As stated in the Introduction excerpt, Letchworth State Park is partly known for its Seneca Indian Council House. Located on the Council House property is the Jemison Cabin and Statue, pictured above. The statue portrays Mary carrying her son on her back as she made the journey to this location. A remarkable woman, Mrs. Mary Jemison was referred to as “The White Woman of the Genesee”. See “Pennsylvania Historical Marker: Mary Jemison” image for additional biographical information.
With her son, Mary Jemison accompanied her Seneca brother to Genishau where the Seneca Indians lived along the Genesee River. Upon arriving in the Genesee Valley, at current-day Letchworth State Park, she was greeted by members of her Seneca family. She planned to meet her husband, Delaware Indian, Sheninjee, in Genishau; however, he fell ill and died during his travels. At Genesee, Mary remarried an Indian chief named Hiokatoo, with whom she had four daughters and two sons.
In A Narrative of the Life of Mrs. Mary Jemison, Mary recounts the Seneca’s alliance with the French during the French and Indian War. She recalled British prisoners being ceremoniously executed in November of 1759 at Little Beard’s Town, a nearby Seneca settlement. She specifically remembered her Seneca mother adamantly forbidding her and her sister to attend the event. Her mother empathized the executions were no different than the kidnapping and murders Mary’s family had suffered.
Following the French and Indian War, Mary’s tribe lived peacefully. Mary described, “No people can live more happy than the Indians did in times of peace (Seaver). This peace was disturbed during the American Revolutionary War, in which the Seneca fought alongside the British. During this time, Mary housed two British officers, Colonels Butler and Brandt. In addition, she witnessed the destruction of Genesee Flats by General Sullivan’s army in 1779. The settlement was burned, animals killed, and trees destroyed. Following this, Mary lived in the Gardow flats with two runaway slaves, whom she helped cultivate the land.
In 1797, the Chiefs of the Six Nations granted Mary several hundred acres of land along the Genesee River known as the Gardow Tract. She lived most of her life here comfortably, leasing land for people to farm.