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Title: Cicott-A Remarkable Character
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Weston A. Goodspeed, a writer of United States and state histories, obtained the following account of this strange French Canadian, from Pioneer David Moffit:

"Zachariah Cicott, a French Canadian, at the age of about sixteen years came down the Wabash to Vincennes, where he lived for a number of years and then began the business of conveying boats or pirogues loaded with fancy articles and whisky up the river to trade with Indians for their furs. Nothing is known of these voyages except what he himself told, and as the information comes from various mouths and recollections, it is possible that, historically, it should be carefully weighed and taken with some degree of allowance.

"If Cicott's statements were correct, he came to trade with the Pottawatomies and Kickapoos at Independence, Warren county, as early as 1802. So profitable became his trade, especially when he succeeded in getting the Indians under the influence of liquor, that he became what was then known as a very wealthy man. Interesting stories, without limit in number, could be told regarding these trading voyages. Many times Cicott's life was in extreme danger, but he was watchful and brave, and managed to secure the confindence of some of the Indians, who speedily informed him of all plots involving danger to his person or interests. Mr. Cicott was a swarthy man of average size, was quick, very wiry and very strong for his weight, and possessed a consideralbe skill and bravery and an iron constitution. He married a squaw of the Pottawatomie tribe, by whom he had two childrem. They were John Battiece and Sophia. At Independence, there were two or more natural springs of excellent water, which circumstance had caused that point to become a great place for the Indians to encamp. Cicott, in nearly all of his voyages, found it profitable to stop there to trade, although he frequently went up to Hackberry island or stopped to trade with the Kickapoos at the mouth of Kickapoo creek, there being quite a large encampment of the tribe there. He erected a rude building, probably before the war of 1812, and usually occupied it while trading. On one occasion, just before the war of 1812 broke out, he found the Indians so savage and threatening that he thought prudent not to unload his liquor from the pirogue, but moored close to the bank, where he dealt out the liquid for the valuable furs which were handed him from the bank. Finding that his liquor was sure to be consumed before all the furs had been secured, he instructed his companion to cautiously pour water into one end of the barrel, while he dealt out the mixture from the other end. In this shrewd way he got all their furs and had considerable liquor left. But the Indians became clamorous and violent and demanded more whisky, and were refused because they had no more furs and wree without money. One savage looking fellow, half frenzied with intoxication, drew a huge knife and shouted that he must have more whisky or he would murder the trader, and made preparations to put his threat into execution; but Cicott also drew his knife and swore that the Indian could have no more unless he wree the better man. A collision seemed inevitable. Several hundred Indians were present, swarming like maddened bees on the bank, and most of them were drunk, and all were more or less infuriated at the loss of their furs and ready to wreak vengeance on the trader, who was careful to keep on his pirogue and out of their reach. The old chief Parish came forward and bought the remainder of the whisky and, taking the barrel on his shoulders, carried it to the top of the bluff, knocked in the head, and told the Indians who crowded around to help themselves, which they quickly did. Cicott saw this was his opportunity to escape, and quickly and quietly pulled out into the middle of the stream and began rapidly rowing down the river, his departure being greatly favored by the approach of darkness. About a mile down he stopped under the shade of the opposite shore to listen. He could distinctly hear the savage revelry behind him, and finally heard his own name shouted from scores of throats, 'Se-e-cott, Se-e-cott.' He did not return, but kept going on down the river.

"A short time before the war of 1812, Cicott received a communication from Gen. William Henry Harrison at Vincennes, directing him to go immediately to that point and prepare to become a scout for the governement of the United States, whose army was about to march on the Indians. The trader had noticed that the Indians of Warren county were in a state of great excitement, and soon became aware that some great disturbance was on foot, as they were holding war and scalp dances and were arming themselves, and ornamenting their faces with red and black paints. The above note was no sooner received by Cicott than he began making hurried preparations for his departure. Secretly, he packed everything of value that he could possibly take in pirogues, then, unknown, to the Indians, left Independence at night, pulling rapidly down the Wabash. His confidential Indian was left on shore to drive about forty ponies around through Warren county on the way down to a place of safety. This the faithful fellow succeeded in doing, though all the cattle, sheep and hogs were killed. Upon his arrival at Vincennes, Cicott was selected as a scout for the army, which soon afterward passed northward to invade the Indian country. The plan of the Indians was to bring on an encounter in the ravines and timber, where their mode of warfare would be greatly favored, one of the places being on Big Pine creek between eight and ten miles from its mouth; but Harrison was too prudent and experienced to be caught in that manner, and in his march sought the open country, but kept near the timber, occasionally passing through detached portions of the woodlands. His army entered the county in the southwestern part of Mound township, thence passing northeastward through Kent about a mile east of State Line City, thence on through Steuben township and southeastern Jordan, and so on in a diagonal line through the center of Liberty township, crossing the Big Pine creek about a mile and a half northeast of Carbondale, at a place known as 'Army Ford,' thence through Adams and Medina townships and into northern Tippecanoe county, where, on November 7, 1811, the Indians were subdued in the bloody and ever memorable battle of Tippecanoe. Judge Isaac Naylor, Cicott and a number of others who afterwards lived in this county, were with this army on its march and at the battle, and afterward, when the county was settling up, went over the route, or trail, of the army and identified its camping places and related many incidents connected with the same. The army encamped in Warren county first in Kent township, in a detached grove, where two or three men died and were buried. Later the spot was known as Gopher Hill cemetery. Much of the route of the army lay along an old Indian trail, and as it was afterward traveled considerably, it was worn deep and could be easily traced in the county for about a dozen miles. In the dooryard of G. H. Lucas, a mile east from State Line City, the trail in 1880 was at least a foot deep, and five to six yards wide. The army also camped on the east bank of Big Pine creek immediately after crossing the stream. A few traces of this old military trail were yet visible when the country was first settled.

"After the termination of war, Cicott in a few years resumed his trade with the scattering tribes of Indians up and down the Wabash. He erected a large log house just east of Independence, on a reservation that had been granted by the government to him. This was located on sections 13, 14, 23, and 24, township 24, range 7 west. There Cicott lived and finally, in 1850, died, aged over eighty years, and was buried in the cemetery at Independence, near the spot made so historic by his own energy and daring deeds."

[Page 206-208.]

Date: 1/1/1913
Origin: Past and Present of Fountain and Warren Counties Indiana
Author: Thomas A. Clifton
Record ID: 00001552
Type: Book
Source Archive: Williamsport-Washington Township Public Library
Date Entered: 8/10/2001
Collection: Williamsport-Washington Township Public Library
Entered By: Leslie J. Rice

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