Historic American Indian Tribes of Ohio

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This booklet will discuss the Historical American Indian tribes of Ohio. It also discusses their historical background, Ohio historical society Indian sites, Ohio historical marker sites, arts and crafts, agriculture, trade, medicine, and other aspects.
1. Historic
American Indian
Tribes of Ohio
Ohio Historical Society
Historical Background 03
Trails and Settlements 03
Shelters and Dwellings 04
Clothing and Dress 07
Arts and Crafts 08
Religions 09
Medicine 10
Agriculture, Hunting, and Fishing 11
The Fur Trade 12
Five Major Tribes of Ohio 13
Adapting Each Other’s Ways 16
Removal of the American Indian 18
Ohio Historical Society Indian Sites 20
Ohio Historical Marker Sites 20
Timeline 32
Glossary 36
The Ohio Historical Society
1982 Velma Avenue
Columbus, OH 43211
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Historic American Indian Tribes of Ohio
In Ohio, the last of the prehistoric Indians, the
Erie and the Fort Ancient people, were destroyed or
driven away by the Iroquois about 1655. Some
ethnologists believe the Shawnee descended from the
Fort Ancient people. The Shawnees were wanderers,
who lived in many places in the south. They became
associated closely with the Delaware in Ohio and
Pennsylvania. Able fighters, the Shawnees
stubbornly resisted white pressures until the Treaty of
Greene Ville in 1795.
At the time of the arrival of the European
explorers on the shores of the North American
continent, the American Indians were living in a
network of highly developed cultures. Each group
lived in similar housing, wore similar clothing, ate
similar food, and enjoyed similar tribal life.
In the geographical northeastern part of North America, the principal American Indian
tribes were: Abittibi, Abenaki, Algonquin, Beothuk, Cayuga, Chippewa, Delaware, Eastern
Cree, Erie, Forest Potawatomi, Huron, Iroquois, Illinois, Kickapoo, Mohicans, Maliseet,
Massachusetts, Menominee, Miami, Micmac, Mississauga, Mohawk, Montagnais, Munsee,
Muskekowug, Nanticoke, Narragansett, Naskapi, Neutral, Nipissing, Ojibwa, Oneida, Onondaga,
Ottawa, Passamaquoddy, Penobscot, Peoria, Pequot, Piankashaw, Prairie Potawatomi, Sauk-Fox,
Seneca, Susquehanna, Swamp-Cree, Tuscarora, Winnebago, and Wyandot.
Ohio was occupied by numerous American Indian tribes. In the northwest, the Wyandot
were located along the banks of the Maumee and Sandusky rivers; the Shawnee, in the south
were located on both sides of the Scioto; the Miami occupied the valleys of the two Miami
rivers; the Mingo located in the southeast between the Muskingum and Ohio rivers, and the
Delaware, Ottawa, and Chippewa people were scattered throughout.
The original traces or paths through the dense
forests of Ohio were created by animals -such as
buffalo and deer- in search of food, water, and salt
licks. These trails were far enough from streams to
avoid swamps and lowlands and sometimes followed
the ridges, and became known as “high-ways.” These
paths were narrow and well worn in and difficult to
travel. Because of this, early people and explorers
traveled single file when they used these traces to
pursue game and to get flint.
More efficient travel was on streams, rivers,
and lakes by canoe, then, when they could go no
further, travelers would portage across the land
between waters. The most important trails ran north
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Historic American Indian Tribes of Ohio
4. and south for they connected Lake Erie with the Ohio River. Settlements grew up along the
abundant natural resources near these trails and streams and because of the ease of
Sometime around 1583, the Spaniards introduced the horse as a means of transportation
on the North American continent. Within about 100 years, the horse was ridden in the plains
states to hunt buffalo. However, horses were grazers and required grasses to eat so they were not
practical for the northeast as it was densely forested and lacked enough grazing areas. Grains
could have been fed to the horses, but that would have meant that the American Indians would
have to have sacrificed their own food. It wasn’t until more lands were cleared and grasses grew
that horses became adaptable to the Ohio country.
The trails were used successively by the American Indians, explorers, the military, and
settlers. Today the original Lake Trail lies under U.S. Route 20; the Great Trail blazed the way
from Pittsburgh to Freemont to Detroit; and the Warrior Trail made its way from Portsmouth
through Upper Sandusky, and now is the bed of U.S. Route 23.
The teepee was generally used as a temporary shelter in a hunting camp. This cone-
shaped tent had a framework of long poles placed in a circle, set upright they would lean together
at the top. This frame was covered with mats or bark. Mats were made of cattails, or “flags,”
stitched together in sections of about five by fifteen feet. These lightweight mats were easy to
transport when rolled up.
The wigwam was a circular, or oval, dome-shaped structure that housed one or two
families. The butt-ends of the pole or sapling frame were imbedded in the earth; the tapered ends
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5. were bent down and tied in place with bark strips. Over this frame was fastened a covering of
bark or mats, sometimes a combination of both. Mats were made of cattails, or common marsh
“flags,” as they were called. In the center of the domed roof was a smoke hole with a section of
bark on a long pole resting against the side of the wigwam that could be adjusted to keep the
wind from blowing the campfire smoke back inside.
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6. The log house, another type of Woodland Indian dwelling, resembled a frontier log
cabin. It had a pitched or A-shaped roof. The structure was rectangular with side walls of small
logs four feet or more in height and fifteen feet long. Logs were not notched but were laid
between pairs of posts driven into the ground at each end. These were tied together at the top
with bark strips. End walls about twelve feet long were made of split logs set upright in the
ground. Stout forked posts at either end supported the ridgepole. From the side walls to the
ridge pole, small poles were laid and tied in place to serve as rafters. The roof frame was
covered with slabs of lynn bark, overlapped and tied in place. Cracks between the logs were
stuffed with moss. Bear skins were hung over the openings at each end to serve as doors. Living
quarters were on the sides; a series of small fires were laid in the middle down the length of the
cabin. An opening in the roof served as a chimney.
James Smith, a captive among the Ohio Wyandot and Mingo tribes from 1755 to 1759,
described such a cabin built for a winter hunting camp to house eight hunters and thirteen women
and children. He commented, “And not withstanding the winters are hard here, our lodging was
much better than what I had expected.”
The longhouse design was generally associated with the Iroquois and sometimes with the
Delaware and Shawnee tribes.
The longhouse was a multi-family dwelling, from thirty to more than one-hundred feet in
length, and about twenty-five feet wide, and twelve to fifteen feet high. The Iroquois used a
rounded or Quonset-type roof, while the Delaware and Shawnee used a pitched or peaked roof.
Poles and saplings bound together with tough bark strings formed the framework. This
was covered with large sheets of elm or birch bark, overlapping and tied in place to make a
weatherproof covering.
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7. Inside there would be a passageway down the center that contained fireplaces or pits for
cooking and heating. There was a smoke hole in the roof over each fire pit. The openings at
each end of the longhouse were usually covered with a large animal skin or hide.
Inside, each family lived and slept on raised platforms. These platforms extended along
the length of the longhouse on both sides. Placed a foot or two above the ground, these
platforms were framed with poles and floored with slabs of bark.
By the middle 1700s, the Delaware and Shawnee were using smaller dwellings. In 1751,
Christopher Gist, an explorer for the Ohio Company, visited the lower Shawnee town at the
mouth of the Scioto River. According to his journal, he recounted that there were one hundred
forty houses in the town, and the bark-covered council house was ninety feet long.
American Indian villages could consist of as many as several hundred dwellings or
cabins, or as few as a half a dozen. The villages were generally located near a stream or large
spring. Good land for gardens and cornfields and a plentiful supply of firewood were important
in determining the location of a village.
In prehistoric times, and even after the Europeans arrived in North America, some
American Indian tribes fortified their villages with palisades, or walls, as a protection against
enemy attack – but by the mid-1700s, this practice had been discontinued in Ohio.
In September 1772, the Reverend David McClure visited New Cornerstown located a few
miles east of Coshocton on the Tuscarawas River in Ohio. It was a village of about sixty houses,
some made of logs, and some of bark. Reverend McClure saw a number of well constructed
hewed log houses with stone chimneys and cellar holes. He was told by the inhabitants that
these were built for them during the French and Indian War by their English captives.
Some village sites had been in use off and on for many years, perhaps for centuries, by
both prehistoric people and the later historic Indians. The valley lands along the Scioto, Mad,
Auglaize, Sandusky, and Maumee rivers and their tributaries were among the favorite village
locations during the eighteenth century.
Before the encroachment of the Europeans upon the North American continent, the attire
of the American Indian was simple and functional. Their clothing was made of animal skins.
However, the process of turning the hide of a deer or buffalo into garments was a long, hard job.
Once the hunt of the animal was successful, using tools made of flint, stone, bone, or
shells, the animal was carefully skinned then butchered for food.
The women of the tribe took the hide back to camp, stretched it,
and staked it on the ground fur side down. Using various handmade
tools, the skin was scrapped free of matter. If the skin were to be used
for warmth, the fur would have been left intact, if not, the hide would
have been flipped over and the hair removed. Once all debris was
removed, the skin was rubbed with a mixture of animal fat, brains, and
liver then placed aside for several days to allow it to soften. The hide
was then washed and worked over to smooth the leather. Finally, it was
tanned by mounting it on a frame over a low fire. This smoking process
gave the leather its rich color.
