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Famous People of the Finger Lakes

Mary Jemison (1743-1833)

Mary was just 11 and living in a colony in Pennsylvania when a Shawnee war party attacked her family, killing Statue of Mary Jemison at Letchworth State Parkeveryone except two brothers who fled. Mary was captured and adopted as a Seneca sister. She later married a Delaware chief and lived with his people near what is now Gettsburg, Pennsylvania. When he was killed while hunting, Mary walked 300 miles back to the Senecas who lived near what is now Letchworth State Park. There she married Hiakatoo, a Seneca warrior with whom she had six children.


Hiakatoo went to fight against General Sullivan's army in 1779. Before Sullivan's men destroyed it, Mary and her children fled their village for Gardeau Flats, which is now part of Letchworth State Park, where she erected a cabin and farmed the land. She later moved to the Buffalo Creek Reservation where she died and was buried.


In 1874 William Letchworth had her remains re-enterred on a plateau near the Glen Iris Inn in the park. A statue of Mary as a young woman can be found near the site as well as the cabin Mary built.


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