History Record View

Title: Ouiatenon
File Attachment:
Attachment Type:

The first white settlement in the State of Indiana was made at Ouiatenon on the Wabash in Tippecanoe County, near Granville, about fourteen miles up the river from Attica. This Indian town was visited by the French as early as 1688. The first detailed notice of this settlement is given in certain memoranda, found in the French archives at Paris, France, written in 1718.

In 1754 it was announced to the General Assembly of Pennsylvania that the French were settling among the Miami Indians on the Ouabashe, Ouiatenon, being mentioned as one of the points.

Colonel Crogham was in charge of the Indian department for the British and visited Ouiatenon in 1765. He found about fourteen French families living there in a fort. This, at that time, was the largest Indiana town in the United States, and is said by good authority to have been the home of 15,000 Indians.

A letter to Thomas Jefferson, dated August, 1785, gives an account of a Council of War held there by many of the Algonquin tribes. The fact is that the representatives of the English government were the cause of this meeting and at the time the English had offered a reward of ten dollars, to the Indians fo rthe scalps of white women and children, along the borders of the United States. This reward was paid by the English government until 1816, and it was the English, and not the Indians, that had called this council of war.

With this reward before them these Indians begun their depredations upon the white settlers along the Wabash, and continued them until the United States government was forced to take action to exterminate the Indians if they continued the westward march of immigration.

In 1790 General Knox then secretary of war, ordered Brigadier General Scott of Kentucky to send an expedition of mounted men, not exceeding seven hundred fifty, against the Indians in the Wabash Valley; this order was issued on the the 9th day of March, 1791. Immediately upon receiving the order Gen. Scott marched toward Ouiatenon from Kentucky. There is a story to the effect that while on this expedition Scott or some of his men encountered the Indians on Kickapoo creek near the Milligan place, opposite the city of Attica, and there, on Warren county soil, fought the Battle of Kickapoo. There is really but little doubt that some of the Indian graves on the Milligan place contain the bones of warriors who went to their death in this first historic struggle. Altho there are few persons in this vicinity that know anything of this battle it was not always so. O.A. Clark has in his possession a letter written by an aunt of his, telling of having visited that battlefield of Kickapoo, while on her honeymoon in the early '30's of the last century.

In June of 1791 Scott reached the Wea town of Ouiatenou, found about fifteen thousand Indians living there and fought a battle with them, very near the site of Granville. He defeated them and destroyed their city. The Miamis, Pottowatomies, Ouiatenons and Kickapoos took part in the defense of the Ouiatenon.

Scott returned to Kentucky and immediately following Brigadier General Wilkinson started on the first day of August, 1791 with an expedition against the Indians in the Wabash Valley. He first captured the Indian town of Ke-ne-pa-com-a-qua on the Eel river, and destroyed the town; then took up his march toward Ouiatenon on the 7th day of August, 1791. He had a few skirmishes with the remaining Kickapoos and Pottawattomies and reached Ouiatenon on the 11th day of August, 1791, but found that General Scott had destroyed the town in June.

After the destruction of Ouiatenon the remaining warriors, old men, women and children had returned to the site of the city and had put our between 400 and 500 acres of corn on the Wea Plains, and Wilkinson found it in a high state of cultivation, with splendid gardens, and vegetables growing. The corn was in the roasting-ear, and was being gathered for food the coming winter. Gen Wilkinson wantonly destroyed their fields of corn, their gardens, and their tents, and left them without food, without homes, and without clothing, and returned to Ft. Washington.

The following year, 1792, General Hamtramck led an expedition of Indiana volunteers and militia men from Vincennes to attack the non-aggressive Indians and their villages on the north banks of the Big Vermillion river (on now that Shelby farm) near where the Big Vermillion empties into the Wabash.

