Sunday, May 06, 2001

Road name recalls pioneer's ordeal


Ky. 8 retraces her journey home

By Gene Franzen
Enquirer Contributor

        Ky. 8, also known as River Road, follows the Ohio River from Boone County east to Maysville. In Campbell, Bracken and Mason counties, it's officially called “Mary Ingles Highway.” Who was Mary Ingles?

        Mary Ingles was the first white woman to see what is now Kentucky. She was captured by Shawnee Indians, and later escaped. Details of her ordeal are sketchy and sometimes vary but historians agree on one thing: Mary Ingles was one tough pioneer lady.

[photo] Looking west from the Combs—Hehl Bridge, Ky. 8, also known as River Road, follows the Ohio River.
(Patrick Reddy photo)
| ZOOM |
        On July 8, 1755, the Ingles farm in Virginia was attacked by Shawnee Indians and several family members were killed. Twenty-three-year-old Mary and her two sons were captured and forced to accompany the Indians west along the Ohio River to Big Bone Lick in Boone County.

        In October, shortly after her children were sent north, Mary escaped her captors and began a 600-mile journey back east along the Ohio River. She crossed freezing tributaries and lived off the land for 43 days.

        Mary was reunited with her husband, William, and they resumed farming at Ingles Ferry in Virginia. Her youngest son died in captivity but she regained her older son after he spent 13 years in captivity. Mary and William had four more children after her return.

        There have been several books and a television movie, Follow the River, about Mary's journey. A historical marker at Big Bone refers to Mary Ingles as a “courageous, resourceful pioneer.” She lived to be 83.

       Now and Then, a look at historic places in Northern Kentucky, appears Sundays in The Kentucky Enquirer. To suggest a feature, call 578-5555.
       



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