Ohio History Journal






Probably no other Indian chieftain was ever more admired

and loved by his own race or by the outside world. He was

either a true friend or a true enemy. Born near Detroit, Michi-

gan, in 1742, he lived to see a wonderful change in the great

Northwest. Being born of humble parentage, through his brav-

ery and perseverence, he rose to be the grand sachem of the Wy-

andot nation. This position he held until the time of his death,

when he was succeeded by Duonquot. Born of the Porcupine

clan of the Wyandots and early manifesting a warlike spirit, and

was engaged in nearly all the battles against the Americans until

the disastrous battle of Fallen Timbers, in 1794. Tarhe saw that

there was no use opposing the American arms, or trying to pre-

vent them planting corn north of the Ohio river. At that disas-

trous battle, thirteen chiefs fell and among the number was Tarhe,

who was badly wounded in the arm. The American generally

believed that the dead Indian was the best Indian, but Tarhe sadly

saw his ranks depleted, and at once began to sue for peace. Gen-

eral Wayne had severely chastised the Indians, and forever broke

their power in Ohio. Accordingly, on January 24, 1795, the

principal chiefs of the Wyandots, Delawares, Chippewas, Otto-

was, Sacs, Pottowattomies, Miamis, and Shawnees met. The

preliminary treaty with General Wayne at Greenville, Ohio, in

which there was an armistice, was the forerunner of the celebrated

treaty which was concluded at the same place on August 3, 1795.

A great deal of opposition was manifested to this treaty by the

more warlike and turbulent chiefs, as this would cut off their

forays on the border settlements.

Chief Tarhe always lived true to the treaty obligations which

he so earnestly labored to bring about. When Tecumseh sought

a great Indian uprising, Tarhe opposed it, and awakened quite

an enmity among the warlike of his own tribe, who afterward


Tarhe-The Crane

Tarhe-The Crane.                  133

withdrew from the main body of the Wyandots and moved to

Canada. The Rev. James B. Finley had every confidence in

Tarhe, as evidenced in 1800, when returning from taking a drove

of cattle to the Detroit mar-

ket, he asked Tarhe for a

night's lodging at Lower San-

dusky, where the Wyandot

chief then lived, and intrusted

him with quite a sum of

money from the sale of cattle,

and the next morning every

cent was forthcoming.

From 1808 until the War

of 1812, Tarhe steadily op-

posed Tecumseh's treacherous

war policy, which greatly en-

dangered Tarhe's life, and it

is claimed he came near meet-

ing the same fate that Leather

Lips met on June 1, 1810. He even went so far as to offer

his services with fifty other chiefs and warriors to General

Harrison in prosecuting the war against Tecumseh and the Eng-

lish under General Proctor. He was actively engaged in the battle

on the Thames. So earnest was he in the success of the American

cause, so sincere did he keep all treaty obligations, that General

Harrison in after years, in comparing him with other chiefs, was

constrained to call him "The most noble Roman of them all."

Tarhe never drank strong drinks of any kind, nor used to-

bacco in any form. Fighting at the head of his warriors in Har-

rison's campaign in Canada, at the age of seventy-two years, is

something out of the ordinary. Being tall and slender, he was

nicknamed "The Crane." On his retiring from the second war

for Independence, he again took up his abode in his favorite town

-the spot is still called "Crane Town," about four and one-

half miles northeast from Upper Sandusky, on the east bank of

the Crane run, which empties into the Sandusky river. Here

surrounded by a dense forest, he spent his old age in a log cabin,

134 Ohio Arch

134      Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.


fourteen by eighteen feet. Just south of the old cabin site are a

number of old apple trees, likely of the Johnny Appleseed origin-

the fruit being small and hard; a short distance south of the cabin

is the old gauntlet ground, oblong and about three hundred yards

long; to the westward from the village site, is a clearing of about

ten acres, still known as the Indian field, and still surrounded by a

dense forest. Here Tarhe died in his log cabin home, in Novem-

ber, 1818. In 1850, John Smith, then owner of the land, had most

all of the cabin taken down for fire-wood. At that time a small

black walnut twig, about the thickness of a man's thumb, was

growing in the northwest corner of the cabin, and is quite a tree

at the present writing -a living and growing monument to the

memory of the great and good Wyandot chief.

