Follow The River By James Alexander Thom Follow The River by James Alexander Thom is about Mary Ingles gruesome but yet courageous tale of her remarkable 1,000 mile journey home after she had escaped form the captivity of the Shawnee Indians. Through Mary Ingles hard work and determination she proved that all obstacles big and small can be overcome. The book started out with a bloody massacre at Mary Ingles Virginia settlement in 1755. Mary Ingles was pregnant with her third child and twenty-four years of age when the Shawnee Indians came and kidnapped her, her two sons, her sister-in-law, and her neighbor. The journey to the Shawnee village lasted five weeks in the Virginia wilderness, and once the captives arrived at the village they were divided up amongst the Shawnee Indians, leaving Mary alone with no hope but to go home and make a new family with her husband Will Ingles. While in the village of the Shawnee Mary was able to make friends with an elderly Dutch woman who was a captive too, this elderly woman was to be Mary’s companion through the scary wilderness home.
Mary and the old Dutch woman were unable to swim but knew that the Ohio River would lead them back home to freedom so they decided to make an escape from the heathen Indians and return home to civilization, not knowing the hardships that would fall on them at the beginning of winter. To start the journey the women had two blankets, one tomahawk, and the clothes that were on their backs, after a week into the trip they lost their shoes leaving them barefoot the rest of the way, and eventually they lost one blanket the tomahawk and their clothes. The two courageous women walked through freezing rivers and climbed up small cliffs for forty days, with hardly nothing to eat since everything was barren because of the winter, overall the two women walked 1,000 miles. Finally Mary was able to find her husband, but after thirteen years she was able to ransom for only one of her sons back and her sister-in-law, the other two children were kept by the Shawnee. Follow the River had a lot of dialogue leaving the reader with the feeling that they were battling the Virginia wilderness right along with Mary Ingles.
James Alexander Thom used vivid description on everything that he wrote, he painted the picture for the reader with a myriad of words, and he left no leaf undescribed in the Virginia wilderness. The only thing that seemed confusing about this book is that the reader can never figure out where Mary Ingles is , it would help a lot if a map was placed somewhere in the book showing the trail of Mary and her companion. James Alexander Thom did seem a little bias in his book. He would call The Shawnee Indians heathens, he always just looked at the English point of view and never the Indians point of view, because at this time the reader should be informed that the Indians are being forced to be moved from place to place by the white man, but I don’t believe that the authors intent was to give the Shawnee Indians a bad name he just wanted to get the point across that some young pioneer women was courageous enough to battle the untamed wilderness all by her self(with a little help from the Dutch woman). Also he made the Dutch woman to be a little crazy to make Mary look better in the story but also it could have been true that the Old Dutch woman was senile. James Alexander Thom’s purpose for this book was to let America know about the courageous Mary Ingles who survived the unsurvivable for a woman of her time and age. Thom wanted to laud the woman that you will never see in history books, one of the first white women to ever see the Ohio River and know where it led and one of the first white women to ever see the Virginia wilderness. James Alexander Thom accomplished his purpose of his book which was to make known that Mary Ingles is a very important part of American history. Follow The River was a very easy book to read, very understandable language, except some of the dialogue because, he made the dialogue in accents, like for the Dutch women he made a Dutch dialogue and for Mary an Irish dialogue, but to me that made the book more realistic to the reader.
While reading the authors notes I noticed that Thom had to write this story from the stories that Mary Ingles told her son, she really never had a diary or anything because she was illiterate so, the story was just passed down from generation to generation, but the people who found(so called rescued) Mary Ingles wrote some of the incidents that she told them when she was found so, that is the only written records of her time, and a lot of the records and documents were destroyed in fires the Ingles family had at their homes over the ages. But it was pleasing to know that James Alexander Thom took the same trail that Mary Ingles took over 250 years ago to get the same experience she had, also he up rooted many letters and documents the family had saved up over the years about the 1,000 mile journey. And not having any information about the Old Dutch lady he had to make up the character of the old woman making her a little crazier than she probably was. Thom got most of his information from a book that was written about the Virginia pioneers in 1886 by Dr. John P. Hale who was the great grandson of Mary Ingles and a historian.
John P. Hale retrieved most of his information from the written accounts his father made(John Ingles), who had heard the story many a times from his parents(Mary Ingles and Will Ingles). The book Follow The River inspires many of its readers to accomplish all of their goals in life because it can be done if they put their minds to it. I recommend that any person should read this book, it inspires your spirit, it lifts your soul, and it gives you an awe of life. Biographies.