Nooherooka Website at ECU

Tuscarora smoking pipeEastern Carolina University hosted the 300th Anniversary Commemoration of the Battle of Fort Nooherooka in the spring of 2013.  In preparation for this even, ECU constructed a website, which I hope they will continue to maintain, adding documents, papers, photos and other information relevant to Tuscarora history.  In fact, this would be the perfect forum for ongoing study, papers, conferences and community events for the northern and southern Tuscarora people.

Let’s take a look at the primary pages they have assembled.

http://blog.ecu.edu/sites/nooherooka/?page_id=38

As with any website, the intro pages and acknowledgements te;; about the goals of the site and who is involved.  That list is pretty impressive.

http://blog.ecu.edu/sites/nooherooka/?page_id=380

http://blog.ecu.edu/sites/nooherooka/?page_id=44

Perhaps of more interest to our readers are the historical pages, as follows:

Artifacts excavated from the Nooherooka site by the ECU Anthropology Department between 1990 and 2001, including the smoking pipe with the eel or snake design, shown above:

http://blog.ecu.edu/sites/nooherooka/?page_id=17

Tuscarora War Documents including the Barnwell Journal:

http://blog.ecu.edu/sites/nooherooka/?page_id=38

Discussion board which holds historical articles and not really discussion:

http://blog.ecu.edu/sites/nooherooka/?page_id=632

Other items of interest include the Construction of the Nooherooka Monument as well as some videos from a visit by the New York Tuscarora in 2012 in preparation for the 300th Anniversary Commemoration Event in the spring of 2013.

http://blog.ecu.edu/sites/nooherooka/?page_id=42

Videos:

http://blog.ecu.edu/sites/nooherooka/?page_id=19

I would love to see them add some photos of the Commemoration event itself.  We’ve includes two articles, one about the Commemoration and the second, a historical family story interwoven with the historical events.

http://nativeheritageproject.com/2013/03/26/fort-neoheroka-300-years-later-tuscarora-commemorative-monument/

http://nativeheritageproject.com/2013/03/31/tuscarora-the-ones-that-stayed-behind/

Another ECU site provides this video of the events:

http://www.ecu.edu/cs-admin/news/N300.cfm

Additional ECU photos:

http://ecuphotos.zenfolio.com/p1046596618

This Facebook site includes photos taken by the attendees:

https://www.facebook.com/events/628042403879898/

Posted in Military, Tuscarora | 1 Comment

Orange Co., NC Free Families of Color 1790-1840

In the article, The Jeffreys and Day Families, Cabinetmakers, we discovered that Thomas Day of Caswell County, NC was connected with the Day and Jeffreys families who lived in Orange County, NC, a group of people who were of mixed Native heritage, apparently Occaneechi, who had moved in the early 1800s from Greensville Co., VA.  Thomas himself was born to John and Mourning (Stewart) Day, a mixed race couple.  The Day family was also closely associated with the Jeffreys family whose Indian heritage is documented through court records.  These families would have been listed on the census as free people of color, not as white.

In the census returns, there are many families that include both slaves and free people of color.  The families listed below are the entries that only have free people of color, implying of course that the name listed is the head of household and that person is a free person of color.

Based on the information about the Jeffreys family and from Forest Hazel, among these families are those of Native ancestry.  This is not to imply that ALL of these families “of color” have Native ancestry.  To connect these families, one would have to perform research on marriages, deeds and land records, wills and probate records.

1790 Tax List

There is no 1790 census for Orange Co., NC, unfortunately, but there is an enumeration with a tax list replacing the census.  On that tax list, there is no Guy family but there are 4 Jeffers; Jacob, Evan, Garner and John.

The 1800 Census

The 1800 census classification for people of color was “all others.”  The Hillsborough District of Orange County shows the following in that category.  This census has been alphabetized on the actual returns by district.  It looks like all of Orange County was enumerated under the Hillsborough District.

