Ohio History Journal







It is the desire of this writing to add somewhat to the men-

tion of Tarhe, the Wyandot Aborigine1 Chief, and to the men-

tion of the character of the Aborigines, that appeared in the last

number of the QUARTERLY, although this addition shows their

character different from that there mentioned.

Tarhe grew to adult life in very troublous times. He

was reared to savagery, and to inebriety, like all Aborigine youths

of his range and time--first, in addition to the habits of his

people, under the tutorship of the French against the British and

later under the yet more savage policy of the British against the

Americans. If he was born in the year 1742 (there is always

doubt connected with alleged parentage and date of birth of the

children of earlier Aborigines) he was eighteen years of age

when Sandusky, Detroit, Fort Miami (at the head of the Mau-

mee River) and all of this western country were surrendered

by the French to the British; and he was thirty-three years old

when Lieutenant Governor Hamilton began to send war-parties

of savages from Detroit, with British outfittings and leaders,

through Ohio, Pennsylvania and Kentucky, against American

settlers. We may rightfully presume, therefore, that it was dur-

ing these many savage raids, which continued throughout the

Revolutionary War, that Tarhe, liberally supplied by the British

and under their direction, demonstrated to the British and to

his savage followers the worthiness of his claim to their chief-

taincy. His tribe continued marauding excursions as allies of

the British, with but little intermission after the close of the

Revolutionary War, until General Wayne's crushing defeat of

them at Fallen Timber.

1The writer desires to discourage the parrot-like use of the mis-

nomer 'Indian' to designate an American Aborigine.


314 Ohio Arch

314       Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.


The Wyandots were a warring tribe--an offshoot from

the Iroquois of the East - and consequently were quarrel-

some, and brave in battle. But they, in common with all other

Aborigines, were quick to desert their allies when the tide of

battle turned against them. General Wayne took advantage of

this phase of the character of the tribes and, after his signal suc-

cess at Fallen Timber, he diplomatically drew them all to the

most important treaty at Greenville in 1795. To his prestige as

conqueror was added his very important overbidding of the

British in supplies, and the discoursing of his agents on the

growing power of the United States.

For several years after Wayne's treaty at Greenville the

Aborigines were satisfied with the American annuities accord-

ing to the terms of that treaty, and with their unrestricted hunt-

ing grounds. During this time we catch glimpses of Tarhe's

ignoble character, including his inebriety and his disposition to

make Americans his slaves. The Society of Friends had, from

their first coning to America in 1656, taken great interest in the

civilization of the Aborigines and had done much for them with

this end in view. The Baltimore Yearly Meeting of Friends in

1795 appointed a large committee to consider the condition and

needs of the western Aborigines; and the influence of this com-

mittee was felt at the first treaty at Greenville where General

Wayne, who was reared a neighbor to the Friends, took occasion

to commend their good offices to the Aborigines. The Wyandots,

always ready like other tribes to enter upon anything that prom-

ised an increase of their supplies, sent a "speech with a large belt

and ten strings of white wampum" to the Friends' Yearly Meet-

ing at Baltimore the latter part of the year 1798, inviting them

to visit the chiefs at Upper Sandusky. To this invitation were

appended, by the white man who did the writing, the name of

the chiefs Tarhe (Crane), Skah-on-wot (Adam Brown), and

Mai-i-rai (Walk-on-the-Water). Seven Friends started west-

ward on horseback May 7, 1799, to accept this invitation. After

suffering many hardships in their tortuous way through the for-

est, through the mud and through flooded streams, they arrived

at Upper Sandusky the third day of June to be witnesses of

shocking scenes of drunkenness among the Aborigines, and to

Tarhe, the Wyandot Chief, Etc

Tarhe, the Wyandot Chief, Etc.           315


be subjected to many indignities by them. From his intoxicated

condition Tarhe was unable to meet the Friends until late the

next day; and then, with three other chiefs, the meeting was brief

and unsatisfactory. The Friends with difficulty understood that

the council would not meet until the middle of the month when

Tarhe would present to those assembled the subject of the

Friends' desire to instruct the people generally in religion, agri-

culture, mechanical arts, domestic economy, etc., and as soon as a

decision was obtained they would send a 'speech' to Baltimore

announcing it. The presents then given by the Friends and the

efforts they offered, were not of the character to appeal to the

dissolute inclination of the Aborigines; and request for the return

of the Friends was not made. Being unable to obtain food for

themselves and their horses, the Friends were obliged to imme-

diately start homeward.

