game might be killed for their immediate need and have some left to take with them.
But much to the sorrow of Mary and her companions, the journey northward was resumed. In about a month from the time they had left Draper's Meadows, they arrived at the Shawnee town at the mouth of the Scioto River which flows into the north side of the Ohio.
Upon the arrival of the party, the tribe gathered to celebrate; there as much dancing and singing. The savages took much delight in making all the captives except Mary, "run the gauntlet".
Running the gauntlet was a sort of cruel game, or chastisement, inflicted upon whites whom the Indians took prisoners. It was done by forming an aisle made by lines of Indians and forcing the victim to walk or run through the aisle while the savages lashed out with sticks or rocks, beating and bruising the runner. Some victims failed to come out alive.
Mary was spared the ordeal because she had proved to be docile and cooperative, or because they yet wanted to ransom her for money or goods. Most likely two of the captives, Henry Lenard and James Cull, failed to survive the gauntlet for history gives no account of them afterwards.
Her turn to
came when the raiders gathered to divide the spoils
and dispose of the
captives. Her friend, Bettie Draper, whose arm was yet
was assigned to a hunter who said he'd take her
further north. Then, a
pang of anguish suffused Mary when a savage put a hand
on the shoulder
of little George and told the two-year-old boy to join
a group of
savages. George screamed and tried to escape, but the
spirited him away
Mary didn't know but what she and the baby would be given to yet another group, but she was allowed to remain with the Scioto people. She felt though, that her fate was merely being postponed.
But nothing could happen to her that would fill her with more grief or cause her more pain than seeing her two little boys torn from her. Yet, she must sit silent and endure it.
She bowed her head, praying that some miracle might happen, giving her a chance to see them again. Oh, that they could all be back home in Draper's Meadows, in their cabin, with their father! And she wondered what had happened to her husband. Had he escaped being killed? If so, what could he be doing now? Why hadn't he and a company of men, whom she just knew had been marshaled, pursued and rescued her?
Mary knew that the French in Canada were determined to come down into the Ohio Valley and push the English out; too, these Shawnees were allies of those French.
Mary Makes Shirts
Although Mary had been cooperative with the Indians, she felt she shouldn't change her attitude even after losing her two beloved boys; being gentle with them might mean that her life would be spared.
One day some French traders came into the Indian town bartering for things they wanted with checked shirting. The Indians prized no wearing apparel above checked shirts. But the squaws were very poor shirt makers. Mary, who had long been adept with a needle and thread, as well as cutting cloth, saw an opportunity to make herself useful; and she began to make shirts. As she turned them out, the Indians would hoist them atop sticks and run through the town proudly showing them.
The French, seeing how useful this woman from the Virginia frontier was, realized she was a great asset to them, as well as to the Indians; and they became very friendly and considerate. After a few weeks spent in shirt making, Mary was told that she was to go down the Ohio River about one hundred and fifty miles and make salt. They seemed to have remembered how efficient she had been at salt-making back at the salt spring.
At Big Bone Lick
So, Mary and her baby, together with an old Dutch woman, who had been brought here from the Pennsylvania frontier were put into a canoe; and, then, a group of canoes, carrying hunters, set out down the river.
Every mile, Mary knew, was taking her still further from her home and her husband; yet there was nothing she could do to prevent the trip.
After days of travel on the river, the party arrived at Big Bone Creek, which flows into the Ohio River from the south; then, they rowed up the creek about three and a half miles to the lick. It was within the present bounds of Boone Co., KY, down river several miles from the present town of Cincinnati.
This salt lick had long been the gathering place of wild animals hungry for salt; and over the centuries many had come here and died. Some of the largest mastadon bones ever found were here when white men came. It was here that Christopher Gist, on his exploratory trip for the Ohio Land Company of Williamsburg, had picked up some huge bones to take back with him.
So, just as Mary Ingles was the first bride of the southwestern Virginia frontier, also she was the first white woman salt maker west of the Kanawha River.
