Common Ground by John Buxton
In this painting,
John Buxton brings to light a gentler side of the rough eighteenth
century frontier. Here we see young Mary Means bidding farewell
to her friend, Maiden Foot. The following is an excerpt edited from
the historical text by Gerorge Irvin which accompanies the print.
story of Maiden Foot is among the most touching to come out of the
American frontier experience, set against the turmoil and bloodshed
of Pontiac's war. A young Delaware warrior known as Maiden Foot
took a liking to Mary Means, the eleven- year- old daughter of Mr.
and Mrs. Means who lived in the Fort Ligonier Valley in the late
1750s. Mary reminded Maiden Foot of the sister he had recently lost
of approximately the same age. Upon one of their encounters at Fort
Ligonier, Maiden Foot gave Mary a small string of beads.
and in 1763, the frontier again erupted in bloody warfare as Pontiac's
war struck the Ligonier valley. Upon receiving word of the approaching
war parties, Mrs. Means packed up the young Mary and rushed for
the safety of Fort Ligonier only to be caught in route. They were
tied to saplings and later a warrior appeared sent to kill and scalp
the unfortunate Means. The warrior in question was Maiden Foot.
recognized the family and set them free. Maiden Foot escorted them
to their home where they met Mr. Means, then led them to a secluded
place in the mountains until the end of the hostilities. As the
family parted with Maiden Foot, young Mary gave him her handkerchief
upon which she had embroidered her name, Mary Means, believing they
would never meet again.
to a young woman and married an army officer named Kearney, eventually
living near present day Cincinnati. After the close of the Battle
of Fallen Timbers in 1796 where Mary's husband fought, Kearney found
an old Indian sitting on a log. The weary Indian stated he had fought
his last battle then drew from his pouch a small tattered handkerchief
with the name of a friend embroidered on it. Kearney, who had heard
the story of Maiden Foot many times from Mary immediately recognized
the old man as the long lost friend of his wife and mercifully escorted
him to their home. Maiden Foot was to remain there until his death
four years later, among friends and the little girl he had seen
so many years before."