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Mary Jemison

"White Woman of the Genesee"

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Dates: 1743 - September 19, 1833

Known for: Indian captive, subject of captivity narrative

Also known as: Dehgewanus, "White Woman of the Genesee"

Mary Jemison was captured by Shawnee Indians and French soldiers in Pennsylvania on April 5, 1758. She was was later sold to Senecas who took her to Ohio.

She was adopted by the Senecas and renamed Dehgewanus. She married, and went with her husband and their young son to Seneca territory in western New York. Her husband died on the journey.

Dehgewanus remarried there, and had six more children. The American Army destroyed the Seneca village during the American Revolutionary War as part of a retaliation for the Cherry Valley massacre, led by Senecas including Dehgewanus' husband who were allied with the British. Dehgewanus and her children fled, joined later by her husband.

They lived in relative peace in the Gardeau Flats, and she was known as the "Old White Woman of the Genesee." By 1797 she was a large landowner. She was naturalized as an American citizen in 1817. In 1823 a writer, James Seaver, interviewed her and the next year published The Life and Times of Mrs. Mary Jemison. When the Senecas sold the land to which they'd moved, they reserved land for her use.

She sold the land in 1831 and moved to a reservation near Buffalo, where she died on September 19, 1833. In 1847 her descendents had her reburied near her Genesee River home, and a marker stands there in Letchworth Park.

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Mary Jemison on the web

Mary Jemison - bibliography

  • Rayna M. Gangi. Mary Jemison: White Woman of the Seneca. Clear Light, 1996. Novel.
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  • James E. Seaver, edited by June Namias. A Narrative of the Life of Mary Jemison. University of Oklahoma, 1995.
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Indian Captivity Narratives - bibliography

  • Christopher Castiglia. Bound and Determined: Captivity, Culture-Crossing and White Womanhood. University of Chicago, 1996.
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  • Kathryn and James Derounian and Arthur Levernier. Indian Captivity Narrative, 1550-1900. Twayne, 1993.
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  • Kathryn Derounian-Stodola, editor. Women's Indian Captivity Narratives. Penguin, 1998.
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  • Frederick Drimmer (editor). Captured by the Indians: 15 Firsthand Accounts, 1750-1870. Dover, 1985.
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  • Gary L. Ebersole. Captured By Texts: Puritan to Postmodern Images of Indian Captivity. Virginia, 1995.
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  • Rebecca Blevins Faery. Cartographies of Desire: Captivity, Race, and Sex in the Shaping on an American Nation. University of Oklahoma, 1999.
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  • June Namias. White Captives: Gender and Ethnicity on the American Frontier. University of North Carolina, 1993.
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  • Mary Ann Samyn. Captivity Narrative. Ohio State University, 1999.
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  • Gordon M. Sayre, Olaudah Equiano and Paul Lauter, editors. American Captivity Narratives. D C Heath, 2000.
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  • Pauline Turner Strong. Captive Selves, Captivating Others. Westview Press, 2000.
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About Mary Jemison

  • Categories: Indian captive, captivity narrative writer
  • Places: New York, Genesee, America, Ohio
  • Period: 18th century, French and Indian War

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