Ingles finds a
Just try to imagine Mary’s situation in 1756…
• Mary is 24 years old, and the mother of 2-3 children
• She is concerned about her two sons, Thomas and George, who are still
captives living among the Shawnee nation (perhaps also about a baby girl
she had to leave behind).
• She is blessed with a good marriage, to a man (William Ingles) who is
capable of understanding her ordeal and who is willing to do anything to
protect her and rescue their children
• She has lost both her parents, and if she had aunts, uncles or cousins, we
don’t know who they were, or whether they were living in Virginia
• She has moved often – having been born near Philadelphia and moved
several times with her family to places known as Pattonsburg, the North
Forks of the Roanoke, and Drapers Meadow. Oh, and she has been to Ohio
and Kentucky, too.
• Her brother, John Draper, and her sister-in-law, Bettie Robinson Draper,
are alive, but Bettie is still a captive among the Shawnee, and Mary is
probably a little worried about how well John is handling the stress.
One enticing piece of evidence linking Bedford County
to the Ingles family…..Ingleside
• After leaving Bedford, William and Mary Ingles established a
home on the New River (present day Radford) starting about
• Their son John Ingles (b. 1766) built a beautiful home in 1790,
and named it Ingleside.
• Other Ingles descendants have also called their homes
• Is it likely that William and Mary Ingles might have called their
home in Bedford by the same name?
The search for reliable sources…
The closest thing we have to a first
hand account of Mary Ingles’ story is a
manuscript written by her youngest
son, John Ingles, in 1830. The original
copy of his manuscript is at the
University of Virginia. It was published
a few years ago by Roberta Ingles
Steele and her brother, Andrew Ingles.
According to John Ingles, in Escape from Indian Captivity, his
father brought his mother to Bedford…shortly before the Indians
attacked Fort Vause (near Shawsville), in 1756
Trans-Alleghany Pioneers, by John Hale, first written in the 1880s, has been
reprinted many times. This map (from a more recent edition) represents the
route of her journey.
Follow the River, written by James Alexander Thom about 100 years later,
while considered an historical novel, represents the highest standards of
research and story-telling. His book is still available at bookstores around the
country (and world) and has been used as the basis for the Hallmark television
movie by the same name
Untangling a jumbled array of sources…
• Augusta County Court Records (Chalkley Chronicles)
• History reference books by F. B. Kegley, Mary Kegley, & many
• Escape From Indian Captivity – John Ingles
• Trans-Alleghany Pioneers – John Hale
• Biographies of other frontier pioneers (by Patricia Givens
Johnston, Clare White, etc.)
• Historical Fiction – James Alexander Thom
• Recent scholarship, incl. the Smithfield Reviews, volumes 7 &
8 (“What Really Happened at Drapers Meadows: The
Evolution of a Frontier Legend;” & “Portrait of a Survivor: The
Long and Eventful Life of Mary Draper Ingles”)
Mysteries & Controversies…
What do we really know about Mary?
We have samples of her husband’s handwriting…but not hers! This
charming little note and signature was traced by Mary Kegley and
appears in one of her volumes of Adventures on the Western
The Ferry Hill Ledger (1797-1805) has several entries indicating that she bought
calico, and that once she brought in a “Milch” cow for credit.
The original ledger is in Special Collections at Virginia Tech. (I have a photo copy!)
The Ferry Hill Tavern operated for several decades, starting in
1772. This painting shows us how the tavern may have
appeared in the early nineteenth century.
We have family records about William and Mary’s
children, grandchildren, and 7-8 generations of
descendants, extending down to the present day.
Thomas Ingles, who grew
up among the Shawnee,
married Eleanor Grills,
from Albemarle, and they
had a son, Thomas (shown
Thomas Ingles’ story
• Born in 1751 (on North Fork of the Roanoke)
• Lived with the Shawnee for thirteen years
• Returned home to Virginia in 1768, age 17
• Educated (at a school run by Thomas Walker)
• Married a woman from Albemarle County (Eleanor Grills)
• Served as a lieutenant under William Christian in the Battle of Point
• Lost his two oldest children (William and Mary) when the Shawnee
attacked his home in Burkes Garden (1782)
• Kept moving west…several children survived, and many descendants are
still keeping his story alive today…
They say that lightning doesn’t usually strike twice in the same place, but
perhaps Indian attacks did. Listen to what happened in 1782…
• In the summer of 1782, Thomas Ingles (along with a few other
men) was working in the fields in Burkes Garden, Virginia,
• A Shawnee war party attacked the Ingles cabin and carried off
Eleanor (wife), William (4), Mary(2), and baby Rhoda.
• The rescue effort didn’t go well, with tragic results… The two
oldest children were mortally wounded.
• Thomas took Eleanor (seriously wounded by a tomahawk) and
Rhoda (unharmed) to Ingles Ferry to be with his parents for
awhile, but eventually moved back to the frontier
(Tennessee). William Ingles (1729-1782) died at Ingles Ferry a
few months after the tragedy.
