Ohio History Journal

72 Ohio Arch

72       Ohio Arch. and His. Society Publications.






SEPTEMBER 15, 1897.


We are engaged to-day in celebrating an event of a hundred

years ago which was then apparently unimportant, but which has

led on to great and permanent results. A hundred years ago a

few intelligent and determined white men settled here in the then

unbroken wilderness, which settlement soon became and has

ever since remained the center of a far-pervading salutary influ-

ence. It was one of the important and permanent steps toward

reducing to cultivation and civilization the great wilderness of

the Northwest, of which Ohio was a part. When we look abroad

and behold the wondrous transformation which has taken place

since Lucas Sullivant and his few associates built their cabins

near this spot, our minds are filled with amazement at the results,

and our hearts with thankfulness and gratitude to Him who has

so wisely guided and bounteously blest us as a community and

a people. This event was the beginning of the settlement of

Central Ohio and the foundation of the present City of Columbus,

which now embraces the town of Franklinton. If there had been

no Franklinton there would have been no Columbus; and so

those few rude cabins have within a hundred years developed into

a great and properous city with its trade and commerce and

thousands of happy homes.

The celebration of this event will be of ever increasing in-

terest as the centuries go by. It marked a new and most im-

portant era in the history of Ohio and particularly in that of

Franklin and adjoining counties. It was but eleven years be-

fore the settlement of Franklinton that so intelligent a states-

man as James Monroe, after a visit to the then wilderness of

Ohio for the purpose of informing himself as accurately as pos-

sible as to the character and condition of the Northwest terri-

tory, wrote to Thomas Jefferson as follows:

"A great part of the territory is miserably poor, especially

that near Lakes Michigan and Erie; and that upon the Missis-

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sippi and the Illinois consists of extensive plains which have not

had, from appearances, and will not have, a single bush on them

for ages. The districts, therefore, within which these fall, will,

perhaps, never contain a sufficient number of inhabitants to en-

title them to membership in the confederacy (of states) and in

the meantime the people who may settle within them will be

governed by the resolutions of Congress, in which they will

not be represented."

The territory referred to by Mr. Monroe included what is

now the States of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and Wis-

consin. At that time there were no permanent settlements by

the white race within all this vast territory, and with the excep-

tion of a few French traders and a few captives among the In-

dians, there were within it no white people. It was an unclaimed

and unbroken wilderness. Within this territory there are now

five of the most populous and prosperous states in the Union,

containing half a hundred cities, and many hundreds of prosper-

ous town and villages, and a population of fifteen millions of peo-

ple living under conditions of prosperity and happiness, of mor-

ality and intelligence not surpassed by any community of equal

magnitude which has ever existed in the history of the world.

For all of this we should rejoice and be exceedingly glad,

but in our rejoicing we must not forget that other peoples and

other races once occupied this territory and here lived and ener-

gized for many centuries-possibly for several thousands of years

--before the advent of the white man. It is concerning these, our

immediate predecessors, the Indians, and their manner of life

that I have been requested to speak to-day.


*        *        *       *

We are too apt to think of the Indian as a lurking, danger-

ous, unrelenting savage, infesting the forest and living without

laws or restrictions of any kind, and with no intentions but of

evil. This view is both erroneous and unjust. It is true that

they were alert and dangerous as enemies when once they were

made enemies, but when we shall have learned a broader charity,

and truth instead of prejudice and fiction shall be recorded as

history, it will be found that the Indian has not always been the

aggressor, and was not by nature the cruel savage as generally

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assumed and represented. We, the white people, have written

all the history so far, but a more impartial review will yet be

made when it will appear that the cruel and vindictive acts of

the Indians were largely the result of the cruel and vindictive acts

of the white men. They were not at worst more fierce or savage

than many of the white men with whom they came in contact;

and in truth they could not have been, for history records no

darker or bloodier crimes than those which have been committed

by our race against the Indian tribes. The massacre of the Mo-

ravian Indians in 1782 on the soil of Ohio in the now county

of Tuscarawas, and the murder of Chief Cornstalk and his son

Elenipsies in 1777 at Point Pleasant, will always remain among

the darkest, most dreadful and disgraceful pages in American

history. A thousand other atrocities of various natures shame

and disgrace the history of our contact with the Indian tribes

whom we call savages, and largely rob us of the right to claim

superiority over them, save in the matter of education and phys-

ical force.

They had no written laws, but they had rules of tribal and

family government, which had all the force of laws. They had

no written language and but a limited vocabulary, but many of

them were gifted with marvelous eloquence of speech; and it

would be easy to cite among their reported speeches numerous

examples of eloquence, which except for want of classic form

would rank little below the best efforts of the best English-speak-

ing orators. They had neither courts nor judges, but they dealt

justly with each other and guarded individual rights with jeal-

ous care. They had no military schools, but they developed

brave and skillful warriors, and the names of Pontiac, Tecumseh,

Crane, Cornstalk, Solamon and many other chiefs will remain

a permanent part of the history of the long and bloody contests be-

tween the Indian tribes and white men for the possession of the

territory of the great Northwest.

