In this painting, we see a gentler
side of the rough eighteenth century frontier. Here we see young
Mary Means bidding farewell to her friend, Maiden Foot. The following
is an excerpt edited from the historical text.
The story of Maiden Foot is among the
most touching to come out of the American frontier experience, set
against the turmoil and bloodshed of Pontiac's war. A young Delaware
warrior known as Maiden Foot took a liking to Mary Means, the eleven-
year- old daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Means who lived in the Fort Ligonier
Valley in the late 1750s. Mary reminded Maiden Foot of the sister
he had recently lost of approximately the same age. Upon one of
their encounters at Fort Ligonier, Maiden Foot gave Mary a small
string of beads.
Time passed and in 1763, the frontier
again erupted in bloody warfare as Pontiac's war struck the Ligonier
valley. Upon receiving word of the approaching war parties, Mrs.
Means packed up the young Mary and rushed for the safety of Fort
Ligonier only to be caught in route. They were tied to saplings
and later a warrior appeared sent to kill and scalp the unfortunate
Means. The warrior in question was Maiden Foot.
He quickly recognized the family and
set them free. Maiden Foot escorted them to their home where they
met Mr. Means, then led them to a secluded place in the mountains
until the end of the hostilities. As the family parted with Maiden
Foot, young Mary gave him her handkerchief upon which she had embroidered
her name, Mary Means, believing they would never meet again.
Mary grew to a young woman and married
an army officer named Kearney, eventually living near present day
Cincinnati. After the close of the Battle of Fallen Timbers in 1796
where Mary's husband fought, Kearney found an old Indian sitting
on a log. The weary Indian stated he had fought his last battle
then drew from his pouch a small tattered handkerchief with the
name of a friend embroidered on it. Kearney, who had heard the story
of Maiden Foot many times from Mary immediately recognized the old
man as the long lost friend of his wife and mercifully escorted
him to their home. Maiden Foot was to remain there until his death
four years later, among friends and the little girl he had seen
so many years before.