Men usually wore a breech cloth made from a rectangular piece of leather. It would be
placed between the legs and brought up in front and back then held in place with a leather cord
or belt fastened around the waist. A shirt would take two deer skins, each cut into three pieces.
The body of the animal formed the shirt and the front legs were used to make sleeves.
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8. Women would wear a large rectangular skin wrapped around their waist and held in place
with a leather strap. A dress required two deer skins sewn together with sinew across the top and
down the sides.
Left over leather could be used to make moccasins. In the winter weather, leggings,
capes, or jackets would be layered for warmth. All wearing apparel may have been beaded,
painted, or fringed for decoration.
Once trade began with the Europeans, the dress of the American Indian changed to
include woven fabrics of bright colors; this added prestige to their wardrobe. Eventually the
dress of both the American Indian and the European adapted and borrowed the look of the other
in appearance.
The Woodland Indians were craftsmen and artists. Largely self-sufficient, they made
whatever they needed from materials available in their environment. This independence began
to decline when they became involved in the fur trade. Gradually, they became to depend upon
European goods of all sorts and eventually their culture was almost destroyed.
Early American Indian artists remain nameless. Much of their work has been lost, but
enough has survived to show their creativity. These artists, like artists everywhere, possessed
varying degrees of talent and skill. While their art is
related to folk art, some American Indian work is
exceedingly fine; with a combination of strength and
sensitivity that places it among the fine arts.
American Indians were keen observers.
They were skilled at reducing whatever they saw to its
essence. Often they created beautiful abstract,
simplified, stylized shapes and designs from the forms
of men, animals, birds, trees, mountains, and all things
in nature. However, some of their decorative designs
were just that and nothing more, simple, pleasing
patterns used to beautify an object.
The earlier American Indian artists did not paint in the realistic manner of European
artists. They made pictographic drawings and incised carvings on stone, wood, birch bark,
buckskin, clay, shell, and similar materials.
Certain colors and symbols were sacred or had a specific meaning to the American Indian
artists. Undoubtedly, European and American artists who visited the frontier to paint Indians and
their life influenced Indian pictorial art to some extent.
Indian women did the weaving, tanning, and pottery and basket making. Women also
made footwear and clothing with quill and beadwork decorations. Some women were well
known for their skills and the beauty of the designs. Like all craft persons and artists, some had
outstanding ability; others were mediocre so they would borrow designs from other persons or
other tribes.
The creative efforts of the American Indians were part of a cultural pattern, not just an
individual expression of art. Everything had a use: bark canoes and log dugouts, burl bowls,
war clubs, prayer sticks, bone fetishes, scrimshawed power horns, bark boxes, and shell gorgets.
Related to their art and crafts was their belief in spiritual forces that controlled their world.
These super-natural beings were protectors who could become enemies if offended. Such spirits
might resemble animals or birds, or have grotesque human forms.
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9. Ritual was important to the Indian artist. The masks of the False Face Society of the
Iroquois were an example. This religious and healing society is still in existence. Once, the
masks had to be carved from a living basswood tree to retain the mystical life-force of the tree in
each mask. Carved masks also had to be stored properly, supplied with offerings of tobacco, and
handled respectfully. One of the popular masks of the False Face Society represented Broken
Nose, a powerful spirit-being who protected them from evil.
The religious beliefs of the American Indians were a part of their daily lives and actions
in a way never entirely understood by the white man. Everything has a soul or spirit, even
plants, small creatures, and objects: sometimes they wielded considerable power or influence
with the Maneto. Their concept of Life Force or a Great Spirit, Maker of all things, the Manitou,
Monedo, or Maneto, was generally translated by the white man to conform with the accepted
idea of the Judeo-Christian God.
James Smith, during his captivity among the American Indians in Ohio, found that they
differed a great deal in their religious beliefs. Members of the same group or tribe of Wyandot,
Ottawa, or Mingo, varied in their religious traditions. By the time of the American Revolution,
they had some knowledge of Protestant and Catholic teachings for several years before, the
Moravian mission at Schoenbrunn had been established.
According to Smith, the Wyandot believed there had been
an American Indian female with magical powers who was a
prophetess in the far distant past. She was responsible for the
creations of the continent. Living on a small island with a few
Indians, she prayed to the Great Being, the Life Force, that the
island might be enlarged. Her prayers were answered when large
numbers of muskrats and tortoises brought mud and other materials
to enlarge the island into the continent. Therefore, they considered
the land to be theirs; a gift from their great grandmother which the
white people had no right to take.
The Shawnee believed that when the world began, one island was created for them and
another for the white man. This was the work of the Maker of all things. The Delaware believed
in the survival of the spirit or soul of man after death. The spirit left the earth to go to another
place, where it could be free from the ills and miseries of this world.
The Algonquin language group, to which the Shawnee, Delaware, Ottawa, and Miami
belonged, believed a supernatural being or guardian accompanied each person. This totem –
usually a bird or animal, god or being – was the basis of the fundamental philosophy of the
Algonquian people which was never truly understood by the white man.
The Miami, originally a prairie people, believed the sun was the Master of life, the
Supreme Maker of all things.
Smith observed that the Ottawa believed in two great spirits or beings who are at war
with each other. The good spirit, Maneto, was kindness and love; while Matchemaneto, was
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Historic American Indian Tribes of Ohio
10. evil. Between them, they governed the universe. The Ottawa were divided in their beliefs
concerning these two great beings and their powers. Some worshiped the good Maneto, and
some served the evil Matchemaneto, perhaps through fear. Others sought to gain favor with both
to avoid offending either one. This belief in good and evil god-like beings ruling the universe
was held with some variation by other Ohio Indians.
Numerous lesser deities or beings, both good and evil, were thought to oppose each other.
The good spirits went about repairing the damages done by the evil ones.
There was also a belief in witches and witchcraft. Sometimes this belief was the cause of
tragedy and misery among the Ohio Indians as people were executed or lived under suspicion
because of it.
Moravian missionary, David Zeisberger, wrote of the American Indian belief that witches
brought misfortune, sickness, or death to the villages or to individuals. These long-established
beliefs persisted well into the nineteenth century.
James Smith wrote that during his years of captivity in Ohio, he never actually witnessed
anything judged to be supernatural among the Wyandot, Mingo, and Ottawa. Even so, some
individuals claimed to be powerful sorcerers and conjurors, and worshiped the Matchemaneto.
These were generally the men who caused the missionaries trouble and sought to arouse the
suspicions and superstitions of the non-Christian people among them.
The American Indians were not alone in their beliefs in witches, superstitions, and
strange spirits; throughout the world many people held similar ideas, even in so-called civilized
countries with a long-standing Christian tradition. Similar beliefs were held in many areas in
rural backwoods American in the eighteenth century.
American Indians were afflicted by a number of
diseases prevalent among Europeans. David Zeisberger and
John Heckewelder, Moravian missionaries in Ohio in the
1770s and 1780s, recorded some of the physical disorders.
“Fairly common were consumption, whopping
cough, pneumonia, rheumatism, arthritis, dropsy, asthma,
malarial fevers, dysentery, and intestinal worms. They also
suffered from tooth decay, sore eyes, blindness, boils, mental
disorders, measles, smallpox, and venereal diseases. –Some
of these may have been contracted from the Europeans.
Additionally, because of the nature of their lives as hunters
and warriors, they were exposed to many injuries – broken
bones, wounds, and snake bites.”
“Their medicines were made from a great variety of
roots, bark, leaves, seeds, berries, flowers, and stalks. Some
medicinal plants were used when fresh; others were dried
and powdered, or prepared as liquids, salves, or poultices.”
“The men and women who acted as doctors or
healers were divided into two groups. The first were the
conjurors or jugglers who sought cures through magic or
superstitious rites and who resorted to all kinds of trickery in their treatments. The second were
the “good and honest practitioners,” as John Heckewelder described them, who treated wounds
and diseases with reasonable skill and medicines. Heckewelder wrote:
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11. “I firmly believe that there is no wound, unless it is absolutely mortal, or beyond the skill
or our own [white] practitioners which an Indian surgeon (I mean the best of them) will not
succeed in healing,”
Heckewelder related an instance of a Shawnee who suffered a nearly fatal gunshot wound
in his chest, which was completely healed by a Shawnee doctor.
The Woodland Indian tribes of
the Great Lakes area and throughout the
eastern and southern part of the present
United States were farmers.
Corn, beans, squash, and
pumpkin were widely grown in North
America. Besides multi-colored
“Indian” corn, the American Indians
developed varieties of eight-to-ten row
corn. The variety of beans included
kidney beans, navy beans, pea beans,
pinto beans, great northern marrow beans, and yellow eye beans.
The American Indian planted corn and beans in the same hills, and often pumpkins,
squash, or melons in the space between. Year after year, the hills were enlarged with the hoe
until they became small hillocks.