At the time of the first settlement along the New England

and New Jersey shores by the white man that portion of the

country was occupied by the Algonquin linguistic family, divided

however into many tribes or clans. The entire territory of New

York and the territory immediately around the borders of Lake

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Erie, including a portion of northern Ohio, was occupied by the

Iriquois family. Both of these linguistic families had many sub-

divisions of tribes, but all the tribes of the same family spoke

substantially the same language. The encroachments of the

white man from our Eastern shores westward gradually drove

the Algonquin Indians to the west and they were thus com-

pelled to seek new territory whereon to settle, and in doing so

they necessarily impinged upon other tribes, particularly upon

the Iriquois. This brought on wars which greatly disturbed the

original conditions of the tribes and wrought great changes both

in their numbers and locations. These conflicts were further

complicated by wars between the French upon one side and the

English upon the other, as these two nations were for a long

period of time actively contending for dominion on this conti-

nent. The result of all this was broken and disseminated tribes

of both the Algonquin and the Iriquois families, some of which

found lodgment in various portions of Ohio.

Our immediate predecessors in the occupancy of Ohio were

the Miamis, Shawnees, Delawares and Ottaways of the Algon-

quin linguistic family; and the Wyandots and Mingos of the

Iriquois linguistic family. There were also in the eastern and

northeastern part of the State a few of the Senecas and Tuscar-

awas, who were of the Iriquois family. Their occupancy, how-

ever, was for hunting purposes and temporary in character, their

permanent homes being farther east in New York and northern

Pennsylvania. Their tribal relations were with the Six Nations

of the Iriquois. In the early part of this century some of the

Senecas broke away from their original tribal relations and set-

tled near Sandusky, within the territory claimed by the Wyan-

dots. They were inconsiderable both in numbers and influence,

and came into Ohio after the formation of the State, and cannot

therefore be considered as having an original occupancy of the


The Mingos were but a small tribe, a branch of the Iriquois

which formerly occupied the eastern portion of the State near

Steubenville, and later settled upon the banks of the Scioto where

the City of Columbus now stands. They had but three small

villages; one in front of and south from where the Ohio Peniten-

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tiary now stands; another was at the west end of the Harrisburg

bridge where the City Work House is now located and the other

was near the east end of what is called the Green Lawn Avenue

bridge. Logan was their most noted chief and at one time pos-

sessed great influence not only over his own but all the other

tribes northwest of the Ohio.

The Delawares came from the region of the Delaware and

Susquehanna Rivers in Pennsylvania and settled for a time along

the Muskingum and later upon the Auglaize in northwestern

Ohio on territory claimed by the Miamis and Wyandots. Later

still they moved from the Auglaize to the White River in In-

diana, which is a branch of the Wabash. They were at one time

before they came to Ohio conquered by the five nations of Iri-

quois and called women and reduced to the grade of women;

but after their advent in Ohio they showed themselves to be brave

in war and skillful in the chase and in part redeemed their reputa-

tion and standing with the other tribes.

The Shawnees, after wandering over a wide extent of terri-

tory, including the States of Florida, Georgia and Tennessee,

from which country they were driven by the Creeks and Semi-

noles and other Southern tribes, made their lodgment in Ohio

along the lower Scioto in what is now Pickaway and Ross coun-

ties and sought the protection of the Miamis and Delawares.

At this time Black Hoof was their principal chief, but later at

the battle of "fallen timbers," in August, 1794, Blue Jacket was

chief in authority of this tribe. They were exceedingly restless

and aggressive, and constantly annoyed the early settlers in

Virginia and Kentucky, and it was as against this tribe that the

military expedition of Lord Dunmore in 1774 was particularly

directed. When he had reached the Scioto about seven miles

south from where Circleville now stands, the Indians sued for

peace and the celebrated conference took place by which the

Shawnees agreed not to again hunt or conduct marauding ex-

peditions south of the Ohio. The Mingoes did not attend that

conference, and while Lord Dunmore's main army was centered

in Pickaway county, he sent a detachment under Captain Craw-

ford to destroy the Mingo towns where Columbus now stands.

Of this expedition the late Joseph Sullivant, in his most excellent

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address before the pioneers of Franklin county in 1871, narrates

that he had often heard from Jonathan Alder, who had been

long a captive among the Indians, but who in after years lived

upon the Darby in this county, and with whom Mr. Sullivant

had a close personal acquaintance, that he (Alder) had heard

from the Indians that "in the fall of 1774, when all the male In-

dians of the neighboring villages, except a few old men had gone

on their first fall hunt, one day about noon the village was sur-

prised by the sudden appearance of a body of armed white men,

who immediately commenced firing upon all whom they could

see. Great consternation and panic ensued and the inhabitants

fled in every direction. One of the Indian women seized her

child of five or six years of age and rushed down the bank of the

river and across to the wooded island opposite, when she was

shot down at the farther bank. The child was unhurt amid the

shower of balls and escaped into the thicket and hid in a huge

hollow sycamore standing in the middle of the island, where it

was found alive two days afterwards when the warriors of the

tribe returned, having been summoned back to the scene of dis-

aster by runners sent for that purpose. This wooded and shady

island was a favorite place for us boys when we went swimming

and fishing, and I have no doubt but that the huge sycamore is

well remembered by many besides myself."

