Clark County, Ohio

History and Genealogy



Indian Character

From 20th Century History of Springfield and Clark County, Ohio by Hon. William A. Rockel
Chicago: Biographical Publishing Co., 1908
Written by Hon. Thomas F. McGrew for the Shawnee Centennial of 1880


General Anderson in his address at the Ohio Centennial thus speaks of the general character of the red man.

"Let us now try to form some estimate of the party of the second part, of the noble red man. He is a survival of the stone age, and probably belongs to the oldest race of man. He is brave, patient, enduring, loyal to his tribe, and fairly honest, until demoralized by evil association. On the other hand, he was cruel, revengeful, lazy, and unreliable. The curse of Reuben is upon him. 'Unstable as water, he cannot excel.' Naturally the Indian has a warlike and not peaceful characteristic. We used to hear stories of a handful of white men standing off hordes of howling savages. The fact is, that under the conditions of frontier warfare, the Indians are, man for man, equal to the white men. Success in war does not depend upon the half-hour's fighting, but on weeks or months of hard campaigning. Trained in warfare from his boyhood, a master in woodcraft, and a past master in stratagems, the Indian is a better campaigner than any, except the best trained soldier."



Indian Fighting

And of his fighting, the authority last quoted from says: "The character of the Indian fighting in the heavily wooded country of Oregon and Washington was very similar in character to the Indian warfare in Ohio in its pioneer days. Colonel Shaw, an experienced Indian fighter in that part of the country, gave the writer this statement of his experience. 'The Indians,' he said, 'fight like wolves or other wild animals which hunt and fight in droves. As the wolves attack with great fierceness wounded animals, so the Indian, by some instinct of fight attacks the weakest part of your line, and if they have made any impression crowd on that point.' 'This,' he said, 'they do without orders.' While this is true, their chiefs have been known in battle to give orders by flashes from old mirrors."



Indian Incidents

It will be interesting to know of a few of the incidents that occurred between the earlier settlers and the Indian inhabitants.

In Mr. McKinnon's letter read at the Shawnee Centennial, I find the following:

"One day, soon after we settled on Buck Creek, and father and the older boys were away from home, four Indians — two young men and two older ones — came to our house and called for their dinners. Mother provided a dinner for them, and while they were eating she asked one of the young men if they were at the burining of Colonel Crawford. He said that the two of the old ones were. She then told him that Colonel Crawford was her grandfather. When he notified the other ones of this fact they all immediately stopped eating and appeared somewhat alarmed; but she told htem to go on with their eating and not be uneasy. She then asked them if they could tell her about the death of Major Harrison. They told her that he had been squibbed to death with powder at Wapatomica, near Xanesfield, Logan County. She then told htem that Harrison was her father." This report fully corroborated one given by a man named Trover, I think, who was a prisoner at the same time with Major Harrison. He said he had seen Harrison's body black and powder-burned.

Another Indian trouble was in the time of Governor Tiffin. He was advised of the coming trouble and he sent word to Tecumseh at Wapakoneta to meet with him in council at Springfield, with eighty warriors, the picked men of the Shawnee tribe. I remember one of them in particular, a man by name of Goodhunter, who had formerly camped near our house, when on a hunting expedition. He was as fine a specimen of perfect physical manhood as I ever saw. The council was held and the pipe of peace was smoked. The following incident occurred in connection with the smoking. A Dr. Hunt had a clay pipe and Governor Tiffin used it for the occasion. When he had filled the pipe and started it, he passed it to Tecumseh who looked at it a moment and then throwing it away he brought forth his tomahawk-pipe, and after starting it handed it to Governor Tiffin. I heard Tecumseh's speech as he made it through an interpreter, and I never heard a finer orator than he appeared to be.

Another incident is given by Mr. Baker in his history of Mad River Township.