Many other vegetables were grown by the Ohio Indians: turnips, cabbage, parsnips,
sweet potatoes, yams, potatoes, onions, and leeks. Watermelon and muskmelon were introduced
into North America in the 17th century and were being grown in the interior within a few years.
In the spring, the American Indians made maple sugar in large quantities. It was a staple
in their diet. They also harvested nuts, berries, wild plums, wild cherries, and paw paws. In the
great lakes region, wild rice was gathered.
The nature and extent of American Indian agriculture is revealed in the observations of
George Will, a soldier in General Wayne’s campaign against them along the Auglaize and
Maumee rivers in the summer of 1794:
“Here are vegetables of every kind in abundance, and, we have marched four or five
miles of cornfields down the Oglaize, and there is not less than one thousand acres of corn
around the town.”
Protein was supplemented in the
diet by fishing with common tools like the
bow and arrow, gigs, hooks, nets, traps,
and weirs.
In the fall and winter, the
American Indian hunted and trapped
beaver, muskrat, raccoon, deer, buffalo,
and black bear. Game was hunted for its
meat and hides. The most common
hunting devices were the spear and the
harpoon. The spear was hurled by hand
and the arrow was shot with a bow. Knives, axes, clubs, and traps were also used. During this
time, the hunters and their families moved about, living in winter hunting camps.
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Historic American Indian Tribes of Ohio
The fur trade in North America began with the early
contact between the American Indians and the Europeans. Within
a few years, French, English, and Dutch fur traders were bartering
with the American Indians over a large part of what in now the
northeastern and central United Stated and Great Lakes areas. In
Europe, there was a good market for furs, while in America there
were seemingly limitless numbers of fur-bearing animals,
especially beavers.
Europeans offered the American Indians a line of goods
which included iron axes, tomahawks, knives, eye-hoes, awls, fish
hooks, trade cloth of various colors, woolen blankets, linen shirts, brass kettles, trade silver
jewelry, assorted glass beads, and guns and powder.
The American Indians were eager to
have these things and they paid for them with
furs. While the beaver pelt was always the
foundation of the trade, otter, mink, fox, bear,
and deer were also harvested.
In time, the American Indians became
so dependent on trading, their own culture
deteriorated. The imported goods of Europe
replaced the things they had formerly made for themselves using the resources available in their
There were other evils in the trade. Competition led to conflicts between the English and
the French. Although their chiefs often saw that each side was using them, they argued that they
should let the white men fight their own wars, they became involved.
While there were honest traders who dealt fairly with the American Indians, too many
greedy, unscrupulous men in the trade cheated and exploited them. These men corrupted the
Indians with alcohol and robbed them of their furs.
Despite the opposition of conscientious traders on both sides, alcohol was an important
and permanent part of the trade. It had a devastating effect on many tribes. Numerous witnesses
have been written of the violence and tragedy that the liquor trade brought to the American
Indian villages.
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13. On February 8, 1806, the average prices for furs and peltries by the trader at Fort Wayne, Indiana were:
Raccoons = 37½ to 40 cents each
Foxes, Cats, and Fishers = 50 to 67 cents each
Minks = 50 cents each
Musk Rats (grown ones) = 25 cents each
Otters = 4 to 5 dills each
Bears (grown ones) = 4 to 5 dills each
Beavers = 125 cents each
Buck Skins (always) = 100 cents each
Doe Skins = 67 to 75 cents each
77 Drefsd, Does Skins, Bucks & Does = 75 cents each
5 Indian Mats =
112 Com. Moccasins = 25 cents each
13 Fine Ditto = 50 cents each
Inventory of Merchandise [sic] peltry and other property on hand at the United States Trading House, Fort Wayne, 1810:
3 nests Copper kettles without Covers (7 in a nest) 100 ½ lb. = 90 cents per Lb.
38 Rifles = $12.50
2 casks Powder =
85 lb. B.B. Patent Shot = $14.50 cwt.
780 pair Ear Bobs Ca. = $12.59 P. 100 pair
16 pair Fluted Wrist Bands wt. 14 oz. 2 Dwts. Ca. = $1.60 per ounce
31 Head Bands with Eagles wt. 23 oz. 8 Dwts. =
29 Ditto Ditto 29 oz. 18 Swts. =
1 doz. Broaches [sic] wt. 3 oz. 5 Dwts. =
300 small Ditto 1” 12 =
6 Gorgets # = $18.36 Per Doz.
1 doz. Larger Round Broaches Wt. 5 oz. 12 Dwt. =
1 doz. Ear Wheels Wt. 3 oz. =
2 boxes Bar Lead =
18 Beaver Traps = $ 2.25
20 Ditto Traps = $ 3.00
3 Traps = $ 1.67
330 lbs. Pig Tail Tobacco = .15
5 Shot Bags = $ 1.25
9 yds. Yellow Flannel = .40
7½ Red Ditto = .41
14 White Ditto = .41
14¾ Blue Cloth = .12/6
6” Stroud Cloth = .96½
400 Small Crosses = 6½
200 Crosses =
47 Nose Wheels = .20½
23 Fish Lines with Hooks =
5¼ dz. Ivory Combs = 3.00
1 gross Straight Awls =
116 Bullet Moulds = .37½
7 Power Horns =
2 Large Ditto =
25½ lb. Powder = .40
27 lb. Vermilion = 1.40
15 com. Gun Locks = 1.20
3 Double Roller Ditto = 3.13
2¾ Bridled Ditto = 2.87
11 Best Ditto = 2.80
25 pair Two Point Blankets = 2.27
6 pair 3 Point Ditto = 3.68
5 pair 3½ Point Ditto = 3.75
1 pair American 3 Point Ditto =
14 Calico Shirts = 1.20
58 Pipe Tomahawks = 1.50
196 lb. Buck Shot =
10 Fowling Pieces = 11.33
35 Plain Tomahawks =
119 Axes =
2 Brood Axes =
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Historic American Indian Tribes of Ohio
The Shawnee, 1600–1833, migrated from their
homelands of South Carolina and Tennessee into eastern
Pennsylvania by 1690. Then in 1720, forced further west by
hostile tribes and encroaching Europeans, they began to move
into the upper Ohio valley. By 1750, they were established in the
Scioto valley in southern and central Ohio. It was they who
offered the stiffest resistance to the advance of the Americans.
Three Shawnee chiefs have left their names upon the records –
Cornstock, Blue Jacket, and Tecumseh. Other well known
Shawnee were Black Hoof, Black Fish, and Wolf.
Black Hoof, 1731-1831, the Shawnee chief called Ca-ta-
he-cassa, fought for 40 years to hold lands north of the Ohio
River. But he reconciled to peaceful association with the Euro-
Americans after he signed the Treaty of Greene Ville.
Black Hoof visited President Jefferson early in 1802 and
made the following requests and complaints:
“We live in a bad place for farming, the water is very bad in the summers; if you turn
your head back you will hear the lamentations of our women and children, distressed for want of
clothing and by hunger, we hope you will pity them and relieve them. It is our desire to live like
good neighbors, as long as the grass grows and the water runs in the rivers.”
“The second request we make is that you will stop your people from killing our game, at
present they kill more than we do; they would be very angry if we were to kill a cow or a hog of
theirs, the little game that remains is very dear to us.”
“We hope every request will be granted and we beg your assistance in getting all
necessary farming tools, and those for building houses, that we may go to work as quickly as
possible, and likewise to furnish us with some domestic animals.”
Black Hoof, who at the time of his death was rumored to be 100 years old, died near
Wapakoneta, Ohio.
Tecumseh, 1768-1813, the Shawnee leader has been ranked with the greatest chiefs and
hero-figures of American Indian history.
He was a warrior famous for his courage, intelligence, and character. But with his skills
as an orator and leader, he labored to unite American Indian tribes into a strong confederation to
prevent further division of tribal lands and to resist the advance of white settlements.
In 1811, Tecumseh warned of the fate the American Indians would suffer unless they
united to resist the white man:
“...but what need is there to speak of the past? It speaks for itself and asks, ‘Where is the
Pequod? Where the Narragansetts, the Mohawks, Pacanokets, and many other once powerful
tribes of our race?’”
“They have vanished before the avarice and oppression of the white men, as snow before
a summer sun. In the vain hope of alone defending their ancient possessions they have fallen in
the wars with the white men.”
“Look abroad over their once beautiful country, and what see you now? Naught but the
ravages of the pale face destroyers meet our eyes. So it will be with you Choctaws and
“Soon your mighty forest trees under the shade of whose wide spreading branches you
have played in infancy, sported in boyhood, and now rest your wearied limbs after the fatigue of
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15. the chase, will be cut down to fence in the land which the white intruders dare to call their own.”
“Soon their broad roads will pass over the graves of your
fathers, and the place of their rest will be blotted out forever. The
annihilation of our race is at hand unless we unite in one common
cause against the common danger, and thus escape the common
fate.” “Your people, too, will soon be as falling leaves and
scattering clouds before their blighting breath. You, too, will be
driven away from your native land and ancient domains as leaves are
driven before the wintry storms.”