Leaving Mary and the old Dutch woman here to boil water until only salt was left in the kettles, the Indians went away to hunt.
gone from her sight, Mary began to dream of Draper's
to be back there. But, she knew she was now about
eight hundred miles
Finding her way back, even though she could get food
enough to sustain
her, would be most difficult. There'd be streams to
cross and gorges to
climb through up where the Great Kanawha roared
Autumn was on the land. Nights were getting cool. Soon winter would come. Therefore, if she should undertake returning home, she must set out at once. But, what must she do with the baby? She couldn't escape being detected by Indians with a baby in her arms for it would surely cry. Furthermore, she couldn't carry it on so long a journey.
But, death would be better than staying on here and doing the bidding of the Indians. Even yet, she might be killed or burned at the stake. But, to try to escape and get caught would surely mean burning at the stake; it was nearly always the penalty for such an act, she had learned.
After pondering the matter for some time, Mary mentioned her plan of trying to escape to the old Dutch woman, who told her it was foolhardy. If they should escape capture, fatigue and starvation would subdue them. They'd have to walk a hundred and fifty miles along the south bank of the Ohio River before reaching a point opposite the Scioto River where the Shawnee village was situated. And hadn't it taken them a whole mouth to make the journey from Draper's Meadows to Scioto?
Mary was well aware of this situation, but she definitely made up her mind that she would try to escape. It tore her heart out to think of having to leave her helpless baby, still, some Indian maiden or married squaw would perhaps adopt it. If she stayed, they both might die.
It seemed that a threat of death walled her in, nevertheless she would go, if the old woman would go with her. In order to convince the Dutch woman of trying to escape, she pictured to her the comforts of home with friends instead of existing among savages.
"But, if we
escape and are caught, it means burning at the stake,"
the Dutch woman
Day after day they went out and each time returned, the last time at sunset. Next morning, after tucking the baby in a blanket in its bark cradle, the women took a blanket each and, while the Indians were not observing them, stole away quietly as had been their custom. Instead of returning to camp at nightfall, this time they continued their trek along Big Bone Creek to the Ohio River and thence eastward.
Each of the women carried a tomahawk. In her story told later, Mary said she exchanged her broken one with a Frenchman who was cracking nuts on one of the big bones of the Lick. The Frenchman, not aware of her plans, exchanged with her, since a dull tomahawk would rack nuts as well as a sharp one.
The first day out, the two women hadn't got far from camp when the sun went down and darkness came. Knowing they could not travel at night in a strange forest, they raked leaves into a pile, wrapped their blankets about them and lay down.
And what did the Indians think about their not returning to camp? Dr. Hale explains, "The Indians became uneasy, thinking that they had strayed too far and lost their way or else had been killed by wild beasts.
"Some of the Indians went out in the direction the women had gone and fired guns to attract their attention, if they should be lost. They gave up the search that night, however, and did not renew it the next day. They did not at all suspect that the women had attempted to escape.
"These facts were learned by William Ingles (Mary's husband) many years later at an Indian treaty, or conference, held at Point Pleasant not long after the battle of the Point, when the Indians learned for the first time what had become of the missing women." (4)
Day after day the two women slowly tramped along the waters of the Ohio River; they subsisted on nuts, grapes, pawpaws and occasionally they found a small corn patch and they chewed raw kernels and swallowed them.
Yet, they were so tired and famished by the time they reached a point opposite the Scioto Shawnee camp they felt it would be impossible to go further. Already they had walked a hundred and fifty miles and there were several more hundreds ahead of them before reaching the upper waters of New River.
they found an old abandoned cabin at the edge of a
corn patch. After
some ears of corn, they ate some raw and then lay down
in the cabin to
rest. And, while lying there, Mary let her mind survey
between this point and her home. She knew that they
must cross the Big
Sandy before reaching the mouth of the Kanawha;
besides, there were
rivers to cross. There'd be no canoes, and the rivers
would be so deep
Next morning the weary travelers found an old horse grazing near the corn patch. Hung about his neck was a tinkling bell, the clapper of which they muffled with leaves. Then, gathering what corn they could tie in their blankets, they threw it on the horse's back and resumed their journey, taking turns at riding. Slowly they proceeded up the river bank, taking care to remain out of sight of the Indian village on the opposite side of the river. There were times when both women would have to walk and one lead the horse for the terrain was too rough for a person to be safe on horseback.
