This article was taken from the Robinson Daily News and was written by Randy Harrison, a staff writer with information supplied by Mark Weber.

Five centuries ago, before Columbus sailed the ocean blue, the only Americans were American Indians. They had the run of the continent.

Later, they found themselves being driven westward by a new breed of Americans. A breed that liked to draw lines on maps to show which lands were theirs and which belonged to the Indians.

Even today, after nearly 200 years, two such "Indian boundaries" remain in Crawford County plat books. Although few local residents today may understand their significance, the lines still affect area residents' lives.

"When I first started practicing law, I could never figure out what they meant," Robinson attorney Mark Weber says. "I would run into them on abstracts and ask attorneys with far more experience where they came from and they didn't know. So, I asked some surveyors and they didn't know, either." I figured, "Heck, there's got to be a reason for them." Weber's curiosity led to many hours in libraries here and in Knox County, Indiana and eventually he found his answer. He learned that the lines that slice across the county are what's left from treaties used to gain lands from the Miami and Delaware Indians. The lines came to define more than just the boundary between white and Indians, though.

They became property lines for frontier landowners. Later, when the quadrangle system of dividing counties into square-mile grids came into use, the pre-existing, Indian Boundary-influenced property lines threw a monkey-wrench into the works. They could not be ignored, so the older boundaries were incorporated into the layout, meaning some grids were less than a full square-mile, others more.

The old lines also were the basis for early roads. Why does Highland Avenue in Robinson take a sharp turn just past Quail Creek County Club? It follows an Indian Boundary. Many county roads make equally baffling twists and turns to do the same. Of course, not all early roads were based on the boundaries. At least one, the Old Piank Trail, was originally a buffalo trace. Dubbed for the Piankishaw, the local offshoot of the Miami, the trail is still used today under the less intriguing name, Illinois Route 1.

The older of the two Indian boundaries in the county dates to 1795 and marks the northwest corner of the "Vincennes Tract." The second was established in 1809. A third line, established by the Edwardsville Treaty of 1819, came too late to make a lasting impression on property lines and roads here. The earlier ones were negotiated by William Henry Harrison, who later became the ninth U.S. president.

"Negotiate" may not be the appropriate word. "The Vincennes Tract is entirely bogus" Weber charges. "Harrison made the whole thing up. Harrison wasn't particularly careful about who he got to sign these treaties," Weber adds, explaining "the Virginian may have picked random Indians to sign documents that bind the entire tribe." Whether they had any authority was not the issue. And he apparently thought little of the Piankishaw, Harrison wrote "they form a body of the greatest scoundrels in the world, and are frequently intoxicated to the number of 30 or 40 at once. They then commit the greatest disorders." "They kill each other without mercy. Some years ago as many as four were found dead in the morning and although these murders are actually committed in the streets of the town, no attempt to punish has ever been made."

The Vincennes Tract actually began as a verbal agreement in 1742 and only became a formal boundary after the Miami were defeated by Gen. "Mad" Anthony Wayne at the Battle of Fallen Timbers in 1794. Harrison was Wayne's aid-de-camp and used the victory to gain new land cessions from tribes.

Stretching from south-central Indiana, the first tract is roughly rectangular, with some noticeable protrusions. One, on the northside, juts up to about where Carlisle, Indiana is today. "Somebody obviously wanted to include something there." Weber points out.

The Vincennes Tract boundary enters Crawford Country at Pointe Coupee, or "the Cutoff," southeast of Bristol Hill in LaMotte Township. It heads northwest across the county to the Junior Henderson property east of Robinson, where it turns southwest. It slips between Victor -Dana and near Carbon, skirts New Hebron and fords the Embarrass River in Southwest Township before entering Lawrence County. The 1809 boundary follows the same course as the Vincennes Tract, but instead of turning at the Henderson property, it continues northwest, cutting across the northern most part of Robinson and out almost to WTAY Road before turning northeast. It passes on through eastern Prairie Township and becomes a county road before crossing into Clark County. Ironically, neither line comes anywhere near the Old Indian Line Road, next to the Robinson Pizza Hut.

Weber met one woman who claimed a line was the distance a man could ride on horseback between sunrise and sunset. An enduring Hoosier legend says the Indians became suspicious of Harrison's gerrymandered boundaries and demanded he draw them based on a shadow cast in noon-time sunlight. Harrison tricked them, however, by setting his watch ahead and establishing a line by shadows cast at 10 AM. An historical marker in Park County, Indiana, commemorates this "10-O'clock Line."

"The legend is probably not true in the first place" Weber says. "But even if it is, it probably doesn't have anything to do with those boundaries here." Indeed, the 10 O'clock Line forms the northern boundary of the 1809 tract. Crawford County contains only the southwest corner of it.

So what is the truth? Probably a combination of factors, Weber believes. Settlers probably first decided how much land they needed, then decided just how far they could push the Indians that time. During his investigation, the attorney also uncovered the truth about several odd shaped properties near the Wabash River designated with "LOC" and a number.

These properties, mostly in Montgomery Township, were awarded to Revolutionary War soldiers. Their layout is based on the old French "location" system.

The French influence is still felt in the region, as evidenced by names such as LaMotte and Embarrass. The LOC properties were placed as they would have been by the French, near the river. "The French always got ground near the river. They didn't care about anything else." Weber points out "They were trappers and traders." This is even more apparent in the LOC's of Lawrence County. All are long and thin and connected to the Wabash River. This allowed more people to have the then all-important access to the river.