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Mary Jemison

Mary Jemison

Mary Jemison research papers look at the historical story of a woman who was captured and then taken into the Seneca Indian Tribe. Have Paper Masters custom write research on any aspect of the life of Jemison, the Seneca or Native American History.

Mary Jemison was a white woman taken captive by a raiding party of Shawnee and French Soldiers during the French and Indian War. She was eventually adopted by the Seneca and chose to remain with the Native Americans community after the opportunity arose to return to the white settlements on the frontier. This decision was largely prompted by the sense of community she had developed while living with the Seneca as well as the difficulties she foresaw with the acceptance of her half Native American children in white society.

Facts leading up to her captivity include the following:

  • Mary Jamison was born aboard ship in 1743 as her family immigrated to America.
  • The family settled in the western frontier at Marsh Creek, Pennsylvania near present-day Gettysburg.
  • In 1758, during the French and Indian War, her family was taken captive by Shawnee and marched westward toward Fort Duquesne.
  • In order to outrun pursuing militia, the Shawnee killed all of their captives except Mary and a young boy.
  • At Fort Duquesne, a party of Seneca purchased Mary and brought her to the Ohio territory.

In Ohio Mary was adopted by the Seneca. According to Mary's testimony recorded as her diary toward the end of her life, it was the custom among the Seneca when a warrior was slain in battle for the kin to either receive the scalp of an enemy or to adopt a new member into the tribe as a replacement for the dead warrior. She was named Deh-hew-mis, which meant "pretty girl." She was rapidly indoctrinated into the ways of Shawnee life, adopting their culture. She found the Shawnee "peaceable and mild in their dispositions; temperate and decent in their habits". Over time, she came to respect and love the Senecas and their way of life.

Mary took a Delaware husband named Sheninjee and gave birth to a boy that she named Thomas after her dead father. Mary indicates that she had great love for her husband. After the conclusion of the French and Indian war, however, the couple feared that the peace would result in a return of white captives and the breakup of the family. To avoid this, Sheninjee and Mary began a seven hundred mile trek to his homeland near the Genesee River. During the journey, however, Sheninjee died. Mary continued on, eventually reaching her dead husband's clan relatives. They immediately accepted her and helped her make a new home among the Seneca.

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