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• tlCfje Hanb of ^otatoatomt 

Bp Clmore 35arte / 

Member Indiana Historical Society 


Copyrighted, 1919 

NOV KJ 1^13 


(C)Ci.A5 3 6:r.iH 

^ahlt of Contents! 

Preface 5 

A Brief Retrospect 7 

The ^otawatomi 11 

Shawnee Prophets and British Agents ... 21 

Potawatomi Banditti 38 

The Real Savage 45 

Topenebee, the Last Chief 52 

Paths of the Red Man 61 

The Old Chicago Road 72 

A Tavern of the Old Days 81 

The Grand Prairie 89 

Maskotia, the Place of the Fire 95 

Groves and Plains 101 

The First Big Cattle-Man North of the 

Wabash 104 

Bibliography 113 


mHIS book is composed in large part from 
sketches first appearing in the Indiana 


Magazine of History. We desire to 
acknowledge a debt of gratitude to Prof. Logan 
Esarey, of Indiana University, for his many 
words of encouragement, and desire also to ex- 
press our appreciation of the services of Mr. Ray 
Jones, County Recorder of Benton County, who 
assisted us in many ways. These articles have 
been grouped for preservation, and for private 
circulation among friends. The data given are 
all reliable, and the bibliography appears on the 

last pages. 

E. B. 


BHE memories of th© early prairies, filled 
with vast stretches of waving grasses, 
made beautiful by an endless profu- 
sion of wild flowers, and dotted here and 
there with pleasant groves, are ineffaceable. 
For the boy who, barefooted and care-free, 
ranged over these plains in search of adven- 
ture, they always possessed an inexpressible 
charm and attraction. These grassy savannas 
have now passed away forever. Glorious as they 
were, a greater marvel has been wrought by the 
untiring hand of man. Where the wild flowers 
bloomed, great fields of grain ripen, and vast 
gardens of wheat and com, interspersed with 
beautiful towns and villages, greet the eye of the 
traveler. "The prairies of Illinois and Indiana 
were bom of water and preserved by fire for the 
children of civilized men, who have come and 
taken possession of them." 

In the last half of the eighteenth century, great 
herds of buffalo grazed here, attracting thither 
the wandering bands of the Potawatomi, who 
came from the lakes of the north. Gradually these 
hardy warriors drove back the Miami to the 


shores of the Wabash, and took possession of all 
that vast plain, extending east of the Illinois 
river and north of the Wabash into the present 
confines of the state of Michigan, Their squaws 
cultivated some corn but the savage bands lived 
mostly on the fruits of the chase. Their hunting 
trails extended from grove to grove and from 
lake to river. 

Indian tradition tells us that about the year 
1790, the herds of bison disappeared. From that 
time forward the power of the tribes was on the 
wane. The encroachment of the paleface and the 
curtailment of the supply of game, marked the be- 
ginning of the savage decline. 

The constant complaint of the tribes to General 
William Henry Harrison, the first military gover- 
nor at Vincennes, was the lack of game and pelt- 

The Potawatomi hastened their downfall by 
accepting the leadership and guidance of the Brit- 
ish agents at Maiden, Canada, who only espoused 
their cause in order to reap the profits of the fur 
trade. These agents supplied their savage min- 
ions with rum and rifles, encouraged the Indian 
raids on the white settlements for the purpose 
of plunder and rapine, and were instrumental in 
inducing the Potawatomi to join the hopeless con- 
federacy of Tecumseh and the Prophet, who vain- 
ly sought to unite the scattered bands and stem 
the tide of white immigration. As a result of this 
fatal policy the hunters and riflemen from south- 


ern Indiana and Kentucky who followed General 
Harrison to Tippecanoe, were all deadly enemies 
of the Potawatomi. One of the ghastly sights of 
that sanguinary struggle, was the scalping by the 
white men of the Indian slain, and the division 
of the scalps among the soldiers after they had 
been cut into strips. These bloody trophies were 
carried back to the settlements along the Ohio 
and the Wabash to satisfy the hatred of those 
who had lost women and children by fire and 
tomahawk. With the death of Tecumseh at the 
battle of the Thames and the termination of Brit- 
ish influence in the west, the Potawatomi soon 
surrendered what little dominion was left them, 
ceded all their lands away by treaty, and in 1838, 
were removed to beyond the Mississippi river. 
Their final expulsion from the old hunting grounds 
occurred under the direction of Colonel Abel C. 
Pepper and General John Tipton, the latter a 
hero of the battle of Tippecanoe and later appoint- 
ed as Indian commissioner. At that time the 
remnants of the scattered bands from north of the 
Wabash amounted to only one thousand souls of 
all ages and sexes. The party under military es- 
cort passed eight or nine miles west of the city of 
Lafayette, probably over the level land east of 
the present site of Otterbein. 

In their day, however, the Potawatomi were 
the undoubted lords of the plain, following their 
long trails in single file over the great prairies, 
and camping with their dogs, women and children 


in the pleasant groves and along the many 
streams. They were savages, and have left no en- 
during temple or lofty fane behind them, but 
their names still cling to many streams, groves 
and towns, and a few facts gleaned from their 
history can not fail to be of interest to us, who in- 
herit their ancient patrimony. 


a HE grand prairies west of the Wabash, com- 
prising all of what is now Benton county, 
Indiana, and the greater part of Warren, 
were really a part of those vast savannas of wild 
grass-land, interspersed with black-rush sloughs, 
willow-lined creeks, and pleasant groves of mixed 
timber, which extended as far west as the Illinois 
River, and which, up to about the year 1790 were 
grazed by herds of the American bison, or buffalo. 
A strange account is given by Mr. N. Matson, as 
to the final disappearance of the buffalo from the 
prairies east of the Mississippi, said account hav- 
ing been related to him by the chief, Shaubena, 
a prominent Potawatomi of Illinois, who fought 
with the white settlers in the Black Hawk war. 
According to Shaubena, "a big snow, about five 
feet deep, fell, and froze so hard on the top that 
the people walked on it, causing the buffalo to 
perish of starvation. Next spring a few buffalo, 
poor and haggard in appearance, were seen going 
westward, and as they approached the carcasses 
of dead ones, which were lying here and there 
upon the prairie, they would stop, commence paw- 


ingr and lowing, and then start off again in a lope 
for the west. Forty years ago (i. e., forty years 
prior to 1878), buffalo bones were found in large 
quantities on the prairies; in .some places, many 
acres were covered with them, showing where a 
large herd had perished, and their trails leading 
to and from watering places were plainly to be 
seen." Shaubena further related that all trading 
in buffalo robes ceased after the year 1790, but 
that in his youth he had engaged in many a buf- 
falo hunt with other members of his tribe. Early 
settlers of Indiana and Illinois were familiar 
with great depressions and hollows in the 
prairies, known as buffalo wallows, and these 
were the last traces discernible of the giant herds. 

Notwithstanding the departure of the buffalo, 
these great plains still held forth allurement for 
savage huntsmen. The pleasant groves of the 
prairies were ofttimes situated on the margin of 
sparkling streams, or were blessed with springs 
of cool water; wild berries and nuts abounded in 
the wild woods; the rich alluvium of sunny slopes 
yielded a bountiful harvest of yellow maize; and 
the wilderness of grass, the banks of the creeks 
and the groves themselves were threaded with 
numberless paths made by the feet of the timid 
deer. In fall and spring time great flocks of Can- 
adian geese and wild ducks filled every pond and 
depression, wild turkeys were abundant, and the 
great flights of wild pigeons were at times so 
thick as partly to obscure the sun. 


The beauty and grandeur of these great level 
stretches of prairie, studded with groves, were 
incomparable. Standing on the hills to the west 
of Parish's grove, in Benton county, one could 
not only view the whole of the slope that extended 
for miles to the south and west, but could look 
over into the plains of the Illinois. To the north 
and east lay Hickory grove, with a small lake to 
the south of it ; to the north and west the prairies 
again, and the slopes of Blue Kidge, twelve miles 
away, so named because the dews of the morning 
made the prairies appear like a sea of blue. In 
the autumn, a tall jointed grass, the giant blue 
stem, grew so high that horsemen could tie the 
tops together above their heads, and this grass 
filled the whole plain as far as the eye could see. 

