Indian Captive: The Story of Mary Jemison

Indian Captive: The Story of Mary Jemison

by Lois Lenski

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A Newbery Honor book inspired by the true story of a girl captured by a Shawnee war party in Colonial America and traded to a Seneca tribe.
  When twelve-year-old Mary Jemison and her family are captured by Shawnee raiders, she’s sure they’ll all be killed. Instead, Mary is separated from her siblings and traded to two Seneca sisters, who adopt her and make her one of their own. Mary misses her home, but the tribe is kind to her. She learns to plant crops, make clay pots, and sew moccasins, just as the other members do. Slowly, Mary realizes that the Indians are not the monsters she believed them to be. When Mary is given the chance to return to her world, will she want to leave the tribe that has become her family? This Newbery Honor book is based on the true story of Mary Jemison, the pioneer known as the “White Woman of the Genesee.” This ebook features an illustrated biography of Lois Lenski including rare images and never-before-seen documents from the author’s estate.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781453227527
Publisher: Open Road Media
Publication date: 12/27/2011
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 316
Sales rank: 261,809
File size: 7 MB
Age Range: 8 - 12 Years

About the Author

Born in Springfield, Ohio, in 1893, Lois Lenski achieved acclaim as both an author and illustrator of children’s literature. For her Regional America series, Lenski traveled to each of the places that became a subject of one of her books. She did meticulous research and spoke with children and adults in the various regions to create stories depicting the lives of the inhabitants of those areas. Her novel of Florida farm life, Strawberry Girl, won the Newbery Award in 1946. She also received a Newbery Honor in 1942 for Indian Captive, a fictionalized account of the life of Mary Jemison. Lenski died in 1974.
Born in Springfield, Ohio, in 1893, Lois Lenski achieved acclaim as both an author and illustrator of children’s literature. For her Regional America series, Lenski traveled to each of the places that became a subject of one of her books. She did meticulous research and spoke with children and adults in the various regions to create stories depicting the lives of the inhabitants of those areas. Her novel of Florida farm life, Strawberry Girl, won the Newbery Award in 1946. She also received a Newbery Honor in 1942 for Indian Captive, a fictionalized account of the life of Mary Jemison. Lenski died in 1974.

Read an Excerpt

Come What May

Molly-child, now supper's done, go fetch Neighbor Dixon's horse."

Molly looked up at her father. At the far end of the long table he stood. He was lean, lanky and raw-boned. Great knotty fists hung at the ends of his long, thin arms. His eyes looked kind though his face was stern.

"All I need is another horse for a day or two," the man went on. "Neighbor Dixon said I could borrow his. I'll get that south field plowed tomorrow and seeded to corn."

"Yes, Pa!" answered Molly. She reached for a piece of corn-pone from the plate. She munched it contentedly. How good it tasted!

Corn! All their life was bound up with corn. Corn and work. Work to grow the corn, to protect it and care for it, to fight for it, to harvest it and stow it away at last for winter's food. So it was always, so it would be always to the end of time. How could they live without corn?

The Jemison family sat around the supper table. Its rough-hewn slabs, uncovered by cloth, shone soft-worn and shiny clean. A large earthen bowl, but a short time before filled with boiled and cut-up meat, sat empty in the center. Beside it, a plate with the leftover pieces of corn-pone.

"You hear me?" asked Thomas Jemison again. "You ain't dreamin'?"

The two older boys, John and Tom, threw meaningful looks at their sister, but said no word. Betsey, tall, slender fifteen-year-old, glanced sideways at their mother.

Molly colored slightly and came swiftly back from dreaming. "Yes, Pa!" she said, obediently. She reached for another piece of corn-pone.

Inside, she felt a deep content. Spring was here again. The sun-warmed, plowed earth would feelgood to her bare feet. She saw round, pale yellow grains of seed-corn dropping from her hand into the furrow. She saw her long, thin arms waving to keep the crows and blackbirds off--the fight had begun. The wind blew her long loose hair about her face and the warm sun kissed her cheeks. Spring had come again.

"Can't one of the boys go?" asked Mrs. Jemison. "Dark's a-comin' on and the trail's through the woods. . ."

"Have ye forgot the chores?" Thomas Jemison turned to his wife and spoke fretfully. "There's the stock wants tendin'--they need fodder to chomp on through the night. And the milkin' not even started. Sun's got nigh two hours to go 'fore dark. Reckon that's time enough for a gal to go a mile and back."

"But it's the woods trail. . . " began Mrs. Jemison anxiously. "'Tain't safe at night-time. . ."

"Then she can sleep to Dixon's and be back by sunup," said the girl's father, glancing sternly in Molly's direction. He sat down on a stool before the fireplace and began to shell corn into the wooden dye-tub.

"Mary Jermison, do you hear me?" he thundered.

