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Songbirds Are Free

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Based on a true story. In August 1780, just four months after arriving at Fort Nashborough after a harrowing river journey west, 19-year-old Mary Neely was captured by Shawnee warriors. Mere moments after witnessing her father s death and scalping, the warriors spared Mary s life, taking her to Shawneetown, hundreds of miles away along the Ohio River, where they initiated her into the tribe and renamed her Songbird for her beautiful voice. Then they gave her a choice: marriage to the warrior that had just slain her father, or become a slave to the chieftain s wife. She told the interpreter that she wanted neither and that songbirds are free. The interpreter then decided for her: she would become a slave. Mary s ordeal was only beginning. She was taken a thousand miles from her home, journeying the war-torn country s midsection while she attempted numerous times to escape, only to be interrupted or recaptured. At Fort Detroit, she learned the British soldiers were rewarding Native Americans that captured settlers, believing this would impair their ability to fight in the Revolutionary War. They paid the Shawnee for her Indian capture but returned her to the captors. The tribe, in turn, used their payment to unwittingly purchase items from Fort Detroit, including blankets carrying smallpox. As their travels continued northward, the dwindling tribe became infected with smallpox, including Mary. She managed to escape to a French village, whose inhabitants hid her while her captors searched for her. But her ordeal was not yet over. During her escape, she was captured by the British, who held her as a prisoner of war. Songbirds are Free is considered a narrative nonfiction survival story penned by a descendant of Mary Neely, who traveled in her footsteps more than two hundred years after her ancestor s capture. Author p.m.terrell started with personal journals and articles of the period and met with historians, archeologists, and Native American experts, as well as visited the places where Mary was taken. The result is a meticulously researched account of Mary Neely s three years in captivity, revealing a strong woman that never gave up faith or determination to be free. It is also considered Native American/Colonial American/Early American historical fiction for its use of dialogue. Songbirds are Free reads like a fast-paced action-adventure, but it proves once more that truth is often more dramatic than fiction. It is also a peek into Native American culture at the time of the American Revolution, their struggles, their will to survive, and the choices they faced in aligning with the French, the British, or the Americans. Ultimately, Songbirds are Free is about the women that helped to settle America and their grit, perseverance, faith, and strength. The story of Mary's journey westward in 1779-1780 as part of the Donelson river voyage is told in the companion book, River Passage. Her ancestor s migration in 1608 from Scotland to Ulster is detailed in Clans and Castles.

384 pages, Paperback

First published October 1, 2007

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About the author

P.M. Terrell

24 books230 followers
p.m.terrell is the pen name for Patricia McClelland Terrell, the award-winning, internationally acclaimed author of more than 21 books in four genres: contemporary suspense, historical adventure/suspense, computer how-to and non-fiction.

Prior to writing full-time, she founded two computer companies in the Washington, DC Metropolitan Area. Among her clients were the Central Intelligence Agency, United States Secret Service, U.S. Information Agency, and Department of Defense. Her specialties were in white collar computer crimes and computer intelligence, themes that have carried forward to her contemporary suspense.

She has been a full-time author since 2002. Vicki’s Key was a top five finalist in the 2012 International Book Awards and 2012 USA Book Awards nominee, and The Pendulum Files was a national finalist for the Best Cover of the Year in 2014. The Tempest Murders was one of four finalists in the 2013 International Book Awards, cross-genre category.

Her historical suspense, River Passage, was a 2010 Best Fiction and Drama Winner. It was determined to be so historically accurate that a copy of the book resides at the Nashville Government Metropolitan Archives in Nashville, Tennessee.

She is also the co-founder of The Book ‘Em Foundation, an organization committed to raising public awareness of the correlation between high crime rates and high illiteracy rates. She is the organizer and chairperson of Book ‘Em North Carolina, an annual event held in Lumberton, North Carolina, to raise funds to increase literacy and reduce crime. For more information on this event and the literacy campaigns funded by it, visit www.bookemnc.org. She is also the founder of The Novel Business, mentoring authors in the business end and selling of books.

She sits on the board of the Friends of the Robeson County Public Library. She has also served on the boards of Robeson County Arts Council, Crime Stoppers and Crime Solvers and became the first female president of the Chesterfield County-Colonial Heights Crime Solvers in Virginia.

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 5 of 5 reviews
Profile Image for Sherry Fundin.
1,798 reviews119 followers
February 21, 2019
Close your eyes, take a deep breath and let your mind go. Imagine you are a pioneer woman, captured by the Indians, bound hand and foot and taken far from home. Imagine floating in a canoe, smelling the trees, feeling the wind on your face and listening to the boat knife through the water. Around the bend the prairie spreads out in its vastness and a herd of bison grow larger. There is a white buffalo. Have you heard of it?

Songbirds Are Free by P M Terrell is told from two points of view. One is Mary’s, the other is Jim’s. A relative who never gives up in his search for her.

Captured by Indians, Mary chose to live and wait patiently to escape, adopting the life instead of dying and her determination to survive and return to her family is amazing.

Songbirds Are Free is a piece of P M Terrell’s personal history, spiced up with her ability to write a story that will have you white knuckled, sometimes pissed off, sometimes sad, sometimes even spreading a smile or two across my face as I travel with P M Terrell in Mary’s fictional footsteps.

I voluntarily reviewed a free copy of Songbirds Are Free by P M Terrell.

May 27, 2022
Recently discovered Mary is my great auntx7. Billy was my grandfatherx7, and William my grandfatherx8. I had always vaguely known the story. This made it real. Take you P.M.Terrell.
1,062 reviews
April 18, 2016
Because it is a true (mostly) account of a Nashville native:
Mary Neely is out boiling down salt at the salt lick outside of the confines of Fort Nashborough with her Dad and others out hunting. They are set upon by a small group of Shawnee Indians who scalp her dad in front of her and take her captive.
It is 2 years before she finally is "free."
They travel north. Through malaria infested swamp area. The British give them blankets infested with smallpox and Mary helps nurse the small tribe through and an older woman helps Mary with salve that prevents her from scarring. At one point she asks them why not just cooperate with the white men? "Which white men?" they answer. Good point. The Canadians are with the British (I think). The French? They are aligned with other Indians they are probably at odds with. The colonials? The British?
At one point she gets away and the British put her in prison! They put her among hundreds of other women prisoners in the bottom of a ship which gets caught in a storm. After they land, she walks off. Be careful! Even her own white people may be enemies!! She has to head South. She eventually runs into a fictional character who saves her.
These people who have such rough lives!!
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Pamela.
17 reviews2 followers
July 25, 2012
Great historical story about the abduction of Mary Neely and all she went through and the faith she had during it all. Some parts were a little graphic but nothing too stomach turning.
Displaying 1 - 5 of 5 reviews

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