Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “A Narrative of the Life of Mrs. Mary Jemison” as Want to Read:
A Narrative of the Life of Mrs. Mary Jemison
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

A Narrative of the Life of Mrs. Mary Jemison

3.6  ·  Rating details ·  402 Ratings  ·  46 Reviews
Mary Jemison was one of the most famous white captives who, after being captured by Indians, chose to stay and live among her captors. In the midst of the Seven Years War (1758), at about age fifteen, Jemison was taken from her western Pennsylvania home by a Shawnee and French raiding party. Her family was killed, but Mary was traded to two Seneca sisters who adopted her t ...more
Paperback, 208 pages
Published March 15th 1995 by University of Oklahoma Press (first published 1824)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about A Narrative of the Life of Mrs. Mary Jemison, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about A Narrative of the Life of Mrs. Mary Jemison

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
Sort: Default
Ivonne Rovira
In this very slender book, first published in 1824, Mary Jemison recounts her long life with the Indians. She began her sojourn near what became Pittsburg but ended up in Geneseo County (near what became Rochester) in western New York. Mary, who became completely assimilated into Indian culture, dress, and ways, dictated her adventures to Reverend James E. Seaver in the fall of 1823, when she was in her 80s — and amazing adventures they were!

Born in 1742, when her parents were en route to Americ
Katherine Basto
May 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I gave this narrative 5 stars because of the stark and profound experience that Mary Jemison had to endure. While in her eighties, she gave this account to a Dr. Seaver who wrote down her remembrances. To actually hear of what she endured, her family being massacred by the Seneca(the description of the Indians cleaning off her parents' scalps is heartbreaking...she was but 15 years of age). Life was exceedingly hard for Mary but somehow she adjusted to life with the Senecas, carrying heavy loads ...more
Nov 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
A very interesting insight into one woman's experience in being captured and raised in a Native (Seneca I believe it was?) American tribe. I felt like she gave great cultural insights into things that would see terribly awful or barbaric, which could be expanded to a better understanding of the differences in relations between the white settlers and the Native counterparts.
Oct 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I recently read a book that a friend recommended, Follow the River, and having spend most of my adult life in NW PA and frequently hiking in Western NY, I remembered that we had our own version of Mary Ingles in Western NY named Mary Jemison and I decided to search out books about the White Woman of the Senecas, whose lands and tomb I had visited frequently. I was able to obtain three books and this one was by far my favorite. For one thing the other two were abridged kid's books based on James ...more
Feb 24, 2013 rated it did not like it
If you're suffering from insomnia but do not want to get hooked on sleeping pills, try reading this... You'll be nodding out in no time.
Cassia Scarborough
Pre-baby summer read-a-thon!
Vicki Gress
It was interesting to learn the story of Mary Jemison and gain insight into how it was. But the read isn't really enjoyable. It was written may years ago in 1800's. The writing style is the kind that has long sentences (60 words) in some places. There's a LOT of description of the geographic location and description of land, which if you are from that area, may or may not be interesting to you. The most interesting parts were the insights given into Indian culture, beliefs, practices. If you're ...more
David Mcelroy
Jan 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A wonderful historical narrative. Amazingly informative and wonderful without the artful exuberance of many biographical text. I needed more time to read it because of the extensive geographical references. This would be a great vacation planning guide alone to see the places covered in this short narrative.
Jun 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ebooks, english
I looked this book up after visiting Ganondagan State Historic Site. I wonder if it's all in her own wording or partially rewritten by the author. It seems odd to me to call the people you lived with for so long and consider family "savages".
Zettie Jones
Jun 23, 2017 rated it it was ok
This book is full of facts but as interesting as reading an encyclopedia.
Oct 20, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: midd-senior
her children murdered each other
Tina Milledge
Mar 08, 2017 rated it it was ok
Old texts are always harder to read. This one lay forgotten on my Kindle. Picked it up again and limped to the end. A good tale, but one for when you're trying to get sleepy.
Margo Brooks
Jan 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This is an account of the life of Mary Jemison taken from interviews with her before her death. Mary was kidnapped by a raiding party from her Pennsylvania home at 12. Although her family was killed, she was adopted into the Seneca tribe and chose to live her life with the Seneca, despite having many chances to return to white civilization. This account was first written in1824, with all the memories of the French and Indian War and the Revolution still alive in the hearts and minds of the peopl ...more
Andrea Stoeckel
Sep 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
I have lived in NY for over a decade, living in the area that claims Mrs. Mary Jemison as a daughter and who erected a statue of her near Letchworth State Park. This book is reported to be her own story in her own words, as she was iilliterate. However, her use of Biblical allagories may prove this account padded by her writer.

