Mary Campbell

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Mary Campbell Cave.jpg
The cave, located in Cuyahoga Falls, inside Gorge Metropolitan Park, was originally known as Old Maid’s Kitchen, until the Daughters of the American Revolution renamed it Mary Campbell Cave. Originally published in Art Work of Akron, Ohio in 1898.

During the French and Indian War (1756-1763) the Delaware Indians captured Mary Campbell. She lived in western Pennsylvania prior to her kidnapping. For seven years, the Delawares kept her as a captive at Chief Newcomer's village along the Cuyahoga River. Eventually they allowed her to return to her family in Pennsylvania.

During the French and Indian War, the American Revolution, and the other conflicts that arose between the English and then Americans against the Indians, Ohio Country natives commonly raided white settlements. The natives killed hundreds of settlers. They also captured many others. Typically, one of two things happened to these prisoners. First, the Native Americans may have sought vengeance for any number of reasons against the captives. In these cases, the natives usually tortured the settlers and then killed them. Second, many times the Indians would adopt the settlers into their families. The natives did this primarily because of their dwindling numbers during the late 1700s. The Indians died from several causes but especially because of wars and from diseases spread by the Europeans.

The people natives were most likely to adopt were young children and women. They believed it would be easier to control these people and force them to adopt Indian ways. Thus, women like Mary Campbell were adopted into the Delaware tribe. Adult men were less likely to be adopted. They were more likely to be killed by the natives. Such was the case with Colonel William Crawford in 1782. This is not to say that no adult men were ever adopted into native tribes. Daniel Boone, captured in 1778, became a member of the Shawnee Indians until he could escape.

Most Native American captives adopted into the various tribes eventually were able to gain their freedom. Sometimes this was because a group of native people was conquered by the Europeans. In the resulting treaty, the natives commonly had to relinquish all captives. Some of these adopted natives, such as Mary Jemison among the Senecas, wished to remain with their captors. Many of the people adopted as children had no memories of living as Europeans. Others simply preferred the natives' way of life. The Indians also routinely allowed their adoptive members, after several years, to choose to remain as Indians or to return to their earlier ways.

See Also


  1. Hurt, R. Douglas. The Ohio Frontier: Crucible of the Old Northwest, 1720-1830. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1996.