This was the land of the Potawatomi, the "Na- 
tion of Fire," or "The People of the Place of the 

Where did they come from? The Jesuit Rela- 
tion says from the western shores of Lake Huron, 
and the Jesuit Fathers knew more about the Al- 
gonquin tribes of Canada and the v/est than all 
others. All accounts confirm that they were of 
the same family as the Chippewa and Ottawa. 
They seem to have been driven by some terrify- 
ing force up around the head of Lake Huron and 
Lake Michigan; thence to the west side of Lake 
Michigan and down to the south. In 1670 it is 
known that a portion of them were on the islands 
in the mouth of Green Bay. They were then mov- 


ing southward, probably impelled by the fierce 
fightinj? Sioux, whom Colonel Roosevelt so appro- 
priately named as the "horse Indians" of the 
west. At the close of the seventeenth century 
they were on the Milwaukee river, in the vicinity 
of Chicajro, and on the St. Joseph river, in south- 
em Michigan. They had gone entirely around 
the western and southern sides of Lake Michigan 
and back in the direction of their original habita- 

According to Hiram W. Beckwith, the Pota- 
watomi were the most populous tribe between 
the lakes and the Ohio, the Wabash and the Mis- 
sissippi. They claimed a part of south-eastern 
Wisconsin by long occupation. In the middle of 
the eighteenth centurj' they entered into a con- 
federacy with the Kickapoos and the Sacs and 
Foxes, with the avowed purpose of exterminating 
the surviving remnants of the old Illinois tribe. 
This done, they divided the conquered domain be- 
tween the confederates, the Kickapoos taking the 
territory along the Vermillion river and on the 
western side of the lower Wabash; the Potawato- 
mi the lands in eastern and northern Illinois and 
northwestern Indiana, north of the Wabash River, 
while the Sacs and Foxes went further to the 

After the treaty of Greenville, Ohio, in 1795, 
between General Wayne and the Indians, the Pot- 
awatomi rapidly absorbed the ancient domain of 
the Miami in northern Indiana, swiftly pressing 


were the price paid for the sale of others' lands, 
rather than their own." 

On September 30th, 1809, General William 
Henry Harrison, then the military Governor of 
Indiana Territory, negotiated a treaty with the 
Potawatomi, the Miami, the Delawares and other 
tribes, at the old frontier fort established by Mad 
Anthony Wayne, known to us as Ft. Wayne, 
whereby the United States Government acquired 
possession and title to about 2,900,000 acres of 
land on the lower Wabash, thereafter to be known 
as the New Purchase. This land extended from 
Big Raccoon Creek, in Parke County, Indiana, to 
the south. And as the consummation of that 
treaty and the acquisition of so much valuable 
land by the government, was the principal and 
immediate cause which aroused the wrath of Te- 
cumseh, who maintained that all the savage tribes 
owned the land as tenants in common, and that 
there could be no alienation of any part of it with- 
out the common assent of all, and was also one 
of the causes which led up to the great controver- 
sy between General Harrison and that chieftain 
and the stirring events that followed, including 
the Battle of Tippecanoe, and as the charge was 
subsequently made by Tecumseh that the sale of 
this area was brought about by the threats^ of 
Winnemac, a famous Pot:iv.'atomi chief of that 
day, it may rightfully be said to be the most im- 
portant Indian treaty ever negotiated in the west, 
outside of General Wayne's treaty at Greenville, 
under the administration of George Washington. 


General Harrison made the trip through the 
wilderness to Fort Wayne on horse-back, accom- 
panied by Joseph Barron, a famous Indian inter- 
preter and guide ; Peter Jones, his personal secre- 
tary; a personal servant; a Frenchman for a 
guide, and two Delaware Indians. He arrived at 
the Fort on the fifteenth of September, and over 
two weeks were consumed in parleying and nego- 

On the morning of the 30th of September, the 
very day the treaty was signed, it was thought 
by all the officers and gentlemen present that the 
mission of the governor was fruitless. The Mia- 
mi chiefs, especially those from the neighborhood 
of the Mississinewa river, had refused to make 
any concession or enter into any definite bargain. 
The Miami laid claim to all the soil watered by 
the Wabash, and regarded the Potawatomi, who 
were present and clamoring for presents, money 
and goods, as mere interlopers and trespassers on 
their domain. The full extent of the Miami re- 
sentment was not fully understood by General 
Harrison, but he was a diplomat of great tact 
and judgment and made a resolve to fathom the 
obstinacy of the Mississinewa sachems. 

Accordingly, he took with him his interpreter, 
Joseph Barron, a man in whom he had the utmost 
confidence and who understood the Miami lang- 
uage well, and visited their camps. He was receiv- 
ed well and told them that he came, not as the 
representative of the president, but as an old 


friend, with whom they had been many years ac- 
quainted. That he plainly saw that there was 
something in their hearts which was not consist- 
ent with the attachment they ought to bear to 
their great father, and that he was afraid they 
had listened to bad birds. That he had come to 
them for the purpose of hearing every cause of 
complaint against the United States, and he would 
not leave them until they had laid open everything 
that oppressed their hearts. He knew that they 
could have no solid objection to the proposed 
treaty, for they were all men of sense and reflec- 
tion, and all knew that they would be benefited 
by it. Calling then, upon the principal chief of 
the Eel river tribe, who served under him in Gen- 
eral Wayne's army, he demanded to know what 
his objections to the treaty were. In reply, the 
chief drew forth a copy of the treaty of Grouse- 
land (a former treaty made by Harrison), and 
said: "Father, here are your words. In this pa- 
per you have promised that you would consider 
the Miamis as the owners of the land on the Wa- 
bash. Why, then, are you about to purchase it 
from others?" 

The governor immediately perceived that the 
Miami were burning with an intense and bitter 
hatred of the Potawatomi. He was quick-witted 
and keen enough when dealing with savages, and 
no one ever understood their nature better. He at 
once "assured them that it was not his intention 
to purchase the land from the other tribes. That 
he had always said, and was ready now to confess 


that the land belonged to the Miamis, and to no 
other tribe. That if the other tribes had been in- 
vited to the treaty, it was at their particular re- 
quest (the Miamis). The Potawatomis had in- 
deed taken higher ground that either the governor 
or the Miamis expected. They claimed an equal 
right to the lands in question with the Miamis, 
but what of this? Their claiming it gave them 
no right, and it was not the intention of the gov- 
ernor to put anything in the treaty which w(5uld 
in the least alter their claim to their lands on the 
Wabash, as established by the treaty of Grouse- 
land, unless they chose to satisfy the Delawares 
with respect to their claim to the country watered 
by the White river. That even the whole compen- 
sation proposed to be given for the lands, would 
be given to the Miamis if they insisted upon it, 
but that they knew the offense which this would 
give to the other tribes, and that it was always 
the governor's intention so to draw the treaty that 
the Potawatomis and Delawares would be consid- 
ered as participating in the advantages of the 
treaty as allies of the Miamis, not as having any 
right to the lands." 

The governor's resourcefulness saved the day. 
There was an instant change of sentiment and a 
brightening of the dark faces. The claim of the 
Miamis acknowledged, their savage pride appeas- 
ed, and their title to the land verified, they were 
ready for the treaty. Pucan, the chief, informed 
the governor that he might retire to the fort, and 
that they would shortly wait upon him with good 


news. The treaty was immediately drafted, and 
on the same day signed and sealed by the heads- 
men and chiefs without further dissent. 