But, day after day, they moved on, both humans and animal living on the corn they had brought along. After passing the points where the future cities of Ashland and Catlettsburg were to rise, they reached the Big Sandy. As Mary had expected, they couldn't cross at its mouth; yet, they must follow the bank of the Ohio beyond the mouth of the Big Sandy. So, there was nothing to do but travel up the Big Sandy until they reached a place shallow enough for them to cross. Fortunately, it was a dry autumn and the rivers were at low ebb. Should a heavy rain come, flooding the rivers, they would perish in the forest.
Crossing the Big Sandy
After going up the bank of the Big Sandy for a few miles, the travelers came to a big drift of wood which extended all the way across the stream. They tried it by crossing on foot; and, then, they returned to the horse.
Mary said she doubted whether the horse could cross on it, but the Dutch woman contended that he could. Against her better judgement, Mary agreed to let the horse try it. After all, they were a long way up stream from the mouth; and they'd have to go many miles more before they'd find the water shallow enough to ford.
So, they led the humble, obedient old horse out onto the drift, praying that he'd not break through the logs and brush. But their hopes were crushed when the horse's legs broke through, his feet in the rushing water below and his belly resting on top of the drift. The horse tried to extract himself but failed; and there he lay, helpless.
Knowing that they could not get the horse out, Mary took from his back the meager supply of corn and started on. The old Dutch woman got the bell and the strap to which it was fastened. Then, saying goodbye to the horse, they crossed on the driftwood and started down the east side of the stream, headed once more for the bank of the Ohio.
Eventually, they found themselves plodding again along the Ohio. Now, without the horse to ride occasionally, the old woman became discouraged. In her desperation she vilified Mary for having persuaded her to leave the Indians; then, she became so angry that she threatened to kill Mary. While the old woman was perhaps as strong as Mary, the latter was younger and fully able to hold her own in any physical struggle.
But, instead of physical combat Mary resorted to cajolery, telling her again that if they stuck to their goal they'd eventually reach friends. After all, it was too far to return to the Indians, furthermore returning would mean their being burned at the stake. So, the old woman waxed into silence and tramped on, foot past foot.
By this time the weather was getting cold. The women were now barefoot for they had lone since worn out their moccasins; also, their clothes were dirty and tattered.
But on they went, eating nuts when they could find them, pulling up plants and eating the roots. Once they came upon a deer head left by hunters; and they ate of the meat, although it was beginning to spoil.
In order to protect themselves from the cold winds at nights they crawled into hollow logs or under cliffs, if they could find them; otherwise, they slept in the open. Eventually, they passed the point where Huntington is now situated; but they were still far from the mouth of the Kanawha. But Mary, encouraging the old woman, continued to press forward, knowing that every step brought her that much closer home.
Their slow, plodding steps brought them to the mouth of the Kanawha.
Now that they were in the Kanawha Valley, Mary's spirits lifted; she had been over this land, and the river, she knew, came singing down past Draper's Meadows. But she was perhaps yet two hundred miles from home.
When it seemed that they could not go a mile further, they doggedly pressed no. They passed the future site of the city of Charleston, West Virginia. Then, as the days went by they came to places they well recognized; the mouth of Paint's Creek; The Falls of the Kanawha; then the mouth of Bluestone River; and, reaching this point, Mary felt a surge of hope, although she was weak and frail, whereas at this point on going down she was strong and healthy. But ahead lay home, and as long as she could get one foot past the other she'd keep moving forward.
