Ohio History Journal




VOLUME 66 ?? NUMBER 2 ?? APRIL 1957





The Removal of the Wyandots from Ohio




The history of the removal of the Woodland Indians of the

eastern half of the United States to new        homes in the West in

the 1830's and 1840's under the auspices of the United States

government was a significant phase of the westward movement

of the white man across the continent--if only for the fact that it

was one solution employed in answering the complex problems

involved in the clash between two seemingly incompatible cultures.

Although the removal idea dated from the time of the Louisiana

Purchase in 1803,1 the formulation of a definite removal policy

did not emerge until the administration of President James Monroe.

On January 25, 1825, President Monroe submitted to congress a

special message in which he proposed "the removal of the Indian

tribes from the lands which they now occupy within the limits of

the several States and Territories to the country lying westward

and northward thereof, within our acknowledged boundaries."2 In

* Carl G. Klopfenstein is professor of history and chairman of the department of

history at Heidelberg College, Tiffin.

His article was read as a paper at a meeting of the American Indian Ethnohistoric

Conference which was held in Columbus, November 2-3, 1956, under the joint sponsor-

ship of Ohio State University and the Ohio Historical Society.

1 The first direct and official proposal for Indian removal appears as the central idea

in the rough draft of a constitutional amendment drawn up by President Jefferson in

July 1803 to allay his qualms on the constitutionality of the purchase of Louisiana.

Annie H. Abel, "The History of Events Resulting in Indian Consolidation West of the

Mississippi," Annual Report of the American Historical Association for 1906 (Wash-

ington, 1908), I, 241-242.

2 James D. Richardson, ed., A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the

Presidents (Washington, 1896-99), II, 280-282.




exchange, the United States would give each tribe a good title to

an adequate portion of land to which it might consent to remove

and provide there a system of internal government to protect the

property of the Indians and to prevent their degeneracy by regular

progress of improvement and civilization. Monroe further suggested

the appointment of commissioners to explain to the several tribes

the goal of the government and to make suitable arrangements

for their removal.

Congress did not act to implement the policy during that session

or during the succeeding administration. The war department,

charged with handling Indian affairs, merely continued its policy of

encouraging the voluntary emigration of Indians through its Indian

agents. With the advent of the Jackson administration in 1829,

however, the Indian removal policy was to become more positive,

albeit relentless. In his first annual message to congress Jackson

urged legislation on this subject. On May 28, 1830, congress, over

bitter opposition to it, passed a removal act. It authorized the

president to have territory west of the Mississippi divided into dis-

tricts suitable for exchange, to negotiate such exchanges, and to aid

in the removal of Indians.3

In the execution of the removal act, the Jacksonians made their

initial treaties in the northern states with the Ohio tribes. The

remaining historic Indian tribes of Ohio--the Ottawas, the

Shawnees, the so-called Senecas of Lewistown and Sandusky, and

the Wyandots--were at this time residing on certain clearly defined

reservations within the state granted to them by the treaty of

Maumee Rapids of 1817 and the supplementary treaty of St. Mary's

of 1818. The most influential and most civilized of these tribes,

the Wyandots, were located on two reserves: one of 147,840 acres

centered at Upper Sandusky, called the "Grand Reserve," and the

other of 16,000 acres situated at the Big Spring on the trace leading

from Upper Sandusky to Fort Findlay.

Under the act of 1830 the primary negotiations with Ohio Indians

were with the Senecas of Sandusky. In February 1831 a delegation

of chiefs from this band went to Washington to negotiate the


3 United States Statutes at Large, IV, 411-412.


THE REMOVAL OF THE WYANDOTS                 121


cession of their lands. The war department appointed James B.

