FORTS LORAMIE AND PICKAWILLANY.
BY R. W. MCFARLAND, LL. D.
One of the functions of an Historical Society is, or at least,
ought to be, to criticize doubtful and inexact statements in works
professing to be History, and where practicable, to make known
Let us apply this principle to some of the statements made by
different writers in reference to the places named at the head of
this article. But first it is well to give the location of the forts,
both of which were long ago demolished, and nearly every
In the summer of 1899, the writer visited the first named
place twice, and the latter once. For the exact position of Picka-
willany, I am indebted to the venerable Major Stephen Johnston,
of Piqua, who was born in the vicinity in 1812, and who has been
familiar with the locality all his long life. In the second place,
my thanks are due to Mr. C. B. Jamison, an attorney much
given to historical research and who has made particular examina-
tion of the site.
Loramie's creek enters the Miami on the west side about three
miles north of Piqua, and nearly a mile north of the farm-house
formerly owned and long occupied by Col. John Johnston, who for
about half a century was Indian agent for the United States
government. This house is nearly a century old, and stands on
the west bank of the Miami, twenty-five or thirty rods north of
Fort Piqua, (built by Wayne in 1794,) and, as before said, at a
greater distance from Fort Pickawillany.
About a hundred yards below the mouth of Loramie's creek,
the bank of the river, here fifteen or twenty feet above low water,
turns abruptly towards the west, and runs probably twenty rods
or more before resuming its generally southern trend. On this
shoulder of land just below the mouth of the creek stood Fort
Pickawillany. It was made of logs which were set on end in
trenches dug for the purpose,-a stockade, such as was built by
480 Ohio Arch. and His. Society Publications.
the score during the war of the rebellion from 1861 to 1865. A
well was dug within the fort, which was erected late in the fall
of 1750, and was destroyed by the French and Indians in June
1752, having stood about a year and a half;-and not four years
as asserted by one historian.
Mr. Jamison says that when the ground is freshly plowed,
it still shows discoloration from the disturbance of the soil in
digging the trenches and the well. Mr. J. has many relics gath-
ered on the site of the fort, and of the houses outside of the fort;--
pieces of pottery and of table ware, and part of a fork which had
rusted nearly away. It was an easy matter to find other relics
of the household on the day of my visit. The site of the fort is
then fully determined. In later years the Indian village extend-
ing from the river to the hills half a mile to the west, was called
Upper Piqua, and was the scene of a sanguinary battle in 1763,
participated in chiefly by Indians. A tribe of Indians living in
the vicinity was called by the French, "Picqualinees". The Eng-
lish varied the spelling both of the tribe and of the village;
Peccaway,-Pickaway, and two or three other ways. Lower
Piqua, the site of the present city was sometimes called Chillicothe.
Fort Loramie was on the west side of the same creek about
fifteen miles nearly northwest of Pickawillany, and about half a
mile from the village of Berlin in the western part of Shelby
county. The location is given in the map of the original survey
of the land, made in 1819, and on record in the land office in
Columbus. It was in the northeast quarter of section 10, town-
ship eight, south, range four east of the Miami meridian; and
near the middle of the east line of the quarter section. It is
also marked on the plat of the original survey of land south of the
Greenville treaty line, made in 1800, long before the fort was
destroyed. This plat is also on record in the land office. Every
vestige of the fort itself seems entirely obliterated. A large stone
in place is still shown as having been one of the foundations of
a house built outside of the fort.
The farm house stands but a few feet from this rock, and
a large barn a few rods away may possibly stand on the site of the
old fort. The owner of the farm pointed out to me some graves
in his garden, one of which was called the grave of General
Forts Loramie and Pickawillany. 481
Richard Butler, who was killed in St. Clair's defeat, November
4, 1791, at Fort Recovery, twenty miles away. [See note A at
the end of this article.]
Now let us see what some of our histories say as to the
location of these forts. In Knapp's History of the Maumee Val-
ley, published in Toledo in 1872, on page 21, I find the following
statements: "Late in that year (1750) a party of twenty-five per-
sons from eastern Pennsylvania, built a station on the Great
Miami, at the mouth of what is now known as Loramie's creek,
sixteen miles northwest of Sidney, Shelby County. It was called
Pickawillany. The place was not widely known until 1769, when
a Canadian French trader, named Peter Loramie, established a
store there. After his arrival the place was called Loramie's
station. Clark attacked it in 1782. The site of Pickawillany
and Loramie's store has never been rebuilt."
The mouth of Loramie's creek is nine miles southwest of
Sidney, and Fort Loramie fifteen miles nearly northwest, at the
beginning of the portage beween Loramie's creek and the head
waters of the St. Mary's river. Clark attacked the Indian vil-
lage at the mouth of the Loramie, and a detachment of his army
made thence a night march to Loramie's station, fifteen miles
away, looted the store and burned all the buildings, as is fully
described in Howe's History of Ohio.
