Genesee Falls in Wyoming County, New York — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
White Woman of the Genesee
Letchworth State Park
Mary Jemison (1743-1833) was born during a voyage from Ireland to the United States [sic]. Captured during the French and Indian War, she was adopted into the Seneca Nation and chose to remain a Seneca, marrying and raising a family in the Genesee Valley. Following the Revolutionary War, Mary was awarded a large reservation at the Gardeau Flats, located in what is now the central part of Letchworth State Park. She lived there until 1831, when she moved to Buffalo Creek Reservation. She died in 1833 and was buried on the reservation. In 1874, William Pryor Letchworth brought her remains back to the Genesee Valley where she had spent most of her life.
Wyoming County artist Carlos Stebbins created this portrait of Mary Jemison based on descriptions provided by her contemporaries. Courtesy of the Wyoming Historical Pioneer Association.
After the Buffalo Creek Reservation was sold and the cemetery was unprotected from vandals, pieces of Mary's gravestone were broken off and taken as souvenirs. Concerned, several of Mary Jemison's grandsons contacted Letchworth and asked his help preserving her grave. Letchworth had her remains
Letchworth had Mary Jemison's gravestone installed in 1874, when he moved her remains here to the Council Grounds. Around 1880, he had the gravestone placed in a case and relocated to the Nancy Jemison cabin. It was moved to the William Pryor Letchworth Museum in 1979, where it remains on display today.
Letchworth had a marble monument placed at Mary's grave site soon after her reburial at the Council Grounds in 1874. In 1910, the monument became the base for a seven-foot-high bronze statue of Mary Jemison, designed by Henry K. Bush-Brown. The statue depicts Mary as a young woman carrying her first child, Thomas, on her journey between Ohio and the Genesee Valley, which she made her home.
The unveiling of the bronze statue of Mary Jemison occurred only weeks before Letchworth's death in 1910. In this photograph of the event, Mr. Charles D. Wail, a professor from Hobart College, Geneva, NY, addresses the group. To his left, seated at the table is Mr. Charles Dow, Chairman, Letchworth Park Committee of the American Scenic and Historic Preservation Society. Caroline Bishop, Letchworth's secretary, is visible just to the right of the speaker. Letchworth is seated fourth from the right and Henry Hagaman Hall, Secretary of the American Scenic and Historic Preservation
Thomas Jemison and James Shongo were grandsons of Mary Jemison. They attended "The Last Council Fire" in 1872.
To learn more about Mary Jemison, visit the William Pryor Letchworth Museum.
Erected by Letchworth State Park.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Charity & Public Work • Native Americans • War, French and Indian • War, US Revolutionary. In addition, it is included in the Mary Jemison - White Woman of the Genessee series list. A significant historical year for this entry is 1743.
Location. 42° 35.16′ N, 78° 2.597′ W. Marker is in Genesee Falls, New York, in Wyoming County. Marker can be reached from Council Ground Access Road, 0.2 miles west of Park Road. Marker is one section of a four-section two-sided shelter style board. It is in Letchworth State Park, southern end, on the path from the Council Grounds parking lot at the end of the short access road. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Castile NY 14427, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Welcome to the Seneca Council Grounds (here, next to this marker); The Council Grounds Ca. 1907...and Under Restoration (here, next to this marker); Nancy Jemison Log CabinTo the Memory of Mary Jemison (within shouting distance of this marker); This Ancient Seneca Council House (within shouting distance of this marker); In Grateful Memory of William Pryor Letchworth (about 700 feet away, measured in a direct line); Pioneer Cemetery (approx. Ό mile away); First New York Dragoons. Volunteers. 1862-1865. (approx. 0.3 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Genesee Falls.
Also see . . .
1. Letchworth State Park. New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation website entry (Submitted on August 10, 2014, by Anton Schwarzmueller of Wilson, New York.)
2. Mary Jemison. Wikipedia entry (Submitted on August 10, 2014, by Anton Schwarzmueller of Wilson, New York.)
3. Mary Jemison or Dehgewanus - Letchworth State Park History. Glimpses of the Past. People, Places, and Things in Letchworth State Park History. (Submitted on August 10, 2014, by Anton Schwarzmueller of Wilson, New York.)
4. Mary Jemison, Captivity Narrative from the 1750s (1824). Spiritual Pilgrim website entry (Submitted on August 10, 2014, by Anton Schwarzmueller of Wilson, New York.)
Credits. This page was last revised on December 29, 2021. It was originally submitted on August 10, 2014, by Anton Schwarzmueller of Wilson, New York. This page has been viewed 470 times since then and 28 times this year. Last updated on August 18, 2014, by Anton Schwarzmueller of Wilson, New York. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on August 10, 2014, by Anton Schwarzmueller of Wilson, New York. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.