Sunday, November 24, 2013

Mrs. Mary Jemison - her story

A Narrative of the Life of Mrs. Mary Jemison –by James E. Seaver, edited by June Namias

192 pages / 203 KB
5 stars

The first 60 pages of this book were taken up by notes of both the Editor and the Author, and were quite interesting. the narrative itself is about 87 pages and fascinating. There is also an index in the back. If you can find this volume, I think you will find it worth the searching. The key here is EDITED BY JUNE NAMIAS. Search for it.

Mary's family and neighbors, were taken by Indian when Mary was a young girl. Eventually, Mary and a younger boy were separated out and taken farther, while everyone else was killed (the other neighbors were in hot pursuit).

Two sisters who had lost a brother to war adopted Mary, and treated her like family. She became the missing sibling. They treated her well, taught her the language, and arranged a good marriage for her.

When the time arrived that she could go back to the white's, she really didn't want to go. She had a new family, new friends, and was totally accepted. If she went back to the white's she would have been looked down on, and her children would not have been accepted. She also found she had far more freedom and autonomy, and was treated better as an Indian than she would have been had she returned. (Many white women preferred to stay with their new families rather than be repatriated, and many were forcibly taken back by the whites when found. They had to endure two captures. Many of those, when they could, ran away and found their way back to their tribal home.)

This book tells the story of her time with the Indians as told to, and interpreted by, Mr. Seaver. As Ms. Namias points out in her Introduction, we don't know what questions Mr. Seaver asked, nor do we know her direct responses, but he appears to have done a pretty good job of listening to her story over a three day span of time, and then writing down what she told him.

Mary had several children by her second husband, all of whom were named after her biological family, and who kept those names. Should you live in, or travel to, the northeastern part of the country, and meet a Jemison, chances are they are descendants of Mary – or at least of her family.

I admit to a certain fascination of this part of history, so entered the book expecting a page-burning story. I was not disappointed. This is as close to living history as I can get. If you enjoy history, this is a book you need to read!

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