The Great Chief
Miami Indian Nation
Being a sketch of his life together with that of Wm. Wells and some noted descendants. E99 .M48L77 – Copyrighted, 1917 by Calvin M. Young; Greenville, Ohio. Historical facts should not be a burden to the memory, but an illumination to the soul. – Lord Acton
Calvin M. Young
INDEX TO CHAPTERS
Foreword - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 7 2
Chapter I The Miamis - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -- 13 5
Chapter II Ke-ki-on-ga - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 31 15
Chapter III St. Clair’s Expedition - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 47 23
Chapter IV Wayne’s Campaign - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 69 33
Chapter V The Great Council Fire - - - - - - - - - - - - 89 43
Chapter VI The Treaty of GreeneVille - - - - - - - - - - -103 51
Chapter VII Birthplace of Little Turtle - - - - - - - - - - - 125 63
Chapter VIII A Character Sketch - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 135 68
Chapter IX Notes and Anecdotes - - - - - - - - - - - - - 145 73
Chapter X Burial Place - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 169 86
Chapter XI Captain William Wells - - - - - - - - - - - - - 179 89
Chapter XII The Royal Line - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 197 96
Chapter XIII Kil-so-quah, the Indian Princess - - - - -- 212 104
Chapter XIV The Godfrey Family - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 224 110
Chapter XV Romantic Episodes - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 232 114
Calvin M. Young was born in Franklin Township, Darke County, Ohio, in 1851. Is a member of both State and County Historical Societies, and is a local Historian of considerable note. During several years past, Mr. Young has devoted much time and research to collecting historical facts relative to Little Turtle, the Great Miami Indian Chief. He has spared no time or expense in making the following sketch as near complete as possible.
Every great crisis in tribal or national life makes a forceful appeal to the bold and aggressive spirits found in all political bodies and calls forth leaders from among these to meet the new and changing conditions of the hour even at the hazard of life, property and personal comfort.
This fact is forcibly illustrated in our own national history by the lives of Washington, Lincoln, Grant and many other heroic characters who established, fostered and conserved our country.
We are not surprised, therefore, that the rapid expansion of the New England and Coast Colonies and the encroachment of the white man on the virgin domain of the lower lake region and the Ohio valley in the latter part of the eighteenth century and later called forth three great Indian chieftains in three successive generations, viz: Pontiac, the Ottawa, in 1762; Little Turtle, the Miami, in 1790; and Tecumseh, the Shawnee, in 1811. All these were distinguished characters scarcely excelled for bravery, military genius and statecraft by any other American Indian chiefs from the earliest white settlement to the present time.
Parkman has given us a vivid description of the life and times of Pontiac; Drake has set forth in elegant language the illustrious career of Tecumseh, but the student who desired a comprehensive and complete account of the life of Little Turtle the great chief of the Miamis, has heretofore been doomed to disappointment.
It was this fact that stirred the author of this book to collect, compile and publish in a readable form all of the authentic information about this great chieftain that he could reasonable secure. As a boy, some fifty years ago, the writer lived near the site of Little Turtle’s birthplace where he became intimately acquainted with some of the early trappers and hunters who had lived in this vicinity while the Miamis were still there. From these backwoodsmen he learned many interesting tales of the early days which he treasured up in his retentive memory and now utilizes in the preparation of this historical sketch. Thus has been rescued from oblivion many interesting and important facts which are embodied in this work.
The cordial reception given to an article entitled “The Birthplace of Little Turtle”, Prepared by myself for the Ohio Archaeological and Historical Society, and published in Vol. XXIII of the works of that society, and the earnest entreaty of several worthy and influential friends have also been largely responsible for my decision to compile and publish this volume.
On account of his previous valuable experience in compiling, editing and publishing various books and sketches of early Ohio valley history I have associated with myself in the editorial work of this book Mr. Frazer E. Wilson, who is largely responsible for the form, style and arrangement of the material collected by myself. It has been his aim to present the historical data in a readable, pleasing and forceful style and the reader may judge to what extent he has succeeded in this matter.
It has taken considerable travel and original research to secure the historical data embodied in this volume besides the careful perusal of many works on Indian and pioneer history. The author herewith gratefully acknowledges his special indebtedness to the following authorities for valuable information pertaining to his subject:
Brice’s History of Ohio;
Howe’s History of Ohio;
Ohio Archaeological and Historical Society Reports;
Abbott’s History of Ohio;
Atwater’s History of Ohio;
Allen’s History of Civilization;
Dillon’s History of Indiana;
Cockrum’s History of Indiana;
J. P. Dunn’s True Indian Stories;
Lossing’s Field Book of the War of 1812;
Hand Book of North American Indians;
F. E. Wilson’s Peace of Mad Anthony;
F. E. Wilson’s History of Darke County, Ohio;
Mansfield’s Personal Memoirs;
Drake’s Aboriginal Races;
Knapp’s History of the Maumee Valley;
McAffee’s Late War in the Northwest;
Fergus’ Historical Series;
Collin’s Early History of Kentucky;
Williams’ Early Mackinaw;
Harvey’s History of the Shawnee Indians;
McClung’s Western Adventure;
Drake’s Life in the Wigwam;
Slocum’s Ohio Country;
Beer’s History of Dark County, Ohio;
Howe’s The Great West;
Catlin’s North American Indians;
Thatcher’s Famous Indians;
Blankard’s Conquest of the Northwest;
Woman on the Frontier;
Currie’s Fort Dearborn;
Perkin’s Annals of the West;
Woods’ Lives of Famous Indians;
B. J. Griswold’s Sketches of Fort Wayne;
Frank Dildine’s Sketches of the Miamis;
Prof. W. S. Blatchley for topographical and geological information.
Very valuable assistance has also been rendered by the Cincinnati University Library; the Burton Public Library of Detroit; the Public Library of Fort Wayne, Ind.; The Chicago Historical Society; The Greenville (O.) Historical Society; The Ohio Archaeological and Historical Society.
A special debt of gratitude is due the following friends who rendered valuable assistance in this work:
B. J. Griswold and J. M. Stouder, of Fort Wayne, Ind.;
Dr. Koontz, of Roanoke, Ind.;
C. K. Lucas, of Huntington, Ind.;
Frank Dildine, of Tiffin, Ohio;
Geo. A. Katzenberger and Harvey F. Dershem, attorneys, of Greenville, Ohio.
The Chicago Historical Society has rendered a specially appreciated favor by loaning for reproduction a reprint of a famous painting said to have been produced by an officer of Wayne’s legion. This picture apparently represents Little Turtle’s farewell address to General Wayne at foot of Stoney Alley, Greenville, Ohio, August 12, 1795.
Mrs. H. H. Hayes, of Chicago; Mrs. Henry Hulst, of Grand Rapids, Mich.; and Eva C. Corthell, of Jacksonville, Fla.; have also contributed many valuable details to the family history of the subject of this sketch.
In compiling this volume it has been our aim to present to the reader nothing but the most trustworthy information that we have been able to secure from any source and to make this sketch reliable, readable and entertaining.
Cicero said: “Not to know what happened before we were born is to remain always a child. For what were the life of man did he not combine present events with the recollection of past ages?”
Future generations will hold us responsible if we fail to honestly and faithfully preserve the record of pioneer times. Our children should be taught and inspired with the spirit of genuine patriotism through a correct knowledge of the suffering and hardships of our fathers and mothers in the early settlement of our country.
In this sketch the writer has tried to lay aside all personal dislikes that he may had against the Redman – even though his great grandmother and some of her children, who were killed and scalped by the Creek Indians in Georgia during the Revolution.
“No more for them the busy mother
Plied her evening care
Or children climbed her knees
The evening kiss to share.”
We feel safe in the assurance that no critic can justly accuse the author of unfair discrimination against any person or race.
It is the duty of the historian to deal with facts as they are found and to render justice to whom justice is due. With this as our aim we send forth this book in which are embodied the fruits of research and the results of the perusal of many of the most reliable writers on the subject herein treated.
No doubt some errors have crept in our narrative but let us remember that it is human to err and that perfection is found in divinity alone.
With these thoughts in mind we respectfully dedicate the following pages to the young and rising generations and every true American who desires more perfect knowledge of that great Indian Chieftain of the old Northwest whose deeds are so closely interwoven in American pioneer history.
Greenville, Ohio, March 16, 1917.
The Great Chief of the Miami Nation
According to the verdict of modern scholars the human race is divided into three well defined families, viz., the White or Aryan; the Black or Negroid; and the Yellow or Turanian. Until recent years it was customary to specify five families, but extended ethnological and archaeological research have proven conclusively that the Malay and the Red Man are closely related to the Mongolians and together comprise the Turanian or Mongoloid family. The coarse black hair, the high cheek bones, the swarthy complexion, the cunning handicraft, together with the peculiar style of dress and customs of the North American Indians indicate a close relationship to the Nomadic Mongoloid tribes of Northern Asia and lend color to the conviction that America was peopled across Behring Strait at a remote date. When reminded of the striking resemblance between the Tartars and Indians, and the strong probability that America had been peopled from Asia the cunning Little Turtle, great Chief of the Miami Indians, remarked, why not say that the Tartars are descended from us, and America the original home of both? The answer to this question is that the great mass of the Mongoloid peoples have lived in Asia from time immemorial, while the comparatively small number of North American Indians have no authentic records to justify the suggestion of the crafty Chief. In the absence of authentic records we can only speculate in reference to the length of the Red Man’s residence in America.
The words of the poet beautifully portray the idealistic aspect of his life at the advent of his conqueror the “Pale Face.”
“The echo of the Red Man’s voice
Resounded through the vale
It lingered on the evening air
It floated on the evening gale.
“It was borne along the mountain side
It drifted through the glen
It died away among the hills
Far from the haunts of men.
“His face was flushed with hues of health
His arms and feet were bare
He had a lithe and active form
A scalp of raven hair.
“Beyond the hills he passed from sight
A sunken fallen star
Until his voice is faintly heard
Still calling from afar.”
The Miami Indians belonged to the great Algonquin family which occupied the upper Mississippi valley and a large portion of the basin of the St. Lawrence at the beginning of the seventeenth century. Tradition says that they once lived in the region of the Hudson Bay, and in their migration southward toward the Great Lakes became divided into wings, the western of which probably came around the west end of Lake Superior and into the Wisconsin region. The eastern wing probably came into contact with the Iroquois in the region of the lower lakes and were driven westward where they joined their brethren.
The earliest recorded notice of the Miami nation is from information furnished in 1658, by Gabriel Druilletts, who called them the Oum-a-mik, then living sixty leagues from St. Michael, at or about the mouth of Green Bay, Wisconsin. Perrot Memoire says, that they withdrew into the Mississippi valley sixty leagues from the Bay, and were established there from 1657 to 1676, although Bacqueville de la Potherie asserts that with Mascoutens, the Kickapoos and part of the Illini they came to settle at that place about 1667.
Probably the first time the French came into actual contact with the Miamis was when Perrot visited them about 1668. His second visit was in 1670, then they were living at the head waters of Fox river, Wisconsin. In 1671, a part at least of the tribe were living with the Mascoutens in a palisaded village in this locality. Soon after this the Miamis parted from the Mascoutens and formed new settlements at the south end of Lake Michigan, and on Kalamazoo river, Michigan. The settlements at the south end of the lake were at Chicago and on the St. Joseph river emptying into that lake where missions were established late in the seventeenth century, although the former is mentioned as a Wea village at the time of Marquette’s visit and Weas were found there in 1701, by Decon St. Marche. It is likely that these Weas were the Miamis mentioned by Allovez and others as being united with the Mascoutens in Wisconsin.
The chief village of the Miamis on St. Joseph river was, according to Zenobious, about fifteen leagues inland, in latitude forty-one degrees. The extent of territory occupied by this tribe a few years later compels the conclusion that the Miamis in Wisconsin, when the whites first head of them, formed but a part of the tribe, and that the other bodies were already in northeast Illinois and northern Indiana, as the Miamis and their allies were found later on the Wabash, in Indiana, and in northwest Ohio in which territory they gave their name to three rivers and to one county, each in Ohio and Indiana. These facts seem to indicate that they moved to the southeast from the localities where first known within historic times. The tribe was usually distinguished by early English writers as “Twightwees”, which signifies the cry of a crane.
According to Brice in his “History of Fort Wayne,” one Major Thomas Forsyth, who lived among the Sack and Fox Indians for more than twenty years, wrote in 1826, as follows: “More than a century ago, all the country, commending above Rock river and running down the Mississippi to the mouth of the Ohio, up that river to the mouth of the Wabash, thence up that river to Fort Wayne, thence down to the Miami of the Lake some distance, thence west to the St. Joseph and Chicago; also the country lying south of the Des Moines down perhaps to the Mississippi, was inhabited by a numerous nation of Indians who called themselves Linneway, and were called by others, Minneway, signifying “Men.” This great nation was divided into several bands, and inhabited different parts of this extensive region, as follows: The Michigamies, the country south of Des Moines; the Cahokias, that east of the present village of Cahokia in Illinois; the Kaskaskias, that east of the town of that name; the Tamarois had their village nearly central between Cahokia and Kaskasia; the Piankeshaws, near Vincennes; the Weas, up the Wabash; the Miamis on the headwaters of the Miami of the Lakes, on the St. Joseph river and at Chicago. The Piankeshaws, Weas and Miamis must at this time have hunted south toward and on the Ohio. The Peorias, another band of the same nation, lived and hunted on the Illinois river; the Mascos or Mascoutens, called by the French “Gensdes Prairies”, lived and hunted on the great prairies between the Illinois rivers. All of these different bands of the Minneway nation spoke the language of the present Miamis, and the whole considered themselves as one and the same people; yet from their local situation and having no standard to go by, their language became broken up into different dialects. These Indians, the Minneways, were attacked by a general Confederacy of other nations, such as the Sacks and Foxes, resident at Green Bay and on the Ouisconsin; the Sioux, whose frontiers extended south to the river Des Moines; the Chippeways, the Ottaways, and Pottawattomies from the lakes and also the Cherokees and Choctaws from the south. The war continued for a great many years and until the great nation the Minneways were destroyed, except a few Miamis and Weas on the Wabash, and a few who were scattered among strangers. Of the Kaskaskias, owing to their wars and their fondness for spirituous liquors, there now (1826) remain but thirty or forty souls; of the Peorias near St. Genevieve, ten or fifteen; of the Piankeshaws, forty or fifty. The Miamis are the most numerous; a few years ago they consisted of about four hundred souls. There do not exist at present day more than five hundred souls of the once great and powerful Minneway or Illini nation”.
The Miamis also suffered greatly from the frequent incursions of the terrible Iroquois. Charles B. LaSelle, an Indian writer, says that when the Miamis were first invited by the French authorities to Chicago in 1670, for a conference, they were a powerful nation. Their chieftain could lead into the field an army of five thousand warriors. Of all their villages Kekionga was the most important, it being the largest and most central of their possessions. Such was the Miami Confederacy at that time, and such it was in 1679 or 1680, when LaSalle the French explorer visited their famous village on the Maumee.
The Iroquois league was the most remarkable and unique Confederacy mentioned in Indian history. At the beginning of the seventeenth century it embraced the Mohawks, Oneidas, Onondagas, Cayugas, and Senecas, and became known as the Five Nations. The Tuscaroras, a related tribe living to the southward, joined them in 1775, and the Confederacy became known henceforward as the “Six Nations.” At the coming of the early white settlers they were found in possession of the greater part of the state of New York. The Dutch and British traders cultivated friendly relations with them and influenced them against the French whose designs they thwarted in the East. Their perfect union, unbroken almost to the last, and their favored location gave them supremacy among the Indian tribes. They have been called the Romans of the New World, and were certainly like the Romans in that they were remorseless, bloodthirsty conquerors ever seeking the spoils of war. For years they held all the tribes from the plains of the Mississippi to the shores of the Atlantic, and from the Tennessee river to the St. Lawrence under the spell of their powers. The Miami Confederacy, which was formed to resist their encroachments, was their strongest foe, and was frequently brought into contact with the Iroquois in the wars for spoils waged by the latter. In their homes farther east the settlements of the white man were gradually limiting the hunting grounds of the Six Nations for the purpose of securing furs for sale or exchange to the French traders, who at an early date had established trading houses in Canada and other points in the east, the Iroquois invading the west, the lands of the Miami Confederacy being included. These invasions the latter tribes of Indians repelled and as a consequence the wars with the Iroquois became frequent, and thousands of Indian warriors in both contending Confederacies were slain during the years of conflict.
The Iroquois, in a general way, were the conquerors, but about 1684, they met with a most disastrous defeat. The Miamis had joined their kindred the Illinois Indians in resisting an invasion of the Iroquois and after a war that lasted three years, so the historian, Chas. B. LaSelle says, the invincible Iroquois of New York, these Romans of America, were terribly worsted.
The deadly havoc among the Indians as a result of these tribal and confederacy wars was great. About that period, the historian continues, so thin and scattering was the Indian population that one might sometimes journey for days through the forests and not meet a human form. Broad tracts were left in solitude. All of Kentucky was a vacant space, a mere skirmish ground for hostile war parties of the north and south. A great part of upper Canada, Michigan and of Illinois besides other portions of the west seemed tenanted by wild beasts alone.
According to the best traditional authorities the dominion of the Miami Confederacy extended for a long period of time over that part of the state of Ohio which lies west of the Scioto river, the whole of Indiana, the southern part of Michigan and the principal portion of that part of the state of Illinois which lies southeast of the Fox and Illinois rivers.
The Miamis have preserved but little tradition of their migration as a tribe from one country to another; and the great extent of territory which was claimed by them may be regarded as some evidence of the high degree of national importance which they formerly maintained among the Indian tribes of North America.
In the early part of the eighteenth century, and perhaps for a long period before that time, the Miamis dwelt in small villages at various suitable places within the boundaries of their large territory. Some of these villages were found on the banks of the Scioto; a few were situated in the vicinity of the head waters of the great Miami river; some stood on the banks of the Maumee; others on the St. Joseph of Lake Michigan and many were found on the borders of the Wabash and on some of the principal tributaries of that river. The villages which stood on the banks of the St. Joseph of Lake Michigan, those which lay about the head waters of the Maumee, and those which stood on the banks of the river Wabash were often visited by Christian missionaries and by fur traders before the middle of the eighteenth century. These visits were not, however, of long duration, and the different periods at which the French founded settlements at or near the sites of these Indian villages can not now be stated with any degree of certainty. Neither the occasional presence of a missionary, the sojournings of adventurous explorers of the country, nor the periodical visits of the fur traders can be fairly regarded as the founding of civilized settlements.
In the year 1672, the Indians who lived in the vicinity of the southern shores of Lake Michigan, were visited by the missionaries Allouez and Dablon, who opened the way for many subsequent but almost fruitless attempts to establish missions within the territories of the Miamis.
Among the missionaries who visited this territory between the years 1672 and 1712, were Ribourde, Mambre, Hennepin, Marquette, Pinet, Binneteen, Rasles, Perrot, Bergen, Mermet, Marest, Gravier, Deville and Chardon. The history of the missionary labors of these men is a record of perseverance, suffering and disappointments. In heathen lands the efforts of Christian missionaries have often been resisted and sometimes wholly defeated by obstacles which were based upon the adverse religious tenets and the political stratagems of rival Christian nations. For a period of one hundred and fifty years Protestant England and Catholic France were rivals in the great works of acquiring territory, planting colonies and establishing trade among the Indian tribes of North America. Of the Christian missionaries of these two nations very few, if any, were wholly free from the influence of the hostile rivalry that was brought into action and maintained by their respective governments.
Among a number of reasons assigned for the planting of British colonies in New England was one which assumed that it would be a service to the church of great consequence to carry the true Gospel into those parts of the world and raise a bulwark against the kingdom of Anti-Christ which the Jesuits were credited with laboring to rear up in all parts of the world.
The Rev. Cotton Mather in his “Ecclesiastical History of New England,” says that in the year 1696, an Indian Chief informed a Christian minister of Boston that the French, while instructing the Indians in the Christian religion, claimed that the Savior was of the French nation; that those who murdered Him were of the English nation; and that, whereas He rose from the dead and went up to the heavens, all who would recommend themselves unto His favor must avenge His quarrel upon the English as far as possible. But the Indians, it seems, had little confidence in what the missionaries told them, as the so-called Christian traders who dealt commonly with them with the design of gain thought of nothing but cheating and lying to become rich in a short time. They used all manner of stratagems to get the furs of the savages cheap; they made use of lies and deceptions to gain double if they could. On a certain occasion a trader sold needles for one dollar apiece, telling the prospective Indian customer that the only man who could make needles had died and that he had possession of all his remaining stock. Such practices, without doubt, caused an aversion against a religion which was falsely professed by men of so base a type.
The Miamis took a prominent part in all Indian wars in the Ohio valley until the close of the War of 1812. Soon afterward they began to sell their lands and by 1846, had sold about all of their holdings in Indiana and had agreed to remove to Kansas, whence they went later to Indian Territory, where a small remnant still resides. Quite a number refused to go to their new homes and the government was compelled to remove them by force. In the meantime intemperance and smallpox had greatly reduced their number. A considerable part of the tribe, commonly known as the Meshingomeshia band, continued to reside on a reservation in Wabash county, Indiana, until 1872, when the land was divided among the survivors, then numbering about three hundred. In all treaty negotiations they were considered as the original owners of the Wabash country, and all of western Ohio. While the other tribes in that region were regarded as tenants or intruders on their lands.
In 1718, the Miami men were described as being of medium height; well built; heads rather round than oblong, countenances agreeable rather than sedate or morose; swift on foot and excessively fond of racing. They used scarcely any covering and were tattooed all over the body; while women were generally well clad in deerskins. The latter were hard working and raised a species of maize unlike that of the Indians of Detroit, which is described as being white, of the same size of the other, but having a much finer skin and making much finer meal.
According to the early French explorers the Miamis were distinguished for polite manners, mild, affable and sedate character; and for their respect for, and perfect obedience to their Chiefs, who had greater authority than those of other Algonquin and Northwest tribes. They usually spoke slowly, and were land travelers rather than canoe-men. In his search for the great river in 1673, Marquette encountered the Miamis in the Fox river region of Wisconsin, and noted that they were friendly, liberal, docile and fond of instruction. They were eager to listen to the missionary, Father Allouez, who lived among them shortly before this time, that they allowed him scant repose, even in the night. Two of the Miamis accompanied Marquette and Joliet as guides on their way to the portage of the Wisconsin river.
LaSalle tells us that the Miami Indians were the most civilized of all the Indian nations, neat in dress, splendid of bearing, haughty of manners, and held all other Indian tribes as inferiors. Of all the Indians of America the Miamis approached nearest to the ideal of the true aborigine. According to early explorers they worshipped the sun and thunder, but did not honor a host of minor deities like the Hurons and Ottawas.
Three forms of burial appear to have been practiced by the division of the tribe living about Fort Wayne: First, the ordinary ground burial in a shallow grave prepared to receive the body in a recumbent position; second, surface burial in a hollow log in which method either a tree was split and the halves hollowed to receive the body, being afterward closed; third, surface burial, wherein the body was covered with a small pen of logs laid as in a log cabin, and crosses meeting at the top in a single log. Nothing could be more affecting than the sight of a young mother hanging the coffin that contained the remains of her beloved child to the pendant branches of the flowering maple and singing her lament over her loved one as the body waved in the breeze.
“It seemed her voice in bitterest woe
To sobs and tears had given birth,
And all sad things did list to her
And all sad things did weep to her
As she moaned her song and her song’s refrain
Over and over and over again.”
According to Morgan the Miamis had ten gentes: first, Mowhawa (Wolf); second, Mongwa (Loon); third, Kendawa (Eagle); fourth, Ahpakosa (Buzzard); fifth, Kanozawa (Panther); sixth, Pilawa (Turkey); seventh, Ahseponna (Raccoon); eighth, Monnato (Snow); ninth, Kulswa (Sun); tenth, (Water).
Chanviznerie in 1737, said that the Miamis had two principal totems: the Elk and the Crane, while some had the Bear. The French writers call At-chatcha-kan-gonen (Crane) the leading division. At a great conference on the Maumee in Ohio in 1793, the Miamis signed with Turtle totem. None of these totems occur in Morgan’s list.
In 1905, the total number of Miamis in Indian Territory was one hundred and twenty-four (124); in Indiana there were two hundred and forty-three (243) in 1910. The latter, however, are greatly mixed with white blood. Including individuals scattered among tribes the whole number is probably four hundred (400) today.
The Miamis joined in, or made treaties with, the United States, as follows: First, at Greenville, Ohio, with General Anthony Wayne, August 3, 1795, defining the boundary between the United States and tribes west of the Ohio river and ceding certain tracts of land; second, Fort Wayne, Indiana, June 7, 1803, with various tribes, defining boundaries and ceding certain lands; third, Gronseland, Indiana, August 21, 1805, ceding certain tracts of lands in Indiana and defining boundaries; fourth, Fort Wayne, Indiana, September 30, 1809, in which the Miami, Eel River tribes and Delawares ceded certain lands in Indiana and the relations between the Delawares and Miamis regarding certain territory were defined; fifth, Treaty of Peace at Greenville, Ohio, July 22, 1814, between the United States, the Wyandottes, Delawares, Shawnees, Senecas and the Miamis, including the Eel River and Wea tribes; sixth, Peace Treaty at Spring Wells, Michigan, September 8, 1815, by the Miami and other tribes; seventh, St. Mary’s, Ohio, October 6, 1818, by which the Miami ceded certain lands in Indiana; eighth, Treaty of the Wabash, Indiana, October 23, 1826, by which the Miamis ceded all of their land north and west of Wabash and Miami rivers; ninth, Wyandotte village, Indiana, February 11, 1829, by which the Eel River Miamis ceded all of their claim to the reservation on Sugar Tree creek, Indiana; tenth, forks of the Wabash, Indiana, October 23, 1834, by which the Miamis ceded several tracts in Indiana; eleventh, Forks of the Wabash, Indiana, November 6, 1838 by which the Miamis ceded most of their remaining lands in Indiana, and the United States agreed to furnish them a reservation west of the Mississippi; twelfth, Forks of the Wabash, Indiana, November 28, 1840, by which the Miamis ceded their remaining lands in Indiana and agreed to remove to the country assigned them west of the Mississippi; thirteenth, Washington, June 5, 1854, by which they ceded a tract assigned by amended treaty of November 28, 1840, excepting seventy thousand acres retained as a reserve; fourteenth, Washington, February 23, 1867, with the Senecas and others, in which it is stipulated that the Miamis may become federated with the Peorias and others if they so desire.
Among the better known settlements, or villages of the Miamis were Chicago (Chicago, Ill.); Chippekawkay (Vincennes, Ind.); Choppatees (on St. Joseph river a few miles above Fort Wayne, Ind.); Kekionga (Ft. Wayne, Ind.); Kenapacomaqua, Little Turtle’s Town (Blue River Lake); Kokomo (Kokomo, Ind.); Meshingomesia (on the Mississinewa, Liberty township, Wabash county, Ind.); Missimquimescan (near Washington, Daviess county, Ind.); Mississinewa (near Peru, Ind.); Osage, Ouiatenon (Wabash river, near LaFayette, Ind.); Pamedketeha; Piankeshaw (Wabash at junction of Vermillion); Pickawillanee (Miami river above Piqua, Ohio); Raccoon’s Village (at the mouth of Aboit creek, near Roanoke, Ind.); Seek’s Village (on Eel river, Whitley county, Ind.); St. Francis Xavier Mission, and others (St. Joseph river of Lake Michigan); Thorntown (on Eel river); Tippecanoe (Wabash river, near mouth of Tippecanoe river, Tippecanoe county, Ind.).
General W. H. Harrison said that, saving the ten years preceding the Treaty of Greene Ville in 1795, the Miamis alone could have brought more than three thousand warriors into the field; that they comprised a body of the finest light troops in the world, and had they been under an efficient system of discipline or possessed enterprise equal to their valor, the settlement of the country would have been attended with much more difficulty than was encountered in accomplishing it and their final subjugations would have been delayed for years. Although constant wars with our frontiers had deprived them of their warriors, the ravages of smallpox was the principal cause of the great decrease in their numbers.
Subsequent to the Treaty of GreeneVille their demoralization was rapid in its progress and terrible in its consequences, so much so that when the Baptist missionary, the Rev. Isaac McCoy was among them during the years from 1817 to 1822, he declared the Miamis were no longer a warlike people. At the villages on Sugar Creek, Eel River and the Mississinewa, and particularly at Fort Wayne, it was a continuous round of drunken debauchery whenever whiskey could be obtained, of which men, women and children partook alike, and life was often sacrificed in personal brawls or by exposure of the debauches to the inclemency of the weather.
By treaties entered into at various times from 1795 to 1845, the Miamis ceded their lands in Ohio, Indiana and Illinois and removed west of the Mississippi, going in villages or by detachments from time to time. In 1838, at a single session, they sold to the United States government one hundred and seventy-seven thousand (177,000) acres of land in Indiana, which was only a fragment of their former possessions, although still retaining large tracts. Thus they alienated their heritage piece by piece to make room for the incoming population while they gradually disappeared from the valleys of the Wabash and Maumee. A few of them who clung to their reservations, adapted themselves to the ways of the Americans and their descendant, and are now to be met with in or about the cities that have sprung up in the localities named. The money received from the sale of their lands proved a calamity as the proceeds were wasted for whiskey.
The last of the Miamis to go west were the Mississinewa band. This remnant, comprising in all about three hundred and fifty (350) persons in charge of Christian Dazney, left their old homes, where many of them had farm houses and had made considerable progress in agriculture. Going to Cincinnati in the fall of 1846, they were placed on a steamboat, taken down the Ohio, up the Mississippi and Missouri rivers and landed late in the season at Westport, near Kansas City. Ragged men, and naked women and children, forming a motley group were huddled upon the shore of a strange land without food or friends to relieve their wants, and exposed to the bitter December winds that blew from the chilly plains of Kansas. From Westport the Mississinewas were conducted to a place near the present village Lewisburg, Kansas, in the county since named Miami. They suffered greatly and nearly one-third of their number died the first year.
Mrs. Mary Batiste Peoria, then wife of Christian Dazney, the agent having these unfortunate people in charge, who accompanied her husband in this work, stated that strong men would actually cry when they thought about their old homes in Indiana, to which many of them would make journeys barefooted, begging their way and submitting to the imprecation hurled upon them from the door of the white man as they asked for a crust of bread. She saw fathers and mothers give their children away to others of the tribe for adoption and then singing their funeral songs and joining in the solemn dance of death, go calmly away from the assemblage never again to be seen alive.
Some two years were required to accomplish the removal of the Miamis from their Indiana homes to the new reservation in Kansas. The beginning of the disappearance of the tribe took place in the summer of 1844, under the stipulations of a treaty. August 1st had been designated as the time for all members of the tribe to be ready to be taken west in a body under government escort, but it was found when that day arrived that very few had made any preparations to leave.
The Miami reservation extended from the southwestern corner of Allen county and included a large portion of Howard, Wells, Huntington, Wabash, Grant and Miami counties. The reluctance of the Indians to comply with the terms of the treaty forced the government to send troops under Captain Jouett, a thoroughgoing, prompt, energetic old soldier, just the kind of a man to make short work of a job of this kind, and Mr. St. Clair, government sub-agent. The troops did not arrive, however, until September, 1846, and many of the Indians had to be brought forcibly to the place of rendezvous previous to taking their departure.
One writer says that many had to be hunted down like wild animals; some were actually found in the tops of trees; others secreted themselves in swamps and many fled from the locality, coming back only after the emigration had taken place, when they were forwarded as prisoners to their new home in the eastern part of Kansas. Numbers of them found their way back to the reservation, but were ultimately returned. A few of this class persisted in returning and never did go back, but spent vagrant lives in the vicinity of the reserve. Much ill feeling was aroused by the action of the government in showing marked favoritism toward certain leaders of the tribe including the families of Chief Richardville, LaFontaine, Godfrey and Meshingomesia and the brothers of the latter living on the Mississinewa. These were allowed to retain their lands and some were richly rewarded in other ways. It was well understood that this agreement was accomplished through fraud and a collusion on the part of some unprincipled men, chiefs and others of the tribe, who were bought up by grants of lands and money as well, and even is said that Richardville, their tribal chief for half a century, who had taken such an active and questionable part in forcing this treaty upon his people, had to flee to Canada and remain there until the excitement and wrath of his people had died out. Chief Richardville, for his services in this matter, received several sections of the most valuable lands in northern Indiana; notable a large tract lying along the St. Marys river four miles southwest of Fort Wayne, upon which the government built him a large and comfortable brick house where he resided until his death.
Many of the Miamis were brought through Fort Wayne on their way to Kansas. In the summer of 1846, five hundred Indians who had been gathered at Peru by the soldiers and placed forcibly on canal boats were brought through the city of Fort Wayne. While the crowd remained here a most disgusting scene was enacted. Conscienceless men provided with a large quantity of whiskey, sold the stuff to the savages, and that last view of them as the boats departed for Cincinnati was one to shame the citizens of a supposed enlightened community. The boats conveyed the Indians into the Miami and Erie canal, and then proceeded to Cincinnati, where steamers transported them to their new reservation. The almost complete disappearance of the once powerful Miami Nation is one of the pitiable incidents of American history.
In 1814, General William Henry Harrison, writing to the Secretary of State, said: “The Miamis are merely a poor, drunken set diminishing every year, becoming too lazy to hunt, they feel the advantage of their annuity.”
During the period of the canal building the Indians experienced little difficulty in securing whiskey in exchange for their government allowance of money. Between 1813 and 1830, fully five hundred deaths resulted among the Miamis from murders and accidents resulting from strong drink.
It has been well said that some races of men seem molded in wax, soft and melting, at once plastic and feeble; some, like metals, combine the greatest flexibility with the greatest strength; but the Indian was hewn out of the rock of which you cannot change the form without destroying. Races of inferior energy have possessed a power of expansion and assimilation to which he is a stranger, and it is this fixed and rigid quality which has proved his ruin. He will not learn the arts of civilization and he and his forest must perish together. The stern unchanging features of his mind excite our admiration from their very immutability, and we look with deep interest on the fate of this irreclaimable son of the wilderness, the child who will not be weaned from the breast of his rugged mother. And our interest increases when we discern in the unhappy wanderer, mingled among his vices, the germs of heroic virtues. A hand bountiful to bestow as it is rapacious to seize, and, even in extremest famine, imparting its last morsel to a fellow sufferer; a heart which is as strong in friendship as in hate thinks it not too much to lay down life for its chosen comrade; a soul true to its own order of honor and burning with an unquenchable thirst for greatness and renown.
“They waste us ah! Like the April snow
In the warm noon we shrink away
And fast they follow as we go
Toward the setting day
‘Till they shall fill the land and we
Are driven into the western sea.”
No doubt the stoicism and lack of adaptability manifested by the Indian has been largely responsible for his slowness in adopting the progressive ways of the whites. And account for the fact that his descendants today number but about three hundred thousand (300,000) when they might have been counted by the millions.
Parkman represents the Jesuit missionaries in Canada two centuries ago as testifying that the Indian has a more acute instinct than the peasants in France. At his best, however, the Red Man was but the child of the forest, and in the presence of the Pale Faces, was not destined to survive. His was a doomed and passing race, meeting a fate it could not endure. One reason assigned for this, is that which was given by a very thoughtful Indian in a speech on a certain occasion long ago in the presence of a company of government agents on the beach at Mackinac Island. Said he very reflectively, “The White Man no sooner came than he thought of preparing the way for his posterity. The Red Man never thought of that.” In this profound observation is embodied one of the latest deductions in social philosophy. Of course in thus speaking of the Indians reference is had to manifestations of their mental character as seen in the early days, and not the Indian life and character at the present time.
“THE GLORIOUS GATE”
At the advent of the French in the latter part of the seventeenth century the Miami Confederacy was probably the most powerful in the region between Lake Michigan and the Ohio river and kept in awe the crafty Iroquois below Lake Erie and Ontario on the east and the powerful Sioux of the upper Mississippi on the west. It is said that their chieftain at this time had a bodyguard of forty warriors and could lead into battle an army of five thousand men. This powerful Confederacy comprised the Piankeshaws, whose chief towns were located near the present site of Vincennes; the Weas, whose seat was at Ouiatenon, near the present site of LaFayette, and the Miamis proper, whose capital was located near the junction of the St. Joseph and St. Marys where they unite to form the Maumee on the present site of Fort Wayne, Ind. This was easily recognized as a strategic point, as it was at the head of navigation of the Maumee, some ninety miles from Maumee Bay and was readily reached by trails from the St. Joseph river of Lake Michigan; from the Wabash and the Great Miami and was on the natural water route from Detroit to the above points. At the Treaty of Greene Ville in 1795, Little Turtle spoke of this village as “That glorious gate through which all the good words of our chiefs had to pass from the north to the south and from east to the west.”
Kekionga is said to be a corruption of Kiskakon, the name of a tribal subdivision of the Ottawas, who had a village here before the Miamis. At that early date the Maumee was likewise known as the Ottawa river on account of its control by the tribe of that name. how long it had been a tribal seat can only be conjectured, when we recall the statement of Meshikinnoqua at Greene Ville concerning certain lands along the Scioto and Miami which he claimed had been enjoyed by his forefathers “from time immemorial without molestation or dispute,” At the advent of the White Man Kekionga was surrounded by gardens, orchards and extensive cornfields, which were considered remarkable and indicated long occupancy. Tradition says that LaSalle visited this point with a company of some thirty companions, consisting of French soldiers, lieutenants and assistants and two Indian guides, in the spring of 1679 or 1680. These men had been engaged in exploring probably a decade before arriving at this point, having visited Indian settlements in Canada along the St. Lawrence and Ottawa rivers; in Michigan, on the shores of Lake Huron and St. Clair and the Detroit river, besides points along the southwestern shore of Lake Erie.
Big Horn is said to have been the Miami chief at this time. It is probable that a trading post had been established here as early as 1719. Captain Vincennes, the founder of Vincennes, Ind., is credited with erecting a French fort about 1734, on the southern bank of the Maumee, a little below where the St. Mary and St. Joseph unite to form this stream. This post was probably built of large logs cut from the site and laid horizontally with log pickets some twenty-five feet long firmly set at the most exposed points. It was appropriately named Fort Miami, as it guarded the capital town of the Miamis located on the river of the same name.
The early years of the French occupation seem to have been a period of peace. In fact we hear but little concerning this post until near the close of the French and Indian War – perhaps in 1762 – when it seems to have been abandoned and replaced by an English fort on the east side of the St. Joseph. This latter fort was probably built by the French and taken over by the British about 1760, who placed Ensign Holmes in charge of it. All went well until the spring of 1763, when Pontiac, the Ottawa, formed a conspiracy to surprise and take the English outposts on the lower lakes and frontiers, including Fort Miami. The Miamis had been a party to the great conspiracy and openly denounced the English. Hence, we are not surprised to learn that the English commandant was marked for destruction. Through constraint an Indian maiden, for whom Holmes had found an attachment, and in whom he placed confidence, was sent into the post on May 27, with the request that he come out to assist with medical aid a squaw who was lying sick in a hut without the garrison. Following the girl a few paces outside the enclosure he was treacherously shot down while approaching the wigwam in which the fictitious sick squaw lay. A sergeant, attracted by the shots, unguardedly stepped outside the fort to investigate the cause and was immediately seized and made a captive. Seeing the desperate situation the handful of defenders threw open the gates and surrendered. Fort Miami again passes into obscurity until the fall of 1780, when one Augustus de la Balme suddenly appeared with fifty or a hundred freebooters on their way to Detroit. From meager historical data it seems that LaBalme was a Frenchman who came over with LaFayette in 1779, to fight in the Revolution. However, we find him in the summer of 1780, in Kaskaskia and Vincennes quietly enlisting a volunteer company of daring frontiersmen with the view of surprising Kekionga, and, if successful in this venture, extending operations to Detroit, then in the hands of the British. The success of Clark in taking Vincennes a few months previously, no doubt, lent inspiration to the adventure and made recruiting comparatively easy. Whether he was moved by patriotic impulse or bent on plunder seems to be a matter of conjecture. Following the valley of the Wabash by a quick and cautious march he passed Ouiatenon and appeared unexpectedly at Kekionga. The panic stricken inhabitants, including some six or eight French traders, fled without resistance leaving LaBalme plunder the village at will. In a short time the freebooters had sacked the village and burned the buildings of Beaubien, LaFontaine and other traders together with some stores of food and supplies as they could not apply to their needs. After tarrying a day or so they proceeded westward a few miles and encamped on Aboit creek, a branch of the Wabash, awaiting reinforcements for advancing to Detroit. It is said that one of LaBalme’s objects was to seize Beaubien who was the general partisan of the Miamis. The French traders, however, were greatly incensed by this unwarranted and dastardly raid and soon incited the Indians of the neighborhood to retaliate. After ascertaining the number and equipment of LaBalme’s forces the Miamis, under the leadership of the crafty Little Turtle, then probably under thirty years of age, surrounded the imperfectly guarded encampment and fell upon in it in the night time and massacred the entire party with the exception of a man by the name of Rhys, who was captured and delivered to the British officers in Canada. The Indians, it seems, having learned that LaBalme’s men were Frenchmen, were not disposed at first to avenge the attack, but the traders, Beaubien (who had married the widow of Chief Joseph Drouet de Richardville, the mother of the late Chief of the nation, Joseph B. Richardville) and LaFontaine (father of the late Miami Chief LaFontaine), incited them to the deed. Here the sagacious mind of Little Turtle foreshadowed his future greatness, as the morning foretells the day.
