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Title: The Wabash Valley 100 Years Ago
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After General Hopkins, and the twelve hundred and fifty men, who were with him when he made his march up the Wabash river and destroyed The Prophet's Town (Tippecanoe) and the villages about it, had their unpleasant experiences and discomfort from the cold November storm, the sickness among the men. The loss of life discouraged the Hoosier militia and Kentucky Indian fighters, and no more raids were made against the Indians of this locality. The Prophet, and most of his Shawnee warriors went to Detroit or northern Indiana. Tecumseh was killed that year and there remained in this locality the Kickapoos, Delawares, Wyandottes, Potawatamies and Miamis. After the Treaty of Peace, which followed the war of 1812, the British left Detroit and the Northwest Territory and their emissaries left the Wabash Valley, and rewards were no longer paid for the scalps of white women and children. The United States government had previously obtained most of the land by treaty and the hope of a confederacy died with Tecumseh. Yet, these tribes of Indians lingered inthe lands of their fathers, a land rich in future possibilities, flowing more richly with mild and honey, and more to be desired than that promised land of the Israelites. Occassionally, a venturesome traveler from the settlements south and east wandered into the upper Wabash Valley in his restless search for brighter prospects, better and cheaper lands and more promising possibilities for himself, his family and his posterity.

This interval covers a period of ten years or more from the Hopkins' march in 1812 to the survey and opening of this part of the country for settlement. During this ten years the remaining Indians were undisturbed. Theirs was a race in its childhood and they should have been treated as children. They did not know the value of their lands, or what their treaties really meant. Perhaps they knew they would soon have to leave this beautiful valley forever and somewhere beneath the inverted bowl of heaven decorated at night with sparkling diamonds, find a hunting-ground. But there was still game here and they could still enjoy the chase. They burned the underbrush and grass of woodland and prairie every fall or spring. The blue grass and grass of woodland and prairie every fall or spring. The blue grass and grass of all kinds flourished everywhere. The prophet Isiah has said; "The voice said, Cry. And he said, What shall I cry? All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field." And Senator John G. Ingalls said "Grass is the forgiveness of nature." And here in the Wabash Valley, grass grew everywhere.

In the springtime the air was filled with the perfume of blosson of shrub and vine and trees. Nature, the master mechanic and landscape gardener, had full sway in prairie, hill and balley. The hawthorn, the dogwood and the sarvis berry bloomed on the crest of the hills and higher grounds, the redbud trees blazed forth on the sloping hillside and the somber brown of the pawpaws' bloom in the valleys, were all entwined in the loving embrace of the wild grapevine. The brown thrush sang his sweet and varied notes learned from birds in a distant land, as he perched in a clump of hazel brush; while from the midst of a bower of crab-apple blossoms, alive with insects and bees gathering in their wealth of nectar from the flowers, but the blue-jay sounded his defiance. And from the woods about mingled the song of many birds, rivalled in its charm only by the beauty of their plumage. And the red man could exclaim with Solomon in his song "For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on earth; the time of the singing of birds is come and the voice of the dove is heard in our land; the fruit tree putteth forth her green fruit, and the vines with the tender grape give a good smell."

And then the summer came and the green leaves were full in size and growth and the young deer and buffalo went forth in their growing strength thru the forests and grass of the prairie and their strength and speed increast with age, and many a wild beast quencht its thirst in the refreshing coolness of the flowing streams of clear water. The young birds flew among the branches of the forest, and the seeds of berries were ripe, the grasshopper and the cricket called and everywhere insects swarmed, some in deep hued colors, and the butterflies, gorgeous in their dress, lazily floated in air and sought for a place of safety to deposit their larvae.

Autumn came and the huckleberry was ripe on the bush, a few raspberries and blackberries lingered yet on the vine and the wild gooseberry blusht in the thicket; the pawpaws were falling from the trees, and many varieties of wild plums could be gathered. Many a deserted bird's nest yet hung in the leatherwood, water beech and kinnikinick, and a large hornet's nest would swing occasionally from a limb of the sassafras or ironwood. And the hickory nuts would fall; and the hazel nut could be gathered in its brown shell; the walnuts were steadily drooping while the butternut lingered for a more telling frost; the golden-rod and the purple ironweed were profuse in their growth; the black-birds and wild pigeons and waterfowl came in such droves taht they would obscure the sun; the caltter of the industrious woodpecker working on a dead limb of a distant tree; and the call of the hermit thrush in the timber could be heard while the wild goose honkt high at the apex of his living triangle; and the quack of the mallard as he floated to the deeper waters in pristine beauty gave the danger signal to his companions. And then Jack Frost came and breathed on the leaf of tree and shrub and vine, spreading his enchantment over woods and hill and valley, enriching it all with a variation of color and artistic beauty, the envy of a Raphael or an Corot, yet a secret in the chemistry of art which Jack refuses to reveal, a beauty in richness and color that we may yet enjoy as well as did the red man when he was here.