"Yes, Pa!" said Molly again. But she did not move. She sat still, munching corn-pone.

Jane Jemison said no more. Instead, she looked down at her hands folded in her lap. Her hands so seldom at rest. She was a small, tired-looking woman, baffled by both work and worry. Eight years of life in a frontier settlement in eastern Pennsylvania had taken away her fresh youth and had aged her beyond her years.

Little Matthew, a boy of three, climbed into his mother's lap. She caught the brown head close to her breast for a moment, then put him hastily down as a waiting cry came to her ears. The baby in the homemade cradle beside her had wakened. The woman stopped wearily, picked him up, then sat down to nurse him.

"Ye'll have to wash up, Betsey," she said.

Molly's thought had traveled far, but she hadn't herself had time to move. She was still sitting bolt upright on the three-legged stool when her ears picked up the roll of a horse's hoofs.

Nor was she the only one. The others heard, too. As if in answer to an expected signal, the faces turned inquiring and all eyes found the door. All ears strained for a call of greeting, but none came. In less time than it takes for three words to be said, the door burst open and a man stumbled in.

It was Neighbor Wheelock. He was short and heavy. Like Thomas Jemison, he too had the knotty look of a hard worker, of a frontier fighter. It was only in his face that weakness showed.

Wheelock gave no glance at woman or children. He said in a low but distinct voice to Thomas: "You heard what's happened?"

The clatter of a falling stool shook the silence and a cry of fear escaped. Betsey, white-faced and thin, clapped her hands over her mouth. Mrs. Jemison, the nursing baby still at her breast, stood up. "Let's hear what 'tis," she said, calmly.

Chet Wheelock needed no invitation to speak. The words popped out of his mouth like bullets from a loaded gun.

"It's the Injuns again!" he cried, fiercely. "They've burnt Ned Haskins out and took his wife and children captive. They've murdered the whole Johnson family. They're a-headin! down Conewago, Creek towards Sharp's Run, a-killn', a-butcherin' and a-plunderin' as they come. There ain't a safe spot this side of Philadelphy. I'm headin' back east and I'm takin' my brother Jonas's family with me."

Thomas Jemison looked up from his corn shelling, but his placid face gave no hint of troubled thoughts. A gust of wind nipped round the house and blew the thick plank door shut with a bang. The children stared, wide-eyed. Jane Jemison sat down on a stool, as if the load of her baby had grown too heavy and there was no more strength left in her arms.