It seems that Little Turtle’s time was employed during the decade immediately following 1780, as a leader in the various war expeditions against different parts of the frontier, especially Ohio river points and the outposts of Kentucky. In one of this expeditions he captured a boy about eleven years of age by the name of William Wells, whom he adopted.
Kekionga again lapsed into comparative quietude while the great drama of conquest and expansion was being enacted by the American Colonies east of the Alleghenies. The close of the Revolution, in 1783, gave an impetus to frontier activity as the eyes of prospective emigrants turned north of the Ohio, and attempts were soon made to realize the visions and ambition of the Ohio company and other organizations of prospectors formed before the war.
The first permanent settlement of the Northwest Territory was made on the seventh of April, 1788, by General Rufus Putman, heading a company of forty-seven emigrants.
Cincinnati was settled on December 28, 1788. The next year was famous in the history of western emigration, as no less than twenty thousand persons, men, women and children, passed the mouth of the Muskingum river during the season on their journey down the Ohio river. In a very short time a territorial government was established at Marietta, with General Arthur St. Clair as Governor.
The Treaty of Paris in 1783, following the American Revolutionary War, did not bring peace with the Indian tribes of the Northwest. The British meanwhile kept on good terms with the Indians, intrigued with them and encouraged them in their hostilities against the Americans which continued with savage fury. Murderous incursions by the Miamis and Confederate tribes from the Maumee and western countries were frequently attended with savage cruelties. The government decided upon immediate aggressive movements. To delay was only to encourage the Indians in their obstinacy, and the British in their unscrupulous work of feeding, clothing and equipping the Indians for their depredations against the Americans.
In the Indian War in the west the Miamis were the principal central power. Occupying with their confederates the valleys of the Wabash and the Miami of the Lakes they stretched like an impossible line between Lake Erie and the lower Ohio, and were a complete bar to the settlement of the west.
The outrages, they in connection with the Shawnees and Delawares committed, and the threatening aspect they assumed led eventually to the various campaigns at separate periods of Generals Harmar, St. Clair and Wayne.
The first army in this Indian War organized by the general government was placed under command of General Josiah Harman, a soldier of the Revolution. Arrangements having been completed he left Fort Washington September 30, 1790, with one thousand one hundred and fifty-three men, comprising three hundred and twenty regulars and one thousand one hundred and thirty-three militia and drafted men. The entire force comprised three battalions of Kentucky militia under Majors Hall, McMullen and Ray, with Lieutenant-Colonel Trotter in command; one battalion of Pennsylvania militia under Lieutenant-Colonel Traby and Major Paul; one battalion of mounted riflemen commanded by Major James Fontaine together with two battalions of regulars under Majors Wyllys and Doughty and a company of artillery with three brass pieces of ordnance commanded by Captain William Ferguson.
After treaty upon treaty had been made and broken and the frontiers had been suffering through this whole period from the tomahawk and scalping knife, the new American government dispatched these regular troops, enlisted in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, and the force of drafted militia from Pennsylvania and Kentucky to the frontiers under General Harmar, with Col. John Hardin , of Kentucky, in charge of the militia. The army comprised many boys and infirm men, who had been sent as substitutes, and were unfit for the hard service before them. On account of hasty assemblage they were also poorly equipped and drilled. The orders to General Harman were to march on to the Indian towns adjacent the lakes, and to inflict on them such signal chastisement as should protect the settlements from future depredations.
The militia advanced up the Mill Creek valley on September 26th, and the main army followed on the 30th, making seven miles, and encamping for the night on a branch of Mill Creek, course northeast. Eight miles more were made the second day on a general course of northwest, the army encamping on another branch of Mill Creek. On the third day a march of fifteen miles was made, the course being generally north and the encampment on the waters of Muddy Creek, a tributary of the Little Miami river. On the morning of October 3rd, Colonel Hardin, with the militia were overtaken and passed; and, halting at Turtle creek one mile further on, the whole army encamped for the night.
On the 4th of October the army reached and crossed the Little Miami on a northeast course, moving up it one mile to a branch called Sugar or Caesar’s creek, near Waynesville, where they encamped having accomplished nine miles that day. Next day a march of ten miles still on a northeast course brought the army to Glade creek, near the present site of Xenia, Ohio. On the 6th, it reached Chillicothe, an old Indian village, now Oldtown, and crossed the Little Miami again, keeping a northeast course, making nine miles that day. Next day the troops crossed Mad river, then called the Pickaway fork of the Great Miami, between the present sites of Dayton and Springfield, Ohio, and made nine miles; their course for the first time becoming west of north. On the 8th, pursuing a northwest course they crossed Honey creek, and made seven miles more. On the next day, they followed the same course marching ten miles, encamped within two miles of the Great Miami; next day the army crossed that stream above the present site of Piqua, Ohio, keeping still a northwest course and made ten miles more. On the 11th, by a course west of north, it passed the ruins of a French trading station, marked on Hutchin’s map as Twightwees (or Miamis), and encamped there after making eleven miles. Next day the army kept a course most of northwest, near Loramie’s creek and across the headwaters of the Auglaize. Here they found the remains of a considerable village, some of the houses being still standing; fourteen miles made this day. Following the old Indian and French portage to the St. Mary’s river (near St. Marys, Ohio), and on towards the Miami villages. On the 13th they marched ten miles, keeping west of northwest, and encamped, being joined by a reinforcement from Cincinnati with ammunition. Next day, the 14th, Colonel Hardin was detached with one company of regulars and six hundred militia in advance of the main body, being charged with the destruction of towns in the forks of the Maumee. On the arrival of this advance party, they found the towns abandoned by the Indians and the principal ones burnt.
The main body marched on the 14th, ten miles, and on the 15th eight more; both days on a northwest course. Next day made nine miles, same course, and on the 17th, crossed the Maumee river to the Indian village; formed a junction again with Hardin at the Miami village; this was the same town burned and abandoned by the savages. On the day of Harmar’s junction with Hardin two Indians were discovered by a scouting party as they were crossing the prairie. The scouts pursued them and shot one; the other making his escape. A young man named Johnson, seeing that the Indian was not dead, attempted to shoot him again, but his pistol failing to fire, the Indian raised his rifle and shot Johnson through the body, which proved fatal. This night the Indian succeeded in driving through the lines between fifty and one hundred horses and bore them off to the mortification of the whites. This same day, October 17th, was employed in searching in the hazel thickets for hidden treasures and much corn was found buried in the earth.
On the evening of this day Captains McClure and McClary fell upon a stratagem peculiar to backwoodsmen. They conveyed a horse a short distance down the river undiscovered, fetterd him, unstrapped the bell tongue, and concealed themselves, with their rifle. The Indian attracted by the sound of the bell, came cautiously up and began to untie him, when McClure shot him. The report of the gun alarmed the camp and brought many of the troops to the place.
A young man taken prisoner at Loramie was brought to see the Indian just killed and pronounced him to be Captain Punk-great-man, Delaware Chief.
The army burned all the houses and destroyed about twenty thousand bushels of corn, which they discovered in various places where it had been hidden by the Indians, a large quantity having been found buried in holes dug for that purpose. In this destruction a variety of property belonging to the French traders was included.
The 18th was spent in a fruitless attempt to locate the Indians. On the 19th Colonel Harden led a detachment of three hundred men, including a small number of regulars. They followed along an Indian trail to the northwest for about fifteen miles, to within one mile of the present village of Churubusco, Indiana, and to within five miles of the Little Turtle’s famous village.
Through the neglect of Colonel Hardin to give command to more forward, Falkner’s company was left in the rear, possibly a mile or more. The absence of Falkner at the time became apparent. Major Fontaine, with a portion of the cavalry, was at once sent in pursuit of him with the supposition that he was lost. At this time the report of a gun in front of the detachment fell upon the attentive ear of Captain Armstrong, in command of the regulars. When Armstrong informed Colonel Hardin that the fires of the Indians had been discerned, the latter believed that the Indians would not fight, and rode in front of the advancing columns. The detachment was soon fired on from ambuscade, both skillfully designed and vigorously executed by the skill and genius of the commanding Miami Chief, Little Turtle, at the head of not more than one hundred and fifty warriors. The Indians on this occasion gained a complete victory, having killed nearly one hundred men. The enemy pursued until Major Fontaine, who had been sent to hunt up Falkner and his company, returning with them compelled them to retire, and the survivors of the detachment arrived safe in camp. The real strength of the Indians was in a well chosen position and in the cowardice of the militia, who threw away their arms without even firing a shot.
This destructive engagement was fought near the spot where the Goshen State Road now crosses Eel river, near or still beyond Hellers corner, about twelve or fifteen miles northwest of Fort Wayne. Captain Armstrong broke through the pursuing Indians and plunged into the depth of the morass, where he remained to his chin all night in the mud and water, his head concealed by a tussock of high grass. Here he was compelled to listen to the nocturnal orgies of the Indians dancing and yelling around the dead bodies of his brave soldiers. Eventually the Indians retired and Armstrong, chilled to the last degree, extricated himself from the swamp, but found himself obliged to kindle a fire in a ravine into which he crawled, having his tender box, watch and compass still on his person. By the aid of the fire he recovered his feeling, and the use of his limbs and at last reached the camp in safety. For some years after the site of this sanguinary conflict was settled by the whites, bayonets were picked up and bullets were cut out of the neighboring trees in such quantities as to attest the desperate character of this engagement.
Little Turtle still recruited his Indian army, and slowly followed the trail to near Harmar’s encampment, which was still located at the old Miami village site at the head of the Maumee.
On the evening of the 21st of October, at 10 o’clock, General Harmar, without calling a council, left camp and started on his return to Fort Washington. Little Turtle, who was immediately appraised of this fact, was in possession of the old Miami village early on the morning of the 22nd.
Colonel Hardin, surmising that the Indians had returned to the burned village, solicited General Harmar to let him return and inflict a more severe chastisement upon them. The request was granted, and Colonel Hardin, with Major Wyllys, was sent back with a detachment of four hundred men; they too soon became entangled in the snares of the wily Little Turtle, who, on the point of land between St. Joseph and the Maumee, inflicted another serious defeat to the American arms.
Majors Hall and Fontaine, with a detachment of militia, were to pass around the village at the head of the Maumee, cross the St. Mary’s and the St. Joseph, gain the rear of the Indian encampment unobserved, and await an attack by the main body of the troops in front.
Those consisting of Major McMullin’s battalion and the regulars under Major Wyllys were to cross the Maumee at the usual ford and thus surround the savages. The game was spoiled by the imprudence of Major Hall, who fired prematurely upon a solitary Indian and alarmed the encampment. The startled Indians were instantly seen flying in different directions. The militia under Major Hall, and the cavalry under Fontaine, who had crossed the river, started in pursuit in disobedience of orders, leaving the regulars under Wyllys, who had also crossed the Maumee, unsupported. The latter was attacked by Little Turtle, and the main body of the Indians and driven back with great slaughter.
Richardville, a half-blood about ten or twelve years of age, was in the battle, and in later life often asserted that he could have crossed the stream upon the bodies dryshod. This man succeeded Little Turtle as Chief, and died at Fort Wayne in 1840.
The above statement is from Lossing’s Field Book of the War 1812, who visited Fort Wayne in 1860.
We also have another statement by this same Richardville, taken from “Brice’s History of Fort Wayne.” His recollection of the way the Indians stole along the bank of the river near the point long since known as Harmar’s ford was most thrilling. Not a man among the Indians, said he, was to fire a gun until the warriors under Harman had gained the stream and were about to cross. Then the red men in the bushes, with rifles leveled and ready for action just as the detachment of Harman began to near the center of the Maumee, opened a sudden and deadly fire in the stream, until the river was literally
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Fort Wayne * Harmar’s Battlefield - October 22, 1790
strewn from bank to bank with the slain, one upon the other, both horses and men, and the water ran red with blood. While this was going on at the ford, Majors Hall and Fontaine were skirmishing with parties of Indians a short distance up the St. Joseph.
Fontaine, with a number of his followers, fell at the head of his mounted militia in making a charge. He was shot dead, and as he fell from his horse was immediately scalped. The remainder, with those under Hall and Fontaine, fell back in confusion toward the ford of the Maumee and followed the remnant of the regulars in their retreat.
Major George Adams, who afterward lived and died in Darke county, Ohio, was with the mounted militia under Major Fontaine at the time of his tragic death; and when he found that his troops did not charge as a unit with him, he called out to Adams, “Stick to me, my brave fellow.”
Adams was wounded five times and carried on stretchers between two horses back to Fort Washington and a grave was dug for him three succeeding evenings, thinking it impossible for him to live until morning.
We have the above statement from the excellent paper by George Katzenberger on “Major Adams” published in the “Ohio Archaeological and Historical Society’s Reports,” Vol. 22, page 529. Also by John Wharry, “History of Darke County,” published 1880.
The Indians, who suffered a heavy loss, did not pursue. General Harmar at about this time, it seems, had lost all confidence in the militia and decided to return to Fort Washington at once. A considerable number of the regulars of General Harmar’s army had followed Washington and other generals in the War of the Revolution. Harmar, in these engagements, lost near two hundred men.
The slain of this little army were buried in the low bank near the ford of the Maumee on the present site of Fort Wayne, Ind.
The father of Robert Gavin, now eighty years old, who lives on Harmar and Liberty streets, Fort Wayne, remembers the cut in the south bank of the Maumee river where General Harmar descended into the Maumee ford. His father pointed out to him when a boy the identical spot, which can still be seen. His father cleared this bottom land and raised the first corn crop on it. The graves of Harmar’s slain were all sunken in and his father filled them up and leveled the ground so as to farm over them with convenience. Here the bones of Harmar’s heroes had lain until the coming of Anthony Wayne, when by his order, what could still be found, were collected and decently interred.
The writer recently viewed the location of Harmar’s ford, which lies at the foot of Harmar street, Fort Wayne, It shows no sign of blood and carnage today. General Harmar was forced to struggle homeward to Fort Washington as best he could, a greatly disappointed commander. It was indeed a dreary march.
General Harman resigned his commission the following January and was made Adjutant General of Pennsylvania in 1793, in which position he later rendered good service in furnishing troops for General Wayne’s army. He predicted defeat for General St. Clair’s army, which was being gathered with great labor in 1791 to operate along the Maumee river. This prediction of General Harmar before the army set out on its fateful campaign was founded upon his own experience and positive knowledge of conditions. He saw with what material the army was being formed – men collected from the streets and prisons of the cities, hurried out into the enemy’s country, and with their commanding officers totally unacquainted with the business in which they were engaged. Besides, not any one department was sufficiently prepared, both the contractors and quartermasters extremely deficient. It was utterly impossible, under these circumstances, to accomplish the design of the new expedition.
It was a matter of astonishment to General Harmar that the commanding general, St. Clair, who was acknowledged to be totally incompetent, should thank of hazarding with such people and under such circumstances his reputation and life, and the lives of so many others, knowing, too, as both did, the enemy with whom he was going to contend – an enemy brought up from infancy to war, and perhaps superior to an equal number of the best men that could be taken against them. It is a truth that St. Clair had hopes that the noise and show which the army made of the march might deter the enemy from attempting a serious, general attack.
General Harmar, after his retirement from office, lived in comparative obscurity for some years on the banks of the Schuykill and died about 1803. The funeral was conducted with great military pomp, his horse being draped in mourning and led in the procession. His sword and pistols were laid upon his coffin, which was borne upon a bier, hearses not being in use in those days.
“Oh, why does the white man follow my path
Like the hound on the raccoon’s track?
Does the flush on my dark cheek ‘waken his wrath?
Does he covet the bow on my back?
He has rivers and seas where the billows and breeze
Bear riches for him alone,
And the sons of the wood never plunge in the flood
Which the white man calls his own.”
ST. CLAIR’S EXPEDITION
Soon after Harmar’s expedition the frontier settlements of western Pennsylvania and along the Ohio river were again attacked, and terror spread among the people south of the river. It is estimated that the population of the west at this time was between one hundred and fifty and two hundred thousand, scattered in groups – one in southwestern Pennsylvania, two in western Virginia, about Wheeling and the mouth of the Kenawha, and one in Kentucky below the Licking river. These settlers had poured in from the eastern states as well as from several European countries since the close of the Revolution, being attracted largely by the great fertility of the land and the exceptional business opportunities. For the most part, they had floated down the Ohio in crude flatboats, but many had come overland by Boone’s celebrated wilderness road. To the hardships of their life in a new, exceedingly rough country, were added the terrors of Indian attacks, inspired by killing, wounding and capturing of more than fifteen hundred men, women and children in Kentucky and vicinity since the peace of 1783.
Delegates from several of the exposed counties of Virginia petitioned the governor and the legislature of that State, authorized him to make temporary provision for the protection of the frontier until the United States government should take proper steps in the same direction. Charles Scott, who had served in the Revolution, was appointed brigadier-general of the militia of Kentucky, then a part of Virginia, and was ordered to raise a volunteer force to co-operate with several companies of rangers from the western counties and proceed against the Wea villages on the Wabash (near Lafayette, Ind.). Scott chose two Revolutionary compatriots to accompany him on this raid, Colonel James Wilkinson being placed second in command and Colonel John Hardin in charge of the advance guard. The expedition was delayed until May 23, 1791, awaiting the return of Proctor, but, hearing nothing from him by that time, Scott crossed the Ohio at the mouth of the Kentucky with some eight hundred mounted men and arrived at Ouiatenon (Lafayette, Ind.) June 1st. Here he found a village of some seventy houses, with a number of French inhabitants living in a state of civilization. The village was burned and a large quantity of corn and household goods was destroyed. A detachment was sent on foot against Tippecanoe, the most important village, which was also destroyed. The army returned with several prisoners, reaching the Ohio in twelve days with the loss of only two men.
On August 1, 1791, Colonel Wilkinson was sent against the Indians of the Eel river with a command of five hundred and twenty-vive mounted men. He encountered much difficulty in his march from Fort Washington on account of the boggy land. Arriving at the mouth of the Eel river, he attacked the village located there, killed a few Indians and captured others. Proceeding to Tippecanoe and Ouiatenon, the army destroyed the corn which had been planted since Scott’s raid. The army reached the rapids of the Ohio on the 21st, having marched some four hundred and fifty miles.
Notwithstanding the loss suffered by the Indians, they became more angry than ever. All the northwestern tribes made common cause with the Miamis and banded together in more open warfare, so that the settlers were in constant fear of the tomahawk and scalping knife. The effects of Harmar’s campaign both exasperated and encouraged them, and the war whoop resounded through all the tribes. Those Indians who were disposed to be on friendly relations were overpowered by the impetuous flood of savage enthusiasm. All the settlements in the great valley in western Pennsylvania, western Virginia, Kentucky and Ohio were alike menaced. The emigrants had much more to lose and much more to dread than the Indians. The farm houses of the settlers were widely scattered. The burning of the frontier villages, with the scalping and torturing of men, women and children, was a horror which no language can exaggerate. To burn the wigwam of a savage was comparatively a light catastrophe. He had no household furniture. A few hours’ labor would restore his hut. He was in no danger, either himself, his wife or his children, of being scalped or tortured.
The perils to which the frontiers were exposed were terrible. In view of them the stoutest heart might quail. But often they found the settlers entrenching themselves in fort after fort circumscribing their range and cutting them entirely off from their favorite hunting grounds south of the Ohio. There can be no doubt that a determined hostility sprang up in the minds of the savages which all the exertions of the American government failed to allay and soon rendered it apparent that the two races could not live together in amity where it was the policy of one to reclaim the country from the hunter and of the other to keep it a wilderness.
In view of the situation of the frontier, the most earnest petitions were sent to President Washington to authorize the raising of a force sufficiently powerful to protect effectually the frontiers. The President had in person witnessed all the horrors of savage warfare and knew well how to sympathize with those suffering pioneers. He promptly persuaded Congress, in the session which terminated on the third day of March, 1791, to authorize him to raise a regiment of regulars and two thousand volunteers to serve for six months. Immediate and vigorous measures were adopted for a new campaign. In the spring of 1791 the President appointed Governor St. Clair Major General and placed him in command of the army in place of General Harmar, who resigned on his return to Fort Washington. Colonel Richard Butler was promoted to the office of General and placed second in command. The Quartermaster General. Mr. Samuel Hogdon, upon leaving Philadelphia, was furnished by Congress with twenty thousand dollars and later with an additional sum of seventeen thousand dollars for equipping the new army on the proposed expedition. (The fact that St. Clair had considerable money with him when in the field is indicated by the testimony of one John Drawbaugh, who was with the army. Several years after the battle on the Wabash the grandfather of the author accompanied this man to the site west of Lightsville, in northern Darke county, where a large sum of specie had been buried the day before the conflict. According to Drawbaugh’s statement, he was one of four privates who accompanied an officer on the secret mission of burying the coin, and all of his companions were killed in battle the next day. – (Calvin Young.) These sums were considered amply sufficient at that early date for the purpose designated and seem to indicate that the fathers of the new republic had been schooled in economy and self-sacrifice.
The organizers and leaders of the confederated Indian forces at this juncture were Little Turtle, who, with intelligence, craft and courage, endeavored to rally the northwestern tribes, together with Blue Jacket, the great Chief of the Shawnees and Buckongahelas, Chief of the Delawares. These savages were aided and abetted by the notorious renegades, Simon Girty, Matthew Elliot and Alexander McKee, whose council and experience were valuable assets to the untutored Indians in their attempt to drive the white settlers beyond the Ohio.
Chief among these forest heroes whose exploits have made history illustrious was the daring Me-she-kin-no-quah. Gifted with the essential qualities which characterize the men accepted as leaders in civilized communities and nearly exempt from the eccentricities peculiar to his race, his many virtues shown with untarnished luster. Amidst the turmoil of the camp and the vengeful spirit of the times, these Chiefs, in connection with Simon Girty, Alexander McKee, Matthew Elliot and other renegades, headed a band of warriors whose discipline had probably never been equaled in Indian warfare. Nothing but a decisive blow by a large and well organized force could quell the uprising being formulated by these leaders. The poet well describes the situation at this time when he says:
“They rise by stream and yellow shore,
By meadow, moor and fen,
By weedy rock and torrents’ roar
And lonesome forest glen.
“From many a weedy, moss-grown mound
Start forth a war-worn band,
As when of old they caught the sound
Of hostile arms and closed around
To guard their native land.”
The Indians, at the instigation of the British, contended for the Ohio river as the boundary line of the United States. To get control of the upper lakes and the valuable fur trade around them was a favorite scheme of the British statesmen. It was proposed by the British commissioners who negotiated the treaty of peace in 1814, as an indispensable requirement, that the Indians inhabiting that portion of the United States within the limits established by the treaty of 1783 should be included, as the allies of Great Britain, in the projected pacification, and that the boundaries to be settled for Indian territory upon a basis which would have operated to surrender to a number of Indians, not to exceed a few thousand, the right of sovereignty as well as soil over nearly one-third of the territorial dominion of the United States inhabited by more than one hundred thousand of its citizens. When the British left Fort George, at the foot of Broadway, New York, November 25, 1783, they left their flag flying. It was believed that the absence of British authority in the United States would be only temporary, hence the continuation of the Indian wars in the northwest at their behest.
The final war of 1812 is justly termed the second war for American independence. This war gave to every true-born American an idea of absolute independence from British thraldom. Hence, Elihu Slocum says truly, “The war of 1775-1783 between the United Colonies and Great Britain was revolutionary; the war of 1812-1814 between the United States and Great Britain was the war of independence.”
When, after many vexatious delays and disappointments, St. Clair’s army commenced its march into the wilderness from Ludlow’s Station on September 17, 1791, the obstructions were so great that its progress was very slow. Twenty-four miles north of Fort Washington (Cincinnati, Ohio) they erected a strong blockhouse on the eastern bank of the Great Miami river, leaving a small garrison at this place. St. Clair named this post Fort Hamilton. Continuing slowly northward forty-four miles, the army arrived at a beautiful camp site and on October 12th, soon built Fort Jefferson. On the 24th another advance of six miles was made. Shortly after leaving Fort Jefferson, one of the militia regiments, with their usual disregard to discipline, determined that it was inexpedient to proceed farther, and, detaching themselves from the main body, returned rapidly to the fort on their way home. General St. Clair was daily expecting the arrival of provisions in a caravan of wagons. Apprehensive that the deserters might seize and plunder these wagons, he hastily detached quite a large force of the first regiment to pursue the deserters and attack them, if necessary, and rescue and protect the wagons. These various operations so diminished his forces that his main army now consisted of but fourteen hundred men. His march became toilsome and difficult; the dreary month of November had come with its storms of wind and rain; the route in a northwest direction led through a wet, marshy, inhospitable region covered with a dense forest. There was no road through these gloomy wilds; the axe had to be incessantly in use in felling the trees, often of gigantic size, and in removing stumps to open a passage for the baggage wagons and artillery.
The heavily laden wheels often sank to their hubs. General St. Clair was aged, infirm, and was suffering severely from the gout. It indicated a want of judgment in him under those circumstances to have undertaken the leadership in so arduous a campaign. And it cannot be denied that he was entirely out-generaled by the Indian Chiefs.
On the third of November the army reached a point about one hundred miles north of Fort Washington. They were still fifty miles from the Indian towns on the Maumee river which was their intended destination. It was a dismal day, with chilling winds and the ground covered with snow. The weary and water-soaked soldiers had cut their way through an almost pathless forest and approached a creek about thirty-five feet wide, which proved to be the headwaters of the Wabash river. There was a small elevated meadow on the east banks of this stream, while a dense forest spread gloomily all around. Here General St. Clair took up his encampment for the night. The militia encamped across the creek, a distance of about three hundred yards, intending to throw up some slight works on the morrow for the purpose of protecting their knapsacks and baggage. During the evening St. Clair discussed the plan of the proposed work with Major Ferguson of the engineers, expecting to move upon the Miami village as soon as the first regiment should rejoin them. The troops were encamped in two lines with an interval of seventy yards, which was all the nature of the ground would permit. The battalions of Majors Butler, Clark and Patterson composed the front line, which was under the orders of General Butler, an officer of high and merited reputation. The second line was composed of the Battalions of Majors Gaither and Bedinger, and the second regiment under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Darke. The front and right flanks were protected by the creek, the left flank by a steep bank, Faulkner’s corps and some infantry. Skilled in the use of the axe, they speedily cut down trees and built roaring fires in the intervening space which illuminated the forest far and wide and enabled both parties to cook their suppers and enjoy the genial warmth. Few scouts were sent out, for all were nearly perishing with cold and weariness and there were no indications whatever that a foe was at hand in any forceful number. But the cunning Little Turtle and a large number of savages were in the forests nearby watching every movement and selecting their positions behind trees from which, unseen and protected, the bullet could be sent with unerring aim upon their foe huddled together without any shelter. The night passed quietly away, but through its long hours the savages, unseen and with the silent tread of the panther, were making their preparations for the slaughter.
It seems that Little Turtle was watching with an eagle’s restless eye for another opportunity to strike the American army. The coming victory over St. Clair was clearly the result, not of overwhelming numbers, but of superior generalship.
Here on the banks of the Wabash, about daylight on the morning of the 4th of November, 1791, Little Turtle assailed St. Clair’s army, in front, on both flanks and finally the rear.
Early in the morning the militia on the opposite side of the creek were in thoughtless confusion preparing their breakfast when the yell of a thousand savages fell upon their ears, followed by the report of musketry and a deadly discharge of bullets, scarcely one of which missed its aim. The slaughter was so dreadful that the panic-stricken militia flew instantly and with the utmost precipitation. Many of them did not stop to pick up their guns, but plunged pell mell through the creek, broke resistlessly through the first line and stopped, a tumultuous, helpless mass, at the second. All of this was the work of but a few minutes. And now the little army, huddled together in terror-stricken confusion were exposed to a deadly fire from every direction, no foe being visible except when here and there a warrior darted from the protection of one tree to another. Colonel Darke was in command of the second line of regulars when the flight of the militia was arrested. He succeeded in forming his line and charged into the forest. The wary Indians in that portion of the circumference retired before him, while a storm of bullets from all around was rapidly striking down his men. As Darke again drew back to his position the Indians followed like the closing in of the waves of the sea. It seems a large party of Indian sharpshooters had been especially designed to attack the artillerymen. In a short time every man at the guns had been shot down. Not an hour elapsed from the commencement of the conflict before one-half of the men of St. Clair’s army were either killed or wounded and most of the horses were shot. Our artillery being now silent, all of the officers killed except Captain Ford, who was badly wounded, more than half of the army fallen, and, being cut off from the road, it became necessary to attempt the regaining it and to make a retreat if possible. To this purpose the remnants of the army were formed as well as circumstances would admit towards the right of the encampment, from which, by the way of the second line, another charge was made upon the enemy, as if with the design to turn their right flank, but, in fact, to gain the road. This was affected and as soon as it was open the militia entered, followed by the troops. Major Clark with his battalion covered the retreat. Under these circumstances the remnant of the army was hurled headlong down the trail southward for a distance of four or five miles with terrible slaughter by the victorious and triumphant Indian warriors.
No such defeat at the hands of the Red men had heretofore occurred in American history, not even that of General Braddock in 1775. Down to the present time it has only been surpassed once, viz, the disastrous defeat of General Custer on the Big Horn June 25, 1876.
The rout continued quite to Fort Jefferson, twenty-nine miles. The action began about half an hour before sunrise and the retreat was attempted at half past nine o’clock. St. Clair’s defeat was described by one Mr. Thomas Irwin, a wagoner in the army, in a diary which he kept at the time. The battle always reminded him of a furious thunder storm that comes up rapidly and soon disappears, leaving havoc and desolation in its path. This Mr. Irwin now has descendants in Greenville, Ohio, one of whom assisted in the unveiling of the stone marker at the centennial of the signing of the Wayne treaty August 3, 1895.
In this dreadful disaster the Indians killed over seven hundred of St. Clair’s army, took seven pieces of cannon, two hundred oxen, a great number of horses and a few prisoners. Most of the wounded on the immediate battlefield were tomahawked and scalped. The Indians lost sixty-six warriors. The loss to the Americans is said to have been greater than that of any battle of the Revolution. The morning of St. Clair’s defeat the boom of cannon was heard by the returning detachment thirty miles away. They were marching post haste to the relief of the army on the field of battle when they were met by the flying fugitives two or three miles north of the present city of Greenville, Ohio.
Among those engaged in this disastrous battle was a gentleman from New Jersey, Captain Littell, with his step-son Stephen. The Captain had been a man of war from his youth. He had been engaged in thirteen skirmishes with the Indians and had gained much reputation in the battles at Brandywine and Germantown. Having been unfortunate in business, he had turned his attention to the new lands in the west. His son, who had accompanied him, had just attained his majority. The Captain, thinking that as a member of St. Clair’s expedition he would have a fine opportunity of exploring the country, applied for a commission. Being too late in his application, both he and his son enlisted in the ranks. He entertained the supposition, which, unfortunately, was very general, that there would be no fighting. It was thought that the Indians, appalled by the approach of so formidable a force, would not only make no resistance, but would throw down their arms and be for peace. The company to which Littell and his son attached themselves was composed mainly of young men from New Jersey, most of whom had come out for the purpose of viewing the country. This company was esteemed one of the best military corps. It was stationed in the advance upon the other side of the creek where the savages commenced their onset. Captain Littell, being hotly engaged in the fight, was not aware of the order to retreat until the enemy was all around him. With the gleaming tomahawks of the savages almost over his head, he sprang forward to cross the stream. As he leaped down the precipitous bank he stumbled and fell into a hollow of mud and water and thus escaped the shower of bullets whisking all around him. The pursuing Indians, supposing him to be shot dead and that they could return at their pleasure for his scalp, rushed by for other victims. Fortunately, the Captain was somewhat screened from observation by the rank grass and dense underbrush which fringed the stream. His boots were filled with water, thus rendering rapid flight impossible. As he was emptying his boots and making preparations for escape he was discovered by a solitary Indian, who, supposing him to be helplessly wounded, rushed incautiously toward him to take his scalp. He stumbled over some slight impediment and Captain Littell, springing up, plunged his sword to the hilt in his bosom. The savage dropped dead into the water. The Captain then fled into the forest. After two days of solitary wandering and much suffering he reached Fort Jefferson in safety.
The escape of his son, Stephen, was still more remarkable. At the commencement of the battle he was at the extreme advance. Being unable to keep up with his comrades in their precipitated flight, he sprang aside and hid in a dense thicket. The yelling savages rushed by in their hot pursuit. The Indians were thus soon between him and the rest of the troops. Here he remained for some time in dreadful suspense as the roar of the battle died away in the distance, the Indians being in full chase of the flying army. He then ventured slowly forward until he reached the scene of the night’s encampment. Awful was the scene presented to him there. The bodies of the seven or eight hundred killed and wounded encumbered the ground. It was a cold frosty morning. The scalped heads presented a very revolting spectacle, a peculiar vapor ascended from them all. Many of these poor creatures were still alive. Groans assembled from all sides. Several of the wounded, knowing that as soon as the savages returned they would be doomed to death by torture, implored young Littell to put and end to their misery. This he refused to do. Seeing among the dead, one who bore a strong resemblance to his father he was in the act of turning over the body to examine the features when the exultant and terrific shouts of the returning savages fell upon his ear, and already he could see through the forests the plumed warriors rushing back. It so chanced that an evergreen tree of very dense foliage had been felled near where he stood. It was his only possible escape. He sprang into the tree and turned its branches as well as he could around him. Scarcely had he done this than the savages came bounding upon the ground like so many demons. Immediately they commenced their fiend-like acts of torture upon all the wounded. One of their principal amusements was to bind a captive to a tree and see how near his head they could throw their tomahawks without killing him. If the cruel weapon chanced to strike the cheek or the brow, bringing forth the gushing blood, it only brought forth the shouts of merriment, giving additional zest to the game. One of their tomahawks thus thrown came so near the tree where Stephen was concealed that he could have stooped forward and picked it up. As the savage sprang to get it. Littell felt sure that his keen eye was fixed upon him and he had doubted not that his dreadful doom was sealed. The Indian, fortunately, did not see him, but caught up the murderous weapon and sank it to the hilt in the brain the victim he was torturing.
The scenes he continued to witness were more awful than the imagination could possibly conceive. Here our subject remained until a suitable time arrived for him to make his escape, which he did, the only one left to tell the sad story of the awful battlefield.
Incredible as it may seem, it is stated that there were two hundred and fifty women among the camp followers in this campaign. This can only be accounted for upon the supposition that they, with the rest of the community, imagined there would be no fighting, that a treaty of friendship would be made with the Indians, and that garrisons would be established under whose protection they, with their husbands, might find new homes. Fifty-six of them were killed and they were tortured, if possible, even more fiendishly than the men. Some accounts say: “That two hundred of these women fell victims to savage barbarity.”
In justice to General Arthur St. Clair, the commanding officer of the army, on November 4, 1791, it must be said that a committee appointed by the House of Representatives to inquire into the cause of the disaster which reported after the most patient and careful inspection that the defeat was due chiefly to the gross and various mismanagement of others and should in no wise be imputed to the commander-in-chief.
With his dismissal from the office as governor of the western territory November 22, 1802, the public life of General St. Clair terminated. Broken in health and fortune, he now returned, at the age of sixty-eight, after a life spent largely in the service of this adopted country, to the Ligonier valley in western Pennsylvania. He had never been reimbursed by the government for the private means spent by him during the War of the Revolution. General St. Clair, at the critical period in the finance of the Continental Congress, mortgaged his entire manorial estate of eight thousand acres and loaned the money to the government to purchase arms and equipment for the continental army. This loan was never repaid. In addition to this, during the Indian campaign of 1791 he had again advanced his personal credit to the public service and the officers of the government, for more or less technical reasons, now and thereafter turned a deaf ear to his appeals for reimbursement or succor. He struggled earnestly from year to year to retrieve his broken fortune, but when the years of the embargo came and values of all American property suffered such terrible depreciation he was compelled to stand by and see the last of his property, real and personal, sold by the sheriff, and himself left out, nearly eighty years of age, absolutely penniless, dependent upon the charity of his family and friends.
In referring to this execution, St. Clair himself wrote: “They left me a few books of my classical library, and the bust of John Paul Jones which he sent me from Europe, for which I was very grateful.” One of his sons built him a log cabin on a small piece of ground on Chestnut Ridge, five miles west of Ligonier. Here he lived in honorable poverty until August 31, 1818, when he died from the effects of an injury sustained in being thrown from a wagon while driving to town.
His neglect by the government in his old age was a disgrace to the nation, especially in view of the lavish sums bestowed on Lafayette and other Revolutionary soldiers. Such treatment could not now occur. Thus the hero of two wars and of countless deeds of faithfulness, bravery and self-denial in times of peace was quietly interred in the little burying ground of the neighborhood hamlet of Greensburg, Pennsylvania.
By a strange and sad coincidence, General Clark, conqueror of the great northwest, and General St. Clair, were both permitted to die in poverty, neglect and obscurity. Both met a similar fate at about the same age and in the same year.
The language of the epitaph upon the simple stone which was afterwards erected at the grave of St. Clair by his Masonic brethren has often been quoted and should still carry its earnest appeal to men of our time. It is as follows: “The earthly remains of Major-General St. Clair and deposited beneath this humble monument, which is erected to supply the place of a nobler one due from his country.”
He was a descendant of the Earl of Orkney Isles, afterward of Caithness and Roslyn. He was born in Scotland in 1734, was educated at the University of Edinburgh. His name always suggests a striking example of the ingratitude of men and republics.
Blanchard, in his “History and Conquest of the Northwest Territory,” says: “Marietta was by far the most congenial place for the residence of his family. Accordingly, suitable apartments were fitted up for his family to reside in Campus Martius. In Louisa, his oldest daughter, were united the western heroine with the refinements of Philadelphia, where she was educated. In the winter of 1790 she was seen skating on the Muskingum river, in which few of the young officers could equal her in activity. During successive years she often rode through the adjacent forests on horseback with her rifle, undaunted by the dangers of Indian ambuscades. Her skill in the use of this weapon was sometimes turned to a good account in the wild game with which she furnished her father’s table, shot by the bullet under the fatal aim of her blue eye.”
Hildreth, the pioneer historian, in his rapturous praises of her surpassing beauty and grace, in his imagination, substitutes a bow and arrow for her rifle and sees her flying through the wooded heather, mounted on her high mettled steed, like Diana, the daughter of Jupiter and goddess of hunting.
In this gifted lady was represented the type of Americans, the transcendent images of civilization before which all bow with loyalty and devotion. Should this power supplant the barbarism of the forest and make it teem with joy and beauty, multiplied with years, or should the inherent rights of the Indian be respected and the country which he owned be held sacred to the chase and occupied only by the tenants of the wigwams?
It was nearly a year before the general government made another attempt for the conquest of the northwestern tribes, who, it seems, had so far been invincible in spite of all the efforts brought to bear upon them.
Immediately following the resignation of General St. Clair and during this period of time Brigadier-General Wilkinson was the temporary commander at Fort Washington, whose duty it was to furnish provisions and supplies to the outlying garrisons of Forts Hamilton, St. Clair and Jefferson.
Fort St. Clair was erected in the tempestuous months of the winter of 1791-92. It was started December 15, 1791, and completed January 26, 1792. General Wilkinson sent Major John S. Gano, belonging to the militia of the territory with a party to build the fort. William Henry Harrison, then but an ensign, commanded a guard over others for about three weeks during the erection of the fort. They had neither fire nor covering of any kind and suffered much from the winter’s cold. It was a stockade of the usual kind, about three hundred feet square, and had about twenty acres cleared around it. The outline can yet be traced in the contour of the field surface. It was designed to be the midway fortification between Fort Hamilton on the south and Fort Jefferson on the north, some forty-four miles apart. These forts, Washington, Hamilton, St. Clair and Jefferson, were about twenty-five miles apart and connected by road or trace cut through the dense timber and undergrowth by the soldiers of St. Clair’s army.
In the autumn of 1792 Little Turtle, the celebrated Miami Chief, at the head of about two hundred and fifty Mingo and Wyandot warriors, started out to attack a new settlement of the whites then forming at the mouth of the Little Miami river (then called Columbia, Ohio). When passing near Fort Hamilton the Indians attacked some of the garrison working in the timber and captured two of them, from whom they learned that a company of fifty to one hundred mounted Kentucky riflemen escorting a brigade of pack horses and under command of Major John Adair, were on their way to Fort Jefferson and would pass on the return trip at a certain time. Accordingly, they lay in ambush along the trail. The escort, however, rested at Fort Jefferson over Sunday and did not appear as soon as expected. Hearing when the Kentuckians had advanced as far as Fort St. Clair, the Indians planned a surprise and attacked them before daylight on the 6th of November, 1792. Major Adair was suddenly and violently attacked by a large party of Indians, who rushed on the encampment with great fury, A bloody conflict ensued, during which Major Adair ordered lieutenant Madison with a small party to gain the right flank of the enemy, if possible, and at the same time gave an order for Lieutenant Hall to attack their left, but, learning that officer had been slain, the Major, with about twenty-five of his men, made the attack in person, with a view of sustaining lieutenant Madison. The pressure of this movement caused the enemy to retire. They were driven about six hundred yards through and beyond the American camp, where they made a stand and again fought desperately. At this juncture about sixty of the Indians made an effort to turn the right flank of the whites. Major Adair, foreseeing the consequence of this maneuver, found it necessary to order a retreat. That movement was effected with regularity and, as was expected, the Indians pursued them to their camp, where a halt was made and another severe battle was fought, in which the Indians suffered severely and were driven from the ground. In this affair six of the whites were killed, Lieutenant Job Hadle, Sergeant Matthew English, Privates Robert Bowling, Joseph Clinton, Isaac Jett and John Williams. Among the wounded were Lieutenant George Madison (afterwards governor) and Colonel Richard Taylor, the father of Major-General Taylor, who commanded the United States army in the Mexican War and later President of the United States.
