Clark County, Ohio

History and Genealogy



Tecumseh and Piqua


From The History of Clark County, Ohio
Chicago: W.H. Beers & Co., 1881 - Page 220


As this book contains an illustrated sketch of this celebrated Indian chief, any further remarks would be superfluous were it not true that the name of Tecumseh is to some extent connected with the early history of this particular county. That he was born here is as well established as any other unrecorded event in this connection.

There has been some confusion over the Indian name "Piqua," which, like many other names, was used in a sort of general way, and was applied to more than one locality. As to the origin of the word, or its complete signification, tradition informs us that the word "Piqua" signifies "a man formed out of ashes." It runs that many years ago the braves of the Shawnees were seated around their camp-fire, when a great puffing was observed among the ashes, and suddenly a full-grown man stepped forth — the first of the Piqua tribe — a sort of "Phoenix," as a more refined mythology called it. Of course all this was in accordance with the Indian notion of things. No "big" Indian was ever born, like all other people, but came some way all at once, with the entire make-up of paint and bluster, and bloody knives sticking fast to him, and ready for business.

The first Piqua was in this county, and was afterward the site of the now vacant town of New Boston, which see. This Piqua has entirely disappeared as a name, except as a special designation of an historical point.

After the Shawnees were driven from here, they established themselves in what is now Miami County, and named that place Piqua also.

There was another town of the same name in Southern Ohio.

The second point yet retains the name, and is the city of Piqua, Miami County, Ohio. The third has been changed to Pickaway, and is the name of one of the counties of the State.

This much to explain how the confusion in regard to the birthplace of Tecumseh could occur: Drake's "Life of Tecumseh," published in 1841, furnishes the following:

"Some diversity of opinion has prevailed as to the birthplace of Tecumseh. It is stated by several historians to have been in the Scioto Valley, near the place where Chillicothe now stands. Such, however, is not the fact. He was born in the Valley of the Miamis, on the bank of Mad River, a few miles below Springfield, and within the limits of Clark County. Of this there is the most satisfactory evidence. In the year 1805, when the Indians were assemlbing at Greenville, as it was feared with some hostile intentions against the frontiers, the Governor of Ohio sent Duncan McArthur and Thomas Worthington to that place to ascertain the disposition of the Indians. Tecumseh and three other chiefs agreed to return with these messengers to Chillicothe, then the seat of government, for the purpose of holding a 'talk' with the Governor." Gen. McArthur, in a letter to Drake (the author), under date of November 19, 1821, says:

"When on the way from Greenville to Chillicothe, Tecumseh pointed out the place where he was born. It was an old Shawanoe town, on the north-west side of Mad River, about six miles below Springfield." there are many other bits of evidence tending to establish this fact beyond a doubt. Comment upon the life and deeds of this Indian would be out of place here, as he is referred to by various other contributors to this book. That he figured in some of the early scenes of this county is beyond dispute.

In this connection, the recollections of the late John Ross, of Greman Township, are given 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 block-house. Col. 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 the 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 a 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."

In 1810, a false alarm was given, and again they gathered in different points for protection. The alarm had been given by some one out on the "Beech" who had heard the report of a gun, and, not waiting to learn the cause, ran all the way in to the settlement and spread the news that the Indians were coming."