"About 1805, a friendly Indian, encamped on the headwaters of Mill Creek, near the present site of Emery Church, was visited by three men from this township. The visit was made in the guise of friendship; they were kindly received and entertained; they engaged the Indian in shooting at target, and taking advantage of him when his gun was empty, shot him down without any other provocation than the fact that he belonged to the hated Indian tribe."

The following is given by the late John Ross, of German Township, as alluding to Tecumseh and the state of affairs when he was in his glory.

"In those days, Indians were very numerous and quite hostile, so that the settlers lived in constant dread of them, many times being compelled to collect together for mutual protection. In 1806, during one of their outbreaks, all the whites for miles around collected at a place a few miles southwest of Springfield, since known as Boston, where they built a blockhouse. Colonel Ward, Simon Kenton, and a few other of the prominent men of the party, went out and made a treaty with the Indians, which was kept about two years, or until 1808, when this treaty was renewed at the then village of Springfield. The militia and many other of the settlers met about sixty Indians, among whom were five or six chiefs, principal among whom was old Tecumseh. Mr. Ross remembered him as tall, lithe figure, of good form, and fine, commanding appearance. He made a speech at the treaty, which, for an Indian, was remembered as being full of oratory, and remarkable for ease and grace of delivery. A white man had been murdered, for which the murderer was demanded, or the whole tribe would be held accountable. 'Can you,' asked Tecumseh, 'hold your whole people accountable for a murder committed by one of your bad men? No, then you cannot hold us accountable.'"

Mr. McGrew gives an incident not so much to the credit of Tecumseh's bravery.

"As an illustration of his morals and honor, in his early life, I give the following incident: It was communicated to me by a friend, who obtained the same information from an early settler in Clark County, that Tecumseh traded with a white man a much-worn saddle for one that appeared better. The white man repaired the saddle which he obtained in the trade, and by the use of his own skill and materials, made it look the better one of the two. When Tecumseh next met this white man with the repaired saddle, he treacherously claimed it as his own. The white man invited him to settle the right of ownership by a personal conflict, which the Indian very cowardly declined."

In Mr. Martin's history of Springfield, a description is given of the trial of three Indians who killed a white man about the year 1807, a few miles west of Urbana. This trial was held opposite the old Foos Tavern. Tecumseh was present. After a full and patient inquiry into the facts of the case, it appeared that the murder of Myers was the act of a single Indian, and not chargeable to either band of the Indians. Several speeches were made by the chiefs, the most prominent of which was that by Tecumseh. He gave a satisfactory explanation of the action of himself and the Prophet in calling around them a band of Indians; disavowed all hostile intentions toward the United States, and denied that either he or those under his control had committed any depredations upon the whites. His manner of speaking was animated, fluent and rapid, and, when understood, very forcible.

The council then terminated. During its session, the two tribes of Indians became reconciled to each other, and peace and quiet was gradually restored to themselves in various feats of activity and strength, such as jumping, running and wrestling, in which Tecumseh generally excelled. At this time, Tecumseh was in the thirty-eighth year of his age, five feet ten inches high, with erect body, well developed and of remarkable muscular strength. His weight was about one hundred and seventy pounds. There was something noble and commanding in all his actions. Tecumseh was a Shawnese; the native pronunciation of the name was Tecumtha, signifying, "The Shooting Star." He as brave, generous and humane in all his actions.

Among others who were present at this council were Jonah Baldwin, John Humphreys, Simon Kenton, Walter Smallwood, John Daugherty and Griffith Foos.

We give here an incident which will illustrate their dislike to manual labor. A company of Indians were fishing near the residence of Gen. Benjamin Whiteman near Clifton, when one of them became engaged in a wrestling match with a mulatto in the General's employ. The Indian proved to be the better man, giving the mulatto a heavy fall, after which he was unable to get up. The Indian became anxious as to the effect of the accident, and asked of the General, "What will you do with me if I kill Ned?" The General replied, "You must work in his place." The Indian looking at Ned, and thinking the matter over, replied, "Me would rather you would kill me, General."