During the campaign of 1813 Major Adair accompanied Governor Shelby into Canada as an aid, and was present in that capacity at the battle of the Thames. He was elected Governor of Kentucky in 1820. A county in Kentucky was also named in grateful remembrance of General John Adair.
As above mentioned, on this occasion the Indians were commanded by Chief Little Turtle.
It so happened some years afterward, in 1805-06, when General Adair was registrar of the land office in Frankfort, Captain William Wells, Indian agent passed through that place on his way to Washington City, attended by some Indians, among whom was Chief Little Turtle. General Adair called on his old antagonist, and in the course of the conversation, the incident above related being alluded to, General attributed his defeat to his having been taken in surprise. Then Little Turtle immediately remarked with great pleasantness, “A good General is never taken by surprise.”
The next commander-in-chief of the American army to appear upon the arena of western warfare was General Anthony Wayne, who arrived at Fort Washington (Cincinnati, Ohio) in April, 1793, with a well organized army of some twenty-six hundred troops.
During the course of the summer Wayne became convinced that the northwest tribes would not accept reasonable terms of peace and consequently broke camp at Fort Washington the 7th of October, marching northwest with twenty-six hundred regulars, thirty-six guides and spies and three hundred and sixty mounted militia.
The 13th of October found Wayne encamped six miles north of Fort Jefferson and about eighty miles north of Fort Washington, on a beautiful high plain on the south bank of the southwest branch of Stillwater, a tributary of the Great Miami. This was the same spot where St. Clair had encamped two years previously while awaiting the arrival of supplies. Accordingly, a large fortification was here constructed overlooking the extensive prairie to the southwest with the creek in front, which, with the fort, were both named Greene Ville, in honor of General Nathaniel Greene, a fellow officer of Wayne in the Revolution. This fort covered some fifty acres and was fortified to resist any attack that the savages and their allies might make against it. The soldiers were quartered in commodious huts, each sheltering six men, and extensive provisions were made for the convenience and comfort of the entire army. Storehouses, artificer’s shops, mess rooms, officers’ headquarters and a magazine were also erected at suitable places.
Thus October 13, 1793, will ever be remembered as the day in which a fort in the western wilderness and later a beautiful city received its name.
On October 17, just four days after Wayne’s arrival at Greene Ville, Little Turtle made a dash on a baggage and provision train on the trail some five miles north of Fort St. Clair (now Eaton, Ohio). The convoys, consisting of about ninety men, were under the command of Lieutenant Lowery and Ensign Boyd and were loaded with supplies and provisions for the army. In the affray which followed, Lowery and Boyd and thirteen non-commissioned officers and privates were killed and seventy packhorses were killed or driven away. This incident shows plainly that Little Turtle was by no means idle, but was constantly hanging on the outskirts of Wayne’s army, ever ready to strike a blow if the opportunity should present itself.
Not long after this two white men who had been prisoners in the Miami villages escaped and reported that the Indian warriors made all manner of fun in describing the manner in which General St. Clair posted his troops. They even got up a sham fight in representation of it for the amusement of the squaws, and with great roars of laughter they re-enacted the scene, calling it St. Clair’s fight and dance. They said they intended annually to celebrate this victory by a similar contemptuous festival.
But war is a very uncertain game and the braggadocie is very apt eventually to be humbled.
Not long after this the Indians had their turn in dancing as they were pierced by the bullets of the white man under General Wayne and they found something more serious to attend to than engaging in mock fights.
Among the considerations which now operated on the mind of President Washington at this trying period of our national history, which we are compelled to consider for a moment, was the poverty of the nation loaded with debt and without much commerce. The people of the east looked upon this western war as a burden which the western people ought to bear. Hence a tax was placed on distilleries, owned mostly in the west, which grew out of the expenses on the Indian war. This tax led directly to the whiskey insurrection in western Pennsylvania. And it need not be disguised that the opposition to the present constitution laid hold of everything within their reach to render General Washington unpopular. They pretended to fear so large a standing army of five thousand four hundred men. They saw, too, with alarm, Mr. Washington’s levies and the pomp of Colonel Pickering, General Knox and other heads of departments with salaries of three thousand dollars a year, though the compensation was so small that they and their families could not live decently on it. The French Revolution, too, was raging, and Genet was busily engaged in his endeavors to draw us into the vortex of European politics. George Washington was beset on all sides with French agents and partisans on the Atlantic border were fomenting discontent. The British and their Indians were desolating our frontier and, as Atwater truly tells us, “Waked the babe from the sleep of the cradle.”
It was early in this year, we believe, that President Washington, after appointing General Wayne and other officers to command the western army and doing all that he had the power to do, made a tour to the Indians of western New York in company with Colonel Pickering. Colonel Pickering tarried one night at the house of Caleb Atwater’s father, while General Washington put up at a near neighbor’s, a Mr. Bloom.
General Washington and Colonel Pickering visited all the New York Indians, held councils with them and delivered talks and speeches to them, some of which Atwater says he saw among these Indians in 1828 while he was on a visit to his old friends still living in the Indian village. This visit was made by General Washington to conciliate those savages and to prevent their joining in the war with the British Indians, as they had done all along before this period. Many New York Indians were present at St. Clair’s defeat and some of them still went off and fought against General Wayne in 1794, when they were defeated and mostly killed on the Maumee river.
In the summer of 1793 Wayne tried to treat with the Indians. Fort Massac was built under him to prevent an expedition against New Orleans, which Genet was planning. General Wayne sent out in succession Colonel Hardin and Major Trueman with a flag of truce, medals, talks and presents to the Indians in order to make peace with them. These messengers of peace were killed in succession as soon as they arrived among the savages. Their medals and speeches sent by them and all they had with them were taken by the Indians, who slew the bearers of them.
Atwater saw these medals and speeches in the possession of the elder Carray, Maumee principal Chief of the Winnebagoes, at Prairie du Chien in July, 1829. The medal was a large one of copper, six inches in diameter and purported, no doubt, truly to have been made at the expense of a gentleman in Philadelphia, and by him sent as a token of President Washington’s friendship to the Indians. Every other effort was made by General Wayne that summer to bring about a peace with the savages, but all in vain. But, notwithstanding all the efforts to make a peace, yet nothing was omitted that could be done to prepare a vigorous war against them. Although General Wayne promptly accepted his appointment and entered on its arduous duties, yet it was found no easy matter to fill up the minor appointments, even the very next in grade to the commander-in-chief of this army. Several were appointed to these offices who refused to accept them. It was found difficult, too, to enlist soldiers for this hazardous service. Everything moved along slowly and the season was spent in doing very little to any good effect.
The British commander of the fort at Detroit had erected a fort at the head of the Maumee Bay for the purpose, it would seem, of protecting the Indians in alliance with him. Here the Indians resorted for protection. Here they sold their furs, belts and skins, received their annuities, and we doubt not that they received here also the price paid for the scalps of our murdered countrymen.
General Wayne was not idle, but urged forward all his measures vigorously, prudently, and, in the end, effectually. On the 5th of November, 1793, Congress met at Philadelphia, to whom the President said in his speech at the commencement of the session, “That the reiterated attempts which had been made to effect a pacification with the Indians had issued only in new and outrageous proofs of preserving hostility on the part of the tribes with whom we were at war.”
He alluded to the destruction of Hardin and Truman while on peaceful missions under the sanction of flags of truce, and their families were recommended to the attention of Congress.
Notwithstanding all these efforts of General Washington in favor of the bleeding frontier, Congress and the nation were too much engaged with other objects to bestow attention on this distant war.
The spring and summer of 1793, having been employed by General Wayne in endeavoring to make peace and in preparing for war, so that it was September before he was really to move forward into the heart of the Indian country. General Wayne collected his army and marched six miles north of Fort Jefferson, where he established a camp and fortified it and called it Greene Ville, as before stated on these pages.
During the winter Wayne sent a detachment to the site of St. Clair’s defeat, twenty-three miles north of Fort Greene Ville, and built Fort Recovery. . Six hundred skulls were gathered up and buried, and they scraped the bones together and carried them out to make their beds. This post was garrisoned and placed in command of Captain Gibson.
President Washington had given General Wayne very minute instructions respecting the campaign. He suggested the order of the march, the way to guard against surprises, the mode of forming speedily in order of battle in the thick woods. The camp at night was always to be in the form of a hollow square protected by a breastwork of fallen timber or of earth. The cavalry and baggage were to be kept within the square. The troops were to be kept under the highest possible state of discipline and to be especially exercised in loading and firing rapidly and accurately. Particularly they were to be taught to load while running. The General was entreated not to spare powder or lead in giving the troops skill in these practices so essential in Indian warfare.
The Indians had carefully watched the proceedings of the troops in erecting Fort Recovery on the ground rendered memorable by the defeat of St. Clair. They resolved to make a desperate effort to destroy the small garrison left in guard there and to gain the fort for themselves. On the 30th of June, 1794, a large force, consisting of several hundred Indians, with several companies of Canadians with blackened faces and in Indian costume, let by British officers in full dress and the Chief Little Turtle, who led the Miamis, made a furious attack upon the fort. Major McMahon was just on the route with supplies for the garrison from Fort Greene Ville and had not entered it when the attack commenced. This convoy consisted of about one hundred and fifty men. Mr. Burnet, in his notes, gives the following account of this important conflict:
He says, “A very severe and bloody battle was fought under the walls of Fort Recovery between a detachment of American troops consisting of ninety riflemen and fifty dragoons, commanded by Major McMahon, and a very numerous body of Indians and British, who, at the same instant, rushed on the attachment and assailed the fort on every side with fury. They were repulsed with a heavy loss, but again rallied and renewed the attack, keeping up a heavy and constant fire during the whole day, which was returned with spirit and effect by the garrison. The succeeding night was foggy and dark and gave the Indians an opportunity of carrying off their dead by torch light, which occasionally drew a fire from the garrison. They, however, succeeded so well that there were but eight or ten bodies left on the ground which were too near the garrison to be approached. On the next morning, McMahon’s detachment having entered the fort, the enemy renewed the attack and continued it with great desperation during the day, but were ultimately compelled to retreat from the same field on which they had been proudly victorious on the 4th of November 1791. The expectation of the assailants must have been to surprise the post and carry it by storm, for they could not possibly have received intelligence of the movements of the escorts under Major McMahon, which only marched from Greene Ville on the morning preceding and on the same evening deposited in Fort Recovery the supplies it had conveyed. That occurrence, therefore, could not have led to the movements of the savages. Judging from the extent of their encampment and their line of march, consisting in several different columns forming a wide and extended front, and from other circumstances, it was believed that their numbers could not have been less than from fifteen hundred to two thousand warriors. It was also believed that they were in want of provisions, as they had killed and eaten a number of pack horses in their encampment the evening after their assault, and also at their encampment on their return, seven miles from Fort Recovery, where they remained two nights, having been much encumbered with their dead and wounded.”
From the official report of Major Mills, Adjutant-General of the army, it appears that twenty-two officers and non-commissioned officers were killed and thirty wounded. Among the former was Major McMahon and among the latter Lieutenant Darke.
Captain Gibson, who commanded the fort, behaved with great gallantry and received the thanks of the commander-in-chief, as did every officer and soldier of the garrison and the escort who were engaged in that most gallant and successful defense.
Immediately after the enemy had retreated it was ascertained that their loss had been very heavy, but the full extent of it was not known until it was disclosed at the Treaty of Greene Ville. References were made to that battle by several of the Chiefs in council, from which it was manifest that that had not even then ceased to mourn the distressing losses sustained on that occasion. Having made the attack with a determination to carry the fort or perish in the attempts, they exposed their persons in an unusual degree, and, of course, a large number of the bravest of the Chiefs and warriors perished before they abandoned the enterprise. From the facts afterwards communicated, it was satisfactorily ascertained that there were a considerable number of British soldiers and Detroit militia engaged with the savages on that occasion.
A few days previous to that affair the General had sent out three small parties of friendly Chickasaw and Choctaw Indians to take prisoners for the purpose of obtaining information. One of these parties returned to Greene Ville and reported that they had fallen in with a large body of Indians at Girtytown (St. Marys, Ohio), near the crossing off the St. Marys river, on the evening of the 27th of June. They were apparently bending their course towards Chillicothe on the Miami. There were a great many white men with them. The other two parties followed the trail of the hostile Indians and were in sight when the assault on the post commenced. They affirm, one and all, that there were a large number of armed white men with painted faces whom they frequently heard conversing in English and encouraging the Indians to persevere, and that there were also three British officers dressed in scarlet who appeared to be men of distinction from the great attention and respect which were paid them. These persons kept at a distance in the rear of the assailants. Another strong corroborating proof that there were British soldiers and militia in the assault is that a number of ounce balls and buck shot were found lodging in the blockhouses and stockades of the fort and that others were picked up on the ground which had been fired from such distance as not to have momentum sufficient to enter the logs. It was supposed that the British who were engaged in the attack expected to find the artillery that was lost on the fatal 4th of November which had been hidden in the ground and covered with logs by the Indians in the vicinity of the battlefield. This inference was supported by the fact that during the conflict they were seen turning over the logs and examining different places in the neighborhood as if searching for something.
There were many reasons for believing that they depended on the artillery to aid in the reduction of the fort. But fortunately most of it had previously been found by its legitimate owners and was then employed in its defense. It will be remembered that St. Clair, after his awful defeat, was compelled to abandon his artillery. General Wayne succeeded in recovering all those pieces except one, which could not be found and which was accidentally discovered nearly forty years afterward by some boys who were hunting rabbits on the site where it had been concealed. It eventually passed into the hands of an artillery company in Cincinnati, Ohio, who may probably still retain it.
The Indians were very adroit in the stratagems and the utmost caution was requisite in a conflict with them. Captain Shaylor was in command of the little garrison at Fort Jefferson immediately after this Indian retreat from their signal defeat at Fort Recovery. As no Indians were around and it would take some time to reorganize new war parties, all the garrisons felt much at their ease. Captain Shaylor, as the Indians well knew, was very fond of hunting. One pleasant summer morning the Captain heard the gobble of a flock of turkeys in the woods at a little distance from the fort. Calling his son, they eagerly sallied forth to shoot some game for dinner. They fell into an ambuscade. His son fell, mortally wounded. The gobble of the turkeys but a decoy of Indians. The Captain turned and fled to the garrison. The Indians, with loud yells, pursued, hoping either to capture him or to enter the gates at his heels. They were however, disappointed. He rushed in through with an arrow quivering in his back and the gates were immediately closed after him.
General Wayne, as before noted, left Greene Ville July 28, 1794. We have two different accounts as to the direction which he pursued in leaving Greene Ville. One is from the pen of Judge Wharry in his pioneer notes on Darke county nearly fifty years ago. He was a lifelong citizen of Greenville and among its first surveyors. He says, “Wayne moved northeast from Fort Greene Ville and camped on Stillwater river the first night, in the vicinity of Beamsville. Leaving still a strong garrison at Fort Greene Ville, took up his line of march with care, circumspection and no undue haste to the northward, taking the route toward Loramie and St. Marys. The second night after leaving, his forces were encamped in the southeastern part of what is now Patterson township. Here it is said that about midnight an Indian spy crawled into Wayne’s camp and approached a tent in which a dim light was burning and here discovered General Wayne seated by a stand looking over notes and papers. He immediately returned to the Indian encampment on Swamp creek, two or three miles off, which was still in council, and made the report that the White Chief never sleeps.
It has been said that was the time and place which little Turtle suggested for a night attack on General Wayne, but was opposed by nearly all of the other Chiefs in council. And perhaps the most favorable opportunity was thus permitted to pass by.
The other statement in regard to the route from which Wayne emerged from Fort Greene Ville in his northward campaign is from the pen of lieutenant Boyer, who was with the army. In his Journal he says, “The army marched twelve miles on July 28th on the St. Clair trail and encamped on the Stillwater,” and that “the second night they encamped one mile beyond Fort Recovery.” We here leave the reader to decide for himself which of these routes is correct. However, the next place that we hear of Wayne is at Girtytown, or the St. Marys, where he stopped two days for the building of Fort Adams on the bank of that stream.
Slocum, in his “History of the Ohio Country,” page 109, says, “It was necessary to make a road through the great forests composed of great trees of oak, beech and maple which were larger and more numerous as the army advanced, and that the deep Beaver swamp had to be bridged with infinite labor. In his building of Fort Adams, General Wayne was caught under a falling tree while urging more haste upon the choppers of logs for the blockhouses and palisades. This accident nearly put an end to his existence, but his indomitable will power forced him and his army forward without delay and against all obstacles.”
On August 8, 1794, the army arrived at its camp, Grand Auglaize (junction of the Auglaize river with the Maumee, site of the present city of Defiance, Ohio), at half past ten o’clock in the morning. Here Wayne and his army were delighted with the beauty and fertility of the region. Here were all kinds of vegetables in abundance, four or five miles of corn fields and at least a thousand acres of corn around the town. Here was the confluence of three rivers, the Auglaize, Tiffin and Maumee. It was naturally a great gathering place for the various rives. It seems that the preceding evening the towns and villages had been abandoned in must haste, as marks of apparent surprise and precipitation convinced everybody that the approach of the legion was not discovered until a few hours before its arrival, when the fact was communicated by Newman, who had deserted from the army at St. Marys. It was manifest that the defection of that villain enabled the Indians to save their persons by a rapid flight, leaving all of their property to fall into the hands of federal forces. Here as well as elsewhere along the rivers, the British had encouraged the women of the savages to cultivate corn and vegetables to relieve as much as possible the demands of the savages on the British food supplies. Here Wayne congratulated himself upon his success in gaining possession of the Grand Emporium of the hostile Indians of the west without the loss of blood. The first duty of the General after taking possession of the country, was to erect a strong stockade fort with four blockhouses by way of bastions at the confluence of the rivers, which he named Fort Defiance.
The army remained at the mouth of the Auglaize river about one week. It had been ascertained by the most recent intelligence that the enemy were collected in great force and that they had been joined by the Detroit militia and a portion of the regular army and that they had selected for the regular contest an elevated plain above the foot of the rapids on the left bank of the river which a tornado had recently passed and covered the ground fallen timber, why which it was rendered unfavorable for the action of the cavalry.
This information, unpleasant as it was, did not excite any serious apprehension, or in the least degree cool the spirit and ardor of the troops. On the contrary, among the officers and privates, both of the legion and mounted volunteers, there was but on aspiration heard and that was to meet the enemy.
Captain William Wells, the sagacious and intrepid warrior of the woods led his party within so short a distance of the British works as to ascertain that the Indians were encamped under their protection. He took one or two prisoners and made a bold though unsuccessful attempt on a camp of warriors in the night, in which he was wounded. Soon after his return the army moved slowly and cautiously down the left bank of the Maumee river.
On the 13th of August, true to the spirit of peace advised by Washington, General Wayne sent Christian Miller, who had been naturalized, among the Shawnees as a special messenger to offer terms of friendship. Impatient of delay he moved forward and the 16th met Miller on his return with the message that if the Americans would wait ten days at Grand Glaze (Fort Defiance) they, the Indians, would decide for peace or war.
It seems that this council, in reply to Miller on the proposition of peace or war, Little Turtle earnestly counseled peace. In a brief but energetic speech he said:
“We have beaten the enemy twice under separate Commanders. We cannot expect the same good fortune always to attend us. The Americans are now led by a Chief who never sleeps; the night and the day are alike to him and during all the time that he has been marching upon our village notwithstanding the watchfulness of our young men we have never been able to surprise him. Think well of it. There is something whispers to me, it would be prudent to listen to his offers of peace.”
Blue Jacket was in favor of battle, but Little Turtle, who plainly foresaw the final trend of events by this time, was in favor of making peace.
Being reproached for cowardice which was foreign to his nature, he laid resentment and took part on the battle of the morrow. The result of the battle proved his sagacity and wisdom.
Miller stated that the Indians were all dressed and painted for war, that war parties were continually coming in and were received with great enthusiasm, and it was his opinion that the message was merely a ruse by which the Indians hoped to gain a little more time to muster their forces.
At six o’clock on the morning of the 20th of August, General Wayne advanced from Fort Deposit and took a position a few miles farther down the river on a long ridge called Presque Isla, and about eight o’clock on the morning of the 20th moved forward to attack the Indians, who were encamped at the fallen timbers.
The British post had been occupied by a garrison sent from Detroit the previous spring. There could be no misapprehension of the motives which led to this occupation, taking place as it did eleven years after the country had been ceded to the United States, and at a time too when the angry and protracted negotiations of several years relating to it was supposed to be about terminating in an open rupture. The Indians were all decidedly in favor of the British. With the jealousy natural to weakness, they were always prone to array themselves against the power which most directly pressed upon their destinies and most likely to affect them injuriously. The British were fully aware of this feeling which their agents were zealously active to excite and foster. They saw in it the means of crippling a young rival who was stretching out into the west with giant strides, trampling down the forest and introducing Christianity and civilization. The country had been ceded by a treaty still in force, but new negotiations were then in progress under the influence of several disastrous defeats and as the Indians demanded an independent dominion over the country in dispute the British government might expect that a surrender so desirable to them would at last be granted. A proposition of a similar character was made by the same government towards the close of the second war with Great Britain. The entire independence of the Indians, occupying a wide belt on our northwestern frontiers was formally and seriously demanded as one of the conditions of peace.
As long as the formidable coalition of tribes which General Wayne found in arms should continue united and hostile it was evident that the British pretentions and hopes would remain. It was, therefore, of great importance with General Wayne and with his country that his present steps should be taken with the utmost prudence.
A new defeat like that which had terminated almost every previous campaign commencing with the colonial period about the middle of the eighteenth century would have proved not only destructive to his army so far advanced in the wilderness, but probably decided the British to openly espouse the cause of the Indians.
General Wayne, in the present case, could feel no assurance that this cause would not be sustained by such co-operation as the fort and garrison could afford. Indeed, the positions of the Indians under the walls of the fort rendered it probably that such a course had been determined on. General Wayne had about three thousand men under his command, and the Indians are computed to have been equally numerous. This not improbable as the hostile league embraced the whole northwestern frontier. As he approached the position of the enemy, he sent forward a battalion of mounted riflemen, which was ordered, in case of attack, to make a retreat in feigned confusion in order to draw the Indians on more disadvantageous ground. As anticipated this advance soon met the enemy and being fired on fell back and was warmly pursued toward the main body. The morning was rainy and the drums could not communicate the concerted signals with sufficient distinctness. A plan of turning the right flank of the Indians was not therefore fulfilled, but the victory was complete. The whole Indian line, after a severe contest, giving way and flying in disorder. About one hundred savages were killed. This horde of savages, with their allies, abandoned themselves to flight and dispersed with terror and dismay, leaving our victorious army in full and quiet possession of the field of battle, which terminated under the influence of the guns of the British garrison.
During the action, and subsequently while General Wayne remained in the vicinity of the British, there did not appear to be any intercourse between the garrison and the savages.
The gates were kept shut against them, and their rout and slaughter were witnessed from the walls with apparent unconcern and without offering any interposition or assistance.
After the battle General Wayne devastated all of the fields and burned all of the dwellings around the fort; some of them immediately under the walls. The house of Colonel McKee, an Indian trader, who was supposed to have exercised great influence over the Indians, was reduced to ashes in the general conflagration.
“It is too important to omit, says Mr. Mann Butler in his “History of Kentucky”, “That General Wayne had positive authority from President Washington to attack and demolish the British fort of Miami”; but on reconnoitering it closely and discovering its strength, added to his own weakness in artillery, the General with a prudence not always accorded him, most judiciously declined an attack. In this daring reconnoiter the General was near falling a victim to his gallantry. He had rode within eighty yards of the fort, accompanied with his Lieutenant William H. Harrison, and within point black shot of his guns, when a considerable disturbance was received on the platform of the parapet. The intelligence of a deserter the next day explained the whole affair. It appeared that a Captain of marines, who happed to be in the garrison when General Wayne made his approach resented it so highly that he immediately seized a port fire and was going to apply it to the gun. At this moment Major Campbell drew his sword and threatened to cut the Captain down instantly if he did not desist. He then ordered him arrested. This high minded forbearance in all probability saved the life of General Wayne with his suite and possibly the peace of the United States.
Wayne in his report says, “The Americans remained three days and nights on the banks of the Maumee in front of the field of battle, during which time all of the houses and cornfields were consumed and destroyed for a considerable distance, both above and below Fort Miami, as well as within pistol shot of that garrison, who were compelled to remain tacit.”
Spectators to this general devastation and conflagration among which were the houses, stores and property of Colonel McKee, the British Indian agent, and principal stimulator of the war now existing between the United States and the savages.
Major William Campbell, of the British 24th Regiment, who was commanding officer of Fort Miami, early addressed a note to General Wayne protesting against his near approach to a post belonging to his Majesty, the King of Great Britain, occupied by his Majesty’s troops, declaring that he knew of no war existing between Great Britain and America. This gave occasion for two sharp letters from General Wayne, ordering the Major to get out of American territory with his command, Wayne, knowing of course, that an officer must obey only orders of his commanding officer, but he chafed under this restraint and reported to the Secretary of War regarding Major Campbell’s third courtions, but firm letter that, the only notice taken of this letter was by immediately setting fire to and destroying within view of the fort, and even under the muzzles of his guns. Had Mr. Campbell carried his threats into execution, it is more than probable, that he would have experienced a storm.
After the victory of fallen timbers, by General Wayne, the army returned to Fort Defiance on the 27th, having laid waste two villages and cornfields on both sides of the Maumee, for at least fifty miles. September the 14th the legion moved on to the Miami villages, where the long contemplated fort was constructed, and on October 22nd, 1794, (exactly four years after Harmar’s defeat) placed under command of Lieutenant Colonel Hamtramck, who after firing fifteen rounds of cannon, gave the name which the city now bears of Fort Wayne. Colonel Hamtramck was a small Canadian Frenchman, who had been many years in the American service and always having proved himself patriotic, capable and meritorious had been advanced accordingly. The Indians were utterly disheartened by their great defeat and considered themselves very dishonorably treated by the British officers, who had spurred them on in the battle and then had abandoned them and were eager for peace.
This campaign accomplished its intended object. The Indians were thoroughly humbled and subdued, their houses were destroyed, their country ravaged, their supplies consumed.
It was the special object of General Wayne to inflict such terrible chastisement upon the Indians as to compel them to bury the tomahawk and not to dare take it up again. He, therefore, sent out his cavalry and made utterly waste the whole valley of the Maumee for a distance of fifty miles. The women and children fled with terror to the woods. Every village was laid in ashes, orchards were cut down, the harvests, corn, potatoes and other vegetables with which the rich fields luxuriantly abounded, were destroyed. Nothing was left. Cold winter was approaching and the homeless families, men, women and children, were doomed to hopeless destitution, misery and death. No imagination can probably exaggerate the woes which ensued. Such is war.
“War,” exclaimed Napoleon in anguish, as he witnessed its horrors, “Is the science of barbarians.”
“War,” says General Sherman, “Is cruelty, you cannot refine it.”
They no longer cherished any hope of being able to check the advance of the white man. In this state of extreme suffering, they were anxious for such terms as the conqueror might dictate.
On the 28th of October, having achieved the objects of the campaign, General Wayne started on his return with the main body of his regulars for Fort Greene Ville, where in the following year, himself and Little Turtle, rendered themselves as conspicuous in statesmanship and diplomacy as in war, by a treaty, which immortalized both one for the white man and the other for the red man.
Little Turtle was one of the greatest Indian Chiefs of all time, as a warrior, statesman, diplomat and orator, he even excelled Tecumseh, whose ambition, like that of Napoleon, ruined him forever.
The remark made by LaSalle, two hundred years ago. “That the Miamis were the most civilized of all Indian Nations, neat of dress, splendid of bearing, haughty of manner, holding all other tribes as inferiors.”
Of all the Indian tribes of America the Miamis approached nearest to the ideal of an American aborigine than all others. Little Turtle, in the final climax, as he alone stood amidst the downfall of his race, the greatest in war and the greatest in peace.
LIGHTING THE COUNCIL FIRE
Early in January, 1795, movements were made for the assembling of a general Council of the Indian tribes of the Old Northwest, for the purpose of formulating a treaty of peace and friendship between said tribes and the victorious Americans. The rendezvous was to be at Wayne’s headquarters, which had been established at Fort Greene Ville since the fall of 1793. Here in this frontier army post with its substantial log buildings, its shops, warehouses and commodious Council house enclosed by a formidable rampart of pickets, the Indian Chiefs and warriors were assured of a cordial welcome with guaranty of safe conduct while on the way. To the savage mind this well built fort with its strong detachment of hardened and disciplined troops, its large supplies of provisions and its roads leading to other posts in the chain of American wilderness defences stood as the embodiment of Civilization and organized government. It was easy for the savage mind to look from this place to the source of power in the East, to which it was directly linked, and to read the handwriting on the wall of destiny. Wayne exercised shrewd diplomacy in inviting the tribes to this post and expressed desire that the Great Spirit would incline their hearts to peace.
After the battle on the Maumee Little Turtle earnestly desired peace and used his influence to get his people to attend the proposed Council at Greene Ville. His earlier victories over the poorly organized troops of LaBalm, Harmar and St. Clair, had not blinded him to the fact of the growing power and prestige of the Whites and the precarious position of the scattered tribes. Fully realizing that his power was broken he now urged the Indians to make peace with the “Chief Who Never Sleeps”, and, although he stoutly contended for the claims of his nation and reluctantly signed the articles of peace he remained faithful and passive, and continued to council peace with his tribesmen to the end of his career.
Wayne anticipated a large response on the part of the aborigines and early made preparation for their coming by laying in large supplies of clothing, food, and other articles suitable for presents, as he knew the fondness of the Savage mind for such things.
Early in June. 1795, the Indians began to collect at Greene Ville, apparently without concerted action, and gave notice as they arrived that they had come to negotiate peace. On the 16th, a number of Delawares, Ottawas, Pottawattomies, and Eel River Chiefs having arrived, Wayne caused them to be assembled and met them in general Council for the first time. After had received and puffed the pipe of peace the American General said:
“I have cleared the ground of all brush and rubbish, and opened roads to the east, to the west, to the north, and to the south, that all nations may come in safety and ease to meet me. The ground on which the Council House stands is unstained with blood and is as pure as the heart of General Washington, the Great Chief of America, and of his great Council, as pure as my heart, which wishes for nothing so much as peace and brotherly love. I have this day kindled the Council fire of the United States; we will now cover it up and keep it alive until the remainder of the different tribes assemble, and form a full meeting and representation. I now deliver to each tribe present a string of white wampum to serve as record of the friendship that is this day commenced between us.
“The heavens are high, the woods are open, we will rest in peace. In the meantime, we will have a little refreshments to wash the dust from our throats. We will on this happy occasion be merry, but without passing the bounds of temperance and sobriety. We will now cover up the Council fire and keep it alive until the remainder of the different tribes assemble and form a full meeting and representation.”
The next day New Corn, with one of the old Chiefs of the Pottawattomies, with several warriors arrived. He said that they had come from Lake Michigan, and that after the treaty was over they would exchange their old medals for those of General Washington. They wanted peace.
Buckonghelas, with a party of Delawares, came soon afterward, and also Asimethe, with another party of Pottawattomies, who were received at the Council House.
The Delaware King told Wayne, that his forefathers used soft cloth to dry up their tears, but that they used wampum, and hoped that its influence would do away with all past misfortune.
The Pottawattamie Chief said, that they were all there, all of the remainder being dead. As a proof of their good wishes they had brought Wayne the only two prisoners, who were in their possessions.
General Wayne welcomed them to Greene Ville, told them that the great Council fire had been kindled and the pipe of peace had been smoked. Also that when the Wyandots from Sandusky and Detroit, and the tribes from that quarter would arrive, fresh fuel would be added to the fire and business would be postponed until then. In the meantime he would give them something which would make their hearts glad and also distribute some wampum.
The celebrated Little Turtle, Chief of the Miamis, arrived on the 23rd of June, with a full retinue of seventy-three Miami and Eel River Indians, together with twelve Weas and Piankishaws and ten Kickapoos and Kaskaskias. A total of ninety-five.
On the 25th of June General Wayne told them the arrangements he had made for their comfort during the Council. The exterior redoubts were given up to accommodate the different nations with Council Houses. He desired them to retire to their quarters like his own men, at the firing of the evening gun. If any of his foolish young men were found troubling their quarters, he wished the Indians to tie them and send them to him to be dealt with according to the circumstances.
He humored the Indians by telling them, that General Washington and his great Council had sent them large presents, which he soon expected, and their friends the Quakers had also sent them messages and presents.
Bad Bird, a Chippewa Chief, though that was all right and very good. Little Turtle made a short speech on the 30th of June to the Chippewas, and said that when brothers meet they always experience pleasure, and as it was a little cool, he hoped that they would get some drink and that they expected to be treated as warriors. He wanted some fire water and would like to have some mutton and pork occasionally.
New Corn was most happy to be in accord with the sentiments of Little Turtle, but their hearts were sorry and it grieved them to have seen the graves of their brothers, who fell at Fort Recovery, a few months previous.
The Sun, Chief of the Pottawattomies, complained of the allowance of food. He said that they ate in the morning and became hungry at night; the days were long, and they had nothing to do; they became weary and wished for home.
Frequent arrivals of large numbers continued. On the 3rd of July, all were called together, and the General gave them their first lesson in American patriotism. He explained to them why all the States of the American union celebrated the 4th of July each year, adding: “Tomorrow we shall for the twentieth time salute the return of this happy anniversary, rendered still more dear by the brotherly union of the Americans and Red people. Tomorrow all the people within these lines will rejoice, you, my brothers, shall all rejoice in your respective encampments. I call you together to explain these matters to you, do not, therefore, be alarmed at the report of our big guns, they will do you no harm, they will be the harbingers of peace and gladness, and their roar will ascent into the heavens. The flag of the United States and the colors of this Legion shall be given to the wind and be fanned by its gentlest breeze in honor of the birthday of American freedom.”
“I will now show you our colors that you may know them tomorrow. Formerly, they were displayed as ensigns of war and battle, now they will be exhibited as emblems of peace and happiness.”
“This eagle, which you now see, holds close his bunch of arrows, whilst he seems to stretch forth as a more valuable offering the inestimable branch of peace. The Great Spirit seems disposed to incline us all to repose for the future under its grateful shade and wisely enjoy the blessings which attend it.”
The twentieth anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence was celebrated at Fort Greene Ville in an elaborate and appropriate manner. The spirit of ’76 was still surging in the veins of all patriotic Americans and it is not surprising that Wayne and many of his associates, who had served during the trying days of the Revolution, should make the occasion one long to be remembered, by both the Indians and his own soldiers. The firing of the ready salute – probably of fifteen guns – the raising of flags, the martial music and the fiery oration all tended to heighten the effect of the celebration. Fortunately we have record of two notable features of that day’s program – one a poem written and recited by an officer, the other, an oration, delivered by a Baptist missionary. The poem was composed by Dr. Joseph Strong, a youthful soldier and surgeon, and was kept in the possession of his son, William Y. Strong, esq., of Chillicothe, Ohio, who, it seems had it published in the first volume of the American Pioneer in later years. We take pleasure in reproducing the poem herewith:
“In leagues of love we now unite,
Around the bank of peaceful light
And hail the joy clad day.
No more shall ruthless foes pervade
The vast domain of Western shade
Or war like music play.
The Indian tomahawk and knife
Which mirthful mocked imploring life
Lie buried in the ground.
The advance of war shall be forgot.
And every dark and murderous spot
No more in Councils found.
“The bloody belt betokening war
Shall be consumed, and, smoking far,
Will purify the ground.
Where torturing arts of savage power
Of past time through the midnight hour
O’er bleeding victims bound.
“The soothing lyre with warbling strain
Shall play where battles shook the plain
And tune her songs of peace.
Temples will rise where warriors fell
And heavenly worship quick prevail
To guide the pagan race.
“To these vast wilds will science roam
And raise her ever lighted dome
To guild the shady West.
The savage tribes her lamps shall see
And all their ancient darkness flee
Thus in her light be blessed.
“The future muse will paint this clime
The noblest region of its time
In beauteous grandeur spread.
The prairies with their myriad flowers
In graves far off to distant shores
O’er nature’s richest bed.
“Here liberty at rest retires
With altar’s pure and hallowed fires
Whose flame will last with time
Where all the oppressed can find repose
Where virtue want nor sorrow knows
In all this heaven blest clime.”
Another interesting feature of the extensive and varied programs given on this memorable Fourth of July was an oration delivered by Rev. Morgan John Rhys (or Rhees), who is known as “The Welsh Baptist Hero of Civil and Religious Liberty of the Eighteenth Century.” It seems that Rev. Rhys, a Welshman by birth, who had lately come to America, had been sent out as a missionary among the American heathen and frontier settlements of the united States by the “Missionary Society of Philadelphia”, whose members were “impelled by motives of religion and benevolence to attempt the propagation of Christian and civil knowledge among the aborigines of America”. This Society availed itself of the opportunity presented by the “easy access which may be had at present to the different tribes by means of government establishments in various parts of their territory, and their tranquil state and the friendly disposition of some of their Chiefs.”
In his oration, Rev. Rhys said, in part, the following: “Illustrious Americans – Noble Patriots, you commemorate a glorious day – the birthday of freedom in the New World. Yes, Columbia, thou art free. The twentieth year of thy independence commences this day. Thou hast taken the lead in regenerating the world. Look back, look forward, think of the past, anticipate the future and behold with astonishment the transactions of the present time! The globe revolves on the axis of Liberty; the new world has put the old in motion; the light of truth, running rapid like lightning, flashes conviction in the heart of every Civilized nation. Yes, the thunder of American remonstrance has fallen so heavy on the head of the tyrant that other nations encouraged by her example, will extirpate all despots from the earth.
“Citizens of United States: Whilst you commemorate a glorious resolution, call to mind you first principles of action, never forget them nor those who assisted you to put your principles in practice. May the Curse of Meroz (Judges V) never fall upon America for not joining the heralds of freedom, whilst combating the tyrants of Europe.
“Citizens of America: Guard with jealousy the Temple of Liberty: It is you I address, banish from your lands the remains of slavery. Be consistent with your Congressional declaration of rights and you will be happy. Remember, there never was nor will be a period when justice should not be done. Do what is just and leave the event with God. Justice is the pillar that upholds the whole fabric of human society, and mercy is the genial ray which cheers and warms the habitations of man. The perfection of our social character consists in tempering the two with one another; in holding that middle course which admits of our being just without being rigid, and allows us to be generous without being unjust. May all the citizens of America be found in the performance of such social virtues as will secure them peace and happiness in this world and in the world to come, live everlasting, through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
On Sunday, July 5th, Rev. Rhys delivered a sermon in the Council House at Fort Greene Ville before Wayne and the officers of the American army. The title of this sermon was “The Altar of Peace”. And the text was from Judges 6:24, “Then Gideon built an altar there unto the Lord and called it Jehovah-Shalom (The Lord give peace)”, in which he exalted the principles of Justice and peace and exhorted the Americans to be true to their early proclamation of freedom and equality.
Many of the interesting details in reference to the campaigns of St. Clair and Wayne and the Treaty of Greene Ville have never been published and many valuable articles published in local papers and magazines have been lost or scattered. It is with great pleasure herewith, a recently discovered manuscript now in possession of Hon. C. M. Burton, who secured it with many other valuable papers from a descendant of the immediate actors living in Canada, and placed it in the Burton Library on Brainard Street, Detroit, Mich. This was written by one John Askin, Jr., a man of Irish descent with decided English sympathies. He had been engaged in the mercantile business in Detroit for many years and had an extensive trade with the Indians, thereby, no doubt, becoming acquainted with a large number of them and gaining their confidence. About the time that the English evacuated Detroit he moved across the river into Canada where he died in old age, leaving numerous business letters and valuable manuscripts in the hands of his descendants – part of which were recently secured by the Canadian government and taken to Ottawa.
It seems that John Askin, Sr., had secured a number of deeds on the American side from the Chippewa Indians, which he desired to have recognized b the American government at the time of the treaty. In order to accomplish this purpose he sent his son, John Askin, Jr., along with a band of Chippewa Indians, enroute to the Council at Fort Greene Ville, ostensibly as an interpreter, but, in reality, in the interest of these deeds. The letter, which is largely self explanatory, is as follows:
From M. S. Burton, v. 3, p. 36-37.
Detroit, August 19, 1795.
Colonel England, 24th Regiment,
Commandant of Detroit and its Dependencies.
Being induced, both from duty and inclination, I take the liberty of giving you an account of my voyage to Fort Greene Ville, with what came to my knowledge while I resided there; it will, I fear, be rather long, but lest the parts I might leave out would be those you wished to be acquainted with, I have thought it advisable to insert in it everything that appeared to me any way material
It is as follows:
Several Indian Chiefs of the Chippewa and Ottawa Nation with whom I was well acquainted urged me much to accompany them to the Council at Greene Ville, assigning for their reasons, that as the business they were going on was of great importance to them they stood in need of a faithful Interpreter and friend.
After obtaining my Father’s concurrence I left (Detroit) on the 2nd of July, and when I reached Fort Defiance it was the 11th. By this time, the Indians with me were twenty-seven in number, also a Mr. Beaubien and a Mr. Bouffet, who had joined the Indians on the route.