Gardiner, an Ohio politician seeking a post in the Indian service, to

treat with the chiefs. On February 28, 1831, Gardiner concluded

a treaty with the Senecas by which the latter ceded their reservation

in Ohio in exchange for an equivalent tract in northeastern

Oklahoma and government assistance in their removal.4

The successful conclusion of this treaty, coupled with a desire

to make its views and policy known to the other Ohio tribes, led

the war department to commission Gardiner as a special agent. He

was to determine the disposition of the Indians to cede their reserva-

tions and to emigrate west. If he found them favorably inclined,

Gardiner was to negotiate treaties of cession and removal.5 In

carrying out his mission, Gardiner, assisted by John McElvain, the

Ohio Indian agent, negotiated such treaties with the mixed band

of Senecas and Shawnees at Lewistown, the Shawnees, and the

Ottawas on July 20, August 8, and August 30, respectively.6

The special agent was not so successful in his dealings with the

Wyandots. The Wyandot leaders were reluctant even to discuss the

subject, though they did give some indication of willingness to

consider his propositions providing the government was willing

to defray the expense of sending a delegation of chiefs to examine

the country designated for them in the West. Since this demand

became a sine qua non of any further discussions, Gardiner procured

the assent of the war department to it.7

This expedition, led by William Walker, a quarter-blood and

influential member of the tribe, spent over a month in its examina-

tion. When the delegation returned to Upper Sandusky, it rendered

an unfavorable report, stating in conclusion that it was "decidedly

of opinion that the interests of the nation will not be promoted,

nor their condition ameliorated, by a removal to the country

examined," and recommending to the chiefs and the nation at


4 Ibid., VII, 348-350.

5 Secretary of War John H. Eaton to Gardiner, March 29, 1831. Unless otherwise

noted, the official communications cited hereafter are in the files of the office of

Indian affairs, known as Record Group 75, in the National Archives, Washington, D.C.

6 U. S. Stat. at Large, VII, 351-364.

7 Gardiner to Secretary of War Lewis Cass, August 22, 1831; Samuel S. Hamilton

to Gardiner, September 5, 1831.



large "to cease all contention, bickerings, and party strifes; settle

down & maintain their position in the State of Ohio."8

This adverse account extinguished Gardiner's hopes for the

cession of the "Grand Reserve." In his disappointment Gardiner

labeled the report "an ingenious tissue of preconcerted misrepre-

sentations," and alleged: "The delegation never saw the country

which I had proferred to them in behalf of the government! . . .

They were but six days, in all, on the western line of the State of

Missouri, and ... occupied most of that time in the sport of bear-

hunting, on horseback and with dogs!"9

Seeking to salvage something from the collapse of his negotiations

for the "Grand Reserve," Gardiner next treated with the separate

band of Wyandots residing on the Big Spring reservation. He met

the leaders in council and succeeded in negotiating a treaty with

them on January 19, 1832.10 For these 16,000 acres, lying in

Crawford, Hancock, and Seneca counties, the United States was to

pay the Indians $1.25 per acre and a fair equivalent for the im-

provements made thereon. Since these Wyandots did not wish to

emigrate west, they were, as they thought proper, to join their kin

either in Canada, or on the Huron River in Michigan Territory, or

on the "Grand Reserve" at Upper Sandusky. Following a controversy

over the matter with the chiefs at Upper Sandusky, the Big Spring

chiefs reached an agreement with them, approved by the war de-

partment, by which the Big Spring Wyandots would remove to the

"Grand Reserve" and share with their brethren there the proceeds

from the sale of the Big Spring reserve.11 The resolution of this

problem marked the close of the Gardiner negotiations with the


Although the other Ohio tribes were to emigrate to new homes

in the West during the 1830's under the terms of their treaties

with the United States, the Wyandots were to remain steadfast

in their possession of the "Grand Reserve" at Upper Sandusky


8 This report may be found in J. Orin Oliphant, ed., "The Report of the Wyandot

Exploring Delegation, 1831," Kansas Historical Quarterly, XV (1947), 253-258.

9 Gardiner to Cass, January 28, 1832.

10 U. S. Stat. at Large, VII, 364-365.

11 Correspondence on the Subject of the Emigration of Indians Between the 30th

November 1831, and 27th December 1833, Senate Documents, 23 cong., 1 sess.,

Document No. 512, vol. 3, pp. 542-544.


THE REMOVAL OF THE WYANDOTS                  123


and in their refusal to remove west. Cognizant of a division within

the tribe on the subject of removal--the so-called "Christian" party

was opposed to it and the "Pagan" party favorable to it--the war

department was to conduct unofficial and official negotiations with

the Wyandots throughout the decade. The most notable of these

negotiations occurred in 1834. In that year congress appropriated

the sum of one thousand dollars for holding a treaty negotiation

with the Wyandots.12 Secretary of War Lewis Cass promptly com-

missioned Governor Robert Lucas of Ohio to undertake the


In his negotiations with the Wyandots, which lasted intermittently

from August 6 to October 23, 1834, Governor Lucas, assisted by

John A. Bryan, his secretary, and John McElvain, made a determined

though vain effort to persuade the Wyandots to cede their lands

and emigrate.14 As in 1831, the dispatch of an exploring party to

the West and its presentation of an unfavorable report on the

lands visited contributed greatly to the collapse of the negotiations.15

The continued opposition of the principal leaders of the tribe to

emigration also played some part in Lucas' failure.