Aunt Sally Frost was Tarhe's wife when he died. To them

one child was born, an idiotic son who died at the age of twenty-

five years. Sally had been a captive from one of the border settle-

ments, and refused to return to her people. After the death and

burial of Tarhe, the principal part of Crane Town was moved to

Upper Sandusky, the center of the Wyandot reservation twelve

miles square. Herethe government at Washington paid them an

annuity of ten dollars per capita until the reservation reverted

back to the government in March, 1842.

Cabin sites are plainly discernable in the old historic town,

which was usually a half-way place between Fort Pitt and De-

troit. Here in the early days Indian parties found a resting place

when on their murderous missions to the border settlements.

This was one of the "troublesome" Indian towns on the Sandusky

river that the ill-fated Col. Wm. Crawford was directed against

in the Spring of 1782. Traces of the old Indian trail may be

seen meandering southward through the forest, where the war-

whoop was frequently given and the bloody scalping knife drawn

over many defenseless prisoners. The springs, just westward

from the town site, are cattle tramped, but still bubble forth a

small quantity of water, but likely not nearly so active as when

they furnished the necessary water for the nations of the forest

a century and more ago.

On June 11, 1902, Mr. E. O. Randall, the able and efficient

Secretary of the Ohio State Archaeological and Historical Society,

Tarhe- The Crane

Tarhe- The Crane.                    135

in company with the writer, gave the place a visit. Numerous

locusts were chirping away at their familiar songs, quite loud

enough to drown out the voices of the intruders.

Jonathan Pointer, who had been a colored captive among the

Wyandots and who was a fellow soldier with Tarhe in the Can-

adian campaign under General Harrison, returned with that cele-

brated chieftain to his home and stayed with him until the time

of Tarhe's death, always claiming that he assisted in the burial

of Tarhe on the John Smith farm, about a half mile southeast

from his cabin home. Logs were dragged over the grave to keep

the wild animals from disinterring the body. Jonathan Pointer

was engaged as interpreter for the early missionaries among the

Wyandots; he died in 1857. No memorial marks Tarhe's resting

place. Red Jacket, Keokuk, Leather Lips, and other chieftains

have received monumental consideration from American civiliza-

tion; but Tarhe, the one whose influence and activity helped to

wrest the great Northwest from the British and the Indians,

has apparently been forgotten. And how long shall it be so?

Colonel John Johnson, who for nearly half a century acted

Indian agent of the various tribes of Ohio and who made the last

Indian treaty that removed the Wyandots beyond the Mississippi,

was present at the great Indian council summoned at the death

and for burial of Tarhe. The exact spot where the council house

stood is not known, but a mile and a half north from Crane town

site are a number of springs bubbling forth clear water which form

Pointer's run, that empties into the Sandusky river. They are

still called the Council Springs and the bark council house was

likely in this vicinity. Colonel Johnson, in his "Recollections,"

gives the following account of the proceedings:


"On the death of the great chief of the Wyandots, I was invited

to attend a general council of all the tribes of Ohio, the Delawares of

Indiana, the Senecas of New York, at Upper Sandusky. I found on arriv-

ing at the place a very large attendance. Among the chieftains was the

noted leader and orator Red Jacket from Buffalo. The first business

done was the speaker of the nation delivering an oration on the character

of the deceased chief. Then followed what might be called a monody,

or ceremony, of mourning or lamentation. Thus seats were arranged

from end to end of a large council house, about six feet apart, the

head men and the aged took their seats facing each other, stooping down,

136 Ohio Arch

136        Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.


