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"Linking the Past with the Present for the Future"

Miami Valley Vignettes
by George C. Crout

Tomahawks and Peace Pipes


Valley of Ice

Geologists have discovered that four glaciers once moved southward across the Miami Valley. The first one covered the valley some 500,000 years ago, and the last one began melting 50,000 years ago. The time of the glaciers is known as the Ice Age.

The last trace of the Ice Age in the Miami Valley is found at Cedar Bog State Memorial Park, southwest of Urbana in Champaign County. This bog was formed over 10,000 years ago, as the Ice Age was ending. A lake fed by spring water developed in an old river valley filled with limestone gravel.

Vegetation grew over the shallow lake's surface and some of the plants of the Ice Age continued to grow. Unusual natural factors kept Cedar Bog alive. Cool, alkaline springs provided the bog with an even temperature throughout the year. The cool water supported the brook trout, the spotted turtle and the swamp rattlesnake.

Rare plants may be studied at Cedar Bog including yellow lady slippers, star flowers, alder-leaf buckhorn, bellwort, small native orchids and others. The sun dew and the pitcher plant feed on the insects of the bog. Unusual wild fowl are found there such as the ring-neck pheasant, the American bittern, the marsh owl and the yellow rail.

In pioneer days Cedar Bog covered about 7,000 acres, but the settlers burned off the vegetation, cleared and drained the rich land for agriculture. By 1910 only 600 acres remained, and this was reduced to 50 acres before the State of Ohio realized it was losing a great natural resource. In 1942 the state purchased 100 acres of bog and forest land, and in 1971 added another 100 acres. A board walk trail has been built over the bog so that visitors may view this last, small piece of Ice-Age Ohio that is still with us.

Mammoths and Mastodons

His kind has been extinct for 8,000 years, yet he once roamed the hills and dales of the Miami VaHey - he was called a mastodon, an ancestor of today's elephant. It is believed that the mastodon replaced the mammoth, an even larger animal, which weighed as much as 20 tons. Remains of the mastodons have been found in various parts of the vafley, the latest in a farm field near Urbana. A few years ago the partial remains of another one was discovered in Darke County. Earlier a mastodon's tooth was found near Franklin, which is on display at the headquarters of the Conservancy District at Dayton.

A study of the mastodon's skeleton reveals that he was a gigantic animal about 10 feet tall and 15 feet from tusk to tail, weighing 5 to 6 tons. Long, brown hair protected his body against the cold of the Ice Age.

The mastodon's family tree probably goes back to the Middle East when the animals migrated to the New World across the ancient land bridge that existed between Asia and Alaska. The mastodon lived along the edge of the glaciers that moved down over the Miami Valley, finally coming to a stop at what is now the Ohio River.

The mastodons were hunted by the ancient people who first inhabited the Miami Valley. Indian legends tell of the great beasts which once roamed the valley. Early pioneers finding the giant teeth of the mastodons thought that the molars belonged to a race of giants, as one 4-pound tooth had a cavity which held a pint of water. Enough bones have been found to reconstruct some of their skeletons in museums - proof of their existence.

Archaeologists should be notified when ancient bones are found, for they can discover the story the bones tell of another era in our valley.

Mound Builders

Southwestern Ohio is the land of the long past. People have lived among the shadows of its forests for thousands of years. The first of the ancient peoples to inhabit the Miami Valley came during the Ice Age, and very likely lived in caves. After these people came the Mound Builders, an apt description of them as they left behind thousands of mounds rising skyward, some of which have survived the ravages of time.

Butler County is said to have contained over 250 mounds and 17 enclosures, which puts the county second in the state, next to Ross, for the number of earthworks discovered. The Great Butler Mound overlooks Middletown, rising some 45 feet on a 500-foot circular base. From it ancient people could have communicated by smoke signals with groups around the Kinder Mound, atop Pennyroyal Hill at Franklin as well as with those around the great Miamisburg Mound in Montgomery County.

The great Adena Mound at Miamisburg reaches almost 70 feet into the sky, covering about 3 acres at the base. It is considered the second most important example of the Mound Builders' art in the nation.

But the largest of all the earthworks is in Warren County. Fort Ancient is now a state park. Students from all over the world come to study it and unravel its mysteries. It has intrigued American archaeologists since it was first mapped in 1810. High above the east bank of the Little Miami River, it commands a view of the surrounding area. It includes, besides a fort, a village site, and also served as a ceremonial center. While built by the Hopewell people, it later became the home of the Fort Ancient Culture.

Thousands of years ago these people lived in the Miami Valley. They worked without beasts of burden, building their mounds with their own muscles. They communicated without a written language. They lived by the hunt - nomads of the forests.

Miami Indians

The state of Ohio, west of the Scioto River, all of Indiana, a large part of Illinois, and southern Michigan were all, at one time, the land of the Miami Indians. The Miami tribe was part of the Algonquin Confederacy, as were the Delaware and Shawnee. The Miamis were among the first to settle in the Ohio country, and became the most powerful tribe in the region. Since even their story tellers had forgotten their origin, it is assumed that the Miami Indians had lived for many generations in the old Northwest, and were the oldest tribe to live in the Miami Valley.