In transmitting his final report on the negotiations to the war

department in March 1835,16 Lucas, nevertheless, expressed the

belief that a majority of the Wyandots were now willing to migrate.

The governor, therefore, was anxious to keep the negotiations open

even though the funds for them were exhausted. Lucas was willing

to do this on his own responsibility without requesting additional

monetary aid from Washington. Nothing further, however, de-

veolped on the issue during the remainder of that year.

Early in January 1836, William Walker, the newly elected prin-

cipal chief for the year, contacted Governor Lucas relative to a

12 U. S. Stat. at Large, IV, 678.

13 Cass to Lucas, July 11, 1834. Shrimplin Collection, Ohio Historical Society. A

copy of this letter is in the National Archives.

14 Journal of Proceedings, in Shrimplin Collection; also, Lucas to Cass,

March 22, 1835.

15 McElvain to Lucas, August 27, 1834. Official Governors' Papers, 1832-36, Ohio

Historical Society. This letter, along with most of the papers in the Shrimplin

Collection, is reproduced in Dwight L. Smith, ed., "An Unsuccessful Negotiation for

Removal of the Wyandot Indians from Ohio, 1834," Ohio State Archaeological and

Historical Quarterly, LVIII (1949), 305-331.

16 Lucas to Cass, March 24, 1835.




renewal of negotiations.17 A  short time later this chief advised

the governor of the probability of some of the chiefs going to

Washington to obtain the assent of the president to the sale of

sixty sections from the eastern end of the "Grand Reserve." On

March 19 Walker notified Lucas that the chiefs were sending such

a delegation to Washington, accompanied by their late sub-agent,

John McElvain.18 Lucas informed the war department of this

pending visit and its purpose, which he wholeheartedly endorsed.19

On the arrival of the chiefs in Washington, Cass commissioned

John A. Bryan, then in the city and well acquainted with these

Indians through the negotiations of 1834, to treat with them.20 On

April 23, 1836, Bryan concluded a treaty with William Walker,

John Barnett, and Peacock, the members of the delegation.21 The

Wyandots ceded to the United States for sale a strip five miles wide

on the eastern end of the "Grand Reserve," as well as two small

tracts lying outside the reserve that had been retained by the tribe

under the treaties of Maumee Rapids and St. Mary's. The United

States was to survey and sell these lands for the Indians. The chiefs

might halt the sale at any time the prices brought were not satis-

factory to them.

The treaty further stipulated that a sum, not to exceed $20,000,

from the proceeds of the land sales be used for rebuilding mills,

repairing and improving roads, establishing of schools, and "other

public objects for the improvement of their condition," as they were

deemed necessary by the chiefs. The balance of the proceeds, after

the deduction of the expenses of the negotiations, the execution of

the treaty, and the sale of the lands, was to be divided among the

tribe. The Wyandot leaders thus secured funds with which to im-

prove the condition of the tribe and to forestall its removal for a few

years longer.

The war department continued its efforts to achieve this latter

17 Walker to Lucas, January 13, 1836, enclosure in Lucas to President Jackson,

January 20, 1836.

18 Walker to Lucas, March 19, 1836. Shrimplin Collection.

19 Lucas to Cass, March 28, 1836.

20 Cass to Bryan, April 19, 1836. War Department (Record Group 70), National


21 U. S. Stat. at Large, VII, 502.




objective without success between 1837 and 1840. The increasing

pressure of white settlement in Ohio, the seeming anxiety of the

"Pagan" party within the tribe to sell and remove, and new ap-

propriations by congress in 1837 and 1838 for negotiating with the

Wyandots motivated the renewed efforts. With the inconclusive end

to negotiations conducted by William E. Hunter, a former Ohio

congressman, in 1840, it remained for an old friend of the Wyandots

and former Indian agent, John Johnston, to succeed where others

had failed.

The advent of a Whig administration in Washington in 1841 was

to bring John Johnston back on the scene after an absence of twelve

years. As Indian agent in the 1820's he had witnessed and aided

the voluntary migration of many Ohio Indians to new homes in

the West. He was now to have the opportunity to effect the removal

of the last of the redmen in Ohio, the Wyandots.

