Fascinating Ancestry

It’s funny how some stories come to you when you least expect it. I was chatting with a friend the other day after a photo session, and one thing led to another, and she told me about the story of Mary Jemison.

Mary came to America in 1743 with her parents and they settled in Pennsylvania.  In 1755, during the French and Indian War, a raiding party consisting of six Shawnee Indians and four Frenchmen captured Mary and her family while they were en route to Fort Duquesne (today known as Pittsburg) Mary’s Mother, Father and siblings were killed in the attack and apparently scalped, but for whatever reason Mary’s life was spared.  Mary was handed over to, and adopted by, the Seneca Indians.

Later on she married a Delaware Indian, and they had one Son who she named Thomas. During a move to an area along the Genesee River in present day New York State, her husband died en route and Mary was taken in by her husband’s clan relatives. Mary later on married a Seneca Indian and had six more children over the years.

During the American Revolutionary War, the Seneca’s were allies of the British, and Mary actually “observed” (spied?) against the colonists…  After the war ended, Mary helped negotiate more favorable terms for the Seneca’s for giving up their land rights. She became known as the “White Woman of the Genesee.” Mary died in 1833 at the age of 90 and was buried at the Buffalo Creek Reservation in Erie County NY.  In 1874 her remains were moved to William Pryor Letchworth’s Glen Iris Estate (now Letchworth State Park).  A bronze statue of Mary, which still stands today, marks her grave.

Now… It turns out, (if I have all of my “Greats” correct) that Mary is the Great Great Great Great Grandma of my friend Tricia!!


What a story!!!  I love stories like this – they make you think!   Sometimes after horrible events (and it doesn’t get much more horrible than being killed and scalped!!!!) we wonder how such terrible things like that could happen to people.  But one thing is certain, that moment was a violent turning point in Mary’s life that forced her in a drastically different direction from what her life would have been.

Mary’s children, and her children’s children, and all of her descendants all the way up to Tricia and her Sisters and all of their children – and beyond – are a direct result of that horrifically violent event that happened way back in 1755. Without that event, none of them would be here today!  Like I said, it makes you think!

Tricia’s Niece – Jenna
Tricia’s Niece – Jessica