Their main town was near the banks of the Great Miami River, near the present site of Piqua. The Indian name for the town was Pickawillany. Other clans of the Miami tribe were found in the Maumee Valley, which on old maps is identified as the Miami River of the North. Another major group was found around what became Fort Wayne in Indiana.

The Miamis living in a rich land that produced good yields of Indian maize (corn) and other food were under almost constant attack. They developed a strong fighting force and could put 2,000 warriors on the field. The Miami Indians were very intelligent, a generous and kind people, who fought only to preserve their way of life. Outside the Miami Valley, there were other Ohio Indian tribes, and all of these taken together are estimated to represent no more than 15,000 natives.

The Miamis left their name on the valley in which we live. In it one can find Miami County, Miamisburg, Miamitown, and of course, Miami University. Many business and industrial firms use Miami in their corporate names. The Miami Indians have long gone from their valley and now the tribe and its leaders can be found at Miami, Oklahoma. Rare artifacts of the valley's Indian culture can be found at the Piqua Historical Area.

Where Buffalo Roam

While not a giant like the prehistoric animals that once roamed the Miami Valley, the buffalo lived in this valley and was very important to the Indians. The first account of buffalo in the valley was reported in 1687 by a French trader. In 1751 Christopher Gist, an English trader, traveling through the Miami country, noted its beautiful meadows with all kinds of game. Gist wrote in his diary that he "went southwestward down the Little Miami River where I had fine traveling through rich land and beautiful meadows in which I could sometimes see 40 or 50 buffaloes feeding at once." Gist killed a buffalo cow and took her tongue and some of the best meat to eat.

Buffaloes ranged in weight from 1200 to 2000 pounds, so traveling from one salt lick to another, their being fond of salt, they pounded out a wide path, called a trace. The big animals sought the easiest path and wound their way around hills and along streams. The Indians followed these traces which made walking much easier. The buffalo trace was wide enough for a wagon to travel, so the pioneers followed it. Some of the winding roads of the Miami Valley today were made by buffalo herds. When the buffaloes stopped to rest and graze they left behind big rings. Fighting off flies, the huge animals cut deep hollows into the ground called buffalo stamps or stamping grounds.

By 1800 the buffalo disappeared from the Miami Valley, and the last buffalo in Ohio was reported in Jackson County in 1802. The white hunters had destroyed the buffalo herds, some boasting of killing hundreds just for sport or for robes. With this destruction also went a major Indian resource, for the Indians ate the buffalo meat, and tanned the skins for many purposes such as covers for wigwams and pieces of clothing. Within a 50 year period the frontiersmen had hunted the buffalo to extinction.

Five Flags Over the Valley

Five flags have flown over the Miami Valley. During the Age of Exploration, Spain and Portugal finally agreed to a division of the lands of the newly discovered American continents proposed by the Pope. Under this agreement, Spain was given the vast lands of North America, which included the Ohio and Miami Valleys. So the Spanish flag once flew over the Miami Valley.

France objected to the Pope's division of the land, and staked out her own claims by reason of exploration. The first French settlements were made in Canada, but brave French Voyeurs moved southward. As early as 1615 Etienne Brule explored the Great Lakes region and probably was the first European to set foot on the soil of what became Ohio. However, not until 1669 did La Salle put his canoe into the Ohio River and take the French flag down the beautiful river, past the mouths of the two Miami Rivers. Whether he explored the Miami Valley is not known, but it, along with the rest of Ohio, was incorporated into the French province of Quebec. The French under Celoron did explore the valley in 1749.

The English objected to the French flag flying over the Ohio Valley and in 1751 sent Christopher Gist to challenge their claims, resulting in raising the English flag over the Indian villages of the Miami Valley. The English also gained wide support.

As Virginia fought to hold its claim on the Ohio Country, the frontiersmen fought under the flags of the American Revolution. These emblems of freedom floated over pioneer settlements in the Miami Valley.

The flags of the Revolution were replaced by one standard flag, the Stars and Stripes, which was adopted as the national emblem. The Miami Valley became part of the Territory of the Northwest, and the Ordinance of 1787 set up an orderly procedure for the creation of new states, the first of which was Ohio, born March 1, 1803.

Peter and Fort Loramie

The first map showing the Ohio country was drawn in 1650 by a French geographer, but not until 1774 did a French cartographer, J.N. Bellin, show a yet unnamed river, that is today called the Great Miami. While French explorers and fur traders traveled across the land between Lake Erie and the Ohio River, Pierre, or Peter, Loramie, a French Canadian, established the first trading post in the Miami Valley.

He located it on a large creek, 15 miles upstream from where it emptied into the Great Miami River, and thus wrote his name on a stream that still is known as Loramie's Creek. In Shelby County there is also Fort Loramie and Lake Loramie. Loramie's trading post was strategically located on the main portage trail between the headwaters of two rivers - the Great Miami and the Maumee. During times of high water, it was only a six-mile portage. Sometimes the boats were carried, while often large ones were taken across the trail on wheels. Peter Loramie established his post in 1769 and it became the center of French power in the valley. Loramie, an enemy of the Americans, encouraged his Indian allies to resist the invasion of both them and the English.