On March 3, 1841, congress appropriated three thousand dollars

for holding further treaty negotiations with the Wyandots.22

Johnston, in Washington to secure a position in the Indian service,

requested the assignment, and on March 26, John Bell, the new

secretary of war, commissioned him for this purpose.23 T. Hartley

Crawford, the commissioner of Indian affairs, gave the new com-

missioner detailed instructions.24 Crawford directed Johnston to seek

the cession of all Wyandot lands in Ohio, allowing for reservations

to individual Indians only if absolutely necessary. In consideration

for such a cession, Johnston was to offer the Wyandots an increase

in their annuity from the existing $6,900 to $12,000; the grant of

320 acres to each head of a family or adult Indian from the public

domain southwest of the Missouri River; the assumption of the

expenses of their removal and subsistence for one year thereafter by

the United States; and the payment of their debts to an amount not

exceeding $10,000. Crawford cautioned that the United States would

not honor any debts for liquor or ones contracted after the signing

of a treaty. Finally, he insisted it was not necessary for the Wyandots

to send another exploring party to the West during the negotiations.

22 Ibid., V, 419.

23 Bell to Johnston, March 26, 1841.

24 Crawford to Johnston, March 26, 1841.




Johnston held his first deliberations with the Wyandots in two

general councils in April 1841. He was to spend the next eleven

months in his task. Two major issues arose during the negotiations

to hamper the conclusion of a treaty: (1) the desire of the Wyandot

chiefs for a definite location in the West, preferably near the

Delawares and Shawnees in eastern Kansas, and (2) the amount of

the annuity. The continued opposition to emigration by various

whites, half-breeds, and some Indians, the problem of the debts of

the Indians, and the cleverness of the chiefs were other factors con-

tributing to the prolongation of the negotiations.

Following his initial conferences with the Indians, Johnston sub-

mitted several suggestions to the Indian office for approval.25 He

requested permission for the Wyandots to send another delegation

west to secure and to fix a home for the tribe near the Delawares

and Shawnees. Having been advised of the willingness of the Kansas

Indians to sell a portion of their holdings adjoining those of the

Delawares and Shawnees, Johnston recommended the use of such

lands as the nucleus of a tract for the Wyandots. Lastly, he asked

for authority to treat with the band of Wyandots residing on the

Huron River in Michigan Territory for emigration with their Ohio

brethren. Crawford granted this last request but vetoed the taking

of any measures either for another exploring party or the procure-

ment of a tract of land from the Delaware, Shawnee, or Kansas

Indians for the Wyandots.26

Following the clarification of these points, Johnston returned to

Upper Sandusky to renew his talks with the Indians. The Wyandot

leaders now expressed dissatisfaction with the amount of the annuity

offered them in payment for their lands. They demanded a perpetual

annuity of $20,000. Johnston, thereupon, proposed the following

terms as the basis for a treaty: an annuity of $13,000; provision for

the support of a school during the pleasure of the president; payment

of their debts and for their improvements; erection of a grist and

saw mill on their new lands; and removal of the tribe and subsistence

for one year thereafter at the expense of the United States.


25 Johnston to Crawford, May 11, 1841.

26 Crawford to Johnston, May 17, 1841.




Having exceeded his original instructions, specifically with respect

to the annuity, Johnston sought the sanction of Crawford to treat

on these terms. In defense of his offer of a larger annuity and the

maintenance of a school, Johnston argued the United States would

realize at least four to five hundred thousand dollars from the sale of

the Wyandot lands in Ohio, and could thus afford to grant the

Wyandots a permanent annuity of $15,000--$14,000 for the annuity

and $1,000 for a school. He also reiterated his earlier request for

permission to send an exploring party west to determine a location

for the tribe. In his opinion the Wyandots would not consider a

cession of their lands without first settling the matter of their future


In the light of the demand for a larger annuity and other con-

siderations, Crawford, reasserting his disapproval of another ex-

ploring party to the West, now sent Johnston altered instructions as

the basis for a treaty.28 The new terms stipulated that the United

States advance to the Wyandots the necessary funds to meet the

payment of their debts, the costs of their removal, and the expense

of their subsistence for one year thereafter. The Indians were now to

be offered a quantity of land equivalent to their present reservation

rather than a grant of 320 acres per head of family or adult Indian.

From the proceeds of the sale of the ceded lands the United States

would deduct the several sums advanced to the Wyandots and pay-

ment at $1.25 per acre for any lands granted them in the West.

On the balance from the proceeds the United States would pay an

interest of five percent as an annuity.

