Mary Jemison

Adams County teenager abducted by Indians in 1758

Remembering her on the 250th Anniversary after her capture.

Sponsored by the Biglerville Historical and Preservation Society

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History of Mary Jemison

The Taking of Mary Jemison is historical artist Robert Griffing's masterful painting depicting that fateful day in April of 1758. Print courtesy of Lord Nelson's Gallery


Main Event

Early American Festival

Saturday, April 5, 2008
10am to 3pm

St. Ignatius Loyola Catholic Church and Buchanan Valley Fire Company Community Hall


Help Us with this Remembrance

We need financial assistance to reach local people about Mary's story. If you’re interested in becoming involved or learning more about Mary Jemison, contact Deb McCauslin at (717) 528-8553 or by email at dmccauslin@ 

Checks may be mailed to:

Mary Jemison Committee, c/o Bigerlerville Historical and Preservation Society, P.O. Box 656, Biglerville, PA 17307



Her name is synonymous with Adams County history and is one of the best known Indian captive stories of the French and Indian War period. On April 5, 1758, 15 year old Mary Jemison and her family along with the visiting neighbors were taken from their frontier home in Buchanan Valley (10 miles west of Gettysburg) by a raiding party of Shawnee Indians and their French allies.


Mary's two older brothers escaped the raid by being at the barn and only Mary and one of the neighbor boys were spared by the Indians - the rest suffered cruel deaths during the trip to the forks on the Ohio (present day Pittsburgh).

The following appeared in the Pennsylvania Gazette on April 13, 1758.  "Three Indians were seen this day by two boys near Thomas Jameson's, at the head of Marsh Creek; upon which gave alarm, when 6 men went to said Jameson's house and found there one Robert Buck killed and scalped; also a horse killed, that belonged to William Man, a soldier at Carlisle. Thomas Jameson, his wife and 5 or 6 children are all missing. This has thrown the country into great Confusion."

Mary was adopted by two Seneca sisters as a replacement for their brother who had been killed in the French and Indian War. Mary remained by choice with the Seneca in the Genesee Valley of New York State, at what is now known as Letchworth State Park, until her death in 1833 at age 91. As an Indian woman, she became a leading member of the tribe. She was married to first a Lenape (Delaware) chief followed by a Seneca chief and acquired substantial property.

Monuments in her honor stand in both Letchworth State Park and in Buchanan Valley, the site of her capture.

Left: Monument of Mary in Letchworth State Park

Right: Monument of Mary in Buchanan Valley






Photograph of Mary taken at the age of 90.




 during the French and Indian War when the land we know today as Adams County was the frontier.
 she spent about 16 years of her youth as part of the Marsh Creek Settlement and in the Buchanan Valley.
Whereas Mary worshipped and gained an education while living in the land known today as Adams County.
Whereas Mary's family was caught in the firestorm during 1758 when the French and Indian War was raging and her family home was plundered, her parents and several siblings murdered.
Whereas Mary was spared and adopted by two Seneca women who cared for her as they would their own sister.
Whereas Mary lived the remainder of her life in the Native American culture, marrying twice and giving birth to several children.
Whereas Mary became a prominent landowner in New York state and lived a long life refusing several offers to return to the White World.
Mary Jameson, an Adams County daughter who later became known as Mary Jemison by conducting public programs throughout the county and to suggest visits to the place where she is memorialized at St. Ignatius Loyola Catholic Church in the scenic and pristine Buchanan Valley. 

 Adams County with her family when they were deeply affected during the French and Indian War. A pre-dawn raid in April of 1758, resulted in them being kidnapped by Frenchman and Shawnee Indians. Mary's parents and siblings were killed but she was spared and lived the rest of her life in the Native American Culture. At the St. Ignatius Loyola Catholic Church in Adams County's Buchanan Valley, there is a monument erected in her honor and there is a historical marker on Route 30 near the intersection of routes 234.  Mary lived here from birth to age 16, was schooled in Adams County, worshipped in Adams County and was one of our citizens.  

Coming up in April of 2008, it will be exactly 250 years since her removal.  I would like you to consider a county-wide commemoration of the event. With your support and encouragement, I'd like to propose that a proclamation be done and provide some type of public events to educate our residents and visitors on her amazing life story.  

Mary's name later became "Jemison." It was spelled "Jameson" when she and her parents lived here.

Thomas and Jane Jameson and their children were taken on April 5, 1758 but their teenage daughter Mary was spared and taken ahead of the others. She later learned that her family had been killed when she saw the bloody scalps of her family while the Native American placed them on hoops and dried them over a fire.  "My mother's hair was red and I could easily distinguish that of my father and siblings," said Mary in James Seaver's Narrative of the Life of Mary Jemison.