Mary Draper Ingles
Mary Draper Ingles (1732 – February 1815) was an American pioneer and early settler of western Virginia. She was abducted by Indians and later escaped, making a harrowing trek over hundreds of miles of rough terrain to return home.
Mary Draper Ingles was born in 1732 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to George and Elenor (Hardin) Draper, who had immigrated to America from Donegal, Ireland in 1729. In 1748, the Draper family and others moved to the western frontier, establishing Draper's Meadow, a pioneer settlement near modern day Blacksburg, Virginia. Mary married fellow settler William Ingles in 1750, and gave birth to two sons, Thomas in 1751 and George in 1753.
In July, 1755, during the French and Indian War, a band of Shawnee warriors (then allies of the French) raided Draper's Meadow, killing four settlers, including one infant, and taking five hostages, including Mary and her two sons, her sister-in-law Bette Draper, and a male neighbor. The Indians and their captives traveled for a month to a Shawnee village on the banks of the Scioto and Ohio Rivers. Here Mary was separated from her sons, after which she was brought to Big Bone Lick, Kentucky. Some sources suggest that Mary gave birth to a daughter while in captivity (Hale 1886). As a prisoner, Mary sewed shirts and was enslaved to make salt for the Indians. In October, Mary and another captive woman (referred to as the "old Dutch woman" in many sources) escaped from their captors, making their way on foot through the wilderness to return home. Their route followed the Ohio, Kanawha, and New rivers and they traveled as much as five to six hundred miles, and arrived home after more than 40 days.
After recovering from her journey and reuniting with her husband, Mary went on to have four more children: Mary, Susan, Rhoda (b.1762), and John (b.1766). George died in Indian captivity, but Thomas was ransomed and returned to Virginia in 1768; he underwent several years of rehabilitation and education under Dr. Thomas Walker at Castle Hill, Virginia. William and Mary established Ingles Ferry across the New River in 1762, and she died there in 1815 at the age of 83.
In popular culture
The story of Ingles' ordeal has inspired a number of books, films, an outdoor historical drama, and living history programs, including the popular 1981 novel Follow the River by James Alexander Thom, a 1995 ABC television movie of the same name, and the 2004 film The Captives.
There is a monument dedicated to Mary Draper Ingles located in West End Cemetery, Radford Virginia. It was built using stones from the chimney of a home where Mary lived after her return in 1755.
Mary Ingles Elementary School in Tad, WV is named for her.
An 8-foot-tall (2.4 m) bronze statue depicting Mary Draper Ingles stands outside the Boone County Public Library on route 18 in Burlington, Kentucky. Commemorating her escape from captivity at Big Bone Lick, the statue stands upon a granite base mounted with a bronze plaque outlining her story.
Kentucky Route 8 in Campbell, Bracken, and Mason counties is officially named "Mary Ingles Highway."
- Hale, John Peter, Trans-Allegheny Pioneers: Historical Sketches of the First White Settlements West of the Alleghenies, 1886.
- Ingles, John, The Story of Mary Draper Ingles and Son Thomas Ingles, circa 1824. [This manuscript by Mary's son, who had the story orally from his mother, is at the University of Virginia library. It is very difficult to read, with little punctuation, and poor spelling. It has been reproduced in an edition by Roberta Ingles Steele which retains the eccentricities of the author; copies are available at the Radford Public Library. This is probably the most significant primary document.
- Mary Draper Ingles' Return To Virginia's New River Valley
- "Mary Draper Ingles" at the Boone County Public Library. Includes the John Ingles manuscript and other documents.
- Ingles Ferry