Shirley descendants recorded Mary’s date of birth as 17 February 1762.
As I contemplated writing a fictional novel about her life, it occurred to me that she turned thirteen in 1775.
That eureka moment led to the question, how would a young teen girl cope with the upheaval of her papa being away, fighting Indians? Then, add the rising tensions in Western Virginia as the colonists debated the case for independence from King George III. Add also, the documented efforts of the Tories to keep the Indians loyal to the King, while encouraging deadly frontier raids; and any dreams Mary had about a happy future would have been dashed.
I remember being thirteen, and I raised three close-in-age daughters. The slightest disruption to a teen girl’s goals can be traumatic for everyone in the family. Showcasing Mary at this time of her life made sense, and Defiance on Indian Creek allowed her to vent and become a heroine.