Johnston objected specifically to the suggestion of the payment

by the Wyandots of $1.25 for lands given them in the West. To

interject this element into the negotiations at this time, in his

judgment, would ruin the chances for a treaty. He also doubted

the wisdom of refusing to permit the Indians to send another

deputation west to fix a location for the tribe if the Indians in-

sisted on this. On this latter issue the Wyandots were now cor-

responding with the Delawares and Shawnees to effect an agreement

27 Johnston to Crawford, June 19, 1841.

28 Crawford to Johnston, July 7, 1841.




with these tribes for a part of their lands. If this proved successful,

Johnston confidently expected to conclude a treaty by January 1842.29

His confidence was not without foundation. The Wyandots,

meeting in council on November 20 and deliberating for two days,

authorized the chiefs to make a treaty of cession and removal. At

the same time, they rejected as insufficient the permanent annuity

of $15,000 which Johnston, again ignoring his instructions, now

offered them. As the year closed, the chiefs were indicating a will-

ingness to accept an annuity of $17,500, but Johnston was adhering

to his offer of $15,000. Early in January 1842 the Wyandot leaders

once more informed Johnston of their two primary conditions for a

treaty--a permanent annuity of $17,500 and the successful termina-

tion of negotiations with the Delawares and Shawnees for lands on

which to settle in the West.30

On February 9 Johnston forwarded another appeal to the war de-

partment to accept the position of the Indians on these points.31 He

clearly indicated that the Wyandots were unwilling to consider any

proposition other than the payment of a specific annuity for their

lands. With respect to the location of the tribe in the West, Johnston

asserted that, if he made a treaty, he would assign to them lands

from the tract set aside for emigrating Indians. He saw no objection,

however, to the Wyandots reaching terms with the Delawares and

Shawnees for lands but promised not to commit the government

on this matter. He concluded his report with this observation, "With

the Wyandots they are about to part with their last stake, the home

of themselves and their ancestors from time immemorial, the struggle

to give up their patrimony has been long and hard and at last been

decided amidst many painful regrets and forebodings."

This appeal evoked no further instructions from the Indian office.

Johnston, convinced of the impossibility of a treaty based on the

terms proposed by the war department, proceeded to negotiate a

treaty on his own responsibility. On March 17, 1842, he concluded


29 Johnston to Crawford, August 6, 1841; Johnston to Crawford, September 17, 1841.

30 Johnston to Crawford, November 29, 1841; Greene County Torchlight (Xenia),

December 2, 1841; Johnston to Crawford, December 28, 1841; Johnston to Crawford,

January 13, 1842.

31 Johnston to Crawford, February 9, 1842.




with the Wyandots the treaty which marked the end of Indian land

tenure in Ohio and provided for the removal of the last of that

proud race from the state.32

The Wyandots ceded all their remaining lands in Ohio and the

two small tracts in Michigan Territory on the Huron River. They

retained only the three and one-half acres which embraced the stone

meeting house and burial grounds at Upper Sandusky. In considera-

tion for this cession the United States granted a tract of 148,000

acres west of the Mississippi "to be located upon any land . . . now

set apart or may in the future be set apart for Indian use and not

already assigned to any other tribe or nation."

The United States agreed to pay for the improvements made by

the Indians on the ceded lands. Two appraisers, appointed by the

president, were to make the evaluation of them. Although the

government might survey and sell the lands prior to that time, the

Indians were to continue in the use and occupancy of their im-

provements until April 1, 1844. The buildings and farm of the

Methodist Episcopal Church were to remain in the possession of

the incumbents until the same date.

The financial clauses reflected an acceptance of the position of the

Indians on the annuity issue and other matters. They stipulated

the payment to the Wyandots of a perpetual annuity of $17,500

in specie, beginning in the current year and including all former

annuities. Within three years the United States was to remit $500

per annum for the support of a school. The government also con-

tracted to meet the debts of the Wyandots due to citizens of the

United States in accordance to a schedule to be annexed to the


As for removal, the Wyandot chiefs agreed to move their people

west at the cost to the United States of $10,000--half payable upon

their departure for the West and half payable upon the arrival of

the tribe at its destination. The government promised to provide and

support a blacksmith and an assistant, to erect a suitable shop and

residence for them, and to furnish annually sufficient quantities of


32 Charles J. Kappler, ed., Indian Affairs, Laws and Treaties (Washington, 1903),

II, 534-537.




iron, steel, coal, files, tools, and other items for such an establish-

ment. The United States also engaged to maintain a sub-agent and

interpreter among the Wyandots.

