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Title: Zachariah Cicot
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One of the most interesting characters among the men of influence in shaping the early destiny of the Wabash Valley was Zachariah Cicot, who laid out Independence, and whose name should have been perpetuated in the name of that town.

Cicot was the son of one of the French settlers from Ouiatenon who chose to live with the Indians. His mother was a daughter of a Kickapoo Indian chief and his brother, George Cicot, inherited a chieftanship among the Kickapoos from her. According to the best information available Cicot was born about the time the War of the Revolution was coming to a close in an Indian village where Independence now stands.

There is a sand-bar in the Wabash river a little above Independence which was known as Cicot's Ford which led to Cicot's Landing on the north bank of the river. From this landing the trail led up the ravine just above Independence bridge and off to the big spring at the north side of the town. This spring and this ford brot the encampments of Indians to that place. Near the Cicot Landing was a large niggerhead stone which had a natural depression in its upper side which formed an excellent mortar for the Indian squaws to grind their corn in and it was commonly used for that purpose. This stone is still there altho it has been moved from its original location and now lies near the bridge with the mortar side down. Thomas Atkinson, one of the pioneers of southern Benton county, told me that when he was a boy herding cattle on the prairies of Benton and Warren counties, he saw many wandering bands of Indians come from the north and west to camp at Cicot's Landing and trade with Cicot and the other Indians there. Mr. Atkinson told me too of his own visits to the place where he had often seen the young Indians practicing with their bows and arrows. It was a favorite sport with the settlers who visited the camp to insert a coin in the split end of a stick and hold it up for the youngsters to shoot at, giving them the coin when they knockt it out of the stick. So skilled were they with the bow that he never knew of one of them, either boy or girl, missing a coin.

It was in this environment at Cicot's Landing that young Zachariah spent his boyhood and fromw aht is known of his life after it is safe to infer that he was a leader among the young Indians among whom he grew up. When he was 16 yearsl of age he fashioned himself a pirogue and went down the river to Vincennes to see something of the white men of his father's blood. There he pickt up the rudiments of an education and soon began making the excursions up the Wabash to barter with the Indians. His natural shrewdness and his thoro acquaintance with the Indians along the river amde him a very successful trader. Many tales have been handed down from early settlers concerning Cicot's dealing with the Indians and his narrow escapes but these are not the essential things about him.

In the fall of 1811, while Cicot was at the Landing (Independence)he received a communication from Gen Harrison at Vincennes, summoning him to come immediately to that point to act as a scout for the government of the United States, whose army was about to undertake a punitive expedition against the Indians of the upper Wabash. Cicot had always been friendly to the white men and responded at once to the call. Already the Indians of Warren County wree holding war dances and were becoming greatly excited in antipation of the great conflict which they knew was coming and Cicot knew that their anger would be vented against him as soon as they knew that he had case his lot with the whites. So when he left Cicot's Landing to answer Harrison's call he left behind him much of his live stock and other wealth. He saved only a herd of 40 ponies, which a trusted Indian drove away from the village under cover of darkness and took down the river around thru Warren county, to a place of safety.

No one knew this section of the Wabash valley like Cicot and upon him rests a very large share of the credit for the success of the Harrison expedition. He guided that army away from the river after it had reacht the vicinity of the mouth of the Vermillion and in order to prevent an ambush in the ravines or woods kept as much as possible on the open prairie about ten miles back from the Wabash on the west side. Cicot participated in the Battle of Tippecanoe and after it was over returned to Vincennes with the army, still acting as Gen. Harrison's chief scout. After the treaty of peace was signed with the Indian Cicot soon resumed his trading trips up the Wabash and re-establisht his headquarters at Cicot's Landing. In 1817 he brought up from Vincennes on rafts hewed and mortised timbers with which he constructed a large house that stood for many years; in fact, was torn down only about fifteen years ago and some of its timbers are still in existence. This house was fitted together like Solomon's temple, each piece having been hewed and fitted in Vincennes. Grass was mixt witht he clay used in filling the chinks between the logs. The house was fitted for defense if necessary, having loopholes thru which rifles could be fired and the legends say that at one time it was surrounded by a stockade.

Cicot soon regained his prestige among the Indians and traded with them successfully, recouping his fortune and finally becoming probably the wealthiest man in northern Indiana. The erection of his residence in 1817 clearly entitles him to rank as the first settle of Warren County, for it was not until five years later (1822) that the first land entries were made. When the white men began to come into this section they naturally drifted to Cicot's trading post but they found so many Indians hanging around it and so much whiskey being drunk and fighting going on that they went across the river into Fountain and there established a settlement know as Maysville, which grew into a town of considerably importance and concerning which I shall have something to say in a later article.

On Oct. 2, 1818 Cicot married the daughter of Perig, a Potawatami chief. On account of this connection Cicot received a section of land from the government which he took in Tippecanoe county and another section in Carroll county. His son, Jean Baptiste Cicot, and his daughters, Emelia and Sophia Cicot, each received a half section of land, which was located in Tippecanoe county. Later Perig, the father of Cicot's wife, was given a section of land on the Flint river in Michigan but the old man never took up this grant and at the treaty of Chicago in August 29, 1821, it was transferred to Perig's grandson, John B. Cicot, who transferred it to his father. Zachariah located the claim where the town of Independence now stands, that section being known to this day in the land records as Cicot's Reserve. In 1832 Cicot platted the town of Independence on this reservation. The town grew and thrived and for many years was an important center, there being a number of manufacturing industries located there.

Emelia Cicot, the elder daughter of the old trader, was a very bright girl and at several of the conferences which treaties were signed, acted interpreter, this fact being attested in government records in the archives at Washington. In the treaty of Jan. 21, 1832, Zachariah Cicot received from the government $950 and in the treaty made with the Indians at Chicago Sept, 26, 1833, he received $1,800 his last allowance. He was at this time wealty as riches were accounted in that day. He lived to be an old man, respected alike by the Indians and whitesw, and spent the remainder of his life at Independence. In 1832 he suffered a stroke of paralysis but recovered from that and lived until 1850, when he died and was buried in the old graveyard at Independence.

Date: 1/1/1916
Origin: Historical Sketches of the Wabash Valley
Record ID: 00001185
Type: Book
Source Archive: Williamsport-Washington Township Public Library
Date Entered: 8/10/2001
Entered By: Amber M Knipe

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