This seems to have virtually ended the Mingos as a sepa-

rate tribe or as a tribe of influence. They were not of the tribes

who were parties to the treaty of Greenville in 1795, although

all the important tribes northwest of the Ohio and east of the

Mississippi were parties to that treaty. However, at that time

there were some of the Mingos still living along the head waters

of Mad River in what is now Champaign and Logan counties,

which territory belonged to the Miamis and the Mingos had no

territorial right therein.


*        *        *        *

The Ottawas formerly occupied the region of the Ottawa

river of Canada, which empties into the St. Lawrence at Mon-

treal, and which still retains the name of that tribe. From this

region they were driven westward to the northern portion of

Michigan, afterwards to the region of Green Bay, Wisconsin,

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still later being driven from one place to another by the Iriquois a

fragment of the tribe at last settled in Ohio in the country of the

Maumee. They joined in the treaty of Greenville, August 3d,

1795. They had long been considered a cowardly tribe; yet they

produced the great Pontiac, who was beyond question the greatest

of Indian chiefs and warriors of which we have any accurate


*     *       *

The Miamis occupied all the western portion of Ohio, all of

Indiana and a large portion of what is now the State of Illinois.

This tribe had long occupied that territory and were once the

most numerous and powerful of the tribes in the Northwest.

They had no tradition of ever having lived in any other portion

of the country and so they must have occupied this territory for

many generations. Their principal villages were along the head

waters of the two Miamis of the Ohio, and the Miami of the Lake

(now the Maumee) and along the waters of the Wabash in In-

diana as far south as the vicinity of Vincennes. At the time of

the treaty of Greenville they had been greatly reduced in num-

bers and in power, but were the oldest occupants of the Ohio



The Wyandots were a branch of the Hurons, and when first

met with by the French explorers along the St. Lawrence, occu-

pied the vast peninsula embraced between Lake Ontario and

Lake Erie on the east and south, and Lake Huron on the west.

Early in the seventeenth century a fierce and unrelenting

war broke out between the Hurons and the Iriquois. The Hu-

rons had been furnished with fire-arms by the French, and the

Iriquois by the Hollanders, which inaugurated among the In-

dians a new instrument and a new mode of warfare. The result

was unexpectedly and overwhelmingly in favor of the Iriquois;

and the Hurons were driven from the line of the St. Lawrence

and the country of Lake Ontario and Lake Erie over to the east-

ern shore of Lake Huron and to the Manitoulin Islands in Geor-

gian Bay. But the aggressions of the Iriquois did not cease there

and the Hurons were ultimately driven further north and west

to the region of northern Lake Michigan and western Lake Su-

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perior. They were afterwards collected and concentrated largely

about the Straits of Mackinac, and later still found their way down

Lake Huron and took possession of the country from Lake St.

Clair south along the Detroit river, across Lake Erie to the mouth

of the Sandusky river, thence up that river to the ridge of the

State in Wyandot, Marion and Crawford counties, in which terri-

tory they had their principal villages.

They extended their occupance of the country south as far

at least as the Shawnee settlements on the lower Scioto. They

hunted and trapped along all the streams between the Little

Miami and the Muskingum. They also expanded to the west

of this general line along the southern shore of Lake Erie as far

as the Maumee river; and to the east almost if not quite to the

eastern boundary of the State, which last region had once been

the home of the Eries, but they had before this time been exter-

minated by the Iriquois. Lake Erie obtained its name from that

tribe and still retains the same, although the tribe has long been


The Miamis claimed the right of possession in the territory

between the Scioto and the Miamis, and they were at one time

in possession of and entitled to the same but in time the Wyandots

seemed to have been accorded the right thereto.

The main villages of the Wyandots were near the present

city of Detroit and along the line of the Sandusky river, their

principal settlement being in Wyandot county, Ohio, where

Upper Sandusky now stands.

The Wyandots were admitted to be the leading tribe among

the Indians in the territory of the Northwest. To them was in-

trusted the grand calumet which united all the tribes in that ter-

ritory in a confederacy for mutual protection and gave them the

right to assemble the tribes in council and to kindle the council

fires. This confederation included in addition to the tribes before

mentioned the Kickapoos and Potawatamies, who lived about

Lake Michigan, and the Chippewas of the tipper lake region.

Their entire military strength however was not to exceed 3,000

warriors at the time of the treaty of Greenville in 1795, although

their strength had been much greater at a former period.

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General Harrison in his address before the Historical

Society of Cincinnati in 1839, speaking of the Wyandots, says:

"Their bravery has never been questioned, although there

was certainly a considerable difference between the several tribes

in this rspect. With all but the Wyandots flight in battle when

meeting with unexpected resistance or obstacles brought with it

no disgrace. It was considered a principle of tactics. With the

Wyandots it was otherwise. Their youths were taught to con-

sider anything that had the appearance of an acknowledgment

of the superiority of an enemy as disgraceful. In the battle of

the Miami Rapids of thirteen chiefs of that tribe who were present

only one survived and he was badly wounded."