It is an important work as it is a first person account of the confederation of the Six Nations, and how they interacted with one another as much as with the white settle
Almost a year ago I read Indian Captive: The Story of Mary Jemison by Lois Lenski, which is based on a the true story of Mary Jemison. That book led to research Mary Jemison online, which in turn led me to this book.

While not written by Mary herself, the authors says Mary herself related the story of her life to him, and from her own words he'd written this book.

It was a good book, lots of information not just about Mary herself, but family and the tribe that adopted her.

Mary really had a hard l
Dec 03, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography-ish
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
After reading Lois Lenski's children's book about Mary Jemison (Indian Captive: the Life of Mary Jemison), I decided I wanted to read more about Jemison's life. In her introduction to this volume, June Namais, who has studied all the various versions of this book that were published after the initial 1824 publication, concludes that while the 1824 publication is suspect as to the veracity of the story, the later versions contain editing, additions and amendments that skew the picture of Jemison' ...more
Seaver's excessive expository introductions and asides can be annoying (and long), but the bulk of the narrative that is that of Mary Jemison or at least very close to the stories Jemison told to Seaver offer a remarkable insight into late colonial and early independent America. Jemison's story illustrates the complexity of interaction, intermarriage, and ethnic identity among whites, Indians, and their relatives by blood and marriage.
Jemison seemed well able to distinguish between cultural prac
Ruth Harper
Very interesting from a historical perspective. However, I felt it was a bit drawn out, but that's probably because I have the attention span of a 21st century girl, not a 19th century person. I learned a lot about history, though. Also, I'm from upstate NY and a lot of places nearby (Rochester, Buffalo, etc.) are places I have been to or heard about. That element raised it a bit for me. I like reading about history of places where I've been. Great read for anyone interested in American history, ...more
Nicholas Maulucci
Jun 22, 2014 rated it liked it
interesting book. written by a white woman that was kidnapped by the Indians. a lot of very interesting inside info in book. the life of the author was mostly confined to Ohio and new york tribes. not only was the book biographical, but it also gave great insight to the sociological structure of the Indians. the last 20% of the book or so gave some biographical info about the Indians and their traditions, one of which was to sacrifice two dogs without blemish or spots. these dogs would take all ...more
Lauren Langford
May 08, 2014 rated it liked it
An amazing first hand account of what it was like between Colonists and Indians in the late 1700s and early 1800s. There were unimaginable levels of violence but also moments of striking compassion as well. Mrs. Jemison's tenacity and ability to adapt and survive against the odds is a great and inspiring story.

Note of caution: Read this in a quiet room where you can focus easily. Syntax and vocabulary make this a difficult book to read.
Dec 24, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mary Jemison narrates, through a Physician by the surname of Seaver, her life after being taken captive by the Iroquois. She is called the "white woman of Genneesee County" by Seaver and in his side notes and filtering of her narrative, continues to remind the reader that she is white though she fully assimilated into the Iroquois tribe and even considers herself Iroquois. She lives out her days with her tribe,marrying and having children. A good read in the Captivity Narrative series.
J. Ewbank
Jun 23, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: biography
This book was interesting because it told the life story of Mrs. Jemison and the times she lived in as well as the trials and tribulations she had--and there were many. It is interesting that this woman preferred living with the Indians rather than her on people for various reasons. I enjoyed it.