The Miami, 1700–1818, migrated from Wisconsin and
penetrated into western Ohio in the early 1700s, having already
established villages in Illinois, Michigan, and Indiana. In 1730, the
first English traders are known to have been trading gunpowder,
hatchets, rum, blankets, and beads with the Miami for their valuable
furs. Their principal village in Ohio was Pickawillany – near present Piqua – but their
strongholds were dotted throughout the Maumee and Miami river valleys. Villages there were
destroyed in the 1790–1794 campaigns of generals Josiah Harmar and Anthony Wayne.
Although the Miami were notable warriors under the firm leadership of Little Turtle, they won
some important victories of the invaders from the east. Another notable Miami was La
The Delaware, 1700–1829. The Delaware, or Lenilenape,
were refugees from the east coast in New Jersey and Delaware. They
were defeated by the Iroquois and crowded out by English settlers.
They occupied large areas of eastern Ohio, including the Muskingum
and Tuscarawas river valleys. In alliance with the Shawnee, they
stubbornly opposed the frontiersmen. Some famous Delaware are
White Eyes, Shingas, Beaver, Newcomer, Killbuck, Buchongehelas,
and Tishcohan.
The Ottawa, 1740–1833, migrated
from Ontario and the upper Great Lakes,
mainly Michigan and Wisconsin, and settled in
northwestern Ohio. Their best-known chief
was Pontiac. Famous for the “Pontiac Rebellion,” in 1763, which was a
carefully planned uprising of many tribes by which all English garrisons
and settlements in the Northwest were to be surprised and destroyed on
the same day. The English fort on Sandusky Bay fell, but Detroit and
Fort Pitt did not. The campaign failed.
The Wyandot, 1740–1843, were a
segment of the Huron, and were pushed out of Ontario, Canada by the
Iroquois. They first settled in northern Michigan, then migrated south
into the Maumee and Sandusky valleys. One of their chiefs, Tarhe
(The Crane), signed the Treaty of Greene Ville. Half King, Orontony
(Nicholas), and Pomoacan were also noted Wyandot chiefs.
Red Jacket, 1752-1830, the famous Seneca leader and orator
called Sa-Go-Ye, or Wat-Ha, or Hee Keeps-Them-Awake, was for the
most of his life a champion of Native American rights and their
traditional culture and religion.
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Historic American Indian Tribes of Ohio
16. The following quotes are from a speech Red Jacket made in reply to an offer by some white men
to establish their religion on the reservation:
“Brother! The Great Spirit has made us all. But he has made a great difference between
his white and red children. He has given us a different complexion and different customs. To you
he has given the arts; to these he has not opened our lives. We know these things to be true.
Since he has made so great a difference between us in other things, why may not we conclude
that he has given us a different religion, according to our understanding? The Great Spirit does
right. He knows what is best for his children. We are satisfied.”
“Brother! We do not wish to destroy your religion, or take it from you. We only want you
to enjoy our own.”
“Brother! You say you have not come to get our land or our money, but to enlighten our
minds. I will now tell you that I have been at your meetings and saw you collecting money from
the meeting. I cannot tell what this money was intended for, but suppose it was for your minister;
and if we should conform to your way of thinking, perhaps you may want some from us.”
“Brother! We are told that you have been preaching to the white people in this place.
These people are our neighbors. We are acquainted with them. We will wait a little while, and
see what effect your preaching has upon them. If we find it does them good and makes them
honest and less disposed to cheat Indians, we will then consider again what you have said.”
The name Mingo was also applied to a group of Mohawks, Cayugas, and Caughnawagas
who were Iroquois. For various reasons these people left the Iroquois Confederacy in New York
and moved into Ohio. They intermarried with the Wyandot and other Ohio tribes.
Mingo Chief Logan, after his family was massacred, delivered a speech. It was recorded
by Thomas Jefferson in his “Notes on Virginia.” It was later published in the Virginia Gazette.
With tears, Logan related his story:
“I appeal to any white man to say, if ever he
entered Logan’s cabin hungry and I gave him not meat; if
ever he came cold or naked and I gave him not clothing.
During the course of the last long and bloody war, Logan
remained in his cabin an advocate for peace. Nay, such
was my love for the whites, and those of my own country
pointed at me as they passed by and said, ‘Logan is the
friend of white men.’ I had even thought to live with you
but for the injuries of one man. Colonel Cresay, the last
spring, in cold blood, and unprovoked, murdered all the
relatives of Logan, not even sparing my women and
children. There runs not even a drop of my blood in the
veins of any human creature. This called on me for
revenge. I fully glutted my revenge. For my country I
rejoice at the beams of peace. Yet, do not harbor the
thought that mine is the joy of fear, Logan never felt fear.
He will not turn on his heel to save his life. Who is there to
mourn for Logan? Not one.”
James Smith, 1737–1812, for nearly five years, was a captive of the Caughnewaga in
Ohio. Adopted as an American Indian, he lived their way of live from 1755 to 1759. Smith
came to understand them and kept a journal of his experiences. In 1799, he published a narrative
of his life, his adventures on the frontier, in Pontiac’s War, and was an officer in the Revolution.
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17. James Smith died in 1812 near Paris, Kentucky. His book is one of the best accounts of an
American Indian captivity. During his initiation into the tribe, he was told:
“My son, you are now flesh of our flesh, and bone of our bone. By the ceremony which
was performed on this day, every drop of white blood was washed out of your veins; you are
taken into the Caughnewaga nation, and initiated into a warlike tribe; you are adopted into a
great family, and now received with great seriousness and solemnity in the room and place of a
great man. After what has passed this day, you are now one of us by an old strong law and
custom – My son, you have now nothing to fear – we are now under the same obligations to love
and to defend one another; therefore, you are to consider yourself as one of our people.”
Mary Jemison, 1740-1833. Mary Jemison was captured by the American Indians in
Pennsylvania in 1757 or 1758. Her parents and their three younger children were killed at this
time. Mary spent most of her life among the American Indians, who named her Dichewamis,
“The Pretty One.” The early years of her captivity were spent in Ohio and she married there.
Mary, a tiny blonde about four and a half feet tall, was a pleasant woman and was respected by
both the American Indians and the white people. In New York State in 1833, she died at the age
of ninety leaving many descendants.
The narrative of her life, which was reprinted many times, contains the following account
of her marriage:
“Not long after the Delaware came to live with us at Wishto, my sisters told me that I
must go and live with one of them, whose name was She-nin-jee. Not daring to cross them, or
disobey their command, with a great degree of reluctance, I went; and Sheninjee and I were
married according to Indian custom.”
“Sheninjee was a noble man; large in stature, elegant in his appearance; generous in his
conduct; courageous in war; a friend in peace, and a great lover of justice. He supported a
degree of dignity far above his rank, and merited and received the confidence and friendship of
all the tribes with whom he was acquainted. Yet Sheninjee was an Indian. The idea of spending
my days with him as first seemed perfectly irreconcilable to my feelings; but his good nature,
generosity, tenderness, and friendship towards me, soon gained my affection; and strange as it
may seem, I loved Him! -- To me, he was ever kind in sickness and always treated me with
gentleness; in fact, he was an agreeable husband, and a comfortable companion. We lived
happily together till the time of our final separation, which happened in two or three years after
our marriage, as I shall presently relate…”
Sheninjee became ill and died after sending Mary and her small son to his American
Indian sisters in the Genesee county of New York where he was to have joined them.
John Brickell, 1781–1844, was captured by the American Indians near Pittsburgh in
1791 when he was ten years old. He was adopted into the Delaware family of Whingy Pooshies,
“The Big Cat,” and lived with the Indians in their Maumee River villages until his release in
1795. Brickell settled on the east bank of the Scioto in 1797 on the site of the future city of
Columbus, Ohio. He was probably the first settler on that site.
“The Delaware are the best people to train up children I ever was with. They never
whip, and scarce ever scold them. I was once struck one stroke, and but once while a member of
the family, and then but just touched. They are remarkably quiet in the domestic circle. A dozen
may be in one cabin, of all age, and often scarcely noise enough to prevent the hearing of a pin
fall on a hard place. Their leisure hours are, in a great measure, spent in training up their
children to observe what they believe to be right. They often point out bad examples to them and
say, ‘See that bad man: he is older than you: if you do as he does, everybody will despise you by
the time you are as old as he is.’ They often point to good examples as worthy of imitation, such
as braves and honest men. I know I am influenced to good, even at this day, more from what I
Ohio Historical Society www.ohiohistory.org 17
Historic American Indian Tribes of Ohio
18. learned among them, than what I learned among people of my own color. Well might Jefferson
say, ‘The principles of their society forbid all compulsion.’”
As early as 1779, four or five hundred Shawnee had moved to Missouri. Other
independent groups of American Indians had also emigrated without waiting for an organized
removal. Among them were some Kickapoo, Shawnee, and Delaware, whom the Spanish had
permitted to settle in Missouri in the 1790s.
General Anthony Wayne’s campaign of 1792 through 1794 against the American Indians
ended forty years of war and border raids in the Ohio valley.
In August of 1795, General Wayne and the American Indians signed the Greene Ville
Treaty thereby the American Indians gave up about two-thirds of the present area of Ohio. They
continued to occupy the northwestern part of the state above the Greene Ville Treaty line.
