Ohio History Journal





In volume XXXIV of the Ohio Archaeological and

Historical Quarterly, pages 143-153, appeared a contri-

bution entitled, "Tecumseh and His Descendants,"

gleaned from authentic records furnished by Thomas

Wildcat Alford, scholarly and cultured gentleman, one

of the great-grandsons of the famous chieftain, Tecum-

seh, born in Ohio, and later one of the most intrepid and

resourceful leaders of the confederate tribes in their

campaigns against the Americans in the War of 1812.

In his extended list of the descendants of Tecumseh now

living, Mr. Alford gave Little Jim, the son of Big Jim,

as the great-grandson and lineal successor of Tecumseh

and the present Chief of the Absentee Shawnee Indians

in Oklahoma. It was a matter of interest to many

readers to know that so many of the descendants of

Tecumseh are now living in the United States, including

his lineal successor as chief of the remnant of that once

powerful tribe that held sway in the valley of the Scioto

River. They will now be pleased to know still more of

Little Jim, whose Indian name is To-tom-mo.

In a recent issue of the Friend, published in Rich-

mond, Indiana, is his story as follows:




Many, many moons ago (in 1768) my forefathers lived near

the place where Springfield, Ohio, now stands. Before that they

* Note: The historical facts of this story are taken from Compton's

Pictured Encyclopedia.


Chief Little Jim, Great Grandson of Tecumseh 511

Chief Little Jim, Great Grandson of Tecumseh  511


had lived in South Carolina and in Pennsylvania where they

made a treaty with Governor Penn in 1701.

In 1768 my ancestor, Tecumseh, was born in Ohio. White

men persecuted the Shawnees and all Indians then, sold firewater

to them which made them crazy, took away their hunting grounds

and plowed fields, drove them farther and farther west. Tecum-

seh watched his people suffer. He grew to be a man, strong and

wise, and by that time many had been forced to migrate into ter-

ritory now called Indiana. They lived along White River, Tip-

pecanoe and Wabash Rivers. Tecumseh knew the Indians could

not hold their lands against white men unless they would join to-

gether. He thought deeply and planned a great confederacy of

all Indian tribes, which would stop the white man. He went

from tribe to tribe. He was a great orator and the Indians lis-

tened. They said his talk was good.  Tecumseh's brother had

great power over men too. He was called The Prophet, and

worked with Tecumseh. They established a village called the

Prophet's Town, where Tippecanoe River flows into the Wabash,

in northern Indiana. The Prophet's Town was to be headquar-

ters for the Great Indian Confederacy.

In 1809 Governor Harrison of Indiana Territory persuaded

some Miami chiefs to agree to the treaty of Fort Wayne, by

which they ceded to the United States government about three

million acres of land along the Wabash river, for about one-third

of one cent for each acre. Tecumseh said they had no right to

barter away lands which belonged to all the Indians, in that way.

He asked Governor Harrison to cede the lands back again and

said there would be no peace between Indians and whites until

that was done. Then he started on a journey to get the help of

many tribes to keep the white men from taking their lands.

While Tecumseh was away, Governor Harrison began to

build a block house on part of the disputed land, at the point

where Terre Haute now stands. The Indians made trouble for

him and he then marched against the Prophet's Town, defeated

the Shawnees in the battle of Tippecanoe (near the present site

of the city of Lafayette) and completely destroyed the Prophet's

Town. Tecumseh could do no more. My people's spirit was

broken. White men took the lands and the Indians were again

pushed westward. Tecumseh went to the British, fought with

them at head of many Indian warriors, against the Americans in

1812, and was killed in battle.

When the Shawnees were driven out of Indiana, they went

to Kansas, and about 1845 many of them came on into Oklahoma,

and settled on the Canadian River where they became known as

512 Ohio Arch

512       Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications

Absentee Shawnees. My father, who was called Big Jim, and

White Turkey, another chief, divided these Absentee Shawnees

into two bands. White Turkey encouraged his people to learn

the white man's ways, but my father believed the old Indian

ways were best for Indians and that they should not take up with

any of the white man's ways. We were driven into these sand-

hills in Cleveland County at the point of bayonets in the hands of

white men. Why should we become like them? Now, they send

us missionaries who seem trustworthy, and the United States

government builds us a few houses, but when I remember Te-

cumseh, I cannot suddenly love the long-time enemies of my peo-

ple, who have taken away so much and given back so little. I am

Tecumseh's direct descendant, his representative as a leader of

our crushed and wronged Shawnee nation. It is hard to forget.

Eber Hobson, my friend, will speak for me of the present.

Friend Hobson then continues as follows:



Little Jim, chief of Big Jim's band of Shawnee Indians, is

very distant when you first meet him and what he says to you will

be through an interpreter. If perchance you wish his picture, he

will have his wife tell you that he believes if you should get his

picture, you would get his shadow, which is his spirit, so that he

would never see his loved ones who have gone on before.

Though he married an educated woman of the White Tur-

key Band, with progressive ideas, he would not let his children

go to school until he was arrested. He gave as his reason, that

the Indians who had education had been judged competent and

had been given their land without restriction, so had soon sold it

and were without anything in the world. All of which is true.

But when arrested he promised to let his children go to school

and they let him go home. He has given in only an inch at a time

to white civilization and the white man's ways, but little by little

he does yield.

When talking to white people with whom he is acquainted,

he is free to talk in our language, appears to handle it very easily

and speaks plainly.

Little Jim is making progress all the time as well as others,

though he may not realize it or be willing to admit it. He lived in

two little log houses until he leased his land for oil. Then the

agency was foresighted enough to withhold the lease money until

he would consent to use part of it in building a new house. It

was a long time before he would sign up. He said to me that the

Chief Little Jim, Great Grandson of Tecumseh 513

Chief Little Jim, Great Grandson of Tecumseh  513

land was not his but belonged to the government. The people

who knew his father say it was a long time before he would take

his allotment. Mrs. Little Jim is very proud of her new house

and I really think that he is if he would but admit it.

He comes over during strawberry season to pick berries on

the Mission farm, voluntarily so far as I know, unless there is a

little persuasion from his family, and he is one of the best if not

the best picker that we have had. When I have had berries to

sort, he was the finest of help.

Assuredly Eber Hobson is to be congratulated that

he has as his champion berry picker Little Jim, who still

cherishes with solemn pride his famous ancestor, the

unconquerable Tecumseh, whom even his foes honor as

one of the greatest chieftains of his race.

Vol. XL--33.