In 1782 Gen. George Rogers Clark led over 1,000 mounted Kentucky volunteers into western Ohio. They destroyed Loramie's trading post. The contents of his store were auctioned off to the soldiers. Later in 1794 during the Indian wars a fort was erected near the site, named Fort Loramie. The store was never rebuilt, but its original site is now at Hardin.

Disgusted with frontier wars, Peter Loramie along with some of his Shawnee Indian allies, accepted an offer of land in the Spanish territories west of the Mississippi River.

Go Home, White Man

The Indians could never understand the English or Americans. They preferred the French, who wished only to trade with them. They came into the valley as single men, and didn't attempt to settle the land. If they did marry, they took Indian women as brides, which pleased the chiefs. One old Indian Chief complained to William Henry Harrison, "Why do you not make us happy as our fathers the French did? They never took from us our lands; indeed they were common between us. They planted where they pleased and cut wood where they pleased, and so did we. But now if a poor Indian attempts to take a little bark from a tree to cover him from rain, up comes a white man and threatens to shoot him, claiming the tree as his own." The Indians could never understand the English law and private ownership, as they held the land in common.

When the Indian Chiefs and the U.S. Commissioners met in 1793, the U.S. proposed paying for ceded lands in money and goods, including a yearly supply of needed items. The Indians replied that money was of no value to them and offered this counter proprosal.

One Chief noted that the white men who came to Ohio must have been very poor to have taken such a risk and to have worked so hard clearing land. So, why not, the Indian reasoned, divide the money you offer the Indians among your poor settlers and give to them what you would give us each year. Then instead of spending money fighting the Indians and paying armies, the white people could return home and the Indians would again have their lands, and from them make their own living.

The Chief promised that once the land was vacated and the white man returned home, they would no longer be the enemy. However, the U.S. could not accept this simple solution, for the poor, white settler did indeed, have no place else to go. He had been pushed out of Europe, and the best land of the original colonies was already settled.

French and Indian War

Historians call it the first of the great global wars, eventually involving half the world. Its fighting took place in the Ohio wilderness, of which the Miami Valley was a part. It is remembered as the French and Indian War, with the dates, 1754 to 1763. It started over the conflicting land claims between the French and Indians; and the English and the American Colonists.

The French struck first and captured the strategic site at the forks of the Ohio, building Fort Duquesne. Trying to stop them, Colonel George Washington in 1754 met his first defeat in war. The French claimed the whole Ohio Valley and refused to divide its control with the English, who demanded all lands west to the Great Miami River.

After Braddock's defeat, even the pro-English Indians joined the French. The Indians plundered, killed and scalped.

William Pitt became the English Prime Minister and was convinced that his nation must secure the Ohio country. He equipped a large army both of regular English troops and Colonials, and won over some of the Indian tribes, including the Miamis and Shawnees. Other Indians soon came over to the English side with the aid of George Croghan and a Moravian missionary, Christian F. Post.

The campaign against the French was successful. Fort Duquesne became Fort Pitt, and later Pittsburgh. When the Treaty of Paris was signed in 1763, France was forced to give up all of Canada, and the English flag flew over that great country as well as over the Ohio Country and the Miami Valley.

The Indians returned to hunting and fur trading, but soon discovered the English and the Colonists were after the land itself. The English and Americans were soon to learn that it took more than a treaty to make the Miami Valley safe for settlement.

The White Indian

He was called the "White Indian", the most hated and feared man to ever stalk the trails of the Miami Valley. His name was Simon Girty. Most of the atrocities of the Ohio frontier during the dark period of the Indian wars centered around him, some fact, some fiction.

It was most confusing, for there were three Girty Brothers engaged in treason and treachery, and all were rugged fighters on the side of the English and the Indians. There was a fourth brother, who lived the normal life of a quiet farmer. Simon was the best known and often received credit for all his brothers' infamous deeds.

Life had dealt the Girty boys a hard blow. Their Irish immigrant father was an Indian trader in western Pennsylvania, who was killed by a warrior during a drunken brawl. His mother remarried, and the boys had to sit by while the Indians burned their stepfather at the stake. Then they were divided up, each adopted by a different Indian tribe. They were reared as Indians, treated well, and became life-long friends of their kidnappers. All were fluent in the Indian languages.

It was Simon Girty who became the most hated. Before the American Revolution, he was hired by the British as an Indian interpreter. Eventually his brothers joined the same side and worked as scouts and interpreters for the British. They were called traitors to the Colonial cause. Simon Girty was not all bad. He saved his friend, Simon Kenton's life, purchased the freedom of several white boys and befriended some white prisoners. But he remained faithful to the British cause, and during the War of 1812 served again as an interpreter.

The British rewarded Simon Girty's loyalty by giving him a 160-acre tract of land in Canada where he made his home. He died on his farm in 1818 at the age of 77, and was buried with full British military honors.

Chief Logan Spoke

A wise old Indian Chief once roamed the hills of southern Ohio hoping to make peace with the white man. He urged his fellow tribesmen to accept the inevitable fact that they were outnumbered. But Chief Logan found that the coming savage wars would not pass him by. Before it was all over, his father, brother, sister and other relatives were all murdered by a white scouting party.

