Mary Ingles, Early American Heroine Part 4

by Jadon Gibson

Silent prayers helped the pregnant Mary Ingles overcome the perilous days before she won the respect of the Indian chief after her kidnapping on July 8, 1775. He allowed her to ride a horse rather than walk after she demonstrated her value in the Indian camp. Her four-year old, Thomas, sat closely behind her while her two-year old, George was in front.

The Indians killed her mother and Col. James Patton before burning the Ingles cabin. The Indians also kidnapped Eliza Draper, Mary’s sister-in-law and forced her to walk. She was shot in the arm during the Indian attack and her baby was slain, yet she assisted Mary by carrying George on her back for many miles before the Indians allowed Mary and her two sons to ride.

Mary was relieved as they moved northward over difficult terrain toward the Indian settlement in Ohio. The Indians didn’t pause that day, continuing to move along the ridge tops. Often their path would lead to the valley where small rivers or creeks were waded. This did not slow their journey although Eliza developed “scald feet,” a condition where her feet blistered from the wetness and lengthy walk.

When nightfall came the Indians stopped to camp. Mary carefully assisted her sons to the ground with some help from Eliza. Then she gingerly climbed down but then proceeded to the ground as she found she could not stand. Her body had serious cramps following the lengthy ride. Eliza wasn’t of much assistance as her arm wound had grown worse.

Mary felt much better the following morning when the Indians arose before sunup and resumed their journey. Soon they came to a river where the Indians found a deserted cabin. They looted the dwelling and took pelts that were hanging nearby.

A canoe was found near the cabin and was used to take the various items of loot to the opposite shore. There were several additional trips across the river taking the braves. Lastly, the captives were taken across. An Indian rode his mount into the river while several braves drove the other horses behind him. The horses followed the lead, swimming to the far bank with the remaining braves treading behind.

Once Mary reached the opposite shore she could tell they were stopping to rest so she immediately began the preparation of a meal from the items the Indians took on their raids. She attempted to brush aside her deeply felt fears as she pitched in, knowing that it would allow her and her children to survive. She moved about the camp with a confident aire and the Indians seemed to appreciate her efforts.

When the journey resumed, Mary climbed atop the horse and positioned her sons in front and behind. Although helping the Indians had made the travel more bearable, she had an equally large obstacle at hand. As they traveled, the cramping and pain in her body and the kicking of her unborn infant caused Mary increasing concern.

“How can I give birth like this?” she wondered. “Will the Indians allow me time to give birth? Can my baby survive? Can I survive?

There was much weight on Mary’s shoulders. The horse made a difficult step downward as the party descended the hill and it caused Thomas to nearly fall from the horse. When he was finally righted, Mary was surprised, under the circumstances, that she and the boy let out a small chuckle. The chief was riding nearby and looked askance toward them and Mary detected a slight smile on his face.

She felt better. Mary knew she had to make every effort to survive and she felt that the Indian chief would allow her the opportunity to have her baby.

Her baby was born that night as Eliza assisted her. Mary finally had what she had dreamed of since the birth of her first son. She had a daughter and she had a full head of jet black hair.

Mary knew she had to rise and climb atop her mount before dawn the following morning. Her life and the life of her three children depended on it. The Indians would not allow their travel to be interrupted.

With her new babe in arms Mary wondered whether she could climb the horse the following morning and, if so whether she could keep up with her captors.

“I’ve got to,” she told herself. “Because of Thomas and George and this sweet little baby within me, I’ve got to.”

Copyright 2024 Jadon Gibson

Editor’s note: Read more about this true early American heroine in Jadon’s From the Mountains next week. Gibson is a 1960 graduate of Alice Loyd College and 1962 from the University of Kentucky. He is freelance writer now residing in Harrogate, Tn. Don’ miss a single issue. Thanks to Lincoln Memorial University, the Museum of Appalachia, Elmer Kincaid Coal, Brooks Tire, Arnett and Steel Funeral Home, Long’s Pic Pac, Harrogate Hospital for Animals and Gen Paul Phillips for their assistance.

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