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Indian Captive 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 89 reviews.
19tj More than 1 year ago
This book is the story of Mary Jeminson and her life with the Indians. Indian Captive is about a girl named Molly who is taken away from her family. She traveled with the Indians day and night, and finally was in her new home Seneca town. There she lived with the Indians. Learned their language, learned their lessons and much more. My favorite part of this book is when Molly feels like the Indians are her new family. I recomend this book to anyone who likes to sit for the whole evening and read. Is she going to like the Indians? Want to know? Read the book.
19hs More than 1 year ago
This book was about a girl named Mary Jemison, but everyone calls her Molly, and her adventure with the Indians and what they were like. She discovers how to cook like them, eat like them, and sew like them. She makes good friends on the way. My favorite character in this book was the Indian story teller because I really liked the stories he told. I did not really like the book because it was a little bit boring but I did like some parts. My favorite part was when the story teller came. My least favorite part was when Mary was just walking and walking. I really did not like the beginning of the story because I did not understand what was going on. It was not a bad book, but if you¿re like me and you like books that get to the point straight away and do not like super super long books that detail a lot, then you probably wouldn¿t like this book.
19bw More than 1 year ago
The Indian Captive is a book I will always remember. Molly Jemison, an average girl on the Pennsylvania home-front, is taken captive by the indians. Soon she finds out that she has been adopted by an American Indian woman called Earth Woman. Molly makes many friends in her fight to freedom and she soon finds out that she can feel just as at home with the indians as she did with her birth family. If you want to know if she will ever go back with her native people read this book NOW!
19az1 More than 1 year ago
Indian Captive is an amazing true story and is very touching. Indian Captive is about a girl that gets captured by the Indians and has to walk a long way before she reaches the Indian village Seneca town. She learns to plant, cook, and make clothes in the Indian way and she even learns to speak Indian and a lot more. My favourite part was when Molly the girl makes friends with Turkey Feather because that was just like how I make friends at new schools. If you like learning about Native American Indian cultures you will never put this book down. Even if you're not interested in Indians , give this book a try. Will Molly be able to stay with the Indians or will she run away?
19sk More than 1 year ago
It is a story about a girl named Mary Jemison, (but she is always called Molly) getting kidnapped by Indians. By living with the Indians, she learns lots of things about nature and faces a new life. My favourite part of the story is when Molly makes friends with a girl the same age as her called Beaver Girl. I recommend this book to anyone who likes to read about what kind of life Indians lead. If you want to find out if Molly ever went back to the white people again, go read the book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is a must read. Its my favorite. I have probably read it 50 times and it never gets old. Every woman, no matter what your age, should read this book
sbigger on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This story is a fictionalized account of Mary Jemison, who was kidnapped and then adopted into the Seneca tribe in Ohio in the mid 1700s. The story paints a picture of her childhood with the tribe. Mary or Corn Tassel, is described and fleshed out in great detail. The author helps children understand the characters/time setting by using things such as clothing and good. A change in cutlure can be seen through the change in clothing and food, from a blue jean dress to buckskin clothing and corn prone to corn cakes. The plot is believable, Corn Tassel reacts as a period child would when faced with this situation. The book is based on true accounts of children that were kidnapped (including Mary Jemison). The theme reflects Mary's changing attitude toward her captors and how she starts to become family, as a replacement for a dead son. Many historical fiction books for children do not portray Native Americans in a good light, but Lenski seems to try to stay away from the trend. She shows that there are good and bad people among them, just as there are among "Englishmen". I feel that this is a good historical fiction book for a older elementary school student.
MarthaHuntley on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Lois Lenski was one of my favorite authors when I was a child. At our neighborhood reading group when a teacher recommended this book as a good one for readers of all ages, I felt like I'd just run into an old friend after a long absence. Mary Jemison, the sole survivor of her family, was adopted by Seneca Indians and treated as a tribe and family member . Her story is compelling, and less fictionaized accounts of her life can be found on the internet (Google Mary Jemison), including a book written in 1824 from interviews with her when she was in her 80s. .
Treeseed on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Author and illustrator Lois Lenski has been a favorite of mine since my grade school years long ago. She wrote and illustrated many charming picture books in the early 1940s that featured the Small Family, most of which are still in print. She illustrated the beloved Betsy-Tacy series as well as the 1946 Newbery Award winner Strawberry Girl, that she also wrote. When I recently came across a paperback edition of her 1941 children's book, Indian Captive: The Story of Mary Jemison I was torn between my desire to read yet another book by a favorite children's author and my fear that the depiction of the Seneca Indians would be stereotypical and inaccurate. The illustration on the book's cover, 1995 cover art by Joanie Schwartz, depicting a young girl looking more like a Seventeen Magazine model than a frontier youngster/Indian captive, didn't help. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that in this wonderful book, Lois Lenski has outdone herself in her illustrations, her story telling, and her research into her subject. A Newbery Honor book in 1942, it tells the true story of a young frontier girl who lived in a tiny settlement near what is current day Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Set during the French and Indian War, it is the fictionalized version of the Life of Mary Jemison, who in 1758 at the age of 15 was abducted by the Shawnee Indians along with her parents, two sisters, two younger brothers and a neighbor family. After a grueling forced march to Fort Duquesne, current day Pittsburg, Mary's family is killed and she is sold to two sisters of the Seneca tribe and adopted into the Seneca tribe as one of their own. It was the way of the Seneca to take captives to fill the places of their own loved ones who had been killed by enemies. The details of their practices are not sugar-coated, neither are they exaggerated. Ms. Lenski really did her homework in preparing for this book and has faithfully captured in her art and words the lifestyle of the Seneca and of the larger Hodenosaunee or Iroquois Confederation. She has told the moving story of Mary Jemison with sympathy and yet she has not mired us down in tragedy but has helped us see the strength and beauty that came into Mary's life as she adjusted to her new family. Lenski's illustrations are primitive folk style art, in black and white, rich with detail and