Surveyors, land speculators, settlers, and developers
began moving into the newly-opened Ohio country. An
increasing number of people sought their share of Ohio lands.
Squatters began trespassing onto the Indian reservation.
As early as July 1803, President Thomas Jefferson made
the first direct and official proposal for the removal of the
American Indians to the West. The argument in support of the
removal proposal was that they would be free from white
interferences in the West and would never have to face loss of
their homes again.
In January 1825, President James Monroe presented a
definite removal policy in a message to Congress. In 1829, President Andrew Jackson and many
American political leaders were working hard for the removal of the eastern American Indians to
the west of the Mississippi River. The Indian Removal Bill was passed May 28, 1830. It
provided the authority President Andrew Jackson needed to force the American Indians to move
west of the Mississippi River.
Speckled Snake, an aged Creek, more than 100 years, old, could have been speaking for
all of the American Indians about to be displaced from their home land. With resignation and
bitterness, the old man said:
“Brothers! I have listened to many
talks from our great father. When he first
came over the wide waters, he was but a little
man – very little. His legs were cramped by
sitting long in his big boat, and he begged for
a little land to light his fire on. But, when the
white man had warmed himself before the
Indians’ fire and filled himself with their
hominy, he became very large. With a step he
bestrode the mountains, and his feet covered
the plains and the valleys. His hand grasped
the eastern and the western sea, and his head
rested on the moon. Then he became our
Great Father. He loved his red children, and
he said, ‘Get a little further, lest I tread on thee.’”
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19. “Brothers! I have listened to a great many talks from our great father. But they always
began and ended with this –‘Get a little further, you are too near.’”
Between 1818 and 1838, the American Indians of Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois gave up
most of their land except for small reserves. The Wyandot alone relinquished title to four and a
half million acres. The Miami ceded 6,700,000 acres in Indiana, and 297,000 acres in Ohio.
By this time, the American Indians generally were reduced in numbers, and were
corrupted morally and physically by whiskey. They were impoverished and badly in debt to the
traders. Agent Samuel Milroy reported that among the Miamis, 450 men and 36 women had
died in drunken knife brawls from 1821 to 1839.
The Ohio Delaware and some Seneca were anxious to go West to escape from conflicts
with the white population. Those who left in 1820 traveled overland and lost many of their
horses to horse thieves. Bad weather, hunger, sickness, and a lack of supplies caused much
suffering during the journey. The last Delaware – about 100 in number – and the Seneca left
Ohio in 1831. The remnant of the Delaware lands was sold to the War Department for $3,000
and later resold for $10,000. The last of the Shawnee and Ottawa left Ohio for Kansas in 1832.
In 1843, the Wyandot were the last
American Indians to be removed from Ohio.
They numbered 674 persons. When they left,
they ceded over 163,000 acres of land in two
The American Indians were
transported westward by canal, steamboat, or
other river boats, generally from Cincinnati.
The steamboats were often overcrowded.
After reaching Missouri, these displaced
people had to continue overland to their
destination. Others made their entire journey
west by wagon, on horseback, or afoot.
The removals were too often poorly
planned and badly executed by contractors
with no previous experience. Many of the
American Indians were bitterly opposed to
moving west. Some of the Miami had to be tied up for transportation by canal boat to
Cincinnati. Several hundred of them managed to evade capture and roamed about Indiana for
years, living as best they could off the land.
Too often the American Indian departures were delayed until late in the year. The cold,
wet weather and inadequate clothing, shelter, and food supplies resulted in hardship and misery
for the unfortunate emigrants. They suffered from measles, cholera, fevers, and hunger. Many
old people, young children, and the sick or infirmed died on the way.
Whiskey peddlers and horse thieves followed almost all the removal groups like birds of
prey. Dishonest, greedy traders presented exorbitant and fraudulent claims to the government for
goods supposedly supplied to the American Indians. Many said claims were eventually paid by
the federal government from tribal annuity monies intended for the American Indians. This was
a tragic last chapter to the history of the American Indians in Ohio.
Ohio Historical Society www.ohiohistory.org 19
Historic American Indian Tribes of Ohio
Big Bottom. Southeast of Stockport, Ohio.
Fallen Timbers. Near Maumee, Ohio.
Flint Ridge. County Route 668, 3 miles north of Brownsville, Ohio.
Fort Ancient. State Route 350, 7 miles southeast of Lebanon, Ohio.
Fort Hill. Township Route 256, 3 miles south of Cythiana, Ohio.
Fort Jefferson. Fort Jefferson, Ohio.
Fort Meigs. State Route 65, Perrysburg, Ohio.
Fort Recovery. State Routes 119 and 49, Mercer County, Ohio.
Leo Petroglyph. Near Jackson, Ohio.
Logan Elm. State Route 361 south of Circleville, Ohio.
Miamisburg Mound. Miamisburg, Ohio
Newark Earthworks. State Route 79, Newark, Ohio.
Piqua Historical Area. N Hardin Road, off State Route 66 north of Piqua, Ohio.
Seip Mound. Near Bainbridge, Ohio.
Serpent Mound. State Route 73, 4 miles NW of Locust Grove, Ohio.
Shrum Mound. Columbus, Ohio.
Story Mound. Chillicothe, Ohio.
Some Snapshots of American Indian Events in Ohio
Ashland County:
Greentown Delaware Village. A migration of Indians throughout Ohio began due to unstable
conditions created by the American Revolution. The massacre of Christian Indians at the
Moravian mission of Gnadenhutten in 1782 and Colonel Crawford’s expedition against Wyandot
and Delaware towns along the Sandusky fueled insecurities. Delaware, including a small group
of Mingo Indians, abandoned the village of Helltown, five miles southwest of this site, and
settled Greentown as early as 1783. Greentown, situated on an elevation on the Black Fork
beyond the clearing behind this site, was presumably named for British loyalist, Thomas Green.
John Chapman (Johnny Appleseed) had an amicable relationship with the Delaware, owned land
throughout the Black Fork Valley, and was known to visit Greentown on his travels throughout
Ohio. Other visitors to the village included the Shawnee Prophet; Munsee Delaware leader,
Captain Pipe; and local preacher, James Copus. Observers noted that there were more than one
hundred and fifty dwellings at Greentown by 1812. Although considered peaceful, the intentions
of the Greentown Indians were questioned during the War of 1812. Following General William
Hull’s surrender to the British at Detroit on August 16, 1812, residents were removed from
Greentown for fear that they would aid “unfriendly” Indians. The removal is dated sometime
between August 27 and September 3, 1812. Greentown residents were uncertain about what
would occur after removal and were hesitant to obey the orders. Chief Armstrong was assured,
through the urging of James Copus, the Greentown’s property would be inventoried and
protected until peace ensued. However, a faction of militiamen who “assisted” in the removal
stayed behind and set fire to the village. Consequently, the village remained essentially
abandoned after the War of 1812.
Frontier Violence during the War of 1812. Tensions between Native Americans and Euro-
American settlers remained high on the Ohio frontier during the War of 1812. Grievances
mounted rapidly following the forced removal of the Greentown Delawares to Piqua in the late
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Historic American Indian Tribes of Ohio
21. summer of 1812. On September 10, British-allied Indians attacked and killed the Frederick
Zimmer family and neighbor Martin Ruffner one mile north of here. Five days later, on
September 15, Reverend James Copus and three militiamen – George Shipley, John Tedrick, and
Robert Warnock – were killed while defending Copus’ family from a raiding party one mile
south of this site. Although several Indians were reported killed and wounded during the
Zimmer and Copus incidents, no accurate count of Native American casualties survives. In
1882, a reported 6,000 spectators converged in this area to participate in dedicating two
monuments over the graves of the fallen settlers and soldiers. Tradition holds that Johnny
Appleseed raced throughout the region warning others of impending attack following these
incidents. His name was included on the 1882 Copus memorial, the earliest known monument
erected to his memory and legend.
Carroll County:
The Ohio Country in the Revolution. The ancient trail that passed near this spot was the major
overland route entering the Ohio Country from the east through the 1700s. Also known as the
Tuscarawas Path, the Great Trail was used by Native Americans, European explorers, fur traders,
missionaries, military expeditions, land agents-and–settlers after Ohio became a state. In
January 1761, during the French and Indian War, Major Robert Rogers and thirty-eight rangers
passed en route to Fort Pitt after taking Fort Detroit from the French. In 1764, during “Pontiac’s
Conspiracy,” Colonel Henry Bouquet crossed here with an army of 1,500 men on his way to
Goshachgunk (Coshocton), where he treated the Delaware and freed captives. During the
American Revolution, the Continental Army under General Lachlan McIntosh camped here for
two days in November 1778.
The Ohio Country in the Revolution. The western wilderness that later became the state of
Ohio played a major role in American, British, and Native American strategy during the
American Revolution. In 1778, General George Washington ordered General Lachlan McIntosh
to establish a new fort in Ohio to provide a base for a spring campaign on Fort Detroit, held by
the British and allied tribes. That fall McIntosh set out from Fort Pitt with over 1,200 troops. On
the nights of November 13 and 14, 1778, McIntosh’s expedition camped at this site. They
subsequently joined forces with friendly Delawares and proceeded west to the Tuscarawas River,
where they fulfilled their mission by establishing Fort Laurens. Located at present-day Bolivar,
it was the only Continental Army fort built in Ohio during the Revolution.