We’ll never know for certain…
• About George (born about 1753)… but the Ingles were told that he died
soon after he was adopted into an Indian family in the winter of 1755-56.
• About the baby girl delivered somewhere along the trail in West Virginia,
in August of 1755. Mary never mentioned giving birth to a child on the
trail, so she also never mentioned the unspeakable anguish she might
have felt in deciding to leave her baby behind…
• Some Shawnee families still claim that they are descended from Mary
Ingles… Surprisingly, there were TWO women named Mary Ingles who
were captured in Virginia within the same year, so that may have added to
• According to information gathered from several sources…William Ingles
had an uncle (John Ingles) who was killed at Fort Vause in 1756. He was
married to a woman named Mary, who was captured and taken into Ohio.
She later tried to claim her widow’s share of her husband’s estate, but was
turned down because the colonial government did not believe her claim
to be legitimate… She remarried, a man named John Miller, and moved,
at least for a few years, to the Carolinas.
• More questions than answers…
• She married John Grills (brother of Eleanor Grills, wife of Polly’s older
• Many historians have said that Polly died young, after having one or two
children. They base that claim primarily on the marriage records showing
that John Grills remarried in 1792 (?).
• I recently stumbled on a court record in which a woman accused John
Grills of fathering her child (out of wedlock)…
• Another historian I met (Wayne Stark, who works at Sweet Briar College),
is absolutely convinced that he is descended from Polly Ingles, but that
she married a man named McBroom. We’re still trying to figure out what
may have happened.
Susannah Ingles married Abram Trigg.
Abram was a lawyer and apparently helped
his father-in-law resolve his land claims (no
small accomplishment). The Triggs were a
prominent family with ties to Bedford and
the Peaks Presbyterian Church. Both Abram
and his older brother, John Johns Trigg
served in the U.S. Congress.
Abram bought choice bottomland along the
New River that eventually became known as
Kentland, and is now owned by Virginia Tech.
Rhoda Ingles, who married Bird Smith, had a dozen or more children
John Ingles, who married Margaret Crockett, had eight children
• One of John’s sons became a doctor and lived throughout his
life at Ingleside. Bud Jeffries, who now lives at Ingleside, is a
direct descendant of John, the doctor.
• Another son, Thomas, inherited land on the other side of the
river. He helped create the Ingles Lafayette turnpike and built
a covered bridge over the New River. It was burned by the
Confederates shortly after the Battle of Cloyd’s Mountain.
Here is a painting of that Thomas Ingles – grandson of
Mary and William Ingles – and son of John Ingles
I am a direct descendant of Thomas Ingles
• William and Mary had a son, John Ingles
• John Ingles married Margaret Crockett and they had a son
• Thomas Ingles married Katherine McClanahan
• Thomas and Katherine had a son named Andrew Lewis Ingles
• Andrew Ingles married Julia Harvey
• Andrew and Julia had a daughter named Katherine Ingles
• Katherine married William P. Hill and they had a daughter
named Katherine Hill
• Katherine Hill married John S. Apperson
• Katherine and John had three children, with the youngest
named Ellen, making me a 7th great-granddaughter…
If any of you ever saw the outdoor
drama (The Long Way Home), the lion’s
share of credit for the production goes
to Mary Lewis Jeffries, who pushed,
pulled and prodded the production for
many years. This charming photograph
was taken as she played the part of
Mary’s mother – Eleanor Hardin Draper.
Her son (Bud Jeffries) owns the property
where the play was performed (for 30+
years) and is carrying on the tradition by
offering “Ingles Farm Days” throughout
Questions for Bedford historians…
What information may be hiding here, in this museum, about Mary’s sojourn
in Bedford County, and about her relatives and neighbors?
Who built Ingleside, the home mentioned on the map in my first slide?
Did William Ingles build a home for Mary in Bedford that looked something
like this (The Ingles Tavern)?
I’d like to recruit your help as history detectives…
• Can you help me look for information about the families who
lived in Bedford County during the 1750s?
• Many of these families probably moved away once the
warfare in the backcountry settled down. The Bedford County
Court records may have some bits of evidence indicating the
names of the early families who lived here
What happened to all those settlers who came into Augusta County?
• According to Mary Kegley, there were about 2,500 titheables in Augusta County in
1754, but within a few short years that number had shrunk to about 1,400. (Dan
Thorp, a scholar who teaches at Virginia Tech, estimates that to count population,
one should calculate 4 “bodies” per “titheable.” Using his rule of thumb, in terms
of population, it could be estimated that there were 10,000 people in Augusta
County before the start of the French and Indian war, but only 5,600 a few years
after the war started.)
• Where did everyone (approximately 4,400 men, women , and children) go???
Several hundred were killed or captured in Indians raids, but what about the other
thousands? Did many of them come to Bedford? Did many of them come through
Bedford on their way to the Carolinas?
• Perhaps we could track down many of our ancestors if we search the court records
in places such as Rowan County, North Carolina, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, or
in several of the counties in central Virginia.