This battle, which is generally known as the battle of "fallen

timbers," was farreaching in its results favorable to the con-

quests of the Northwest by the white man. It is here worthy

of remark that at this battle two of the most remarkable men of

their time first came in conflict, namely William Henry Harrison,

then a young officer, and Tecumseh, then a young warrior. These

men were destined to be in contact and conflict for more than

twenty years and until Tecumseh met his death at the battle of

the Thames, October 5th, 1813, where he was in command of

the Indian forces allied with the English under Proctor and Gen-

eral Harrison was in command of the American forces.

It is further related of the Wyandots that when General

Wayne was in command of the Army of the Northwest in 1793,

he instructed Captain Wells, who commanded a company of

scouts and who had previously been long a captive with the In-

dians, to go to Sandusky and bring in a prisoner for the purpose

of obtaining information. Captain Wells replied that he "could

bring in a prisoner, but not from Sandusky, because there were

none but Wyandots at Sandusky and they would not be taken

alive." (Historical Society of Ohio, Vol. 1, page 266.)

The Chief Sachem of the Wyandots as far back as the treaty

of the Muskingum (Marietta, June 9, 1789), was Tarhe (the

Crane), who was even at that remote period the most influential

chief of his tribe, and continued to be such until the time of his

death, which was subsequent to the peace of 1814. He was the

leading spirit at the treaty of Greenville and used his great influ-

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ence to secure the ratification of that treaty by the various tribes,

and continued his efforts and influence in behalf of peace at every

treaty and conference to which his tribe was a party, down to the

conference with General Harrison at Franklinton, June 21, 1813,

and until his death. He never lost his influence either with his

own or other tribes with whom they were in confederation. He

was a wise, just and honorable chief and at all times sought to

subserve the best and truest interests of both the Indian and the

white race and commanded the respect and confidence of both.

Another chief of the Wyandots who had great wisdom and

firmness, and so great influence with his tribe was Sha-Tey-Ya-

Ron-Yah (Leatherlips). So great was his influence with the

Sandusky Wyandots it was deemed by the Prophet and other

turbulent spirits that he should be gotten out of the way, and so

they had him executed June 1st, 1810. The pretence was witch-

craft; but the real cause was the stand he took with his tribe to

prevent the war which Tecumseh and the Prophets were then

endeavoring to bring about between the Indians and the British

on one side, and the Americans upon the other, It was simply

a political murder. The virtues of this honorable chief have been

commemorated by a suitable monument erected by the Wyandot

Club of Columbus in 1888 on the spot where he was executed.


*        *       *        *

These northern tribes of which we have been making men-

tion had long been at enmity and war with the tribes south of the

Ohio, particularly with the Cherokees, Chickasaws and Ca-

tawbas, and many were the fierce conflicts which took place

between these warring people. In the traditions which the

Miamis give of their own history they state that they had been

at war with the Cherokees and Chickasaws for so long a period

of time that they had no account of any time when there had been

peace between them.

I refer to this particularly to-day as we are assembled on the

banks of the Scioto, which was for centuries one of the important

military highways over and along which the northern tribes trav-

eled in their numerous war expeditions against the tribes south

of the Ohio. The importance of this river as a highway for the

Indians in former times can only be understood and appreciated

Vol. VI-6

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82        Ohio Arch. and His. Society Publications.


by remembering its direction and its physical relations to other

streams and waters. If we draw a line directly from the mouth

of the Scioto north to the mouth of the Sandusky River it will

practically parallel the Scioto as far north as the center of Marion

county; thence it will lead over the divide or ridge of the State and

follow the general line of the Sandusky River to its mouth where

it empties into the Sandusky Bay. Continuing the line further

north across Lake Erie it will lead directly to the mouth of the

Detroit River, by which all the waters of the Great Northern

Lakes are reached. From the mouth of the Detroit River there

is a chain of islands in sight one of another which stretch en-

tirely across Lake Erie to Sandusky Bay and the mouth of the

Sandusky River, and this was the route of the Indians across

Lake Erie in fair weather. These islands afforded lodging

places in the case of sudden storms and bad weather and so made

it comparatively safe for the Indians to cross Lake Erie in their

canoes in the summer season, which was the season when they

went to war and on their marauding expeditions. So it will be

seen that nature had provided a direct water way from the North-

ern Lakes to the Ohio River by way of the Sandusky and the

Scioto over which the operations of war and the avocations of

the chase were carried on for centuries by the Indians, and prob-

ably at a still more remote period by other races of men who

preceded them in the occupation of this portion of the country.


*        *        *        *

As illustrating the fierce nature of the conflicts between the

tribes north of the Ohio and those south of it in times past, it is

an important fact that no tribes lived along the banks of that

river or permanently occupied the contiguous territory. The

Ohio as it flowed through the wilderness was and has always

been considered one of the most beautiful rivers on the globe

and its banks presented every allurement to, and advantage of

permanent occupation. Yet, there was not on it from its source

to its mouth, a distance of more than a thousand miles, a single

wigwam or structure in the nature of a permanent abode. Gen-

eral William Henry Harrison, in his address before the Historical

Society of Ohio, says:

"Of all this immense territory, the most beautiful portion

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was unoccupied. Numerous villages were to be found on the

Scioto and the head waters of the two Miamis of the Ohio; on

the Miami of the Lake (the Maumee) and its southern tributa-

ries and throughout the whole course of the Wabash, at least as

low as the present town of Vincennes; but the beautiful Ohio

rolled its amber tide until it paid its tribute to the father of

waters through an unbroken solitude. At and before that time

and for a century after its banks were without a town or single

village or even a single cottage, the curling smoke of whose

chimneys would give the promise of comfort and refreshment

to a weary traveler."

