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"Follow the River" the True Mary Draper Ingles' Story

This author writes of places in the southern U.S. you may love to visit; having personal knowledge of which she writes!

Follow the River by James Alexander Thom. This book is based on a true story of a young woman, wife and mother, who was kidnapped by Shawnee Indians and taken down the New River. This woman was Mary Draper Ingles, mother of two little boys; and expecting a third child when she was kidnapped along with her two young sons and two other adults besides her.

Mary Draper Ingles Statue

Mary Draper Ingles Statue

The Mary Ingle's Story

This took place after having family and friends brutally murdered, including her own mother right in front of her.

Can you imagine the physical and mental condition of this mother and her children? This reads like a cowboy and Indian tale but it is all too true and the bodies strewn everywhere are very real and the beginning probably for someone squeamish was the hardest to read through.

The Indians then kidnapped a pregnant Mary and her two sons and they have such a horrible trip down the New River mountain trail. The excitement of the book is knowing it is all a true story and so unbelievable that a woman could survive this ordeal in the condition Mary is in. She is only twenty-four and besides being pregnant is watching her two young sons, no doubt screaming and crying being man handled by savages!

What is in their minds to make them even want a mother and two young boys? Do they plan to kill them later? Make slaves of them perhaps or sell or trade them for that purpose? It really amazed me that they choose certain ones and killed the rest. It makes me wonder if they didn't watch this family of people and decide which they would allow to stay alive to take back with them that they could handle and could make the trip.

Was it for economic reasons possibly because they needed a larger tribe for some reason I wonder? What possible reason to come this very long way for what little they could possibly carry back and hostages with little to offer other than trouble?

New River

New River

New River

Being brave isn't the absence of fear. Being brave is having that fear but finding a way through it.

— Bear Grylls

This Book Based on Factual Research

This book is over thirty years old and I read it over ten years ago for the first time. I do not think I have read another quite like it. In fact I was running my own book shop when I read this and we could never have enough copies of it. It was the most ever requested.

I love non-fiction books and also books written based on fact. So liking it so well did not surprise me. But this book was written so extremely well you can never believe it is only based on gathered fact. Facts achieved by the author seeking to find what this young twenty-four year old woman must have gone through going along this river. The trip home is even more amazing and of course she does not have anyone caring for her or leading her which makes for a very traumatic trip!

Then believe it or not, struggling eventually back along it to her husband! With no choice but to give up her baby or even a chance to consider her two young boys. She has lost three children in a matter of speaking, gone through so very much and yet her heart is set on doing the impossible.

New River


In the Eye of the Beholder

I was so shocked seeing what others said about this book. Although many, like me, simply found it outstanding with no fault whatsoever, many criticized the author for writing it! Many thought it was too horrible for a mother to read because of things Mary witnessed and decisions she made to get back home.

Reading others reviews on this book reminded me of the game of whispering a secret to someone next to you and then having it pass down the line to see what it turned out to be in the end. I surely won’t give away the major part of the book to ruin the reading for anyone but I can tell you if you think you know about it by reading reviews, you better think again. I have never heard of so many versions of one book and so completely different, down to the sex of the baby Mary had, that she left her home in Virginia carrying.

Follow the River

New River

To see these rivers today and the terrain up and down thinking of Mary just makes one shake their head in disbelief.

To see these rivers today and the terrain up and down thinking of Mary just makes one shake their head in disbelief.

The American Frontier

Many could not finish the book with all the horrors Mary went through being so bad as to make them sick they say. One could wonder about movies today that most people can watch without flinching and wonder if these same people watch those.

This was a very brave young woman and if she lived it surely it could not be so hard for someone to learn this piece of very important history. These things that happened on the American frontier more than once that is a part of our history and accepted as such. This one tale in particular; letting us know of what many endured. How many more were this intelligent and determined, I wonder, to escape these savages?

I knew this river the Shawnee took Mary down and was familiar enough myself to know what a rough way she had to go and all the time it must have taken. Then for her to find her way and survive getting back, it is simply amazing!

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I recommend this book to all and I think men and women alike or even teens would learn very much from it and be very entertained. If not then perhaps the movie included would be for you.

Follow the River

The Virginia Sky

On a clear day in Virginia.

On a clear day in Virginia.

After escaping and making it back up New River; Mary Draper Ingles reunited with her husband and in 1762 they established Ingles Ferry; across the New River with a tavern and a blacksmith shop. Here Mary died in 1815.

Mary's son Thomas and sister-in-law Bettie were ransomed from the Indians, eventually, but the others who were kidnapped at Draper's Meadow died in Indian captivity.

Walking in Her Shoes

I still, after all these years, can put myself right beside Mary as I did years ago first reading, living with these Indians and making her plan. Although it has been awhile since I have read this book I remember it well and have two copies I would never part with. There are other books out there about Mary Ingales and all that happened to her. I cannot say I would not read them, given the opportunity, but I feel sure none could be better than James Alexander Thom's account, who it is said married an Indian woman who was an aid in his book.

