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Title: Sheshepah or "Little Duck"
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We quite often hear Tecumseh spoken of as the most influential chief of the Indians who lived in this locality. Tecumseh had his headquarters at The Prophet's Town, at the mouth of the Tippecanoe River only about eight years and was there but very little during that time.

He did not take part in the battle of Tippecanoe and outside his councils with Harrison at Vincennes in the interest of all the Indians of North America he did but very little in his life in which this immediate locality would have been interested. Sheshepah, who was a Potawatamies and Kickapoos for many long years, took a far more active hand in Indian affairs in the vicinity of Fountain, Warren, Parke, Vermillion, Tippecanoe, and adjoining counties, than any local chief who at any time lived in this locality.

Sheshepah, if the legends be true, was born in Warren county, across the river from Attica near Kickapoo falls.

His mother was a Kickapoo squaw, his father a Potawatami chief. It has been stated that his father had two squaws, one a Potawatami and one a Kickapoo, and Sheshepah was the son of the latter. Sheshepa's Kickapoo mother was the daughter of the chief of the Kickapoos, and on account of his royal lineage Sheshepah inherited the chieftainship of the Kickapoo from his mother and of the Potawatami from his father.

Sheshepah was a well built, straight, short, heavy-set Indian, about five feet four inches high, very broad across the shoulders, and as active and athletic as a cat.

With his warriors, he took part in St. Claire's defeat; and again his warriors, with himself commanding, took part in the Battle of the Fallen Timbers, on the 2oth day of August, 1794, at the Rapids on the Maumee river, the state of Ohio, not far from Defiance, and in that battle he was again facing Scott, Wilkinson, and Ham tramck.

He had led his band of Potawatamies and Kickapoos to the aid of the Miamis when Scott destroyed Quiatenon in June, 1791. He had again answered to the call of the Wea Indians and faced Wilkinson in August of the same year, and it was the aged warriors, the women and the children of his tribe that Hamtramck had killed at the mouth of the Vermillion river in 1792, and he and his warriors took an active part in the Battle of Tippecanoe. But after this battle Sheshepah signed a treaty of peace with the American authorities, after which time he was faithful and trustworthy, and finally became a reliable friend of the white people. He was a splended commander, brave in battle, wise in council and true to his obligations. He signed this treaty at Ft. Harrison, June 4, 1816.

He had a splended son, of whom he was extremely fond. At the age of seventeen this boy, who was very fond of hunting, fell about fifty feet from a tree while hunting bear, near where the Collett Home for the Aged stands, south of Cayuga, in Vermillion county, and was killed.

Sheshepah lived in peace for many years with the whites; his hair became as white as snow, he was still in command of his Indian tribe and respected and loved by them and the whites. At the age of one hundred ten he was murdered in a foul manner by a lazy, vicious, renegade Indian named Nankuah, at the Nebeker Springs on the George Nebeker farm near Covington, in Fountain county.

There is a little story told of Sheshepah that it might be well to add: A white man was cultivating a tract of land near the mouth of the Vermillion river, which belonged to the Indians, right near the ford of the Vermillion. The Indians forded the river there and as the corn was in the roasting ears and squashes for rental. The settler followed them up and on finding some squashes and roasting ears in the folds of Sheshepah's blanket undertook to castigate the old chief with a cane. Sheshepah did not shrink worth a cent but dropping the blanket and the corn turned on the settler and drove him out of the field with a stick.

The settler went to Blair and Coleman, two of Harrison's men who had been in the Battle of Tippecanoe, and asked them to call out the rangers and the militia to prevent the Indians from destroying his his property; they refused to call out the militia and notified them to assemble at the house of one of the pioneers the next morning. They did so and commenced shooting at the mark. Sheshepah and his Indians had camped for the night near the Buffalo springs on the farm of the late Worth Porter, and Blair announced to the Indians and their chief the matters to be settled. He and Coleman were chosen as arbitrators; they repaired to the plum thicket with an old law book, an almanac and well-worn testament as authority and reference. Under the spreading branches of the plum thicket they held a sham court, with much chattering and gibbering, like an Indian council, and finally returned with the verdict that the two litigants settle the whole matter by a fist fight. The decision was no sooner announced than Sheshepah, the little old Indian chief, threw off his blanket and his belt and made ready for the fight. The settler "stood not upon the order of going, but went." He ran as fast as he could, mounted his pony and was soon out of sight- and this was Sheshepah's last encounter with the white men.

Date: 1/1/1916
Origin: Historical Sketches of the Wabash Valley
Record ID: 00001187
Type: Book
Source Archive: Williamsport-Washington Township Public Library
Date Entered: 8/10/2001
Entered By: Amber M Knipe

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