This was the result of the long and fierce struggle which was

waged between the Indians north of the Ohio and those south

of it. Its banks were not safe for permanent occupation by any

of the Indian tribes. Even the vast and fertile territory of Ken-

tucky was not, so far as known or as tradition informs us, the

permanent abode of any considerable number of red men. It

was indeed a dark and bloody ground long before its occupancy

by the white men. In that territory there were great numbers

of buffalo and wild deer and other game which made it a most

desirable hunting ground, and hither came the Cherokees and

Chickasaws of the south, as also the tribes north of the Ohio to

hunt and to obtain salt, and to wage war with each other; but

it was not the permanent abode of any considerable number of

any of these tribes. It was rather a battle ground and seat of

conflict between the northern and southern tribes which had been

waged for a long period of time.


*        *        *        *

The Scioto River was originally of great importance not

only to the Indians but to the early white settlers. The first

surveyors and the first settlers came to this vicinity in canoes,

the Scioto then being well suited for canoe navigation.

In a memorial of the Sullivant family prepared by the late

Joseph Sullivant will be found (page 111) an interesting narra-

tion of his father's experience on one of his early trips to this

localty. He had instructed the men who had preceded him in

canoes to leave one for him at the mouth of what is now the

Olentangy River. He came through the forest on foot, and

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found the canoe which had been left according to his instruction.

It was toward evening when he pushed it into the Scioto and

started up that stream for the mouth of Mill Creek where his

party was in wait for him. He soon perceived that he was being

followed by Indians along the north bank of the river and as the

times were turbulent he was apprehensive for his own safety.

By the time he had propelled his canoe as far as the island in the

bend of the river at the stone quarries it had become dark, and

he went upon the island as if intending to camp for the night.

He pretended to build a fire but so managed that it made only

smoke. When it was sufficiently dark he took his compass and

gun and quietly waded out from the island to the west bank of

the river and thus escaped his pursuers.


*        *       *        *

All the tribes in Ohio had practically the same government

or tribal organization, although they may have differed in many

details. In the social organization of the Wyandots there were

four groups-the family, the gens, the phratry, and the tribe.

The family was the household. It consisted of the persons who

occupied one lodge or wigwam. The gens were composed of

consanguineal kindred in the female line. The woman is the

head of the family and "carries the gens," and each gens has the

name of some animal. Among the Wyandots there were eleven

gentes, namely: Deer, Bear, Striped Turtle, Black Turtle, Mud

Turtle, Smooth Large Turtle, Hawk, Beaver, Wolf, Sea Snake

and Porcupine. A tribe is a body of kindred, and to be a mem-

ber of the tribe, it was necessary to belong to some family or to

be adopted into a family. The white captives were often adopted

into families and given the relationship of the family. The

phratry pertained to medical and religious rites and observances.

There was practically a complete separation of the military

from the social government. The councils and chiefs in the

social government were selected by a council of women from

the male members of the gens.

The Sachem of the tribe or tribal chief was chosen by the

chiefs of the gentes. In their grand councils the heads of the

households of the tribe and all the leading men of the tribe took

part. These general councils were conducted with great cere-

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mony. The Sachem explained the object for which the council

was assembled and then each person was at liberty to express

his opinion as to what was proper or best to be done. If a ma-

jority of the council agreed the Sachem did not speak, but simply

announced the decision. In case there was an equal division of

sentiment, the Sachem was expected to speak. It was consid-

ered dishonorable for a man to reverse his opinion after he had

once expressed it.

The wife had her separate property, which consisted of every-

thing in the lodge or wigwam except the implements of war and

the chase, which belonged to the men.

Each gens had a right to the services of all its availabe male

members in avenging wrongs and in times of war. They also had

a right to their services as hunters in supplying game to the vil-

lages. In times of need or scarcity whatever game was brought

to the camp or village was fairly divided among all present. The

military council was composed of all the able-bodied men of the

tribe. Each gens had a right to the services of all the able-bodied

women in the cultivation of the soil. It was considered beneath

the dignity of the Indian hunter or warrior to labor in the fields

or to perform manual labor outside of what pertained to war and

the chase. The children assisted the women in the cultivation

of the crops, which consisted mostly of corn, although they also

cultivated beans and peas, and in come parts of Ohio at least they

had a kind of potato which the captives among the Indians say

"when peeled and dipped in coon's fat or bear's fat tasted like our

own sweet potatoes." They also made considerable use of nuts

and berries, particularly of the walnut and hickory nut and black

haw, all of which were found in almost every part of the state.

The cranberry was also found in certain places and much used.

The Mingo Indians at this point cultivated the rich bottom

land between Franklinton and the river, which was subject to

annual overflows so that it was constantly enriched and yielded

most abundant returns for the labor bestowed upon it.