Champaign County:
In Memory of Simon Kenton. Simon Kenton who is buried here. During the Revolutionary
War he frequently served as scout under George Rogers Clark and later praised Clark for his role
in saving the Kentucky settlements. Kenton’s Indian captivity of 1778-9 acquainted him with
the Mad River country where he subsequently provided leadership in its development. Though a
legendary frontier scout and rifleman, Kenton was never biased against the Indians.
Clinton County:
Deserted Camp. Near this site in October 1786, General Benjamin Logan with an army of 700
Kentucky volunteers camped on their way to destroy seven Indian towns in the Mad River
Valley. During the night a renegade deserted the camp to warn the Indians. The army burned
200 cabins and 15,000 bushels of corn before returning. Later this site became an important
survey point.
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Historic American Indian Tribes of Ohio
22. Coshocton County:
Bouquet’s Expedition. Lt. Col. Bouquet with 1500 British regulars and American militia
penetrated the Ohio wilderness to crush Chief Pontiac’s Indian conspiracy. Here at the forks of
the Muskingum River during October and November, Bouquet subdued the Delawares, Senecas,
and Shawnee without firing a shot, secured the freedom of every colonial captive, and obtained
promises of peace—a feat unequaled in colonial American history.
Koquechagachton – Chief White Eyes. In the early 1770s, Chief White Eyes
(Koquechagachton) of the Delaware tribe founded White Eyes Town approximately two miles
southeast of this marker on a plain near present day West Lafayette. A friend of the Moravian
leader David Zeisberger, White Eyes was an ardent supporter of Moravian missionary efforts and
kept the Delawares neutral during the American Revolutionary War. White Eyes’ dream was to
bring his people under the influence of Christianity. He also hoped to establish a fourteenth state
for the Indian nations, which would join the other thirteen. White Eyes died at the height of his
career in November 1778 near Pittsburgh. The cause of his death remains open to question.
Crawford County:
Village of Chatfield. For centuries this area was used by Indian tribes as a hunting ground. Vast
swamp forests of elm, ash, beech, pin oak, and maples lay on all sides. To the east, a large
cranberry bog was covered by water most of the year. Indian hunting camps on the headwaters
of Sycamore Creek were the scene of plentiful harvests both of game and cranberries. These
wetlands produced abundant game after most sections of country were settled and farmed.
Today, extensive drainage has changed the area into productive farmland.
Seccaium. On the banks of the Olentangy River, at the bend where the stream turns southwest is
the legendary site of Seccaium. This 17th century village was located on the portage to the
Sandusky River, and was recognized by the Indians as a neutral ground for tribal councils where
claims to hunting territories could be peacefully settled and goods could be traded. In the early
20th century, this site was an amusement part on the interurban electric railway.
Crawford’s Expedition, 1782. Col. William Crawford and Dr. John Knight, separated from the
American troops following the Battle of Upper Sandusky, June 4-5, were captured by Indians on
June 7 at a site about five miles southeast of this marker. Taken first to Chief Wingenund’s
camp north of Crestline, they were then taken, on a trail passing near this marker, to a bluff near
Tymochtee Creek northwest of Upper Sandusky. Crawford was tortured and burned at the stake
on June 11. Knight later escaped. For years afterward, Crawford’s fate inflamed the frontier
sentiment against the Indians.
Crawford’s Expedition. Col. William Crawford’s army of 480 Pennsylvania volunteers passed
near this site on June 3 to attack the Indians near Upper Sandusky. On June 4-5 they
encountered a combined force of Shawnees, Delawares, Wyandots, and, unexpectedly, Butler’s
Rangers, a British unit from Detroit. The expedition was a disaster; about 300 American
escaped. On June 6, about six miles west of this marker, the opposing forces met again at the
“Battle of Olentangy.” With minor losses, the Americans continued their retreat, reaching the
Ohio River on June 13. Crawford was captured, and burned at the stake on June 11.
Cuyahoga County:
Pilgrim’s Rest. Returning to Ohio from Detroit following the massacre of Christian Indians at
Gnadenhutten in 1782, Moravian missionaries David Zeisberger and John Hackewelder settled
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Historic American Indian Tribes of Ohio
23. their Indian congregation at this site because it was still too dangerous to return to the
Tuscarawas valley. The village was named Pilgerruh, or “Pilgrim’s Rest.” Hostile Indians
forced this mission to move to present Erie County.
Darke County:
Tecumseh. One of the most influential Native Americans of the 19th century, Tecumseh was
born in 1768 in the Pickaway settlements on the Mad River and raids by older siblings at Old
Town. A prominent Shawnee war leader who vigorously opposed American expansion, he
fought at the Battle of Fallen Timbers but refused to attend the subsequent signing of the Treaty
of Greene Ville in 1795. Angered by purchases of Native American land in Indiana by the
United States, Tecumseh promoted a pan-Indian confederacy to resist the encroachment of white
settlers, traveling thousands of miles throughout the western and southern frontiers in an effort to
gain supporters for the alliance. Tecumseh sided with the British during the War of 1812 and
was killed at the Battle of the Thames on October 5, 1813. His death ended hope for a united
Indian coalition.
Shawnee Prophet’s Town. Tecumseh and his younger brother Tenskwatawa (open Door or the
Shawnee Prophet) established a village here in 1805 as a mission for Native American unity.
Upon receiving a vision from the Great Spirit or Master of Life, Tenskwatawa vowed to
renounce alcohol and preached to return to traditional Indian practices, native foods, implements,
dress, and ceremonies of their ancestors. Tensions grew as settlers feared the growing contingent
living south of the Greene Ville Treaty line. Pressured by William Henry Harrison, the Prophet
moved his followers to the Indiana Prophetstown in 1808, which was destroyed in the ill-fated
Battle of Tippecanoe in 1811. During the Shawnee removal west in 1826, the Prophet asked the
U.S. Army for permission to spend a few days here to honor their ancestors. The Prophet died in
November 1836 and is buried somewhere under modern Kansas City.
Fort Jefferson. During the Indian Wars of 1790-1795, the United States built a chain of forts in
the contested area of what is today western Ohio. These forts were built as a result of various
tribes of the region attacking the encroaching American population as they moved north of the
Ohio River. In October 1791, General Arthur St. Clair, governor of the Northwest Territory, set
out on a mission to punish the tribes and on October 12, ordered his forces to build Fort
Jefferson, the fourth link in that chain of forts stretching north from Fort Washington
(Cincinnati) to Fort Deposit (Waterville). Each fort was generally a hard day’s march of each
other, and the site was chosen because of nearness to a supply of fresh water. The fort was
named in honor of Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson.
St. Clair’s Defeat. General Arthur St. Clair, governor of the Northwest Territory, left Fort
Jefferson on October 24, 1791, on a mission to subdue Indian tribes that had attacked white
settlers coming north of the Ohio River. St. Clair and his forces progressed only about 28 miles
before halting at the east branch of the Wabash River. On November 4, forces under Chief Little
Turtle inflicted the worst defeat every by the Indians upon the United States army. Over 600
soldiers were killed and 300 wounded. During the next 24 hours, survivors made their way back
to Fort Jefferson. Within two years, General “Mad” Anthony Wayne assembled the Legion of
the United States for another campaign against the Indians. In October 1793, Wayne used Fort
Jefferson as a supply base during the campaign that resulted in the American victory of Fallen
Timers in August 1794. The subsequent August 1795 Treaty of Greene Ville assured peace in
Ohio for the next decade.
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Historic American Indian Tribes of Ohio
24. Treaty of Greene Ville, 1795. Following General Anthony Wayne’s victory at Fallen Timbers,
members of the western tribes assembled at Fort Greene Ville to settle on terms of peace.
Representatives of the Wyandot, Delaware, Shawnee, Ottawa, Chippewa, Ottawa Pattawatimi,
Miami, Eel River, Wea, Plankeshaw, Kickapoo, and Kaskaskia sighed the treaty on August 3,
and agreed to cede claims to lands east of the Cuyahoga River to Fort Laurens in Tuscarawas
County and south of a line running west to Fort Recovery. In return, the United States offered
payment and annuities in the form of goods and ceded claim to most land north and west of the
treaty line. This treaty marked the end of the Indian Wars in the Ohio Country, forsaking
boundary violations by both parties, and established the official western border of the United
States, opening much of Ohio for settlement.
Erie County:
Huron’s First Inhabitants. Huron and Erie Counties are rich in Native American history.
During the construction of the nearby Ohio Route 2 bypass, archaeologists in 1976-77 uncovered
three Native villages and burial sites. The Anderson site, overlooking the Old Woman Creek
estuary, contains artifacts dating to the fifteenth century A.D. The site was once a permanent
village, with remains of bowls, fire pits, and even traces of food found among its artifacts. The
Jenkins site, also near the estuary, was a winter camp for Indians. Excavators there found
several pieces of pottery carbon-dated to 1470 A.D. The final dig, the Enderle site—located
west of the Huron River—was strictly a burial site. The discovery of European objects in its
graves suggests its creation by a more recent people, such as the Delaware of Wyandot Indians.