In a small historical work published in Cincinnati by Robert
Clarke are the statements given below. The book is called the
"Journal of Capt. Wm. Trent from Logstown to Pickawillany
in 1752", edited by Mr. Goodman. Logstown was a few miles
down the river from the site of Pittsburg, quoted variously from
fourteen to twenty miles. Of course most readers of this article
know that in 1752, there was neither town nor fort where that
city now stands. In addition to the Journal of Capt. Trent, many
brief narratives of other events are given. Here are the extracts
already alluded to.
On p. 32, after stating that in the year 1750, certain Penn-
sylvanians had sent large presents to a tribe of Indians living on
the Big Miami, the account says that in return therefor, the Eng-
lish had permission "to build a strong trading house at the town
on the Miami at the mouth of Loramie's creek." [The creek
482 Ohio Arch. and His. Society Publications.
did not bear that name in 1750.] The book goes on to say
that "The English in the fall of 1750, began the erection of a
stockade, as a place of protection ..... when the main build-
ing was completed it was surrounded with a high wall of split
logs, having three gateways. Within the enclosures the traders
dug a well." ..... Christopher Gist was there in February
1751. .... [he says] ..... "on Feb 18 we walked about and
viewed the fort which wanted some repairs" ..... "In June
1752 the French captured he fort." P. 54. "A Canadian trader,
Peter Loramie, established a store at old Pickawillany .....
After his arrival the town was called Loramie's Station.....
Geo. Rogers Clarke in the fall of 1782, attacked the town, the
store was looted and burned, and so all the other buildings ....
The site of Pickawillany and Loramie's Station has never been
rebuilt." This last sentence is identical with the last sentence
in the extract from Knapp's History. It is plain that one writer
copied from the other, or both copied from some third source.
Both accounts make Pickawillany and Loramie's Station occupy
the same ground;-one account puts them 16 miles northwest of
Sidney; the other, 9 miles southwest of the same city. But the
two forts were not at the same place; and both histories are at
In a foot-note on p. 84, it is stated that "on Evans's map,
made in 1755, the fort [Pickawillany] was on the west bank of
Loramie's creek, at its mouth." The map was right.
In a history of Darke county, p. 99, I find this statement:
"This failure was not so bitter as the English effort to sustain
their trading post in 1749, on the Great Miami, afterwards called
Loramie's store. It pursued a feeble existence till 1752, when a
French raid upon the Twightwees and the English colonists
proved fatal." So this writer puts Loramie's store at the site of
Pickawillany-the same error which was made by the editor
of Trent's Journal.
In a history of Logan County I find the following statement;
"A Canadian Frenchman named Loramie established a store on
the site [Pickawillany]. .... A fort was built on the site of the
store, by Wayne and named fort Loramie."
So this writer puts both forts and the store at the same point
Forts Loramie and Pickawillany. 483
on the Miami. From these four accounts who could tell where
either of the forts stood? All four of the writers are wrong in
some of their statements; and it is evident that no effort was made
to ascertain the facts. What are such histories worth? In the
new edition of Howe's History of Ohio, the facts are correctly
stated under the heading "Shelby County."
NOTE A. In the body of this article it was incidentally re-
marked that the body of Gen. Butler was buried at Fort Loramie.
Let us examine this claim. The remnant of St. Clair's army after
the defeat was forced to retreat immediately, and was pursued by
the Indians 10 or 12 miles from the battle ground. Three months
after, i. e., about the 1st of February 1792, Gen. Wilkinson, who
succeeded St. Clair in the command of the troops, sent a mounted
force of about 500 men to bury the dead, and to recover the aban-
doned cannon, if possible.
Howe, under the head of "Mercer county", gives part of a
letter written by Capt. Buntin to St. Clair. The Capt. was in the
detachment which went to the battlefield. He says. "We found
three whole carriages, the other five were so much damaged that
they were rendered useless. [The cannon had been hidden by the
Indians, but one of the pieces was dug up on the field in 1830.]
By the general's orders pits were dug in different places, and all
the dead bodies that were exposed to view, or could conveniently
be found (the snow being very deep) were buried." McDowell
a participant in the battel and in the burying party is quoted as
saying, "Although the bodies were much abused and stripped of
all of value, they recognized and interred them in four large graves.
Gen. Butler was found in the shattered remains of his tent." We
shall see further on this point presently.
In December 1793, more than two years after the battle,
Wayne's forces buried the bones of others, "600 skulls being found
among them." Inasmuch as about 900 had been killed, the first
party had found only about one third of the dead, for they
were covered by a deep snow and were scattered far and wide.
There is direct testimony that the snow was nearly a foot deep.
The question arises even if Gen. Butler's body had been
recognized, whether by any possibility, it could after burial have
ever been again identified. The dead were buried in four large
484 Ohio Arch. and His. Society Publications.
pits, the position of three of those pits is unknown to this day.
In 1851 after a heavy rain which washed the earth away from
one of these pits disclosing a skeleton in the streets of Recovery,
the place of one pit was ascertained, and about 60 skeletons were
taken up and publicly buried; an account of the proceedings was
published far and wide,-many of those who assisted in the sad
rites are still living.