*        *        *        *

Their great annual occasion was the green corn festival. For

this festival the hunters supplied the game from the forests and

the women the green corn and vegetables from the fields. On

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this occasion they not only feasted themselves with plenty, but

made offerings and did homage to the Great Spirit for his bless-

ings. At this festival each year the council of women of the gens

selected the names of the children born during the previous year

and the chiefs of the gens proclaimed these names at the festival.

These names could not be changed, but an additional name might

be acquired by some act of bravery or circumstance which might

reflect honor upon the person.


*        *        *        *

The crimes generally recognized and punished by the Ohio

tribes were murder, treason, theft, adultery and witchcraft. In

case of murder it was the duty of the gentile chiefs of the offender's

gens to examine the facts for themselves, and if they failed to

settle the matter it was the duty of the nearest relative to avenge

the wrong.

Theft was punished by twofold restitution.

Treason consisted of revealing the secrets of the medicine

preparations, as well as giving information or assistance to the

enemy, and was punished by death.

Witchcraft was also punishable by death either by stabbing,

burning or with the tomahawk. As late as June, 1810, Chief

Leatherlips (Shateyaronyah), an aged chief of the Wyandots, was

executed under the charge of witchcraft in this country. He was

dispatched with a tomahawk.

For the first offense of adultery in a woman her hair was

cropped; for repeated offences her left ear was cut off.

Outlawry was also recognized among most of the tribes and

consisted of two grades. If convicted of the lowest grade and

the man thereafter committed similar crimes it was lawful for any

person to kill him. In outlawry of the highest grade it was the

duty of any member of the tribe who might meet with the offender

to kill him.

*        *        *        *

When the Indians determined upon a war expedition they

usually observed the war dance and then started for their objec-

tive point. They did not move in a compact body, but broke up

into small parties each of which would take a different way to a

common point of assembly. This was necessary, as they had to

The Ohio Indians

The Ohio Indians.                 87


subsist upon the game which they might be able to take while on

the way, and it was difficult, if not impossible, to secure game suf-

ficient to sustain a large number of warriors on any one line of

travel. They traveled light and fast, and this made them dan-

gerous as enemies. They would strike when not expected and

disappear as suddenly and quickly as they had appeared. In

this way they were able to subsist and elude pursuit.

Their captives in war and in their forays were sometimes

shot, sometimes burned, sometimes adopted into a family and

converted into Indians. The white captives as a rule soon ac-

quired the woodcraft and habits of their captors. Some of them

became inveterate and active foes of the white man. Simon

Girty may be mentioned as an example of this class. He was

called the "White Indian." He was celebrated for his cunning

and craftiness, and no Indian surpassed him in these qualities.

He is often and usually cited as an example of extreme cruelty,

but it is said in truth that he saved many captives from death, and

it is probable that injustice has been done to him by inaccurate

and prejudiced writers.

*        *                  *

It was in the Summer season that the Indians congregated

in their villages. That was also the season when they went to

war or on their forays against the white settlers. In the winter

season the villages were practically deserted, as it was their cus-

tom to separate into small parties, usually that of the near rela-

tives or, as we would say, members of the household, including

the old men, women and children. They would go into different

localities and select a spot usually along a stream of water or by

the side of a lake or spring, where in the autumn or early winter

they would erect a lodgment where the old men, women and chil-

dren might sojourn through the winter. The hunters would then

separate and go in different directions and select a place or camp

from which to hunt and trap so as not to impinge upon each other,

always keeping relation with the main camp or lodge to which

they supplied meat for subsistence. They would of course change

these camps according to their pleasure or their necessities, but

at the end of the season they would gather the results of their win-

ter's hunt and proceed back to their villages. It was their custom

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during the hunting season to collect the fat of the beaver, the

raccoon and the bear and to secure it in the paunches or entrails of

large animals, which the women had prepared for that purpose;

and this was transported or conveyed to their villages for future


They also made sugar in the spring of the year when the

sap began to run, and this they also put into the entrails of ani-

mals for preservation and transportation to their summer villages.

This sugar they mixed with the fat of the bear and that of other

animals and cooked it with the green corn and such vegetables

as they had, and thus made what they considered a most savory


They were often reduced to great distress for want of food,

and often died from hunger and exposure. They were not only

improvident, but they had no means of securing large stores of

provisions for future use, and never acquired the art of so doing.

When they had plenty they would use it with extravagance and

improvidence; but they were capable of enduring great hunger

and fatigue. It was common for the Indian to be days without

food of any kind, but they seem never to have profited by such

experiences. The time when they were most likely to be dis-

tressed for want of food was in the winter when a crust would be

formed upon the snow, so that when in walking such a noise

was made as to scare the game before them. It was almost im-

possible for them to take deer, buffalo, or other wild game under

such circumstances. They were then required to depend upon

finding bear or coon trees. These their quick and practiced eye

would soon detect when they came across them, but they were

not always easily found, and it was often days before they would

come upon one of them. They often saved themselves from star-

vation by digging hickory nuts, walnuts, and other nuts, out from

under the snow.

*        *       *        *

The territory of Ohio furnished an ideal home for the Indians.