A little way beyond the mouth of the Bluestone River, the old woman became desperate again, not so much because Mary had persuaded her to leave the Indians but because she was so starved and tired that her mind was off balance.
She told Mary that she intended to kill and eat her. Mary cajoled her by saying, "Let's draw sticks to see which one is to become the victim." To this the old woman consented. They prepared sticks and drew. Mary was the loser. She'd die at the hands of the old woman.
But Mary, always diplomatic with the Indians, began to offer the old woman large rewards if they but could get home to Draper's Meadows. But the Dutch woman wouldn't agree; instead, she grabbed Mary and began to beat her. Mary, although feeble, managed to twist from the older person's grasp, who, of course, was also weak. Then, Mary, started on up the river, leaving the old woman who had been exhausted by the struggle.
Once out of sight of her companion, Mary slipped under a bank and there remained until the old woman could recover and pass her. Already, it was sundown; and darkness was laying its deep shadows in the narrow valley.
The moon was out and spilling its dim slithers of light down through the tree tops when Mary emerged from her hiding place. Going to the river bank, she found a canoe half filled with decayed leaves. There was no oar or pole in it, but Mary was determined to cross the stream and, thus elude the old woman who would certainly attack her again.
Soon Mary found a slither of wood which had splintered from a tree blown down in a storm; with it she got into the canoe; bailed out the leaves, shoved off and managed to paddle across stream which at this place was not swift.
Once across, she went upstream a little way and to her delight found an empty cabin which she entered, lay down and spent the night.
Next morning she started on and found a corn patch above the cabin, which, she knew, had been used by hunters. She searched the corn patch for remaining ears but found that wild animals had devoured them.
Though so hungry she thought she would collapse, she started wearily on her way. Further upstream she sighted the old woman on the opposite bank. They stopped and shouted across to each other. The old woman was very persistent. She begged forgiveness and asked Mary to cross the stream and continue the journey with her. But Mary refused, thinking it'd be wiser to keep the river between them. So, they continued their journey, each on her own side of the river.
Mary Comes to a Great Cliff
Mary knew that her remaining strength was gradually diminishing, but the fact that she knew she was within at least thirty miles of home renewed her courage and with tremendous will power she kept her tired legs moving.
Coming to a great cliff whose crags overhung the river, her trail seemed at an end and her life ready to ebb from her. She looked at the water rushing around the crags; she glanced up but couldn't see the top of the precipice because snow was feathering down. Making her situation more desperate was a cold wind whistling up the gorge.
There were but two ways whereby she could get past this cliff: one was to wade around it; the other was to go over the top of it and come down to the river again beyond it. She doubted whether she could wade the swift waters, too, she doubted whether she had enough strength left to climb the steep hill at the side of the cliff to the summit.
But she'd try wading. Soon she'd know what she could do. She set her feet into the water, waded out. A swirl caught her against the bank. Further up, she knew, the water was swifter and deeper. No, she couldn't get around the cliff by wading. It would mean her death.
And now she wasn't strong enough to try the cliff edge; besides, it was getting dark and snow was falling. She was wet now. She had nothing to eat, not even roots of plants.
In despair she lay down on the ground and remained there through the night. When day came, she found her muscles slightly rested. She looked up at the steep cliff side; she must climb it if she was to continue her journey. There was no other choice.
Setting her face to the slope, she began to climb, a few inches at a step. As she ascended, she caught onto bushes and let her arms help her legs proper her higher and a little higher. She'd climb a few yards and rest, then climb and rest again. By sheer will power she reached the summit just before sundown.
began descending the other side of the ridge. By
stepping, setting her
feet, falling and sliding, she went down much faster
The sun was down when she regained the river bank; but
she continued to
move onward, believing she might be nearing
habitation. And her belief
proved correct. In the dimness of twilight she entered
a corn patch.
she hallowed as loudly as she could and dropped to the
on her again, and
She called out a second time; then, there came through the corn patch two men, rifles raised for shooting. The men proved to be Adam Harman and his son, whom she'd known at Draper's Meadows.
