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Thu Feb 18, 2021, 01:19 AM

She Walked 500 Miles Through Wilderness In Fall & Winter To Return Home: Mary Draper Ingles

In the year 1755, New River Gorge was the site of one of the great stories of survival and endurance in American history. In that year the New River area was the far western frontier of English colonial settlement, and England and France were at war for control of North America. Mary Draper, the daughter of Scotch-Irish immigrants from Donegal, Ireland was born in Philadelphia in 1731. Following a common migration route, her family eventually settled on the far western frontier of the colony of Virginia, on the present-day site of Virginia Tech University in Blacksburg, Virginia.



- Statue of Mary Draper Ingles (1731-1815) in the Virginia Women's Monument.

Here, Mary's family, along with several other families, established a small farming settlement called Drapers Meadows. She married her neighbor, William Ingles, and together they built a homestead and began raising a family. The French and Indian War, like all wars, brought its worst horrors to the civilian peoples caught in its path. In July Drapers Meadows was attacked by warriors of the Shawnee nation, who were allied with France. Three men, one woman, and an infant child were killed; one man, two women, and two young boys were taken captive. Among these captives were Mary Draper Ingles and her two sons, Tommy, four and George, two.

The captives began an intense forced march to the Shawnee's home villages near present-day Chillicothe, Ohio. To slow down or complain would have meant death for Mary and her children. On arrival at the Shawnee towns her two boys were taken from her for adoption into the tribe, and Mary was given into servitude to a French trader. By October, Mary and another captive, known from history only as the "old Dutch woman" (the term "Dutch" at that time referred to German immigrants), had planned an escape.

The two women made their escape into a vast, rugged wilderness in the face of an oncoming winter, with no supplies, maps, or equipment. Their determination to endure and the plan to follow the Ohio, Kanawha, and New rivers eastward to English settlements was their only hope of survival. After 500 miles and 40 days of struggling along the riverbanks and the deep rocky gorge of the New River, scavenging for food and shelter, and living off the land as best she could, Mary arrived home to the snow-covered remains of Drapers Meadows...

More, https://www.nps.gov/neri/learn/historyculture/mary-draper-ingles.htm
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(Wiki).. Ingles escaped with another woman after two and a half months and trekked 500 to 600 miles, crossing numerous rivers, creeks, and the Appalachian Mountains to return home. The women went north, following the Ohio River as it curves to the east (see map). Expecting pursuit, they tried to hurry at first. As it turned out, the Shawnee made only a brief search, assuming the two women had been carried off by wild animals. The Shawnee told this account to Mary's son Thomas Ingles, when he met some of them many years later after the Battle of Point Pleasant in 1774.

.. After 4 or 5 days the women reached the junction of the Ohio and Scioto rivers, where they could see Lower Shawneetown in the distance, on the opposite riverbank. There they found an abandoned cabin, which contained a supply of corn, and an old horse in the back yard. They took the horse to carry the corn, but he was lost in the river when they tried to take him across what was probably Dutchman's Ripple. They followed the Ohio, Kanawha, and New rivers, crossing the Licking, Big Sandy, and Little Sandy rivers, Twelvepole Creek, the Guyandotte and Coal rivers, Paint Creek, and the Bluestone River.



- New River Valley from Hawk's Nest State Park, WV.

During their journey, they crossed at least 145 creeks and rivers—remarkable as neither woman could swim. On at least one occasion they "tied logs together with a grape-vine [and] made a raft" to cross a major river. They may have traveled as much as 500 to 600 miles, averaging between 11 and 21 miles a day. Once the corn ran out, they subsisted on black walnuts, wild grapes, pawpaws, sassafras leaves, blackberries, roots and frogs but, as the weather grew cold, they were forced to eat dead animals they found along the way. On several occasions they saw Indians hunting and each time managed to avoid being seen. On one occasion they were able to obtain deer meat from a kill abandoned by an Indian hunter.

By now the temperature had dropped, it was starting to snow, and the two women were weak from starvation. At some point, the old Dutch woman became "very disheartened and discouraged", and tried to kill Mary. (Letitia Preston Floyd's account reports the two women drew lots to decide "which of them was to be eaten by the other.') Mary managed to "keep her in a good humor" by promising "a sum of money" to be paid to her by Mary's father-in-law upon their safe return to Draper's Meadow. Soon after they reached the mouth of the New River, the old Dutch woman made a second attempt on Mary's life, probably about 26 November, but Mary "got loose...and outran her." (The New-York Mercury article states that "the Dutch woman attempted to kill her...in order, as it was supposed, to Eat her; but [Mary] after a fierce struggle, released herself...and fled away.') She hid in the forest and waited until dark, then continued along the riverbank. Finding a canoe, Mary crossed the New River at its junction with the East River near what is now Glen Lyn, Virginia...

More, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Draper_Ingles

- New River Gorge National Park & Preserve, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_River_Gorge_National_Park_and_Preserve

- Map of Mary's Long Journey Home





- Log cabin next to the New River, near present-day Radford, Virginia, where Mary Draper Ingles and her husband William lived out their lives. Photo c. 1890.