Only then did this friend of the white man go on the warpath, and in anger and grief took thirty scalps in the summer of 1774. After the Battle of Point Pleasant, which followed, Lord Dunmore, the English commander, offered the Ohio Indians a peace treaty assuring them that the Ohio River would be the boundary line between the two races. All of the leading chiefs assembled at Camp Charlotte to ratify the Treaty, that is all except one - Chief Logan of the Mingoes to whom the white man's word had lost all meaning.

Knowing his approval was needed, John Gibson, a scout, was sent to find the old Chief. Logan was discovered sitting under a young elm tree. Although he spoke English, Chief Logan could not write it, so he dictated his reply to Gibson, In less than 200 words, he eloquently expressed his feelings, ending with the pathetic questions, "Who is there to mourn Logan? Not one."

Upon reading the reply, Thomas Jefferson, who had written the Declaration of Independence, praised the short message as one of the world's greatest speeches and generations of Ohio school children memorized it. The young elm grew into a massive tree, and became the state's most famous one - the Logan Elm. It stood until 1964. Although the original tree is gone, many of its children five on. Thousands of seeds were taken from the Logan Elm, raised into seedlings and distributed throughout Ohio. Some were planted in school yards and are now full-grown trees.

Captain Bird's Hostages

On May 25, 1780 Capt. Henry Bird led a British military expedition out of Detroit. Using a water pathway, the expedition floated down the Maumee River, then over the portage to the Great Miami River. Capt. Bird, had a party of 150 soldiers, both regulars and volunteers, plus several hundred Indians, who joined along the way. Capt. Bird headed for Kentucky to avenge the military campaign of Gen. George Rogers Clark. Clark had humiliated and outguessed the English in the western campaign against their forts in the Northwest, during the last years of the Revolutionary War.

Capt. Bird's mission was to attack and plunder the frontier Kentucky settlements. His expedition ascended the Ohio River to the mouth of Licking River, where the soldiers debarked near Ruddell's Station. Before the Kentuckians knew what was happening, the Station was surrounded, and Simon Girty, who was with Capt. Bird, went in under a Rag of truce, demanding surrender. It was agreed to accept the defeat if the prisoners were promised protection of the British soldiers against abuse by the Indians. However, as soon as the stockade gates opened the savages rushed in plundering and killing. Some 300 pioneers were marched away as prisoners. Next the Bird expedition attacked Martin's Station under similar circumstances with the same results.

Realizing he was in dangerous territory and that as soon as Gen. Clark heard of the expedition, he would be pursued, Capt. Bird wisely headed back to the Ohio River with the hostages. Many of the women and children became ill, and after the Indian custom were tomahawked and left to die by the trail. It was a sad, hungry group that went up the Great Miami River valley, with only about 100 hostages surviving the trip to Detroit.

Clark's Long Knives

In retaliation of Capt. Henry Bird's expedition, Gen. George Rogers Clark raised a army of 1,000 Kentuckians. Since many carried shining bright swords the Indians gave them the nickname of "Long Knives."

The Miami Valley was the American frontier from 1770 to 1795, and during this period there was much bloodshed on both sides. The Indians were trying to stop English settlement, which they knew meant the end of their way of life, based largely on trapping and hunting. Before Capt. Bird's expedition, Gen. Clark through several campaigns against the Shawnee Indians largely held them under control. He had burned their villages and laid waste to their fields. The Miami Indians tired of the struggle moved north and westward away from the white invader.

Gen. Clark tried immmediately to restore his control over the Miami Valley. He led the Long Knives northward along the east bank of the Great Miami River up to the site of what became Dayton, then stopped about four miles south of Piqua. Here they encountered a party of Indians on the way to a powwow at Piqua, their headquarters. The surprised Indian braves escaped in time to warn other Indians, who fled the area at the first alarm.

The Indian braves left their squaws and children at the mercy of the Long Knives, who destroyed the villages and burned the Indian's crops, leaving the enemy destitute, and without food. This done, the Long Knives marched back to Kentucky. Some consider this the last real battle of the American Revolution, for in 1783 the Treaty of Paris was signed, which ended the long war for independence.

Although the Treaty gave the Miami Valley to the new U.S. government, the Indians refused to accept peacefully the settlement of the new Americans.

Boone's Escape

Daniel Boone, the most famous of all frontiersmen and Indian fighters was once held prisoner at an Indian village in the Miami Valley. Early in January, 1778, Boonesboro was running low on salt, an essential item. Daniel Boone led a party of 30 men to the salt springs along the Licking River. All was going well at the salt camp, until one day, the pioneers found themselves surrounded by an Indian war party, led by Black Fish, a Shawnee Chief. Along with Black Fish were some scouts in the service of the British, who allied with the Indians, were trying to hold control of the land west of the Appalachian Mountains. The British at Detroit paid a $100 reward for any American prisoner-of-war.

Black Fish marched his hostages to the Ohio River and ferried them across on a buffalo hide boat. They were taken to an Indian village near the present site of Xenia, to wait until Spring to complete the hazardous trip to Fort Detroit. Boone advised his men to offer no resistance and do as the Indians commanded. Thinking they had won the cooperation of the prisoners, some were adopted into the tribe, including Boone.