In 1805, Native Americans in the Firelands signed a land cession treaty at Fort Industry (modern
Toledo), and in succeeding years were compelled to leave the region.
Fort Sandusky. Erected by the British near this junction in 1761; destroyed by the British
during Pontiac’s Conspiracy in 1763. The fort was strategically located near Indian towns and
trading posts on the Great Indian Trail between Detroit and Pittsburgh.
Gallia County:
The Dunmore War 1774. The Shawnee and Delaware Indians grew restless as numbers of
Virginians encroached on their lands by settling along the Ohio River. On October 10, 1774,
Lord Dunmore, of the Virginia Colony, ordered Colonel Andrew Lewis and his 1100 Virginia
militiamen to attack the Shawnee Indians near Chillicothe, Ohio. While Lewis’ army camped
across the Ohio River at Point Pleasant, [West] Virginia, Shawnee Chief Cornstalk, with 1000
warriors, crossed the river upstream for a surprise attack on the Virginia militia. After a five
hour battle, the Shawnee retreated west across the Ohio. Some refer to this as the last battle
fought by the Colonists while subject to British rule, and really, the first battle of the American
Revolution. On November 5, 1774, Lord Dunmore at Camp Charlotte on the Pickaway Plains,
Dunmore’s officers met at Fort Gower, Hockingport, Ohio (48 miles upstream) and passed this
resolution of “liberty.”
Greene County:
Birthplace of Tecumseh. The great Native American Shawnee leader, Tecumseh, was born on
the bank of a large spring at this site in 1768, at the very instant that the great meteor seared
across the skies. The birth occurred while his parents, Shawnee war chief, Pucksinwah, and his
wife, Methotasa, were en route from their village of Kispoko Town, on the Scioto River, to a
major tribal council at the Shawnee tribal capital village of Chalahgawth (Chillicothe –now
Oldtown), which was located “two arrow flights” northwest of this site. Through prohibited by
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25. tribal tradition from becoming chief of the Shawnees, Tecumseh rose to become one of the
greatest warriors, orators, and military strategists of any tribe in America.
To oppose the grave threat of rapidly encroaching white settlement on Native American lands,
Tecumseh successfully molded and became the leader of a confederation of tribes numbering
some 50,000 warriors. This opposition might well have succeeded had it not been for his jealous
younger brother, Tenskwatawa, the Prophet, whose rash acts precipitated the Battle of
Tippecanoe and undermined all of Tecumseh’s efforts. Forced by circumstance to ally himself
and his remaining followers with the British in the War of 1812, Tecumseh was killed at the
Battle of the Thames near present Chatham, Canada on October 5, 1813.
Hardin County:
Old Sandusky and Shawnee Ford. County Road 265 follows and old Indian trail which
connected the Wyandot villages at Upper Sandusky with the Shawnee Mac-O-Chee towns to the
southwest. Many wigwams were pitched near this Scioto River ford during the 18th and early
19th centuries. Soldiers (during the War of 1812), settlers, and stagecoach passengers later
followed this route.
Chief Roundhead’s Village. Upon this site, in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, stood Chief
Roundhead’s Wyandot Indian village. This flourishing agricultural community later gave way to
white settlement and Hardin County’s first town was laid out here in 1832. Roundhead, or
Stiahta, was celebrated for his capture of American General James Winchester during the War of
1812. Roundhead is believed to be buried in this vicinity.
Henry County:
Prairie des Mascoutins. In 1742, a tribe of Kickapoo requested permission from Montreal’s
Governor to move to a Mascoutin village on both sides of the river here. French “Coureurs de
Bois” traders named the wide floodplain “La Prairie des Mascoutins” (The Meadow of the
Mascoutin). In 1764, Captain Thomas Morris explored this newly acquired British territory, and
met the prophetic dreamer Chief Katapelleecy here. General Anthony Wayne’s troops
victoriously returned from the Battle of Fallen Timbers in 1794 and burned “Prairie de Masque.”
The Treaty of Detroit in 1807 created a hunting reservation to the east, allowing settlers to
acquire the surrounding lands. Ethnic tensions climaxed in 1812 when an American Captain
Logan was mortally wounded near here. The Indian Removal Act of 1830 caused the remaining
tribes to move west.
Hocking County:
Salt and Hunting Trails. Modern roads often have their precedents in much older
thoroughfares. Two ancient paths once converged near this point. As late as the 1700s, the Salt
Trail guided Native Americans from the upper Scioto Valley plains past Cantwell Cliffs, Cedar
Falls, and Ash Cave to the salt springs to present-day Jackson County to obtain this precious
commodity. The alignment of this path parallels State Route 56 from South Bloomingville and
then turns southward along Narrows Road through the Salt Creek valley. An important Shawnee
hunting trail extended from the Chillicothe area to the wooded hills in this region, which
abounded in elk, buffalo, black bear, deer, and wild turkey. Route 56 from Ash Cave to
Laurelville closely follows this trail.
Jackson County:
Trails. Plunging herds of buffalo seeking salt licks and grazing lands wore trails through the
Ohio Country when it was an Indian no-man’s land. Later, Indians found the same trails suitable
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Historic American Indian Tribes of Ohio
26. for their needs. The Tawny paths were highways as well as highest ways. Indians found ridges
and summits superior to valleys for trails because they were drier, windswept of snow, never
clogged by flood debris and safer.
The Kanawha Trail. Here Shawnee warriors, intent on raiding Virginia frontier settlements,
passed on the Kanawha Trail. Fur traders used this route for their pelt-laden pack trains.
Colonel Andrew Lewis led his mauled but victorious militia over the traces in 1774. The trail
extended north from the Kanawha River valley, across the Gallipolis flats through the Circleville
and the famous Scioto Trail.
Lorain County:
Founding of Lorain, Ohio. At the mouth of the Black River in April, 1787, Moravian
missionary David Zeisberger attempted a settlement of Indians but was ordered further west by
unfriendly Delaware Indians. On July 16, 1834, a plat of this site was filed by Conrad Reid,
Daniel Baldwin, Quartus Gillmore, and Barna Meeker. The town, Black River, was incorporated
as Lorain fifty years later.
Madison County:
Jonathan Alder, First White Settler in Madison County (1773—1849). Seven-year-old
Jonathan Alder was captured by a Native American war party in Virginia in 1782 and taken to a
Mingo village north of the Mad River in Ohio where he was adopted by an Indian family. He
remained with the Indians until after the 1795 Treaty of Greene Ville ended the Indian Wars in
the Ohio Country. As white settlers entered the region, Alder frequently served as an interpreter.
In 1805, he journeyed to Virginia and was reunited with his original family. He returned to Ohio
with his new wife, Mary Blont, and built a cabin on Big Darby Creek. His cabin is now at the
Madison County Historical Society Museum in London. Alder is buried in Foster Chapel
Marion County:
Harrison Military Road, War of 1812. The first road through Marion County followed the
Scioto Trail of the Native Americans. This 120-foot wide strip through Wyandot territory led
from Lower Sandusky (Fremont) to the Greene Ville Treaty Line. A confederation of Ohio
tribes ceded it to the United States at the Treaty of Brownsville, Michigan, in 1808. During the
War of 1812, the troops of General William Henry Harrison’s Army of the Northwest traveled
this road en route to Fort Meigs and the British fort at Detroit, using it to transport supplies to the
army and to the chain of forts and blockhouses that protected the road. After the American
victory, this area was opened for settlement by the 1817 Treaty of the Maumee Rapids, and
soldiers who discovered the area while traveling the Military Road were among the first settlers.
On February 4, 1822, the Ohio Legislature established a state road from Norton to Sandusky
along this route. It has also been known as the War Road, Norton Road, Marion-Delaware Pike,
U.S. 23, and now, State Route 423. Near here, along the Olentangy (Whetstone) River, was Fort
Morrow, one of a series of forts used to house troops and the earliest settlers including the
Brundiges, Drakes, and Wyatts Cemetery nearby the abandoned fort is the oldest burying place
in Marion County. Buried there are many of the county’s earliest settlers and thirteen unknown
soldiers of the War of 1812.
Home of the Oorang Indians, NFL’s Most Colorful Franchise. The Oorang Indian football
team was founded by LaRue native Walter Lingo, owner of the Oorang Airedale Dog Kennels.
The team, comprised of Native American Indians, played in the National Football League (NFL)
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27. in 1922-23. The star player and coach was Jim Thorpe (1887-1953), a Sac and Fox Indian.
Thorpe gained international fame as a two-time gold medal winner (decathlon and pentathlon) in
the 1912 Olympics and was acclaimed as the “World’s Greatest Athlete.” The team gave LaRue
the distinction of being the smallest community ever to have an NFL franchise.