I had a cool reception from Major Hunt, who commanded there, but of this I was aware before my departure. Mr. McDougal having taken the lead, who declared he would make known to the Americans my conduct during the troubles – from this first Fort I was inclined to return (to Detroit), but Major Hunt finding if I did that the Indians would follow me, insisted on my proceeding.
Blue Jacket, an Indian Chief, who had been sent to bring forward Indians to Council, joined us here and proceeded with us; this night, being the 14th, Mr. McDougal overtook us. It was the 19th before we reached Fort Adams, the 20th we got to Fort Recovery and the 21st to Fort Greene Ville. Soon after our arrival a Major of Dragoons, said General Wayne wished to see us. We proceeded to the Council House, which is situated in the Fort. Here General Wayne received us and shook hands with all the Indians. Omissas, a Chippewa Chief, who had been chosen to speak for the Ottawas, Pottawattomies, and his nation, asked me for a few Strings of Wampum he had given me in charge and with them made the following speech:
“Brothers: We, the Chippewas, looking over our bundles, found your Strings of Wampum that had been given to us at Muskingum, and thought it time to come and see you at the great Council Fire.”
General Wayne in return said:
“I am extremely happy to see you and more so to hear that you brought the Strings of Wampum, gave you at Muskingum, you, Omissas, spoke like an honest, sensible, and good hearted man, and I take you again by the hand for your honesty.”
Omissas to General Wayne:
“Brothers: Should any one say that they advised us to come to this Council or say they brought us to this place, it’s false, we came of our own free will and have brought this English man (meaning me) to repeat to us what you say in Council, and that we may be instructed with every thing that will be said to us and not be so ignorant of this Council as we were of that of Muskingum.”
Blue Jacket’s speech to General Wayne:
“Brothers: I am extremely sorry that I have not been able to accomplish what I wished to have done owing to the number of bad birds who were continually whispering in my Shawnee Chiefs ears, and have prevented them from coming sooner, however, I have a bit of Tobacco from them and they sent me word they would come immediately, but I cannot assure you they will.”
General Wayne’s answer:
“Brothers: I am sensible of the great Zeal and wish you have come to serve the States and that you have done all in your power for them. I am well persuaded that you met great numbers of bad birds, who did all they could to prevent what you went about.”
July 22: No Council.
July 23. As I was going to the Council I was told by Mons Beaubien not to go, that the Centinel would Stop me. The General’s aid de Camp told him so. When I stopped the Indians stopped also and said they would not go but on my telling them it was all the same they could repeat to me at night what had passed, they proceeded.
July 24. The Indians gave in their answer this day with a white belt of Wampum as follows:
“Brothers: We know nothing of the Six Thousand Dollars said to have been given the Indians at Muskingum, but as for the Wyandotts, they perhaps know of these dollars. They were accustomed to horde up all they got on these occasions and never let others know of it. The Wyandotts were displeased and begged leave to give their answer the next day.
July 25. This day General Wayne explained that the six thousand dollars were given in goods, etc. Then the Chippewas were satisfied with the Wyandotts and said it was true that they had received presents, but thought they were given for having buried the hatchet and not for Lands.
July 26. The Miamis spoke and said their Grand Father had given them these lands and they were told not to sell them nor give them away and of course the Tribes who had given them at Muskingum had no right to them, and several other words to the same purpose.
July 27. The Indians were allowed to speak among themselves.
July 28. I wrote to General Wayne for a pass to return home (to Detroit) and received for answer, to call next day.
July 29. Waited on General Wayne, he delivered me a letter from Mrs. Askin, which he opened and shewed me another asking if I knew the hand writing” I said I did. It was my Father’s, he then proceeded to read its contents to me, and after he had done reading, he said he looked upon me as a spy and that I deserved death. I told him that I knew of no spies in time of peace, he said it was true, but he still had the power of sending me to a Fort in the Woods, and immediately ordered a party of Light Horse to take me to Fort Jefferson, he likewise ordered my papers to be examined and an officer took out of them two Indian Deeds of Land given me in charge by a gentleman here, which he said would be returned, but as yet have not.
The Commanding Officer at Fort Jefferson had orders not to let me speak to any one, but in his presence, nor to write to any person except the General, to do him justice, he treated me with much civility.
July 30 and 31st. In confinement.
August 1. The Indians delivered a white belt of Wampum, requesting I might be set at liberty, the General gave for answer that I should in two days, however, the second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth elapsed but on the seventh the General wrote me a note saying I was at liberty and in it invited me to dine with him (which I did), on the eighth I got a pass and set off and the fifteenth (of August) arrived here (at Detroit).
As I was not at any of the Councils but the first, I can only speak from the reports of the Indians and others, who informed me that until I was some days in confinement the Indians, who went out with me, would neither consent to ratify the Muskingum Treaty nor give up their claims to the disposal of their lands, nor I am sure ever would, had I not been confined and deprived of giving them advice, but being intimidated by the threats of the General, saying he would drive them back into the Sea if they did not acquiesce in his demands, and seeing the other Nations (from fear and persuasion of some of our Canadians and English friends) agree, they at last did the same, prior to my being released.
The Treaty so far as I could learn was, that they confirmed the Muskingum Treaty and added to it all the lands situated on the South side of the (source of the) Miamis River (and Fort Recovery). They sold six miles square, near where Fort Miami is situated. Twelve miles square at and about (certain different localities,) which were to be given up and such small spots about them ass the English had purchased and that they would have that matter cleared up, which they accordingly did next day and it was then acknowledged to them that our Government had not given over their lands.
It was reported, at my departure, that very soon after a party of Americans were to come to the spot purchased up the river of (Raisin) and take post there, likewise at Sandusky, to Build a Fort.
I am with due respect,
Your most obedient and very humble servant,
John Askin, Jr.
From this letter it will be noticed that the conference preliminary to the Treaty was held in the Council House, which was located within the enclosure of the fort; that Fort Jefferson, which was the most advanced post built and garrisoned by St. Clair in October, 1791, some five miles south of Greene Ville, was still maintained by Wayne as an important line in the chain of posts reaching from Fort Washington to Fort Wayne.
That Askin was employed by the British for some mercenary purpose is suggested by the fact that on his return to Detroit he made a report to Colonel England, then the Commandant of that post, in which he states that he would have advised the Indians not to have signed the treaty if he had not been prevented from doing so. Wayne evidently suspected his mission and treated him accordingly in which matter he was advised by one Mr. McDougal who overtook the Askin party at Fort Defiance and accompanied them to Greene Ville.
THE TREATY OF GREENEVILLE
“See again the smoke is curling
From the friendly calumet
And the Club of War is buried
And the star of slaughter set.”
GREENVILLE TREATY PEACE PIPE
Now in Museum of Ohio State Archaeological and Historical Society’s Museum, Columbus, Ohio.
At the preliminary conference of the Confederated Tribes held at Fort Greene Ville on January 24, 1795, it had been agreed that all their sachems and their war chiefs should meet Wayne at this frontier post on or about June 15, to consult and conclude a satisfactory peace. We have noticed that straggling bands representing the various tribes have been gathering and holding conferences preliminary to the great Council at which all are to meet the distinguished representatives of the Fifteen Fires.
On account of the remote situation of some of the tribes and the obstacles encountered in traveling through the primitive forest, coupled with the intrigue of the British agents, the Indians kept arriving in small parties from their homes on the Wabash, the Maumee and the Great Lakes. Some had met in former treaties and had fought the Americans in more than one hot engagement; many have helped to rout poor St. Clair and all had been humiliated by the great “Chief who never sleeps.” As they arrived Wayne received them cordially and expressed pleasure at their voluntary expression of sentiments of peace. When Chief New Corn arrived he manifested grief on account of the graves of his tribesmen who had been killed in their attack on Fort Recovery the summer previous as he had passed them on the way to the Council. Wayne reminded him that such grief was unmanly, and, in order to make glad the hearts of the Chiefs and dry their tears he gave each a sheep for his personal use and some drink for themselves and their people, suggesting at the same tine that they all take a glass together. He explained further to them that the Americans had no pork and but few sheep which were intended for the use of the sick and occasionally, for the use of the officers. He promised them that their sick should share with his own in the comforts of the camp, and that he would divide with the officers.
On the 15th of July, the Council fire, which had been covered on the 16th day of June, was stirred up and replenished and around its sacred embers gathered, no doubt, a motley group of chiefs, scouts, spies, interpreters, and officers, among whom might probably be noticed the faces of Wayne and his aides, Wm. H. Harrison and T. Lewis; the Quartermaster General Jas. O’Hara; Major of Infantry, John Mills; Lieutenant of Artillery, Geo. Cemeter; Chaplain, David Jones and Secretary DeButts; a number of French Canadian interpreters including LaFontaine, Navarre, Eichambre, Beufert, Jacques Laselle, Grant Lasselle, H. Lassele, M. Morans and Sans Crainte, besides the famous frontier scouts, Wm. Wells, Christopher Miller, Cabot Willson, Abraham Williams and Isaac Zane. Among the Indian faces might be detected Little Turtle and LeGris, representing the Miamis; Blue Jacket and Black Hoof, the Shawnees, Bukongehelas, Tetaboshke and Peketelemung of the Delaware; Massas and Bad Bird, the Chippewas; Augooshaway, the Ottawa; New Corn, Sun and Asimethe, the Pottawattomies; Keeahah, the Kickapoo; Reyntwoco, of the Six Nations, and Tarke, or the Crane, the great keeper of the Calumet of the Wyandots.
In the presence of this wonderful backwoods assembly Wayne arose on the 15th of July and addressed the Council at length, explaining his powers and urging the Treaty of Muskingum (Fort Harmar) as a suitable basis of lasting peace. By that treaty the Indians signed in 1785, by the terms of which they kept the country west of the Cuyahoga river and south of the lakes to a line running westward near the fortieth parallel as far as the headwaters of the Great Miami river, retaining the privilege of hunting and fishing to the Ohio river, and giving the American certain trading posts with small surrounding tracts.
Time was given for deliberation and on the 18th, discussion followed relative to the validity and force of the Treaty of Muskingum of which some of the chiefs professed ignorance. Wayne endeavored to impress the chiefs and warriors assembled with the great importance of the interests at stake and with the fact that they were now called to determine questions which involved the happiness of both the United States and the Indian nations represented, after which he invoked the blessings of the Great Spirit upon their deliberations.
About the year 1794, the Society of Friends became concerned for the welfare of the Indians in the Western Country as well as that of the frontier settlers, who were liable to much suffering on account of the depredations of the Indians. Deeply affected with the horrors attendant on the barbarous raids against the pioneers, the Yearly Meeting nominated a large committee with instructions to endeavor to terminate these hostilities. In the same year they sent a memorial to the President and Congress recommending the adoption of such just and pacific measures toward the various tribes as might arrest the further shedding of blood and establish peace on a firm basis. A treaty was soon afterward held at Sandusky, but nothing was effected there.
At the opening of the treaty at Fort Greene Ville, General Wayne read the address of the Friends’ Yearly Meeting at Philadelphia, in which they had forwarded to the Indians in this Council together with some presents. This letter was concluded in language entirely calculated to allay those feelings of bitterness which had been implanted deeply in their minds on account of accumulated wrongs. Of this letter General Wayne remarked to the Chiefs in Council: Younger brothers – I have received a letter from your friends, the people called Quakers, with a message to all Nations here assembled. The Quakers are a people whom I much love and esteem for their goodness of heart and sincere love of peace with all nations.
“Listen then to their voices and let them sink deep into your hearts (there the General read their address and the invoice of their presents). Their present, you see, is small, but, being designed with the benevolent view of promoting the happiness and peace of mankind, it becomes of important value. They wish it to be considered merely as a token of regard for you and a testimony of their brotherly affections and kind remembrance of you.”
On the 20th of July Wayne read to the warriors assembled in Council the offer of peace sent to them just before the battle of Fallen Timbers. He also read and explained the Treaty of Fort Harmar and pointed to a number of Chiefs who were present and signed both that treaty and the Treaty of Fort McIntosh and asked them to consider seriously what he had said with the view of making known their thoughts at the next meeting.
On the 21st, the discussion was continued and several prominent chiefs took part, being followed by Little Turtle, who professed ignorance of the cession of lands along the Wabash and expressed surprise that these lands had been ceded by the British to the Americans when the former were beaten by and made peace with the latter.
Perhaps the great climax of all the deliberations was reached on Wednesday, July 22nd, when the tall and crafty Chief of the Miamis made a shrewd and eloquent address before the great Council. Most of our readers, perhaps, have read the pathetic speech of Chief Logan deploring the unwarranted murder of his brethren, but few of us have perused the classic and masterful address delivered by Little Turtle on this rare and inspiring occasion. Let us imagine him on this day trigged out in the picturesque and fantastic costume of the typical Indian Chief with paint, beads and feathers, to heighten the effect as he strides solemnly and majestically forward to the center of the encircling Council. Thoughts of the past power and prestige of his wandering nation and the early victories over the advancing Americans throng his brain as he casts his eagle eyes toward the blazing July sun and then turns impressively to his large and picturesque audience. We may imagine him with a sweep of his outstretched arm, describing the lands over which his forefathers claimed dominion; with a handful of earth, symbolizing the remaining tribal allotments; with a few kernels rattled in a dry pod illustrating the decimated numbers of his people, and with the down of a thistle or milkweed scattered to the wind symbolizing the coming race. “I expect,” said he, “that the lands on the Wabash and in this country belong to me and my people. I now take the opportunity to inform my brethren of the United States and others present that there are men of sense and understanding among my people as well as among theirs, and that these lands were disposed of without our knowledge or consent.” “You have pointed out,” he continued, “the boundary line between the Indian and the United States, but I now take the liberty to inform you that that line cuts off from the Indians a large portion of country which has been enjoyed by my forefathers from time immemorial without molestation or dispute.” “The prints of my ancestors’ houses are everywhere to be seen in this portion. I was a little astonished at hearing you and my brethren who were present, telling each other what business you had transacted together at Muskingum concerning this country. It is well known by all my brothers present that my forefathers kindled the first fire at Detroit; from thence he extended his lines to the headwaters of the Scioto; from thence to its mouth; from thence down the Ohio to the mouth of the Wabash and from thence to Lake Michigan.
“At this place I first saw my elder brothers, the Shawnees. I have now informed you of the boundaries of the Miami nation where the Great Spirit placed my forefathers a long time ago, and charged him not to sell or part with his lands, but to preserve them for his posterity.”
“This charge has been handed down to me. I was much surprised that my brothers differed so much from me on this subject; for their conduct would lead me to suppose that the Great Spirit and their forefathers had not given them the same charge that was given to me, but on the contrary had directed them to sell their lands to any who wore a hat as seen as he should ask it of them.”
What great Indian empire was here described by the sagacious Little Turtle, which, without a doubt originally belonged to the Miamis. It included the present state of Indiana, part of southern Michigan and the western half of Ohio and a portion of northeastern Illinois.
A number of other tribes and bands of Indians inhabited this country it is true, but they were mostly tribes of near kinship, and all of them belonged to this great Miami Confederacy, where the capital or general headquarters was at the junction of the St. Marys and St. Joseph rivers, now Fort Wayne. This was the abode of the principal chiefs of the confederate tribes and their reluctance in yielding its possession to the government of the United States, was graphically shown in the conduct of Little Turtle, who was born within twenty miles of this place. In this contest at Greene Ville there met two diplomats, General Wayne, on the part of the United States, and Little Turtle, on behalf of the Indian confederacy, who would have been enabled to cope with the most sagacious State Minister of an European Court.
The time occupied would have been somewhat abridged had it not been for the obstacles interposed by Little Turtle, the master spirit on the part of the Indians, whose chief point was to retain partial if not full possession of his glorious gate at Fort Wayne, through which all of the good words had to pass from north to south and from east to west.
The other chiefs, many of whom gave evidence of much wisdom and eloquence early in the negotiations, evinced a disposition to assent readily to all the terms prescribed by the commissioner of the United States. This entire discussion is of deep interest and in reply to Little Turtle’s speech above mentioned, General Wayne said in his address before the Council held on the 24th of July:
“I have paid attention to what Little Turtle said two days since concerning the land which he claims. He said his fathers first kindled the fires at Detroit and stretched his lines from thence to the headwaters of the Scioto; thence down the Scioto to the Ohio; thence down that river to the mouth of the Wabash and from thence to Chicago on the southwest end of Lake Michigan, and observed that his forefathers had enjoyed that country from time immemorial.”
“These boundaries enclose a very large space of country, indeed they embrace, if I mistake not, all the lands on which all the nations now present live as well as those which have been ceded to the United States. Then Little Turtle says, the prints of his forefathers’ houses are everywhere to be seen within these boundaries. Younger brother, it is true these prints are to be observed but at the same time we discover the marks of the French possessions throughout this country, which were established long before we were born. I will point out to you a few places where I discover strong traces of these establishments, and first of all I find at Detroit a very strong print where the fire was first kindled by your forefathers; next at Vincennes on the Wabash; again at Musquiton on the same river; a little higher up that stream, they are to be seen at Ouitanon. I discover another strong trace at Chicago; another on the banks of the St. Joseph of Lake Michigan. I have seen distinctly the prints of a French and of a British post at the Miami villages (Fort Wayne) and of a British post at the rapids now in their possessions.”
At the Council on the 27th of July, after a general acquiescence to the terms of the treaty had been given by the other chiefs, Little Turtle arose and said: “Listen, you chiefs and warriors, to what I am about to say to you; to you I am speaking. We have heard what our elder brother has said to us this day. I expected to have him deliver those words ever since we have been here for which reason I observed you were precipitate on your part.”
This is a business of greatest consequence to us all, it is an affair to which no one among us can give us an answer. Therefore, I hope we will take time to consider the subject that we will unite in an opinion and express it unanimously. Perhaps our brothers the Shawnees from Detroit may arrive in time to give us their assistance. You chiefs present are men of sense and understanding. This occasion calls for your serious deliberations, and you, my uncles, the Wyandots, and grandfathers, the Delawares, view our situation in its true point of consideration.”
All of you present must know that every kind of business, especially such as we are at present engaged in, exhibits difficulties which require patience to remove, and consideration to adjust.”
In the discussion on the day following (July 28th) the New Corn, a Pottawattamie Chief, growing impatient at the delay exclaimed: “Why do you hesitate? You know good works are always better when executed with decision. I now entreat you all to join hand and heart, and finish this good work with our elder brother”
At the Council on the 29th of July, addressing General Wayne, Little Turtle said: “These people (the French) were seen by our forefathers first at Detroit; afterward we saw them at the Miami village (Fort Wayne) that glorious gate which your younger brother had the happiness to own and through which all the words of our chiefs had to pass from the north to south and from east to west. Brothers, these people never told us that they wished to purchase these lands from us. I now give you the true sentiments of your younger brothers, the Miamis, with respect to the reservation at the Miami villages. We thank you for kindly contracting the limits you at first proposed. We wish you to take this six miles square on the side of the river where your fort now stands, as your younger brothers with to inhabit that beloved spot again. You shall cut hay for you cattle wherever you please; and you shall never require in vain the assistance of your younger brother at that place. The next place you pointed to, was the Little river, and said you wanted two miles square at that place. This is a request that our fathers the French or British never made us. It was always ours. This carrying place has heretofore proved in a great degree the substance of your younger brothers. That place has brought to us in the course of one day the amount of one hundred dollars. Let us both own this place and enjoy in common the advantages it affords.”
In his reply General Wayne used the following language: “I find there is some objections to the reservation at Fort Wayne. The Little Turtle observes he never heard of any cessions made at that place to the French. I have traced the lines of two forts at that point; one stood at the junction of the St. Joseph with the St. Marys; and the other not far removed on the St. Marys and it ever was an established rule among the Europeans to reserve as much ground around their forts as their cannon can command. This is a rule as well known as any other fact.
“Objection has also been made respecting the portage between Fort Wayne and the Little river; and the reasons produced are, that that road has been to the Miamis a source of wealth; that it has heretofore produced them one hundred dollars per day. It may be so; but let us inquire who in fact paid this heavy contribution. It is true the traders bore it in the first instance, but they laid it on the goods, and the Indians of the Wabash really and finally paid it; therefore, it is the Little Beaver, the Soldier, the Sun and their tribes who have actually been so highly taxed.”
On the 17th day of July, 1795, was fixed the boundary that should divide the United States, or the fifteen great fires of America, from the lands belonging to the Indian nations.
Wayne explained to them the several articles of a treaty upon which a permanent peace could be established between the United States and the Indian tribes northwest of the Ohio. The third article which should define the boundary reads: “That the general boundary between the lands of the United States and the lands of the said Indian tribes shall begin at the mouth of the Cuyahoga river and run thence up the same to the portage between that and the Tuscarawas branch of the Muskingum; thence down that branch to the crossing place near Fort Laurens, thence westwardly to a fork of that branch of the Great Miami river running into the Ohio river, at or near which stood Loramie’s store, and where commenced the portage between the Miami of the Ohio and St. Marys river which is a branch of the Miami, which runs into Lake Erie; thence a westerly course to Fort Recovery, which stands on the bank of the Wabash; thence southerly in a direct line to the Ohio, so as to intersect that river opposite the mouth of the Kentucky river.”
There were certain reservations granted to the Indians in this treaty. A lasting peace was provided for and it was stipulated that all the prisoners then held should be restored.
Little Turtle insisted that the line should run from Fort Recovery to Fort Hamilton on the Great Miami, and assured the whites of the free navigation of that river from thence to its mouth forever.
The treaty was signed August 3rd, and exchanged August 7, 1795. It was laid before the Senate December 9, 1795, and was ratified December 22, 1795. This closed the old Indian wars of the west. General Wayne, in declaring the Council at an end, said:
“I now fervently pray to the Great Spirit that the peace now established may be permanent, and that it now holds us together in the bonds of friendship until time shall be no more. I also pray that the Great Spirit above may enlighten your minds and open your eyes to your true happiness, that your children may learn to cultivate the earth and enjoy the fruits of peace and industry.”
By this treaty the Indians ceded about twenty-five thousand (25,000) square miles of territory to the United States, besides sixteen separate tracts, including lands and forts. The Indians received in consideration of these cessions goods of the value of twenty thousand dollars as presents, and were promised an annual allowance of ninety-five hundred dollars to be equally distributed to the parties to the treaty.
Twelve tribes were represented at the treaty as follows: Delawares, 381; Pottawattomies, 240; Wyandots, 180; Shawnees, 143; Miamis and Eel Rivers, 73; Chippewas, 46; Ottawas, 45; Weas and Piankeshawas, 17; Kickapoos and Kaskaskias, 10, in all 1,130.
Every chief and warrior of the eleven hundred and thirty who participated in that Council has long since passed to the land of the Great Spirit.
General Wayne died on the banks of Lake Erie, in 1796, and doubtless the dying hero saw in its turbulent waters at times something of his own unconquerable will and at others that quiet peace which came at last to his restless soul. The influence of that will remain forever. It saved defenseless settlements from the tomahawk and scalping knife of the Indian, and opened up to emigration and settlement the limitless west.
It is the testimony of history that the confederate tribes kept the faith pledged at Greene Ville and never violated the limits established by the treaty.
The writer of the volume on Ohio, in the “American Commonwealth Series,” says: “It was a grand tribute to General Wayne, that no chief or warrior who gave him the land at Fort Greene Ville ever after lifted the hatchet against the United States.”
At the Greene Ville Treaty the new government presented Little Turtle and other participating chiefs with a beautiful silver medal, which was highly prized by the savages. These medals and silver ornaments were given out August 8th. This medal was a fac-simile of the Red jacket medal, except that the date engraved thereon was 1795. It was of oblong shape and for by six inches in size.
The Red Jacket medal was presented to Chief Red Jacket in the spring of 1792, at Philadelphia, by President Washington. It is now in the custody of the Buffalo Historical Society.
From time immemorial loyalty has been rewarded by the conferring of land and titles of nobility; by the personal thanks of the sovereign; the presentations of medals and the bestowal of knightly honors, the insignia of which were hung on the breast of the recipient. With the Indian Chief of the western tribes it was the same.
The following is a complete description of the Greene Ville treaty medal: On the obverse side, President Washington is represented in uniform, bareheaded, facing to the right and presenting a pipe to an Indian Chief, who is smoking it. The Indian is standing, and has a large medal suspending from his neck. On the left is a pine tree at the foot of which lies a tomahawk. In the background is a farmer plowing. Below, in exergue, George Washington, President, 1795. On the reverse appears the arms and crest of the United States on the breast of an eagle. In the eagle’s right talon is an olive branch, in the left a sheaf of arrows, in its beak the motto, E Pluribus Unum, and above a glory breaking through the clouds and surrounded by thirteen stars.
It seems that the Little Turtle medal is now lost, as we have so far failed to find it among any of his descendants, or to learn where any of them have disposed of it. It was not interred with him at his burial, as its absence was especially noticed from all of the other things that were taken from the grave. Its present location seems to be entirely unknown to any person now living. However, one of these medals were presented to Ws-pa-man-qua, White Loon, a Wea Chief, and secured from one of his descendants in Oklahoma by E. B. Dyer, of Augusta, Georgia. It is now in the public museum of Kansas City, Missouri.
Another was presented to She-nock-in-wak, or Soldier as he was commonly called, Chief of the Eel River Miamis. We learn that one of the above named chiefs of Miami county, Indiana, whose name was John Eveline, sold this medal about 1906, to Charles F. Gunther, a wealthy relic collector and extensive candy manufacturer of the city of Chicago. So this is about all we are able to say concerning any and all of the Greene Ville treaty medals given out by the government at the treaty in 1795, to the various chiefs and warriors there assembled.
The Indians were loathe to leave Greene Ville even after the General’s eloquent farewell speech, and besought him to accept as a token of their love and esteem for him a present of the Greene Ville treaty peace pipe, which with great ceremony was handed to him by Tar-ke, or the Crane, the Wyandot Chief, whose tribe was always the keeper of this sacred implement.
Let us strive to realize the full significance and the great importance attached by the aboriginal inhabitant of America to the solemn pledge which the pipe of peace conveyed when once smoked in solemn council between the various tribes which had been at war with each other. It was believed by them that the fumes from the smoke of the pipe of peace ascended into the presence of the Great Spirit. When this is fully comprehended, we can more readily understand the full meaning of the sentence uttered by Little Turtle at the treaty of GreeneVille, when he said, that he would be the first to sign the treaty and the last to break it. Let us note and remember this remark made by the greatest Indian diplomat of all time, at one of the greatest treaties ever consummated between the white and the Red man; a treaty next in importance to that magna charter granted to General Rufus Putnam in 1787.
Since the first time the peace-breathing pipe was smoked its solemnity was nowhere more fully illustrated than at this treaty of Fort GreeneVille, August 3, 1795, on the site of Greenville, Ohio, located in the northwest corner of Section 35, Township 12, Range 2 East, both of Darke County, Ohio.
For a full account verbatim of that document known as the GreeneVille Treaty, we refer the reader to page 119, Henry Harvey’s History of the Shawnee Indians; and to Knapp’s History of the Maumee Valley, page 221; and to various contemporary authors.
We learn from Knapp’s History of the Maumee Valley”, page 358, that at a farewell conference on August 12th, after the treaty had been signed and exchanged with the Miami, Eel River, Kickapoo and possibly a few other chiefs, that Little Turtle in his farewell address to General Wayne, and in the name of the others observed:
“That as they intended soon to depart and return to their respective homes, he took the opportunity of repeating to the General, that he himself, and the Indians with him were perfectly acquainted with every article of the treaty; that no part had escaped their serious and anxious deliberation; that in the early stage of the negotiation he had not comprehended the moderation and liberality with which he is now convinced it is dictated; that to this cause, and to a duty which he conceived he owed his country, must be attributed the opposition he exhibited on sundry occasions; that he was persuaded his father would not think unkindly of him for it; for he had heard him with much pleasure approve of the freedom with which he delivered his sentiments; that he was a man who spoke as he thought and a man of sincerity; and that he embraced this last opportunity to declare to him that as he was fully convinced that this treaty was wisely and benevolently calculated to promote the mutual interests and insure the permanent happiness of the Indians and of their father, the Americans; so it was his determined resolution to adhere religiously to its stipulations.”
He asked for traders to reside at their different villages and mentioned the names of some who for the confidence had in their integrity they wished might be licensed and continued by the United States as traders among them. He hoped for the Weas, in particular, that a fort would be immediately established at Ouiatanon, and promised every assistance which they could afford to the establishment; that he himself would reside near Fort Wayne, where daily experience should convince his father of his sincere friendship; and that as he intended to re-kindle the grand Council Fire at that place by means of which the different nations might communicate with each other as usual, he requested his father to give orders to the commandant at Fort Wayne to inform him from time to time of any measures which the great council of the Fifteen Fires might adopt in which the interests of their children should be concerned; and that Captain William Wells might be placed there as a resident interpreter, as he possessed their confidence as fully as he did that of their father.
“We children all well understand the sense of this treaty which is now concluded. We have experienced daily proofs of your increasing kindness. I hope we may all have sense enough to enjoy our dawning happiness and to this end may we all abide in everlasting peace.” This and much more Little Turtle said in this farewell address.
He had awakened from this delightful reverie in which dreams of his childhood had come again; and when these thoughts were plucked from the halls of memory sweet. He knew of the power of the Miamis in the days of his youth and now foresaw their decline and final extinction with prophetic vision.
With his mind filled with those gloomy forebodings, he poured out his soul in that Indian eloquence that was never forgotten by those who heard him.
There was an officer of Wayne’s legion present who witnessed the dignity and noble bearing of Little Turtle and heard this notable address of the distinguished Chief. He was a painter, quite equal to George H. Catlin, and became wonderfully impressed with the surrounding landscape; General Wayne, his interpreters, aids and officers in full uniform, and Little Turtle and his associated Indian Chiefs bedecked in striking Indian attire. Hence, he proceeded with paint and brush to delineate one of the most striking paintings, now in possession of the Chicago Historical Society. Through the courtesy of this society we present in these pages a photograph of this wonderful painting.
Caroline M. McIlvain, librarian of the society, in her annual report for 1914, says: “Mr. LaVerne Noyes is the donor of one of the most important gifts of the year, namely: a small painting, said to have been painted by an officer of Anthony Wayne’s legion. Who that officer was is today a mystery, and we suppose will always remain a problem unsolved.” The site depicted in this painting was also unknown, consequently, a photograph was taken of it, which was then sent to responsible parties at the various early forts built by Wayne during his campaign against the Indians, for identification. One was sent to the writer of these pages, who immediately identified the topography and landscape of that of Fort GreeneVille, and the occasion, probably that described in Knapp’s “History of the Maumee Valley” as above mentioned on August 12th.
Judging from the photograph here presented this conference probably occurred near the water’s edge of Greenville creek, just outside of the northern walls of the fort, as its northeast bastion is shown in the distance on the extreme right of the view, near the present Broadway bridge. As the photograph of this painting plainly shows the waters of Greenville creek were glimmering in the noonday’s sun, and the majestic oaks and elms were arrayed in beautiful midsummer foliage. Tecumesh’s point and the highlands on which Minatown, a suburb of Greenville, now stands, are seen to the north across the creek. The brick house of Mr. W. A. Lohman, No. 240 Water Street, Lot No. 332, now stands in the middle of this historic prairie. Old settlers still remember this ravine which headed a little south of Water Street, and ran northward across Water Street, becoming deeper and much wider as it approached the creek just east of Elm Street.
Mr. W. A. Lohman, an old and reliable resident says, that Greenville creek has been ditched since he first lived there some fifty years ago in order to drain the Mud creek prairies above; and that before the ditching was done there was good boating all along the creek, and that the ordinary depth of the water was four feet during the summer months; and that now its average is only four inches for the same season of the year.
This ravine which led to the old fording place, as well as the bottoms on the south side of the creek to near the water’s edge have been filled by reducing the knoll to the west and hauling in other dirt, and today the homes and buildings of the citizens of Greenville are standing all along the north side of Water Street. It is quite evident that a great change has taken place in the topography of this immediate vicinity in the last one hundred and twenty-five years – originally almost a wilderness, now a beautiful city.
We suggest as a key to the proper understanding of this famous painting – the author of whom no doubt will remain forever unknown – the following explanation: The officer standing near the Indian Chief with the epaulettes on his shoulder is, without doubt, General Wayne, as indicated by his stature, features and bodily contour. The Indian Chieftain talking to him most probably is Little Turtle, as shown by his height, his headdress, ear rings, beads and sash across the right shoulder which correspond with another authentic painting of his shown in the first pages of this work. More than that, the artist, without doubt, intended to portray the principal characters in this famous group. Who could have been more famous at that time and place than General Wayne and Chief Little Turtle? The Indian Chief holding the peace pipe is likely the Wyandot Chief, the Crane, keeper of the calumet, or pipe of peace.
The remainder of the white officers were some of Wayne’s aides, subordinate officers and interpreters. William Henry Harrison was here as a lieutenant, and Captain Wells, acting as interpreter is shown on one knee, with book and pencil transcribing the Indian speech. The tents, erected on the outside of the fort, were for the convenience of the various Chiefs and warriors attending this memorable treaty of 1795.
On August 3, 1906, the Greenville Historical Society unveiled a beautiful bronze tablet with this inscription: “Placed to commemorate the Treaty of GreeneVille, Signed August 3rd, 1795, by General Anthony Wayne, representing the United States government, and the chiefs and agents of the allied Indian tribes of the territory northwest of the Ohio river.”
We here repeat, for the better understanding of the reader, that the tribes with which the United States were connected in this treaty were the Wyandots, Delawares, Shawnees, Ottawas, Chippewas, Pottawattomies, Miamis, Eel Rivers, Weas, Kickapoos, Piankeskas and Kaskaskias.
All but the last two were in the confederacy which carried on the former Indian war against the United States which was terminated by the treaty of GreeneVille. The Wyandots were admitted by all the others to be the leading tribe. They held the grand calumet, as mentioned above, which united them and kindled the council fire. Tar-ke, or the Crane, was the Grand Sachem of the Wyandot nation, and had charge of the grand calumet, or pipe of peace at the treaty.
General Wayne on his return from Philadelphia arrived at Detroit August 13, 1796, probably by the sloop Detroit from Presque Isle, on the present site of Erie, Pa. He was received with demonstration of great joy by all persons, including the twelve hundred Indians there assembled according to the habit formed by the British. Having accepted the surrender of the fort from the British, he remained at Detroit until November 17, 1796, when he started on the return trip to Philadelphia on a small sloop. On this voyage over Lake Erie his system was much irritated and fatigued by the tossing’s of the storm and the disease, from which he had for some time suffered (understood as gout) made great progress. It could not be allayed after his arrival at Fort Presque Isle, and he died there December 15, 1796. At his request he was buried under the flag staff of the fort. Subsequently, his son Isaac Wayne, accompanied by a few of his old friends and neighbors, transferred his bones to the place of their nativity in the Radnor churchyard, Delaware county, Pennsylvania, where they now lie in peace.
We have no means of knowing what preparation General Wayne deemed it necessary to make for his transference to the Spirit land.
“There is no death, what seems so is transition;
This life of mortal breath
Is but the suburb of that life Elysian
Whose portals we call death.”
Atwater, one of the earliest and most truthful historians of Ohio, says of General Wayne, “that he was a man of most splendid talents, both natural and acquired, no one can doubt for a moment who reads his history. Every action of his life from youth to age shows this fact, and no panegyric of ours can render it more plain or make his character shine brighter. Political demagogues might treat him with contumely and base ingratitude, but they cannot obliterate a single syllable which records his brilliant actions. His fame will never fade but grow more fresh and green to the end of time. Every son and daughter of Ohio, Kentucky and all of the west will forever cherish in their hearts the ever dear memories of Anthony Wayne.”
One hundred and twenty years have passed since the day of his death, but the memory of his services for his country and his feats in arms still continue to enrich and ennoble true patriotism throughout all the land.
He lives in the recollections of his countrymen to lead future patriots and warriors to glorious and golden victories. Death has purified his fame and placed it beyond the reach of calumny.
Party politicians, whose meteors may rise and fall, flash and expire in a moment; but the sun of Wayne’s glory will never set in our western horizon of the Mississippi’s wide valley, until the archangels’ triumph shall call his body from the grave to life everlasting. We have paid a just but partial tribute to his name by calling numberless counties and townships after him throughout the different states of the American union, and especially by christening one city of near a hundred thousand inhabitants, whose citizens love to cherish and honor him as a namesake, “Fort Wayne”, Indiana.
General Wayne, who on his arrival at Presque Isle, realized that death was near, though a surgeon at Pittsburg had been sent for, called his officers around him, gave directions as to his burial and proceeded to dispose of his personal effects.
Among other things he gave to his nephew and aide, Captain William Kendall, his spurs, watch and chain, and the GreeneVille treaty calumet. These priceless relics were handed down through succeeding generations of the Kendall family, until they became the property of Mr. Alva Kendall Overturf, of Columbus, Ohio, who is a grandson of the recipient, Captain William Kendall. It is with great pleasure that we announce that in 1915 this noble and patriotic citizen placed these relics in the Ohio Museum of the Archaeological and Historical Societies, Columbus, Ohio, as they are without doubt some of the most valuable historical relics the Museum contains. The calumet, which was probably made especially for the GreeneVille Treaty, is a unique piece of Indian handicraft. The stem is thirty-two and one-half inches long, and is made of hand carved birch wood from the northern forests; and the bowl which is seven and one-half inches long is of red catlimite clamped with three lead bands. It is curved and ornamented, and the maker of it manifested quite a good deal of skill. The slight char made in the treaty ceremonial smoke still shows in the bowl of the pipe. There is not the slightest doubt about the genuineness of this relic. It has been handed down from father to son with the true attestation of its identity.
Prof. Mills has lately placed in the museum a photographic copy of the GreeneVille treaty, which is still preserved with the records of the State Department at Washington. They show the signatures of the great Chiefs whose tribes were parties to it, with pictures of animals and birds and the like to represent them.
We are fortunate to secure a halftone of this pipe as it is; on account of its length of bowl and stem it presented difficulties to the artist which had to be overcome by its reduction in size.
The Miamis at the time of the treaty had their principal settlements on the present site of Fort Wayne; at the forks of the Wabash thirty miles southwest of the same place; and at another point thirty miles still farther down on the Wabash at Signal Rock. Sixty miles above Vincennes on the Wabash lived the Weas, a separate band of the Miamis. Another flourishing village was Little Turtle’s town on Blue River, the north branch of Eel river, twenty miles northwest of Fort Wayne. They were undoubtedly the proprietors of all the beautiful country which is watered by the Wabash and Maumee valleys, and, there is no doubt that their claim extended, at least, as far east as the Scioto and south the Ohio river. Whereas, all of the neighboring tribes were intruding upon them, or had been permitted to settle in their country.
The Wyandots emigrated first from Lake Ontario, and subsequently, from Lake Huron; the Delawares from Pennsylvania and Maryland; the Kickapoos and Pottawattomies from the country between Lake Michigan and the Mississippi; and the Ottawas and Chippewas from the peninsula formed by Lake Michigan, Huron and St. Clair.
BIRTHPLACE OF LITTLE TURTLE
The village where Little Turtle was born in 1742, was located on the north tributary of Eel river, twenty miles northwest of Fort Wayne, Whitley county, Indiana, on lands now owned by William Anderson in Section 9, Smith township. This northern tributary is known today as the Blue River branch near its junction at Blue River Lake, to which it furnishes an outlet only a short distance away.
The village stood on the west side of the river on a high sandy point of land surrounded on three sides by a great bend in the river. A wide prairie marsh skirted these high lands north and south, but on the east the high banks were near each other making it an easy ford to the north bank of the lake only a few hundred yards to the eastward. The Blue River lake covered some five hundred acres. Near the foot of the hill immediately to the south a fine spring of water bubbled forth underneath the shade of a beautiful grove of Barrens oak trees. A short distance south of the spring, nestling in the middle of the prairie, was a small lake containing three or four acres and so deep that the water looked a dark blue. It was called by the Indians Devil’s Lake, from the fact that something mysterious had appeared in or near it entirely unknown to Indian lore during a dusky summer evening, at which the Indians became terribly frightened and ran all the way to Fort Wayne, then a frontier outpost.
Many times about 1863, and for a number of years later, the writer was on this peculiar ancient village site, where Little Turtle was born and where he spent nearly all his life. This was about sixteen years after the last of the Indians had departed leaving the old trails, village and burial sites about as they had left them. This spot always seemed to me enchanted ground. I have heard the solemn bark of the lonesome fox, the weird scream of the Canada lynx, also the shrill notes of the great northern loon as he floated by high in the clear, blue atmosphere. Along the river banks were Indian trails worn several inches deep, which not only spoke of primitive, but also of recent times as it was a flourishing village in 1812, and possibly was not entirely deserted until 1846, at which time the Indians were nearly all removed to the west.
I often sat under the shade of those oaks and elms, walked those paths just as they were left by the sad and lonely Miami on his last pilgrimage here.
A catlimite peace pipe was found in 1884, by Mrs. Mary (Gross) Boggs on the surface of a nearby field. A valuable cache of flint implements was ploughed out a short distance down the river a few years ago, which fell into the hands of careless parties, and were soon lost or destroyed. Some very fine slate ornaments, tube whistles and similar objects were found recently near Coulter lake a mile below.
The site is still uncleared and no doubt contains many hidden and curious remains of prehistoric times.