No story could better illustrate the hostility of 
these savages toward one another, and the childish 
petulancy and jealousy of the savage mind. 



r|HE characteristics of the Potawatomi, who 
have left behind them so many names in 
northern Indiana and eastern Illinois, may 

be described as follows : They seem to have lived 
for the most part in separate, roving bands, 
which separated or divided "according to the 
abundance or scarcity of game, or the emergencies 
of war." They loved the remoteness and seclusion 
of the great prairies, from which they emerged 
at frequent intervals in Tecumseh's day to make 
raids on the white settlements in southern Indiana 
and in Illinois, burning the cabin of the settler, 
sometimes tomahawking his family, and stealing 
his stock. They were inveterate horse-thieves. 
Riding for long distances across plain and prairie, 
they suddenly swooped down on some isolated 
frontier cabin, perhaps murdering its helpless and 
defenseless inmates, taking away a child or a 
young girl, killing cattle or riding away the horses 
and disappearing again in the wilderness as sud- 
denly as they emerged from it. These parties of 
marauders generally consisted of from four or 


five, to twenty. They oft'-times struck the white 
settlements as far south as Kentucky, and even 
penetrated as far west as the outposts on the Mis- 
souri river. Their retreat after attack was made 
with the swiftness of the wind. Pursuit, if not 
made immediately, was futile. Traveling day and 
night, the murderous bands were lost in the great 
prairies and the wildernesses of the north, and the 
Prophet was a sure protector. The savage chief, 
Turkey Foot, for whom two groves were named 
in Benton and Newton counties, Indiana, stealing 
horses in far away Missouri, murdered three or 
four of his pursuers and made good his escape to 
the great plains and swamps between the Wabash 
and lake Michigan. He was never taken. 

For three or four years prior to the Battle of 
Tippecanoe the settlers in southern Indiana and 
Illinois, were terribly harassed by these predatory 
expeditions of the Potawatomi, and the Kickapoos 
to the south. Both tribes seemed to be seized by 
a mad frenzy for plunder and rapine, which often 
led to the foulest murders. Two sinister influences 
were at work on the savage mind. One proceeded 
from the presence of the famous Shawnee broth- 
ers, Tecumseh and the Prophet, at Prophet's 
town on the Wabash; the other from the prox- 
imity of the British agents and traders at Maiden, 

First, as to the Shawnee brothers. It has been 
said that whole nations are at times moved with 
a sort of religious fervor or frenzy which ex- 


tends to all ranks and stations. During these per- 
iods, strange mental phenomena are at times ap- 
parent, and the whole complexion of affairs seems 
to undergo a rapid and sometimes radical change. 
Such a movement occurred among the Indian 
tribes of Ohio and those along the Wabash about 
the beginning of the year 1806. At this time a 
part of the scattered and broken remnants of the 
Shawnee tribe had been gathering together under 
the Prophet and Tecumseh at Greenville, Ohio. 
In November of the year before the Prophet had 
"assembled a considerable number of Shawmees, 
Wyandots, Ottawas and Senecas, at Wapakoneta, 
on the Auglaize river, when he unfolded to them 
the new character with which he was clothed, and 
made his first public effort in that career of re- 
ligious imposition, which in a few years was felt 
by the remotest tribes of the upper lakes, and on 
the broad plains which stretch beyond the Missis- 
sippi." The appearance of the Prophet was not 
only highly dramatic but extremely well timed. 
The savage mind was filled with gloomy forebod- 
ings. The ravages of "fire-water," the intermix- 
ture of the races, the trespassing of the white 
settlers on the Indian domain, and the rapid dis- 
appearance of many of the old hunting grounds, 
all betokened a sad destiny for the red man. Nat- 
urally superstitious, he was prepared for the ad- 
vent of some divine agency to help him in his dis- 
tress. No one understood this better than the 
Prophet. He may have been the dupe of his own 
imposture, but imposters are generally formid- 


able; He was no longer Laulewasikaw, but Tensk- 
watawa, "the Open Door," "He affected great 
sanctity; did not engage in the secular duties of 
war or hunting; was seldom in public; devoted 
most of his time to fasting, the interpretation of 
dreams, and offering sacrifices to spiritual pow- 
ers; pretended to see into futurity and to foretell 
events, and announced himself to be tJie mouth- 
piece of God." 

The first assemblage at Wapakoneta was later 
followed by a series of pilgrimages to Greenville, 
which shortly spread alarm among the white set- 
tlers. Hundreds of savages flocked around the 
new seer from the lakes and rivers of the north- 
west, and even from beyond the Mississippi. In 
May of 1807, great numbers passed and repassed 
through Fort Wayne. To all these gatherings the 
Prophet preached the new propaganda. He de- 
nounced drunkenness, and said that he had gone 
up into the clouds and had seen the abode of the 
devil; that there he saw all the drunkards, and 
that flames of fire continually issued from their 
mouths, and that all who used liquor in this world 
would suffer eternal torment in the next; he ad- 
vocated a return to pristine habits and customs, 
counseling the tribes "to throw away their flints 
and steels and resort to their original mode of ob- 
taining fire by percussion. He denounced the 
woolen stuffs as not equal to skin for clothing; 
he commended the use of the bow and arrow. As 
to intermarriage between the races, all this was 
prohibited. The two races were distinct and must 


remain so. Neither could there be any separate 
or individual ownership of any of the Indian 
lands; these were the common heritage of all. 
The weak, aged and infirm were to be cherished 
and protected ; parental authority was to be obey- 
ed. In conclusion, he never failed to proclaim that 
the Great Spirit had gifted him with the divine 
power to "cure all diseases, and to arrest the 
hand of death, in sickness or on the battlefield." 

The fame of the Prophet soon aroused the jeal- 
ousy of the neighboring chiefs and medicine men. 
They saw their power dwindling away and their 
authority diminishing. They took steps to check 
the advancing tide of fanaticism, but were at once 
adroitly met by the introduction of an inquisition 
into witch-craft, which had been almost universal- 
ly believed in by the tribes, but against which 
the Prophet now hurled the most direful anathe- 
mas. He declared that any one who dealt in magic 
or "medicine juggleries," should never taste of 
future happiness, and must be instantly put to 
death. His deluded and awe-stricken followers 
promptly began a systematic searching out and 
persecution of "witches," and all under his per- 
sonal direction. The finger of the seer often 
pointed at a prominent warrior or chieftain, or 
some member of their household. The Prophet's 
mere denunciation was proof enough. The vic- 
tim went to the torture of death by fire, or some 
other fate equally revolting. Among the Dela- 
wares, especially, the most shocking cruelty en- 
sued, and finally these things came to the ears of 


Governor Harrison at Vincennes. He immediate- 
ly sent a "speech" by special messenger to the 
headsmen and chiefs of the Delaware tribe, be- 
seeching them to cast aside all fallacious doc- 
trines, to denounce the Prophet and to drive him 
out of their midst. In the course of this "speech" 
he said: "Demand of him some proofs, at least, 
of his being the messenger of the Deity. If God 
has really employed him. He has doubtless author- 
ized him to perform miracles that he may be 
known and received as a prophet. If he is really 
a prophet, ask him to cause the sun to stand still, 
the moon to alter its course, the rivers to cease 
to flow, or the dead to rise from their graves." 

The language of the governor proved to be un- 
fortunate. On June 16, 1806. there was a total 
eclipse of the sun in northern latitudes for a per- 
iod of about five minutes at about a half an hour 
before mid-day. and this event had long been her- 
alded by the astronomers of that time, and had 
come to the ears of the Prophet through inter- 
course with some white friends. The crafty sav- 
age was not slow to act. He told his followers 
that on a certain fixed day, and at a time when the 
sun was at the height of its powers, he would 
place the same under his feet, and cause dark- 
ness to come on the face of the earth. On the day 
announced, the Prophet stood among his fearful 
band awaiting the hour. The day was wholly 
clear and without clouds, but at the appointed 
time the terrified savages saw a disc of blackness 
gradually pass over the face of the sun; the birds 


became agitated and flew to cover; the skulking 
dogs drew near their masters; almost absolute 
darkness fell on all about ; the stars of heaven ap- 
peared in the zenith, and in the midst of it all, the 
Prophet exclaimed: "Did I not testify trulv? 
Behold! Darkness has shrouded the sun." The 
account of that day, faithfully set forth by J. Fen- 
nimore Cooper, then a youth, is filled with strange 
relations of the unnatural appearance of all earth- 
ly things ; of the sudden awe and fear that came 
into the minds of all; how women stood near 
their husbands in silence and children clung to 
their mothers in terror, and if these were the 
emotions experienced in a civilized community, 
made fully aware of the coming event, what must 
have been the impression produced on the super- 
stitious mind of the savage, whoUy unenlighten- 
ed in the ways of science? From that day. the 
power of the savage Prophet was secure until the 
spell of his magic was forever broken by the 
whistling bullets of Harrison's regulars and Yel- 
low Jackets at the Battle of Tippecanoe. 