up and carried her to their cabin where there was a
fire roaring in the
big fireplace. While the men tried to make her
comfortable, Mary asked
about her home and friends; they warmed water and
bathed her swollen
and legs. Then, they made venison soup; and, while she
sipped it, they
made a pallet for her in the corner of the room by the
she was wrapped in fresh, warm blankets. Although this
pallet was not a
bed, it was a luxury in
The Old Dutch Woman Again
Next morning Mary told Adam Harman about the old Dutch woman and her experiences with her. Then she asked him if he'd go hunt her and bring her in. But, after hearing how the old woman had attacked Mary, he refused to go.
Instead, he put Mary on one of his horses; and he, mounting another, set out for Draper's meadows some twelve miles distant up the river.
Arriving at the Meadows, they found that there had been an Indian alarm and nearly everyone had already crossed New River to a small fort known as Dunkard's Fort; so, they also went to the fort.
The following morning Mary again begged Adam Harman to go in search of the old Dutch woman, and this time he agreed to go. He started right away, going down the west bank of the river.
And soon he came upon the woman riding a horse at whose neck a small bell was tinkling. He found the woman to be dressed in an old pair of leather breeches.
She at once told Harman what had happened to her after parting company with Mary. She'd come upon a hunter's cabin where she'd found a pot of boiled venison and some leather clothes. She'd eaten of the meat and had rested two days and nights; then, finding a horse nearby, she'd tried her bell to its neck, mounted and was resuming her journey.
woman to Dunkard's Fort and there she remained until
she heard of a
traveling to Pennsylvania by wagon. She asked for a
ride and was gladly
taken aboard. When she was ready to start, she didn't
forget her little
bell. Of her Dr. Hale said, "I'm sorry that not even
her name has been
preserved. In the tradition of the Ingles family she
is known and
only as "the old Dutch woman." (5)
Mary had been greatly disappointed upon arriving at Dunkard's Fort not to find her husband there. She was told that he and her brother John, the husband, of Bettie, had gone down among the Cherokees, who at that time were friendly with the Shawnees north of the Ohio River, to learn if any of them knew anything of those who had been captured at Draper's Meadows.
Unfortunately, they had learned nothing; but, when, within a few days, they returned and found Mary, they were elated and, also, surprised. It was a happy reunion, as well as a sad one, for both Mary and her husband, William, grieved for their "lost babes in the woods." William said he wouldn't give up trying to find and ransom them, so they could come home.
In an effort to get news of his wife, Bettie, John Draper, Mary's brother, made several more trips to the Cherokee Nation. In the year 1761 many chiefs from the Ohio River Valley, as well as from the Cherokee Nation, assembled to make a treaty, or an agreement with the whites, about the close of the Cherokee war.
John Draper attended the gathering and fortunately he met an old chief from the north who knew about Bettie. She was in his immediate family, he said.
With this news John Draper set out north, found Bettie and paid a handsome ransom for her relief. Thus, she had been in captivity six years.
On her way back to the white settlement she told her husband that she had tried to escape, as Mary had done, but was captured and sentenced to be burned at the stake, but that an old chief hid her away and saved her life.
Then, she decided against trying to escape again. Instead, she decided to be of as much service to the tribe as she could, so she taught the squaws how to sew better and to cook differently; she nursed the sick and attended the wounded. As a result of this service, she became known as "heap good medicine squaw."
Mrs. Draper brought back some sad news for Mary Ingles and her husband; she'd learned that little George, who'd been two years old when wrested from Mary at Scioto, had died soon afterwards. And she'd never heard anything from Thomas.
Thomas, The Captive Boy
However, about six years after Mrs. Draper's return news was received about Thomas. It came through a man by the name of Baker, who also had been held captive among the Shawnees for several years. Baker had lived in the same village with the Indian who had adopted Thomas as his son, and he knew both of them.