  • Mary Woods
  • John Arthur
  • Mason Griffies
  • Black Jacob (sic – alphabetized on the tax list under Jacob)
  • Jacob Jeffries
  • Peter Jones
  • Rapes (difficult to read) Stewart
  • Sandy Burnetts
  • Edward Bowman
  • Joseph Bird
  • Thomas Bunch
  • Henry Bunch
  • Benjamin Farrington
  • John Gowing
  • Holladay Heathcock
  • Edward Husk
  • Paul Morgan
  • Paul Morgan
  • (John Moore) Morgan (sic)
  • Thomas Morgan
  • James Tinning
  • Zadock Weaver
  • Penny Weaver
  • Peggy Revels

The 1810 Census

The 1810 census for Orange County shows the Jeffreys family in the Hillsborough District of Orange County.  The 1810 classification for free people of color was “all others.”  People in the Hillsborough District under this classification were as follows:

  • Eliasabeth Williams
  • John Willson
  • Samuel Noe
  • Vines Guy
  • Rob Brook corn (sic) 6 houses from
  • Miles Scott beside
  • William Mize two houses from
  • Thomas Jeffries
  • Kinchin Chavis
  • Aaron Burnet beside
  • Nath Bell 6 houses from
  • Mathew Melton 1 house from
  • Major Brooks
  • L. Jeffreys
  • e Vrush (name difficult to read, page 51 of 123 at Ancestry, Orange County census records, below)

1810 orange co vrush

  • William Bettyford
  • Paul Morgan
  • M. Hurtgray 13 houses from
  • H. Jones
  • M. Haithcock 2 houses from
  • Isam Goins
  • G. Tatom
  • William Staggs
  • George Hormen or Horner
  • Hezekiah Revill
  • John Horsow?
  • Henry Bunch
  • S. Burnett

1820 Census

The 1820 census for Orange County included the following families who were counted as “free negroes.”

  • Mark Hammons 1 house from
  • Simon White
  • Reuben Day
  • Jacob Johnston
  • George Tatum
  • Henry Bunch
  • Henry Corne
  • Benjamin Day beside
  • Jesse Day 23 houses from
  • Jimmy(?) Corn beside
  • Samuel Craig
  • Thomas Morgan (possibly, difficult to line up with the enumeration)
  • Marmaduke Cole
  • Coy Revell 6 houses from
  • Moses Ratley
  • Cylus Shoecraft 4 houses from
  • James Shoecraft 1 house from
  • Miles Milton 20 houses from Randal Milton (who was enumerated as white but it was struck through) 4 houses from
  • Josiah Robbins (who was enumerated as white but it was struck through) 8 houses from
  • Jesse Fludd beside
  • Judah Griffis
  • Meradeth Chavous 15 houses from
  • Willis Jeffreys one house from
  • John Jeffreys 2 houses from
  • John Jeffreys 8 houses from
  • Drury Jeffreys 7 houses from
  • Littleton Jeffreys 14 houses from
  • Jesse Guy 16 houses from
  • Joshua Jeffreys beside
  • Jinney Jeffreys
  • Cresa Hudson
  • William Guy 2 houses from
  • John Evans 6 houses from
  • Jed Weavans beside
  • Major Brooks beside
  • Thomas Archer beside
  • John Boyd 2 houses from
  • Jonathan Waldin
  • James Bass 10 houses from
  • Susan Robison
  • Samuel Noe
  • Benj Day beside
  • Reuben Jeffreys 12 houses from
  • Aaron Burnett 5 houses from
  • John Artis beside
  • Aaron Wilson
  • James Bird
  • Willice Boon
  • Nathaniel Bayley
  • Major Weavans (Wevans?) 25 houses from
  • Rubin Day
  • Betsey Morgan
  • Joel Mitchell
  • Elias Jeffreys 15 houses from
  • Thomas Jeffreys
  • Fanny Evans
  • Kinchen Chavous 1 house from
  • Simon Jeffreys 3 houses from
  • William Moize beside
  • Hannah Jones 9 houses from
  • Willey Jones 4 houses from
  • Junel (Surrel?) Jones 6 houses from
  • Lewis Jeffreys 2 houses from
  • Chd Whitmore 1 house from
  • John Guy 11 houses from
  • Dixon Corne
  • William Croker?
  • Jesse Archer (started to enumerate as white but struck through)

1830 Census

The 1830 census of the North District or Orange County, NC shows an entire group of families, free people of color, enumerated together, possibly living adjacent.  It’s also possible that the enumerator simply listed all of the “free colored” together at the end of the census.  Please note that the writing is difficult to decipher in some cases.