An Indian trail led from this village northwest to the Elkhart river; another southeast to the Miami villages at the head of the Maumee (now Fort Wayne); a third southwest down the Eel River to the Wabash; a fourth to Tippecanoe lake and the Kankakee river.
Many of the sandy plateaus of northern Indiana and southern Michigan were covered in primitive times by a species of shrub oak, known by the pioneers as the Barrens oak groves. A peculiar feature of these oaks was that they would hold their dense foliage brown and sear throughout the entire winter months, thus affording a natural windbreak and in connection with the beautiful tamarack evergreen groves of northern Indiana and Michigan, modifying the most severe winters. This is the species of oaks referred to in the vicinity of Little Turtle’s town and are the kind that shaded the crystal spring at the foot of the hill.
Blue river lake is only a short distance away, being in plain view to the southeast. No doubt Little Turtle as a child spent many happy hours about this enchanted spot.
On this account the reader will pardon me if I make a slight digression in describing more fully the lakes of northern Indiana. We can do no better at this point that to quote from Prof. W. S. Blatchley, State Geologist of the State of Indiana for a number of years, possibly from 1895 to 1906 or1907. He says, “Without question the most beautiful and picturesque potion of the state of Indiana is that found in the lake region.” These lakes were well known in prehistoric times to those true children of nature. The Indians who built their wigwams nearby, hunted about the shores and fished in the quiet waters. The pioneers were no less acquainted with them, since it was here that all of the birds and animals of the forest came to quench their thirst, and the bass and pickerel were always waiting for their bait. Today many of these lake shores are lined with cottages and tents where the busy sons and daughters of the Hoosier State go for rest and pleasure during the hot summer weeks.
The lakes of northern Indiana are the brightest gems in the corona of the state. They are the most beautiful and expressive features of the landscape in the region wherein they abound. Numbered by hundreds they range in size from an area of half an acre up to five or six square miles. With the fertile soil, the great beds of gravel and myriads of boulders, large and small, they are to be classed as mementoes of the mighty ice sheets which in the misty past covered the northern two-thirds of the state.
Outside of the counties in which they occur, but few of the citizens of Indiana know of their presence, their beauty and their value. Their origin fauna and flora, the cause of their diminution in size, and final extinction are likewise known by but few.
By the Red man these lakes were more highly appreciated than by his more civilized Caucasian successor, for the reason that the Indian stood much nearer to wild nature than we.
On the highest ridges overlooking these lakes he had his village sites. Over their placid waters he paddled his birchbark canoe, and from their depths he secured with hook and spear, fishes sufficient to supply his needs while mussels and the roots of the water lilies added variety to his daily food. The fowls by myriads in their migrating season came and went, stopping to feed upon the lakes, thus offering the Red hunter many a chance to test his marksmanship with bow and arrow, while the skins of the muskrat, otter and beaver, which he trapped about their marshy margins, furnished him protection against the cold.
Thus it will be seen that his very existence depended ofttimes upon these living bodies of water. It is little wonder therefore, that he remained in their vicinity until driven westward by the conquering white man, leaving only the signs of his feasts, vast piles of shells, bones and pit ovens, as reminders of his former presence and glory.
Blue river lake lies two miles northwest of Churubusco, and is in Sections 9, 10, 15 and 16, Smith township, Whitley county, Indiana. It is oblong in shape, narrower at the eastern end and is about one and one-quarter miles long by one-half mile in average width. It has an area of some 500 acres and a very uniform depth of 40 to 60 feet.
The area of shallow water is of medium width, rather broad on the east, south and west sides and narrower on the north. The shore at most points is rather abrupt, the surrounding country being of a rolling type.
Blue river heads in Green township, Noble county, from a chain of small lakes that range across the north side of the township, including Sand, Long, Rock and Bowen lakes. It finally empties into Blue river lake for a few rods only on the west end, and then takes a southwest course by Columbia city and a few miles below empties into Eel river. This lake thus receives its waters from upper Blue river, and from springs along its sides and bottom. It is well stocked with food fishes.
Dr. Dryer speaks of the midsummer vegetation about the shores of this lake, as follows: “Aquatic vegetation in great variety and profusion furnished a botanists’ paradise. There are pond weeds, water shield, bladder wort, yellow pond lilies, duck weed, cat-tail, pickerel weed, smart weed and numerous other varieties.”
“This lake is the only locality in northeastern Indiana known to the writer, where the famous and splendid American lotus occurs. Here it is as abundant as the white water lily. Its flowers are difficult to procure because they are gathered by numerous visitors as fast as they open. With their leaves rolled up and rocking like a boat or expanded into an orbicular shield twenty or thirty inches in diameter and flapping in the wind, they present an interesting and attractive sight. The water in Blue river lake in midsummer has an appearance of muddy coffee and through the whole season teems with plant and animal life.”
Such a lake as this would repay a thorough and prolonged biological examination and would furnish the naturalist with material enough for several years’ study.
Tippecanoe lake, the head of Tippecanoe river, lays to the westward about sixteen miles and reaches the remarkable depth of one hundred and twenty-five feet.
It seems that nature provided here with a lavish hand, an ideal home for the Red Man. The soil was productive for Indian corn and the writer saw the old Indian fields red with strawberries in June. Wild grapes, wild plums, hazel nuts, acorns, and wild berries of all kinds grew nearby in abundance. There were red deer, wild turkeys, prairie chickens and pheasants, river and lakes teeming with fish and over all a scenic beauty that the poet with his pen could not describe, nor the artist with his brush portray.
I distinctly remember the strong temptation to recline on the grassy hillside near Little Turtle’s town and the losing of myself in silent contemplation. Soul melting scenes were about me. A place where the mind could speak volumes, but the tongue must be silent, that would speak, and the hand palsied that would write. A place where a divine might confess that he never had fancied paradise thus, where the painter’s palette would lose its beautiful tints. The blood-stirring notes of eloquence would die in their uttering, and even the soft tones of sweet music would scarcely preserve a spark to light the soul again that had passed this sweet delirium. I mean the forest, the lake, the prairie at sunset, when all of these are turned into gold, and their long shadows of melancholy are thrown over the scene. When the breathings of day are hushed and naught but the soft notes of the wolf, who breaks through these scenes of enchantment, and mournfully howls as if lonesome and lost.
The Indian trail and desolate village and the fountain at the foot of the hill can now scarcely be found. All the beauty and poetry of Indian lore, it seems were represented here as the floating clouds of summer long ago drifted over the deep blue sky. Such was the birthplace and home of Little Turtle, the great Miami Chieftain.
“Did we not own this glorious land
Each mountain, lake and river
Were they not from Thy sacred hand
Our heritage forever?
“Where tombs arise and harvest wave
Our children used to stray
We cannot find our fathers’ graves
Our fathers, where are they?
“Like snow before the fiery glance
Like dew in the garment’s ray
Like bubbles that on the ocean dance
Our tribes are swept away.”
In order to confirm our claim concerning the location of Little Turtle’s town we refer the reader to the following authorities: The hand book of the North American Indians; Bulletin 30, vol. 1, page 771, published by the Bureau of American Ethnology, Washington, D. C.; Dillon’s “History of the State of Indiana”, page 195; also Brice’s History of Fort Wayne”, published in 1868, page 227.
A little over two months after (Me-she-kin-no-quah’s) or Little Turtle’s death, which occurred at Fort Wayne, July 14, 1812, General Harrison ordered Colonel Simrall on September 17 following to destroy Little Turtle’s town twenty miles northwest of Fort Wayne, but not to destroy the house built by the government for him. This dwelling consisted of a substantial log house about eighteen by twenty feet square. Those Indian trails, wild bee trees, beaver dams, and above all the countless swarms of the wild pigeons, will never be forgotten by the writer, who as a boy visited this enchanted site over half a century ago.
The early settlers and trappers at that time, when the Indians were still present, fully corroborated the above statements. An especially good witness was Mr. Robert Walburn, an old trapper and hunter, who in 1870 killed the last red deer known to run wild in Whitley county. This gentleman, nearly a life long citizen of Whitely county, died in old age in the year 1900. He came to this neighborhood when quite a young man from Campaign county, Ohio, and gave the writer much of the above stated facts.
One of the first settlers
of Smith township, Whitely county, was one Mr. Martin who arrived with his family about 1840, and settled on a piece of wild land in section 18. His cabin stood within two or three miles of this village. He had a son Hiram, who several times narrowly escaped from the wolves. The writer knew this young man after he had reached middle life and worked for him by the month on the old farm that he inherited from his father, and enjoyed many interesting talks with him about the wild animals and Indians who were still there in his boyhood days. His memory was very clear and accurate concerning the old village.
The main branch of Eel river is crossed by the old Indian trail (now the Goshen state road), only eleven miles northwest of Fort Wayne. This could not have been the stream on which this village was located as that stream was twenty miles from old Fort Wayne, or nine miles beyond the above point, or on the west bank of Blue river near the west end of Blue river lake, and immediately north of what is known today as the Little Devil lake.
One of the last remnants of the Miami tribe spoken of by the early pioneers of Whitley country were settled in a small village on the eastern bank of Round lake, on or near the identical spot now occupied as a burial place for the white man’s dead, known as the Round lake cemetery, some three miles west of the Little Turtle village. Here, in 1846 or 1847, they spent their last summer fishing and hunting and continually calling at the cabin door of the early settler begging him to share with them the common necessaries of life.
Mrs. Diana Leach, a daughter of a pioneer and sister to the Mr. Hiram Martin mentioned above, remembered well the time, and would often rehearse in later days about a number of the pioneer settlers, her father included, who met on a certain day and called in a body on those Indians at this village and informed them that their presence there was no longer desired, and that they would have to seek a home somewhere else. They shortly disappeared, never to return. The writer several years afterward lived on a lease taken by one Mr. John Powles, in which he had agreed to clear forty acres of this land for all he raised for a term of years. Several one-half ounce leaden bullets and other things were picked up near this locality. My visit here a short time since can best be described in the words of the unknown poet:
“Is it changed or am I changed?
Ah the oaks are just as green
But the friends with whom I roamed
Beneath their thickets are estranged
By the years that intervene.
“Bright as ever flows the stream;
Bright as ever shines the sun
But, alas; it seems to me
Not the stream it used to be
Not the sun that used to shine.”
A CHARACTER SKETCH
No section of our country ever produced greater Indians than Pontiac, Little Turtle and Tecumseh. No part of America is richer in tragedy, romance and pathos or Indian lore than the region included in the old Territory Northwest of the Ohio river. Here was the empire of the Algonquin tribes, extending far into British America, from whence they had come.
As Professor Cyrus Thomas tells us, “the initial point of the Algonquin movement appears, from a thorough examination of the subject, to have been in the area north and northwest of Lake Superior. The stream of emigration to the southward crossed to the south side of the lakes in the region of Michilmackinac entering the southern Michigan peninsula. Here, after a long halt, they divided, a part, probably the Shawnees, going south; another, possibly the Miamis, remaining in southern Michigan; the rest, the Delawares, Nanticokes and others moving onward toward the Atlantic coast.”
We have mentioned each successive Miami Chief, from the time of their first contact with the whites, until the last Chief had passed away. We here recall the name of each, as it appeared in point of time from the first to the last:
First, Aque-nook-quah; second, Me-she-kin-no-quah (Little Turtle); third Pechon or (Lagrisse); fourth, Pe-she-Wah or (Richardville); fifth, To-pe-ah or (Francis LaFontaine); sixth and last, Joseph LaFontaine Engleman, who died in 1914.
Pontiac was assassinated in 1767, at a great Indian council of the Illinois, at St. Louis. He had just finished a war speech wherein he favored the continuance of war against the English. An Indian of the Peoria tribe was present as a spy to report the proceedings of this council to the English. This Indian, at the close of the speech plunged his knife in his heart and the great Chieftain fell dead upon the spot. Neither mound or tablet marked the burial place of Pontiac. But for a mausoleum a city has risen above the forest hero, and the race whom he hated with such burning rancor, trample with burning footsteps over his forgotten grave.
Tecumseh was killed in the battle of the Thames, October 5, 1813, at the head of twenty-five hundred (2,500) Indian allies. Mr. Caleb Atwater tells us that he fell on the very first fire of the Kentucky dragoons, pierced by several bullets.
Thus, both of them died a violent death; one while engaged in stirring up strife, turmoil and war, the other in battle in a terrific assault of his inveterate enemies, the Americans. Both died with enmity and vengeance against the pale face.
Not so with Little Turtle. After a comparative study of this last great trio of the forest kings, we are convinced that little Turtle had a wider conception of the future welfare and well being of his race than either of the other two chieftains, and in contrast with them died in peace and friendship with the Americans and was laid to rest by them besides the peaceful waters of the river St. Joseph.
When we consider the time, place and circumstances of his birth we are not surprised to hear that such conditions produced a character like his. The French and Indian War, in which his father probably took part as an ally of the French, was just closing and was soon to be followed by the war of the Revolution in the East. While the seat of conflict was somewhat isolated the whole lake country was disturbed by the occasional news brought in by the French and English traders, and we can readily see that Little Turtle eagerly imbibed the stories of conflict and conquest rehearsed around the campfire. From the brief sketch of Miami history we can readily estimate the virtues inherited from his father. As his mother was a Mohegan (Mohican), Little Turtle was classed by Indian custom as belonging to this historic tribe. The Mohegans were a warlike tribe, who at an early date, inhabited Connecticut and part of New York lying east of the upper Hudson river. They are classified as belonging to the Delaware branch of the Algonquin stock. During the French and Indian War they fought with the English against the French; and during the Revolution they espoused the cause of the colonists against the English. On account of their warlike propensities they became divided and scattered and almost exterminated. At the advent of the Pilgrims their warriors were described as courageous and possessed of a fine and noble bearing. The inroads of their nearest western neighbors, the Mohawks, and the encroachments of the English colonists forced them to sell their territory piecemeal, and, about 1730, a large body of them emigrated to the Susquehanna river and settled near Wyoming, Pa., in the vicinity of the Delawares and Munsees, with whom they later moved to the Ohio region. However, as early as 1721, a band of the Mohicans found their way to Indiana, where they located a village on the Kankakee river, in which Little Turtle’s mother was born and reared. In later days remnants of this tribe settled at Green Bay, Wisconsin and in Kansas. It is said that the government of the Mohicans was democratic, but this does not conform to the statement that the office of Chief Sachem was hereditary by the lineage of the wife of the Sachem. According to Ruttenber the Sachem as assisted by councilors, and also by one hero, one owl, and one runner. The other males were called young men or warriors. The Sachem, or more properly, King, remained at all times with his tribe and consulted their welfare. He had charge of the umoti, or bag of peace, which contained the belts and strings used to establish peace and friendship with different nations and concluded all treaties on behalf of his people. The councilors were elected and were called Chiefs. Their business was to consult with their Sachem in promoting the peace and happiness of their people. The title of hero was gotten only by courage and prudence in war. When a war alliance was asked, or cause for war existed with another tribe the Sachem and the councilors consulted, and if they concluded to take up their hatchet, the matter was put in the hands of the heroes for execution. When peace was proposed, the heroes put the negotiations in the hands of the Sachem and councilors. The office of owl was also one of merit, the bearer of this title must have a strong memory and must be a good speaker. His business was to sit beside his Sachem and proclaim his orders to the people with a loud voice and also to get up every morning as soon as daylight and arouse the people and order them to their daily duties. The business of runner was to carry messages and to convene councils.
The Mohicans were generally well built. As fighting men they were perfidious, accomplishing their designs by treachery, using stratagem to deceive their enemies and making their most hazardous attacks under cover of darkness. The women ornamented themselves more than the men. All wore around the waist a girdle made of fin of the whale or sewant. The men originally wore a breach cloth made of skins, but after the Dutch came those who could obtain it wore between their legs a lap of duffels cloth half an ell broad and nine quarters long, which they girded around their waists and drew up in a fold with a flap of each end hanging down in front and rear. In addition to this they had mantles of feathers and at a later period decked themselves with plaid duffels cloth in the form of a sash, which was worn over the right shoulder drawn in a knot around the body with the ends extending down below the knees. When the young men wished to look especially attractive they wore a band about their heads manufactured and braided with scarlet deer hair interwoven with soft shining red hair.
According to Vander Donck, the women wore a cloth around their bodies fastened by a girdle which extended fellow the knees, but next to the body under this coat they used a dressed deerskin coat girt around the waist. The lower part of this skirt they ornamented with stripes tastefully decorated with wampum, which was frequently worth with from one hundred to three hundred guilders ($40 to $120). They bound their hair behind in a club about a hand long in the form of a beaver’s tail, over which they drew a square wampum ornamented cap; and when they desired to be fine they drew around the forehead a band also ornamented with wampum, which was fastened behind in a knot. Around their necks they hung various ornaments. They also wore bracelets, curiously wrought and interwoven with wampum.
Poligamy was practiced to some extent, though mostly by the Chiefs. Maidens were allowed to signify their desire to enter matrimonial life, upon which a marriage would be formally arranged; widows and widowers were left to their own inclinations.
In addition to the usual manifestations of grief at the death of a relative or friend they cut off their hair and burned it on the grave. Their dead were usually interred in a sitting posture. It was usual to place by the side of the body a pot, kettle, platter, spoon, and provisions; wood was then placed around the body and the whole was covered with earth and stones outside of which pickets were erected, so that the tomb resembled a little house. Their houses were of the communal sort and differed usually only in length; they were formed by long slender hickory saplings set in the ground in a straight line in two rows; The poles were then bent toward each other in the form of an arch, and secured together at the top giving the appearance of a garden arbor; the sides and roof were then lathed with split poles and over this bark was lapped and fastened by withes to the lathing. A smoke hole was left in the roof and a single doorway was provided. These houses rarely exceeded twenty feet in width, but they were sometimes one hundred and eighty feet long. Their so-called castles were strong, firm structures and were situated usually on a steep, high, flat-topped hill near a stream. The tip of the hill was enclosed with a strong stockade having large logs for a foundation on both sides of which oak posts forming a palisade were set in the ground, the upper ends being crossed and joined together. Inside the walls in such inclosures frequently were twenty or thirty houses. Beside their strongholds they had villages and towns, which were inclosed or stockaded and which usually had woodland on one side and corn fields on the other. Their religious beliefs substantially the same as those of the New England Indians.
Barton gives the Mohicans three clans, Bear, Would and Turtle”.
“Is not the red man’s wigwam home
As dear to him as costly dome?
Is not his loved one’s smile as bright
As the dear ones of the men that’s white?
Freedom – this self same freedom you adore
Bids him defended his violated shore.”
As Little Turtle, according to Indian custom, probably received no advantage from his father’s rank, he was not a Chief by descent. However, great and active minds cannot remain at rest and his talents having attracted the notice of his fellow tribesmen, he was made Chief of the Miamis while a comparatively young man.
It has been said that the Sun of Indian glory set with Little Turtle, and when Pontiac and Tecumseh passed away, the clouds and shadows gathered around their race in the starless night of death. He was the noblest Roman of them all, for like Pontiac thirty years before, he was the soul of fire.
Everyone who reads these pages, and the final Treaty of GreeneVille; and of his upright walk in later years, even to the day of his death, will be impressed with his high courage and the manly stand which he took for his race, and the hunting grounds of his fathers.
Little Turtle was more of a traveler than generally believed. He was well acquainted at Detroit, Montreal and Quebec; was quite a sojourner at Chicago and the northwest; had been to Louisiana and several times to Philadelphia and Washington city; and it is said, far to the south. It is claimed he received a slight education from the priests in Canada. No wonder that he became a rounded diplomat and a polished gentleman.
There seems to be conflicting statements in regard to Little Turtle’s height. Mr. J. P. Dunn, a noted authority, Secretary of Indiana Historical Society, in his “True Indian Stories” published in 1909, says, “that he was small in stature”. His authority on this subject is based on the statement of Kil-so-quah alone, a granddaughter of the famous chief, who died in 1915, at one hundred and five years of age, and who was a child a little over two years old at the time of her grandfather’s death July 14, 1812. While upon the other hand, John A. McLung, in his sketches of “Western Adventure”, published in 1836, at Dayton, Ohio, on page 262, says, “The leader of the Indian army at the time of St. Clair’s defeat was a Chief of the Missassago tribe, known by the name of Little Turtle. Notwithstanding his name, he was at least six feet tall. His aspect was harsh, sour and forbidding, and his person during the action was arrayed in the very extremity of Indian finery, having at least twenty dollars’ worth of silver depending from his nose and ears”. McLung here makes a positive statement of his height and general aspect during the battle, no doubt, from the lips of those men still living at the time the book was written, who were eye witnesses at the time of the battle.
Samuel C. Drake in his “Aboriginal Races of North America”, page 575, published about 1838, says that in his time he was generally styled the Missassago Chief, and that his village was twenty miles northwest of Fort Wayne; that a gentleman who saw him after St. Clair’s defeat at Montreal says, “He was six feet high, of a very sour and morose countenance and apparently very crafty and subtle”.
His dress consisted of moccasins, a blue petticoat that came half way down his thighs, and an European waistcoat and curtout. His head was bound with an Indian cap that hung half way down his back and was almost entirely filled with plain silver brooches to the number of more than two hundred. He had two ear rings to each ear, the upper part of each being formed of three silver medals about the size of a dollar, the lower part of quarters of dollars, which extended more than twelve inches from his ears; one over his breast and the over his back. He also had three very large nose jewels of silver that were curiously painted.
The witness who gave this account said this Chief was in Canada for the purpose of raising all the Indian force he could to go out again in the spring against the whites.
Here we have the testimony of two competent witnesses, McLung and Drake, as to Little Turtle’s height, dress and general appearance which practically agrees as to his appearance when he was yet comparatively a young man.
In Vol. 2, of Henry Howe’s “Historical Collections of Ohio”, page 226, we have the story of the battle at the head of the Wabash, November 4, 1791, by Major Jacob Fowler, who was present on that occasion. Also on page 228, of same work by a Mr. McDowell, both of whom were still living in 1846, one at Covington, Ky., the other at or near the village of Fort Recovery. This was ten years after Drake and McLung had written the above statements in regard to Chief Little Turtle and his physical makeup, and consequently must be a true narrative of facts as they remain unrefuted by the participants in that battle, as well as by all of the early authorities.
Again we have Little Turtle’s picture in a painting by an officer in Wayne’s legion. This painting was presented to the Chicago Historical Society by Mr. LaVerne Noyes in 1914. It shows him standing in the midst of a group of white officials and Indian Chiefs, in which he is the principal spokesman, and represents him to be as tall as the tallest man in the entire group. We herewith a present a photograph from the original painting. On another page is shown a cut of this distinguished warrior taken from a painting burned in Washington in the War of 1812. It was always considered a very good and correct picture of him. These two pictures show a very marked similarity. The aquiline nose, piercing eyes, high cheek bones, peaked chin and head dress all bear a striking similarity in both, and impress one as being of the same man. The headdress, the earrings, the features in both leave no doubt as to the identity of Little Turtle in the GreeneVille painting.
This Chieftain attained the zenith of his military glory at the time of St. Clair’s defeat, and the zenith of his statecraft and diplomacy at the Treaty of GreeneVille. And a lover and benefactor of his race to the day of his death he was never equaled by any Indian that roamed the forests.
The Aboit river massacre; the humiliation of Gen. Harmar, and his return to Fort Washington; and the final defeat of St. Clair’s army on the Wabash November 4, 1791, all added to the luster of his name and when the inevitable came and his power was broken at the battle of the Fallen Timbers, like the true philosopher that he was, he realized that further resistance to the white man would be unavailing, and signed the Treaty of GreeneVille.
All of his subsequent life was interwoven with the golden deeds of friendship and good will toward all mankind, both white and red.
The temporary success of the Indians in several engagements previous to the campaign of General Wayne had kept alive their expiring hopes. But their signal defeat by that gallant officer convinced the more reflecting of their leaders of the desperate character of the conflict.
After the Treaty of GreeneVille, he continued faithful to its stipulations the remainder of his life. From that day he ceased to be the enemy of the white man, and, as he was not one who could act a negative part, he became the firm ally and friend of those against whom his tomahawk had been so long raised in vindictive animosity. He was their friend not from sympathy, or conviction but in obedience to a necessity which left no middle course and under a belief that submission alone could save his tribe from destruction; and having adopted this policy, his sagacity and sense of honor alike forbade a recurrence either to open war or secret hostility. He was the principal Chief of the Miami nation and possessed all the influence and authority which are usually attached to that office at the period when Tecumseh and his brother, the Prophet, commenced hostilities against the united States. When Tecumseh and the Prophet embarked in their scheme for the recovery of the lands as far south as the Ohio river it became their interest as well as policy to enlist Little Turtle in the enterprise, and every effort which the genius of the one and the cunning of the other could devise was brought to bear upon him. But he remained faithful to the Treaty he had signed at Fort GreeneVille.
When twenty-four years of age, we hear of him with Burgoyne advancing from the North in his disastrous campaign against Saratoga where he finally surrendered to General Gates, October 17, 1777,
In this brief sketch it has been difficult to depict in suitable language the noble attributes of character, the sterling qualities of body, mind and soul which Little Turtle possessed to a marked degree. May peace be to his ashes, and may his spirit dwell in the happy hunting grounds of the Indian race forever.
“Tis weary watching wave by wave
And yet the tide heaves onward
We climb like corals grave by grave
But pave a path that’s sunward.
“We’ve beaten back in many a fray But newer strength we borrow;
And where the vanguard camps today
The rear shall rest tomorrow.”
NOTES AND ANECDOTES
After the Treaty of GreeneVille, Little Turtle remained the true and faithful friend of the Americans and the new government, and was much beloved and respected by those who knew him.
Tecumseh strove hard to gain his confidence and aid in his final determined struggle against the white man a few years later, but all to no avail, for nothing could move him from his set purpose of peace and good will toward the Americans.
Early in 1797, accompanied by Captain Wells, his son-in-law, Little Turtle visited President Washington at Philadelphia, where he met the philosopher and famous traveler Volney, who was then in America, who sought immediate acquaintance with the celebrated Chief for highly valuable purposes which in some measure he affected. He made a vocabulary of his language, which he printed in the appendix to his travels. A copy in manuscript more extensive than the printed one is said to be in the library of the Philosophical Society of Pennsylvania.
Having become convinced that all resistance to the whites was in vain, Little Turtle brought his nation to consent to peace and recommended them to adopt agricultural pursuits. And it was with the view of soliciting Congress and the benevolent Society of Friends for assistance to effect this latter purpose that he now visited Philadelphia. While here he was inoculated for the small-pox and was also afflicted with the gout and rheumatism.
At the time of Mr. Volney’s interview with him for information he took no notice of the conversation while the interpreter was communicating with Mr. Volney, for he did not understand English, but walked about plucking out his beard and eyebrows. He was dressed now in English clothes. His skin where not exposed Mr. Volney says, was as white as his, and on speaking upon the subject Little Turtle said “I have seen Spaniards in Louisiana, and found no difference in color between them and me. And why should there be any? In them as in us, it is the work of the father of colors, the sun that burns us. Your white people compare the color of your face with that of your bodies”.
Mr. Volney explained to him the notion of many, that his race had descended from the Tartar’s and by a map showed him the supposed communication between Asia and America. To this Little Turtle replied, “Why should not these Tartars who resemble us have come from America? Are there any reasons to the contrary or why should we not both have been born in our own country?” It is a fact that the Indians accepted the name indigenous that is one springing from the soil or natured to it.
When Mr. Volney asked Little Turtle what prevented him from living among the whites, and if he were not more comfortable in Philadelphia than upon the banks of the Wabash, he said. “Taking all things together, you have the advantage over us, but here I am deaf and dumb. I do not talk your language; I can neither hear nor make myself heard. When I walk through the streets I see every person in his shop employed about something; one makes shoes; another hats, a third sells cloth and everyone lives by his labor. I say to myself which of all these things can you do. Not one. I can make a bow and arrow, catch fish, kill game and go to war, but none of these are of any use here. To learn what is done here would require a long time. Old age comes on. I should be a piece of furniture useless to my nation, useless to the whites and useless to myself. I must return to my own country”.
At the same time among other eminent personages to whom this Chief became attached in Philadelphia, was the renowned Kosciusko. This old Polish Chief was so well pleased with Little Turtle that when the latter went to take his final leave of him he presented Little Turtle with a favorite brace of pistols, saying to him: “These pistols I have carried and used on many a hard fought battlefield in defense of the weak, the wronged of my own race. I now present them to you with the injunction that with them you shoot dead the first man who ever comes to subjugate you or to despoil you of your country”.
Whereupon, it is said that Little Turtle walked back and forth across the room much agitated, finally dropping the remark in an undertone, “Let that woman yet beware” (meaning Queen Catherine of Russia). Then in speaking to Kosciusko said, “you might have succeeded better in a love affair with her, especially, if she was handsome”.
On this same occasion Kosciusko also presented him with an elegant robe made of sea otter skin of the value of several hundred dollars, and with a magnificent sword much to the delight of this famous Chieftain.
Mr. Dawson relates a pleasant anecdote of Little Turtle which happened while he was sitting for his portrait in Philadelphia. A native of the Emerald Isle, who prided himself upon his ability at joking was sitting for his portrait at the same time. Little Turtle was also an adept in the art of joking, and they passed several meetings pleasantly twitting each other. One morning Little Turtle did not take much notice of his friend, but seemed rather sedate, which was construed by the Hibernian as an acknowledgment of victory on the part of the Chief in their joking game, and accordingly he began to intimate as much. When Little Turtle understood him, he said to the interpreter. “He mistakes; I was just thinking of proposing to this man to paint us both on one board and there I would stand face to face with him and blackguard him eternally”.
It is believed that this Chief had received some education in Canada, and until the Treaty of GreeneVille, was attached to British interests, which interests seemed to find gratification in cultivating in the savages a hatred of the Americans. John Johnston, of Piqua, Ohio, who was well acquainted with Little Turtle, said of this celebrated orator and Chief, “that he was a man of great wit, humor and vivacity, fond of the company of gentlemen, and delighted in good eating. When I knew him, he had two wives living with him, under the same roof, in the greatest harmony.
Mrs. Callis, daughter of Judge Jouett, tells us that her mother often spoke of the Chief, for whose oratorical powers she had great admiration. She particularly referred to a speech of that chief which she heard delivered at a council held at Chicago. A sentence of that speech is remembered; speaking of an enemy upon which he (Little Turtle) had taken deadly vengeance, he said, “We met; I cut him down; and his shade, as it passes on the wind, shuns my walk”!
Little Turtle, who had somewhat of a remarkable mind and was for a number of years the leading spirit among the Miamis, was surpassed for bravery and intelligence, perhaps by none of his race. He was of an inquiring turn of mind and never lost an opportunity to gain some valuable information upon almost every subject or object that attracted his attention. He sought by every means in his power during the latter days of his life to relieve his people from every debasing habit, encouraging them only in the more sober and industrious relations of life.
Each evening he is said to have called the children of the village together, telling them an amusing story and giving them a short lecture abounding in good advice, to learn to be industrious and to shun strong drink.
It is said of Little Turtle, that he never was intoxicated, and did all in his power to keep his people from strong drink. He urged the Indians to avoid it by word and example, and gained the rare distinction of securing the first prohibition law against the liquor traffic ever enacted by the United States government. He visited the legislatures of Ohio and Kentucky, as well as Congress, and begged for the prohibition of intoxicating liquors among the Indians.
In a speech which was taken down in shorthand at the time he denounced drink as a ruinous evil that destroyed great numbers of his tribesman’s lives; that caused the young men to say, “We had better be at war with the white people, for this liquor that they introduce into our country is more to be feared than the gun and tomahawk.
“More of us have died since the Treaty of GreeneVille, than we lost by the years of war before, and it is all owing to the introduction of this liquor among us.”
In 1798, he traveled from his home in Indiana to Philadelphia to plead with President John Adams for protection for the Indians against the whiskey traffic, telling him that liquor had destroyed three thousand Indians alone during the preceding year. However, he failed to secure any results at this time. In 1801, he again visited the east and interested the Baltimore Yearly Meeting of Friends in behalf of his cause. The meeting appointed a committee to go with him to Washington to present the matter to President Jefferson. The President looked into the subject and sent a special message (the first of the kind ever given) to Congress, empowering the President to take steps to eliminate the traffic from the Indian country. Thus Little Turtle is the real father of the first prohibition law ever enacted in this country.
In 1803, Little Turtle for the Miamis, and Five Medals for the Pottawattomies, joined in a letter to the Friends at Baltimore, in which they expressed their pleasure, that the President had prevented the traders from selling liquor to their people; and expressing their fears that he might again permit the traffic to return to them. Adding, that if he does our red brethren are lost forever. But at the same tome expressing the hope that the Great Spirit will change the minds of our people and tell them that it will be better for them to cultivate the earth than to drink whiskey.
The following year 1804, a delegation from the Baltimore Yearly Meeting was sent to Fort Wayne, on a mission of amelioration to the Indians and there to meet both of these Chiefs.
Little Turtle was then but half well, as he said. His complaint was then as usual the gout, and on the interpreter telling his complaint was one that belonged to great folks and gentlemen, he said, “I always thought that I was a gentleman”.
At the general council called to meet this delegation which assembled at Fort Wayne, April 10, 1804, the subject of teaching agriculture to the Indians was the principal theme of discussion. Little Turtle expressed regret that his people had not accepted the idea of cultivating their lands, much as he had tried to convince them of its necessity, and his hope that the words of the Friends might turn their minds. As an indication of the sagacity and eloquence of Little Turtle his speech in reply to the Quakers on this occasion is quoted in part herewith:
Speech of Little Turtle in Reply to an Address from the Quakers, George Elliott and Gerald T. Hopkins.
“Brothers: It appears to me necessary that I should give you an immediate answer, as you are about to return to your families from whence you came.
“Brothers and Friends: We are all pleased to see you here, and to take our Brothers, the Quakers, through you, by the hand. We rejoice that the Great Spirit has appointed that we should this day meet, for we believe this meeting will be of the utmost consequence to your red brethren.
“Brothers: What you have said we have carefully gathered up; we have placed it in our hearts, in order that it may be communicated to our posterity. We are convinced that what you have said is for the good of your red brethren. We also convinced that our chiefs and warriors, our women and children, will be all of our opinion, and will be glad when they hear what you have said.
“Brothers: We take you by the hand, and through you take the people who sent you, by the hand, and assure you that we are pleased that the Great Spirit has let us see each other, and converse together upon the subjects that have been communicated to us.
“Brothers: You see that there are but few of us here; what you have said to us, will not remain with the few that are here alone; it will be communicated to all your red brethren in this country, and again I repeat that I am convinced that they will be glad to hear what you have said to us, to our women and children.
“Brothers: When we saw you with the rest of your brethren in Baltimore upward of two years ago, I presume you recollect perfectly the conversation between us at that time and place. I then, with my Brother Chiefs, told you that we were glad to find you so much disposed to assist us, our women and children; we told you that your good wishes should be made known to all your red brethren in this country, which has been done.
“Brothers: Ever since that time, I, as well as some others of my Brother Chiefs, have been endeavoring to turn the minds of our people toward the cultivation of the earth, but am sorry to say we have not yet been able to effect anything.
“Brothers: There are so few of us here present, we could not now undertake to give you any positive answer; we expect in a few moons, there will be many of our people together. At that time it will be proper that we should give you an answer to all the subjects you now mention to us.
“Brothers: The things you have said to us require our greatest attention. It appears to be really necessary that we should deliberate upon them. In order to do so we must beg you to leave the paper on which they were written, that we may communicate them to the Chiefs when they assemble.
“Brothers: All the words you said today, were certainly calculated for our good. You have enumerated to us the different kinds of grains and animals we ought to raise for our comfort. You have told us that if we all adopt the plan you have proposed, we shall want for nothing. This Brothers, myself and many of our people believe is true, and we hope we shall finally be able to convince our young men that this is the plan we should adopt to get our living.
“Brothers: You have come a long distance to render service to us; we hope you will meet with the success you wish. You have been very particular in pointing out to us what will be for our good; you have been very particular in pointing out the duties of our women, and you have told us that in adopting your mode of living, our numbers would increase and not diminish. In all this I perfectly agree with you, and hope all the Chiefs will also agree with you.
“Brothers: We are pleased to hear you say you are going to leave one of your Brothers with us, to show us in what manner you cultivate the earth. We shall endeavor, Brothers, to make his situation among us as agreeable to him as will be possible for us.
“Brothers: We are convinced the plan you propose will be advantageous to your red brethren. We are convinced you have observed very justly, that we shall not then be so liable to sickness. We are certain we shall then be able to make a more comfortable living with less labor than at present, and hope this will be the opinion of us all.
“Brothers: I again repeat, I am extremely glad to hear the things you have said, and that we will keep them in our hearts for the good of our young men, our women and our children. I have now delivered to you the sentiments of our people that are present.”
(After a short pause he added.)
“Brothers: Assure your people who have sent you here, tell your old Chiefs we are obliged to them for their friendly offers to assist us in changing our present mode of living. Tell them it is a work which cannot be done immediately, that we are all that way disposed and we hope it will take place gradually.”
(Sitting down a short space, he rises again.)
“Brothers: My heart is so overjoyed and warm with what you have said, that I forgot to mention one of the most important things. At the time we first met at this place, the Medals and myself formed some idea of your business; we expected you had come to do for us the things you proposed to us when in Baltimore, and consulted each other upon the answer necessary to return to you in every respect, and now find our idea was right. Brothers, the sentiments which I have delivered to you were his sentiments. You have now told us that your Brother has a mind to live among us, to show us how to cultivate the earth, and has desired us to show him the spot where to begin. We agreed then that he should be at neither of our villages, lest our younger Brothers should be jealous of our taking him to ourselves. We have determined to place him on the Wabash, where some of our families will follow him; where our young men, I hope, will flock to him, and where he will be able to instruct them as he wishes. This is all I have to say. I could all day repeat the sentiments I have already expressed; also, how much I have been gratified in seeing and hearing from our Brothers, but that is not necessary. I am sorry the Chiefs of our country are not all present, that they might all hear what you have said, and have an opportunity to talk with you.”
This speech of Little Turtle is copied from a manuscript found among the papers of Judge Jouett, formerly Indian Agent at Chicago, by whom it was preserved since the time of its delivery, something over three score years ago. It seems proper that this speech should not be lost; and though it may seem to the reader prolix and tame, lacking the fire and passion that we usually expect in the speech of an Indian orator, yet the subject matter was one of peace, and refers to the comparatively quiet and dull life of civilization. The speaker, however, believed it involved the best interests of his people.
A friend named Philip Dennis had agreed to remain, intending to live among them to teach them practical farming. Little Turtle explained that the other Chiefs and himself had agreed that it should be at neither of their villages, “lest our younger brothers should be jealous of our taking him to ourselves. We have determined to lace him on the Wabash where some of our families will follow him, and where he will be able to instruct as he wishes.” The point thus selected for the first agricultural college established in the west was a little below Huntington, at a place called the Boat Yards, from the fact that General Wilkinson had built some flat boats there to transfer baggage and material down river.
The experiment was not a success, and Dennis found by experience that Little Turtle’s misgivings in regard to the industry of the young men were fully verified. After he had inclosed his farm only one or two of the Red Men evinced any disposition to labor. They would take a seat on the fence or in the trees near his work and watch with apparent interest, his plowing and hoeing, but without offering to lend a helping hand. Becoming discouraged Dennis left in the fall and abandoned the first attempt to teach the savage the arts of peace.
Jared Mansfield held the important position of Surveyor General of the United States, and was located at Cincinnati for nine years, from 1804 to 1813, when his son E. D. Mansfield was yet quite a boy. The manner of his appointment and the work that he performed will illustrate his character and introduce a small but interesting chapter of events in the life of little Turtle. Mansfield had formerly taught mathematics in New Haven, Conn., where he had several pupils, who afterward became famous, among were Abraham and Harry Baldwin. The former was afterward United States Senator from Georgia; the latter Judge of the Supreme Court of the United States. While Jared Mansfield was teaching, he published a book, entitled “Essays on Mathematics”. It was an original work, and but few copies were sold for there were but few men in the country who could understand it. The book, however, established his reputation as a man of science and greatly influenced his afterlife. Abraham Baldwin was at that time Senator from Georgia, and brought this book to the notice of President Jefferson, who was fond of science and of scientific men. The consequence was that he was appointed chief engineer and teacher of cadets at West Point. He was there about a year, when he received an appointment to a new and more arduous field in the west. Mr. Jefferson had been but a short time in office when he became aware of the fact that the public surveys were going wrong, for the accuracy of the surveys depended upon established meridian lines with base lines at right angles to them. The surveyors at that time could not run these lines accurately. By Senator Baldwin’s further recommendation Mr. Mansfield was appointed Surveyor General and was located at Marietta for two years, and afterward in 1805, in Cincinnati. In his personal memoirs written later in life his son, E. D. Mansfield, gives us an interesting account of the old Northwest, and of some of the most striking characters both men and women, who made its history. Among these were the “Queen of the Fairy Isle”, Mrs. Blennerhasset, who deserved a better fate than that which befell her. That lady had a spectacular career, he name becoming a theme of poetry and eloquence. Another of the noted characters was never forgotten by Mr. Mansfield, was that matchless and dignified figure which stands out on the historical canvass in bold relief – Little Turtle, Chief of the Miamis, the polished gentleman, the great Indian statesman of his time.
It was the duty of the Surveyor General to run the GreeneVille Treaty line, which was still unfinished, a few years after the signing of the treaty of peace at GreeneVille. About 1806, Little Turtle called at the Surveyor General’s office in Cincinnati to arrange for the above survey.
