Ohio History Journal







The village where Little Turtle was born in 1752 was lo-

cated on the north tributary of the Eel River, twenty miles north-

west of Ft. Wayne, Indiana, in Whitney County. This north

tributary is known today as the Blue River Branch, near its

junction at Blue Lake, to which it furnished an outlet only a

short distance away. It stood on the west side of the river

on a high sandy point of land, surrounded on three sides by a

great bend in the river. A wide prairie marsh skirted those high

lands north and south, but on the east the high banks neared each

other, making it an easy ford to the north bank of the lake only

a few hundred yards to the eastward. The Blue Lake con-

tained possibly five hundred acres.

Near the foot of the hill, immediate to the south, a fine

spring of water bubbled forth underneath the shade of a beau-

tiful grove of barren oak trees. A short distance south of the

spring nestling in the middle of the prairie was a small lake

containing four or five acres, and so very deep that the water

looked a dark blue. It was called by the Indians "Devil's Lake",

from the fact that something mysterious had appeared in or near

it entirely unknown to Indian lore during a dusky Summer

evening, at which the Indians became terribly frightened and

ran all the way to Ft. Wayne then a frontier outpost.

Along about 1863, and for a number of years later, the writer

has been on this peculiar ancient village site many times, where

Little Turtle was born, and which was his home nearly all his

life. Along the river banks were Indian trails, worn several

inches deep, which not only spoke of primitive, but also of recent

times, as it was a flourishing village in 1812, and, possibly, was

not entirely deserted until 1846, at which time the Indians were

all removed to the West.

It seemed that Nature had provided here with a lavish hand


Birthplace of Little Turtle

Birthplace of Little Turtle.          237


an ideal home for the red man. The soil was productive for

Indian corn, and the writer saw there old Indian fields, red with

strawberries in June, wild grapes, wild plums and hazel-nut

fields, nearby acorns and wild berries of all kinds in abundance.

There were also red deer, wild Turkeys and also rivers and lakes

teeming with fish, and over all a scenic beauty that the poet with

his pen could not describe, nor the painter with his brush portray.

Such was the birthplace and home of Little Turtle, the great

Miami chief.

In order to identify exactly this location, as Little Turtle's

Village, and if possible to leave no doubt in the mind of the

future student of history, I will state here, that this location is

just twenty miles northwest of Ft. Wayne, which agrees in dis-

tance with the very best authority on the subject now in hand.

We refer the reader to the Hand Book of American Indians

Bulletin 30 published by the Bureau of American Ethnology,

page 771. The personal examination of those grounds and vil-

lage sites near fifty years ago, and the statement of the early

settler at that time when the Indians were still present all

corroborate, leaving no room to doubt the correctness of the

statements herein made. Moreover the main branch of the Eel

river is crossed by the old Indian trail (now the Goshen Road),

only eleven miles northwest of Ft. Wayne, consequently could

not have been the stream on which this village was located.

Little Turtle's father was a Miami Chief, and his mother

a Mohican, hence, according to the Indian rule, he was a Mohican

and received no advantage from his father's rank-that it-he

was not a chief by descent. However, his talents having at-

tracted the notice of his countrymen, he was made chief of the

Miami while a comparatively young man. Little Turtle was the

principal leader of the Indian forces that defeated General

Harmar on the Miami River in October, 1790, and General

Arthur St. Clair on the Wabash November 4th, 1791, and he

and Blue Jacket were among the foremost leaders of the Indians

in their conflict with General Wayne's army in 1794, although he

had urged the Indians to make peace with this "Chief who never


After their defeat by the Whites, he joined in the treaty at

238 Ohio Arch

238      Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.


Greenville, Ohio, August 3rd, 1795, having arrived at Green-

ville on the 23rd of June, "I am the last to sign it, and will be

the last to break it". Faithful to his promise, he remained

passive and counselled peace on the part of his people until his

death at Ft. Wayne, July 14, 1812.

At the Greenville Treaty the new Government presented

Little Turtle and the other participating Chiefs a beautiful silver

medal which was highly prized by the Savages. This medal was

a facsimile of the Red Jacket Medal engraved and chased with

a change in the date to 1795 and was four by six inches in size.

On the obverse side President Washington is represented in uni-

form, bareheaded, facing to the right and presenting a pipe to

an Indian Chief who is smoking it. The Indian is standing and

has a large medal suspended from his neck. On the left is a pine

tree at the foot of which lies a tomahawk. In the background

a farmer is plowing. Below in exeque "George Washington,

President, 1795." On the reverse side appear the arms and

crest of the United States on the breast of the eagle. In the

eagle's right talon is an olive branch; in the left a sheaf of ar-

rows; in its beak the motto "E Pluribus Unum"; above, a glory

breaking through the clouds and surrounded by thirteen stars.

Early in 1797, accompanied by Captain Wells, his son-in-law,

Little Turtle visited President Washington at Philadelphia, where

he met General Kosciusko, the latter presenting him with his own

pair of elegantly mounted pistols. Although Tecumseh endeavored

to draw him away from his peaceful relations with the Whites,

his efforts were in vain. Little Turtle signed the following

treaties with the United States:-Greenville, August 3, 1795;

Ft. Wayne, June 17, 1803; Vincennes, August 21, 1805; Ft.

Wayne, September 30, 1809.

His name was spelled, and also pronounced, different ways,

but at the Treaty of Greenville it was spelled Meshekinnoghquoh.

He was thirty-nine years old at the time of St. Clair's defeat,

and sixty years old at the time of his death. The most diligent

search in recent times has failed to locate the place of his burial,

consequently, he sleeps in an unknown grave in the vicinity of

his former glory at or near Ft. Wayne, Ind.

It has been said that the sun of Indian glory set with him,

Birthplace of Little Turtle

Birthplace of Little Turtle.         239


and when Little Turtle and Tecumseh passed away the clouds

and shadows, which, for two hundred years had gathered around

their race, closed in the starless night of death. He was the

noblest Roman of them all, for, like Pontiac thirty years before,

he was the soul of fire. Everyone who reads the Treaty of

Greenville will be impressed with his high courage and the

manly stand which he took for his race and the hunting grounds

of his Fathers.