Olive Oatman

Indian Captive in Present-Day California

Olive Oatman was a fourteen-year-old girl whose family was killed in 1851 in present-day Arizona by Native Americans, possibly the Yavapai, who captured and enslaved Olive and her sister. A year later Mojave Indians adopted the two girls. After four years with the Mojave, during which time her sister died of starvation, Oatman returned to white society. Her story has been told, retold and embellished so many times – in the media and in her own memoir and speeches – that the truth is not easy to discern.

Image: Olive Oatman after she was ransomed
Mojave blue cactus ink tattoo on her chin:
Five vertical lines with triangles set at right angles
Credit: Arizona Historical Society

Early Years
Born into the family of Royce and Mary Ann Oatman in Illinois in 1837, Olive was one of seven children who grew up in the Mormon religion. In 1850, the Oatman family decided to join a wagon train led by James Brewster, whose followers were called Brewsterites. Brewster had disagreed with the Mormon leadership in Salt Lake City, Utah, which caused him to break with the followers of Brigham Young.

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Frances Slocum

Abducted by Indians in Pennsylvania

Frances Slocum, or Maconaquah, (1773-1847) was an Indian captive who was taken from her family home in Pennsylvania in 1778 by the Delaware Tribe. She was raised by an elderly Miami Indian couple in what is now Ohio and Indiana. Slocum was reunited with her white relatives in 1838, but remained with her adopted Native American family for the rest of her life.

Image: The austere woman portrayed in this painting by artist John Froehlich is much less Frances Slocum and far more Maconaquah.

Childhood and Early Years
Frances Slocum was one of ten children born to Jonathan and Ruth Tripp Slocum, a Quaker family who emigrated from Rhode Island to the Wyoming Valley of Pennsylvania in 1777. During the Revolutionary War, the Slocums remained in the settlement while many others fled before the Battle of Wyoming in July 1778. During that battle British forces and Seneca warriors destroyed a nearby fort and killed over 300 American settlers.

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Rachel Silverthorn

Heroine of Fort Muncy

During the Revolutionary War, settlements throughout the Susquehanna Valley in north central Pennsylvania were attacked by Loyalists (Americans loyal to England) and Native Americans allied with the British. In the early summer of 1778, news came of a group of Native American warriors, perhaps accompanied by Loyalist and British soldiers, heading for the West Branch of the Susquehanna River to destroy settlements there.

Image: Rachel Silverthorn’s Ride
This mural is in United States Post Office Building in Muncy, Pennsylvania.
It depicts Rachel on Captain Brady’s white horse warning settlers to return to the fort.

There were many smaller incidents of violence against settlers in the area, but on June 10,1778, a party of sixteen settlers were attacked in what became known as the Plum Tree Massacre. Twelve of the sixteen were killed and scalped, including two women and six children. This news caused the local authorities to order the evacuation of the whole West Branch Valley.

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Elizabeth Archer Renick

Indian Captive

Image: Indians Returning English Captives to Colonel Bouquet
November 1764

Elizabeth Archer, daughter of Rebecca Thompson and Sampson Archer, had come from northern Ireland in 1737 with her family, who took claim to 1000 acres near Natural Bridge, VA. In 1741, Elizabeth married Robert Renick, who had settled in Augusta County, VA, in 1740. They lived in what was then the Virginia frontier.

Virginia records show that on June 10, 1740, Robert Renick received a patent to 400 acres of land on the Buffalo Lick Branch in Augusta County, VA, and on November 10, 1757, obtained a patent to 90 acres on Purgatory Creek, a branch of the James River.

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Mary Jemison

Indian Captivity Narrative

The Taking of Mary Jemison
By historical artist Robert Griffing

Mary Jemison was born in 1743 aboard the ship William and Mary in the fall of 1743 while en route from Northern Ireland to America. Upon their arrival in America, the couple and their new child joined other Scots-Irish immigrants and headed west from Philadelphia to what was then the western frontier (now central Pennsylvania).

The Jemisons squatted on territory that was under the authority of the Iroquois Confederacy, and Mary grew up on that farm, 10 miles west of present-day Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Although life was hard on the western edge of the colony of Pennsylvania, Mary fondly recalled these “childish, happy days” full of hard work and the love of a family that then numbered six children.

During the time the Jemisons were establishing their home, the French and Indian War was raging throughout the American Colonies and Canada. It was a bitter struggle between two European powers, and colonists and native people of both sides suffered. Those on the frontier suffered the most.