Orange Co NC 1830 census

Orange Co NC 1830 census 2

  • Joshua Jeffreys
  • Miller Jeffreys
  • Wharton Jeffrys
  • Newel Jeffrys
  • Littleton Jeffrys
  • Abner Burnet
  • Dixon Corn
  • Mark Hammonds
  • Sam Truman
  • William Truman
  • Lucretia Rollen
  • John Artus
  • Anor (or Amos) Fords
  • Nathan Allen
  • Rhoda Rotteth(?) or Rottesh
  • Joel Mitchel
  • Lucy Peters
  • Hetty Tinnin
  • Jerry Day
  • Betsey Morgan
  • Rachel Morgan
  • Jolly Revils
  • Reuben Day

If anyone can help with these family names that are difficult to decipher, I would be very appreciative.

The 1840 Census

The 1840 census for the Northern District of Orange County is not enumerated with these families together, but they are listed as follows.

  • Jane Corn enumerated beside
  • Elias Jeffreys
  • Thomas Pettiford
  • Dickson Corn
  • Hawky Wadkins one house from
  • Drury Jeffreys 6 houses from
  • Dickson Corn beside
  • Joshua Jeffreys 15 houses from
  • Richardson Corn beside
  • John Jeffreys beside
  • Willis Jeffreys 16 houses from
  • Andrew Jeffreys one house from
  • Littleton Jeffreys
  • Nat. Rebel
  • Allen Day 14 houses from
  • William Day 3 houses from
  • Neverson Stewart 13 houses from
  • Reuben Day 20 houses from
  • Thomas Jeffreys
  • Elijah Jones beside
  • Sally Heath beside
  • Betsey Guy beside
  • Abner Burnet 13 houses from
  • James Smith
  • Lucretia Rolins
  • Meredith Chaves
  • Enoch Jones
  • Ransom Jeffreys 11 houses from
  • Renico (or Lenica?) Day
  • Rachel Robeson beside
  • Cullen Bass 5 houses from
  • Wilie Chaves 3 houses from
  • Anderson Taburn beside
  • Edmund Taburn beside
  • George Day 13 houses from
  • William Bookman 2 houses from
  • Wilie Johnston beside
  • David Mitchel 16 houses from
  • Chesley Bass
  • Thomas Chaves 4 houses from
  • Benjamin Day
  • Jesse Whitmore

In 1849, this portion of Orange County became Alamance County, Va.

Posted in Census, North Carolina, Ocaneechi | 1 Comment

Call To Action – Native American Veterans Monument in Washington DC

Comanche codetalkers

Steve Bowers, a Native American Seminole tribal member and veteran is spearheading an effort to install a memorial to Native American soldiers in Washington DC.  While thousands of Native Americans have enlisted over the decades, at a much higher rate than any other ethnicity, there are no monuments or statues honoring or including Native Americans along the National Mall in Washington.  Even the iconic Three Soldiers memorial sculpture, located near the Vietnam Memorial doesn’t include a Native American.  The Code Talkers received the Congressional medal of honor, shown below, in 2000 for developing the only unbreakable code during WWII, but they don’t have a memorial.  It’s time to make a change.

Navajo codetalkers medal of honorSteve is in the process of laying the groundwork for the National Museum of the American Indian to raise private funds to erect a memorial.

You can read more about the effort at this link. Let’s make sure this happens!

Photo is of Comanche Codetalkers, 4th Signal Company.