J. Robert Ewbank author "John Wesley, Natural Man, and the Isms" "Wesley's Wars" and "To Whom It May Concern"
Tara Lynn
When I was younger, I read Lois Lenski's "Indian Captive, the story of Molly Jemison," and I loved it so much that I must've re-read it a couple of dozen times. Molly Jemison is one of those completely inspirational historic figures for me. She lived a life of her own choice in a community that embraced her as their own. In one of those random office emails about which historical figures I'd like to be given the chance, I chose Mary Jemison.
Bill Paul
Sep 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Mary Jemison was a folk heroine in the Rochester, NY area when I was growing up. We read her story in grammar school and viewed her log cabin on display in the Museum of Arts and Science. This is not the story of my youth but a good read, nonetheless. Captured by Indians as a young girl she was raised as an Indian and married an Indian and when offered her freedom chose to live as an Indian. This is her story.
Val Hanson
Sep 23, 2012 rated it really liked it
This book caught my attention as soon as I learned of it.
It's a story of a child captured and redeemed by Indians in 1755.

The book was written by James E Seaver using Mary's own words in 1823.

The story is fascinating as we learn of the brutality and family that Mary finds with the Indians.

Want to read something different? I give this book a high recommendation!
Mar 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: teens-and-adults
I read this in conjuction with Lois Lenski's "Indian Captive." It is pretty interesting, although old-fashioned. It is also thankfully short.

The reason she refused to leave Indian life is different in the Lenski book than in real life. I guessed her real reason from the very outset. It just seemed obvious to me why she did not leave. Not giving away any spoilers!
Nov 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
Growing up I remember learning about Mary Jemison and had visited her statue at Letchworth both growing up and earlier this year. While on a hike at the Ganondagan Museum, a descendant of Mary Jemison recommended this book. I learned a lot from this book, and wondered why it was not an autobiography as the story is told in Mary's words. What an incredible woman and life story!
Dec 30, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: native-american
This is the true story of a woman taken captive who lived among Indians in the 1700's. Her life story and what she shares of Seneca Indian culture is very interesting. The style of writing is old; the story is told to someone as Mrs. Jamison could not write, and she told the story of her life when she was in her eighties.
Marjorie Geiser
Oct 19, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
These narratives, written in their actual time in history, are usually quite interesting. This was another good one that I would recommend for anyone interested in the early history of when White men and Native American's came into conflict.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • A Song for Mary: An Irish-American Memory
  • Gang of One: Memoirs of a Red Guard
  • 10 Books Every Conservative Must Read: Plus Four Not to Miss and One Impostor
  • Harriet Tubman: The Moses of Her People
  • Ravenous: A Food Lover's Journey from Obsession to Freedom
  • Sex and the River Styx
  • Life and Death at Hoover Dam
  • Rachel Calof's Story: Jewish Homesteader on the Northern Plains
  • Wading Home
  • The Triangle Fire
  • Impressions of an Indian Childhood
  • Final Moments: Nurses' Stories about Death and Dying
  • There Is an Urgency
  • Masquerade: The Life and Times of Deborah Sampson, Continental Soldier
  • From the Deep Woods to Civilization
  • The Little Known
  • Ernie's Ark
  • Like Family: Growing Up in Other People's Houses: A Memoir
Dr. James Everett Seaver was the son of Capt. William Sever (1763-1828) and Mary Everett (1765-1815). He lives all his life in the area forming the modern state of New York, living in Hebron & Darien.

He earned a diploma issued by the state of Vermont medical society. A minister, he also practised medicine until his death in 1827.

Dr. Everett is famous for authoring "A Narrative Of The Life Of
More about James E. Seaver...
“Time, the destroyer of every affection, wore away my unpleasant feelings, and I became as contented as before. We” 1 likes
More quotes…