Mr. E. D. Mansfield says, concerning this occasion: “One day a dark complexioned man with a swarthy countenance, riding a very fine horse, dismounted at our house, and went into my father’s office I wanted to go in and see him, but for some reason was not allowed to. After some time I saw him come out, mount his horse and ride rapidly away. I was struck by the appearance of the man and asked my mother, “Who is that man?” She said, “That is Little Turtle, the great Miami Chief”. As Little Turtle rode away from the house in the declining sun, Mansfield might, without any violent stretch of imagination, have seemed to see one of the last Great Sprits of the Indian race leaving the land of his fathers, probably looking for the last time upon the beautiful valley of the Miami, and bidding farewell to each hill, wood and stream.
This incident more fully illustrates Little Turtle’s constant care and vigilance for the well being of his race, and, displays his loyalty to the Americans as well.
In 1807, Little Turtle again visited Baltimore, and Washington. D. C., accompanied by Richardville and other Chiefs. He desired to have a flour mill erected at Fort Wayne, and appeared earnestly desirous of promoting the interests of his people. He is mentioned as having an indescribable countenance, and being possessed of a very orderly disposition. On this visit he was entertained with other Chiefs at the house of a former friend. He was the first to enter the parlor, bowing gracefully, as he was introduced to the family, and in a short address gratefully acknowledging the pleasure at meeting the wife and children of his friend.
In dignity of appearance he exceeded all his companion Chiefs – a dignity which resulted from the character of his mind. He was above the medium stature, with a complexion of the palest copper shade, and did not use paint. His hair was worn full and had no admixture of grey. He was then dressed in a coat of blue cloth, with gilt buttons, pantaloons of the same color, and buff waistcoat, and, together with the other Chiefs, wore leggings and moccasins, and had gold rings in his ears. This dress was completed by a long red military sash around the waist and a cocked hat surmounted by a red feather. On entering the house he immediately removed his hat and carried it under his arm. Altogether he was graceful and agreeable to an uncommon degree and was admired by all who made his acquaintance.
Little Turtle was fond of telling of his war adventures. One anecdote he used to relate with must gusto concerning an occasion on which he himself had been outwitted. “A white man”, said he, “a prisoner of many years in the tribe, had often solicited permission to go on a war party and had been refused. It never was the practice of the Indians to ask or encourage white prisoners among them to go to war against their countrymen. This white man, however, had so far won the confidence of the Indians, and being very importunate I took him on an expedition to Kentucky. As was out practice, we had carefully reconnoitered and had fixed on a house recently built as the one to be attacked the next morning about the dawn of day. The house was surrounded by a clearing, there being much brush and fallen timber on the ground. At the appointed time the Indians, with the white man, began to move to the attack. At all such times no talking or noise is to be made. They crept along on their hands and feet. All is done by signs by the leader. The white man all the time was striving to be foremost while the Indians were beckoning him to keep back. In spite of all their efforts he would keep ahead, and having at last got within running distance of the house he jumped to his feet and went with all his speed, shouting at the top of his voice, ‘Indians! Indians’! We had to make a precipitated retreat, losing forever our white companion and disappointed in our fancied conquest of the log cabin. From that day I would never trust a white man to accompany me again to war.”
The last public speech ever made by Chief Little Turtle was at Fort Wayne, January 25, 1812, to William Henry Harrison, Governor of Indiana Territory. In this last address he refers to the Battle of Tippecanoe, fought on the morning of the seventh of the previous November.
The original address will be found in General Harrison’s memoirs. Mr. Dawson, the compiler of these memoirs, quoted in introducing this address, says, “The talk received from Little Turtle which so feelingly deplores the consequence of the late action, also appears to allude to the gathering storm that broke out in June following, when the United States made a formal declaration of war against Great Britain. This information Little Turtle must have had from some communication with private parties to himself or the British agents.”
This speech is given as another relic of that extraordinary genius who was fated not long to survive it. The disease with which he had been afflicted at first now become chronic, and leaving his village he came to Fort Wayne to be treated by the United States army surgeon. It shortly became past all control and he died on the 14th of July, 1812.
Little Turtle’s speech to General Harrison: I have been requested by my nation to speak to you and I obey their request with pleasure because I believe their situation requires all the aid I can afford them. When your speech by Mr. Duboise was received by the Miamis, they answered it, and I made known to you their opinion at the time. Your letter to William Wells of the 23rd of November last has been explained to the Miami and Eel River tribes of Indians.
“My friend, although neither of these tribes of Indians have had anything to do with the late unfortunate affair, which happened on the Wabash, still they all rejoice to hear you say that if those foolish Indians would return to their several homes and remain quiet, that they would be pardoned and again received by the President as his children.
“We believe there are none of them that will be so foolish as not to accept of this friendly offer; while at the same time I assure you that nothing shall be wanting on my part to prevail on them to accept it.
“All of the Prophet’s followers have left him with the exception of two camps of his own tribe. Tecumseh has just joined him with eight men only. No danger can be apprehended from them at present. Our eyes will be constantly kept on them, and should they attempt to gather strength again we will do all in our power to prevent it, and at the same time give you immediate information of their intentions.
“We are sorry that the peace and friendship which so long existed between the Red Men and the white people could not be preserved without the loss of so many good men as fell on both sides in the late action on the Wabash; but we are satisfied that it will be the means of making that peace which ought to exist between us more respected, both by the Red Men and the white people. We have lately been told by different Indians from this country to visit you. This we will do with pleasure when you give us information of it in writing.
“My friend, the clouds appear to be rising in a different quarter, which threatens to turn our light into darkness. To prevent this it may require the united efforts of us all. We hope that none of us will be found to shrink from the storm that threatens to burst on our nations. I am your friend (Mishecanoquah or Little Turtle) representing the Miami and Eel River tribes of Indiana.”
The influence of this great Chieftain did not cease with his death, for we are informed that the Council of Shawnees, Miamis, Wyandots, Delawares and Senecas at Piqua, Ohio, in August of 1812, was largely influenced by the attitude of Little Turtle and Black Hoof, and these tribes decided to remain neutral during the war and to congregate at upper Piqua under the control of the government agent, Col. Johnston. It is said that from 6,000 to 10,000 Indians congregated at this point from 1812 to 1815 and, with few exceptions, remained faithful to the American cause.
Even the enemies of Little Turtle paid a solemn tribute to his memory. His remains were interred about the center of the old orchard, with all his adornments, implements of war, a sword presented to him b General Washington, together with a medal with the likeness of Washington thereon, probably the one given to him at Greenville.
All these objects were laid by the side of the body and hidden beneath the sod in one common grave.
It is said that one Mr. J. P. Hedges and others knew the exact spot up to about 1860. Mentioning the orchard in the center of which Little Turtle was buried calls to mind the historic renown of the famous old apple tree of more recent years, which stood alone a silent historic memento of years gone by, revered by both white and red men. It was out of this tree that an Indian, during the siege of Fort Wayne in 1812, was shot by one of the soldiers from the fort at a distance of many hundred yards. In an exulting spirit one of the besiegers was in the habit of climbing the tree each day for several days and throwing his arms much like the rooster flaps his wings when crowing, would utter a noise very much like this fowl. This challenge was finally answered by the crack of a double-charged rifle from the fort and the Indian was seen to fall.
This tree has long since died and fallen to the ground, and remains only in the distant memory of the older citizens of Allen county, and the city of Fort Wayne.
We here introduce four stanzas of an ode to the old apple tree:
“There’s an apple tree near the wild wood
No livelier place on the river St. Joe,
No spot so dear to my childhood
The murmur of waters below;
Its tones so sweetly are calling,
O come to the old apple tree you know.
“How sweet in the springtime morning,
To list to the birds in the dell
All sweetly calling, O come to the river St. Joe,
Where the Indian warrior and maiden belle
Meet beneath the moonlight shade
Of the apple tree so long ago.
“There close by the tree in the valley lies
A warrior Chieftain sleeping well;
He sleeps, sweetly sleeps ‘neath the willow,
Disturb not his rest in the vale;
Chief Little Turtle now lies on his pillow
Beneath the village of Lawton Dale.
Chief Richardville in youth did play
Where wild flours bloomed on the river St. Joe;
The farewell hymn was chanted in morning grey
O where is the wigwam on the river St. Joe?
The Turtle, Richardville and Wells you say
The wild wood and apple tree gone long, long ago.”
Brice tells us that Little Turtle died in his lodge or camp at the old orchard, a short distance north of the confluence of the St. Marys and St. Joseph, in the yard fronting the house of his son-in-law, Captain William Wells. He had suffered for many months previous with the gout and came here from his place of residence at Little Turtle Town, on Blue river, to be treated as above mentioned, by the army surgeon.
It was a solemn and interesting occasion, in the language of one who was present at his burial. His body was borne to the grave with the highest honors by his once great enemies, the white man. The muffled drum, the solemn march, the funeral salute announced that a great diplomat and soldier had fallen.
We are informed by Mr. J. M. Stouder, who had been a lifelong citizen of Fort Wayne, that his winding sheet was a green blanket of beautiful design, and that the funeral oration was delivered by Chief Coessie, a grandson.
Little Turtle signed the following treaties with the United States: Greenville, August 3, 1795; Fort Wayne, June 17, 1803; Vincennes, August 21, 1805; and the last Fort Wayne, September 30, 1809.
From the time he signed the Treaty of GreeneVille, which was the most important, he lived in amity with and was a steadfast friend of the American people.
The whole week of June 5th to 10th, 1916, was devoted to the celebration of the first centennial year of Indiana, at Fort Wayne. A few weeks before this occasion the Daughters of the American Revolution had placed a huge boulder, with a bronze tablet attached on the north bank of the Maumee at the intersection of Edgewater avenue and Dearborn streets, in commemoration of the American soldiers who lost their lives at this historic spot, Harmar’s ford where Chief Little Turtle defeated the troops under command of Josiah Harmar in 1790. The unveiling ceremonies were held on Thursday afternoon, June 8, 1916. Ex-president Taft spoke from an automobile making a brief address in which he commended the above organization for its work in marking historic spots for future generations.
Mrs. James B. Crankshaw, Regent, presided at the ceremonies. “The Star Spangled Banner” was rendered by the Elks’ Band. Mrs. Henry A. Beck, of Indianapolis State Regent of the D. A. R., spoke briefly after the unveiling. Hundreds of school children joined in singing on this occasion. Ex-Mayor Robert B. Hanna, of Fort Wayne, delivered the unveiling address.
We here call attention to the fact, that the remains of Little Turtle be without a sufficient mark on the private grounds of Dr. Gille, Lawton place, and hope that arrangements will soon be made by which a suitable monument will mark this historic spot.
To the honor of all true born Americans, a grateful government has recently paid a just debt of love and esteem to the heroes who died on the battlefield of Fort Recovery by erecting and unveiling on July 1, 1913, a granite shaft one hundred and one and one-half feet high, with a base thirty-five feet square. A heroic figure typifying the early scout and settler, stands on the northern side of the shaft. The figure is nine feet high, and is one of the most impressive features of the monument with face stern and unyielding, foot and leg striding forward, flintlock and powder horn in hand, it seems to be ever advancing toward the great northwest of which this region was once typical. It represents the conquest of the northwest, the progress of the nation and the advancement of civilization. Above all it commemorates the lives which were sacrificed that all this might be achieved and seems to cast over all surrounds the cal and quiet of a benediction.
The dedication of this shaft took place on the one hundred and nineteenth anniversary of Little Turtle’s second attack on Fort Recovery, and in the one hundred twenty-second year after the first battle. This monument is composed of North Carolina granite, and was erected through an appropriation by the general government of twenty-five thousand dollars ($25,000) secured by the personal efforts of Congressman W. E. Touville.
In the month of January, Little Turtle warned General Harrison by a messenger, of the signs of an approaching war with Great Britain, expressing for himself his attachment to the government of the United States.
It seems that shortly after his death, a part of the Miamis at least were inclined to adhere to the British and to show signs of hostility, so much so that General Harrison was compelled to order Colonel Simrall with a regiment of dragoons, numbering three hundred and twenty of men, and a company of mounted riflemen under Colonel Farrow to destroy Little Turtle’s town, on Blue river with strict orders not to molest the buildings formerly erected by the united States for the benefit of Little Turtle, whose friendship for the Americans had ever been firm after the Treaty of GreeneVille. Colonel Simrall having performed the task assigned him on the evening of the 19th, returned to the fort. The house built by the government For Little Turtle was thus preserved.
The writer has often talked with an old trapper and hunter, by the name of William Gaff, who died about 1867. This old trapper had frequently camped for several weeks at a time twenty or twenty-five years before in the famous Little Turtle house shortly after all the Indians had left. He said that he had drunk water out of an old gourd from the spring at the foot of the hill. And I myself quite well remember when yet a boy, about 1863, seeing the old rusty nail driven in an oak tree nearby for the purpose of hanging the drinking vessel.
“Deserted was his own good hall
His hearth was desolate.
Wild weeds had gathered on the wall
The wolf howled at the gate.”
Forest and prairie fires finally destroyed the last vestige of all Indian remains, and Little Turtle’s village became a thing of the past.
“Away those winged years have flown to gain the mass of ages gone.”
About 1839, a number of the Miamis with other tribes were taken west by way of Cincinnati, and the Ohio river. They stopped at Greenville long enough to pay a last visit of respect to the old home of Tecumseh and the Prophet. In this connection a strange incident was related by one Mr. Stephen Hiland, and old gentleman, who still lived in Greenville, Ohio, in 1880, but had been a citizen of Hamilton county, Ohio, in early days. He stated, that when the Indians saw the tomb of General Harrison at North Bend, and learned that it was the grave of the old hero of Tippecanoe they at once expressed a desire to land and pay a last tribute of respect to the departed dead. This privilege being granted they assembled around the tomb kneeling and uttering words in their native tongue, after which they arose and resumed their journey.
The interpreter afterward informed the commanding officer, that what the Indians said in substance at the tomb of General Harrison was this, “Farewell Ohio, and your bravest warrior.”
“Adieu to the graves where my forefathers rest
For I must be going to the far distant west;
I’ve sold my possessions my heart fills with woe
To think I must leave them. Alas I must go.
“Farewell ye tall oaks in whose pleasant green shade
In childhood I sported in innocence played;
My dog and my hatchet, my arrows and bow
Are still in remembrance! Alas I must go.
“Adieu ye loved scenes which binds me like chains
Where on my gay pony I chased o’er the plains.
The deer and the turkey I tracked in the snow
But now I must leave them. Alas I must go.
“Adieu to the trails which for many a year
I traveled to spy the turkey and deer
The hills, trees and flowers that pleased me so
I must now leave. Alas I must go.”
Little Turtle’s name was spelled and also pronounced in different ways, but at the Treaty of GreeneVille, it was spelled Me-she-kin-no-quah.
Mr. J. P. Dunn, author of “True Indian Stories,” says, “this name was commonly known as the Little Turtle, but that is not what his name means. Literally it means, the Great Turtle’s wife, but it is not in that sense that it applied to this great chief.
The Miamis have specific names for the most common turtle; At-che-pong, for snapping turtle; Ak-koot-yak for the soft shelled turtle; We-weet-chah for the box turtle; and Me-she-kin-no-quah for the painted terrapin. This last is the most common of all the turtles in this region, and the most gaudily colored, which probably explains its Indian name for who should be handsome, if not the wife of the Great Turtle, who typifies the earth and was the Chief beneficent Manitou of the Algonquin tribes in the olden times. But when it came to translation, the interpreters knew no specific English name for the painted terrapin, which is a little turtle, never growing more than four or six inches across. They conveyed the idea as well as they could by saying, The Little Turtle.
The Little Turtle might have been a puny infant, which may account for his name for a more sprawling, helpless looking creature than a newly hatched painted can hardly be imagined. More than likely Mr. Dunn here gives this word the proper translation, as he has given the Indian vocabulary much study.
Little Turtle was thirty-nine years old at the time of St. Clair’s defeat, and sixty years old at the time of his death. It seems that his grave had become lost to all human knowledge and that the most diligent search in recent times had failed to locate the exact place of his burial. Thus after sleeping in an unknown grave for a number of years in the vicinity of his former glory, his remains were accidentally found July 4, 1911.
Two brothers, Albert and Charles Lockner, who had contracted to build a house for Dr. George W. Gillie, in Lawton Place, lot 28, Fort Wayne, Ind., near the west bank of the St. Joseph river, while engaged in excavating the cellar, uncovered the supposed remains of the great Miami War Chief.
We herewith give the account of the finding of the grave as related by Mr. J. M. Stouder, of whom we will have more to say later.
About a month after this find had been made, Mr. Stouder had occasion to visit the house of Albert Lockner and asked to see the Indian relics that he knew he had in his possession, as he always interested in such discoveries. He was immediately struck by the apparent wealth and importance of the find, and began an investigation as to the identity of the remains of the person in the grave. Early in his research he became convinced that Albert and Charles Lockner and Dr. Gillie had discovered the grave of Little Turtle. He says, “that he was greatly indebted to Miss Eliza Rudisell, Mr. Howard Hanthorne and Mr. Chas. Warden for the assistance they gave him in identifying the grave of the greatest Chief of his time.
The date of the discovery will hereafter be of interest to the citizens of Fort Wayne, and Allen county, Indiana, and indeed to all persons interested in the early settlement of the Northwest Territory.
The Lockner brothers soon found a number of Indian skeletons in digging out the cellar, which was no doubt the last burying ground of the Miamis, at Fort Wayne. Noticing that whatever was in the graves was appropriated by laborers, the contractors called off the crew and with the assistance of Dr. Gillie, proceeded to finish the cellar and to dig the drain for the same. In this cellar drain the grave of Little Turtle was found. The finders had no idea of the identity of the body. About the neck of the Chief was found the string of silver beads; the hair was also tied with a buckskin thong and from the description by the Lockner brothers was well preserved. The vermillion plate was beneath the Chieftain’s knees, the silver armlets on his arms, and the anklets; and the famous sword, guns and remnants of pistols were at his side. The various other implements had been placed in different parts of the grave, and had probably become disarranged in the digging of the drain. On the breast were the silver disks believed to be medals. They were fastened together by means of a buckskin thong, and are shown in the collection just as they were found. The articles taken from the grave are as follows: Eight silver bracelets; two silver anklets; one heavy metal bracelet; three silver medals; four silver brooches; one pair of silver ear rings; six pendants; one string of silver beads; twenty-three silver crosses, each one inch long; one sword, which we are certain is that presented to the Chief by General Washington; one string of white silver beads; four metal buttons; one small pocket knife; one large clasp knife, of good design; one drinking cup; one metal spoon; one pair of shears; one hammer; one gun barrel from which rotten portions of the stock fell when lifted from the grave; one pair of bullet molds; one flint lock; the remains of a pistol; three large knives; one pair of steel spurs; one ax; one tomahawk, and copper kettle containing when found, beans and corn, which went to a fine powder when exposed to the air.
I am satisfied that the grave of no ordinary Indian would have contained this costly and various display of riches and that this undoubtedly an accidental and genuine find of the remains of Little Turtle.
I myself have examined this collection very carefully, now in possession of Mr. J. M. Stouder, a short time afterward, having gone to Fort Wayne for this purpose in rather a skeptical turn of mind as to the genuineness, but must now say that after the most critical examination we are fully satisfied that this without doubt was the grave of Little Turtle, and that these were his relics buried with him.
W. D. Schiefer, of the Schiefer Shoe Store says, that while he resided on the old Barnett place in 1875, a man named Hedges, who had been present at the burial of Little Turtle had pointed out to him the exact location of the grave as well as he could remember without any suggestions from any one. Although he had not been in the locality since Spy Run had been laid out, he located the spot within one hundred feet of the place where the grave was uncovered.
Too much credit cannot be given to Mr. J. M. Stouder, a hardware dealer at 122 East Columbia street, Fort Wayne, Ind., who identified the grave and its remains, purchased and preserved the relics and marked the spot at his own expense for all time. In justice to historical facts relating to the find and the identity of this long lost grave, it is said, “Mr. Stouder is an almost life long citizen of Fort Wayne; that he is regarded by his fellow townsmen as a straightforward, upright, enterprising citizen. He is a member of high standing in the Free Mason Lodge, highly esteemed by all who know him.”
This discovery is regarded as genuine by the people of Fort Wayne and vicinity, as well as by all scientific and historical experts who have seen fit to investigate it. From the array of the various implements and ornaments found in Little Turtle’s grave we find he was buried according to the time honored customs that prevailed with the North American Indians. The idea was universal with them of the happy hunting ground, and of whatever was essential to an existence here would also be a necessity in that great and glorious future life, where all kinds of game was abundant, where the forest were always green and the waters sparkling clear and bright. These hunting grounds were set apart by the Great Spirit as their future abode. They lay beyond the western ocean. Here there were no extremes of heat and cold, wet and drought; no one suffered disease; and age and infirmity were unknown; all fruits of the earth grew in abundance, without needing cultivation, and the woods were filled with every description of game. The trees were so tall in this country that their branches seemed to penetrate the heavens bearing company with the stars. Everything in this favored region was endowed with eternal life and unfading beauty; and here the Indian was to be the sole possessor, undisturbed the by the cruel and avaricious white man.
“No fiends torment
No Christians thirst for gold”
William Geakie, of the city of Fort Wayne, has in his possession in his safe vault in the First National Bank the gold watch that belonged to Little Turtle, and was worn by him for many years. The watch is beautiful in design and workmanship. It was purchased in England at a cost of approximately four hundred dollars ($400.00) was presented to the Chief by the British during the time the English government was currying the favor and agitating the Indians in uprisings against the New Republic. It was a bribe both pure and simple, conceived by the duplicity of English statesmen.
At the death of Little Turtle the watch became the property of the succeeding Chief and went on down the line of the successive leaders of the tribe until it reached George Godfrey, whose father was the last red Chief of the Miamis in this section of the country.
George Godfrey, who lived on the reservation south of the city, became ill of a complication of diseases. Seven years ago he was brought to the Hope Hospital for treatment, his condition was hopeless and he realized that he could not recover. He had become a member of the Masonic Lodge many years before at the request of Mr. Geakie, who was one of his closest friends, a member of the Scottish Rite, a Knight Templar and a Shriner. Two weeks before his death came he urged Mr. Geakie, who was his daily visitor as the hospital to accept the watch as a last token of friendship.
For several years it had been locked in the safe at the Dallas and Green Jewelry Store. When Mr. Geakie toured Europe several years ago he took the watch with him, and one of the most noted jewelers in London cleaned and repaired the timepiece. Though nearly one hundred and fifty years old the watch still keeps perfect time.
Robert Koerber, of trenkley and Koerber Jewelry Company was shown the watch. He at once became very much interested, recognizing it as one of the rare old English makes. He took the numbers of the case and works and the name of the makers, Motobis & Company, Liverpool, England. On the back of the watch are engraved the initials of John Richardville Godfrey, who married into Little Turtle’s family, and became a Chief.
The watch is now held as a priceless relic, by William Geakie, of Fort Wayne.
“His was the broad and grand domain;
The hills and vales, the sweep of plain,
The hunting grounds, the rivers wide –
They all belonged before he died
To the wild Indian.
“The rivers murmur words he gave.
The mountains all the echoes save
The woods hold music of his voice
Their names were given by the choice
Of the wild Indian.
“I drove him from this fair estate
From east to west with endless hate
At last he lay beneath my tread
Brave son of forests, stark and dead.
The wild Indian.”
Luella D. Smith, Hudson, N. Y.
CAPTAIN WILLIAM WELLS
CAPTIVE AND SCOUT
The name of William Wells is closely associated with one of the most distinguished families of the Miami nation – his life and that of Little Turtle being so interwoven with the history of the tribe that we deem it fitting to give a brief sketch of his career in this place.
There seems to be no authentic record of his birth and parentage but at the age of eleven years he was captured by a predatory band of Miami Indians while living with the family of Hon. Nathaniel Pope near Louisville, Kentucky. Going through the Indian rite of formal adoption, he lived to manhood among the Miamis and became a valuable interpreter on numerous occasions between them and the whites. He early became a favorite in his adopted tribe and received the name of “Blacksnake”, probably in recognition of his shrewdness and diplomatic ability. His popularity and standing in the tribe is indicated by the fact that married the sister, (some authorities say, daughter) of Little Turtle for his first wife and fought by the side of this distinguished Chief in the successful battles against Harmar and St. Clair. Dim recollections of his childhood days with his brothers and sisters and the horrible scenes of butchery recently enacted suggested to him that he might have slain some of his Kentucky kindred with his own hand and revived a long suppressed yearning to return to his own people.
The approach of Wayne’s army in 1794 stirred anew conflicting emotions based upon these indistinct recollections of early ties, of country and kindred on the one hand, and of existing attachments of Indian wife and half-breed children on the other. After a period of mental struggle he finally decided to cast his lot with the Whites and resolved to make his decision known. According to reliable tradition he made known his secret purpose of leaving his adopted tribe in true Indian fashion as follows:
Taking with him the War Chief, Little Turtle, to a favorite spot on the banks of the Maumee, Wells said, “I now leave your nation for my own people; we have long been friends, we are friends yet; until the sun reaches a certain height (which he indicated), from that time we are enemies. Then if you wish to kill me, you may. If I want to kill you, I may.”
At the appointed hour, crossing the river, Captain Wells disappeared in the forests taking an easterly direction to strike the trail of Wayne’s army. Obtaining an interview with General Wayne, he became ever afterward the faithful friend of the Americans, and was made Captain of the spies connected with Wayne’s army. His adventures in that capacity are sufficiently detailed by Mr. McBride.
After the Treaty of GreeneVille, and the establishment of peace, he joined his wife and family and settled at the old orchard a short distance from the confluence of the St. Marys and St. Joseph on the banks of a small stream, then and now called Spy Run.
About 1863, the author saw the old and decaying scaffold built between two oaks, on which had been hanged two Indian spies, which circumstance gave the stream its name. It is a small tributary of the St. Marys, crossed by the Indian trail, now the Goshen State road, three miles northwest of Fort Wayne. In later life the government granted Wells a pre-emption of some three hundred and twenty acres (320) of land, including his improvements and the old orchard. By appointment of the government, Wells afterwards became Indian Agent at Fort Wayne, in which capacity he served several years.
By his first wife, Captain Wells had three daughters and a son. Mary Wells married Judge James Walcot, and lived in Maumee City, Ohio, in 1828. She died here in 1843. In 1825, Judge Walcot built a house near this place of black walnut logs long since sided over, in which house Mrs. J. G. Gentry, a great granddaughter, still lives. Mary (Wells) Walcot had the following children: Mary Ann, who in 1848, married Smith Gilbert; Henry C. Walcot, who died since then; Frederick A. Walcot, who was killed in the Civil War, 1864; and James M. Walcot, who resided in Maumee City in 1909, no children; Smith Gilbert’s children, Frederick E., Albert W. and Smith W. resided in Maumee City in 1870.
A poem was read by Mrs. J. G. Gentry, Thursday, July 30th, 1913, at Perrysburg, Ohio, during the centennial celebration of the siege of Fort Meigs. The chairman introducing Mrs. Gentry, referred to her distinguished ancestors.
At the battle of Fallen Timbers, August 20th, 1794, Mrs. Gentry’s ancestors fought on both sides – her great-grandfather, Little Turtle, leading the Miamis and her great grandfather, Captain Wells, fighting in Wayne’s army.
Ann Wells, the second daughter of Captain Wells, married Dr. Turner, a leading and prominent physician in early Fort Wayne, concerning whose family we have no record.
Rebecca Wells, the third daughter of the Wells family, married Captain Hackley, a well known early pioneer, residing in what is now Bloomingdale, a suburb of the city of Fort Wayne, but formerly a part of the Wells homestead. Hackley was the first shoemaker in the city of Fort Wayne, and for a number of years the only cobbler there. He committed suicide by hanging himself at his home. This happened when Mrs. Lucien T. Ferry was a child and she well remembered what an excitement this act created.
Wayne Wells, the fourth child, was appointed Cadet to West point, from Indiana, September, 1817; Second Lieutenant in 1821; First lieutenant, 1825; resigned from the army in 1831, and died in the year 1832, on board the steamer Superior of Lake Erie while returning home from Pennsylvania, without wife or children.
Hon. J. L. Williams, in his historical Sketch of the First Presbyterian Church of Fort Wayne, says, “Two of the Wells girls were among the first members of the Church about 1824. They were one half Indian, and previously (in 1820) joined the Baptists, under the labors of the Rev. McCoy, Missionary, to the Indians at the post. They were educated in Kentucky, and were for long years kindly remembered by some in this Church and community as ladies of refinement, intelligence and piety.”
The same author from whom we have secured nearly all of the above information on the Wells family (Knapp’s History of the Maumee Valley, published 1877), also tells us that Captain Wells afterward married a second sister of Little Turtle and that they had one daughter, Jane, who married John. H. Griggs (a son of an old pioneer, Mathew Griggs), and settled at Peru, Indiana. Mr. and Mrs. Griggs had two sons, and two daughters, one of whom married a Mr. Spaulding. They in turn had two daughters, Mrs. Jeannette Thornton and Mrs. Eva C. Corthell, the latter now residing at 2333 Silver street, Jacksonville, Florida. In order to reconcile these two conflicting accounts it is suggested that Wells really had two daughters, one of whom died in maidenhood. The other one Jane (Wells) Griggs.
It seems that no historian of the present day can give an exact account of the marriage or of the descendants of Captain Wells, as a number of the best authorities have been consulted, and they fail to agree on these points. Some say that he married Little Turtle’s only daughter. If Knapp is correct, that Wells had a second wife, then the first one may have been Little Turtle’s sister. For without doubt Mrs. Eva. C. Corthell is a great great granddaughter of Chief Little Turtle, and a great granddaughter of Captain Wells.
We give as our authority on this subject the Secretary of the Chicago Historical Society, who has made the above statements at different times, and given this matter a thorough investigation. We conclude, therefore, that his second wife was Little Turtle’s only daughter, Man-wan-go-path, or (Sweet Breeze). Mrs. Eva C. Corthell confirms this last statement. Further confirmation was given by a cousin of Mrs. Corthell, Mr. Warren Griggs, of Peru, Indiana, who presented the author with a tin type of himself, as a boy five years old, standing by the side of his grandmother, Mrs. Jane (Wells) Griggs, who married John H. Griggs, and was the daughter of Captain Wells and Man-wan-go-path. Jane (Wells) Griggs and Kil-so-quah were full cousins.
By taking this view of the subject, which we think is correct, it to some extent reconciles the various statements made by the different authorities, which we have consulted concerning Wells’ marriage after the death of his first wife.
Attached to Captain Wells’ scouts during Wayne’s campaign in the northwest was one Robert McClellan (whose name since has been immortalized by the graphic pen of Washington Irving in his “Astoria”), who was one of the most athletic and active men on foot known on this continent. On the grand parade at fort GreeneVille, he was challenged to a trial of feats and strength by a number of soldiers and teamsters, but, not deigning a reply either of acceptance or refusal, he walked off a few steps, took a short run and jumped over an army wagon with a covered top about eight and one-half feet high. He was very fleet of foot, and, in a long race, never met his equal. All of these physical qualities now became eminently useful to him, and enabled him to perform actions which gave him an almost unrivaled reputation among the pioneers of the west. On one of these expeditions through the Indian country as he came to the banks of the river St. Marys he discovered a family of Indians coming up the river in a canoe. He dismounted and concealed his men near the bank of the river, while he himself went to the bank in open view and called to the Indians to come over. As he was dressed Indian style and spoke to them, in their own language, the Indians not expecting an enemy in that part of the country, without any suspicion of danger, went across the river. The moment the canoe struck the shore Wells heard the click, click of his comrades’ guns in preparation to shoot the Indians. But who should be in the canoe but his Indian father and mother, with their children, Little Turtle and family. As his comrades were coming forward with their rifles cocked ready to pour in the deadly storm upon the devoted Indians. Wells called to them to hold their hands and desist. He then informed them who these Indians were and solemnly declared that the man who would attempt to injure one of them would receive a ball in his head.
He said to his men, that that family had fed him when he was hungry, clothed him when naked, and kindly nursed him when he was sick and in every respect were as kind and affectionate to him as they were to their own children.
Those hardy backwoods soldiers approved of the motives of Captain Wells’ lenity to the enemy. They threw down their rifles and tomahawks, went to the canoe and shook hands with the trembling Indians in the most friendly manner. Captain Wells assured them they had nothing to fear from him, and after talking with them to dispel their fears, he said that General Wayne was approaching with an overwhelming force; that the best thing the Indians could do was to make peace, as the white men did not wish to continue the war. He urged his Indian father for the future to keep out of the reach of danger, and then bade them farewell. They appeared grateful for his clemency; pushed off their canoe and went down the river as fast as they could propel it.
Captain Wells and his comrades though perfect desperadoes in fight, upon this occasion proved that they possessed to a large degree that real gratitude and benevolence of heart which does honor to human kind.
Captain Wells was the same gentleman, named by the Rev. O. M. Spencer, in the narrative of his “Capture and release by the Indians”. It was to Captain Wells, that Mr. Spencer was primarily indebted for his liberty (See Spencer’s narrative, page 105). During his campaign Wayne requested Wells go to Sandusky and secure a prisoner for the purpose of obtaining information regarding the Indians. Wells replied, that he could get a prisoner, but not from Sandusky. Whereupon, Wayne asked why he could not get a prisoner from Sandusky. Wells in answer told him, that they were Wyandots at Sandusky and there could not be taken alive.
In concluding this chapter we give a brief account of the massacre at Fort Dearborn (Chicago, Ill.) and of the tragic death of Captain Wells, which occurred about a month after that of Little Turtle.
In the beginning of the War of 1812, Captain Wells was in command at Fort Wayne. When he heard of General Hull’s orders for the evacuation of Fort Dearborn, he made a rapid march with a number of friendly Indians to assist in defending the Fort, or to prevent its exposure to certain destruction or by an attempt to reach Fort Wayne in safety at the head of the Maumee with the men, women and children of old Fort Dearborn.
Toward the evening of the 7th of August of 1812, Wen-ne-meg, or the “Catfish”, a friendly
Pottawattomie Chief, who was intimate with Mr. Kinzie, came to Fort Dearborn from Fort Wayne as the bearer of a dispatch from General Hull to Captain Heald, in which the former announced his arrival at Detroit with an army, the declaration of war, the invasion of Canada, and the loss of Mackinack. It also conveyed an order to Captain Heald to evacuate Fort Dearborn, if practicable, and to distribute in that event all the United States property contained in the Fort and in the government factory, or agency in the neighborhood. This was doubtless intended to be a peace offering to the savages to prevent their joining the British then menacing Detroit.
Wenemeg, who knew the purport of the order, begged Mr. Kinzie to advise Captain Heald not to evacuate the Fort, for the movement would be difficult and dangerous.
The Indians had already received information from Tecumseh, of the disasters to the American arms, and the withdrawal of Hull’s army from Canada, and were becoming daily more restless and insolent.
Heald had an ample supply of ammunition and provisions for six months; why not hold out until relief could come from the southward? Wenemeg further urged that if Captain Heald should resolve to evacuate, it should be done immediately before the Indians should be informed of the order, or could prepare for formidable resistance. “Leave the fort and stores as they are,” he said, “and let them make the distributions for themselves, and while the Indians are engaged in that business the white people me advice, and so did Captain Heald’s officers – but the Commander blindly resolved to obey Hull’s order strictly as to evacuation and the distribution of the public property. He caused that order to be read to the troops on the morning of the 8th, and then assumed the whole responsibility.
His officers expected to be summoned to a council, but were disappointed. Toward evening they called upon the Commander, and when informed of his determination they remonstrated with him. The march, they said, must necessarily be slow on account of the women and children and infirm persons, and therefore, under the circumstances, extremely perilous. Hull’s orders, they said, left it to the discretion of the Commander to go or stay, and they thought it much better to strengthen the fort; defy the savages and endure a siege until relief should reach them. Heald argued in reply, that special orders had been issued by the war department, that no post should be surrendered without battle having been given by the assailed, and that his force was totally inadequate to an engagement with the Indians. He should expect the censure of his government, he said, if he remained, and having full confidence in the professions of friendship with many of the Chiefs about him, he should call them together, make the required distributions and take up his march for Fort Wayne. After his officers had no more communications with him on the subject.
The Indians became more unruly every hour, and yet Heald, with fatal procrastination, postponed the assembling of the savages for two or three days. They finally met near the Fort, on the afternoon of the 12th, and there the commander held a farewell council with them. Heald invited the officers to join him in the council, but they refused. They had received intimations that treachery was designed; that the Indians intended to murder them in the council circle, and then destroy the inmates of the Fort. The officers remained within the pickets and opening the port of one of the blockhouses, so as to expose the cannon pointed directly upon the group in council, they secured the safety of Captain Heald. The Indians were intimidated by the menacing monster, and accepted Heald’s offers with many protestations of friendship.
He agreed to distribute among them, not only the goods in the public store, blankets, broadcloths, calicoes, paints, etc., but also the arms, ammunition and provisions, not necessary for the use of the garrison on its march. It was stipulated that the distribution should take place the next day, soon after which the garrison and white inhabitants would leave the works. The Pottawattomies agreed on their part to furnish a proper escort for them through the wilderness to Fort Wayne, on condition of being liberally rewarded on their arrival there.
When the result of the council was made known, Mr. Kinzie warmly remonstrated with Captain Heald. He knew the Indians well and their weakness, in the presence of great temptations, to do wrong. He begged the commander not to confide in their promises at a moment so inauspicious for faithfulness to treaties. He especially entreated him not to place in their hands arms and ammunition, for it would fearfully increase their power to carry on those murderous raids, which for months had spread terror throughout the frontier settlements.
Heald perceived his folly, and resolved to violate the treaty, so far as arms and ammunition were concerned. On that very evening when the Chief of the council seemed most friendly, a circumstance occurred which should have made Captain Heald shut the gate to his dusky neighbors, and resolve not to leave the fort.
Black Partridge, a hitherto friendly Chief, and a man of much influence, came quietly to the Commander, and said: “Father, I came to deliver to you the medal I wear. It was given me by the Americans and I have long worn it in token of our mutual friendship. But our young men are resolved to imbrue their hands in the blood of the white people. I cannot restrain them and I will not wear a token of peace while I compelled to act as an enemy.”
This solemn and authentic warning was strangely unheeded.
The morning of the 13th was bright and cool. The Indians assembled in great numbers to receive their presents, but nothing save the goods in the store were distributed that day. In the evening Black Partridge said to Mr. Griffith, the interpreter, “Linden birds have been singing in my ears today; be careful on the march you are going to take.” This was another solemn warning which was communicated to Captain Heald. It, too, was unheeded; and at midnight, when the sentinels were all posted and the Indians were in their camps, a portion of the powder and liquor in the fort was cast into a well near the sally port, and the remainder into a canal that came up from the river far under the covered way. The muskets not reserved for the garrison were broken up, and these, with shot, bullets, flints, gun screws and everything else pertaining to fire arms were also thrown into the well.
A large quantity of alcohol belonging to Mr. Kinzie was poured into the river, and before morning the destruction was complete. But the work had not been done in secret. The night was dark and vigilant Indians had crept to the fort as noiselessly as serpents, and their quick senses had perceived the destruction of what under the treaty they claimed as their own.
In the morning the work of the night was made more manifest. The powder was seen floating upon the surface of the river and the sluggish water had been converted by whisky and the alcohol into strong grog, as an eye witness remarked.
Complaints and threatenings were loud among the savages, because of this breach of faith, and the dwellers in the fort were impressed with the dreadful sense of impending destruction, when the brave Captain Wells, Mrs. Heald’s uncle, and adopted son of the Chief Little Turtle, was discovered upon the Indian trail near the sand hills on the border of the lake not far distant, with a band of mounted Miamis of whose tribe he was considered a Chief.
He had heard at Fort Wayne of the orders of Hull to evacuate Fort Dearborn, and being fully aware of the hostilities of the Pottawattomies, he had made a rapid march across the country to reinforce Captain Heald, assist in defending the fort or prevent its exposure to certain destruction by an attempt to reach the head of the Maumee, but he was too late. All means for maintaining a siege had been destroyed a few hours before, and every preparation had been made for laving the post the next day.
When the morning of the 15th arrived, there were positive indications that the Indians intended to massacre all the white people. They were overwhelming in numbers and held the fate of the devoted band in their grasp. When at nine o’clock, the appointed hour, the march commended, it was like a funeral procession.
The band struck up the dead march in Saul. Captain Wells with his with his face blackened, with wet gun powder in token of his impending fate, took the lead with his friendly Miamis, followed by Captain Heald with his heroic wife by his side. Mr. Kinzie accompanied them hoping by his personal influence to soften, if he could not avert the impending blow. His family were left in a boat in charge of a friendly Indian to be conveyed around the head of the lake to Kinzie’s trading station, on the site of the present village of Niles, Michigan. Slowly the procession moved along the lake shore, until they came to the sand hills between the prairie and the beach, when the escort of Pottawattomies, about five hundred in number, under the Blackbird, filed to the right and placed those hills between themselves and the white people. Wells and his Miamis had kept in the advance, suddenly they came dashing back the leader shouting, “They are about to attack us! Form instantly.” These startling words were scarcely uttered when a storm of bullets came from the sand hills, but without serious effect.
The treacherous and cowardly Pottawattomies had made those hillocks their cover for a murderous attack. The troops hastily brought into line charged up the bank when one of their number a white haired man of seventy years, fell dead from his horse, the first victim. The Indians were driven back, and the battle was waged on the open prairie between fifty-four soldiers and twelve civilians, and three or four women, against about five hundred Indian warriors. Of course, the conflict was hopeless on the part of the white people, but they resolved to make the butchers pay dearly for every life which they destroyed.