Posted in Comanche, Military, Navajo | 2 Comments

The Jeffreys and Day Families, Cabinetmakers

Thomas Day Pews

In the article about Indian Cabinetmakers in Piedmont, NC, by Dr. Patricia Phillips Marshall, reported recently on Lisa Henderson’s Fourth Generation Inclusive blog, we learn several interesting things.

First, Dr. Marshall shows a map with Greensville County, VA, which borders Northampton Co.,  NC, highlighted and states that the Day and Jeffreys (Jeffries) families moved to NC from Greensville County, VA.

According to Dr. Marshall, Thomas Day was a free African American who, by 1850, had built North Carolina’s largest cabinetmaking shop in Milton, Caswell County, NC.  You can see a photo of a statue of Thomas Day here.  His church pews still grace the inside of the Milton Presbyterian Church where he and his wife, Acquilla were allowed to sit in the pews (shown above) among the white worshipers rather than in the slave gallery.

Thomas was born in 1801 in Greensville County, Virginia, to mixed-race parents, John and Mourning (Stewart) Day, and moved with his family to Warren County, North Carolina, in 1817. When he moved to Hillsborough in the early 1820s, it appears that he became friends with members of the Jeffreys family who, although listed as “mulattos” in official records, were actually of Indian origin. The Jeffreys were part of a larger group of Occaneechi people from Virginia who had settled in the northwest section of Orange County, which became Alamance County in 1849. As with the Day family, the Jeffreys family had originated in Greensville County, Virginia.

In 1830 Uriah Jeffreys served as a bondsman for Thomas Day when he married Aquilla Wilson. A bondsman was usually a close family member (such as a father, brother, or uncle) who assured the court that the couple should be married, and that the groom would not change his mind and leave the bride at the altar. Uriah Jeffreys must have been a close friend of Thomas to agree to be his bondsman. Historic records make it clear that both men were cabinetmakers, and it is possible that Uriah and his brother Nathan worked with Thomas Day for a short time.

In 1828 Uriah Jeffreys decided to move. He advertised in the Hillsborough Recorder that he had a variety of furniture from his cabinetmaking business for sale, including “Bureaus, Bedsteads, Tables.”

Uriah moved to Ohio with two of his brothers, Parker and Augustus. Unfortunately, they experienced the same type of prejudice in the North that they had tried to leave behind. The law required free blacks entering Ohio to pay a bond of $500 to county officials. Whites thought this would guarantee that only free blacks of “good character” would settle and be able to support themselves. Parker Jeffreys refused to pay, insisting that his blood was a mixture of Indian and white, and not black. The case went to the county court, where he lost. Jeffreys persevered, and the Ohio Supreme Court heard his case in 1842. In Parker Jeffreys v. Ankeny et al., the supreme court justices ruled that he was an Indian with no African ancestry and did not have to pay the bond. Members of the Jeffreys family continued to make furniture near Xenia, Ohio, well into the twentieth century.

According to Forest Hazel, in the Parker Jeffreys vs Ankeny case, Jeffreys was proven to be the son of a white man and a “woman of the Indian race.”  Parker’s brother also went to court about the same time to change his name and the court also noted his Indian ancestry.

Ebenezer Lane, a Justice of the Ohio Supreme court wrote the majority opinion in the case in which Parker Jeffreys has been refused the right to vote based on an 1802 law limiting voting to white people only. Jeffrey’s mother was noted as half white and half Indian during the trial.

The majority decision was:

“…That all nearer white than black, or of the grade between the mulattoes and the whites, were entitled to enjoy every political and social privilege of the white citizen; that no other rule could be adopted, so intelligible and so practicable as this; and that further refinements would lead to inconvenience, and to no good result.”

There is no 1790 or 1800 Virginia census.  However, in 1810, Greensville County shown no free people of color, at all, a situation which strongly suggests a problem with the census.  There are no Jeffreys or Guy families listed, by that or any similar spelling.