After the raid of Scott in the previous June and Wilkinson in the previous August, the Potawatomies and Kickapoos were very much weakened, and on account of the destruction of their food the year previous many of them had died, but the remnants of the Potawattomie and Kickapoos tribe were camping here. This was their favorite hunting ground for the reason that the Big Vermillion emptied into the Wabash there, and about a mile up the Vermillion river from the Wabash ( about where the covered wagon bridge at Eugene now stands) there were rapids in the river and the fish going up stream could not easily get over these rapids, so there they could easily catch fish. The adjoining terrace lands were filled with wild strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, wild plums, blackhaws, redhaws, wild crabapples and grapevines bearing every kind of grape that grows along the Wabash. This place was known by all the Indians far and near as "the Great Plum Patch."

This expedition of brave Hoosiers when it came near the Indian camping divided into two columns. One column marched up the Vermillion river, crossed it and was to attack the Indians from the north, while the main army should come directly up and acrossthe Vermillion river and attack them from the south side.

The warriors and braves were off on a hunting expedition and there were none to molest or make afraid this army of gallant soldiers, except the broken-down old men, women and children. They were unmercifully slaughtered in the coldest of cold blood; there were so many of them killed that this brave army, on the return are said to boasted that they crossed the Vermillino river on the bodies of dead women and children, and the water was red with their blood. It was as wanton a massacre as any ever committed by the most uncivilized savages.

When the braves returned and found their tents destroyed, their homes laid waste, their aged men, their women and their children killed, they swore vengance on the white race.

Is it any wonder then that the Indian tribes of this locality greeted Tecumseh with open arms and gave him and his tribe of Shawnees a home and a hunting ground among them, and that they joined and became a part of Tecumseh's Confederacy.

These Indians of this region took part in the Battle of Fallen Timbers in Ohio, and the Battle of Tippecanoe, Nov. 7th, 1911.

The Shawnee Indians had their headquarters at The Prophet's Town only about eight years; they had become a tribe of tramp Indians; their hunting grounds and homes, when the white men first met them, were in Canada and along the borders of Lake Huron. From there they migrated southward and lived among the southern tribes in Florida, on the banks of the Swanee river, which was named for them, and then in their wanderings came back to Ohio.

Tecumseh was a triplet; The Prophet was one of the three children. These children were born near Springfield in the State of Ohio, and they were the youngest of the family. Their brothers and sisters were born in the sunny southland. In their wanderings they had became acquainted with the Indians of the west, with the Indians of the north, and with the Indians of the south, and it was the hope of Tecumseh to form a confederation of all the Indians in the North American continent for the welfare of the Indians, both defensive and offensive.

He stated to General Harrison that he refused to observe the treaties that had been made with the Indians up to that time on the theory that all the land belonged to the Indians; that no one Indian, by right of place or title, chief, prophet, or close connection with man or Manitou (Great Spirit) had the right to sign and pass away the title of any other Indian, as every Indian could only pass title by signature for his proportional part, divided per capita among all of them, this, and no more; and that in their treaties the whites had only secured title of the chiefs. This argument was a surprise to Harrison and he was both astonished and offended by it. It broke up the council because it had taken him unprepared and he was not able to answer; in fact, he never made an effort to answer.

The next day he renewed the council, called upon his servant to bring chairs for himself and Chief Tecumseh. This council was held beneath the spreading branches of a magnificent elm at the City of Vincennes. He seated himself inthe chair brought to him and said,"Thank you for your kindness, and your well meaning offer, but the sun is my father, the earth is my mother, and I shall recline upon her bosom."

Richard Mentor Johnson of Kentucky had raised a regiment of Kentucky volunteer riflemen for the War of 1812 and was placed in charge of the defense of the Canadian frontier. The defense of this frontier was very important to the United States. He and his riflemen took an active part in the Battle of the Thames on October 1813, and in this battle it was at the hand of Richard Mentor Johnson of Kentucky that Tecumseh is supposed to have been killed. In March, 1837, Mr. Johnson was elected by the United States Senate vice-president of the United States and served in that capacity for four years under Van Buren's administration.

Date: 1/1/1916
Origin: Historical Sketches of the Wabash Valley
Author: J. Wesley Whicker
Record ID: 00001190
Type: Book
Source Archive: Williamsport-Washington Township Public Library
Date Entered: 8/10/2001
Entered By: Amber M Knipe

Information in this record is provided for personal research purposes only and may not be reproduced for publication. If you have questions about copyright issues contact the archive source listed above.