The cowardly Miamis fled at the first onset, their Chief rode up to the Pottawattomies, charged them with perfidy and brandishing his glittering tomahawk declared that he would be the first to lead Americans to punish them. He then wheeled and dashed after his fugitive companions who were scurrying over the prairies as if the evil Spirit were at their heels. The conflict was short, desperate and bloody, two-thirds of the white people were slain or wounded, all the horses, provisions and baggage were lost, and only twenty strong men remained to brave the fury of about five hundred Indians, who had lost but fifteen in the conflict. The devoted band had succeeded in breaking through the ranks of the assassins who gave way in front and rallied on the flank and gained a slight eminence on the prairie near a grove called the oak woods.
The savages did not pursue. They gathered upon the sand hills in consultation, and gave signs of willingness to parley.
Further conflict with them would be rashness, so Captain Heald, accompanied by Parish, the Clerk, a half-breed boy in Mr. Kinzie’s service, went forward, met Blackbird on the open prairie and arranged terms for a surrender. It was agreed that all the arms should be given up to Blackbird, and that the survivors should become prisoners of war, to be exchanged for ransoms as soon as practicable; with this understanding, captured and captors all started for the Indian encampment near the fort. So overwhelming was the savage force at the sand hills, that the conflict after the first desperate charge became an exhibition of individual prowess, a life and death struggle in which no one could render any assistance to his neighbor, for all were principles. In this conflict women bore a conspicuous part. All fought gallantly so long as strength permitted them. The brave ensign, Ronan, wielded his weapon when falling upon his knees because of the loss of blood.
Captain Wells displayed the greatest coolness and gallantry. He was by the side of his niece when the conflict began. “We have not the slightest chance for life”, he said. “We must part to meet no more in this world, God bless you, my child.” With these words he dashed forward with the rest. In the midst of the fight he saw a young warrior, painted like a demon, climb into a wagon in which were twelve children of the white people, and tomahawk them all. Forgetting his own immediate danger Wells exclaimed, “If that is your game, butchering women and children, I’ll kill too.” He instantly dashed toward the Indian camp where they had left their squaws and little ones, hotly pursued by swift footed young warriors, who sent many rifle balls after him. He lay close to his horse’s neck, and turned and fired occasionally upon his pursuers; when he had got almost beyond the range of their rifles, a ball killed his horse and wounded him severely on the leg. The young savages rushed forward with a demoniac yell to make him a prisoner and reserve him for a torture, for he was to them an arch offender.
His friends, Winnemeg and Wanbansee, vainly attempted to save him from his fate. He knew the temper and practices of the savages well, and resolved not to be made captive. He taunted with the most insulting epithets to provoke them to kill him instantly. At length he called one of the fiery young warriors (Persotum) a Squaw, which so enraged him, that he killed Wells instantly with a tomahawk; jumped upon his body, cut out his heart, and ate a portion of the warm and half palpitating morsel with savage delight.
The wife of Captain Heald, who was an expert with the rifle and an excellent equestrian, deported herself bravely. She received severe wounds, but faint and bleeding she managed to keep the saddle. A savage raised his tomahawk to kill her when she looked him full in the face and with a sweet, melancholy smile, said in the Indian tongue, “Surely you will not kill a squaw.” The appeal was effectual. The arm of the savage fell and the life of the heroic woman was saved. Mrs. Helm, the stepdaughter of Mr. Kinzie, had a severe personal encounter with a stalwart young Indian, who attempted to tomahawk her. She sprang to one side and received the blow intended for her head, upon her shoulder, and at the same instant she seized the savage around the neck and endeavored to get hold of his scalping knife, which hung in a sheath upon his breast. While thus struggling, she was dragged from her antagonist by another Indian, who bore her, in spite of her desperate resistance, to the margin of the lake, and plunged in at the same time, to her astonishment holding her so that she would not drown. She soon perceived she was held by a friendly hand. It was Black Partridge, who had saved her. When the firing ceased and capitulation was concluded he conducted her to the prairie where she met her father and heard her husband was safe. Bleeding and suffering she was conducted to the Indian camp by Black Partridge and Persotum, the latter carrying in his hand a scalp which she knew to be that of Captain Wells, by the black ribbon that bound the queue. The wife of a soldier named Gorford believing that all prisoners were reserved for torture, fought desperately and suffered herself to be literally cut in pieces rather than surrender.
The wife of Sergeant Holt, who was badly wounded in his neck at the beginning of the engagement, received from him his sword and behaved as bravely as any Amazon. She was a large and powerful woman, and rode a fine, high spirited horse, which the Indians coveted. Several of them attacked her with the butt of her guns for the purpose of dismounting her, but she used her sword skillfully that she foiled them. She suddenly wheeled her horse and dashed over the prairie, followed by a large number, who shouted, “The brave woman! Brave woman! Don’t hurt her!” They finally overtook her and while two or three were engaging her in front, a powerful savage seized her by the neck and dragged her backward to the ground. The horse and woman became prizes. The latter was afterward ransomed.
When the captives were taken to the Indian camp, a new scene of horrors was opened; the wounded, according to the Indians interpretation of the capitulation, were not included in the terms of surrender.
Proctor had offered a liberal sum for scalps delivered at Malden. So nearly all the wounded men were killed and the value of British bounty, such as is sometimes for the destruction of wolves, was taken from each head.
In this tragedy Mrs. Heald played a part, but fortunately escaped scalping. In order to save her fine horse, the Indians had aimed at the rider. Several bullets took effect upon her person. Her captor, who was about to slay her upon the battlefield, as we have seen, left her in the saddle, and led her horse toward the camp. When in sight of the fort his inquisitiveness overpowered his gallantry, and he was taking her bonnet off her head in order to scalp her when she was discovered by Mrs. Kinzie, who was yet sitting in the boat, and who had heard the tumult of the conflict; but without any intimation of the result, until she saw the wounded woman in the hands of her savage captive. “Run! Run! Chandonnai!” exclaimed Mrs. Kinzie, to one of her husband’s clerks, who was standing on the beach. “That is Mrs. Heald. He is going to kill her! Take that mule and offer it as a ransom.” Chandonnai promptly obeyed and increased the bribe by offering in addition two bottles of whiskey. These were worth more than Proctor’s bounty, and Mrs. Heald was released. She was placed in Mrs. Kinzie’s boat and there concealed from the prying eyes of other scalp hunters. Toward the evening the family of Mr. Kinzie were allowed to return to their own house where they were greeted by the friendly Black Partridge. Mrs. Helm was placed in the house of Onilmette, a Frenchman, by the same friendly hand.
But these and all the other prisoners were exposed to great jeopardy by the arrival of a band of fierce Pottawattomies, from the Wabash, who yearned for blood and plunder. They searched the houses for prisoners with keen vision, and when no further concealment and safety seemed possible, some friendly Indians arrived and so turned the tide of affairs that the Wabash savages were ashamed to own their bloodthirsty intentions.
In this terrible tragedy in the wilderness one hundred and six years ago, twelve children, all the masculine civilians but Mr. Kinzie and his sons, Captain Wells, Surgeon VanVorhees, Ensign Ronan and twenty-six private soldiers were murdered.
The prisoners were divided among the captors and were finally reunited or restored to their friends and families. Of all the sad tragedies to which human life is susceptible, none surpassed that of the death of Captain William Wells. The English language in its rich vocabulary of words fails to express adequately the courage and heroism manifested by this little band of men and women on that fatal Saturday morning of August 15, 1812. The day dawned clear and warm, and as Seymour Curry tells us, in his “Story of Old Fort Dearborn”, scarcely a breath of air was stirring. The lake, unruffled, stretched away in a sheet of burnished gold. But the gold which shown most brilliant on that fatal day was that of this immortal band, which towered to the hall of fame. We, the children of this noble heritage, should learn to love and adore, and above all to guard the free institutions under which we live and for which they died.
“A tale of war, a tale of woe;
A tale of savage wild o’erflow;
A tale of dark and bloody hue;
Of old Fort Dearborn, a story true.”
THE ROYAL LINE
Perhaps the first detailed description of the Miami Chieftain by a white man was that given by Father Charlevoix, who visited the Miami and Pottawattomie villages on the river St. Joseph of Lake Michigan in 1721.
He said, “Some days after I went to make a visit to the Miami Chief who had sent word that I was expected. He was a big, well-made man, badly disfigured by the loss of his nose, which they told me happened in some drunken carouse. When he heard that I was coming, he planted himself, cross-legged, on a sort of low platform, at the bottom of his hut, after the manner of the Grand Turk, and there I found him. He talked little, and appeared much to affect a proud gravity, which, however, he carried off indifferently.”
From this brief description we are impressed with the fact that the Miami Indians suffered from the use of intoxicating liquors which they secured from traders at an early date. It also seems that the chiefs at an early date appreciated the dignity of their office and strove to leave an impression of strength and power.
We do not know the name of the chief mentioned by Charlevoix, but the time and circumstances mentioned, would seem to indicate that he was the father of Aquenochquah, who was the first chief known to rule the Miamis after their return from the west or northwest, whither they had probably been driven by the fierce and cruel wars of the Iroquois Confederacy which commenced about 1640, and continued at intervals for a period of some thirty years. The Miamis, it seems, could not successfully withstand the continued assaults of the Iroquois Confederacy and after a serious loss of many warriors fled to the westward where in time they formed a great Confederacy of the western tribes and renewed the conflict with their former enemies with great vigor. This was the condition of affairs when the French made their first appearance in this part of the western world. They immediately gave their assistance to the Miami Confederacy giving as a reason that they wished to establish peace among the nations in order to further their interests in the promotion of the fur trade with the Indians.
A great and decisive battle was fought somewhere on the banks of the Maumee, between the French and their Indian allies and the Iroquois in which the latter suffered a great defeat. This battle lasted two or three days and was soon followed by a lasting peace, thus leaving the Miamis in full possession of their old homes and hunting grounds.
It is said that Aque-noch-quah, the father of Little Turtle, then a young warrior, won great renown in this battle on account of his skill in planning an ambush in which hundreds of the Iroquois were slain. Hence he was made head war chief of the Miamis, while yet very young.
He located his village on the site of what is since known as the Little Turtle town twenty miles northwest of Fort Wayne, Indiana. Here he lived with his Mohican squaw, surrounded by a great Miami village, a veritable garden spot of northern Indiana. Here it was that his children were born. Mes-she-kin-no-quah, in 1752; Tah-cum-wah, wife of Joseph Richardville; the first wife of Captain William Wells, and possibly other children. These three, however, are all that ever came to public notice.
News of the declaration of war against Great Britain by France in 1744, was the signal for more aggressive movements in America than had already existed. The British succeeded in making several important treaties with the six nations at Lancaster, Pa.; also with tribes in Ohio and Indiana at the same time.
One of the three leading chiefs who pledged loyalty to the British at this noted treaty at Lancaster was Aque-noch-quah, whose son was to play a prominent part in the tragic life of the frontier a generation later.
The following is a literal copy of the first treaty between the English authorities and the Twightwees, or Miami Indians representing twelve villages situated on the borders of the river Wabash and Maumee as it was signed by Aque-noch-quah, at Lancaster, Pa., the 23rd of July, 1748: “Whereas at an Indian Treaty held at Lancaster, in the county of Lancaster in the province of Pennsylvania, on Wednesday the 23rd day of July instant, before the Honorable Benjamin Shoemaker, Joseph Turner and William Logan, Esquires, by virtue of a commissioner the great Seal of said Province dated at Philadelphia the 16th day of said month, three Indian Chiefs, Deputies from the Twightwees, a nation of Indians situated on or about the river Ouabache, a branch of the river Mississippi, viz: Aque-noch-quah, Assepansa, Natocequeha appeared in behalf of themselves and their nations and prayed that the Twightwees might be admitted into the friendship and alliance of the King of Great Britain and his subjects, professing on their parts to become true and faithful friends and allies to the English and so forever to continue, and Scayroyiady, Cadarianirha Chiefs of the Oneda nation; Swehrachery of the Seneca nation; Cani-ineco-don, Cunlyuchqua, Echnissa of the Mohawks; Dawachcamicky, Dominy, Buck, Ossoghqua of the Shawanese; and Nanatchiehon of the Delawares, all of them nations in friendship and alliance with the English, becoming earnest intercessors with the said commissioners on their behalf, the prayer of the said deputies of the Twightwees was granted, a firm treaty of alliance and friendship was then stipulated and agreed on between the said commissioners and the said deputies of the Twightwees nation, as by the records of council remaining at Philadelphia in the said province may more fully appear.
“Now these presents witness and it is hereby declared that the said nation of Indians called the Twightwees are accepted by the said commissioners as good friends and that they, the said Twightwees, and the subjects of the King of Great Britain shall forever hereafter be as one head and one heart and live in true friendship as one people.
“In consideration whereof the said Aque-noch-quah, Assepansa, Natocequeha, Deputies of the said Twightwees nation do hereby, in behalf of the said nation, covenant, promise and declare that the general people of the said Twightwees nation or any of them shall not at any time hurt, injure or defraud or suffer to be hurt, injured or defrauded any of the subjects of the King of Great Britain, either in their persons or estates. But shall, at all times readily do justice and perform to them all acts and offices of friendship and good will.
“Item 1 – That the said Twightwee nation, by the alliance aforesaid, becoming entitled to the privilege and protection of the English laws, they shall at all times behave themselves regularly and soberly according to the laws of this government, whilst they shall live or be amongst or near the christian inhabitants thereof.
“Item 2 – That none of the said nation shall at any time be aiding, assisting or abetting to, or with any nation whether of Indians or others that shall not be in amity with the crown of England and the government.
“Item 3 – That if at any time any of the Twightwee nation, by means of evil minded persons and sowers of sedition, should hear of any unkind or disadvantageous reports of the English as if they had evil designs against any of the said Indians; in such case such Indians shall send notice thereof to the governor of the Province for the time being and shall not give credit to the reports till by that means they shall be fully satisfied of the truth thereof.
“And it is agreed that the English in such case shall do the same by them. In testimony whereof as well the said commissioners as the said deputies of the Twightwee nation have smoked the calumet pipe, made mutual presents to each other and hereunto set their hands and seals the twenty-third day of July in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and forty-eight and in the twenty-second year of the reign of George the Second, King of Great Britain and Ireland, defender of the faith v. e.”
The treaty was signed, sealed and delivered in the presence of Reverend Peters, Secretary; Conrad Wiesner, Interpreter; Andrew Montour, Interpreter; Geo. Coghan, John Forsythe, Conrad Doll, Michael Hubby, Andrew Perit, Thomas Cookson, Peter Warrall, Ed. Smout, Simon Kuhn, David Stout and George Smith.
Aque-noch-quah participated in another treaty with the English in 1760, when he and certain other chiefs of the six nations met General George Washington at Philadelphia where differences between the colonists and Indians were adjusted, certain trade concessions were made and right to travel routes were granted.
General Washington, in recognition of this chief’s skill as a diplomat, presented him with a parchment with an inscription burned on it as an expression of good will toward the Miamis.
It seems that none of the writers of history have given this famed chief more than a dozen lines. One student of the early day in the old northwest that Aque-noch-quah was a young warrior during the time that the Miamis and other Indian tribes had their war with the Iroquois and in the battles with them had distinguished himself by his bravery, at one time having planned and conducted am ambuscade that brought crushing defeat to an army of Iroquois much larger than his own.
The death of his father, soon after this successful ambuscade, made Aque-noch-quah his successor as great chief of all the Miamis. Like his famous son, Little Turtle, he was a man of superior ability, shrewd in his dealings with the white men, and carefully guarded the interests of his nation. He was probably born in the last decade of the seventeenth century and all evidence points to the place as a site on the river St. Joseph of Lake Michigan, near the location of the present city of South Bend, Indiana. Nor does history give us the name of his father. He, however, was a full-blooded Indian, not a drop of the blood of any other race being intermingled in his veins. At this time the French blood had not become infused into the royal Miami line that gave to the tribe its principal chieftains.
Joseph Drouet DeRichardville, a full-blooded Frenchman married Ta-cum-wah, Aque-noch-quah’s daughter and Captain William Wells for his first wife is said to have married another daughter, both sisters to the distinguished Chief Me-she-kin-no-quah.
Little Turtle was succeeded in the chieftainship of the Miami nation by one Lagrisse, called Pechon, who reigned but a few months until his death in 1815. At this crisis the line of descent turned back to the famous Richardville family.
Joseph Drouet DeRichardville was the son of Antoine Drouet DeRichardville, and was a descendant of the French nobility. He emigrated to Canada and thence to Vincennes where he early engaged as a fur trader. His son Joseph was interested in the trading business with his father, and in his negotiations with the Indians visited the Miami Indians at Kekionga. Their visits convinced him of the superior advantages of this point as a trading station and the fact that Ta-cum-wah, a Miami maiden here had become infatuated with him, and he with her, led him to decide to make this historic place his trade headquarters. This he did in 1763, and shortly afterward married this Indian girl, who was the daughter of Aque-noch-quah, then the great chief of the Miamis and the sister of Little Turtle.
No doubt there was real affection on the part of Ta-cum-wah in the courtship, marriage and honey-moon, but as far as DeRichardville was concerned it was to a large extent a “policy marriage.” This alliance immediately placed him in the confidence of the Indians, enabling him to drive bargains suited to his liking, and wandering traders coming here at an early day found that he practically monopolized the trading business in this region.
The home of DeRichardville and his Miami wife for some time after their marriage was in a hut in what is now Lakeside, a suburb of Fort Wayne, Indiana, near the historic old apple tree. The latter landmark remained standing until the close of the last century, but with the march of civilization, finally fell a victim to the home-seeking woodsman’s axe. It was in this hut near this old apple tree that their famed son John B. Richardville (Pe-she-wa), afterward chief of the Miamis, was born about 1764. Inheriting this noble French blood on his father’s side, his abilities were such, it is said, as well adapted him to direct the affairs of the Miamis, and for many years his house on the banks of the St. Marys river, about four miles from Fort Wayne, was known as the abode of hospitality.
At the time of his death, August 1841, Pe-che-wa was regarded as the wealthiest Indian in North America. His property and money, is said to have been valued at more than a million dollars. Much of this came as a result of his own private business for he was extensively engaged in trade, and much from his mother, Tah-cum-wah, he being the only child. His mother, who for thirty years was the Chieftess of the Miamis, conducted the portage business – the transportation of goods and furs across the country to and from the waters of the Maumee and Wabash. This business she monopolized for many years and from it made large sums of money, even as much as one hundred dollars a day. Through the treaties made by the government with the Indians, Richardville and his mother were given large tracts of land. In the treaty of St. Marys, made in 1818, a reserve of three sections of land, principally located four miles up the St. Marys river from Fort Wayne, was granted to him. This land, at his death, went to his heirs, among whom were three daughters, Lablonda, Susan and Catherine.
The Godfreys, for years an interesting Indian family in this section of the state, are the descendants of Lablonda and Francis Lafontaine, the last real chief of the Miamis was a descendant of Catherine.
During the years of Richardville’s incumbency there were no serious troubles of a warlike character at this point. His duties were principally those of a civil ruler and took only a portion of his time, allowing him to devote much energy to his own business. The trading house which he conducted was located on Columbia street. There he transacted great business until 1836, when he moved his merchandise to the forks of the Wabash. His home on the Richardville reserve, he retained. This was a palatial residence for the days in which it was built. The government had allowed him five hundred dollars for this purpose, and to this sum he had added money of his own. Most of the closing years of his life were devoted to farming. His remains were buried in the Catholic cemetery, then located on the Cathedral Square. Over this his daughters erected a handsome and costly monument. It was afterward removed with Richardville’s remains to the Catholic burying grounds, in the southwestern part of the city, and later in 1875, to the Catholic cemetery east of the city.
Bearing the marks of time and the defacements of its removals, it stands there today attracting the attention of many of the visitors to this beautiful city of the dead.
His father, Drouet DeRichardville, was a French trader here for some years before, and after the fatal expedition of LaBalme, in 1780. Among the many interesting incidents frequently recited by the late Chief John B. Richardville to Allen Hamilton, he gave some years ago an account of his ascending to the chieftainship of his tribe. The occasion was not only thrilling and heroic, but on the part of his famous mother and himself, will ever stand in history as one of the noblest and most humane acts known to any people; and would serve as a theme both grand and eloquent for the most gifted poet or dramatist of any land.
It was a wild and barbarous period in the waning days of the Miamis. Kekionga still occasionally echoed with the shrieks and groans of captive men, and the young warriors still rejoiced in the barbaric custom of burning prisoners at the stake, a custom long in vogue with the Miamis here. A white man had been captured and brought in by the warriors. A council had been convened in which the question of his fate arose in debate and was soon settled. He was to be burned at the stake, and the braves and villagers generally were soon gathered about the prospective scene of torture, making the very air resound with their vociferations and gratifications at the prospect of soon enjoying another hour of fiendish merriment at the expense of a poor, miserable victim of torture. Already the man was lashed to the stake and the torch that was to ignite the combustible material placed about him, was in the hands of the brave appointed to feed the flame that was so soon to consume the victim of their cruelty. But the spirit of rescue was at hand. The man was destined to be saved from the terrible fate that surrounded him.
Young Richardville had for some time been singled out as the future chief of the tribe, and his heroic mother saw in this a propitious and glorious moment for the assertion of his chieftainship, by an act of great daring and bravery in the rescue of the prisoner at the stake. All eyes were now fixed upon the captive. Young Richardville and his mother were some distance from the general scene, but sufficiently near to see the movements of the actors in the tragedy about to be enacted, and could plainly hear the coarse ejaculations. At that critical moment when the torch was about to be applied to the bark, as if touched by some angelic impulse of love for the poor captive, the mother of young Richardville placed a knife in her son’s hand and bade him assert his chieftainship by the rescue of the prisoner. The magnetic force of the mother seemed instantly to have convulsed and inspired the young warrior, and he quickly bounded away to the scene, broke through the wild crowd, cut the cords that bound the man and bade him be free!
All were astonished and surprised, and by no means pleased at the loss of their prize, yet the young man, their favorite for his heroic, daring conduct, was at once esteemed a god of the crowd, and then and thereafter became a chief of the first distinction and honor of the tribe.
The thoughtful and heroic mother of Richardville now took the man in charge, quietly placed him in a canoe and covered him with hides and peltries. With the assistance of some friendly Indians, he was soon gliding safely down the placid current of the Maumee beyond the scene of the turbulent warriors and village of Kekionga. The rescue was complete.
Some years subsequent to this event, on a trip to Washington City he stopped for a little while at a town in Ohio. Here a man came up to him and suddenly recognizing in the stranger the countenance of his benefactor and deliverer of years before, threw his arms about the chief’s neck and embraced him with all the warmth of filial affection and gratitude. He was indeed the rescued prisoner; and the meeting between the chief and the man was of mingled pleasure and surprise.
In stature the chief was about five feet ten inches with broad shoulders, and weighed about one hundred and eighty pounds. His personal appearance was attractive, and being graceful in carriage and manner, he bore the marks of a finished gentleman. Exempt from any expression of levity, a simple child of nature, he is said to have impressed his dignity under all circumstances. His eyes were of a lightish blue and slightly protruding; his upper lip firmly pressed upon his teeth and the under one slightly projecting; his nose was of the Roman type and the whole contour of his face was classic and attractive.
According to David H. Colerick, Esq., who was intimately associated with the chief, as his attorney and transacted much of his business for many years, Richardville was considered the wisest and most sagacious chief of all the Indians of the entire northwest, and was the successful head and ruler of the Miami tribe for more than twenty-five years previous to his death in 1841. His mother, the sister of Little Turtle, was a most remarkable woman. Her son Peshewa was endowed with a mind somewhat passive. Being a rather close observer and apt in his business transactions, he was always extremely careful in what he undertook. A most patient listener, his reticence often assumed almost the form of extreme indifference; yet such was far from his nature, for he ever exercised the warmest and most attentive regard for all his people and mankind in general and the needy never called in vain. His kind and charitable hand was never withheld from the distressed of his own people or from the stranger; he was beloved and esteemed by all who knew him.
He spoke French and English as well as his native tongue. Senator John Tipton, who knew Richardville well, had this to say of him, “He was the ablest diplomat of whom I have any knowledge. If he had been born and educated in France he would have been the equal of Tallyrand.”
The portrait of Chief John B. Richardville (Pechewa) is after an old painting in possession of his granddaughter, Mrs. Archangel Engleman, of Huntington county, Indiana.
He was a signer of the Treaty of GreeneVille.
An interesting anecdote is related, which throws an interesting light on the character of this chief. “Who is the young man with you as your clerk?” The speaker was John B. Richardville the chief of the Miamis. The question was put to Captain Samuel C. Vance, who had been sent to the pioneer as registrar for the land office established here by the government for the sale of lands acquired from the Indians. The time was midsummer of the year 1823. The two men, one an Indian of half blood, tall, and of commanding appearance,, and the other a white man in whom the military and business mould, as one could see at a glance, were combines, were standing in front of the government Council House on what is East Main street near the old fort. The Miami chief as he asked the question pointed through the open doorway to a young man seated at a table in the Council House busily engaged in writing. “That,” replied Capt. Vance, to the question of the chief, “is my clerk Allen Hamilton. I want you to get acquainted with him,” and the two men passed into the building and Chief Richardville was introduced to young Hamilton, the beginning of a strong friendship, that continued through both their lives and contributed much to the material advancement of both. For Mr. Hamilton was afterward for years the confidential advisor of the Miami chief in business affairs.
As illustrative of this close friendship between the two, an interesting incident is related in an old sketch of the life of Mr. Hamilton. On one occasion Mr. Hamilton, who had come into possession of a splendid horse, a fine looking high spirited animal, was riding it along Columbia street, and stopped in front of the place where Richardville had a trading house. He called the chief out to talk over a business matter. This finished, the Indian began an examination of the horse and expressed his admiration of the animal. “That’s a fine horse, Mr. Hamilton, one of the finest I ever saw,” he said. “I strike on that horse.” This latter expression was one used frequently by the Indians when they saw anything that pleased their fancy and they very much desired to have. Mr. Hamilton saw his opportunity to win the good graces of the chief, who by the reservations of land granted by the government and in his business as a trader had become quite wealthy, replied to the Indian’s remark, “Well, Chief, it’s yours. I make you a present of the horse,” and immediately dismounting, he turned the animal over to Richardville as a gift. Not very long after that the two were riding together through the country some distance south of Fort Wayne on a matter of business, and passing several fine tracts of land which belonged to Chief Richardville, one of these particularly fine one pleased Mr. Hamilton greatly, and turning to his half breed friend with a merry twinkle in his eyes he said: “Well, Chief, I strike on that section” “it’s yours”, answered the chief, “I make you a deed for it, but we won’t strike any more”. The next day he made a deed for the section of land and handed it to Mr. Hamilton as a gift.
We now pass from Richardville to his son-in-law, Francis LaFontaine (Topeah), who became the last real chief of the Miamis in 1841.
LaFontaine was born in the Indian village near Fort Wayne in 1810, and when twenty-one years of age was married to Catherine, daughter of John B. Richardville. Upon the death of his father-in-law he made his home and headquarters for a time in the Richardville mansion. He had been chief five years when, with the Miami tribe from the headwaters of the Maumee and the Wabash, he went to the new government reservation in the west. He remained there only a few months and then started on his return to Indiana. At St. Louis he was taken ill. He persisted, however, in continuing his homeward trip and at LaFayette, Indiana, his condition became so serious that he could proceed no further. Here on April 13, 1847, he died, at the age of only thirty-seven years.
His remains were taken to Huntington, where they were buried. It is claimed that he did not die a natural death, but as the result of poison secretly administered to him by members of his own tribe, while he was in the west, because he was about to desert them and return to his home in Indiana. The following story was told to a newspaper correspondent several years ago on the occasion of a visit to Huntington, near which city LaFontaine’s daughter, Mrs. Archangel Engleman then lived. “Father went with the Miamis, when they removed to their reservation in the west. He was never satisfied there and when the members of the tribe learned that he was coming back they threatened to kill him. Some sort of slow poison was administered to him and as a result of this he died while enroute home.”
Before his final departure for the west he had built an elegant and substantial residence, on the reservation west of Huntington, Indiana. It is still occupied by his daughter, Mrs. Archangel Engleman, her children and grandchildren. The house is located on the route of the Fort Wayne and northern Indiana traction line, directly opposite the Club House of the Huntington County Club, which organization leases its tract from Mrs. Engleman. The house is roomy, well furnished and a delightful and hospitable home.
Francis LaFontaine, chief of the Miamis, has been honored by his name being attached to a beautiful country town in the southern part of Wabash county, Indiana.
Upon his death, the chieftaincy passed to his grandson, Joseph LaFontaine Engleman, the eldest son of Mrs. Archangel Engleman. With the death of the latter chief, which occurred at the home west of Huntington March 3, 1914, the last chief of the Miamis passed away.
The order was sent forth by the LaFontaine-Engleman family that no more chiefs were to be elected by the remnant of the Miamis.
Death and amalgamation with the dominant race having finally destroyed the last organized remnant of this great tribe.
Mrs. Engleman remarked on the death of her son, that the office held in high esteem from immemorial ages by the once powerful Miamis died with him, and became a past honor.
“Yes, say they have all passed away,
That noble race and brave:
That their light canoes have vanished
From off the crested wave;
That ‘mid the forests where they roamed
There rings no hunter’s shout,
But their names are on our waters
And ye cannot wash them out.”
KIL-SO-QUAH – THE PRINCESS
Kil-so-quah, daughter of Wak-shin-gay (The Crescent Moon) and Wah-wah-ka-mo-kwa (the First Snow Woman), who was the daughter of She-nock-e-wish, one of the bravest of the Miami warriors.
Kil-so-quah was born near the Wabash river, a short distance west of Huntington, Indiana, May, 1810. Her first husband was a Miami Indian (nicknamed John Owl). His death occurred shortly after their marriage. She then married Anthony Revarre, whose Indian name was Shoop-in-a-wah (or Thunder Storm). He was a half breed French and Indian trader. He died in 1846, and was buried by the side of Chief Coessie, near Roanoke, Indiana.
On August 4, 1913, the writer of these pages, in company with Mr. J. M. Stouder, paid a visit to Roanoke, sixteen miles southwest of Fort Wayne, Huntington county, and called on Dr. S. Koontz, who kindly directed us to the home of Kil-so-quah (The Setting Sun), about a mile distant. We found her seated in a great arm rocking chair, enjoying reasonably good health for one of her age, with eyesight somewhat dim. After introduction and presents of tobacco and other trinkets being made, and the smoking ceremony finished, a conversation followed. Through the son “Tony” as interpreter, she being unable to speak English. Mr. Stouder mentioned the accidental find of the grave of her grandfather, and the care he had taken to place a marker over the remains, so the exact spot could never again become lost and of the prospect in the near future of a suitable monument to mark the grave. The writer confirmed this statement of facts, having seen the marble slab with name and date thereon: “Little Turtle, Born 1752, Died 1812”. She asked about the relics found with him, which she thought unquestionable, and seemed very much pleased when informed that they were all together in one case in a fireproof building, and would be sacredly preserved. When we left the place she desired her son to inform us that she fervently thanked God for the interest the two white men took in honoring her with a visit, and especially for the tribute of honor paid by them to her distinguished grandfather.
A copy of the Journal-Gazette contained an article at the time of the discovery of Little Turtle’s remains, which was taken to her, and before her son commenced to read it, she gave a very accurate account of the location of the grave and told, within a few hundred feet, where it was located. She told of the sword, and described the various things which were buried with him, on account of his rank. She claimed she had seen him often, and remembered distinctly of combing his hair, and of being his favorite grandchild. She said during her younger days she had often visited his grave. She was two years and two months old when her grandfather died.
Mrs. Matilda Wheelock, in the Indianapolis Star of August 22, 1909, tells us that the old chief, her royal grandfather, used to come to her father’s home at Miami Park, west of Huntington, and complaining that his hair had not been combed for many days, smiling a whimsical invitation for his tiny granddaughter to perform that service for him. “Whereupon,” she continues, “the little Kil-so-quah climbed into the royal lap, planted her sturdy feet firmly upon the chieftain’s knee, and with his arms to steady her, delightfully proceeded with her pleasing task.”
Those familiar with the traditions of the Miamis, say that the girl as a child delighted to torment her grandfather by pulling his hair and playing childish pranks upon him. She says her mother often told her that she was born during the Great Spirit’s cheerful smile, as the wild woods were full of flowers and the wild berries near at hand.
Kil-so-quah, as a little papoose two or three years old, sat on the knee of the greatest Miami Indian ever known, more than one hundred (100) years ago, and as she combed his hair the great chief told her the story of the battle of Fort St. Clair, near Eaton, Ohio, in which Little Turtle so disastrously defeated Major Adair, and his Kentuckians. She says that he was very proud of his appearance, and especially of his raven black hair, which, to comb and braid was a favorite pastime for him and her alike. She remembers distinctly of his going to sleep purposely, and of whacking him on the head with the back of the comb in order to keep him awake.
Kil-so-quah had a remarkable memory and loved to talk of this battle, through her son Anthony Revarre. She had a vivid recollection of what was called “the falling of the stars”, November 13, 1833.
Her son was known to the Indians and white people as Little White Loon (Wah-pl-mon-quah) in order to distinguish him from his uncle White Loon, who died at the age of one hundred and ten years (110), and is still remembered by the old settlers of Roanoke for his wild rides on a terrified pony, when he was under the influence of liquor.
Kil-so-quah, last of the full blooded Miami Indian royalty, who lived in the Wabash or Maumee valley before the white man overran Indiana, died Saturday morning at 3:30 a.m., September 4, 1915, at her home one mile southeast of Roanoke. The old Indian Princess had been confined to her bed for two weeks and was seriously ill for several days. Friday she had rallied from a semi-conscious state and then Saturday morning the end came suddenly. She died quietly, without a struggle, for death was only a break in the well worn thread of life. She was one hundred and five (105) years old the preceding May. At the bedside at the time of her death, were the faithful son “Tony”, Dr. Koontz and a few kind friends.
Her name, “The Setting Sun”, is curiously appropriate, since she is the last full blooded representative of a barbarous tribe prominent in early American history. For, while to us their defense of their vast lands, of which they could use only a part, seems selfish, yet it was none other than the cropping out of that instinct common to all us – an iron willed desire to keep which we rightfully own.
Kil-so-quah was, without a doubt, one of the most interesting survivors of the royal families of the vanishing race. She had retained her native language, and, to a large extent, the customs of the Indians through years of contact with none of her race, except her son Anthony Revarre.
She learned probably less than a score of English words; among them “rheumatism” was most frequently used. For years Kil-so-quah had been afflicted with rheumatism, and her association of that work with her painful ailment made it one of the few she could comprehend.
A government grant of land in Ohio, was made to her husband, but he traded it for three hundred and twenty (320) acres near Roanoke, which land he farmed for sixteen years. He died in 1846, and was buried near Roanoke, by the side of Kil-so-quah’s cousin, Chief Coessie, whose husband had owned this half section of land which dwindled to the forty (40) acres on which stands the little frame house which was the widow’s home, and where Anthony now lives.
Two children survive, namely: the son Anthony, who cared for her for years, and Mrs. Mary E. Taylor, of Oklahoma.
“Tony” has been called an Indian hunter, and while he never made much of a success at farming the land on which they lived, he always took good care of his mother and was her most faithful companion.
He has not been without his share of sorrow. He married Millie Downs, a white school teacher, and they lived happily together until ten years ago when she died. Tony, now seventy years old, never recovered from the shock of his wife’s death.
A few months ago Kil-so-quah’s daughter, Mary E. Taylor, arrived at Roanoke from the Miami reservation in Oklahoma, where she has a home of her own, and is employed as a teacher in an Indian school. Her Indian name is Town-ne-com-quah (Blowing Snow) and she assisted in taking care of her aged mother. She is quite a genteel and courteous lady, with an English education, writing for me very plainly her Indian name and address, and its meaning.
Six children were born to Kil-so-quah and her last husband, four of whom died while young. Mary, the daughter, went to Oklahoma several years ago and married an Indian Civil War veteran, who died a short time later. For some years all trace of her was lost, when finally she applied for a widow’s pension, and Dr. S. Koontz, of Roanoke, located her from the Pension Bureau. Soon the lost daughter returned for a visit with Kil-so-quah. She continued to reside in Oklahoma, but made yearly trips back to Roanoke to see her mother. There are no grandchildren, so this branch of Little Turtle’s family will shortly become extinct.
During her declining years (Setting Sun” clung tenaciously to the many relics of her ancestors, and not for any sum would she part with them. It was only when her advanced age compelled to do so that she deserted the wigwam, the last remaining thread between her primitive past and civilized life.
In 1899, the little log cabin, which was the home of Kil-so-quah and “Little White Loon”, burned to the ground. Many relics and curios of the Miamis, and of the family were destroyed, some of which were of great value to museums and collectors. Most prized by Kil-so-quah of the property saved was a little shirt and a pair of moccasins, which her son had worn nearly seventy years before.
Until rheumatism made her an invalid, no old settlers’ meeting, or like event, was complete in this part of the country without her presence. Seated on a platform she would smilingly receive the attention of curious crowds, not understanding the cause of her prominence, but being gratified by it.
As an invalid she was as pathetic a figure as history reveals or fiction describes. Practically ostracized by her failure to speak English, she alternated between an arm chair and her bed. Hours, days and weeks she spent sewing diamond shaped figures on great quilts. During the latter part of her life, even the solace of work was taken from her by failing vision. All this she accepted stolidly and without complaint, illustrating a prominent characteristic of the Indian race.
Her remark, translated by an interpreter, tells of her plight more clearly than all that has been written, “When I am busy I think of my work; when I am idle I think of how poor and alone I am”.
None of the stimulating excitement and romance with which Cooper surrounded Uncas and his father in “The Last of the Mohicans” relieved her uneventful life. The last of the pure blooded Miamis, and descendant of a long line of chieftains, she stoically dragged out the years in which a remarkable vitality kept life in her body.
Kil-so-quah held to the customs of her tribe and lived in her wigwam until about ten years ago, when it fell to pieces from wear. She then occupied a room in the second floor of her cabin until it was destroyed by fire.
She delighted in relating her early adventures, and especially one which occurred soon after her marriage. Upon hearing the baying of hounds she picked up a small hatchet and made her way to where the dogs had a large deer at bay, and from behind a tree she killed the deer by a blow from the weapon, and said that the white hunters toted the game away without offering her a mess of the venison.
She had also presented a great many people with curios, among which is a miniature canoe she made for Dr. Koontz in 1910, the centennial year of her age, in appreciation for tobacco he had taken her.
With the death of Kil-so-quah, the old Indian Princess, a curious incident, illustrating the singular way in which her mind worked, came to light. Her primitive ideas of life and death never deserted her, and a translation she made eight years ago with Dr. Koontz, of Roanoke, her physician and family advisor, best bears this out. Anthony Revarre, the father of the only living son of Kil-so-quah, died many years ago. About eight years ago his bones were taken up and it was then that she sent for Dr. Koontz. When he arrived, through her son “Tony” as interpreter, she told him her desire. The grave of her husband was soon to be lost, as the ground was being cleared, and she did not know where to place his remains and asked if he would take them up and place them in a box, and keep them in his office until she was called by the Great Spirit. She wanted them to be buried with her, and she did not know where the lasting place would be. Would he do that for an old woman? Accordingly, Dr. Koontz, William Koontz, James Barbour and Dr. Reed, of Fort Wayne, took up the bones of Kil-so-quah’s husband, and those of Chief Coessie. The former were preserved and kept in the office of Dr. Koontz, at her wish, and in a neat little box covered with black cloth were interred with her remains, and once again the lovers are united.
The last public meeting Kil-so-quah attended in Roanoke was in 1910, in her hundredth anniversary, although as late as August 20, 1914, she attended the old settlers’ meeting at Columbia City. On Sunday, September 27, 1914, a reunion was held at the old homestead of all the Indians in this part of the State, and about forty-five were present. A war-dance was enjoyed and music was furnished by Kil-so-quah with an old pan and stick. This was one of the most enjoyable occasions of her recent years, as she was in the company of her own people, who could talk freely with her. Dr. Koontz and family were also present, as she always insisted that he be present at all of her gatherings. He had been her family physician for years, and she relied solely on his judgment as to where to go on all occasions. Members of the tribe who were present were: George Slussman, Mrs. Archangel Engleman, Mrs. Judson Bundy Engleman, Richard Godfrey, Mrs. Stella Weber, Mr. and Mrs. Howard and daughter Josephine, John, Charles and Lawrence Engleman, Miss Eva Godfrey, Miss Lettie Engleman, Miss Viola Godfrey, Miss Lettie Engleman, Miss Viola Godfrey, Mr. and Mrs. James Bruel, James Barnes, Christ Engleman, William Cass, William Balser, John Engleman, William Cass, William Balser, John Engleman, Lawrence Weber, Elmer Bruel, Eliza Bruel, Sylvester Godfrey, James Burrel, John Owens, Clarence Godfrey, George Chance, wife and daughter. These were the invited guests who were present, with possibly a few others not herein mentioned.
Thus with the passing of Kil-so-quah to the happy hunting ground, we lose the last of the royal Miamis and the oldest resident of the State of Indiana, who had enjoyed a national reputation.