The climate was excellent, and the streams abounded with fish

and the forests with game. The red deer was abundant and the

buffalo and elk were found in considerable numbers in certain

portions of the state. These and other large animals furnished

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The Ohio Indians.                  89


food for the Indians, and their hides furnished covering for their

lodges and clothing for their persons. The waters of the State

at certain seasons of the year were alive with myriads of wild

fowl, of which we can now have no conception as to numbers.

These added greatly to the sustenance of the Indians. No por-

tion of the country was more favorable for forest life.


*        *        *        *

After the settlement at Franklinton it soon became a trading

point for the Indians, particularly the Wyandots, and the hunters

of this tribe continued to maintain their hunting camps along the

Scioto and other streams of Franklin County for several years

after the war of 1812 was closed. I have often heard from my

father, David Taylor, who came to this county in 1807, that they

came to hunt in this county as late as 1820; and one hunter in

particular, with whom my father was well acquainted and who

was known to the white people by the name of "Billy Wyandot",

maintained his camp every winter at the first ravine north of the

National Road on the west bank of Walnut Creek, where there

was, and now is, a fine spring.

*        *        *        *

On the 21st of June, 1813, there was a great council of the

chief and principal men of the Wyandot, Delaware, Shawnee and

Seneca tribes, about fifty in number, held in Franklinton to meet

General Harrison in a conference about the war then in progress.

James B. Gardiner, who was then the editor and proprietor of a

weekly paper published in Franklinton, called the Freeman's

Chronicle, was present, and in the next issue of his paper, which

was on the 25th of June, 1813, he made a report of this confer-

ence. We have in, our possession a copy of that paper, and

believing it to be the only one in existence, we quote from it

as follows: After some preliminary remarks of a general char-

acter General Harrison said to the Indians: "That in order to

give the U. S. a guarantee of their good dispositions the friendly

tribes should either move with their families into the settlements,

or their warriors should accompany him in the ensuing campaign

and fight for the U. S. To this proposal the warriors present

unanimously agreed and observed that they had long been anx-

ious for an opportunity to fight for the Americans." The editor

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adds: "We cannot recollect the precise remarks that were made

by the chiefs who spoke; but Tarhe (the Crane), who is the prin-

cipal chief of the Wyandots, and the oldest Indian in the western

wilds, appeared to represent the whole assembly and professed

in the name of the friendly tribes the most indissoluble attach-

ment for the American government and a determination to adhere

to the treaty of Greenville."

"The General promised to let the several tribes know when

he would want their services and further cautioned them that all

who went with him must conform to his mode of warfare; not to

kill or injure old men, women, children nor prisoners. * * * *

The General then informed the chiefs of the agreement made by

Proctor to deliver him to Tecumseh in case the British succeeded

in taking Fort Meigs; and promised them that if he should be

successful he would deliver Proctor into their hands on condition

- that they should do him no other harm than to put a petticoat

on him. For, said he - 'none but a coward or a squaw would kill

a prisoner.' The council broke up in the afternoon and the In-

dians departed next day for their respective towns."

It will be remembered in this connection in the last days of

April, 1813, General Harrison was concentrating his troops for

battle with the English under General Proctor and the Indians un-

der Tecumseh at Fort Meigs at the rapids of the Maumee. The

English and Indians undertook to surprise him and take the fort

before the main body of the American troops had arrived. They

laid siege to Fort Meigs with great determination, but were

finally defeated and compelled to abandon the enterprise. It was

to encourage the Indians to valor at this siege that General Proc-

tor made his promise to them to deliver General Harrison into

the hands of Tecumseh, if he should be successful in reducing the


*        *        *        *


In a report made by General Harrison to the Secretary of

War, March 22nd, 1814, he says: "The Wyandots, of Sandusky,

have adhered to us throughout the war. Their chief, the Crane,

is a venerable, intelligent and upright man." In the same report,

speaking of Black-Hoof, Wolf, and Lewis, all Shawnee chiefs,

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The Ohio Indians.                 91


he says: "They are attached to us from principles as well as in-

terest. - They are all honest men."

Through the influence of Crane, Leatherlips and others, the

Wyandots of Sandusky refused to take part in the war, but the

Wyandots of Detroit were led away by the influences of their

chiefs, Walk-in-the-Water and Roundhead, and other turbulent

spirits, and furnished more than 100 warriors to Tecumseh and

the English under Proctor, but were utterly defeated at the Battle

of the Thames in October, 1813, and their leader killed, and their

military power broken.


*        *        *       *

It is not quite 150 years since the first white man of which

we have knowledge passed this locality. In 1751 Christopher

Gist, accompanied by George Croughtan and Andrew Montour,

passed over the Indian trail from the forks of the Ohio, to the In-

dian towns on the Miami. Gist was the agent of an English and

Virginia land company. On January 17th, 1751, he and his party

were at the great swamp in what is now Licking County, known

to us as the "Pigeon Roost", or "Bloody Run Swamp", which is

five miles northwest from the Licking Reservoir and one-half

mile south of the line of the National Road. From thence they

proceeded to the Miami Towns, which were in the region of Xenia

and Springfield. This trail led them over or very near to the

site of Columbus. We have reason to believe that they crossed

the Scioto at or near the mouth of the Olentangy.

