Mary’s 250th Anniversary 3

Patrick Lense
Friends of Big Bone – President
Phone 859-689-5631
Fax 859-689-0191

250th Anniversary Celebration and Descendants’ Gathering to Honor
Mary Draper Ingles’ Unbridled Spirit 1755-2005

PETERSBURG, KY 15 May 2005 – Friends of Big Bone and Big Bone Lick State Park have joined forces to present a unique historical event. On July 16 & 17 at Big Bone Lick State Park the 250th anniversary of the daring escape of Mary Ingles from her Shawnee captors at Big Bone Lick, Kentucky, in the Fall of 1755 will be celebrated and commemorated by Ingles and Draper descendants, invited guests, and interested visitors.

Made famous by the James Alexander Thom novel, “Follow the River”, the Mary Draper Ingles saga reveals the fortitude and determination of this early American pioneer. Taken hostage by the Shawnee in 1755, Mary, who was pregnant with a daughter, and her two sons were forced from their home located in Virginia. Prior to arriving at Big Bone Lick in Kentucky, Mary’s two sons had already been adopted by the Shawnees, and she had been sold to French traders who worked with the Shawnee. While the Native Americans harvested salt from the various salt springs, Mary and a Dutch woman escaped from their captors at Big Bone Lick when gathering nuts in the area. With only a blanket and a tomahawk, the two women “followed the river” (Ohio, Kanawha, and New Rivers), surviving on nuts and berries. Eventually Mary continued on her own, walking/crawling her way home. In 42 days she covered over 800 miles.

In honor of her courageous journey, the two day event held at Big Bone Lick State Park will be the site of a series of activities. Descendants of Mary Ingles will hold a reunion, bringing together from all parts of the United States a variety of members of the Ingles and Draper clans. Open to the public, this event will begin with a commemorative ceremony at 1:00 on Saturday, July 16, and will be followed by an interpretive walk along some of the very ground that Mary traveled 250 years ago. As descendants and visitors travel the path, various guides will supply information along the way. During the afternoon Eleanor Lahr, who undertook Mary’s journey in 1987, will recount her experience, and actress Joyce Baer will provide the story of Mary Ingles’ capture and escape in 1755.

A dinner honoring the 250th anniversary will be held at Split Rock Conservation Park, located 20 minutes from the park on Route 20 by Woolper Creek and the Ohio River, a place that Mary quite likely passed on her journey back to Virginia. Shawnee author Dark Rain, wife of author James Alexander Thom, will speak at the end of dinner, bringing to a close Saturday’s events.

On Sunday an 11:00 AM service, presided over by Jim Saunders, an Ingles’ descendant, will be held at Big Bone Methodist Church (circa 1888). Honoring Mary Ingles and her “unbridled spirit”, the weekend celebration not only commemorates her daring escape, but also provides an insight into the lives of early American pioneers and the Shawnee.

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3 thoughts on “Mary’s 250th Anniversary

    • sonny Post author

      Wow, that’s neat that you are kin! The last event that celebrated Mary Ingles was at the Salt Festival in 2018, although we have also had a few “Friends of Big Bone” programs that included her story. If we do anything in the near future, I will let you know. Do you live in this area?

      • Bill Hurst

        I live in North Texas, but would like to visit. I believe that Rhoda is buried in TN and that Bird Bowker Smith was buried in the New Orleans area. Bird Booker Smith, my ggg grandfather, is buried in Magnolia, AR and his daughter, Nancy Margaret Smith Griffin, is buried in Waldo, AR. I first found out about the Ingles in the late 1990’s, but have not had a chance to visit the Draper Meadow area.