Mohawk Hill Traditions

Richland Co., Ohio


Historical Information

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Mohawk Hill Traditions

source:  Semi-Weekly News (Mansfield):  02 August 1898, Vol. 14, No. 64


Submitted by Amy


Mohawk Hill is two miles southeast of Lucas on the Perrysville road.  It is quite an elevation, and the northwestern side is too steep and rocky to admit of cultivation and is still covered with its primeval forest.  The road winds around to lessen the grade and at the top of the hill there is a tableland of rolling surface, with a dip to the east, extending a mile southeast to Pinhook,  from which point the country is more or less hilly until the Black Fork is reached at Perrysville.

The hill takes its name from the fact that Mohawk Indians were buried there in the olden time.  The road formerly went straight up the hill, and midway up its rugged side, upon the "bench" at the side of the rim of rocks, is the reputed burial place of a chief, while a few rods to the east are a number of graves, from one of which the skeleton of an Indian was taken about 40 years ago.

While the dates of the death of these Indians is not definitely known there are reasons for supposing that they antedated the founding of Greentown, in 1782.

There is a tradition that a party of Mohawks from Helltown annually made a summer outing on this hill for hunting purposes, and that they had a cave in the rocks, which finally became the sepulcher of their chief and a receptacle for their treasures.  While the Delawares and Mingoes predominated in number in the order named, there were a few Mohawks and Shawnees at Helltown also.

Helltown -- town of the clear water -- was situate a mile below Newville, on the Clear Fork of the Mohican, in what is known as the Darling settlement.  Helltown was abandoned in 1782, after the massacre of the Moravian Indians at Gnadenhutten and a new village (Greentown) was founded on the Black Fork, where a more favorable site for defense was obtained.  Greentown was named for Thomas Green, a white man, who was a Tory, and who after aiding the Mohawks in the Wyoming massacre of 1778 sought retreat and seclusion with the Indians in the west.

A history of the Mohawks is not necessary in this connection only in a prefatory way, to state that they were of the Iroquois or Five Nations -- the Senecas, Mohawks, Oneidas, Onondagas and Cayugas.  In 1712 the Tuscaroras [sic.] became members of the league after which the confederation was known as the Six Nations.

The Iroquois were the most powerful and highest developed of any of the North American Indians.  But the most of Indian warfares were predatory rather than military.

A distinguished feature in the character of the Mohawks was an exalted spirit of liberty, which revolted with equal indignation at domestic or foreign control.  They had no hereditary distinction in their tribe.  The position of chief or sachem was the reward of personal merit and attainments and was conferred by silent and general consent and could only be held and maintained by the steady and faithful cultivation of the virtues and accomplishments which procured it.

Writers have claimed that there was a striking resemblance between the Romans and the Mohawks not only in their martial spirit, and in their treatment of the conquered, but in other racial and tribal characteristics.  Like the Romans, the Mohawks not only adopted individuals, but incorporated the remnant of their vanquished enemies into their nation or tribe.

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In 1852, when the Ohio & Pennsylvania railroad -- now the Pennsylvania -- was built, a Mr. Barnes, the leading merchant at Lucas disappeared.  He was a contractor also and was known to have had a large sum of money at the time of his disappearance, and foul play was suspected.

About 9 o'clock of the evening of his disappearance, a pistol shot was heard at the foot of the Mohawk Hill and as the place is not frequented at night the idea that Mr. Barnes might have been waylaid there became a conviction with many of his friends, for among the men working on the railroad a mile distant, there were supposed to be some tough characters.  It was subsequently reported that Barnes had been seen in California, but the statement has been both affirmed and denied.

On the farm at the top of the hill lived Samuel Chew from his early manhood until his tall form became bent and his step feeble with the weight of his years.  He was a quiet and respectable citizen.  About 10 years ago, in the stillness of the evening, just after the black mantle of night had been spread over the valley and encircled the hill, Mr. Chew was felled at his own door by the hand of a cowardly assassin.  The murderer was never apprehended and may be now beyond the reach of the law.

A Mohawk basket-maker, who in his peregrination, made occasional visits to Richland County, claims kinship with the Indians buried on the Mohawk Hill.  He travels in a covered wagon and when he finds suitable material stops by the wayside to make his wares.  In 1895, during his last visit here his children got into trouble and when he left it was his determination to never again come to this county.  He made a farewell visit to the hill, of which he had heard so often in his youth in both song and story in the history of his tribe, and which he had in later years often visited in respect to the memory of those of his race who are buried there.  His thoughts as he stood upon those sepulchral rocks for the last time, it is not within the province of this article to attempt to portray.

The trouble referred to was the arrest of his two little girls on the charge of breaking into a farmer's cellar and taking pies.  It was later ascertained that the deed had been committed by tramps.  The Hon. A. Stevenson, now mayor of Bellville, was the attorney for the defense and in his plea before Judge Brucker spoke eulogistically of the Mohawks, and made one of the most eloquent pleas ever heard in a Mansfield court room.

"Pinhook" is the nickname for Six Corners where there was a post-office for years.  There were formerly a school house, a store, a smith, wagon and shoe shop, each, with a number of dwellings and a Masonic hall, which was never used for the purpose for which it was built.  The burg has diminished rather than increased with its years.

The old time families of the Mohawk Hill locality were the Chews, the McBrides, the Swigarts, the Basores, the Wolfes, the Goodbreads and the Reeds, and a number of their descendants live at or near the old homesteads.  Some have sought homes elsewhere.  The parents of Luther M. Swigart lived a mile east of the hill and the log cabin in which Luther was born was torn down when the railroad was built, as it stood in its right of way.

William F. Goodbread removed to Wyandot County, where he became prominent in political and business circles and now his grandson, Harry, is spending his vacation from Ann Arbor in the law office of Douglass & Mengert.  J.M. Reed, son of Joseph Reed, is associated with Mayor Henry in the practice of law.

James Marlow and Moses Marlow, of the vicinity of Alta, taught school in the districts around the Mohawk Hill in the ante-bellum days and each got his wife in that locality.  James married a Miss McBride, daughter of Duncan McBride, who lived at the foot of the hill, and Moses married Elizabeth Swigart, sister of Luther M. Swigart.

Referring again to the hill, it is but voicing the sentiment of the people to say: "Warriors, rest in peace".

-- A.J. Baughman

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