Find records: birth
m. abt 1779
Facts and Events
Jean Sellards Wiley was born circa 1760 and died of paralysis in 1831. This courageous woman was one of many frontier women captured by Indians. There are many stories of the capture and captivity of Jenny Wiley. Below is one of them.
In the early fall of 1789, Jenny's husband Thomas Wiley was away from his home on a ginseng hunting expedition. On October 1, 1789 her household was attacked by a mixed band of marauding Cherokee, Delaware, Shawnee, and Wyandotte Indians. Three of Jenny's four children and her half brother were murdered instantly. Jenny was taken captive along with her youngest child. Her son (possibly named Thomas) was killed on the trail. Jenny was 7 months pregnant at the time of her capture and she delivered a premature child in a cave on the trail. The Indians allowed it to live only a short time before killing it. It took Jenny almost one year to escape. She traveled over 162 miles to get back to her home.
Jenny was reunited with her husband Tom and they moved to Johnson County, Kentucky and had 5 more children--4 sons and 1 daughter. Jenny often said "God gave me back the five I lost." The story of her capture is told in several books including, WHITE SQUAW, DARK HILLS TO WESTWARD, and THE FOUNDING OF HARMAN'S STATION AND THE WILEY CAPTIVITY.
Jenny is buried outside the little town of River, Kentucky. Her memorial stone reads:
Jenny Wiley 1760-1831, Historic Pioneer Mother, Captured by Indians, October 1, 1789 at Walker's Creek, Virginia. Witnessed the slaying of her brother and five children by savages. Was held captive for several months on Little Mud Lick Creek in the present Johnson County. She escaped the Indians to Harman Station at Block House Bottom and was later united with her husband, Thomas Wiley, in Virginia. Mrs. Wiley returned to Johnson County with her husband and a cabin was built about the year 1800 where they reared five children. Jenny Wiley died in 1831.
Depending on which source is used, the names of Jenny's children that were killed varies. We'll probably never know the exact names of the children but one thing is not in doubt, she saw five of her children killed by Indians.
Text copied from Jenny Sellards Wiley with permission.
After the kidnapping
"They settled in an area on the banks of the Levisa Fork, of the Big Sandy, not far from the site of Jenny's rescue. The homestead became known as The Wiley Farm on Tom's Creek." excerpt from The Pack Family of Lincoln County, West Virginia, by Ellen Jane Allen Pack