their heads almost touching. In that position they remained for several

hours. Deep and long continued groans would commence at one end of

the row of mourners, and so pass around until all had responded, and

these repeated at intervals of a few minutes. The Indians were all

washed, and had no paint or decorations of any kind upon their persons,

their countenances and general deportment denoting the deepest mourn-

ing. I had never witnessed anything of the kind before, and was told

that this ceremony was not performed but on the decease of some great

man. After the period of mourning and lamentation was over, the In-

dians proceeded to business. There were present the Wyandots, Shaw-

nees, Delawares, Senecas, Ottawas and Mohawks. Their business was

entirely confined to their own affairs, and the main topics related to

their lands, and the claims of the respective tribes. It was evident,

in the course of the discussion, that the presence of myself and people

(there were some white men with me) was not acceptable to some of

the parties, and allusions were made so direct to myself that I was

constrained to notice them, by saying that I came there as a guest of

the Wyandots, by their special invitation; that as the Agent of the

United States, I had a right to be there as anywhere else in the Indian

country; and that if any insult was offered to myself or my people,

it would be resented and punished. Red Jacket was the principal speaker,

and was intemperate and personal in his remarks. Accusations, pro and

con, were made by the different parties, accusing each other of being

foremost in selling land to the United States. The Shawnees were par-

ticularly marked out as more guilty than any other; that they were

the last coming into the Ohio country and although they had no right

but by the permission of the other tribes, they were always the foremost

in selling lands. This brought the Shawnees out, who retorted through

head chief, the Black Hoof, on the Senecas and Wyandots with pointed

severity. The discussion was long continued, calling out some of the

ablest speakers, and was distinguished for ability, cutting sarcasm and

research, going far back into the history of the natives, their wars, alli-

ances, negotiations, migrations, etc.  I had attended many councils,

treaties, and gatherings of the Indians, but never in my life did I witness

such an outpouring of native oratory and eloquence, of severe rebuke,

taunting national and personal reproaches. The council broke up later in

great confusion and in the worst possible feeling.  A  circumstance

occurred toward the close which more than anything else exhibited

the bad feeling prevailing. In handing round the wampum   belt, the

emblem of amity, peace and good will, when presented to one of the

chiefs, he would not touch it with his fingers, but passed it on a stick

to a person next to him. A greater indignity, agreeable to Indian eti-

quette could not be offered.

The next day appeared to be one of unusual anxiety and despondence

among the Indians. They could be seen in groups everywhere near the

council house in deep consultation. They had acted foolishly-were

Tarhe -The Crane

Tarhe -The Crane.                      137

sorry -but the difficulty was, who would present the olive branch. The

council convened very late, and was very full; silence prevailed for a

long time; at last the aged chieftain of the Shawnees, the Black Hoof,

rose- a man of great influence and a celebrated warrior. He told the

assembly that they had acted like children, and not men yesterday; that

138 Ohio Arch

138        Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.

he and his people were sorry for the words that had been spoken, and

which had done so much harm; that he came into the council by the

unanimous desire of his people, to recall those foolish words, and did

there take them back-handing round strings of wampum, which passed

around and were received by all with the greatest satisfaction. Several

of the principal chiefs delivered speeches to the same effect, handing

round wampum in turn, and in this manner the whole difficulty of the

preceding day was settled, and to all appearances forgotten. The In-

dians are very civil and courteous to each other and it is a rare thing

to see their assemblies disturbed by unwise or ill-timed remarks. I never

witnessed it except upon the occasion here alluded to, and it is more

than probable that the presence of myself and other white men con-

tributed towards the unpleasant ocurrence. I could not help but admire

the genuine philosophy and good sense displayed by men whom we call

savages, in the transaction of their public business, and how much we

might profit in the halls of our Legislatures, by occasionally taking for

our example the proceedings of the great Indian council at Upper San-