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Mary Inglis (1729 - 1813)
migration: Virginia - West Virginia - Kentucky
MARY INGLIS, frontier woman / Shawnee Indian captive

Mary INGLIS, the first white woman in Kentucky, born in 1729; died in 1813. In 1756 one of the extreme frontier settlements of Virginia, on Alleghany ridge (now Montgomery county, West Virginia), was attacked by a party of Shawnee Indians, who massacred some of the inhabitants and made others captives. Among the latter were Mrs. Inglis, with her two sons and her sister-in-law, Mrs. Draper.

They were carried down the Kanawha to the Indian towns at the mouth of Scioto river, where her children were separated from her. Mrs. Inglis won great favor among the savages by her skill in making shirts out of the checked fabrics that they had purchased of French traders. The separation from her sons and the cruelty of the savages finally decided her to attempt her escape, and she persuaded another prisoner, an old Dutch woman, to join her. Obtaining leave to gather grapes, they disappeared in the woods and underbrush and set out on their journey, following the Ohio valley 140 miles back to a point opposite the Scioto towns.

They were fortunate enough to find an old horse grazing on the Kentucky side, and to secure some corn and meat for their further journey. Pressing on to the Virginia, line, they found Big Sandy river impassable. Turning their course up the stream, they came to a raft el trees and logs which stretched across the river. Over this they passed, but, unfortunately, lost their horse. After they had wandered on toward the Kanawha, their store of provisions was exhausted and they were forced to live upon grapes, walnuts, papaws, and roots.

In this extreme of suffering the Dutch woman became frantic with hunger and exposure, and finally, after repeated threats, made a deadly assault upon Mrs. Inglis. Escaping her fury, the latter wandered by moonlight along the banks of the Kanawha, and found an old Indian canoe, in which she crossed to the opposite shore. At daylight her companion discovered her situation and begged piteously to be carried over also" but this Mrs. Inglis dared not risk. She started alone up the Kanawha, and soon found a clearing and a settler's cabin, whence a party was sent back and returned in safety with the Dutch woman.

The captives had been over forty days in their flight through the wilderness, during which they traversed a distance of more than 400 miles. One of the little boys died in captivity, and the other was ransomed after remaining thirteen years among the savages. Mrs. Inglis's daughters married men who became distinguished in the history of Virginia and Kentucky.

Edited Appletons Encyclopedia
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