In the 1810 census for Orange County, NC, there are no “free colored” Day families listed, but by 1820 there were several.

Join us in a future article where we’ll extract the Orange County, NC free families of color from the census records.

Posted in North Carolina, Ocaneechi, Ohio | 1 Comment

Jerry Strong Heart

strong heart 6

I met Jerry Strong Heart this past weekend at the Teaching Our Traditions powwow sponsored by the All Nations Veterans Council.  I’ve been attending Powwows now in one form or another for my entire adult life, but that’s a story for another time.  I try to attend several a year, but I’ve slipped the past few years.  The last one was a couple years ago in Virginia.  Saturday was a beautiful day and powwow perfect – not cold, not raining and not beastly hot. It also wasn’t packed, which probably had something to do with the $11 admission fee to the park where the powwow was held, plus the $5 powwow admission fee and the challenge of finding the location down dirt backroads.  But it’s difficult to find a place to hold something as large as a powwow with hundreds of people, or more, attending.

I arrived on Saturday, a little late, but just in time for Grand Entry.

Powwow All Veterans 5-2013 grand entry

Grand Entry is a very solemn occasion, honoring veterans and those currently serving in the military, those who have gone before and fallen, our ancestors, and just about anything you can honor in the Native community and lifeways.  Generally only veterans dance in the Grand Entry, and the dancing is quite subdued and somber relative to the dancing later which is often quite animated.  At this powwow, there was one female veteran dancing as well.  That has been a relatively new phenomenon in the past few years, but there are more and more female veterans and I’m glad to see them being recognized.

This is where I first spotted Jerry Strong Heart.  Jerry was a little late to the dance too, as he was probably busy in his booth, so he’s not in the photo.  Jerry was different than everyone else.  After the main group had passed, Jerry’s wiry little frame could be seen running up to join the end of the procession.  He entered the dance circle and sort of danced like a spring, joyfully in his purple t-shirt, bouncing from place to place.  I so wish I had a picture of Jerry’s joyful, spirited dancing, but I was simply enjoying the moment, as, it appears, was Jerry.  Jerry is a veteran, in case you were wondering, and quite proud of it.  At powwows, everyone thanks veterans for their service.

Other than the dancing and the drum, which were absolutely wonderful, for me, an integral part of the powwow is the interaction with other Native descendants.

At some powwows, only tribally enrolled people are allowed to participate as dancers or as vendors, which often served to create two classes of people.  This powwow is more inclusive than exclusive and encourages those of mixed heritage to participate.  After all, you still carry Native ancestry whether you’re tribally enrolled or not and those wishing to honor that heritage are welcomed.

I met two extremely interesting people among the vendors, and I’d like to share a little about both of them with you.  Today’s blog will be about Jerry Strong Heart.

Jerry is a rock man and a storyteller.  But that’s not what I noticed first about Jerry or his booth.  It was this sign.

Strong heart

Now this is an amazing sign to see, especially that last part.  The next thing I noticed was a children’s “box” on Jerry’s table that said “Adults Not Allowed” and “Adults, Do Not Touch.”  Kids can play in that box and purchase anything out of it, 3 for $1.  Kids love it.  Jerry says there are so many things kids can’t touch and can’t do, so he wanted something just for them.

I knew Jerry was different and I liked him immediately.  Plus, I’m a rock person too and any genealogist is also the family storyteller, or tends to be.  I sat and visited with Jerry for awhile and we discovered we also share Micmac ancestry, so we are likely related at some distant point in time.  Jerry is also Mohawk.

While I was talking to Jerry, the Intertribal dance began.  Not having any regalia with me, that is the only dance I could participate in.  Intertribal dances are designed to be inclusive, for people who want to dance for the spiritual aspects, not competitively, for those who aren’t “dressed for the occasion” and to introduce children to dancing.  Again, very inclusive.  When I was in Virginia last year at their powwow, they specifically said they were not having any intertribal dances.