When the captives arrived at Detroit, Chief Black Fish who had adopted Boone as his own son, refused to sell him for even $500. So Boone returned with the Chief to the Indian village. They trusted him so much that they gave him a gun and ammunition and permitted him to hunt wild game for them. Boone carefully saved some powder from each shot. Boone spent the spring in the wild Miami Valley. One day he overheard the warriors planning an attack on Boonesboro. The clever Boone made his escape. In a record for endurance, he ran 160 miles stopping only long enough for one meal. Due to Boone's bravery, when the Indians arrived, Boonesboro was prepared. The small garrison held out against the seige, and the Indians finally returned to the Miami Valley.

Kenton Runs the Gauntlet

While Daniel Boone is remembered as Kentucky's most famous frontiersman, Simon Kenton is Ohio's own legendary hero. After a vicious fight for a girl's affection, Kenton left his home in Virginia in a hurry, believing, incorrectly, that he had killed his rival suitor.

Arriving in the western wilderness at the age of 16, he lived in the forests, getting his food with his gun and learning the ways of the Indians. He was hired by both the British and Americans as a spy and ranger, for no one knew Indian strategy better than he.

Kenton also knew Indian cruelty, being compelled to run the gauntlet eight different times to satisfy their savagery. To run the gauntlet meant that a man was placed at the head of two lines of warriors, armed with clubs and sticks. At a given signal the man made a dash for the other end, running down the center taking the blows or dodging them if possible. Some died before ever reaching the other end.

Once caught stealing Indian horses, Kenton was tied to stakes, in spread eagle fashion with his limbs secured by leather thongs. After surviving this torture, he was tied to a wild horse, which was turned loose. On another occasion he was almost beaten to death, and would have died, had not Simon Girty pleaded with the Shawnees to spare the life of his friend. Kenton's savage punishment by the Indians earned him the respect of all frontiersmen.

Turning to peaceable pursuits after the Indian wars, Kenton proved to be a poor businessman, and was convicted in a Champaign County Court as a debtor. So great was the citizens respect for him that they elected him jailer, so he could serve his sentence under himself. His tombstone is at Urbana, and the Inscription reads: "Full of Honors, Full of Years." But an ever-present reminder on the Ohio map is the town of Kenton.

An Indian Tale

When a group of Indian boys in a Miami tribe were old enough to start wandering about in the forests, a council meeting was held by their elders to choose a leader. How the Indian warriors chose a young leader is illustrated in this legend handed down by the Miami tribe.

In a very dark part of the forest, one of the Miami tribesmen would hide a real skeleton in a haunted spot. Then they would choose a very dark night for the test of the young boys. Various braves would hide along the path to make scary noises to frighten the Indian boys. The bravest boy was the one who cut down the skeleton and returned it to the campfire.

On one such occasion all was made ready. The old Chief rose from his honored place at the campfire and with a knife in his hand, asked who wanted to go first. A tall boy volunteered and started off with knife in hand. Down the path he traveled, but on hearing the mysterious and chilling sounds, he turned and ran back to the fire.

A second boy made it a little farther into the black forest, but hearing more sounds, he returned. A third boy was so frightened that he rushed back to the campfire and fell exhausted before the fire. When the old chief asked for other volunteers, he heard no answer. Finally, the littlest Indian boy of them all spoke up, "I will go." Seizing the knife, with brave determination he kept going on. No sounds or fear could overcome him, and he returned to the campfire with the skeleton.

The wise old Chief pointed to the smallest boy of them all, and said, "He is your leader!"

This is only one of hundreds of Miami Indian stories told by their late Chief, Clarence Godfroy, and compiled in a remarkable book.

Tomahawk Rights

No one knows their names, and no monuments stand over their dead. They searched out the new land west of the Appalachians, and they built crude, log cabins in the valleys of the Great and Little Miami Rivers and along the Scioto. They were the first white people to dwell in the Miami Valley.

Historians estimated that as many as 1500 white settlers lived along the frontier in Southwestern Ohio before and during the American Revolution. Uninvited, they came against the wishes of the British King, who had ordered the Colonists to remain along the Atlantic seaboard. The frontiersmen disputed the right of King George to draw the Proclamation Line of 1763 reserving all the land west of the mountains to the natives. They argued that man had a natural right to pass into every vacant country and build a home and set up his own government.

The frontiersmen spotted the best farm land and with their tomahawks they cut their marks into big trees on the four corners of the property they claimed. The name given these people was that of "Squatters."

The Squatters built a cabin, erected rough fences from brush to keep in their cattle, horses and pigs. They cultivated a few acres of land, after clearing it, or perhaps farmed land already cleared by the Indians before them. There were many areas of vacant Indian old lands, as they were called, as the Indians deserted the small garden sites after the soil had been stripped of its virgin elements. They merely moved their villages when the garbage and refuge piled up. But time restored the soil and cleansed the land.

When the U.S. government surveyed and sold the land, the Squatters when shown the legal deeds by the pioneers usually moved on. Some were given a small cash gift for their improvements.

Yeatman's Cove

Griffin Yeatman's tavern was the center of community life in Cincinnati. The large frame structure, two and one-half stories high, at Front and Sycamore Streets served as a hotel, restaurant, theater, and even the Courthouse. Yeatman built his tavern on an inlet in the river, where the first boat load of pioneers landed near the end of December, 1788. It became known as Yeatman's Cove, and here was the beginning of the city of Cincinnati. Yeatman's Cove Park and Serpentine Wall can still be visited.