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Reply She Walked 500 Miles Through Wilderness In Fall & Winter To Return Home: Mary Draper Ingles (Original post)
appalachiablue Feb 18 OP
Staph Feb 18 #1
Lars39 Feb 18 #7
SharonAnn Feb 20 #13
appalachiablue Feb 18 #2
patricia92243 Feb 18 #3
stopdiggin Feb 18 #4
appalachiablue Feb 18 #5
grantcart Feb 18 #6
shrike3 Feb 18 #8
appalachiablue Feb 18 #9
shrike3 Feb 20 #14
TuxedoKat Feb 19 #11
OregonBlue Feb 18 #10
TuxedoKat Feb 19 #12
OregonBlue Feb 20 #18
appalachiablue Feb 20 #19
lucca18 Feb 20 #15
appalachiablue Feb 20 #17
appalachiablue Feb 20 #16
Pobeka Feb 20 #20

Response to appalachiablue (Original post)

Thu Feb 18, 2021, 02:23 AM

1. There's a novelized version of the story, well written...

Follow The River by James Alexander Thom.


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Response to Staph (Reply #1)

Thu Feb 18, 2021, 09:07 AM

7. I read that a long time ago...

it’s one of those books that stays with you.

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Response to Staph (Reply #1)

Sat Feb 20, 2021, 01:38 AM

13. It's an amazing book. I've never forgotten it.

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Response to appalachiablue (Original post)

Thu Feb 18, 2021, 02:46 AM

2. Brief film about Mary Draper Ingles' capture & return:

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Response to appalachiablue (Original post)

Thu Feb 18, 2021, 03:15 AM

3. Bookmarked!

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Response to appalachiablue (Original post)

Thu Feb 18, 2021, 03:38 AM

4. Wow. What a story! Thanks for posting.

I was completely unfamiliar ..

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Response to stopdiggin (Reply #4)

Thu Feb 18, 2021, 03:53 AM

5. Great story & one courageous, strong frontier woman!

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Response to appalachiablue (Original post)

Thu Feb 18, 2021, 03:54 AM

6. Kick

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Response to appalachiablue (Original post)

Thu Feb 18, 2021, 11:17 AM

8. Great story. "Follow the River" is the novelized version of her journey.

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Response to shrike3 (Reply #8)

Thu Feb 18, 2021, 11:20 AM

9. TY, I want to read the book. The story would

make a great movie, I'm surprised it hasn't been done.

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Response to appalachiablue (Reply #9)

Sat Feb 20, 2021, 01:50 PM

14. I've scratched my head over that for years. What a great role for the right actress.


I highly recommend the book; you won't be disappointed. There's a real sense of being out there with the two women, their desperation. And I'm told Mary even became a folk heroine to the Shawnee. They being mightily impressed by her courage, along with everyone else.

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Response to shrike3 (Reply #8)

Fri Feb 19, 2021, 05:42 PM

11. You beat me to it

Was going to post this. I read “Follow the River” last fall. Great read.

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Response to appalachiablue (Original post)

Thu Feb 18, 2021, 02:16 PM

10. Thank you. I will get the book right away. Sounds fascinating.

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Response to OregonBlue (Reply #10)

Fri Feb 19, 2021, 05:44 PM

12. If you

Have a library card it should be available as an ebook, which is how I read it. Great read.

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Response to TuxedoKat (Reply #12)

Sat Feb 20, 2021, 06:16 PM

18. I moved from Oregon back to Montana and our library has been closed since I got back plus I haven't

gone out in public much. I did buy a Kobo ereader just so it would be easier to download from library. Have yet to try it but I am excited. My old library card was for our little library that was not on the national system. Excited to access all those books.

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Response to OregonBlue (Reply #18)

Sat Feb 20, 2021, 07:48 PM

19. Fascinating story, I'll get the book, write up in #16.

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Response to appalachiablue (Original post)

Sat Feb 20, 2021, 02:01 PM

15. Wow! Amazing! Thank you for posting this.

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Response to lucca18 (Reply #15)

Sat Feb 20, 2021, 05:28 PM

17. A remarkable woman, we're wimps! The Book, see #16

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Response to appalachiablue (Original post)

Sat Feb 20, 2021, 05:27 PM

16. 'Follow The River,' by James Alexander Thom:

This national bestseller tells the true story of Mary Ingles, kidnapped during a bloody massacre in western Virginia in 1755. Follow the River is the courageous tale of her struggle for survival. Mary Ingles was twenty-three, married, and pregnant, when Shawnee Indians invaded her peaceful Virginia settlement, killed the men and women, then took her captive. For months, she lived with them, unbroken, until she escaped, and followed a thousand mile trail to freedom--an extraordinary story of a pioneer woman who risked her life to return to her people.

About the author: James Alexander Thom was formerly a U.S. Marine, a newspaper and magazine editor, and a member of the faculty at the Indiana University Journalism School. He is the author of Follow the River, Long Knife, From Sea to Shining Sea, Panther in the Sky (for which he won the prestigious Western Writers of America Spur Award for best historical novel), The Children of First Man, and The Red Heart. He lives in the Indiana hill country near Bloomington with his wife, Dark Rain of the Shawnee Nation, United Remnant Band. Dark Rain is a director of the National Lewis and Clark Bicentennial Planning Council.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/138872.Follow_the_River

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Response to appalachiablue (Reply #16)

Sat Feb 20, 2021, 08:49 PM

20. I've read a few of Thom's history-fiction novels, and liked them a lot. n/t

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