So I asked Jerry if I could leave all my belongings with him in the booth, including my purse, and of course, he said yes.  We put my things under the table with his little doggie and off I went, without a second thought.  Where else in this day and age could you do that?

strong heart 3

After the dance, I returned to find Jerry deeply engrossed in a discussion with someone about the rocks and minerals he has for sale.  His “grandson in spirit” was sitting busily beading and the breeze was blowing gently.  We three sat and ate kettle corn together and visited before I bought a miniature Iroquois basket from the 1930s or 1940s and a rock, of course.  Jerry tells me the rock is Amazonite although the color is quite unusual.

Basket

Jerry is a storyteller, and I have included a story written by Jerry and only edited slightly:)  I have substituted a phrase for a proper body part name in order to keep the story family friendly.

For those who don’t know, traditionally, only males can play or even touch the drum at powwows and Native celebrations although that has been slowing changing for the last 20 years or so, but very slowly so.  Jerry doesn’t just look and think outside the box, he lives outside the box.  Here is Jerry’s story.

A Story of the Drum~*~

I was at a powwow up in Maine with my Uncle John/John a Mickmac Elder Council member~*~We met two Women on friday night~*~and made friends~*~Sat morning i walked over to the Grand Father Drum~*~one of the women was standing there~*~I walked up to her and said what’s happening; cause she had a long face~*~She said Jerry I need a male body part – they won’t let me play the drum without one~*~A very natural statement came out of me~*~I said oh, be careful what you pray for you might get it* Nothing in my life caused me more trouble than my male body part Barr None~*~I will loan you mine but I don*t recommend it~*~We had this Tribal laugh~*~I just spoke to her need without thinking~*~I took her over to Uncle John and said; Uncle the powers that be will not let this woman play the drum without a male body part~*~ Will you loan her yours~*~ Another huge laugh happened~*~John took her over to the drum, used his Influence and she played the drum~*~When I went back the next year there was an all woman’s drum~*~Now those women are playing the Drum all over the country in an all woman’s drum~*~Tragedy into comedy broke down a wall~*~That old Patriarchal BS is breaking down~*~ When the Heart Leads; The Love Happens…

And that is how our traditions and cultures change and evolve, one person at a time.

Jerry is a kind and gentle spirit, blowing in life from place to place where the wind and a whim takes him, living in the moment.  I hope to see him again someday and hear more of his stories, but in the meantime, he can be found at Facebook under the name Jerry Strong Heart, of course.

Posted in Micmac, Mohawk, Powwow | Leave a comment

Lewis Larsen’s Extensive Native American Reference Library to be Auctioned

From the People of One Fire newsletter, the following:

Lewis Larsen’s Extensive Archaeological Library to Auctioned Off

“Extensive American Indian related reference library from the estate of noted Georgia Archaeologist, Dr. Lewis H. Larson, Jr. over 400 Volumes”   To be auctioned by Charlton Hall Auctioneers in W. Columbia SC on June 21-22, 2013.

A catalog does not seem to be available yet at www.charltonhallauctions.com

Lewis Larsen was one of the pioneers of modern North American archaeology.  Along with Joseph Caldwell and Arthur Kelly, he supervised the archaeological studies at Etowah Mounds National Landmark during the mid-1950s.  He then went on to a highly productive career as a professor and expert on the Mississippian Culture.

It would be very nice if this collection could be preserved intact.

Posted in Archaeology | 2 Comments

Mary Jemison, White Indian of the Genesee

Jemison 1

As I’ve been extracting the surnames of the New York Indian tribes from the Indian census (1888-1893), which consist of the Six Nations, Jemison, Jimerson, Jemerson and variant spellings are found in all of the tribes.  It’s a very unusual name otherwise, but very common within the tribes.

It also has a very unusual genesis – not Native at all.  Mary Jemison, the progenitor of the Jemison lines, was a captive white woman.

Mary Jemison (Deh-he-wä-mis), was born in 1743 and died September 19, 1933.  She was born to white immigrant parents and died an adopted Seneca. When she was in her teens, she was captured in what is now Adams County, Pennsylvania, from her home along Marsh Creek, and later chose to remain a Seneca.