The picture of Tecumseh. the Prophet's brother, 
in the year 1806, is a remarkable one- At that 
time he was about thirty-eight years of age. a 
finished athlete, a renowned hunter, and of great 
reputation as a bold and fearless orator. P*rob- 
ably no red man ever bom had a better knowledge 
of the various treaties that had been consum- 
mated between the races. "For all those quali- 
ties which elevate man far above his race ; for tal- 
ent, tact, skill, braver>- as a warrior: for high- 


minded, honorable and chivalrous bearing as a 
man ; in fine, for all those elements of greatness 
which place him a long way above his fellows in 
savage life, the name and fame of Tecumseh will 
go down to posterity in the west, as one of the 
most celebrated of the aborigines of this conti- 
nent." This may be exaggerated, but it is the es- 
timate of no less an authority than Judge John 

No true portrait of this celebrated Indian is in 
existence. The following graphic description of 
him, however, is given by Stanley Hatch, who had 
a personal acquaintance with him in times of 
peace. "The general appearance of this remark- 
able man was uncommonly fine. His height was 
about five feet, nine inches, judging him by my 
own height when standing close to him, and cor- 
roborated by the late Col. John Johnston, for 
many years Indian agent at Piqua. His face oval 
rather than angular; his nose handsome and 
straight; his mouth beautifully formed, like that 
of Napoleon I, as represented in his portraits; his 
eyes clear, transparent hazel, with a mild, pleas- 
ant expression when in repose, or in conversation ; 
but when excited in his orations or by the en- 
thusiasm of conflict, or when in anger, they ap- 
peared like balls of fire; his teeth beautifully 
white, and his complexion more of a light brown 
or tan than red ; his whole tribe as well as their 
kindred the Ottowas, had light complexions; his 
arms and hands were finely formed; his limbs 
straight; he always stood very erect and walked 


with a brisk, elastic, vigorous step; invariably 
dressed in Indian tanned buckskin ; a perfectly 
well fitting hunting frock descending to the knee, 
and over his underclothes of the same material; 
the usual cape and finish of yellow fringe about 
the neck; cape, edges of the front opening, and 
bottom of the frock ; a belt of the same material in 
which were his side arms (an elegant silver- 
mounted tomahawk and a knife in a strong, lea- 
ther case) ; short pantaloons connected with neat- 
ly fitting leggins and moccasins, with a mantle of 
the same material thrown over the left shoulder, 
used as a blanket in camp and as a protection in 
storms. Such was his dress when I last saw him, 
on the 17th of August, 1812, on the streets of De- 
troit, mutually exchanging tokens of recognition 
with former acquaintances in years of peace, and 
passing on, he, to see that his Indians had all 
crossed to Maiden, as commanded, and to counsel 
with his white allies in regard to the next move- 
ment of the now really commenced War of 1812, 
He was then in the prime of life, and presented in 
his appearance and noble bearing one of the finest 
looking men I have ever seen." 

The striking circumstances of his birth (he 
was one of triplets) , the ascendency of his brother 
the Prophet; his burning hatred of the white 
race ; his skill as a hunter, and valor as a warrior; 
above all, his wonderful eloquence and thorough 
knowledge of all the Indian treaties of the past, 
gave Tecumseh an influence and authority among 
the tribes far beyond that of any of the braves 


or sachems of that day. If at the first his imagi- 
nation had not dared to scale the heights of 
power, he later boldly threw aside all disguise and 
by his powerful advocacy of a communistic own- 
ership of all the Indian lands by the tribes in 
common, he aimed a blow at the ancient authority 
claimed by the Indian chieftains, and at the val- 
idity of every treaty ever negotiated between the 
two races of men. The sum and substance of Te- 
cumseh's doctrine is thus succintly stated by 
Judge Law: "That the Great Spirit had given 
the Indians all their lands in common, to be held 
by them as such and not by the various tribes 
who had settled on portions of it, claiming it as 
their own. That they were mere squatters, hav- 
ing no 'pre-emption rights,' but holding even that 
on which they lived as mere 'tenants in common' 
with all the other tribes. That this mere posses- 
sion gave them no title to convey the land without 
the consent of all, that no single tribe had the 
right to sell ; that the power to sell was not vested 
in their chief, but must be an act of the warriors 
in council assembled of all the tribes, as the land 
belonged to all — no portion of it to any single 

That doctrine carried to its legitimate end, 
would invalidate and render null and void every 
Indian treaty ever negotiated between Wayne or 
Harrison and the trilies ; made ever>' white set- 
tler west of the AUeghanies a squatter and mere 
licensee, and could only terminate in hate and 


bloodshed and the irrepressible conflict between 
the races. 

In the month of June, 1808, the Shawnee broth- 
ers established themselves at what has ever since 
been known as the Prophet's Town on the Wabash 
river, about ten miles above the site of the pres- 
ent city of Lafayette. This highly strategic po- 
sition placed them midway on the main line of 
communication between Vincennes and the Brit- 
ish port at Maiden, Canada. To the north and 
east along the Wabash were the Miami ; the Kick- 
apoos were on the Vermilion below, and to the 
north, as far as the post of Chicago and lake Mich- 
igan extended the realm of the Potawatomi. Te- 
cumseh and the Prophet were forming a confed- 
eracy of all the Indian tribes to resist the further 
advance of the white race, and this chosen spot in 
the wilderness was an ideal selection, where se- 
cret embassies and negotiations might be carried 
on without much fear of detection. 

The plan pursued by these wily savages was 
as follows: To wean their followers entirely 
away from the use of whiskey, which was fast de- 
stroying their military efficiency; to teach them, 
if possible, the ways of labor, so that they might 
raise corn and other products of the earth and 
thus supply their magazines against a time of 
war; to dupe the governor into the belief that 
their mission was one of peace, and undertaken 
solely for the moral uplift and betterment of the 
tribes — in the meantime, by the constant prac- 


tice of religious ceremonies and rites, to work 
on the superstition of the warriors, win these, if 
need be. from the chieftains, who might counsel 
peace, and by a series of war-like sports and exer- 
cises, hold together the young bucks and train 
them for the inevitable conflict between the races. 

By weird incantations, symbolic ceremonies and 
practice of the black art, the Prophet had gone 
far. He was now regarded as invulnerable, and 
his person sacred. But that which gave point 
to his oracles, and authority to his imposture, was 
his Shawnee hatred of the paleface. To incite 
their growing jealousy and malice he told his 
dupes that the white man had poisoned all their 
land, and prevented it from producing such things 
as they found necessary to their subsistence. The 
growing scarcity of game, the disappearance of 
the deer and buffalo before the white settlements, 
were indisputable proofs of his assertions. To 
drive back these invaders who polluted the soil 
and desecrated the graves of their fathers — what 
more was needed to incite the savage warriors to 
a crusade of blood and extermination? About 
this time it was noticed that the Potawatomi of 
the prairie, who were under the influence of the 
Prophet, were frequently holding religious exer- 
cises, but that these exercises were always con- 
cluded with "war-like sports, shooting with bows, 
throwing tomahawks, and wielding the war-club." 

What wonder that the savage who regarded 
the white man as an interloper and a trespasser. 


who listened from day to day and year to year 
to the cunning propaganda of Tecumseh and the 
Prophet, at last entertained the most malignant 
hatred toward the paleface? What wonder that 
the savage expeditions against the outposts near 
Vincennes and along the Embarrass river con- 
stantly increased? A reliable historian, writing 
of the deplorable condition of affairs at this time, 
says : "Matters daily grew worse at the Prophet's 
town, v.'hich had now become the common refuge 
of all the Indian vagabonds in the country ; horse- 
thieves and pilferers of other property; wild 
blades who would, every now and then, surprise 
a pioneer's cabin, standing remotely out beyond 
the well defined lines of white settlements, and 
cowardly murder the in-dv/elling women and 
children, found welcome shelter at the Prophet's 
town, and a ready friend and protector for their 
crimes in the person of either Tecumseh or his 
brother. Governor Ninian Edwards, of the Illi- 
nois territory, made frequent complaints of de- 
predations committed in the settlements along the 
Mississippi, incited from or by perpetrators har- 
bored at this plague spot on the Wabash. Inhabi- 
tants of the lower Embarrass and in the neighbor- 
hood of Vincennes could only go about their work 
with rifles always in hand; and the town itself 
was, time and again, threatened -with destruction." 