*        *       *        *

The next white man that we know of who did certainly pass

along the Scioto River and visit this vicinity, was James Smith,

who was a captive among the Indians and who hunted and camped

with them on the Darby somewhere in the neighborhood of Plain

City as early as 1757. What is now called the Darby was then the

Olentangy, and Smith with his Indian companions hunted and

trapped along the Darby and the Scioto, both in the winter of

1757 and 1758. In his narrative we learn that at the end of the

first winter's hunt they made a bark canoe and started down the

Olentangy (now the Darby), but as the water was low they were

required to wait for high water somewhere almost directly west

from here, where the Chief Tecaughretanego, after having made

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his ablutions, prayed to the Great Spirit as follows: "Grant that

on this voyage we may frequently kill bears as they may cross

the Scioto and Sandusky. Grant that we may kill plenty of tur-

keys along the banks to stew with our fat bear meat. Grant that

rain may come to raise the Olentangy about 2 or 3 feet that we

may cross in safety down to Scioto without danger to our canoe

being wrecked on the rocks; - and now, O Great Being, thou

knowest how matters stand; thou knowest I am a great lover of

tobacco, and though I know not when I may get any more, I now

make a present of the last I have unto thee as a free burnt offer-

ing; therefore, I expect thou wilt hear and grant these requests,

and I thy servant will return thee thanks and love thee for thy

gifts." (James Smith's Captivity, page 96.)

In a few days the rains did come and raised the Olentangy so

that they passed safely down to its confluence with the Scioto at the

present town of Circleville, from which point they passed up the

Scioto and over into the Sandusky and on to Lake Erie and De-

troit, where their stock of furs, which they had taken during the

winter, was disposed of to traders. The next year they hunted

along the Scioto and Olentangy, and the following year he escaped

back to his home in Virginia. He was the first man to de-

scribe the country and the character of the land and the forests

along the Scioto. Speaking of the country along the Scioto from

Circleville up to the carry in Marion County, he says: "From the

mouth of Olentangy on the east side of Scioto up to carrying

place there is a large body of first and second rate land and toler-

ably well watered. The timber is ash, sugar tree, walnut, locust,

oak and beech." In so far as we know or can discover, this is

the first description ever written of the country where Columbus

now stands.   Just when the Darby obtained its new name and

lost its Indian name of Olentangy is not known, but it was as

early as the year 1796, as we know by the early surveys along that

stream. The new name was no doubt given to it by the early


*        *       *        *

On the 10th of May, 1803, the court convened in Frank-

linton with John Dill, Chief Judge, and David Jamison and Joseph

Foos, Associate Judges, who were attended by Lucas Sullivant,

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The Ohio Indians.                 93


Clerk of the Court. They then proceeded to lay off Franklin

County into four Townships as required by an act of the Legis-

lature of the State of Ohio. It was by that order that all of that

part of Franklin County within the following limits was embraced,

to-wit: "Beginning at the forks of Darby Creek (now Georges-

ville) running thence south to the line between the counties of

Ross and Franklin; thence east with said line till it intersects the

Scioto River; thence up the same till it comes to a point one mile

on a straight line above the mouth of Roaring Run (Hayden's

Falls); and from thence to the point of beginning to constitute

the township to be called Franklin Township." This included

the territory on which we are assembled to-day.


*        *        *       *

In the year 1833 Colonel James Kilbourne, then being a

member of the Legislature of Ohio, had an act passed giving

Indian names to a number of streams in Central Ohio and by that

act substituted the name of Olentangy for the then common name

of Whetstone. The original Indian name of the present Olen-

tangy was Keenhong-She-Con, or Whetstone Creek. (See

American Pioneer, Vol. I, p. 55.)

One of the reasons stated in the act for changing the names

was that some of them were "devoid of modesty". A stream in

the eastern part of the County now generally called Big Walnut

was by the early white settlers called "Big Belly", and by this act

the name was changed to Gahannah. The Indian name of that

stream was Whingy-Mahoni-Sepung or Big Lick Creek. The

Indian name of what is now called Alum Creek was Seeklic-Se-

pung or Salt Lick Creek. The term "Sepung" was always added

to the name proper of a running stream and means running water,

and was applied to all running streams.


*        *       *        *

Immediately after the peace of 1814, the settlers began to

arrive in Franklin County and Central Ohio in considerable num-

bers. The Indians continued to trade at Franklinton and Colum-

bus and to maintain their hunting camps along the various streams

of the county, being at peace with the white settlers. About the

year 1820 game had become scarce and the Indians ceased to

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hunt much so far south as Franklin County. In 1830 the Con-

gress and Senate of the United States adopted a policy for the

removal of the Indians to the west of the Mississippi River and

passed a law entitled: "An act to provide for an exchange of

lands with the Indians residing within any of the states or terri-

tories, and for their removal west of the River Mississippi."

This was approved by the President of the United States May

28th, 1830, and pursuant to its general provisions all the Indian

tribes were removed from Ohio to the west of the Mississippi

within the next few years, and the state of Ohio after centuries

of occupancy by the red race ceased forever to be the home of the