I promise I have given little of the adventures in this book away and you will have a wonderful read. So please pick it up at your local bookstore, Amazon or one of many other places online new and used or perhaps find it at your local library. It most certainly will be an unforgettable read. It would make a great present for a child or young person in your family too; to teach them history of America and a great adventure of a very tough woman in early America.


Follow The River by Thomas Alexander Thom

YouTube Video

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2012 Jackie Lynnley


Jackie Lynnley (author) from the beautiful south on July 17, 2016:

Yes Deborah, it has been awhile since I have been at this but I am thinking there were a couple of movies and I would love to see one again too. I would not part with my last book for the books really are so much better, aren't they?

Deborah Demander from First Wyoming, then THE WORLD on July 17, 2016:

I love this book and have read it several times, and given away several copies.

I didn't

Know it was a movie.

Thanks for reminding me of one of my favorites.


Jackie Lynnley (author) from the beautiful south on September 08, 2015:

Thanks Perspycacious! I think.

Jackie Lynnley (author) from the beautiful south on September 08, 2015:

You will love it Phyllis; I have no doubt. I do so much I have two copies in case something happens to one. lol Just coming here makes me want to read it again. Perhaps I will wait until there is a chill in the air though which seems to go better with books like this.

Thanks so much for reading!

Demas W Jasper from Today's America and The World Beyond on September 08, 2015:

History biffs, rejoice.

Phyllis Doyle Burns from High desert of Nevada. on September 08, 2015:

Hi Jackie. I want to get this book. I have not read it yet and did not see the movie, but I did research on Mary's story and wrote an article on a few years ago. She was an amazing woman.

I enjoyed reading your well-written review.

Jackie Lynnley (author) from the beautiful south on February 14, 2015:

This story is about the woman who was captured and escaped against all odds; just hanging on to life with determination to get back to her husband. It has nothing to do with what her ancestors did.

The story of the 12 year old sounds interesting too but I imagine had she been older she would have had more of a mind of her own instead of giving in to child abuse plus who know what worse.

I know Indians have been mistreated in this country and still are. Here we are going to give billions to illegals and reward them for breaking our laws and homeland security in Arizona at least cannot even stop or arrest the drunk drivers. So our country is far from better right now but all that is another story.

Yoleen Lucas from Big Island of Hawaii on February 14, 2015:

This is the first I've heard of the book. Based on what you said here, I'd rather not read it.

However, there is an ancient book written by Lois Lenski, called, "Indian Captive; The Story of Mary Jemison". It is based on a true story with a similar plot line; a 12 year old girl is kidnapped by the Seneca tribe, and her family killed. Over the next 2 years she is used as a slave, but the tribe doesn't work her too hard, and is quite kind to her. When she finally has a chance to return to the whites, she refuses. She marries into the tribe (2 husbands!) and lives happily ever after.

I prefer stories like this, knowing what was done to the Native Americans. Yes, they committed atrocities, but it's nothing compared to what was done to them. I have also read, "Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee".

Jackie Lynnley (author) from the beautiful south on February 09, 2015:

This a great book! You will certainly not be sorry you read it and if you don't have to own it I am sure just about any library has it it has always been so popular.

RoadMonkey on February 09, 2015:

Fascinating. Must read this book. What a horrendous thing to happen, yet it is still happening in certain parts of the world.

Jackie Lynnley (author) from the beautiful south on October 02, 2013:

Thanks Devika it is a great book and I am going to watch the movie here as soon as I can!

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on October 02, 2013:

An extraordinary hub on My Favorite Book - Follow the River, you have created such a helpful review and the photos are beautiful sounds like a must read book.

Jackie Lynnley (author) from the beautiful south on December 01, 2012:

Thank you tonymead, this was a fun hub to do, and I really should dig that book out this winter. Time to refresh my memory on it but I do remember it was really good.

Tony Mead from Yorkshire on December 01, 2012:


Interesting hub and a good read too. I like real life dramas, sometimes they are more horrid than Holywood might produce, but that's life as they say. I think the author was brave taking on this subject, and the person in question probably did what was necessary to stay alive, it is very easy for people who have not left their comfort zone to be critical.

voted up and stuff


Jackie Lynnley (author) from the beautiful south on September 01, 2012:

Thank you carol for reading, I would love to see your paintings I am sure. It really is a very good book that you want to keep and not part with.

carol stanley from Arizona on September 01, 2012:

The book sounds lovely. Of course I am enticed by the photos and want to paint them. Thanks for sharing. Voted UP for a great review.

Jackie Lynnley (author) from the beautiful south on August 24, 2012:

Oh I know you will find it Rolly, it was one of my most requested books years I was running a book store and it is still just as good! History actually. OK see you did, that is great.

Hugs and blessings back at ya.

Rolly A Chabot from Alberta Canada on August 24, 2012:

Hi jackie... just found it and have it on all my devices for reading no matter where I find myself... Thanks for the heads up... if you like it so will I...

Hugs and Blessings Again

Rolly A Chabot from Alberta Canada on August 24, 2012:

Hi Jackie... I can see where this is a book I will need to add to my collection. What an awesome review you have posted here... off to Amazon to see if I can find it...