The funeral services of Kil-so-quah were held at Roanoke, in the St. Joseph’s Catholic church, by Father Schmit of the Nix settlement on Tuesday the 7th, at 9 a.m., and consisted of the requiem high mass, by the presiding priest, after which they immediately proceeded to the grave, located in the circle of the I.O.O.F. graveyard, on the west side of the Fort Worth road, one-half mile north of Roanoke, and blessed the grounds. The remains were left in the church awaiting the arrival of the daughter, Mary E. Taylor, in charge of Doretta E. Miller, of Roanoke, until Friday, at which time they were buried, the daughter having arrived on Thursday evening.
The bones of the second husband of Kil-so-quah, Anthony Revarre, were neatly placed in a box covered with a black cloth, and placed crosswise in the grave at the head of Kil-so-quah. Our correspondent says that he saw the grave and box of bones therein, but did not return for the burial on Friday. Kil-so-quah was a Catholic, but her son “Tony” was not.
When Kil-so-quah was born James Madison was President of the United States. Indiana was not yet admitted as a State. Only one President (Washington) had died. Abraham Lincoln was only one year old. Daniel Boone was still hunting in the forests of Kentucky. The Battle of Tippecanoe was fought when she was only one year old. When she was born Perry had not met and defeated the British on Lake Erie. The nation itself was young. The declaration of Independence was then a matter of recent history, it being only thirty-four years old. The War of the Revolution was more vivid in the minds of the people than the Civil War is at the present time. Take the inventions, and you get a better idea of progress in the same length of time. There were no railroads, for she was twenty years old when the first railroad was built. There were no electric lights, nor street cars, no telephones or graphophones. There were no shoe factories, the itinerant cobbler traveled from place to place and made up the family order. There were no newspapers as we know them today, no reapers, mowers, road machinery, and no roads worthy of the name. Timber on the farm was a detriment, not an asset.
Take political conditions and you have another glimpse of what ha come to pass in the life of Kil-so-quah. When the Indian Princess was born the two strong political parties were contending over the issue as to whether the State or National Government was the stronger. An issue that was settled only the Civil War, but an issue that is now almost lost sight of in the background of political history, and is revived only in such sophistries as home government. Indeed, the party that then called for a loose central government has not advanced to the position where it advocates an even stronger centralization than the centralized party of that time demanded. And all of this has come about because the various means of communication has united the country, and because with this unity common interests have broadened and expanded until the condition of one coast affects conditions on the other.
Let us look at the development of the country for a moment. In 1810, when Kil-so-quah was born, the shooting of Alexander Hamilton was still fresh in the minds of the people. Andrew Jackson had not yet fought his famous battle at New Orleans. Napoleon had just sold the Louisiana Territory to the United States. It was a worthless little tract, extending far up the valley of the Mississippi. It was a mere bagatelle, a mere territory of marsh, river and hill, to which Napoleon had tied a string, so that if occasion arose he could pull it back again into the French Empire.
In those days the wild west began to the west of the Allegheny mountains. In those days the white man had scarcely begun his real conquest of Ohio or Indiana. Within the memories of Kil-so-quah Indiana had been made a great State. The native Indian has become almost extinct and civilization has so swept the country from the Atlantic to the Pacific, that one may ride the trolley car through some parts of the Rocky mountains.
If all this has happened within the life of one woman whose longevity we may for example say is twice the normal, what may we expect within the next hundred, nay within the next fifty years?
The weight of many moons hung over her head, the once jet black hair and piercing eye that was dimmed with age, while this Indian Princess of the long ago quietly awaited the call to the happy hunting grounds, with that stoical indifference that has characterized her name and race. She did not live in the present age, her thoughts dwelt in the days of the long ago, when free and unhampered by the bonds of civilization, she watched the oncoming hordes of whites, that was ultimately destined to oust her people from their primeval haunts. She had little knowledge of what was transpiring today, and was little concerned about the things of tomorrow.
With marvelous tenacity of body she bid fair to see many more moons pass by in endless routine. Her joys were gone, fled with the race that is fast passing into oblivion, with the exception of one, and that was a little charred and blackened pipe. Thrice daily this little old pipe was lighted, by the helping hands of her son or daughter, who consecrated themselves to the solace of her dying days, and she would puff away contentedly and dream of the dreams of yore. Despite her age, her intellect was still sharp, and she chattered of the old days in the dead language of the Miamis, and related anecdotes of her childhood with startling ease. A red bandanna handkerchief, a relic of the past, encircled her grey head, and she was garbed in a plain calico dress. Two plain gold band rings were on the fingers of the left hand, gifts, it is said, of the days when the Miamis ruled the Wabash and the Miami valleys. They went to the grave with her, as such is the custom of the red men, that the jewels prized in life should accompany the owner on the journey into the happy hunting grounds.
That came to a chieftain’s household during the May moon, 1810, on the forks of the Wabash river below Huntington, Indiana, where she grew to be a free child of the wilderness; that we ourselves have seen Kil-so-quah in her declining years, is something that affords us a pleasure of no small degree, and as time rolls on, future generations will step into the limelight of the historian’s pen, and read of the Miami Confederacy as it was when the white men entered their wilderness domain, down to the time when the last full blooded Miami Indian, Kil-so-quah, passed from this stage of action and now gently sleeps on the western hills of the Little river, near Roanoke, within a few miles of Aboit creek, where her illustrious grandfather gained his first victory over Labalme.
Kil-so-quah, her husband and daughter-in-law, and finally “Tony” himself when death shall come, will all be interred inside the circle of the I.O.O.F. graveyard which was kindly donated to them for this purpose, her son being a member of the Red-men and Odd Fellows. It is more than likely that a historical monument will be erected to the memory of Kil-so-quah, the last full blooded Miami Indian.
“Faded the summer day,
Gone to its rest,
Far in the roseate
Isles of the west,
And in the quiet sky
Softly and bright,
Gem the pathway of night.
“Thus when Life’s evening
Around us doth close,
Calmly and still,
May we sink to repose;
When the lone twilight
Is breathing the spell
Biding ye fondly
Bright visions – farewell.”
THE GODFREY FAMILY
The Godfrey family was one of the most interesting and notable of the Miami nation in northern Indiana for many years. Probably the first spelling of their family name was Godefree, which was the old French form the name, corrupted later into Godfri, and written at the present time by the family near Peru as Godfrey.
The early ancestor of the family was Francis Godfrey, the son of a French trader by the daughter of an Indian chief named Osage. This Francis Godfrey was a war chief among the Miamis. He married a Miami woman and they made their home along the Wabash river near Peru. Their son, James, born in this home in 1810, moved in 1844 to Allen country and here married a daughter of Chief LaFontaine. They had twelve children, all born on the Indian Reservation near Fort Wayne.
Another son of Francis Godfrey was Gabriel Godfrey, who established his home near Peru, Indiana, and became known as Chief of the Miamis. It being customary for some of the newspapers to speak of every Miami living in those later days as a chief whether he had been or not.
The death of Francis Godfrey, the ancestor of the Godfrey’s occurred in 1840, the year before the death of Chief Richardville.
As mentioned above Francis Godfrey’s first wife was a Miami woman, named Soc-a-jag-wa, whom he married early in life. In later years he chose for a second wife a half breed girl, twenty years of age, a daughter of Francis Slocum. The first wife, still living, remained in the home and became a voluntary servant.
Francis Godfrey was an able war chief, and afterward in the treaties made with the government was given six sections of land near Peru, and for a time was engaged in the mercantile trade.
In his great log, castle-like home he lived like an English lord, keeping about his house many servants and dispensing hospitality to his guests with a cheer and liberality that made him known far and near.
It was under these circumstances that the first wife realized that her youthful beauty had to some extend faded away, and that she pleased no longer his guests. The latter as a rule, were cultured white people who suggested that he select a young wife – one whose beauty and graces would shine as an ornament in the palatial home and correspond with the style of living which fortune had wafted to him, very largely because of the fact that he was an Indian Chief. Thus it came that Francis Godfrey married the daughter of Francis Slocum.
The life story of the mother is very interesting one. We will not give it here, but refer the reader to J. P. Dunn’s “True Indian Stories”, page 213, on the “The Lost Sister of Wyoming”. We are told that the first born by the second wife was none other then Gabriel Godfrey, who died near Peru only a few years ago.
In the fall of the year 1914, we visited the home of Peter Godfrey, who lives four miles east of Peru. This man is a son of Gabriel Godfrey, and a great grandson of Francis Slocum. While here we were treated with due courtesy, and were shown some of the old Miami heirlooms, no doubt worn by an Indian Princess more than a hundred years ago; one a ladies’ sack, ornamented with more than one hundred silver brooches, one silver medal two and one-half inches in diameter presented to Francis Godfrey on Treaty creek, Miami county, Indiana, at a treaty there held in 1829, with the inscription “Andrew Jackson, President”, on one side, and a bust of Andrew Jackson on the other, in addition to an engraving of tomahawk and peace pipe and handle of tomahawk crossing one another. Another medal two inches in diameter was shown which had been presented at the same treaty of Captain Brueret, who married another daughter of Francis Slocum.
In the year 1900, a creditable monument was erected at the Indian cemetery, ten miles east of Peru, on the banks of the Mississinewa river, by public subscription, at the grave of Frances Slocum (The Lost Sister of Wyoming). One of her granddaughters married one Mr. Bundie, who was a Baptist preacher. His granddaughter, Victoria Bundie, who now lives in Peru, was one who helped to unveil the monument of her great grandmother, in the year 1900.
We herewith present a photo of Clarence Godfrey, grandson of Gabriel Godfrey, dressed in true Indian apparel as he appeared, when playing the warrior in the Indian show, a few years ago.
The Raccoon (A-say-pong) Sachem of the Miamis had a village on the west bank of Little river, twelve miles southwest of Fort Wayne, now on the present farm of John Zetsman. Here the Raccoon chief dwelt in a brick house more than a hundred years ago.
Dr. Koontz, an old resident of Roanoke, tells us that the oldest inhabitant can tell nothing about the date when this house was built, or from whence came the bricks of which it was constructed. This old house has long since been removed and nothing remains but a few brick bats. On this site Mr. Zetsman found a gold watch chain, steel tomahawks, and a very fine flint spear, of which we became the owner. The oldest settlers say that this old house was scarred by bullets from the Indians’ rifle, both inside and out, through the plastering overhead, and through the roof, for some unaccountable reason.
Chief Coessie was a son of Ma-kah-ta-mon-quah, or Black Loon, and a grandson of Me-she-kin-no-quah, and lived the major part of his life on Eel river, in what is now Whitley county, Indiana.
His name is honored by calling a town aster him in the above county, on the Pittsburg, Fort Wayne and Chicago railroad, near the former location of Chapines reservation on Eel river.
He was one of the principal orators at his grandfather’s funeral, at Fort Wayne, July, 1812, on which occasion he narrated the principal events in the life of his grandfather and pronounced a strong eulogy on him. Surely no one could have been better qualified for this task than he who had known him in his later days so perfectly and so well.
Coessie is said, to a certain extent, to have inherited some of those noble qualities of mind and heart from his grandfather, Little Turtle.
He died in 1854, his only son having died the year before. The latter was buried at his home, now the Stouff farm, one and one-half miles east of Columbia City, Indiana. Coessie’s wife and two daughters remained on the farm, near Eel river, Whitley county, Indiana, until the spring of 1868, when they sold it and removed to Roanoke, where they have long since died, having no descendants, to the writer’s knowledge.
Coessie’s first burial was down on Little river, near Roanoke, by the side of Mr. Revarre, Kil-so-quah’s husband.
A committee from the old settlers’ association of Whitely county went to Roanoke, Huntington county, Indiana, in 1910, and obtained permission to disinter the remains and bring them to Columbia City for burial on the Court House Square where they proposed to erect a memorial of some sort. They obtained permission to leave the remains temporarily in the storage vault of the First National Bank of Columbia City, until the day of their annual meeting. In the meantime certain old-time citizens, who were unable to look at the project in a broad way, as an historical memorial, insisted on raking up ancient prejudices against the individual, Coessie, because he lived in a manner displeasing to them and contrary to their ideas.
The adverse sentiment created left the committee nothing to do but to drop the matter. Disposition was asked for the bones of Coessie, but so far none has been made. This storm of opposition from the citizens at the time has delayed the execution of this design. So the remains of Coessie, a grandchild of Little Turtle, have been in the vault of the Columbia City Bank for the past six years, and may remain there for an indefinite period. They still hope at some future time to accomplish their object, and to erect a statue suitable to his name and honor.
Coessie was a Pottawattomie nickname, by which he was commonly known. His true Miami name was Me-tek-kyah, meaning forest or woods.
EVA C. CORTHELL
Though correspondence with Mrs. Eva C. Corthell, 2333 Silver street, Jacksonville, Florida, we received a statement in regard to the children of Captain William Wells. She never knew of any but her grandmother (Jane Wells Griggs) and a sister; and at the time of the first Dearborn trouble, or probably prior to that time, Captain William Wells sent his wife and two daughters back to his people in Kentucky, where the two girls had instructions in needlework, etc., from the Catholic sisters.
Mrs. Corthell says that her grandmother, Jane Griggs, had ten children, the oldest of whom died some five years ago. The next uncle, Chas. Sumner, is dead, having left a son, Warren Griggs, a tailor by trade, who now resides in Peru, Indiana. One sister, the youngest, died many years ago, leaving five children, all of whom received a good education. The mother of Eva Corthell, Martha J. Spaulding, daughter of Jane Griggs, was next to the youngest child. There were five of the Spaulding children of whom Eva C. was the eldest. This lady has been living in Florida for the last fourteen years, whither she had gone for the benefit of failing health, and now calls this state her permanent home. She is now forty-nine years old, and is very proud of her Indian ancestry and blood.
Her sister, Mrs. Jeannette Thornton, is forty-four; her brother Frank is forty-one; and Charles is thirty-eight.
Other uncles and aunts of the ten Griggs children were married, but most of them died young without children. Uncle Oliver and Warren have been dead many years.
Anthony Wayne Griggs, the uncle who recently died, and the mother of Mrs. Eva Corthell, who died a couple years ago, were the last survivors of the family.
Through the courtesy of this estimable little lady, Eva C. Corthell, we present herewith a reproduction of her photograph in Indian costume. The artist was very much pleased with her in the Indian attire, and said that she showed plainly traces of the blood of heroes. She informs us that for some cause her parents kept the fact of her Indian blood in the background, until she was a woman, and had become mistress of herself. She says that life with her was a tragedy from the beginning, the loss of mother, husband and child having been the cause of many a lonesome hour.
“Slow pass our days in childhood
Thus our golden moments goeth by
Rapidly they glide in manhood
And in life’s decline they fly.”
LA SALLE AT THE MIAMI VILLAGES
“Should you ask me, whence these stories?
Whence these legends and traditions,
With the odors of the forest
With the dew and damp of meadows,
With the curling smoke of wigwams,
With the rushing of great rivers,
With their frequent repetitions,
And their wild reverberations,
As of thunder in the mountains?
I should answer, I should tell you,
From the forests and the prairies,
From the great lakes of the Northland,
From the land of the Ojibways,
From the land of the Dacotahs,
From the mountains, moors, and fen-lands.”
The earliest white settlers in the town of Fort Wayne, Indiana, were Mrs. Laura Suttenfield and her husband, who settled within the enclosure of the old fort in 1814. Mrs. Suttenfield came as a bride of eighteen years and remained here until her death – a period of seventy-two long and eventful years. To this couple was born a daughter, November 29, 1817 – the first female white child in the history of the place.
T following story, as well as a few others of like nature, have been handed down in memory through some two hundred years without being printed by the inquisitive historian or the effusive newspaper writer until July 22, 1911, when it appeared in one of the Fort Wayne dailies. Mr. Frank Dildine, a well known newspaper correspondent, secured the tale from the old pioneer mother, Mrs. Suttenfield.
These stories are not pure fiction, but are based on facts printed in the pages of local history or as magazine articles on early events or the reminiscences of pioneers, who were here while the Miami Indians were here. With some of these oldest pioneers it was Mr. Dildine’s good fortune to be intimately acquainted. They are retold here by the consent and through the courtesy of the above named gentleman. They are told in his own way with the fact still remaining.
“The Miamis belonged to the Algonquin group, one of the great Indian families of the north, and desiring to secure a new location, they sent out their explorers in search of it. These explorers skirted the coast of the lakes and then, turning into the rivers, rowed along them. Near the junction of the St. Marys and the St. Joseph at the head of the Maumee they found the ideal spot. It was here the Miamis established their home which they called Kekionga. This was their capital in connection with other places in their region, among the most notable of which was the famous Little Turtle village near Blue River Lake twenty miles distant, where Little Turtle was born and where his father had lived long before this event occurred.
“Among the western tribes there were none greater or more powerful. They were brave in battle, feared by their enemies, and sought as allies by other tribes needing their assistance. In peace they were hospitable, kind and true; in war they were fearless and crafty. They placed an important part in moulding the destinies of the old Northwest region of the country and left a deep impression upon our early history.
“It was the summer of 1679 – or possibly 1680 – in the month of May, that an Indian maiden, wandering along the river’s shore, saw in the distance a fleet of canoes coming up the stream, eight in all, as she counted them. The blades of the paddles sparkled in the sunlight and the water dripping from them reflected its many colored hues. As they approached nearer she saw that the occupants were not of her people, and, with the exception of two, were not Indians, being dressed in different garb for men she had never seen before. Who were they? What was the purpose of these strange people in coming to the Miami village? Did they come as friends or enemies? These were the questions she asked herself, and, without waiting for an answer, she hurried with fleet feet to the Miami village, only a short distance away, and told her startling news. Soon all was excitement in the Indian abode. The alarm was given and the warriors hurriedly seized their bows and arrows, for these were their weapons of defense, and hastened to the river banks prepared, if necessary, to resist any attack the invaders of their homes and hunting grounds might make.
“It was LaSalle and his men – a company of some thirty consisting of French soldiers, his lieutenants and assistants and two Indian guides on one of their exploring expeditions. LaSalle and his men, however, had witnessed many such scenes before. They had visited Indian settlements in Canada along the St. Lawrence river; in Michigan, on the shores of Lake Huron, Lake St. Clair and the Detroit river, and at points skirting lake Erie in Ohio. For ten years LaSalle had been engaged in this work.
“It was at a point on the Maumee near the confluence of the St. Marys and St. Joseph that the Miamis had assembled to await the coming of LaSalle and his party who had halted their canoes some distance down the river, apparently for consultation. Among the Indians all was excitement for they knew not the strangers. Finally one of the canoes pulled to the shore and one of the Indian guides, LaSalle and two soldiers alighted and approached the wondering Miamis bearing the calumet, the pipe of peace. Seeing that the white men were on a friendly mission, the Miami Chief, Big Horn, and three of his warriors met LaSalle and his companions. The conversation was carried on through one of the Indian guides with LaSalle’s party and after the calumet had been offered by LaSalle and passed around to each of the Indians who took a whiff in turn, LaSalle said:
“I come to you as a friend and brother and wish to establish relations by which we can carry on a lasting business in the furs which you get by hunting. I will pay you for them in guns and power, knives, hatchets, kettles, beads and many other articles that we Frenchmen have in our country and which you have not. Thus we can do you good and you can do us good. We can be brothers.
“I have heard of you,” replied the Indian Chief. “Our runners, who have been among the Miamis of the North and other tribes, have told us about you. We have two of your guns and some powder and knives. This country is rich in fur animals. We greet you, we welcome you among us. Our wigwams will be open to you as long as you care to stay.” LaSalle thereupon explained to the chief that their stay with them could be only for a day or two and stated that their storehouses and the vessel in which they kept their European goods were on the lakes. Eventually they expected to establish a trading post at the villages. He had brought along only a few articles some of which he would give to them as presents. Suiting the action to the word he summoned the little fleet of canoes to approach. From one canoe he took several hatchets, knives, etc., which he distributed among the warriors. To the women were given ribbons, cloths, stockings, gloves and articles of apparel.
“In the evening a great feast was served in the Miami villages in honor of the French visitors. The menu comprised buffalo, bear and deer meats cut from the tenderest and juiciest parts; fish fresh from the rivers; fruits of different kinds; corn bread and honey. The health of the guests was drunk in pure cold spring water. Rum, which afterward proved their curse, had not yet found its way into the homes of the Miamis.
“LaSalle and his party remained with the Miamis for two days. They were treated royally, paid high honor and permitted to relax and enjoy the occasion. The day after their arrival the Indians participated in games of various kinds. It was a day of pleasure to all and when LaSalle left on his journey it was with the promise that he would return in a short time, and establish a post at the village which would give the Miamis a means of exchanging the furs of the wild animals which they caught for articles of civilized manufacture desired by them.”
MERVIELLE AND BRIGHT EYES
With the LaSalle parties who first visited the Miami villages at the head of the Maumee in 1680, was a young French officer named Ferdinand Mervielle. His love of adventure was the motive that had prompted him to come to America with the trader and explorer. He had been with him in all of his travels, and was familiar with the Indian ways and learned much of their language; he was skilled in the science of surveying and his specialty with the LaSalle party was the preparation of the charts giving the travel ways and general map of the regions visited by the explorer. These charts and maps were afterward forwarded to the French government. The survey for the preparation of these charts had not been completed when LaSalle left the Miami village. And so Mervielle remained and with him an assistant and an Indian guide. The work was an important one because of the location, this being a strategic point at the confluence of the three rivers, the Maumee flowing into Lake Erie and the important diverging branches, the St. Joseph and St. Marys. Short trips into the surrounding country had to be made so Mervielle remained here several days, probably weeks. He was purposely slow in completing his task, and this was the secret of his delay. Among the Indian maidens he met and whom he became acquainted was one known in her tribe as Bright Eyes, so called (the Miamis explained), because her eyes were like the pearls found on the lake shores.
She was the fairest maiden of her tribe; the daughter of one of the chiefs and loved by all. It was this Indian girl that first won Mervielle’s fancy and afterward his love. Day after day they met in the forests nearby and passed the hours together, meeting by accident at first, for Bright Eyes loved the forests and from early childhood delighted to roam them. But after their first few meetings by appointment, and during their happy days the Indian girl had learned what true love was, so too, had the Frenchman. After finishing his work one afternoon Mervielle started out in search of the Indian girl and found her seated on the river’s bank beneath a large oak tree, their favorite meeting place, and stealing upon her silently saw that she was so deeply engaged in her own thoughts, that she had not noticed his approach until he stood directly in front of her. As she lifted her eyes a glad look came into them, and in a voice in which there was a ring of the happiness she felt, she exclaimed, “Oh, it’s you. I’m so glad.” “And what were you thinking so deeply,” he asked, “as not to have noticed my approach? Of the beauty of the sunlit fleeting clouds and the sparking waters, or of yourself, your happy past and what the future has in store for you?” “I think perhaps my thoughts might be called dreams,” she replied. “I am given to day dreams when I am seated here alone.” “What was the nature of your dreams today,” he asked. “I guess my mind was over in France that home of yours about which you have told so much.” “And to which I must return before long,” said Mervielle. “Will you be sorry when I go?” “I will be very lonely,” the girl replied, “but do you go soon?” “Yes, tomorrow, our work is now all finished. It was finished two days ago. You have kept me here since then.” “Me?” questionably said Bright Eyes. “Yes, you,” answered Mervielle. “I find it hard to leave you. I can’t leave you forever,” and he told her of his love; of his desire to make her his wife; of his wish to take her to his home in France. “My father is a nobleman there,” he said. “He is the owner of large estates and upon his death I will succeed to his title and a great part of his fortune,” and he drew for her a picture of the grand life that would be hers, a happy life in that different world to her. It needed not that picture of wealth to win the consent of the Indian maiden to go with him. She knew only one world that was the forest world, in which she had spent her entire life. She loved it, she loved her home and her people, but she loved the young French officer better. Her whole heart was his; she would trust him; she would do anything to always be with him; she would go. And then Mervielle explained he wanted to give her plenty of time to weigh the matter well in her mind. He wished her to take the step knowing what it meant – a separation from her own people, the leading of a different sort of life. He must go on the morrow to Quebec. His duties called him there for the immediate completion of the work in which he had been engaged. He would return in two moons and take her to Quebec and there they would be married. On the morrow when the canoe left the Miami village with Mervielle and his companion and Indian guide, and plowed the waters of the Maumee an Indian maiden stood on the shore and watched it until it was out of sight. The two moons had almost passed and Bright Eyes waited and watched for her lover’s return. He did not come. But with love’s faith she knew he would not disappoint her. One day she was seated along the river’s bank, their favorite meeting place thinking of him and the happiness that would be theirs, when, turning a bend in the river she saw a canoe approaching. A lone occupant she said to herself. “I wonder if it is he.” A thrill of joy came to her only to be crushed on a nearer approach of the boat gliding swiftly over the waters. “No,” she said. “It’s an Indian.” Nearer and nearer the canoe came and then she recognized the occupant as the Indian guide, who had been with Mervielle at the village. Hope and fear struggled in her heart. Did he bring good or bad news? As the canoe reached the point where she was seated it turned to the shore and she was there to greet him as the Indian landed. “You come from him” she said. “Yes,” the Indian replied, and then the Indian gave her the message he was sent to deliver. Mervielle was ill – not seriously so, he said, but his illness made it unwise for him to come to her. He wanted her to come to him. It was miles away, many miles across land and across the great lake at a point on the Detroit river near to Lake Erie. There he would be waiting for her and they would go to Detroit to be married. The Indian guide explained that if her people knew of her intentions to join Mervielle they would oppose her going. “They would kill me,” he said, hence it would be best to go secretly if she decided to leave with him. Such he said had been Mervielle’s instructions. Would she go? Think well, before answering me, he said. I will take a smoke and then Bright Eyes can answer me, and leaving her he walked a few paces away, threw himself on a grassy spot and took out his pipe. He had been smoking only a few minutes when the Miami girl came over to him and in a voice expressive of fixed determination and the consciousness of having done the right thing, said, “I will go.” “When?” asked the Indian. “Now,” she replied. “If we wait” – pointing toward the Indian village, “they will defeat any plans we might make. We will go at once. I love my people, but I love my lover more,” she said, and stepped into the canoe with the Indian emissary. They were soon speeding through the waters toward Detroit. For days and weeks the Miamis searched the woods and the banks of the rivers for her and then they gave up the task as a hopeless one. Bright Eyes was dead, they said. Drowned in the river or devoured by wild beasts, or possibly carried away captive by the Iroquois, one of the nations of Indians with which they had been at war.
Mervielle was waiting for her. His love for the Indian maiden was not the love dream of an hour, it was deep seated and lasting. It was true love, and when after her long journey he met her at the rivers shore, his greeting was, “I knew you would come,” and her reply was: “I could do nothing else.: Mervielle had about recovered from his illness – a bad cold he had contracted from exposures, and the next day with the Indian girl he left for Quebec, where they were married by a Jesuit Missionary. Quebec had been a French settlement since 1608. His exploration trips Mervielle told the girl he had decided to give up, he would be kept in Quebec, probably for a year. During that time she was to study the French language, so that when she went to France to live she would be able to converse. She made wonderful advancement in the acquirement of the new language, and their life in a cottage by the river’s side near to the forest was a happy one.
Mervielle’s work in Canada ended, they sailed for France where he gave up his commission in the army, and they went to live on an estate in the southern part of the country which his father had given him. There a son was born to them, and within a year, due largely to the exposure during his life in America, Mervielle took ill with a fever and died. Then came the troubles of Bright Eyes. While Mervielle lived his strong personality was sufficient to protect her from the disrespect felt by his sisters toward her on account of her Indian blood. But when he died this broke into a storm of hate, and they did all in their power to injure her. Only the elder Mervielle, her husband’s father, Count Mervielle, was true to her. He treated her like a daughter and was deeply attached to her son, who bore his name Juan, and for whom he repeatedly said he would do great things in the way of future advancement. This the sisters and a brother were determined to prevent. A plot was formed to ruin Bright Eyes in their father’s favor by convincing him that she was unfaithful. In this way they succeeded, and in a passion the father told her to leave. Take the Indian brat and go, he said. He did not care where they went only that they were out of his sight.
This aroused all of her Indian spirit of her nature. Her heart cried out for revenge against those whom she knew had poisoned his mind against her, but the passion was only for a moment, and then heartsore and homeless she determined to take him at his word. Some day she said, I hope you will know the truth. I loved your son too well to visit my revenge on your family, the Bible he taught me to read has taught me that vengeance belongs to God. That night, when sleep had closed his eyes and ears of all others in the castle, Bright Eyes and her infant son stole out into the darkness and left to rejoin her tribe at the Miami village. It was a big journey, but she accomplished it successfully.
She was welcomed back, but she had lost her Indian cheer and brightness. She had loved her lover husband with her whole heart. Now her affections were centered in their son and she lived until he was old enough to understand the story of her life, which she told him; the incidents which led up to her marriage, of his birth and of her reasons for leaving France. She then died without knowing throughout all these years that Count Mervielle had repented of his hasty action and had searched for her and her son. She did not know that he had obtained convincing proof of her innocence and desired to make atonement for the wrong. She did not know that one of the daughters were dead and that on her dying bed had made a confession that the surviving son had been killed in a drunken brawl, and that the father wished to make her son (his grandson) the heir to his title and estates. And young Juan Mervielle did not know it until the age of fifteen. A French emissary who had been sent out by his grandfather in France to search for him and his mother, and who finally found him with the Miamis, told him the story in detail. It was while at Quebec, that by accident he met the priest who performed the ceremony uniting his mother and father in marriage and learned from him that it was altogether probable that he would find her here. “Count Mervielle,” he continued, “was greatly deceived. He was grieved over the wrong done your mother and you. It is the one great desire of his now rapidly closing life to atone for it. He wants both of you back with him before he dies.” “My mother can never return to him,” said the young man. “She is dead and in that heaven that your missionaries tell us about.” “Well,” replied the Frenchman, “your grandfather would be happy to have you with him. You would be his heir inheriting his estates: you would be one of the great men in France, Count Mervielle. Let me tell you what that would mean,” and then the French representative drew a word picture of the life that would be his. A picture that appealed strongly to his ambition for his mother had told him much about the French and France, and of the higher opportunities of civilized life. Mervielle thought long before giving the Frenchman his final answer, then with tears in his eyes, brought there by the memories of his mother’s love and with keen compassion for the old man in France, who was yearning for his return. He said, “Go back and tell my forefather that his Indian grandson forgives him with his whole heart for whatever wrong he may have done my mother or myself, and that the temptation is great to return to him. I thank him for all of the love, and for all he would like to do for me, but tell him I will remain with my mother’s people”. The French barrister was dumbfounded. He could hardly believe he heard the young Indian aright to refuse a title to the nobility of France, and the wealth that the change of life would bring to him. “Refuse assured ease, comfort, honor, happiness, that would be yours all the rest of your days, and remain to live and die among uncultured, uncivilized people, and remain a savage when such a future was within your reach, and one that was handed to you without the asking. Have you considered all of this?” asked the barrister. “I have thought well,” replied the young man. “My mind is made up. I will remain with my mother’s people.” And thus the Frenchman left the young Juan Mervielle and went back to France to the old grandfather, who had driven his son’s wife from him.
In the early history of old Fort Miami and the Miami Indians there was no more romantic character than Ensign Holmes, who, after the English acquisition of the old Northwest Territory, was sent to this post with a detachment of British soldiers to garrison the fort. His force consisted of about twenty men – a portion of the Sixtieth English Rifles – a regiment known as the Royal Americans and composed largely of Scotch Highlanders. This regiment had been sent from England to Quebec in 1759 just after the surrender of the French garrison at that fortress, and was later transferred to Detroit.
It was during the early part of 1760 that Ensign Holmes was sent with his small command from Detroit to guard old Fort Miami on the present site of Fort Wayne, Indiana. This post together with those on the Great Lakes had come into English hands as a result of the recent French and Indian War. Ensign Holmes was one of the youngest officers of his regiment, brave and handsome, a member of an aristocratic English family. As was frequently the case in England at that time he had chosen the life of a soldier as a regular occupation. The detachment of soldiers under his command, while not large, was considered sufficient. The hostile spirit of the Indians manifested before and during the recent war had subsided somewhat. As a rule they were quiet and this condition prevailed for nearly two years after the arrival of the British soldiers. A Jesuit missionary who visited the post at this period wrote as follows:
“This post, Fort Miami, is commanded by Ensign Holmes. And here I can but remark on the forlorn situations of the officers as I found them at the different garrisons isolated in the wilderness hundreds of miles, in some instances, from any congenial associations, separated from the sort of life to which they had long been accustomed.
“Under such circumstances and with such surroundings it is not strange that these relieved the monotony of their everyday life by love flirtations with some of the comely Indian maidens. At least such was the case with Ensign Holmes. The Indian sweetheart of Holmes, known to the soldiers at the garrison as Wan-et-a, was the granddaughter of Wa-wa-tam, the Indian Chieftain. She was a fair Miami maiden whose beauty had won the hearts of many of the young warriors of the tribe.
“It was some months after his arrival that the attention of the young Ensign was first attracted to the Indian girl. Standing on the river bank near the fort he saw her paddling her birchbark canoe up the river. She had gone only a rod or two when she turned to the opposite shore and alighting, lifted the light boat from the waters and carried it up the steep bank to a point some fifteen distant. There amidst some fallen timber and underbrush she hid it from view in one of the many similar nooks she had for this purpose. Waneta loved the river and the forest and frequently, with her rifle slung from her shoulder, rowed the one and roamed the other, going miles from the village to which she often returned richly laden with game for she was accounted one of the best shots among the Miamis. As she wandered back to the river bank again on this eventful occasion and passed along to the thick woods she presented a handsome picture to the British officer on the opposite shore. He stood entranced and carried away her picture in his mind – carried it for days until one bright morning in September when he met her face to face in the woods. She had shot and killed a young deer and was standing near it, gun in hand, getting ready to drag it to her boat at the river’s edge some distance away. She expressed such as her intention soon after Ensign Holmes came upon her. “I will help you”, said he, and together they carried the carcass of the deer to the river and placed it in the canoe. Then, with the gallantry characteristic of the refined and cultured English officers of his time, he assisted her into the boat and she was soon on her way down the river to the village.
The two, this Indian maiden and the young commandant needed no formal introduction. Each knew who the other was. Ensign Holmes was well known among the Miamis and the Miami girl known by the soldiers at the fort had already won a place in the thoughts of the officer which ere long seized strongly on his affections. The relation of the story of how their acquaintance ripened into love would be but the repetition of the story so well known by many who were lovers once, lovers yet with so very many, after one, two or three score of years have passed in their happy married lives. In his rambles through the woods and along the rivers the young officer, by design on his part, often managed to meet her and it was no long before their meetings were of an almost daily occurrence. Such continued to be the case for weeks and months, the Indian girl happy in her innocence and the officer content in the enjoyment of the pleasures of the hour. He loved her well because she was a beautiful wild flower and because he had nothing else to do. She loved him because he was handsome and brave and poured in her ears words that were pleasant to listen to. She knew she was only really happy when in his company. Hers was an honest, pure love, his may or may not have been that. That hers was not an illicit love is the testimony of Mrs. Laura Suttenfield, the pioneer mother of Fort Wayne, to whom I have before referred in this work. Mrs. Suttenfield says, “The two were married, although the fact was not generally known among the Miamis. They were married by the missionaries, and intended to keep the matter a secret until the time came for Ensign Holmes to be relieved of his post and Fort Miami for other duties at Montreal, Canada. Whether this was true or not, a son was born to this Indian girl, and it was the generally expressed opinion that Ensign Holmes was his father. He grew up to be a drunken, worthless fellow and met his death at Raccoon village, near Fort Wayne, which was then the Miami village, in a drunken affray with another Indian.”
The early part of the year 1763 brought the threatening clouds that culminated in what is known in history as the Pontiac conspiracy, the plot formed among the Indians to wrest from the English the forts held by the latter in the northwest.
Ensign Holmes was among the first of the commandants of these forts or trading posts (the others being located at St. Joseph, Michilmackinac, Sandusky, Presque Isle, Ouiatenon, Green Bay and Detroit), to hear the muttering preceding this war storm. His information of the threat of personal harm to himself and something concerning the plot to attack Fort Miami came from Waneta. She had heard the warriors among the Miamis talking about it. Hidden from view she had listened to the plot discussed at one of their councils and hurrying to Holmes informed him of the danger and told as much of the details as she could learn. “They mean you harm”, said the Indian girl”, “they intend to attack the fort”. And then she told him that the bloody belt, the emblem of war against the whites had been passed around the various tribes and finally received at the local settlement. Holmes had faith in the girl, and brave in the performance of duty, called some of the leading Miamis into a council with him, when he openly told them of his discovery of their plot. The Indians denied everything. They said no bloody belt had been received by them and that they were in no way parties to a plot to attack the fort. But Holmes was not satisfied, and immediately began an investigation, which resulted in the finding of the bloody belt. Then he again called the Miami leaders together. Finally with assurances of their continued friendship for the English, they admitted the receipt of the bloody belt, but said they had no guilty part in the affair and had no intentions of joining in the plot. This was in March, two months before the capture by the Indians of any of the forts in this region. Ensign Holmes had previously informed Major Gladwin, the commandant at Detroit of the probable existence of the plot to attack the forts and now, feeling that he had nipped the plot in its bud, he sent him a letter of which the following is a copy:
Fort Miami, March 30, 1763
“Since my last letter to you wherein I acquainted you with the existence of the bloody belt in this village, I have made a search and found the story to be true. I assembled the Chiefs together and after a troublesome time with them obtained the belt which with a speech you will receive inclosed.
“This affair is very timely stopped and I hope the news of the peace will put a stop to any further trouble with these Indians who are the principal ones setting the mischief on foot. I send you the belt with this package which I hope you will forward to the
Nearly two months passed and no harm came to Ensign Holmes and no attack was made on the fort. The English soldiers were watchful, however, and distrustful. And yet Holmes braved danger every day and hour, he moved among the Miamis seeming not to fear harm at their hands despite the cautions of his fort companions. It was on the night of May 27, 1763, that the fatal hour came to him. The plot was ripe for the Indians to seize the fort and with the cunning characteristic of their race they accomplished it successfully. This is the story as told by Brice, the historian, in his “History of Fort Wayne”:
The Indian girl with whom Holmes had been intimate for some time and in whom he had confidence by compulsion on the part of the Indians, came to the fort and told Holmes, who was well versed in medicine and the treatment of diseases there was a sick squaw laying in a wigwam not far distant who had expressed a desire to have him come and see her. Holmes, ever ready to help in such cases and not suspecting that it was a trap on the part of the Indians, hastened to comply with the request and left the fort with the girl. They had passed the open space in front of the fort and were just entering the woods when the crack of two rifles was heard and Holmes fell to the ground dead. The shots aroused the guards and soldiers at the fort and the sergeant on duty rushed out to ascertain the cause. He had gone but a few steps when the triumphant shouts the Indians who had been concealed rushed on him and made him a captive. This brought the soldiers within the fort, nine in all, to the palisades of the garrison who clamored up to see the movements without, when a Canadian named Godfrei and two other which men stepped defiantly forth and demanded the surrender of the fort. The assurance was given the soldiers that if this demand was complied with their lives would be spared, but if refused all of them would be killed without mercy. Without a commander, without hope of making a successful resistance and fearing to hesitate the soldiers complied with the demand and the garrison gate swung open on its hinges. The surrender was complete.”
One account is that all of the soldiers in the fort were killed. I am unable to find any verification of this statement in the researches I have made.
From this account of Mr. Brice the reader is led to conclude that the Miami girl, Waneta, was willingly in the plot of the Indians to bring about the death of Holmes. Such, Mrs. Suttenfield, who related to me this story, did not believe to be true as she had seen and talked to the Indian girl frequently. Mrs. Suttenfield says the Indians, knowing her devotion to the British Ensign, were careful to conceal from the Indian girl all knowledge of their intentions to do harm to Holmes. The tragedy of the night was as much a surprise to her as it was to the soldiers in the garrison. Holmes did not keep himself locked continuously behind the garrison gates. He was not afraid of danger, but was frequently even during the last few days of his life out in the open in the evenings walking with the girl. It is true they were going to the hut of the old sick squaw that night. They had paid her visits before. She was a friend of the girl and the latter took Holmes to see her, and his visits had always been a benefit to the old Indian woman. The murderous conspirators among the Indians knew of these visits and the time being ripe for the execution of their determinations to seize the fort, they chose the night and this way to accomplish the death of the British commandant. To connect the Miami girl in any guilty way with the plot to accomplish the death of Holmes does not seem reasonable. In such a love test with her Indian nature she would have been true to her lover. She had proved it by her previous actions.
Waneta knew from whose rifles had come the two bullets that had pierced the skull of the young officer, and in the execution of her Indian nature revenge was the only solace she had for the death of her lover that she carried through her long, long life.
Within a week after the capture of Fort Miami a young Indian warrior was found dead in the woods, a bullet directly through his heart. Another disappeared from sight and was never heard of afterward. Both were jealous lovers of the Miami girl. She knew who killed the one and why the other disappeared and the Miamis in the village also knew. A few years after the events narrated above when the troubles with the Indians in the Northwest had been settled and peace had been restored between the French and English with the safety to the latter, it brought an elderly gentleman evidently from the wealthy class, who came here looking for his son. He was the father of Ensign Holmes. He had waited long and anxiously for his return to his home in England and hearing of his death immediately started for his country. The Indian troubles prevented his coming to this region. Now these troubles over, he was here to find, if possible, where the remains of his son were buried and pay a father’s tribute of tears to his memory. He felt, he said, that such a visit would appease in some degree the grief of the mother who had watched and waited in vain for the son’s return.
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