Friendship...A 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.
"The 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.
Time passed 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.
He quickly 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.
Mary grew 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."