Hugs as Always

Jackie Lynnley (author) from the beautiful south on August 20, 2012:

I still have two copies of the book but haven't read it in so long, I really should do that, it was a great book. Thank you and God bless.

stars439 from Louisiana, The Magnolia and Pelican State. on August 20, 2012:

Thank you for sharing you're thoughts on a very interesting book. A very inspiring woman, and mother , the lady is for sustaining so much brutality , yet surviving, and dragging on no matter what her future unfolded. Sounds like a fine book to read. GBY.

Jackie Lynnley (author) from the beautiful south on April 07, 2012:

Thank you Christy, it makes us know what is possible if our will is strong enough. I am not at all sure I could have done this. You are welcome!

Christy Birmingham from British Columbia, Canada on April 07, 2012:

Wow this does sound like a tough read. I am sure that after reading the book many people are grateful for what they have in their lives. Thanks for the share.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on April 07, 2012:

I never read this book but it sounds good. Your photos are lovely also. Very interesting hub.

Jackie Lynnley (author) from the beautiful south on April 04, 2012:

Perspycacious, thank you very much, glad you enjoyed both!

Demas W Jasper from Today's America and The World Beyond on April 04, 2012:

Good book reviw and great photos. I'm staying tuned in.

Jackie Lynnley (author) from the beautiful south on March 14, 2012:

Debbie, thanks so much.

Jackie Lynnley (author) from the beautiful south on March 14, 2012:

So glad you can back me up Stephanie to let everyone know how really good it is. Thank you!

Jackie Lynnley (author) from the beautiful south on March 14, 2012:

I see you at HubHoppers Debbie, but I am not sure if we are friends at FB, but I am Jackie Lynnley or jackielynnley everywhere. I am not too far from Winston and I am familiar with Gastonia, and Charlotte is absolutely beautiful, but all of it is here isn't it? Thank you so much for sharing me and tomorrow I am publishing a new Hear That Whistle Blow hub, and I think you were one of the ones who was following those. Will look for you at FB next time I go there. Oh, and yes this is based on a true story and all the facts this woman left and recorded. It is fantastic.

Stephanie Henkel from USA on March 14, 2012:

I read this book last year, and it made a deep impression on me. This is an incredible story! I join you in recommending it as a great read.

Deborah Brooks Langford from Brownsville,TX on March 14, 2012:

Jackie.. this is amazing I want to read this book. so is it a true story?

I am going to and look for it.

I am sharing this and pinning and tweeting.. and Google. are we friends on Facebook?

if not here is my ,link I want to be friends. are you from Winston Salem NC? I was born in Gastonia right beside of Charlotte..

voted up


Jackie Lynnley (author) from the beautiful south on March 14, 2012:

I would just about bet it is. As I said I never had so many requests for a book and I made sure I had two copies because someone always hoodoos me out of a favorite book! Never to be seen again.

WillStarr from Phoenix, Arizona on March 14, 2012:

Now I have to see if it's available on Kindle!

Jackie Lynnley (author) from the beautiful south on March 10, 2012:

Thank you Vellur, I am sure you can'y help but like it but make sure you get the copy by Thom, I know the others couldn't compare. Thanks for the vote, and just stopping by!

Nithya Venkat from Dubai on March 10, 2012:

This is a great review. I have not read the book, I will find it and read it.The lady in the story was very brave and courageous. Voted up.

Jackie Lynnley (author) from the beautiful south on March 07, 2012:

Thanks Eddy, I know you will love it!

Eiddwen from Wales on March 07, 2012:

A great review and I am keeping my eyes peeled.

I wish you a great day.


Jackie Lynnley (author) from the beautiful south on March 06, 2012:

Thank you Alastar, I thought of looking up statistics on it but it had to be original and running a book store for awhile I had no doubt what a popular book it was. Maybe because it was written by a man, I don't know but men read it too. It is quite some adventure and travels I can tell you! The last of it with really no food.

Alastar Packer from North Carolina on March 06, 2012:

Hey Jackie here's Amazon's commenter's rankings on the book: 134 five stars; 23 four stars; 3 three stars; 3 two stars; and 5 one star. With an average of 41/2 stars- very good!

Jackie Lynnley (author) from the beautiful south on March 06, 2012:

Thanks rebecca, hope to soon have a bigger better showing, I really love photography and spend way too much time on it. Hope you will like what I am working on! Thanks for coming by.

Jackie Lynnley (author) from the beautiful south on March 06, 2012:

Thank you Bobbi, glad you have an idea of what it was about but the book is always better...well in my opinion, lol. Thanks for the vote!

Rebecca Mealey from Northeastern Georgia, USA on March 06, 2012:

Sounds like a good book but I just love your photography too!

Barbara Purvis Hunter from Florida on March 06, 2012:


I had that video, and sold it at a yardsale raising money for Special Needs Children. It was a good story.

Thanks for the memory. I enjoyed your hub. I voted up and awesome.


Jackie Lynnley (author) from the beautiful south on March 06, 2012:

ctbrown7 - It is a very popular book and has sold millions of copies I have not one doubt. If you like a good read you will love it.

ctbrown7 on March 06, 2012:

Sounds like an interesting book. I've never heard of it.

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