Mary Draper Ingles Chimney Plaque

Captivity and Escape of Mary Inglis (Ingles) – Indian Captivities

One of the most remarkable incidents in the early wars was the capture of the Draper family. George Draper, with his son, John, and wife, and his daughter, Mary, and her husband, Mr. Inglis, removed about 1750 from Pennsylvania to Southwestern Virginia, and settled where Smithfield, long the seat of the Prestons, now stands, in the present county of Montgomery. Here they resided in peace and quietness for six years, during which time many families were drawn to the settlement, and George Draper died. The Shawanese frequently passed the settlement on their expeditions against the Catawbas, but without molesting the inhabitants, till the year 1756. In the summer of this year, they made a descent upon the inhabitants while the men were all in the harvest-field. The Indians surrounded the dwellings in which were the women and children and arms of the families, murdered the widow of George Draper, and also Col. James Patton, of Augusta, who was on an exploring expedition, and sojourning a few days in the settlement. They took captive Mrs. John Draper, Mrs. Inglis, and her two sons, Thomas and George. The men, believing resistance ineffectual, concealed themselves until the departure of the Indians, who moved off towards New River. Reaching the river, they proceeded down the stream, on their way to their towns in Ohio. They were partial to Mrs. Inglis, whom they allowed to ride on horseback, carrying her two children. Mrs. Draper, who was wounded, and had her arm broken in the attack on the settlement, was less kindly cared for. Mrs. Inglis was permitted to search in the woods for herbs and roots to poultice the wounds of Mrs. Draper, the Indians trusting to her love for her children for her speedy return. She thus had opportunities of escaping, but would never avail herself of them, and leave her children behind. On reaching the Kanawha salines, the Indians halted several days to make salt. About thirty days after leaving Montgomery, the party reached the Shawanese town at the mouth of the Big Scioto. Here the kindness of the Indians for Mrs. Inglis continued. She was not required to run the gauntlet, as was Mrs. Draper, though her wound was unhealed. When the captives were divided, Mrs. Inglis was separated from her sons. About this time, some French traders from Detroit came to the village, and Mrs. Inglis exercised her skill in making shirts of gaudy-colored calico for the Indians, which greatly delighted them, and increased their admiration for her.

Mrs. Mary Draper Ingles Monument
Mrs. Mary Draper Ingles Monument

After some time, probably six weeks, Mrs. Inglis was separated from Mrs. Draper, and taken, with an elderly Dutch woman, one hundred miles south of the Ohio to Big Bone Lick, to make salt. The cruelty of the Indians, in thus separating her from her children, determined her to escape. She prevailed upon the Dutch woman to accompany her. Obtaining permission from the Indians to go into the woods to gather grapes, they left the camp in the afternoon, provided with a blanket each, a tomahawk and knife. They hastened to the Ohio, and proceeded up the left bank of the stream for five days to the mouth of the Scioto, opposite the site of an Indian village. Here they captured a horse, and both mounting, continued up the river unperceived. Being on the south side of the river, they were less exposed to observation by the Indians. The barbarians, missing them, made diligent search, but finding no trail, and never dreaming of such a thing as an attempt of the women to return to Virginia, gave up the pursuit, under an impression that they had become lost and been devoured by wild beasts. The fugitives continued up the river, subsisting on maize and wild fruit, and reached the Big Sandy River. In crossing the stream, they lost their horse. Their sufferings were so great before reaching the Kanawha, that the Dutch woman, frantic with hunger and pain, threatened to take Mrs. Inglis’ life for persuading her to the journey. On reaching the Kanawha, their spirits revived, and they continued up the river until within fifty miles of Mrs. Inglis’s home. Here the Dutch woman attempted to kill Mrs. Inglis. Mrs. Inglis escaped from her grasp, and outran her, and hid under the river bank. After a while, she left her concealment, and finding a canoe, crossed the stream. The following morning the old woman saw her, and begged her to recross and join company, promising future good behavior. Mrs. Inglis declined the invitation, and proceeded on her journey. Her clothes were worn and torn into fragments and her limbs swollen from the increasing cold (a slight fall of snow having taken place) and her exposure in wading streams, &c. After traveling forty-and-a-half days, she reached the cabin of Adam Harmon, on New River, and was treated in the kindest manner. After a few days rest, Mr. Harmon took her on horseback to the fort in Dunkard’s bottom, where, the next day, her husband and her brother, John Draper, came unexpectedly. The surprise of the meeting was mutual and happy. Thus ended the captivity and escape, embracing five months. While at Harmon’s, Mrs. Inglis entreated him to go or send for the old Dutch woman. He positively refused, on account of her bad conduct, but in a short time the wanderer found her way into the settlement.

In the Spring, Mr. Inglis, his wife being unwilling to live longer on the frontier, removed to Vause’s Fort, on the Roanoke, and thence to Botetourt County. This was providential, for in the following Autumn a French and Indian force took the fort and murdered or made prisoners of all the inmates. Among the killed and captured were John and Mathew Inglis and their families. John Inglis was killed, and Mathew taken prisoner.

Mary Draper Ingles Chimney Plaque
Mary Draper Ingles Chimney Plaque

Mary and William Inglis had six children — Thomas and George, born before the captivity, Susan, Rhoda, Polly and John afterwards. George died in captivity. The other five married and left large families. Thomas escaped from the Indians after thirteen years’ residence among them. He was, in 1774, at the battle of Point Pleasant, and after the victory and Lewis’ advance into Ohio, met many of his old Indian comrades. On his return he married Miss Ellen Grills, and settled on Wolf Creek, a water of New River. Here he lived a short time, and then removed to Burke’s Garden, where he was unmolested till 1782. In this year, the Indians attacked his house and burnt it, and took his family prisoners. They were soon pursued by the whites, who on the seventh day overtook the Indians. As soon as the Indians saw Mr. Inglis and the Whites they commenced, as was their custom, tomahawking their prisoners. Mr. Inglis rushed forward to rescue his wife and children, but was too late. All were tomahawked and all died but his wife. In the affair, Capt. Maxwell was killed. William Inglis removed to Tennessee, and thence to Mississippi. Susan, the elders daughter of William and Mary Inglis, married General Trigg; another daughter, Mr. Charles Taylor; and a third, Judge Allan Taylor, whose daughter, Sallie A. E. Taylor, married, in 1826, the late Col. William Madison Peyton, of Roanoke. Polly Inglis married a brother of John’s wife. The youngest son left eight children. Mrs. Inglis died in 1813, aged eighty-four. Her descendants are numerous, highly respectable, and contemplate with wonder and admiration her energy, boldness and endurance.

For Further Information:

[box]Foote, Rev. William Henry, DD. Sketches of Virginia, Historical and Biographical: Second Series. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania : J.B. Lippincott. 1856.[/box]

Collection: Indian Captivity Narratives. A collection of first hand Indian captivity narratives from a variety of sources. For a list of sources, please see title page.

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