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Kidnapping and romance in the wilderness

Managing Editor
Jobe Publishing, Inc.

While residents of the thirteen American colonies were celebrating the Declaration of Independence from Great Britain, some of the earliest residents of Kentucky were yet uninformed about the world-changing news while they struggled for safety in the vast wilderness.  On Sunday afternoon, July 14, 1776, Elizabeth and Fanny Calloway, daughters of Col. Richard Calloway, and Jemima Boone, daughter of Daniel Boone, were captured by Shawnee Indians while in their canoe on the Kentucky River a short distance from Ft. Boonesborough.

Daniel Boone, Samuel Henderson, John Holder, Flanders Calloway and four other pioneers formed a search party to rescue the girls who ranged in age from 14 to 16. Their search was aided by Elizabeth who broke twigs off bushes and tore small pieces of fabric from her dress which she dropped along the way. To give rescuers another clue, she impressed the print of her shoes where the ground would allow it. Ultimately, the girls were liberated when the rescuers surprised the Indians early one morning.

Days later, on August 7, Elizabeth and Samuel Henderson became the first couple married in settled Kentucky. s Squire Maugridge Boone, Jr., a younger brother of Daniel Boone, performed the ceremony.  Elizabeth’s sister, Fanny Calloway, married John Holder and Jemima Boone married Flanders Calloway.

The dramatic tale became at least part of author James Fenimore Cooper’s 1826 historical novel, “The Last of the Mohicans.”

The following May 29, 1777, Fanny Henderson, daughter of Elizabeth and Samuel, was born at Fort Boonesboro, the first non-Native American child born to parents who were married in Kentucky.

Imagery of the kidnapping of Elizabeth and Fanny Calloway and Jemima Boone has been the subject of several paintings, including the one above attributed to Karl Bodmer. The scene is also depicted in a Depression-era mural of Kentucky history painted by WPA artist Rice Ann O’Hanlon at the University of Kentucky’s Memorial Hall; currently, the mural is covered from view following complaints that it stereotypes Native Americans and African-Americans.


  1. John Day on July 15, 2017 at 8:19 am

    I love these kind of stories. perhaps a great way to share info on the great history of kentucky and America. Look forward to such articles in the future.

    Great Job

  2. Tony Copeland on May 26, 2022 at 8:46 am

    To the best of my knowledge, Samuel and Elizabeth Henderson are my 5th Great Grandparents.

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