In the winter of 1803-04 Tarhe, and near one hundred other

Aborigines mostly Wyandots, went to the upper waters of the

Mahoning River to hunt bears. Snow fell to the depth of about

three feet which, with their previous improvident use of their

United States Annuity receipts and their established habit of

beggary, quite incapacitated them in their opinion for any action

but appeals for help to some families of Friends who lived about

twenty miles distant. The first appeal, written by a lounging

white man in their camp, reads in part as follows after being

straightened out: . . . Brothers, will you please help me

to fill my kettles and my horses' troughs, for I am afraid my

horses will not be able to carry me home again. Neighbors, will

you please to give if it is but a handful apiece, and fetch it out

to us for my horses are not able to come after it. [Signed]

Tarhie. Their needs were supplied by the nearest Friends, and

then came another writing, viz.: . . . Brothers, I want you

to know I have got help from some of my near neighbors.

Brothers, I would be glad to know what you will do for me, if it

is but little. Brothers, if you cannot come soon, it will do bye

and bye, for my belly is now full. . . My Brothers, Quakers,

I hope our friendship will last as long as the world stands. All

I have to say to you now is, that I shall stay here until two

moons are gone. Tarhie. More food was taken to them by these

316 Ohio Arch

316       Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.


Friends and members of the Redstone, Pennsylvania, Quarterly


The United States Annuity gifts to these shiftless people,

large as they were relatively, were overbid by the British during

their collusion with Tecumseh and the 'Prophet' previous to

the declaration of War of 1812, and then, as has even been the

case with these wretched people, the side that bid the highest in

sensual indulgences, including savagery, obtained their aid for

savage work. The exceedingly lavish gifts of guns, ammunition,

intoxicating liquors, food and gaudy raiment, at Malden (Am-

herstburg, Canada) to the Wyandots and other tribes of this

western country by the British long before war was declared,

attracted and allied to the British support during the War of

1812 practically all of the active warrior Aborigines. The old

and decrepit like Tarhe, and many women and children, were left

behind--and the United States continued to feed and clothe

these non-combatant remnants, and to treat with them, in the

hope thereby to win back to neutrality the warriors from the

British ranks. To hasten this result General Harrison sent some

old Wyandots to the hostile camp at Brownstown, Michigan,

soon after the British withdrew from the first Siege of Fort

Meigs, but the savage cannibals were yet cloyed with the flesh

and booty obtained at the Dudley Massacre - and the ever alert

British agents were at hand to neutralize the first appearance of

dissatisfaction in the savage camp.

The British were somewhat less successful in allying the

Shawnees and Delawares to their army for the War of 1812

than with other tribes. This was due in part to the influence for

peace exerted on them by the Society of Friends, but principally

to the chastisements given these tribes by United States soldiers

and the liberal increase to them of the United States Annuity.

The following table of United States Annuity gifts shows in its

blanks which tribes went fully to the British (including Tarhe's

own tribe), but it cannot show the number of warriors which

deserted the Americans from other tribes on account of the rela-

tive increase of annuity to the remnants of tribes left behind in

Ohio, Indiana and Illinois -and on this account the Senecas of

the Sandusky River cannot be included in this table, viz.:

Tarhe, the Wyandot Chief, Etc

Tarhe, the Wyandot Chief, Etc.         317

In addition to these amounts $496,647.14 was expended by

the United States at Sandusky, Fort Wayne, Detroit, Mackinaw,

Vincennes, Kaskaskia, Chicago, at the seat of government, and

other points in effort to keep these wretched people neutral dur-

ing the war; but the British appealed to and gave free rein to

their savagery and thereby readily won their alliance.

The "Harrison-Tarhe Peace Conference" at Franklinton

(Columbus) could not keep the Wyandot warriors from the

British. It only resulted in adding a few worse than useless old

men to the Northwestern army at its advance into Canada. This

action, however, was insignificant for good, as they had no part,

even in remote influence, in turning the tide in favor of the

American arms. The repulses of the British and their savage

allies at Fort Meigs, at Fort Stephenson, and on Lake Erie, were

318 Ohio Arch

318        Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.

more than enough to dishearten all the hostile Aborigines and to

turn many of them from the British before and during their

flight from Amherstburg. They at once sought favor with the

victors, and fully attended the numerous magnanimous treaties

to which the United States invited them.2

2 See History of the Maumee River Basin by Charles E. Slocum,

pages 309, 312, 365, 385, 442 passim, for reference to authorities and

evidence against other misconceptions.