Then soon the leaves fell and the limbs of the trees were bare and the winds piled the falled leaves in the hollows in the woods. The snows came and the streams and ponds froze over and the migrating birds with their beauty of feathered plumage and sweetness of song had taken their trackless flight to a more congenial clime in the sun-kist land of the South. Yet the game birds and the wild game of the forest lingered and had grown fat on grass and fruits and nuts; the ponds nad the streams were full of fish; the corn had been pluckt in the roasting ear and stored for winter use, and now the braves could go to the chase for flesh for food and skins for clothing and winter tents. The women and children were in the camps and they were happy; the crow would caw by day and the owl would hoot at night; the timber wolf would bark, and the panthe scream in the woods and all this was a part of life to the red men of the Wabash.

Beneath the spreading branches of the linden tree, a dusky maid of the forest stood and listened to the music of the divine orchestra of insects, bees and birds; a squirrel sprang gracefully from a limb and barked with delight at his presence; the earth beneath her feet was carpeted in green and decorated with various colors of the spring flowers; the clear water of a spring from the lips of mother earth in a stream nearby rippled and bubbled as it flowed over boulder, rock, and pebble and joined its voice in harmonious approval in the expression of the sweetness of life and the beauty of the earth and the scene that environed the maiden, the gentle zephrys of the spring time played along the leaves of the trees and forests, and the sunshine fell between them. The maiden was alarmed by the plaintive cry of a doe, awakened from its restful sleep, and she moved noiselessly toward it when a large buck sounded the alarm of danger and it and the mother deer and the little one bounded away and disappeared in the forest. Then a young brave, perfect in form and feature, with cap and feather, bow and arrow, joined the maiden. And love was them abroad in the Valley of the Wabash. And they plighted their troth and loved, and wooed and married.

In after years, in another clime, on a western plain, ended the delightful enchantment of pleasant memories of their youthful romance. Ever they pondered on the beauty of the land of their childhood where they had wandered together beneath the trees of the forest and together they often journeyed thru the land of memory back to the Valley of the Wabash where they had joined their fortunes and their hands beneath a sky where the stars sang together, where the grass grew green and the water was clear; where the air was filled with the sweet perfume of flowers and the birds sang a joyous song.

Captain Schuyler LaTourrette recently said: "When my mother and father were married in the state of New Jersey they arranged to start at once for the Wabash Valley, to take up land and make a permanent home. My mother bade farewell to her mother and father, her sisters and brothers, forever, and never expected to see them again, and yet, they did not part with the tearstained eyes. She sparkled with young life, and was aglow with youth and joy, and gladly faced the future before her, taking her place as a helpmate to her husband and life companion. And together they came to the Wabash Valley to take their part and bear their shar of the toil, the patience, the love and the hope that comes in rearing a family. And together my father and mother did their part in winning the West and building an empire. They need no monument to beg memory to them for by their devotion, their friendships and the service, happily and gladly done by them in their day and generation, they have ereected a monument to themselves in the hearts of their neighbors and their children more lasing than metal, more enduring than stone. And my parents were only one couple among the many who left a distant state or distance country to come to the Wabash Valley and the State of Indiana to take their part and their place as good useful citizens among the common folks in building a state and making a nation."

As the dusky sweethearts left the land of their youth forever, the paleface and his bride came to clear the forest, cultivate the land, build homes and schools, make townships, counties, cities and states, and lay the foundation for the civilization and culture that have made the state of Indiana and the Wabash Valley known the world over.

Date: 1/1/1916
Origin: Historical Sketches of the Wabash Valley
Author: J. Wesley Whicker
Record ID: 00001159
Type: Book
Source Archive: Williamsport-Washington Township Public Library
Date Entered: 8/10/2001
Entered By: Amber M Knipe

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