Under "Mercer County" Howe gives a sketch of the battle-
field, of the encampment before the battle, of the place where the
cannon was found in 1830, the spot where Gen. Butler was buried,
etc. This last statement must be received with large allowance
for error. The sketch was made by Mr. Huston, a surveyor of
Celina, the county seat of Mercer. The sketch shows Butler's
grave on the south side of a small creek running nearly west into
the Wabash, and about 100 rods from that river. The creek
borders on the south side of the battle ground. Mr. Huston
claimed that the place was pointed out to him by the same Mr.
McDowell before mentioned, who lived in the vicinity and died
in 1847. I have had correspondence lately with Capt. John S.
Rhodes of Fort Recovery, a resident of that vicinity for more than
55 years, and who knew McDowell well and often talked with him
of the battle and its incidents. In reference to the place marked
as the grave of Gen. Butler, as shown in Huston's map, the
Capt. says, "The place on the bank of the creek you speak of,
has come to my knowledge in the last thirty years." No one now
knows whether it is one of the trenches dug in 1792, or is the
burial place of the soldiers who fell in the two engagements around
Fort Recovery in 1794. The Capt. further says, "He [McDowell]
always said the body of General Butler could not be identified
from the others, or it would have been placed in a grave by itself."
Remembering that the bodies of the soldiers had been strip-
ped and in many cases mutilated, that they had been exposed to
the weather and to the ravages of wild beasts and of fowls, for
three months, and further, taking into consideration the above
account of the inclemency of the weather, and the positive declar-
ation of one who aided in the burial, it is evident that the body of
Gen. Butler was never taken to fort Loramie, and that the story of
his burial at that Fort has grown up from some other source.
Forts Loramie and Pickawillany. 485
And that source seems to be fairly set forth in some incidents
related to Mr. Howe in 1846 by Col. Johnston before men-
tioned. Under the heading "Shelby" county, Howe says, speak-
ing of Fort Loramie, "The last officer who commanded here was
Col. Butler, nephew of Gen. Richard Butler, who fell at St.
Clair's defeat." Says Col. Johnston, "His wife and children were
with him during his command. A very interesting son of his,
about eight years old, died at the fort. The agonized father and
mother were inconsolable. The grave was enclosed with a very
handsome and painted railing, at the foot of which honeysuckles
were planted, grew luxuriantly, twined the paling, and finally
enveloped the whole grave. Nothing could appear more beau-
tiful than this arbor when in full bloom. The peace withdrew
Capt. Butler and his troops to other scenes on the Mississippi.
I never passed the fort without a melancholy thought about the
lovely boy who rested there ..... the whole remained perfect
until the war of 1812, when all was destroyed."
This historical incident then most probably gave rise to the
story that Gen. Butler's grave is at Fort Loramie.
NOTE B.-Here is another statement which does not conform
to the facts. Howe says, "The site of Loramie's store was a
prominent point in the Greenville treaty boundary line." It was
not in that line at all, and was more than half a mile away. In
Article 3, of that treaty you find these words: "The general
boundary line 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 be-
tween that and the Tuscarawas branch of the Muskingum; thence
down that branch to the crossing place above fort Lawrence;
thence westerly to a fork of that branch of the Great Miami river,
running into the Ohio, at or near which fork stood Loramie's
store, and where commences the portage between the Miami of
the Ohio, and St. Mary's river, which is a branch of the Miami
which runs into Lake Erie; thence a westerly course to Fort
Recovery." [The Maumee, or Omee, was in the early part of this
century called the Miami of the Lakes.]
Here it is plain that Loramie's store was not in the line,
and the more certainly, because it had been destroyed by fire
486 Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.
nearly thirteen years before the treaty was made. The part of
this boundary line, from the mouth of the Cuyahoga to the port-
age on Loramie's creek was not new. It was first given in the
treaty with the Wyandots and the Delawares, made at Fort Mc-
Intosh on the Ohio, on the 21st of January 1785. It was repeated
in the treaty made at Fort Harmar, at the mouth of the Mus-
kingum, January 9th 1789. These two treaties use almost iden-
tical words, the latter saying "to the portage on that branch of
the Big Miami river which runs into the Ohio, at the mouth of
which branch the fort stood which was taken by the French in
the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and fifty two."
This fort you recognize as Pickawillany. Wayne seems to have
tried to be more definite in marking the western end of the old
boundary line, saying "a fork of that branch etc., .... thence
westerly," etc. The word "thence" implies that the western exten-
sion of the line began where the eastern terminated. But there
is a jog in the line, the portion running west begins at the old
junction of Mile creek with Loramie's, while the terminus of the
other part was and is nearly half a mile up the creek, in the
direction of Fort Loramie. This fork is a mile below the place
of the old fort, and the name of the subsidiary stream-Mile
creek-indicates Wayne as the person responsible for such an
appellation. His practical mind gave similar names to the creeks
which he crossed in his march northward from Fort Hamilton,-
Two Mile creek, Four Mile, Seven Mile, Fourteen Mile creek.-
names which the streams still bear. The jog appears on all the
maps in the land office at Columbus, and on the auditor's books