The constant dread and apprehension under 
which the early settlers of that day lived, may 
not well be imagined. At no time were they free 
from peril. The savage blow was most frequently 


struck at night when the family was at repose. 
The infant might have its brains dashed out 
against a tree, or a lovely young girl might be 
taken hundreds of miles away to meet the em- 
braces of some drunken chief. Scarcely a fam- 
ily in those days of terror but could recount some 
appalling tale of fire or massacre. Bold as were 
the frontiersmen, their blood ran cold and they 
shrank back in horror at the thought of savage 
yells at midnight, the cabin on fire, and the wife 
or mother falling headlong before the blow of 
the war hatchet, in the hand of a painted savage. 
Those who have read of the heroic fight of the 
Yellow Jackets at Tippecanoe, and who have won- 
dered at the calm and unflinching valor of Cap- 
tain Spier Spencer and his men, must not forget 
that long years of terror and savage aggression 
made the Indiana militia men of iron, and that 
they cheerfully made the sacrifice supreme to se- 
cure peace and safety for their wives and chil- 
dren. With Spencer to this battle marched his 
son, Edward, a stripling only fourteen years of 
age, "but well gro\\Ti and able to carry a rifle." 
This brave lad was afterwards cared for by Gov- 
ernor Harrison, and later admitted to West Point 
on the general's recommendation of bravery 
shown on the battlefield. 

No one viewed with more pleasure the growing 
power of the Prophet and Tecumseh, and the fear- 
ful dismay of the American settlers, than the 
British agent. Matthew Elliott, at Maiden, Can- 
ada. Maiden, or Fort Maiden, was in the upper 


part of the village of Amherstburgh, Canada, 
near the mouth of the Detroit river. This was 
the principal depot from which supplies for the 
fur trade, and presents to the Indians of the 
Northwest territory were distributed. It was in 
close communication with the Prophet's Town by- 
way of the Maumee, or upper Miami, and the Wa- 

Matthew Elliott was a renegade and a traitor 
to the cause of American liberty. From Albach's 
Annals of the West, we learn that he was a trader 
among the Indians before the Revolutionary war. 
He was taken prisoner by the British, with a car- 
go of goods, in 1776, and carried to Detroit. 
"There he was released on condition that he would 
join the British and receive a captain's commis- 
sion in service." His honor sold, he returned to 
the town of Pittsburgh as a spy, deserted from 
that place with McKee and Girty, two notable 
British adherents of that day, and during the 
Revolution became the leader of hostile Indians 
fighting on the side of England. "After the Rev- 
olution he settled and carried on farming and 
trade with the Indians at the mouth of the De- 
troit river." He at once became the principal 
agent of the British to retain control of the valu- 
able fur trade with the Indians in the Northwest 
territory. He had a fruitful field to work in. 
The Indian tribes of the Wabash and vicinity had 
always been adherents of the English. The lead- 
ing chiefs of the Potawatomi, the Sacs and Foxes 
and other tribes, according to Mrs. J. H. Kinzie, 


"went yearly to Fort Maiden, in Canada, to re- 
ceive a large amount of presents, with which the 
British government had, for many years, been in 
the habit of purchasing their alliance. The pres- 
ents they thus received were of considerable val- 
ue, consisting of blankets, broad-cloths or stroud- 
ings, calicoes, guns, kettles, traps, silver-works 
(comprising arm-bands, bracelets, brooches and 
ear-bobs) , looking glasses, combs and various 
other trinkets distributed with no niggardly 
hand." Elliott looked with jealousy and alarm on 
the spread of American influence in the western 
country. He foresaw the loss of a valuable trade, 
the waning power of his control over the savage 
mind, and regarded General Harrison and the 
American traders along the Wabash with in- 
tense hatred and malice. He undoubtedly foment- 
ed and encouraged the Indian raids in the Illinois 
and Indiana country. The growing unrest of the 
tribes, the Indian confederacy of Tecumseh and 
the Prophet to stem white immigration, were 
hailed by him with glee. On the eve of the Battle 
of Tippecanoe, we find it reported by General 
Harrison "that all the Indians of the Wabash 
have been, or now are, on a visit to the British 
agent at Maiden." It was reported that the pres- 
ents given to one Indian alone, not a chief, were 
"an elegant rifle, twenty-five pounds of powder, 
fifty pounds of lead, three blankets, three strouds 
of cloth, ten shirts, and several other articles." 
The savage warriors who fought at Tippecanoe 
were armed with British rifles and plenty of am- 


munition. Rifles and ammunition discovered at 
the Prophet's Town after the battle bore British 
stamps and marks. 

The raids of the Potawatomi and Kickapoos 
continued to increase until the people of Indiana 
territory called a mass meeting of the citizens 
at Vincennes on the 31st of July, 1811, addressed 
a letter to President James Madison, asking for 
the aid of the government, and General Harrison 
secured the despatch of a part of the 4th U. S. 
Infantry under Colonel John P. Boyd. The end 
is known. The march of the regulars, and the 
Indiana and Kentucky militia up the Wabash; 
the furious and sanguinary Battle of Tippecanoe 
on November 7, 1811, and the cinishing of the 
Indian power in the northwest forever. 


^otatoatomi panbitti 

' .-^ lEW chroniclers have realized the difficul- 
Jc ties which beset William Henry Harrison 
JSw ^s the first military governor at Vincennes. 
He was in a frontier capital, removed hundreds 
of miles from the seat of government. He was 
in the midst of a savage wilderness, and communi- 
cation with the national capital could only be had 
by boat and courier. The authorities at Wash- 
ington for the most part regarded the plaints and 
cries of the western pioneers with a cool indif- 
ference. Harrison was falsely accused in the halls 
of Congress with having taken advantage of the 
Indian tribes at the Treaty of Fort Wayne. He 
knew that all his actions were being closely scan- 
ned by the spies and emissaries of the British 
government, who were trying to effect a rupture 
between him and the Indian tribes. Up the Wa- 
bash and only twenty-four hours' journey from 
Vincennes by boat was the hostile village of Te- 
cumseh and the Prophet, and Vincennes was in 
constant apprehension during the years of 1810 
and 1811, of attack from this quarter. Harbored 
and protected at the Prophet's Town, bands of 
Potawatomi and Kickapoos made frequent and ra- 


peated raids on all outlying settlements, and the 
governor had to stand between the terrified fron- 
tiersmen on the one hand, and a slow and neg- 
lectful government on the other. To demand res- 
titution of stolen goods and horses from the Shaw- 
nee brothers was well nigh hopeless. The Prophet 
secretly encouraged all outrages, and Tecumseh 
either could or would not render full satisfaction. 
The truth is, that after all the laudation that Te- 
cumseh has received, he was a savage and enter- 
tained the utmost malice towards the white race. 
He admitted that the sight of a white man made 
the flesh of his face creep. To try to conciliate 
such leaders as these, to avoid open hostilities at 
the behest of an over-cautious government, and 
at the same time to do his duty by the people of 
this western world, were tasks that few men have 
been called upon to perform. To illustrate one 
of the many and frequent difficulties that the 
governor had to encounter, we will relate the 
story of the Potawatomi chief, Turkey-Foot, who 
was bold enough a bandit and murderer in his 
day to become an outlaw in two of the western 
territories of the United States and to engage 
the attention of two territorial governors. 

In the issue of August 18th, 1810, of the West- 
ell Sun, of Vincennes, the oldest newspaper in 
the state of Indiana, appears this paragraph: 
"Extract of a letter from a gentleman at St. 
Louis, to his friend in this place, dated August 
3rd, 1810. On my return from the garrison up 
the Missouri, I staid at Captain Coles, who had 


just returned from the pursuit of some Indians 
that had stolen horses from the settlement — they 
came in view of the Indians on a prairie, and pur- 
sued on until night, and encamped, made fires, 
etc. in the woodland, and not apprehending any 
danger from the Indians, lay down to sleep — 
sometime after midnight, they were fired on by 
the Indians, and four men killed." 