Mary Jemison was born to Thomas and Jane Jemison aboard the ship William and Mary in the fall of 1743 while en route from what is now 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, Pennsylvania, to what was then the western frontier (now central Pennsylvania). They “squatted” on territory that was under the authority of the Iroquois Confederacy.

During the time the Jemisons were establishing their home, the French and Indian War (Seven Years War) was raging. One morning in 1755, a raiding party consisting of six Shawnee Indians and four Frenchmen captured Mary, her family (except two older brothers) and Davy Wheelock, a boy from another family. En route to Fort Duquesne (present-day Pittsburgh), Mary’s mother, father, and siblings were killed and scalped. Mary and the other young boy were spared. Once the party reached the Fort, Mary was given to two Seneca Indians, who took Mary downriver. The Seneca adopted Mary, renaming her Deh-he-wä-mis which she learned meant, “… a pretty girl, a handsome girl, or a pleasant, good thing.”

She married a Delaware named Sheninjee. They had a son whom she named Thomas after her father. Sheninjee took her on a 700-mile (1,100 km) journey to the Sehgahunda Valley along the Genesee River in present-day New York state. Although Jemison and their son reached this destination, her husband did not. Leaving his wife to hunt, he had taken ill and died.  She arrived alone, with her baby, in the dead of winter.  She was received with open arms by her husband’s clan and settled to a happy life among the Seneca in Sehgehunda, or “Vale of the Three Falls”.  She married Seneca chief Hiokatoo, and she had six more children.

During the American Revolutionary War, the Seneca were allies of the British. Jemison’s account of her life includes some observations during this time, as she and others in the Seneca town helped Joseph Brant and Iroquois warriors who fought against the colonists.

After the war, the Seneca sold much of their land at Little Beard’s Town to European-American settlers in 1797. At that time, during negotiations with the Holland Land Company held at Geneseo, New York, Mary Jemison proved to be an able negotiator for the Seneca tribe. She helped win more favorable terms for giving up their rights to the land at the Treaty of Big Tree (1797).

In 1823, the tribe sold most of the remainder of the land, except for a 2-acre (8,100 m2) tract of land reserved for Jemison’s use. Known locally as the “White Woman of the Genesee”, she lived on the tract until she sold it in 1831 and moved to the Buffalo Creek Reservation. Jemison lived the rest of her life with the Seneca Nation. She died on September 19, 1833, aged 90. She was initially buried on the Buffalo Creek Reservation.

Jemison 2

When the reservation was closed and the burial ground there threatened, her grandchildren turned to William Pryor Letchworth, whose estate, Glen Iris, encompassed the land where Sehgehunda had been. He immediately invited them to bring Mary home. Her remains were placed in a new walnut coffin and taken back to the Genesee Valley. A full ceremony was held at the old Seneca council house, and she was laid to rest in March of 1874. Letchworth erected a granite marker, on top of which is a statue which he dedicated in 1910, after his estate had been incorporated into Letchworth State Park in present day Castille, New York.

Jemison 3

A bronze statue of Mary Jemison, created in 1910 by Henry Kirke Bush-Brown, marks her grave. Dr. George F. Kunz helped with the 1910 memorial to Jemison, “The White Indian of the Genesee”, who is buried at “the ancient Indian Council House of the Senecas.” Dr. Kunz always was fascinated by Native Americans, and contributed much to their memorials in New York.

Today, the various Jemison families of New York carry her legacy.

Jemison 4

Late in life, she told her story to the minister James E. Seaver, who published it as a classic “captivity narrative”, Narrative of the Life of Mrs. Mary Jemison (1824; latest ed. 1967). Many history scholars consider it to be a reasonably accurate narrative.

jemison 5

You can read Mary’s life story in the “Narrative of the Life of Mary Jemison.”  The drawings in this article are from this book, published in 1856.

Posted in Delaware, Iroquois, Seneca | 10 Comments