evocative. The real life Mary Jemison stayed with her adopted family, living as a true Seneca until the end of her days at 91. Ms. Lenski spoke with descendants of Mary who still reside on reservations in New York and Ontario. She faithfully researched museums and historical libraries and leads us into the daily routine of the Senecas. Sharing myths and folk stories, accurate drawings of implements, utensils, garments, and ceremony, she captures the Indian way of looking at things and conveys nuances of attitude and philosophy with honesty and clarity. Intended for the 9-12 year old readership, the story flows with simplicity, but is exciting and interesting enough for older readers as well. Living in Oneida country as I do, I was glad to have such an abundance of information on the Seneca who along with the Oneidas, the Cayugas, the Mohawks and the Onondagas, the tribes of the Hodenosaunee, were a part of the first Democracy to ever flourish upon this land, hundreds of years before white men ever set foot here. Mary became known as The Two Falling Voices and her story is both tragic and triumphant. I found it very enriching, emotionally and intellectually stimulating, even as a children's book, so vividly is the tale conveyed. Several non-fictional accounts have been published of the life of Mary Jemison, including one that she dictated to a doctor when she was in her 80s. This book serves as a wonderful introduction to her life's story and also to the stories of other white captives whose little known tales give us splendid insight into the frontier hardships of everyday people and of the indigenous people who struggled t
sagrundman on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This story is a fictionalized account of Mary Jemison, who was kidnapped and then adopted into the Seneca tribe in Ohio in the mid 1700s. The story paints a picture of her childhood with the tribe.
t1bclasslibrary on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Mary Jemison is pulled away from her family and adopted by a tribe of Seneca Native Americans. She rebells against her captivity and dreams for years of returning to her family. She slowly begins to make friends among the tribe and to think of them as her family, and when she finds out that her original family is long dead, she feels like she has no choice. Later, however, a choice is offered to her to be raised as a white girl and return to the ways of her childhood, or to stay with the new family she has come to care for.
zeebreez on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Lenski, Lois. Indian Captive: The Story of Mary Jemison. New York: Scholastic Inc., 1941. This is the story of a girl named Mary who, according to legend, was kidnapped by Native Americans in 1758. This story is based on that legend. It accurately gives the picture of what life was like before the Revolutionary War during the time of the French and Indian War. It describes her life with her family in a cabin. This story describes her journey many miles through the forest to their tribe. She becomes a servant in the tribe. At first she is unhappy there but within time whe proves herself and is accepted by the tribe. The descriptions of the tribal life and culture gives a picture of the values and customs of the people. It also shows the hardships they endured through the winter to survive. This story has an interesting plot and it will keep any reader interested. The vocabulary is at 6/7th grade level. Age group: 10-13 years old.
fuzzi on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I found this to be an engaging and interesting book based upon the life of an Indian captive from the early American west, mid 1700s.Mary and her family are taken by the Indians, but she winds up alone, adopted by a Seneca tribe. Some of her captors are not kind, but others show love and compassion, treating her as their own child.The book covers the first two years of Mary's captivity, as "Corn Tassel", named for her platinum blond hair.I'd classify this as young adult to adult, but some more mature pre-teens would probably enjoy it. It's a gentler version of a similar book, "A Light in the Forest", which I would also recommend.
Icefirestorm on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A good look at both sides of the issue I think. Glad I read it.
reece1999 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The book "Indian Captive: The Story of Mary Jemison" is a book by Lois Lenski.As you can guess gy the title,the book is about Mary Jemison,who was an Indian captive.Mary's father said that the Indians wouldn't kill her because her hair was the color of corn husk.He was right.The Indians didn't kill her because of her hair.Mary Jemison went through many difficulties.Life with the Indians was different than life with her family.I've have read this book twice.I found it very enjoyable.This book would be sutible for fourth and fith grade classes.It is good for young adluts to know that life wan't rainbows and sunshine in the olden days.It still isn't tday either.Things happen to people that can't be changed or avoided.You just have to gain from the knowledge you got from your experience.
Hamburgerclan on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a fictionalized account of the story of Mary Jemison, a young teenager who was kidnapped by the Seneca Indians in the year 1758. Back then, the custom among the Seneca was to kill or kidnap a white settler for every one of their own people who were killed by the invading pioneers. Indian Captive tells the tale of Mary's capture and her subsequent adjustment to life among the Seneca. I found it to be a fascinating tale, as Mary moves from terror to sorrow to finally finding a place in her new community. To my thinking, the whole concept of an "indian captive" is barbaric, yet the practice does contain an element of justice. The whole book reflects the tension well. The Seneca endeavor to make Mary feel loved and welcome, yet that can't erase the harm they caused by killing her family and kidnapping her in the first place. That Mary finally is able to accept her new people despite their transgressions is an accurate reflection of what it means to live with the flaws of one's family, friends and neighbors. I will definitely look to find a copy of Mary Jemison's actual memoirs once I get back to the States. Until then, I'll just have to make sure this book stays on my shelf.--J.
arelenriel on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a classic tale of Mary Jemison who was captured by the Seneca tribe of Ohio during the French and Indian War. Lenski presents a fairly accurate and non-biased account of traditional Iroqois culture at least for the era in which this book was writted. I would reccomend this book for both old and young readers.
LeHack on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A true story about Mary Jemison who was taken by native Americans from Adams County, PA. She grew up in PA, and eventually married and moved to New York. She never trusted whites after living with Native Americans her whole life. Adults may want to read the book "The White".
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
So go i was upset when it was done .pore girl tooken from her family i would rather die
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Had to read for school.... I LOVED IT!!!!!
road2know More than 1 year ago
What an interesting journey this young girl takes. You will enjoy the way the story unfolds and the lessons that Molly learns along the way. I enjoyed how accurately the story seem to reflect the time period and the Indian culture.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I had to read it for YASA ( a book club for girls) and i really enjoyed it! If you like adventure and challenge this the book for U!