William Ingles at once hired Baker to return to the Shawnee country and try to ransom Thomas. So, Baker set out up the Valley of Virginia, across the mountains to Fort Pitt, and thence down the Ohio River to Scioto.
He found the foster father of Thomas and bargained with him to release Thomas, paying about one hundred dollars for his freedom. But Thomas, who had come to love his Indian father and the tribesmen, didn't want to leave. He spoke their language and lived, himself, like an Indian.
More by force than persuasion, Baker got the youth started and, in order to prevent his running away, kept him bound until they were forty or fifty miles from the Indian village. After being unbound, the youth pretended to be content; but he was merely laying a scheme to escape. And one night while Baker was asleep, the youth did escape.
Baker was afraid to go home without the boy, since he had paid out the ransom money; so, he returned to Scioto and again tried to find Thomas but the squaws had hidden him and Baker was helpless. Then, without Thomas, Baker returned to the Ingles home, now situated several miles up New River from Draper's Meadows, and gave a report.
Yet, William Ingles and Mary wouldn't give up trying to get Thomas home. A year later William Ingles, himself, accompanied by Baker, made the same long journey up the Valley of Virginia, across the Alleghanies and down the Ohio River. Upon arriving at Scioto, they were told that Thomas had gone to Detroit with a group of Shawnees and wouldn't return for several weeks. William, determined not to be disappointed again, waited out the time.
While Thomas returned, the father was successful in convincing him that he was the real father and that he and the mother wanted him to return home. William paid a ransom sum of the equivalency of one hundred fifty dollars to the youth's Indian father; and, then, the three men, Baker, William and son Thomas, started home, home to Ingle's Ferry. This was in the year 1768. Thomas had been away from his parents for thirteen years.
Thomas could not speak English. He was dressed as the Indians dressed. With him he had brought his much beloved bow and arrow. Although his mother was overjoyed to see him again, she said he was more like an Indian than like one of his own family.
He very reluctantly put on clothes such as the white settlers wore. Nearly every day he'd go off into the woods with his bow and arrow and stay for long hours.
William and Mary Ingles were very disturbed about their son's behavior and were constantly afraid that he'd try to escape and return to his Indian friends. They were glad, however, that he began to learn English and took an interest in it. They believed him to be a very intelligent young man, and they wanted him to be educated.
In order to have him educated his father sent him to Dr. Thomas Walker of Albemarle. William Ingles and Dr. Walker were close friends, they having roamed the forests together. Dr. Walker had made an exploratory trip into Kentucky in 1750.
Near Dr. Walker's home in Albemarle was a school called Castle Hill. Here young Thomas got acquainted with Madison, Monroe, Jefferson, Patrick Henry, and many other distinguished people who were constantly in the neighborhood. In later years Thomas Jefferson made him colonel of militia.
While in Albemarle Thomas made the acquaintance of Miss Eleanore Grills, whom he married in 1775, after the battle of Point Pleasant - the war between the frontiersmen of Virginia and the Indians at the mouth of the Kanawha River.
Then, after taking a bride, Thomas himself moved out onto the Virginia frontier, in the upper Clinch River Valley; and there he, who had been a close friend of the Shawnees, suffered the agony of having his own wife and children attacked by them. This story will be related later in this book.
Bronze Tablet in
Honor of Mary and
William and Mary Ingles spent the last days of their life at Ingles Ferry, almost at the place Radford College now stands. If the year 1915 a bronze tablet was placed in the Ingles Literary Society Hall by descendants of William and Mary Ingles.
At that memorial service the Hon. Allen T. Eskridge, Jr., of Pulaski, gave an historical sketch of the pioneer woman. Capt. William Ingles, a descendant of the pioneers, presented the tablet. Miss Mary Davis, president of the Ingles Literary Society, accepted it. Master Andrew Lewis Ingles, son of Mr. and Mrs. William Ingles, Jr., pulled a cord that unveiled the tablet.
The tablet was placed in the Ingles Library Society Hall. It shows the following words:
This Tablet is
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