Having made the best treaty possible in his opinion, Johnston

urged that it receive the approbation of the war department. He

defensively but righteously declared: "That I was constrained to

close it against the views of the . . . Secretary of War, is to me a

subject of unfeigned regret, yet I humbly trust to stand justified

under a careful review of all the circumstances."33

In his anxiety to forward the treaty for action Johnston admittedly

had left unfinished two items relative to it. Since high waters had

prevented their attendance at the final parley, Johnston had not ob-

tained the consent of the Huron River Wyandots to the treaty. Be-

cause the dispersion of their debts over a wide area in small amounts

necessitated some weeks to collect the data for the schedule of

indebtedness of the Wyandots, Johnston had not completed this

task before dispatching the treaty to the Indian office. By May he

had forwarded an abstract of the indebtedness, noting that $21,000

would meet these obligations. He had also sent the duly signed

assent of the Huron River Wyandots to the treaty.34

The commissioner of Indian affairs submitted the treaty to the

secretary of war on May 19. Five days later the president transmitted

the treaty to the senate for ratification. On August 17 the senate

ratified the document with several inconsequential amendments

calling for changes in the wording of three articles and the in-

sertion of the sum of $23,860 to cover the debts of the Wyandots.35

Congress then appropriated $55,660 for carrying the treaty into

effect, conditional upon the acceptance by the Wyandots of the

senate amendments.36 Johnston met the chiefs in council on Sep-

tember 16 and obtained their consent in writing to the amend-

ments.37 This completed his assignment to negotiate a treaty with


33 Johnston to Crawford, March 18, 1842.

34 Ibid.; Johnston to Crawford, April 15, 1842; Johnston to Crawford, May 11, 1842.

35 Crawford to Secretary of War John C. Spencer, May 19, 1842; Richardson,

Papers and Messages of the Presidents, IV, 157. For the senate amendments, see the

enclosure in Johnston to Crawford, September 18, 1842.

36 U. S. Stat. at Large, V, 576.

37 Johnston to Crawford, September 18, 1842.




the Wyandots. Their actual removal from Ohio remained to be


The first step in the preparations of the Wyandots for removal

was the appraisal of the value of their improvements. On November

4, 1842, Crawford appointed Moses H. Kirby and John Walker to

make this evaluation.38 These men duly submitted an appraisal of

$125,937.24 to the war department. Since there was only $20,000

available for the improvement payments, Crawford advised Purdy

McElvain, the Wyandot sub-agent, it would be impossible to meet

the amount submitted by the appraisers. Until congress made an

additional appropriation for their payment in full, these claims

would have to be met on a rated basis. He urged McElvain to allay

any disappointment or dissatisfaction among the Wyandots on this


Meanwhile, the Wyandots were busily engaged in making prepar-

ations for removal. By March 1843 many of the Huron River band

had moved to Upper Sandusky. To expedite the outfitting of the

tribe for emigration, the chiefs had enlarged the blacksmith shop

and hired another blacksmith at their own expense. The Indians had

by this time exhausted their year's supply of iron, steel, coal, and

other items furnished by the government in meeting the demands

made in readying for removal. McElvain requested $400 for the

purchase of additional materials for the blacksmith shop.40 Crawford

refused to remit this amount, as the maximum allowed was $220.41

On June 1 McElvain reported to the commissioner of Indian

affairs that the Indians were busy collecting their livestock.42 They

were disposing of most of their cattle, hogs, household furniture,

farming implements, and other goods they could not conveniently

take with them. McElvain indicated they would be ready for de-

parture probably by June 20. Concerning the precise destination of

the emigrants, the sub-agent stated that the Wyandots intended to

proceed to the Shawnee lands in the West. The principal chief had


38 Crawford to Kirby and Walker, November 4, 1842.

39 Crawford to McElvain, April 1, 1843.

40 McElvain to Crawford, March 3, 1843.

41 Crawford to McElvain, March 31, 1843.

42 McElvain to Crawford, June 1, 1843.




noted that the tribe would remain there until it reached a decision

whether to accept a proposition from the Shawnees to settle there

or to take lands to be assigned to them by the United States. An

advance party had already departed to examine the country south of

the Shawnee lands.

Largely due to delays involved in the sale of loose property con-

sidered too valuable to leave without compensation, the Wyandots

did not begin their trek until July. The last days and scenes at Upper

Sandusky were filled with other activities. They held frequent con-

sultations in the council house and religious services in the mission

church for days before their departure. The remains of the beloved

chief, Summedewat, whom two white men had murdered in Wood

County in 1841, and of John Stewart, the Negro missionary and

founder of the Methodist mission among the Wyandots, were

brought and solemnly reinterred in the cemetery attached to the

church. The Indians carefully marked the graves of other loved

ones with marble and stone tablets.43 By a trust deed the Wyandots

committed the care and preservation of their burial grounds to the

Methodist Episcopal Church.44

Prior to the departure of the emigrants, the Rev. James Wheeler,

the resident missionary, preached a farewell sermon to the as-

sembled Christians of the tribe. Chief Squire John Grey Eyes, long

a vigorous opponent of removal, then delivered a pathetic yet

fervent discourse to his people in their native tongue. He closed this

valedictory by alluding to the church in which the Indians had

worshipped under the ministrations of James B. Finley and his


Purdy McElvain described the leave taking in the following words:


