Indian Captive – The Story of Mary Jemison

Bailey here –

I’ve been reading the Newberry Honor book, Indian Captive, written and illustrated by Lois Lenski. I know, I know, we all read this story in the 4th grade, but I’m reading it again. It’s such an amazing book!

It’s a true account of how twelve year old Mary Jemison, or Molly as she is affectionately called, was taken captive by Indians (and French solders) on a spring day in 1758 – during the French and Indian War. Terrified, separated from her family, and determined to escape, Molly was forced to walk on a long and arduous journey away from everything and everyone she knew.

The story follows her to a Seneca village where she was given to an Indian family in exchange for a son and brother who was killed by the whites. And it follows her through the grief of missing her family, the terror of not knowing how to communicate with the Indians, how to eat their food, or understand their customs.

But there were those in the Indian village who were kind to Molly, who was renamed Corn Tassel because of her beautiful yellow hair. And she began to learn the Seneca language with the help of a kind Indian boy, Little Turtle.

Later, when Mary Jemison – The White Woman of the Genesee – had the chance to return to her own people, she decided to stay with the Seneca. She’d fallen in love with the people, their way of life and their customs. She married an Indian man, and when he died, she married another Indian man. She lived the rest of her life with the Seneca, until she died at about 90 years old.

It’s a heart wrenching and inspiring book. You’ve just got to read it.

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