What had happened was this : There is a grove 
about three or four miles southwest of Morocco, 
in Neu-ton county, Indiana, named Turkey-Foot 
grove, and another of the same name about forty 
miles south of it, and two or three miles south- 
east of the town of Earl Park. In this region 
dwelt Turkey-Foot, at the head of a lawless band 
of the prairie Potawatomi. In a spirit of develish 
mischief and led on by the hope of plunder, the 
chief and some of his followers had ridden hun- 
dreds of miles across the grand prairies of Indi- 
ana and Illinois, had forded the Mississippi, and 
pierced to the outposts of Loutre island, in the 
Missouri river, below the present town of Her- 
mann, and from fifty to seventy miles west of St. 
Louis, had stolen a bunch of horses there, and 
made good their escape, after committing one of 
the foulest murders recorded in the early history 
of that territory. 

As soon as the theft of the horses was discover- 
ed, great excitement prevailed, as horses were 
very valuable to the early pioneers. A rescue 
party was organized, composed of Samuel Cole 

A view of Pine Creek above Williamsport. Tlie pine trees on the banks 
were formerly of great height and size. To avoid the danger- 
ous passes and fords, Harrison's army crossed below 
this point at Brier's Mills and posted sen- 
tinels toward the Wabash. Photo 
by L. W. Smith, Oxford, Ind. 


and William T. Cole, Temple, Patton, Murdock 
and Gooch, and after pursuing the Indians all 
day, they came in sight of them on a large prairie, 
but the horses of Cole's party were so tired that 
they had to give up the chase, and encamped in a 
small woodland. After midnight, and when all 
were in slumber, the stealthy savages returned, 
surrounded the camp, and on the first attack kill- 
ed Temple, Patton and Gooch. Murdock sought 
shelter under the bank of a creek near by, but 
William. T. Cole was attacked by two savages, one 
in front and one in the rear. In the rencounter 
Cole was stabbed in the shoulder, but wrenched 
a knife from one of his assailants and killed him. 
The other Indian escaped in the darkness. 

This murder and larceny combined, was brought 
to the attention of Governor Harrison by the 
then acting governor of Louisiana territory. 
Later he made a demand upon Governor Harrison, 
accompanied by documentary proof of the whole 
transaction, that the savages be apprehended, as 
it was alleged that they were somewhere within 
the territorial limits of Indiana. The governor 
had small hope of either retrieving the horses or 
securing any information concerning the savage 
assassins, as he knew that the Prophet would 
take all necessary steps to cover up their tracks. 
However, he dispatched a messenger, probably 
Dubois or Barron, to the Prophet's Town. In 
about a month four of the horses were recovered 
and it was learned that in the winter following 


the tragedy, that the Indians had camped at some 
point between the Wabash and Lake Michigan, 
presumably at one of the groves bearing the 
chief's name. Tecumseh and the Prophet both 
denied any complicity in the affair, and promised 
to have the remainder of the horses sent in, but 
this was never done. When asked to deliver up 
Turkey- Foot and his accomplices, the reply was 
made that they had gone to reside on the Illinois 
river, a statement that was undoubtedly false. 
Tecumseh became defiant in his attitude and said 
that he would tolerate no more encroachments 
by the white race. The Indians were never taken. 

The chief thus protected by the Shawnee con- 
spirators, lived long after the Battle of Tippe- 
canoe in the grove in Newton county that still 
bears his name, and was seen by some of the ear- 
liest pioneer settlers. Late in life he had a fatal 
quarrel with another Potawatomi chief by the 
name of Bull-Foot, in which both were killed. 
John Ade, father of George Ade, relates in his 
book on early times in Newton county, that Tur- 
key-Foot killed Bull-Foot, and was in turn killed 
by Bull-Foot's son. Ade's account of the dis- 
posal of the bodies lends veracity to the story. 
He says that the chief's followers "stood the two 
bodies upright against two trees standing close 
together, with their faces toward each other." 
Matson gives the manner of Potawatomi burial 
as follows: "The Indians bury their dead in a 
shallow grave, and build a pen over it, construct- 
ed of small timbers, to prevent wolves from dig- 


ging up and devouring the remains. These pens 
over graves were found here and there through 
the country long after the Indians had left, and 
some of them were used for fire-wood by early 
settlers. The chiefs were entombed above ground 
so they could be seen afterwards by their friends, 
and frequently visited by the band. 

A high knoll or mound is selected in the thick 
timber away from the village, where the corpse 
is placed in a sitting position, braced with stone 
or timber to keep it upright. A rifle, tomahawk, 
knife, pipe and tobacco, and everything the de- 
ceased is supposed to want in the spirit lands, 
are placed by his side. Around the tomb are 
erected high palisades to prevent dogs (of which, 
by the way, the Potawatomi always had plenty), 
and wolves, from eating the corpse, and in this 
way the body is left to decay." As Mr. Matson 
got his information from no less an authority 
than Shaubena, one of the most renowned of the 
Illinois Potawatomi, it must be reliable. 

Years afterward, the white settlers buried the 
bones of these two slain chieftains. They were 
afterwards dug up by Th\ Charles E. Triplett, 
of Morocco, who discovered that one of the thigh 
bones had at one time been broken and that it 
had overlapped and grown together. 

The above was only one of the many raids in 
which Turkey-Foot's band took part. They were 
notorious enough in those days. On another oc- 


casion four of them had stolen twelve horses near 
Vincennes and got away with them. There was 
small chance of recovery, once the horses disap- 
peared in the wilderness north of the Wabash. 


tKJje Ecal ^abagc 


HERE was no glamour about the Potawat- 
omi. He was a real savage. He was lazy, 

and made his squaw hoe the corn. He had 

but very little regard for women. "Polygamy 
was common among the Potawatomi when they 
were visited by the early missionaries." Like all 
his race, he was a gam.bler, playing heavily at his 
moccasin games and lacrosse. As a general rule, 
he was cruel, and always had a deadly hatred for 
the white man. It has been admitted by Shau- 
bena that most of the depredations on the fron- 
tier settlements in Illinois during the Black Hawk 
war, were committed by the Potawatomi. The 
cov/ardly and brutal massacre at Chicago, Au- 
gust 15, 1812, was the work, principally of the 
Potawatomi, "and their several bands from the 
Illinois and Kankakee rivers; those from the St. 
Joseph of the lake, and the St. Joseph of the Mau- 
mee, and those of the Wabash and its tributaries 
vrere all represented in the despicable act." In 
that massacre. Captain William Wells, the bro- 
ther-in-law of Little Turtle, the famous Miami 
chief, was killed when he was trying to protect 
the soldiers and refugees. He was discovered af- 


terwards, terribly mutilated. His body lay in 
one place, his head in another, while his arms and 
legs were scattered about over the prairie. The 
terrible warriors of this tribe, stripped to the 
skin, except breech-cloth and moccasins, and with 
bodies painted with horrible stripes of red, went 
into battle with the rage of madmen and demons 
and committed every excess known to human 

In general appearance the Potawatomi did not 
compare favorably with the Kickapoos of the 
Vermilion river. The Kickapoo warriors were 
generally tall and sinewy, while the Potawatomi 
were shorter and more thickly set, very dark and 
squalid. Numbers of the women of the Kicka- 
poos are described as being lithe "and many of 
them by no means lacking in beauty." The Pot- 
awatomi women were inclined to greasiness and 
obesity. The French-Canadians applied the ver>' 
significant name to the tribe of "Les Poux," or 
those who have lice, from which it may be in- 
ferred that they were not generally of cleanly 
habits. In latter days, however, many of the 
French-Canadians intermarried with women of 
this tribe, and the Treaty of 1832 with the Pota- 
watomi contains many French names, such as 
Francis De Jean, Cicott, Nedeau, Duchann, Ber- 
trand, and others. It was formerly frequently 
noticed that in many of the Kickapoo and Pota- 
watomi attacks on the frontier that the French 
settlers escaped, owing to the partiality that all 
the Algonquin tribes displayed toward that race. 


The language of the Potawatomi was of a rough, 
gutteral variety, in sharp contrast to that of the 
Kickapoo tongue, which was soft and liquid. The 
dialect was spoken rapidly and with a tendency 
to elide vowels and syllables. 