The tavern was in the front room of the house in which Yeatman presided over the affairs of the young, frontier town. His pump must have been the main water supply of the town, for he requested the users to give him 25 cents each Monday morning for the privilege. Being right in the center of the village, Yeatman's Tavern was a town meeting place. After a glorious all-day celebration of the 4th of July in 1799, it is recorded that the festivities ended with a dance at Yeatman's Tavern.

Yeatman became County Recorder, and in the fall of 1801 an important meeting was held at Yeatman's Tavern to consider the question of the incorporation of Cincinnati. While enjoying good rye whiskey, the vote was affirmative, and the town's plat was officially recorded in 1802. Inside the tavern the deliberations of the Northwest Territory's Supreme Court were held.

From Yeatman's punchbowl, -which could hold ten gallons of liquor, was served such historical figures as Aaron Burr, Gen. Andrew Jackson, Gen. George Rogers Clark, Gen. William Henry Harrison, Gov. Arthur St. Clair and Gen. Anthony Wayne.

Losantiville and Venice

The two largest towns in the Miami Valley could well have been Losantiville and Venice. John Filson, a schoolteacher and scholar, was one of the founders of Cincinnati. Since he was the surveyor of the group, and laid out the first plans for the city, it was agreed that he, a student of language and history, should pick the name.

Filson decided to create a name for the town, located on the Ohio River, across from the mouth of the Licking River. So he began the town's name with a L, standing for the river, then added an os, which was the Greek word for mouth, throwing in the Latin word, anti, meaning opposite, and adding the French word for city-ville. So the name of the town came out meaning the city opposite the mouth of the Licking River. It was christened Losantiville.

Settlers used the name a few years, until Gen. Arthur St. Clair, the Governor of the Northwest Territory, moved his headquarters there. When asked the name of the little town where he had landed, he was informed that he was in Losantiville. Those standing near him, heard him remark, "What an awful name! ... We'll call it Cincinnati." One word from Gov. St. Clair was all that was needed. Thus Losantiville became Cincinnati, the only city with that name in the U.S. It honored the Society of Cincinnatus, a group of Revolutionary War officers, of which St. Clair was a member.

The three men who first surveyed the site for Dayton, seeing the swampy area where the Mad River joins the Great Miami, decided a good name would be Venice. They wanted the Mad River renamed the Tiber. Better judgment won and the town was named to honor Gen. Jonathan Dayton, a Revolutionary soldier, a member of the Constitutional Convention, and later a member of Congress.

Symmes Purchase

Capt. Fig was the first Indian to greet John Cleves Symmes when he arrived at North Bend in February 1789. The Symmes party had left New Jersey with eight, four-horse wagons carrying 30 people westward to the Miami Valley. He had purchased about 250,000 acres of rich land between the two Miami Rivers, an area extending from the Ohio River northward to the present site of Monroe, just south of Middletown. He planned to re-sell the land to emigrants.

The Shawnee Chief's first question was, "Did the 13 fires send you?" To the Indian, the 13 fires represented the 13 states of the nation. Symmes took out his new American flag, with the 13 stripes to satisfy the Chief. Symmes then pointed to the troops on parade, telling the Indians the soldiers would uphold the rights of the settlers.

John Cleves Symmes

Symmes then walked over the another Shawnee Chief, Capt. Blackbird, and showed him the seal of the U.S. with the eagle holding a tree branch as an emblem of peace. Chief Blackbird studied the emblem, and remarked that the eagle's outspread wings did not denote peace to the Indian nor did the bough in its mouth, which looked more like a rod for correction. The Chief said the eagle appeared to be carrying a long whip in one claw and arrows in the other, and to be in full flight, bent on war or mischief. Finally the Chief accepted Symmes' peaceful explanation.

Capt. Blackbird said the North Bend settlers need not fear the Shawnee nation. The Indians then traded furs and skins they had brought with them, stripping the settlers of everything they had with them. Symmes was successful in selling the land, but ran into many legal problems. He lost money, and finally died in poverty in 1814.

Fort Hamilton on the Miami

Although the government had made a treaty with the Indians, which ceded the land of the Miami Valley to the white man, most of the Indians continued their attacks on the pioneers. In 1790 the U.S. authorities ordered Gen. Josiah Harmar to organize a military unit and drive the Indians off the land. Some 1400 frontiersmen drilled under Gen. Harmar and then met the enemy. They left the field with 300 soldiers dead. The following year, Gen. Arthur St. Clair, one of Washington's best generals in the American Revolution was sent out to build up a new army of 3,000 soldiers. They were to be drilled and equipped so that they could carry out a successful campaign. Gen. St. Clair decided that a chain of forts would be needed up the Miami Valley, both as protection against the Indians and as supply depots.

Early in September 1791, about 2300 soldiers left Fort Washington, marched northward. Men arriving late were ordered to join St. Clair's army at the proposed new fort along the Great Miami.