Mercer County:
St. Clair’s Defeat, 1791. Native Americans inhabited and used much of the land in the Ohio
valley as hunting grounds. As American settlers pushed west, conflicts resulted and attempts at
peaceful settlement failed. Under political pressure, President George Washington resolved to
subdue Indian resistance to American expansion in the Ohio country and appointed General
Arthur St. Clair to lead the expedition. St. Clair’s troops camped on the Wabash River (just west
of the Ohio-Indiana state line) after an exhausting two-month trek. The ill-prepared soldiers
were no match for the forces of Miami, Shawnee, and Delaware Indians who attacked them at
dawn of November 1791. By the day’s end, warriors led by Little Turtle and Blue Jacket had
killed or wounded nearly three-quarters of the American force—the worst-ever defeat of the U.S.
Army by Native Americans in a single battle.
Wayne’s Victory. Following St. Clair’s defeat, President Washington appointed General
Anthony Wayne commander of the U.S. Army. Well organized and disciplined, Wayne’s army
left Fort Washington and made its headquarters and Fort Greene Ville. In December 1793, Fort
Recovery was built at the site of St Clair’s defeat. On June 30, 1794, combined Native American
forces made a frontal attack on the fort. The two-day battle ensued, resulting in the Native
American confederation giving up their assault on Fort Recovery. This U.S. Army victory, as
well as the later one at the Battle of Fallen Timbers, led to the signing of the Treaty of Greene
Ville in 1795. The treaty opened the Ohio Country for peaceful settlement, leading to Ohio
statehood in 1803.
Morgan County:
Big Bottom Massacre. Following the American Revolution, the new Federal government, in
need of operating funds, sold millions of acres of western lands to land companies. One such
company, the Ohio Company of Associates, brought settlement to Marietta in 1788. Two years
later, despite warnings of Native American hostility, an association of 36 Company members
moved north from Marietta to settle “Big Bottom,” a large area of level land on the east side of
the Muskingum River. The settlers were acquainted with Native American warfare, but even so,
built an unprotected outpost. They did not complete the blockhouse, put pickets around it, or
post a sentry. On January 2, 1791, a war party of 25 Delaware and Wyandot Indians from the
north attacked the unsuspecting settlers, killing nine men, one woman, and two children. War
raged throughout the Ohio Country until August 1794 when the tribes were defeated at the Battle
of Fallen Timbers.
Ottawa County:
First Battle Site. The first War of 1812 battle on Ohio soil was fought here when about 60
exhausted citizen soldiers were ambushed by about 130 Indians on September 29. Twenty men
held the Indians at bay from a cabin while the main body escaped by boat to Cedar Point. Two
days later the defenders were rescued. Forty Indians including several chiefs and 8 Americans
were killed in the skirmish, neither a victory not a defeat for either side.
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Historic American Indian Tribes of Ohio
28. Pickaway County:
Treaty of Camp Charlotte. In an effort to maintain peace with Native Americans, the British
imposed the Proclamation Line of 1763, which prohibited colonial settlement west of the
Appalachian Mountains. Some settlers did not recognize British authority and continued to
move westward. Virginia Governor Lord Dunmore, realizing that peace with Native Americans
was improbable, amassed troops and headed west, camping at the Hocking River to meet with a
unit commanded by Andrew Lewis. En route, Lewis’ troops were attacked on October 10, 1774
at present day Point Pleasant, West Virginia, by a force of Delaware and Shawnee led by
Comstock. After intense battle, the Native Americans retreated north of the Ohio River to
villages of the Pickaway Plains. At this point, Dunmore headed to the Shawnee villages to
negotiate peace and set up camp at this site. The resulting Treaty of Camp Charlotte ended
“Dunmore’s War” and stipulated that the Indians give up rights to land south of the Ohio River
and allow boats to travel on the river undisturbed. The Treaty of Camp Charlotte established the
Ohio River as Virginia’s boundary line, aiding in the settlement of Kentucky.
Preble County:
Sit of Fort St. Clair. Regular and militia troops under General James Wilkinson built this supply
post and defensive fortification in March 1792 in preparation for Gen. “Mad Anthony” Wayne’s
campaign against the Indians of the Northwest Territory, following disastrous expeditions in
1790 and 1791. Built near a “fine spring gushing out of the bank,” the 120-foot square palisade
fort had a four-sided bastion at each corner. Future U.S. president William Henry Harrison
served in the detachment that built the fort. On November 6, 1792, Miami Chief Little Turtle
and approximately 200 warriors attacked a force of Kentucky militia under Maj. John Adair
camped outside the fort. Six Kentuckians and an unknown number of Indians died in the
skirmish. The fallen soldiers were buried fifty paces west of the fort, beneath the “Whispering
Putnam County:
Native Americans in Ottawa. The Ottawa, or “Tawa” Indians had inhabited the Maumee Valley
since the middle of the 1700s. By the 1790s, Ottawa settlements included villages along the
Blanchard River at the present-day Village of Ottawa. During the War of 1812,. Colonel James
Findlay destroyed these villages because the Ottawa aided British forces. In 1817, the United
States government established a reserve for the Ottawa in exchange for their lands in Northwest
Ohio. The reserve encompassed a five-mile square area; center was the intersection of the
Blanchard River and an Indian trace near what in now old State Route 65. The reserve included
the Ottawa villages of Lower Tawas, on Tawa Run, and Upper Tawas, two miles east of the
Blanchard River in the vicinity of present-day County Road 8. Near each of these villages were
Ottawa burial grounds, which were eventually unearthed by white settlers and residents of the
village. The Ottawa ceded their reserve to the United States in 1831 and were removed to a
reservation in what would become Kansas. The land was auctioned off to white settlers in 1833
and the Village of Ottawa was established in 1834.
Ross County:
Site of Ohio’s First Statehouse. Ross County’s first courthouse was Ohio’s first statehouse.
The courthouse was erected on the Public Square in 1801. Thomas Worthington, one of the
buildings superintendents, laid out the foundation. Chillicothe was the last capital of the
Northwest Territory, and the final session of the territorial legislature met in the courthouse in
1801. Ohio’s first constitution was written here in 1802. On March 1, 1803, Ohio’s first
General Assembly convened in the building, making it the statehouse. During a time of strained
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Historic American Indian Tribes of Ohio
29. relations between Native Americans and settlers in Ohio, the great Shawnee leader Tecumseh
delivered a speech here in 1807 to reassure citizens that the Indians would remain peaceful. The
courthouse served as the statehouse from 1803 to 1810 and from 1812 to 1816. The building
was razed in 1852 to make way for the present courthouse.
Sandusky County:
Seneca Indian Reservation at Green Springs. In 1817 the United States government signed a
treaty with a number of Native American tribes in northern Ohio, including the Seneca Indians.
The Fort Meigs or Maumee Rapids Treaty bound the Seneca tribe to cede all claims to land north
of the Greene Ville Treaty line, and in return they received a 40,000 acre reservation at Lower
Sandusky (Fremont) and a $500 annuity to paid each year in perpetuity. The reservation’s
boundary began 1.5 miles north of here and extended 6.5 miles to the south. The width of the
reservation was 8 miles with the western boundary at the Sandusky River. Beginning in 1830,
with a policy of Indian removal developed by the administration of Andrew Jackson, tribes east
of the Mississippi River were pressured to move to reservations in the West. The Seneca Indians
moved to northeast Oklahoma in 1831.
Summit County:
Silver Lake. Silver Lake was previously known as Wetmore’s Pond, named for Judge William
Wetmore, an agent for the Connecticut Land Company. In 1808, Wetmore built a cabin
overlooking the spring-fed lake, which was then a part of Portage County. Local lore records his
friendship and conscientious dealings with the Native Americans, likely Seneca, who inhabited a
populous village between the lake and the Cuyahoga River. The tribe left the area to join the
British during the War of 1812 but later sided with the United States.
Tuscarawas County:
The Bouquet Expedition—Camp 14. Desperately trying to protect their homeland, the
Delaware Indian Nation, who lived here in the Tuscarawas Valley, joined the French against the
English during the French and Indian War, 1754-1763. After the French defeat, the Delawares,
dissatisfied with the treaty terms, joined an Indian Confederacy to attack the English in early
1763. Known as Pontiac’s Rebellion, the uprising was lead by Ottawa chief Pontiac. In
response, the English commander, General Jeffrey Amherst, ordered Colonel Henry Bouquet to
mount a 1,500-man expedition to subdue the Confederacy in Ohio. The Army arrived at this
location on October 13, 1764. The camp, known as Camp 14, was located in this valley between
the two small streams on the side of the hill. Proceeding on the Delaware town of modern-day
Coshocton, Bouquet negotiated a surrender with the Delaware, Shawnee, and Wyandot who then
relinquished over two hundred white prisoners.
The Salem Mission. Here, on April 6, 1780, during the American Revolutionary War, a
contingent of Delaware Christian Indians, led by John Heckwelder, an assistant to Moravian
missionary David Zeisberger, founded the last of five missions to occupy the Tuscarawas Valley
between May 3, 1772 and September 8, 1781. The mission was located immediately adjacent to
the west bank of the Tuscarawas River. Eighteen months later, British led Indian soldiers
forcibly removed to the Upper Sandusky region all 400 of the Indian converts then living in the
Tuscarawas Valley at the New Schoenbrunn, Gnadenhutten, and Salem missions. Seventeen
years later, Zeisberger returned to the Tuscarawas Valley and founded his last mission at Goshen
on October 4, 1798.
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Historic American Indian Tribes of Ohio