Notwithstanding his savage propensities, the 
Potawatomi in his pristine days, and before the 
advent of the French trader with his "fire-water," 
was to be admired for his strength, his wonderful 
endurance through the famine and cold of the 
northern winters, his agility and ingenuity in 
the chase or on the war-path. That the race mul- 
tiplied rapidly, and were able to sweep back the 
Miami in front of them, is some evidence of their 
natural power and aggressiveness. But that they 
were true savages, yielding to their animal appe- 
tites and desires, is evidenced by their rapid de- 
generacy under the influence of whiskey. Noth- 
ing was more common than drunkenness after the 
greedy and avaricious traders of the Wabash got 
into their midst and bartered rum for their most 
valuable peltries. Potawatomi were found camp- 
ing about Vincennes in great numbers and trad- 
ing eveiything of value for liquor. General Har- 
rison, time and again, sought to stay this nefar- 
ious traffic. On all occasions when treaties were 
to be made, or council fires kindled, he issued pro- 
clamations prohibiting the sale of liquor to the 
Indians. These proclamations were inserted in 
the Western Sun at Vincennes, on more than one 
occasion, but they were unavailing. The tempta- 
tion of a huge profit was too strong. Terrible 


carousals and orgies took place when the Indians 
were under the influence of "fire-water." Fights 
and murders were frequent. At the last, whiskey 
destroyed the last vestige of virtue in their wo- 
men, and valor in their warriors. 

After the crushing of the Prophet in 1811, and 
the destruction of British influence in the north- 
west, consequent upon the War of 1812, the de- 
cline of the Potawatomi was swift and appalling. 
The terrible ravages of "fire-water" played no 
inconsiderable part. Many of ^their principal 
chieftains became notorious drunkards, reeling 
along the streets of frontier posts and towns and 
boasting of their former prowess. Even the re- 
nowned Topenebee, the last principal chief of the 
tribe of the river St. Joseph, was no exception. 
Reproached by General Lewis Cass, because he 
did not remain sober and care for his people, he 
answered, "Father, we do not care for the land, 
nor the money, nor the goods; what we want is 
whiskey; give us whiskey!" The example set by 
the chiefs was not neglected by their followers. 

Nothing can better illustrate the shocking sav- 
agry and depravity of some of these last chief- 
tains, after the tribe had been contaminated by 
the effect of strong liquors, than the story of Wa- 
bunsee, principal war-chief of the Prairie band of 
Potawatomi residing on the Kankakee river in 
Illinois, and in his early days one of the renowned 
and daring warriors of his tribe. When General 
Harrison marched with his regulars and Indiana 


and Kentucky militia, on the way to the battle 
field of Tippecanoe, he ascended the Wabash river, 
erecting Fort Harrison near the present site of 
Terre Haute, and christening it on Sunday, the 
27th of October, 1811. From here, the army 
marched up the east bank of the river, crossing 
the deep water near the present site of Monte- 
zuma, Indiana, and erecting a block house on the 
west bank, about three miles below the mouth of 
the Vermilion river, for a base of supplies. Corn 
and provisions for the army were taken in boats 
and pirogues from Fort Harrison up the river, 
and landed at this block house. On Saturday, the 
2nd day of November, John Tipton recorded in 
his diary that "this evening a man come from 
the Garrison (Ft. Harrison) said last night his 
boat was fired on — one man that was asleep kill- 
ed dead." Beckwith records that the dare-devil 
"Wabunsee, the Looking-Glass, principal war 
chief of the Prairie band of Pottawatomies, resid- 
ing on the Kankakee river, in Illinois, distin- 
guished himself, the last of October, 1811, by 
leaping aboard of one of Gov. Harrison's supply 
boats, loaded with corn, as it was ascending the 
Wabash, five miles above Terre Haute, and killing 
a man, and making his escape ashore without in- 
jury," Allowing for a slight discrepancy in 
dates, this is probably the same incident referred 
to by John Tipton, and taking into consideration 
that the boats probably were guarded by armed 
men, this was certainly a daring and adventurous 


Yet it is recorded of this chief, that he always 
carried about with him two scalps in a buckskin 
pouch "taken from the heads of soldiers in the 
War of 1812, and when under the influence of li- 
quor, he would exhibit them, going through the 
motions of obtaining these trophies." School- 
craft, whose attention was especially drawn to- 
wards this chieftain on account of his drunken 
ferocity, and who paints him as one of the worst 
of the many bad savages of his day, says: "He 
often freely indulged in liquor; and when excited, 
exhibited the flushed visage of a demon. On one 
occasion, two of his wives, or rather female 
slaves, had a dispute. One of them went, in her 
excited state of feeling, to Waubunsee, and told 
him that the other ill-treated his children. He or- 
dered the accused to come before him. He told 
her to lie do^^^l on her back on the ground. He 
then directed the other (her accuser) to take a 
tomahawk and dispatch her. She instantly split 
open her skull. "There," said the savage, "let the 
crows eat her." He left her unburied, but was af- 
terwards persuaded to direct the murderess to 
bury her. She dug the grave so /shallow, that the 
wolves pulled out her body that night, and partly 
devoured it." 

Looking at the Potawatomi in the true light; 
regarding him as he really was, a wild and un- 
tamed savage, and made worse by his contact 
with the Indian traders and whiskey vendors of 
frontier days, is it any wonder that the children 
of that time, as Judge James Hall relates, 'learn- 


ed to hate the Indian and to speak of him as an 
enemy? From the cradle they listened continual- 
ly to horrid tales of savage violence, and became 
familiar with narratives of aboriginal cunning 
and ferocity.' Is it any wonder that when General 
Harrison crossed the Wabash at Montezuma and 
gave orders to the advance guard to shoot every 
Indian at sight, that the rough frontiersman, 
John Tipton, entered in his diary, "Fine News!" 


tKoptnebee, ®t)e Hast Cljief 


OR nearly half a century Topenebee, whose 
name, according to Jacob Piatt Dunn, sig- 
nifies "A Quiet Sitting Bear," was the 
head and principal chief of the Potawatomi na- 
tion. He was probably bom near Niles, Michi- 
gan, for here was located "the great Pottawatomie 
village, ruled over by Aniquiba, the great chief 
of the Potawatomies," who was the father of To- 
penebee. Topenebee was thus of the royal blood, 
and the ruling clan of his tribe. His sister, Kau- 
keama, married William Burnett, a famous 
French fur trader, who thereafter became very 
influential and powerful among the tribesmen. 
His sons, by this Indian princess, were unfriendly 
to the advancing white settlements of the west, 
and Abraham Burnett, in command of a mixed 
band of Potawatomi and Kickapoos, is said to 
have laid a plan to ambush and surprise Harri- 
son's army near Perryville. Indiana, on its march 
to the battle-ground at Tippecanoe. This plot, 
however, failed. Burnett's creek, on the western 
edge of the battle-ground, is named for a mem- 
ber of this family. 

From the first, Topenebee seems to have been 


hostile to the United States. He was no doubt in 
the battle of Fallen Timbers, fought with An- 
thony Wayne, in 1794, for he appears as a signer 
of the Treaty of Greenville, Ohio, of August 3, 
1795, signing that document as "Thu-Pe-Ne-Bu," 
and the fact that he signed as the first of the 
"Putawatames of the river St. Joseph," shows 
that at that early date he was their chief and 
principal sachem. At an early date, Topenebee 
embraced the teachings of the Prophet, and be- 
came an ally of the Shawnee brothers and the 
British. When Tecumseh and the Prophet came 
to the Wabash in the year 1808, for the purpose 
of organizing their confederacy of the Indian 
tribes to oppose the further advance of the new 
republic, they settled at the mouth of the Tippe- 
canoe on certain lands granted them by the Pota- 
watomi and Kickapoos, although their grant was 
opposed by the Miami, who were the rightful oc- 
cupants and owners of the soil. In the negotia- 
tions leading up to this transaction, Topenebee 
took an active part. Local tradition at Attica, 
Indiana, preserves the tale that "some time in 
the fall of the year 1807, Topenebee and the Kick- 
apoos and Potawatomis, Miamis and Winnebagos, 
met Tecumseh and his prophet beneath the 
spreading branches of a splendid oak that stood 
within the corporate limits of the city of Attica. 
In this council it was agreed that the Shawnee 
tribe, under Tecumseh and his brother, the Pro- 
phet, might have as their hunting ground the ter- 
ritory drained by Shawnee creek, and then a line 


drawn from there to the watershed of the Tip- 
pecanoe river, and up the Tipp>€canoe river about 
twenty miles." 

