Pieces of the Past
Artifacts, Documents, and Primary Sources
from Letchworth Park History


A Letchworth Letter: The Mary Jemison Statue

In September 1910 Mr. Letchworth held the dedication of the famous Mary Jemison statue on the Council Grounds in Letchworth Park. It was his last public appearance, and his health failing, Letchworth wrote a letter to be read at the dedication explaining how the statue came to be.

The text of the letter, found below, is taken from the 1942 edition of A Narrative of the Life of Mary Jemison by James Seaver, published by the American Scenic and Historic Preservation Society. pp 238-239.

"To the American Scenic and Historic Preservation Society, greeting:

When in 1874, the remains of Mary Jemison were placed beside the ancient Indian Council House of the Senecas on the grounds now included in Letchworth Park, only the marble base of the monument which it was intended should mark her final resting place was erected. It was then my purpose to complete the monument, as soon as circumstances would permit, by placing thereon a bronze statue of this unfortunate and heroic woman. With this object in view I set about obtaining all possible information respecting the personal characteristics of Mary Jemison from persons who knew her intimately and had frequently visited her in her home, but it was not until recent years that I could give sufficient attention to the subject to take actual steps toward the accomplishment of my long-cherished plan/ After careful and deliberate consideration and many conferences with the eminent sculptor, Mr. H.K. Bush-Brown, it was arranged that he should undertake the task of making the statue. Mr. Bush-Brown spent much time in studying his subject, and the model which he produced was pronounced historically correct by Professor Arthur C. Parker, Chief of the Archaeological Department of the New York State Museum; and as a work of art it was approved by a committee of the National Sculptor's Society and also by a committee of the American Scenic and Historic Preservation Society consisting of Honorable Charles M. Dow, chairman of the Letchworth Park Committee, George F. Kunz, Sc.D., Ph.D., President, and Edward Hagaman Hall, L.H. D., Secretary of the Society. For the kindly services rendered by all those interest in the development of the statue I beg to make my grateful acknowledgments.

When the statue was completed in July last, it was placed by Mr. Bush-Brown on the marble base where it now stands, and subsequently was made permanently secure by the Messrs. Bureau Brothers, bronze founders, of Philadelphia, the work being done in such a manner, with the use of bolts and cement, as to make the statue an integral part of this memorial to Mary Jemison.

It is my intention and desire that this bronze statue of Mary Jemison shall always remain where it is now placed, and that it shall remain as much a part of these lands and grounds as the grave itself. It is has become in law a part of the real estate and passes under your control and management at the same time and upon the same conditions as the rest of the property.

William Pryor Letchworth

Letchworth Park,
Township of Genesee Falls, N.Y.
September 19, 1910"

Also see

A Glimpse of Mary Jemison

A Glimpse of the Council Ground

A Glimpse of Henry Kirke Bush-Brown

A Description of the Mary Jemison Statue

Image #9 of our Historical Photograph Album


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