On September 17th, Gen. St. Clair and his officers picked out the site for the first in a chain of forts. It was in the midst of a great prairie of about 300 acres, covered by grass and wild oats, along the east bank of the Great Miami River, 25 miles north of Fort Washington.

The fort area was about 150-foot square. A trench was dug three feet deep in which the pickets were set. Since 2,000 were needed the men had to scour the woods to find enough tall, straight trees, with trunks between 9 and 13 inches in diameter.

Each had to be cut, trimmed and sawed off to at 20 feet. These pickets were dragged by oxen to the site. Here they were butted and placed upright in a trench. A thin piece of lumber at the top of the pickets was used to pin them together. The trench was then packed with earth. The new post was named Fort Hamilton in honor of the man then Secretary of the Treasury.

The Greatest Massacre

The legend of how Gen. George Custer, an Ohio native, met his death at the Battle of Little Big Horn is known to all. Custer and his 250 soldiers were massacred by the Indians. Most Americans consider this to have been the U.S. army's worst defeat by the Red Man, but it wasn't. The Indian's greatest military triumph was achieved along the northern edge of the Miami Valley.

Led by Chief Little Turtle, the most outstanding Miami Indian in both war and peace, his warriors were well disciplined and trained. In 1790 Chief Little Turtle's forces defeated Gen. Josiah Harmar. President Washington replaced the General with another one, Gen. Arthur St. Clair. Washington ordered St. Clair to build a frontier army strong enough to drive the Indians out of the Miami Valley.

In 1791 Gen. St. Clair left Fort Washington, proceded north to Fort Hamilton. Here he ordered the building of Fort Jefferson. By Nov. 3, 1791 Gen. St. Clair and his army were camped along a branch of the Wabash River, near the Indiana line, almost 100 miles north of Cincinnati.

On the morning of Nov. 4th, the soldiers were called into formation and then dismissed. Just at that moment the Indians attacked. The surprise was so great that the whole camp was in confusion. Gov. St. Clair's troops tried to regroup, and they continued firing for about three hours. It was hopeless, so retreat was ordered. What was left of the frontier army, arrived back at Fort Jefferson, disorganized and defeated.

Roll call revealed that ahnost 600 soldiers were killed in action along with 37 officers, including Gen. Richard Butler, second in command. Another 300 men had been wounded. Such was the white man's greatest defeat at the hands of the Indians. On the site of the massacre, Fort Recovery was later erected. The Fort Recovery State Memorial now marks the scene of the massacre.

Fort St. Clair and Others

Just west of Eaton is St. Clair State Memorial Park, where four stone markers designate the area enclosed by the old fort. It was a stockade much like other forts along the Indian border. The enclosed area was protected by pickets set in the earth, within which stood the blockhouses and officers' quarters. To prevent a surprise attack, a space of about 40 acres around the fort was cleared. It was constructed by men under the command of Major John Gano, and in charge of the guard detail was a 20-year old ensign, William Henry Harrison, who was to write his name large upon the pages of history.

However, Fort St. Clair did sustain one surprise attack. Chief Little Turtle discovered that a company of 100 riflemen was in Indian territory. He scouted them, waiting for the right time to attack. It came on Nov. 6, 1792. A unit of the Kentucky militia under command of Major John Adair stopped for the night and set up camp a short distance from Fort St. Clair.

Just before dawn, amid shrieks, war whoops and the shooting of guns, Little Turtle with 250 warriors opened the attack. At first the Americans were in great confusion, but they grouped and began to fight back. The Indians grabbed the horses and some supplies, which had probably been their object in the first place, and ran off. Major Adair seeing the Indians had a head start, ordered his men back, and they regrouped at Fort St. Clair.

Rofl call. revealed that six soldiers had been kiRed, five wounded and four missing. It was thought that the Indians had lost about the same number. Chief Little Turtle's warriors had stolen aR but eight horses. Fort St. Clair continued to serve as a supply fort, one of the chain from Fort Washington, to Fort Hamilton, then St. Clair, northward to Forts Jefferson, Greenville, Recovery and Fort Wayne. Each was about one day's journey apart, that is for marching troops.

The Ranger's Captive

When they were quite young, two brothers, Christopher and Henry Miller while out playing at their Kentucky home, were captured by Shawnee warriors. They were taken to a Miami Valley village and adopted by a tribe.

Henry, remembering his old life, wanted to return to the world of the white man. When he was 24 years old, he told his brother of his plans to escape, asking him to go along. But Christopher loved the life of the Indians. Having no desire to leave, he refused to go with his brother. There are many similar stories on record, for the Indians treated their adopted sons well.

Henry returned to his old home. When Gen. Mad Anthony Wayne led a campaign against the Indians of the Miami Valley, he joined the Rangers, a scouting outfit. In June 1794 the Rangers were ordered to take an Indian prisoner in order to obtain information of the enemy. They found three Indians along a stream, preparing a meal. Attempting to escape, two of the Indians were killed, and then Henry Miller and Robert McClelland tried to capture the third. The fleet-footed warrior gave them a hard chase, but when he saw the two Rangers gaining on him, he leaped down a river bank, landing in shallow water in the mud.

