Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Artist Karl Bodmer (1809-1893) Indian Capture of the Calloway Girls and Jemima Boone

Attributed to Karl Bodmer (Swiss Artist, 1809-1893) Capture of the Calloway Girls and Jemima Boone 

The capture and rescue of Jemima Boone and the Callaway girls were captured by a Cherokee-Shawnee raiding party and rescued by Daniel Boone and his rescue team, celebrated for their success. The incident was portrayed by James Fenimore Cooper in a fictionalized version of the episode in his 1826 novel The Last of the Mohicans. After the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War in 1775, violence increased between American Indians and settlers in Kentucky. American Indians, particularly Shawnee from north of the Ohio River, raided the Kentucky settlements, hoping to drive away the settlers, whom they regarded as trespassers. The Cherokee, led by Dragging Canoe, frequently attacked isolated settlers and hunters, convincing many to abandon Kentucky. This was part of a 20-year Cherokee resistance to pioneer settlement. By the late spring of 1776, fewer than 200 Americans remained in Kentucky, primarily at the fortified settlements of Boonesborough, Harrodsburg, and Logan's Station in the southeastern part of the state.

On July 14, 1776, a raiding party caught 3 teenage girls from Boonesborough as they were floating in a canoe on the Kentucky River. They were Jemima, daughter of Daniel Boone, and Elizabeth and Frances, daughters of Colonel Richard Callaway. The Cherokee Hanging Maw led the raiders, 2 Cherokee and 3 Shawnee warriors. The girls' capture raised alarm and Boone organized a rescue party. Meanwhile, the captors hurried the girls north toward the Shawnee towns across the Ohio River. The girls attempted to mark their trail until threatened by the Indians. The 3rd morning, as the Indians were building a fire for breakfast, the rescuers came up. As one Indian was shot, Jemima reportedly said, "That's Father's gun!" He was not immediately killed, but two wounded Native American men later died. The Indians retreated, leaving the girls to be taken home by the settlers. The episode served to put the settlers in the Kentucky wilderness on guard and prevented their straying beyond the fort. Although the rescuers had feared the girls would be raped or otherwise abused, Jemima Boone said, "The Indians were kind to us, as much so as they well could have been, or their circumstances permitted." The Cherokee may have abducted the girls as a response to what they viewed as D. Boone's failure to observe Cherokee treaties. The Treaty of the Green River Wilderness promised Kentucky to Cherokee Tribe for "as long as the waters flow." 

The artist Karl Bodmer (Swiss, 1809-1893) developed a remarkable talent for drawing & painting while studying with his uncle, painter & engraver Johann Jacob Meyer. After further studies in Paris, he joined his brother on a sketching trip through Germany in 1832 where he met Prince Maximilian zu Weid. Maximilian, known for his natural history research in the coastal forests of Brazil, was searching for a professional artist to accompany him on his expedition to North America. Bodmer signed a contract with Maximilian &, 3 weeks later, they set sail for America. From 1833-1834, the two traveled up the Missouri River, retracing the 1805 journey of Lewis & Clark. On the expedition, Bodmer depicted some of the same characters that George Caitlin had painted just months before. Bodmer was the last artist able to paint the Mandan Indians in North Dakota before the fatal 1837 smallpox epidemic that nearly obliterated the tribe. He also painted portraits of the Sioux, Blackfeet, Hidatsa, & other tribes, while Maximilian conducted studies & made notes on the botany & zoology of the areas. Before the end of the journey, Bodmer had completed 81 paintings, illustrating Maximilians expedition. Each elegant painting displayed extremely detailed & accurate accounts of Indian ceremonies & everyday life. In 1843, Maximilian's lithographs were published in Travels in the Interior of America.