Their final departure was a scene of intense interest to all who witnessed

it and called forth many expressions of deep feelings, on the part of the

Indians who are leaving the land which has been to them a home for years,

and altho many of them have left their nearest friends and relatives

43 The History of Wyandot County, Ohio (Chicago, 1884), 296-299.

44 Abraham J. Baughman, ed., Past and Present of Wyandot County, Ohio (Chicago,

1913), I, 272.

45 William Rusler, ed., A Standard History of Allen County, Ohio (Chicago, 1921),

I, 159.


THE REMOVAL OF THE WYANDOTS                133


slumbering with the silent dead, with no expectation of ever again beholding

their resting places, yet I believe there was not a single instance of obstinate

and determined disposition to combat the wishes of the United States in

regard to their removal. On the contrary, the most perfect resignation to,

and acquiescence in, all that has been required of them . . . has been

manifested from the commencement of their preparations for leaving.46

The local wagon teams employed to convey them to Cincinnati

began to gather the effects of the Wyandots on July 9. The prepara-

tions completed and the farewells said, the cavalcade--chiefs on

horseback, men and women on foot, and wagons carrying belongings

and the infirm--left Upper Sandusky on July 12. Passing through

Bellefontaine, Urbana, Springfield, Xenia, and Lebanon, the emi-

grants reached Cincinnati on July 19.47

Several of the local newspapers commented upon the departure,

appearance, and conduct of the Wyandots as they passed through

their communities. The Logan Gazette of Bellefontaine thought that

"although most of them appear contented and happy, and seemed to

bear the labor and exposure to the heat and dust with stout heart;

yet it was a melancholy spectacle." The writer went on to praise

the Wyandots in these words: "The tribe move themselves, and de-

serve credit for the order and decorum they observe. During the

greater part of two days they were passing our village, we noticed

but one drunken man. They were sober in conduct, as well as

countenance."48 The Xenia Torchlight49 and the Lebanon Western

Star50 also made favorable observations upon the spirit, condition,

and appearance of the emigrants. These editors estimated the number

of Indians in the caravan at 625 to 800. A Cincinnati editor,

observing the Indians as they moved through the city to the wharf,

wrote: "Perhaps they are indifferent and we hope they are. . . . Just

civilized enough to have lost their savage courage they go forth on

the broad prairies of the west, like sheep among wolfs."51


46 McElvain to Crawford, July 12, 1843.

47 Ibid.; History of Wyandot County, 299; Rusler, History of Allen County, I,

159-160; Xenia Torchlight, July 13, 1843.

48 Quoted in Ohio State Journal (Columbus), July 18, 1843.

49 July 20, 1843.

50 July 21, 1843.

51 Daily Cincinnati Chronicle, July 19, 1843.




The chiefs left the tribe at Urbana and proceeded to Columbus

to take their final leave of the citizens of Ohio through the governor

and other state officials. Henry Jacquis, the principal chief, delivered

a speech in which he expressed the kind feelings of his people

towards the people of Ohio and stressed the long period of peace

and friendship which had endured between them. Governor Wilson

Shannon replied in kind.52

On their arrival in Cincinnati the Wyandots remained one night

on the steamboat landing. Some of them proceeded to get intox-

icated. One, John Hicks, became so drunk that while boarding the

steamer in the morning he fell through a guard rail and was drowned.

His death was one of four occurring prior to the final exodus from

Ohio. The others were the venerable chief Warpole, aged 113,

a woman, and a child.53

The Indians embarked on two river steamers, the Nodaway and

the Republic, and began the trip to St. Louis on July 21. In de-

scending the Ohio River they passed the tomb of the late President

William Henry Harrison, overlooking the river at North Bend, Ohio.

