From 20th Century History of Springfield and Clark County, Ohio by Hon. William A. Rockel
Chicago: Biographical Publishing Co., 1908
In all probability the Erie Indians were the immediate successors of the mound builders. Much of history in reference to this fact rests in tradition but this eems to be now accepted as the nearest solution to the truth that can be obtained. Some historical data exists that about 1640, the Eries ranged over Ohio. Whether the mound builders were exterminated or removed to the south, or degenerated in the savages of prehistoric times, is a question that still remains unsolved.
The first authentic account of the Ohio wilderness is from the French explorers. The Eries held the country to the south of Lake Erie, how far is not known. They were a powerful and numerous people living in fortified villages, and tradition credits them with being the most enlightened of all the Indian tribes of North America, excepting only the Aztecs of Mexico.
The Iroquois, frequently designated as the Five Nations, as including the Mohawks, Oneidas, Onondagas, Senecas and Cayugas, were the foes of the Eries. * About 1660 the Iroquois surprised the Erie warriors, stormed their fortifications and after the custom of the victors, carried away and adopted the women and children of their vanquished foes. This tribe of Indians claimed all the land north of the Ohio River, and as such tribe at one time ceded their interest in these lands to that part of the United Stated which was then included in the state of New York, a controversy arose as to whether Ohio really belonged to Virginia by reason of the conquest and explorations made by Clark and others, or whether it belonged to New York by virtue of the treaty made with the IRoquois. There is considerable controversy over the fact as to whether they really ever occupied much, if any, of the State of Ohio, but if so probably very little of the territory now within Clark County.
History shows that whatever the Iroquois may have done, or claimed, as to the conquest of this section, the tribes that were afterwards found in Central Ohio — the Wyandottes, Delawares, Shawnees, Miamis and others did not concur therein.
While the Iroquois were a powerful confederation, it is said that they were at no time a numerous people. At the time of their greatest affluence they are said not to have numbered more than 25,000 and at the time of our revolution probably less than 15,000, and after their conflict with the western tribes they slowly drew back, claiming the title but really relinquishing it.
* About 1712 the Tuscaroras, who had been driven from North Carolina by the British, joined the confederacy, which thereafter was commonly known as the Six Nations.
This tribe or nation of Indians were occupants of the Miami Valley as early as 1749, as the following quotation from Gist's Journal will show:
"The Great Miami river was first known as Rock River, called by the French Riviere de la Roche, from its rocky bed. When the Miami nation emigrated to it from the Wabash, it took their name. Its head approached near that of the Maumee, which empties into Lake Erie, and was the original Miami, but changed by the whites to avoid confusion. The two rivers with a portage between their waters, formed one of the principal canoe routes between the Ohio and the Lake. It was that by which the Celeron went from Ohio to Detroit. The Twigtees were Miamis, of which nation the Pickwayliness and Pyankeshoes, later mentioned, were also tribes. They were once a very powerful nation, and claimed to have held the land between the Scioto and the Wabash, from the Ohio to the lakes, beyond the memory of man. They were the only Northern Indians who had not at some time been subdued by the Six Nations, and had so harassed them when they had extended their conquest of other nations to the Mississippi that they had to relinquish their hold there and restrict themselves to their former limits. They had been faithrul allies of the French from their first appearance on the lakes, and equally persistent enemies of the English, until a few years prior to this time, when they had changed their allegiance, moved from the Wabash to the Miami, and became friendly to the English. For this and in retaliation for their treaty with Groghand and Fist, the French waged a destructive war against them, taking their fort and burning their villages in 1752."
It is probable that the Miami Indians to a certain extent occupied at one time parts of Clark County.
The Ottawas and Wyandots, although of different generic stock, lived much together, perhaps partly through sympathy in a similar downfall. They had been allies against the Iroquois, and in succession overcame.
"The Shawnees and Cherokees seem to have been the foremost in the great Indian migrations which met the Mound-Builders. It is thought singular that there are no traditions of that move.
"But when we think how faithless are the traditions among the whites of one hundred years ago, almost sure to be very wrong, even of one's great-grandfather, and that the Mound-Builders apparently left Ohio several hundred years ago, at least, the want of memory of that event does seem singular (?).
"Indians were always moving and warring. But the same careful linguistic study in America, that has told so much in the old world, will tell us something of the new."
Those who have attempted to glean the facts of the dim unrecorded past, for historical use, will appreciate Mr. Baldwin's remarks in regard to the unreliability of even the latest traditions.
Many writers are inclined to the opinion that the Wyandots were among the earliest tribes on this soil, but, from the latest investigations, the conclusion seems to be that they were only a sub-tribe of the Eries and Iroquois.
The following letter is here inserted as being pertinent to this subject, though taken from the proceedings of the late Clark-Shawnee celebration:
Battle of Piqua
Early Clark County
George Rogers Clark
Education in Clark County
Indians in Clark County
The National Road
Springfield in 1852
Springfield in 1863
SHS 1951 Yearbook
Then & Now