Mary Draper Ingles Welcome Home!
24" x 18" oil
Mary Draper Ingles was one of the most revered women of colonial America, because of her dauntless spirit to survive. In the Summer of 1755 the peaceful Draper's Meadow, located on the fringe of western settlement in Virginia, (on the campus of VA Tech University today) was attacked by a band of Shawnee. Several settlers were slain and five hostages taken by the war party. A pregnant Mary Ingles and her two young sons were among the captured. It is said that Mary gave birth to a daughter on the third day of their forced march to the Ohio country. It was also said that her courage impressed the Shawnee. Her prestige was further enhanced later through her ability as a seamstress. She made shirts for them from bolts of cloth obtained from their allies the French.
Mary's two boys were taken from her and taken to a village further northward, after she refused to become the wife of one of the Native subchiefs. She was allowed, with the help of a Native woman, to care for her infant daughter. This Native woman had lost her own newborn and helped Mary as a wet-nurse. This would aid her decision to leave her infant daughter unto the adoption of the Shawnee. She knew it would be well cared for.
In October Mary and another captive, an old Dutch woman, were sent to gather salt at Big Bone Lick. It is about 30 miles south from todays Cincinnati, Ohio - on the Kentucky side of the Ohio River. The two managed to slip away as if to gather food. Neither could swim, but they followed the Ohio River upstream to the Kanawha and on to New River, backtracking toward Virginia. Because they could not swim, they were forced to follow each stream that entered the rivers until they could wade across…an estimated distance of 800 total miles. It was a hard journey and it was said that the old Dutch woman became so starved & desperate as to attempt to kill and devour Mary. Mary escaped and went on alone, dragging herself finally to the cabin of Adam Harmon. He and his sons cared for her until they could return her to Drapers Meadows.
Mary's husband William and her brother John were not there. They were in Tennessee & Georgia attempting to gather news of her and the children through friendly Cherokee. Therefore in my painting, you see Mary holding the tri-cornered hat of her husband. A neighbor has sent over a touching welcome home gift. Mary Draper Ingles - Welcome Home!
Several books have been written on the subject.
For the record, this is not the girl from Little House On The Prairie. The TV show was taken from the book by Laura Ingalls Wilder. It was fiction.