McClelland caught him just as the warrior drew a knife. Seeing he was outnumbered, he dropped it, and Miller and the others washed off the mud and paint on their besplattered captive only to discover he was a white man. They mounted their horses and started back to headquarters at Fort Greenville. Henry Miller rode up to the captive's side, and already noting a resemblance to his brother, spoke his Indian name. Indeed it was Christopher Miller. The soldiers persuaded him to abandon his wild Indian way of life. He was given his liberty by Gen. Wayne, and acted as an interpreter at the signing of the Treaty of Greenville.

Peace Pipe and Greenville

After suffering two disastrous defeats at the hands of the Indians in the Miami Valley, President Washington was determined that it should not happen again. He appointed one of his most trusted generals of the Revolutionary War, "Mad Anthony" Wayne to the command. Under Chief Blue Jacket, the Indians fought bravely, but were defeated at the decisive Battle of Fallen Timbers by the American troops.

Gen. Wayne, who had erected Fort Greenville as his major base of operations, invited the Indians to gather at the Fort to make peace. Almost 1200 came. They began to arrive in June of 1795, and the peace proceedings took around 50 days. Each tribe presented its point of view, they smoked the peace pipe, feasted, and listened to days of oratory.

Finally on Aug. 3, 1795, Gen. Wayne read for the third time the revised draft of the peace treaty. The Indians approved it, and then the document was signed by the chief of each tribe. An interpreter wrote out the name of each chief, and the Indian then drew opposite his name the totem or special sign of his tribe. The treaty had about 90 signatures with the last one's being that of President Washington.

The Greenville Treaty defined the land that was open to white settlement, which included the Miami Valley. It ended the border warfare for a time, with peace between the pioneers and Indians until Tecumseh organized the Confederacy.

Upon the signing of the Treaty of Greenville, the white settlers began to rush into the Miami Valley. In 1795 several villages were laid out, although often not officially platted and recorded until a few years later. These included Fairfield, Dayton, Middletown, Lebanon, South Lebanon and Franklin, followed in 1797 by Waynesville, and two years later by Springfield. During the following decade Trenton, Xenia, Greenville, Urbana, Troy and Piqua and many others appeared on the map.

Chief Little Turtle

Little Turtle, the most famous chief of the Miami Indians, was more than a great warrior. He was as humane as he was brave. He gained the respect of the white man, for his word was his bond. After leading two successful campaigns against the white man, he realized that the Indians were outnumbered, and could not stop the inevitable white settlement of his beloved homeland. He also understood that the white soldiers were better equipped and had the advantage of fire power. He refused to take part in the last major battle, which as he predicted, was lost by the Indians.

When the Indian wars were over, Little Turtle became a reformer, seeking to improve the living conditions of his people. His first crusade was directed against alcohol. It had been the practice of some traders to exchange liquor for pelts, and often got the Indians drunk before making the deal, thus robbing them of their furs.

In 1802 he appeared before the Kentucky legislature asking that it forbid the sale of whiskey to Indians, and such a law was passed. Then he begged the Ohio General Assembly for similar protection, pleading that traders "stripped the poor Indians of skins, gun, blanket, everything - while his squaw and children dependent on him lay starving and shivering in his wigwam." The Ohio legislators did nothing.

Another scourge of the Indians, second only to alcoholism, was the dreaded disease, smallpox. While a trip to Washington, President Jefferson told Little Turtle that the Great Spirit had given the white man a way to prevent smallpox. The Chief's confidence in the President was so great that he asked to be inoculated. He then took some of the vaccine home and vaccinated many of his tribesmen.

Just before his death in 1812, Chief Little Turtle assisted the Americans in the war against the English. He was buried with full military honors by American army officers.

Shooting Star - Tecumseh

His Shawnee tribesmen called him "Shooting Star" but the Americans knew him as Chief Tecumseh. He was the greatest Chief his tribe produced, and along with his brother, The Prophet, whom the Indians thought could foresee the future, built a great Confederacy against the Americans.

Chief Tecumseh refused to sign the Treaty of Greenville, and organized those warriors who agreed with him. Tecumseh was born at an Indian village along the Mad River, near what is now Xenia. He knew the white man well, his father, also a Chief, was killed at the Battle of Point Pleasant in 1774. His oldest brother had also lost his life in battle.

Tecumseh had grown to hate all white people, that is, until he met Rebecca Galloway, daughter of a Judge and a popular young lady. Rebecca decided to open a school at the Galloway home to teach the Indian Chiefs the English language. While the class began with several chiefs in attendance, it wasn't long until Chief Tecumseh was the lone student. He had made it clear to the others that they were to stay away, for Tecumseh had other plans in mind. He had decided to make the beautiful Rebecca an Indian princess and his wife.

Rebecca was courted by the handsome Chief, and soon fell in love with him. Their marriage announcement was met with opposition by both white people of the Miami Valley, and the Indians, who threatened to disavow Tecumseh as their Chief. Then both Tecumseh and Rebecca realized that their love affair was at an end.

Tecumseh went on to head the Confederacy against the Americans, and joined the British during the War of 1812. Despite Chief Tecumseh's brave exploits in battle, the British and Indians were finally driven across Lake Erie into Canada. Along the Thames River on Oct. 5, 1813 Chief Tecumseh led the final assault against the invading Americans. He was among the last to fall in battle.

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Last Update  04/17/2007
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