SEAVER, James E. (1787-1827)
A Narrative of the Life of Mrs. Mary Jemison, who was Taken by the Indians, in the Year of 1755, when only about Twelve Years of Age, and who has Continued to Reside amongst Them to the Present Time ... and other Entertaining Matter
Canandaigua, NY: Printed by J.D. Bemis & Co., 1824. 12mo. 189, pp. With the copyright leaf pasted on verso of the title as issued.
Expertly bound to style in period sheep.
Very rare first edition of a noted Indian captivity narrative.
"Mary Jemison, who lived her entire adult life among the Seneca Indians, is probably the most famous captive of the nineteenth century. The text remains one of our best accounts of the history and culture of the Senecas, with the appendices presenting Mrs. Jemisons firsthand descriptions of feasts, religion, dances, government, funerals, and agriculture" (Siebert). Over twenty editions followed this first edition. Jemison was captured by the Senecas in 1758 at the age of twelve, the rest of her family having been massacred. She was initially taken from near Fort Pitt to eastern Ohio, but after the French and Indian War the tribe moved north to western New York State. This volume includes long accounts of the Revolutionary War in upstate New York, as well as incidents of frontier fights throughout the War of 1812, and Mrs. Jemison's life in the area around Buffalo from the Revolutionary period to 1823. Frederick Strecker, bibliographer of the Jemison narrative, notes that "considerable of the history of the settlers of western New York, has its source in the Jemison narrative." Jemison's account was recorded by Dr. James Seaver when Jemison was seventy-seven, and Seaver transcribed and arranged for the publication of her memoirs. Jemison lived with the Senecas until her death at ninety, having married several times and having continued to live with the tribe even after the Revolution, when she was free to return to white society. "One of the most authentic and interesting of captivity narratives, told by one who spent a long life among the Senecas and was the first white woman to descend the Ohio" (Howes). "Extremely rare and for many years unknown to bibliographers and collectors. (Braislin 1630). Only a single other example has appeared on the market since the Siebert copy in 1999.
Ayer 248; American Imprints 17933; Streeter sale 3:905; Howes S263; Siebert sale 451; Ebserstadt 133:528; Pilling, Proof-Sheets 3541; Hubach, pp.15-16; Jones 863.