Since a number of the Wyandots had fought under Harrison in the

War of 1812 and entertained the highest veneration for him and

his memory, Jacquis requested Captain Cleghorn of the Nodaway

to have the "big gun" fire a salute. As the vessel neared the

hallowed spot, the chiefs and braves gathered on the hurricane roof,

formed a line, and faced the grave. When the ship, with its engines

stopped, drifted past the tomb, the Indians uncovered and waved

their hats in silence. The head chief then stepped forward and ex-

claimed impressively, "Farewell Ohio and her brave."54

At St. Louis the emigrants boarded two Missouri River steamers,

which landed them at the mouth of the Kansas River at the end of

July. William Walker, writing to a friend in Columbus, gave a

graphic description of their arrival and settlement:


We have landed near to our future home. . . . I have been employed

52 Western Star, August 4, 1843; Xenia Torchlight, August 10, 1843; History of

Wyandot County, 299-300.

53 Xenia Torchlight, July 27, 1843; Cincinnati Gazette, July 22, 1843.

54 St. Louis Republican quoted in Western Star, August 4, 1843.




busily since we landed in collecting and getting under shelter my household

goods and in getting a house to live in temporarily. . . .

My company are all about two miles above this place, some in tents,

some in houses, and some under the expanded branches of the tall cotton

wood trees. You cannot imagine my feelings on landing . . . and hunting

a shelter for the family--faces all strange--we feel truly like "strangers in

a strange land."55


Since the government had not yet designated their new lands in

the West and they had not yet reached any agreement either with

the Delawares or the Shawnees for lands on which to settle, the

Wyandots first encamped on the military reservation on the east

bank of the Kansas River at its mouth. The Delawares, owners of

the land on the west bank of the river, urged the Wyandots to cross

the Kansas and occupy these lands, pending an agreement between

the tribes for their purchase by the Wyandots. Failing to find any

more suitable location, the Wyandots moved on the Delaware lands

in the fall of 1843.56

On December 14, 1843, the Delawares and Wyandots reached

an agreement with respect to these lands. By its terms the Delawares

surrendered to the Wyandots thirty-nine sections on the eastern end

of their reservation, beginning at the junction of the Kansas and

Missouri rivers and running westward between them sufficiently

far to include the thirty-nine sections. For this strategic tract the

Wyandots were to pay the Delawares $46,080--$6,080 in cash and

$4,000 annually for ten years. The transaction was not to be binding

until approved by the president of the United States.57

President Tyler, in doubt concerning his power to act on this

matter, submitted the articles of agreement to the senate in February

1844 for its consideration. No further action was forthcoming for

over four years. Athough the delay kept the Indians in a state of

suspense and uncertainty, the Wyandots proceeded to make im-

provements upon these lands and to pay the Delawares for them.


55 Western Star, August 25, 1843.

56 Jonathan Phillips to Thomas H. Harvey, September 16, 1844. William Clark

Papers, Kansas State Historical Society.

57 Kappler, Indian Affairs, II, 1048.




The reports of Jonathan Phillips and Richard Hewitt,58 the first

of their sub-agents in the West, reveal that the Wyandots ad-

justed quickly to their new environment despite some initial diffi-

culties. The hardships of the removal, the change of climate, the

unhealthful location on low ground, and the intemperance of the

Indians resulted in some one hundred deaths among them in the

first year. The sub-agents deplored the intemperance caused by the

sale of whiskey to the Indians by whites. Hewitt, however, noted that

the Rev. James Wheeler, who had accompanied the tribe west, was

rendering effective service in the cause of temperance and in the

amelioration of the condition and morals of the Indians.

The Wyandots made substantial physical and agricultural im-

provements in the years immediately following removal. During the

winter of 1943-44 they built cabins and erected a blacksmith shop,

a school, a dwelling for the missionary, and a hewn-log meeting

house. By 1845 they had cleared a sufficient quantity of heavily

timbered land to raise an abundant supply of corn, potatoes, and

other vegetables. They also had enough beef and pork to lessen

their dependence on others for these provisions. The Wyandots

seemingly were well on their way to a new life. Their future did,

however, hinge upon the decision of the government relative to

the agreement of 1843 with the Delawares. Congress by joint resolu-

tion clarified this by endorsing the Delaware-Wyandot agreement in

July 1848.59

Two years later, Ardavan S. Loughery, commissioner for the

United States, and four Wyandot chiefs concluded a treaty in Wash-

ington by which the Wyandots relinquished all claims to land under

the Johnston treaty of 1842.60 In lieu of land the United States was

to give the Wyandots $185,000--$85,000 directly and $100,000 to

be invested in government stock at five percent per annum. This

treaty brought to a close the removal of the Wyandots from Ohio.

58 Phillips to Harvey, September 16, 1844; Hewitt to Crawford, September 18, 1845.

Clark Papers.

59 U. S. Stat. at Large, IX, 337.

60 Kappler, Indian Affairs, II, 587-588.