On April 5, 1758, 15-year-old Mary and her family along with visiting neighbors were taken from their frontier home by a raiding party of Shawnee Indians and their French allies. Mary’s two older brothers were at the barn and escaped the raid, but Mary, her parents, and the rest of the family were taken captive.

map of Pennsylvania
The raiding party headed west toward Fort Duquesne (Pittsburgh). The decision was made to lighten their load since they had too many captives to outrun the pursing militia. At nightfall, they separated a tearful Mary from her family, along with a neighbor boy who had also been captured, and led them away. The rest of the Jemison family were killed and scalped.

At Fort Duquesne, Mary was purchased by a party of Seneca Native Americans, who loaded her in a canoe and headed down the Ohio River. When she arrived at the village, Mary was adopted by two Seneca sisters as a replacement for their brother who had been killed in the French and Indian War. She was named Dehgewanus, or Two Falling Voices.

It is a custom of the Indians, when one of their number is slain or taken prisoner in battle, to give to the nearest relative to the dead or absent, a prisoner, if they have chanced to take one, and if not, to give him the scalp of an enemy. On the return of the Indians from conquest, which is always announced by peculiar shouting, demonstrations of joy, and the exhibition of some trophy of victory, the mourners come forward and make their claims.

If they receive a prisoner, it is at their option either to satiate their vengeance, by taking his life in the most cruel manner they can conceive of; or, to receive and adopt him into the family, in the place of him whom they have lost.

It was my happy lot to be accepted for adoption; and at the time of the ceremony I was received by the two squaws, to supply the place of their brother in the family; and I was ever considered and treated by them as a real sister, the same as though I had been born of their mother.

During my adoption, I sat motionless, nearly terrified to death at the appearance and actions of the company, expecting every moment to feel their vengeance, and suffer death on the spot. I was, however happily disappointed, when at the close of the ceremony the company retired, and my sisters went about employing every means for my consolation and comfort.

~The Life and Times of Mrs. Mary Jemison

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Marguerite Kanenstenhawi / Eunice Williams

Captured at the Deerfield Massacre

Image: Depiction of Eunice Being Led Away from Deerfield
Eunice’s captor hurried her toward the north gate
Illustration copyright Francis Back

Eunice Williams was born in Deerfield, Massachusetts, on September 17, 1696, the daughter of Puritan minister the Reverend John Williams and his wife Eunice Mather Williams. The girl who would grow up to become the most famous “unredeemed captive” had a conventional New England Puritan upbringing until the age of seven. Her family’s wealth and prominence made her early life a bit more privileged than that of other young Deerfield girls, and her fate as an adopted Kanienkehaka (Mohawk) better known.

On February 29, 1704, in the pre-dawn hours, a force of about 300 French and Native allies launched a daring raid on the English settlement of Deerfield, Massachusetts, that became known as the Deerfield Massacre.

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Mary Ingles

Virginia Woman Kidnapped by Shawnee Warriors

Image: Map Showing the Journey of Mary Draper Ingles

The red line shows her movement west as a captive of the Shawnee Indians, and the blue line her return east. The entire trip took place in the summer and autumn of 1755.

Into the Wilderness
Born in 1732, Mary Draper was the daughter of George Draper and Eleanor Hardin, Irish immigrants to Philadelphia. In the 1740s, the Drapers were among the first white settlers to scale the Allegheny Mountains, which were the western edge of colonial exploration and settlement at that time.

They, along with Colonel John Patton, Thomas Ingles and his sons William, Matthew and John settled a natural glade that was well watered by natural springs and streams. The area required much less effort to establish a farm than heavily forested land. The land they chose became known as Draper’s Meadows.

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Hannah Dustin

Indian Captive

Image: Painting by Junius Brutus Stearns, 1847
Earliest known painting of the Hannah Dustin Story

Hannah Dustin/Duston was a forty-year-old colonial New England woman who was captured during an Indian raid, and escaped from her captors by killing them in the night and fleeing in their canoe. She is believed to be the first woman honored in the United States with a statue.

Born Hannah Emerson on December 23, 1657, Hannah Dustin, her husband Thomas, and their nine children were living in Haverhill, Massachusetts, when the town was attacked by Abenaki Indians on March 15, 1697. Thomas fled with eight of the children, but Hannah, her six-day-old baby Martha, and her nurse Mary Neff were captured.

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Mary Rowlandson

The Year: 1676

Born around 1637 in Somerset, England, Mary White was the sixth of ten children. Her family immigrated to New England when she was very young, settling first in Salem and later in the frontier town of Lancaster in the Massachusetts Colony. In 1656, Mary married Joseph Rowlandson, the Harvard-educated Puritan minister of Lancaster, and for the next twenty years she occupied the role of a Puritan wife, tending to her home and raising children.

Captured by the Narrangansett
While her husband was away in Boston trying to convince the Colony’s leaders to provide military protection for the town, Mary Rowlandson’s life was radically disrupted on February 10, 1676, when a contingent of Narraganset Indians attacked and burned Lancaster.

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