Marry Campbell, the white girl who tried running back to her Native American captors


During the French and Indian War, the American Revolution, and various confrontations with American Indians that developed between the British and eventually the Americans, American Indian people in Ohio frequently invaded white towns that were unlawfully situated on American Indian grounds. Captives were occasionally taken by American Indian communities defending themselves against violent Anglo-American expansion.
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These prisoners were allegedly tortured and slain in certain circumstances by American Indians. In other situations, the captive settlers were adopted into the families of Ohio's American Indians. Some American Indian communities in Ohio were reported to have done this because of their diminishing numbers in the late 1700s.

In Cumberland County's Tuscarora Valley, a pioneer named Campbell resided with his family on the banks of Canncoquin Creek. The Stuart family, who resided on a nearby farm, were their neighbors. Mrs. Stuart went to see a neighbor one day, leaving her children in the care of the red-haired and freckled ten-year-old Campbell daughter. Mrs. Stuart returned to find her children wailing.

As she approached the house, a group of Lenape Indians burst through the front door, carrying the household prisoners, including her newborn and their babysitter, Mary Campbell. Mrs. Stuart was abducted as well, and the tribe proceeded to their camp in what is now Armstrong County, Pennsylvania.

One of Mrs. Stuart's children, a seven-year-old boy called Sammy, was so fatigued by the trip that he couldn't take another step. The Indians carried him on their backs for three days. The Lenape in charge of carrying Sammy lagged behind the group of natives and captives on the third day, but he soon caught up without the boy. Mrs. Stuart recognized the curly locks of hair dangling from his belt as he arrived. Poor sammy had been scalped.

Mary Campbell after reaching the camp won the tribe's chief's fatherly affection and was adopted (as was typical procedure among Native Americans at the time) by Chief Netawatwees, leader of the Turtle Clan of the Lenape country.

Though Mary's family missed her, children were treasured members of Lenape culture. They were cherished and cared for while helping with family duties. Mary's everyday responsibilities included housework and gardening. She did, however, have plenty of time to play; numerous Native American games helped tribe children develop abilities that they would need later in life. Mary and her Indian sisters entertained themselves by playing house with dolls made of leather, wood, and cornhusks.

This peaceful existence lasted several years, until Chief Netawatwees and the Turtle Clan retreated south to avoid Pontiac's War in 1764. The Lenapes moved to Newcomerstown along the lower Tuscarawas River after abandoning their serene sanctuary at Big Falls. The conflict was soon finished, and a peace deal was made. With this pact came a guarantee from the Indians to liberate any white prisoners.

The tribes accepted, and the children were returned to their family. Mary Campbell, on the other hand, had to be dragged back to her family. She didn't want to go home, and even after they brought her back, she sought to flee and return to the Lenape family who had abducted her.

Being taken from her Lenape family and separated from her Indian brothers and sisters was equally painful for Mary as being removed from her white family when she was ten years old. She may even have developed a crush on an attractive young native. Returning to her previous life ended these dreams for good.

Source: The beaded moccasins: The story of Mary Campbell

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Saurabh is a Computer Science & Engineering undergraduate student pursuing his writing interests. He enjoys researching current events/news as well as Evergreen Topics and has also been writing on Medium, Quora and Vocal.


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