Jenny Wiley: The Legend Lives!

By: Eric Eckstrom Email
By: Eric Eckstrom Email

There are some tales worth listening to, others worth remembering and a select few worth preserving for generations. Here in Appalachia, many consider the story of jenny Wiley to be one of those precious few.

“Jenny Wiley has an exceptional story,” says Trinity Shepherd of Jenny Wiley State Resort Park.

Officials at Jenny Wiley State Resort Park say this exceptional story began in the late eighteenth century after a life changing case of mistaken identity.

“Jenny Wiley actually was captured by Indians by mistake. The Indians came to seek revenge on some of jenny's actual neighbors who had gotten into a squabble with some of the Native Americans in Kentucky,” Shepherd said.

That mistake led to, among other things, the murder of several of her children and many months in captivity.

“She endured a lot of hardship during that time. I don't know if she was tortured or beaten. I know that they were tough on her,” Shepherd said.

But she eventually escaped, crossing a river just beyond the border of the park.

“I think that Jenny Wiley has come to symbolize that sense of strength and courage in the face of adversity,” says Miriam Silman, Jenny Wiley Theatre President.

Folks with the Jenny Wiley Theatre say they are doing their part to honor her legacy with a current production called “The Legend of Jenny Wiley.” They say keeping this story alive has always been a part of the group's identity.

“Jenny Wiley Theatre has been around for 50 years and there has always been a version of this story,” Silman said.

Most stories come and go, but if the past couple of centuries are any indication, the story of Jenny Wiley isn't going anywhere.

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