The Potawatomi chief was thus larj?ely instru- 
mental in bringing the impending conflict closer 
to the Vincennes settlement, and in hastening, 
incidentally, the downfall of his own people. Nei- 
ther is there any doubt that during the trouble- 
some period preceding the battle of Tippecanoe 
and until after the War of 1812, that Topenebee 
and all the leading chiefs of his tribe were in 
close communication with the British agent, Mat- 
thew Elliott, at Maiden, Canada. 

The facts concerning the yearly pilgrimage of 
the tribes of the northwest to this place, and the 
presents they received from the English govern- 
ment, have already been related. These presents 
and a vast quantity of whiskey, won them away 
from General Harrison and made them allies of 
the British in the War of 1812. 

Topenebee, if he did not actually take part in 
laying the plot, was fully aware of the impending 
massacre of the troops at Fort Dearborn, or Chi- 
cago, on August 15, 1812. This was shown by the 
fact that, "Early in the morning, Mr. Kinzie (the 
trader located at the old post), received a mes- 
sage from To-pen-nee-bee, a chief of the St. Jos- 
eph's band, informing him that mischief was in- 
tended by the Potawatomis, who had engaged to 
escort the detachment; and urging him to relin- 
quish his design of accompanying the troops by 


land, promising him that the boat containing him- 
self and family should be permitted to pass in 
safety to St. Joseph's." 

Bearing in mind the close relations between the 
British and the Potawatomi chiefs ; the fact that 
this warning was sent to a personal friend, and 
the further fact that Potawatomi from the St. 
Joseph river were present at the slaughter; the 
evidence is rather strong that Topenebee was the 
leader in the whole affair from the beginning. 

The terrible decline of the Potawatomi nation 
after the War of 1812, and the degeneracy of 
their chiefs, including Topenebee, on account of 
the ravages of "fire-water," has already been re- 
lated. Without leadership; without any intelli- 
gent plan of cooperation with his fellows ; a prey 
to savage appetites and propensities, and without 
the knowledge or inclination to utilize his land, 
except to hunt thereon to relieve his immediate 
and pressing wants, the Potawatomi became a 
wanderer and a beggar in his own country, rov- 
ing here and there in quest of game, or falling 
into the hands of unscrupulous traders, who rob- 
bed him of his peltries and possessions for a pint 
of rum. To withstand the advancing tide of white 
immigration was impossible. Says Logan Esary : 
"No description can give an accurate impression 
of the settlement of Indiana. One who has watch- 
ed the rising waters of a flood overflow the land 
will appreciate the overflow of the state by the 
swelling tide of white immigration. By 1825 the 


settlers were entering the northern half of the 

Already, on October 2, 1818, there had been 
consummated at St. Mary's Ohio, a treaty between 
the Potawatomi nation and Jonathan Jennings, 
Lewis Cass and Benjamin Parke, whereby said 
nation ceded to the United States, "a large tract 
of countr>" lying in central-western Indiana and 
eastern Illinois, fronting on the Wabash from the 
mouth of the Tippecanoe to the mouth of the 
Vermilion, and extending westward to a line 
drawn as nearly parallel with the Wabash as 
practicable, so as to strike the two latter streams 
twenty-five miles from their respective conflu- 
ence with the Wabash; and now embraced in 
parts of Tippecanoe, White, Benton, all of War- 
ren, the north half of Vermilion counties, Indi- 
ana, and the greater part of Vermilion county, in 
Illinois." A few years later this cession was to 
be occupied by herdsmen, and great droves of 
cattle, and the famous Chicago road was to run 
through the northern stretches of this area from 
the towns on the Wabash to the growing town 
around old Fort Dearborn. 

This was but the beginning of the retirement. 
On October 16, 1826, there was concluded at the 
mouth of the Mississinewa, between the Potawat- 
omi and Lewis Cass, James B. Ray and John Tip- 
ton, a treaty whereby the tribe released all claim 
to valuable tracts of land north and west of the 
Tippecanoe, along Eel river, and about Fort 


Wayne. This was followed by the treaty of Sep- 
tember 20, 1826, granting- a great tract in north- 
eastern Indiana, and the final treaty on the Tip- 
pecanoe river, on October 27, 1832, concluded be- 
tween the Potawatomi and Jonathan Jennings, 
John W. Davis and Marks Crume, commissioners, 
wherein "the Chiefs and warriors aforesaid cede 
to the United States, their title and interest to 
lands in the States of Indiana and Illinois, and 
the territory of Michigan, south of Grand river." 

Thus, from the year 1818 to the year 1832, a 
short space of only fourteen years, the Potawat- 
omi nation had lost practically all of its valuable 
holdings and claims in northern Indiana and 
southern Michigan, and the tribe had sunk into 
a terrible decadence from which it was never to 

In all these treaties, Topenebee had signed as 
chief sachem of his tribe, but in 1832, old, drun- 
ken and decrepit, he had fallen from his high es- 
tate as the associate of Tecumseh, and the lordly 
commander who had led all the bands north of 
the Wabash, until there was reserved for him out 
of all the vast prairies and woodlands of northern 
Indiana, but one section of land — the exact lan- 
guage of the treaty of 1832 was : "To To-pen-ne- 
bee, principal chief, one section." This section 
was to be selected under the direction of the Pres- 
ident of the United States. 

The section of land thus reserved for Topenebee 
proved to be of no benefit, either to himself or his 


descendents. Under authority of the president, 
one J. T. Douglass, on January 20, 1836, reported 
to the government that he had selected section 31, 
in township 26 north, range 9 west, as Topene- 
bee's land. This selection was confirmed by Presi- 
dent Martin Van Buren, on March 29, 1837. The 
section thus selected was ideally located to suit 
a prairie Indian. ^From a memorandum attached 
to an old deed discovered in the archives of the 
Benton circuit court, this section, or Indian Float, 
was described as being at Sugar grove, in Benton 
county, seven miles north of Parish's grove, and 
thirteen miles south of Iroquois, or Bunkum, on 
the Chicago road from Williamsport, Warren 
county, to Chicago. The west side of the section 
was in the eastern verge of Sugar grove, and the 
entire eastern side was a prairie of blue-stem, 
watered on the northern side by Sugar creek, 
which extended on west through the grove into 
the state of Illinois. From the vie"wpoint of the 
earl J' cattle men, it was just the location adapted 
for an ideal ranch. The timber afforded fuel, 
and also protected the herds in winter; the creek 
afforded an abundant supply of fresh water, and 
the surrounding prairie was an ideal grazing 
ground. Edward C. Sumner, the greatest cattle 
man north of the Wabash river, riding over the 
old Chicago road, about 1834, immediately per- 
ceived its advantages, and afterwards built a 
ranch on its western side and along the banks of 
the creek. Long before the section was located 
by Douglass, however, Topenebee had parted 


with all his title to Alexis Coquillard. The treaty 
was made, as has been shown, on the 27th day of 
October, 1832. On November 27 of the same year 
Topenebee, by a deed executed in St. Joseph coun- 
ty, Indiana, did "grant, bargain, sell, convey and 
confirm unto the said Alexis Coquillard and David 
H. Colerick, and their heirs and assigns forever, 
all that section of land, called a floating reserve, 
made to the said Topenebee at the treaty of Tip- 
pecanoe, made and concluded by and between the 
chiefs of the Potawatomi Nation, and Jennings, 
Crume and Davis." The consideration named in 
the deed was eight hundred dollars, or one dol- 
lar and twenty-five cents per acre, and this deed 
was placed on record in Benton county on July 
17, 1846. In Judge Timothy E. Howard's His- 
tory of St. Joseph County, Alexis Coquillard is 
named as the founder of South Bend. He was of 
French descent and had served in the War of 1812 
in the American army under General Harrison, 
although but seventeen years of age. He later 
became a trader on the St. Joseph river and 
wielded such an influence on the Potawatomi 
tribe that they would have made him their chief 
if he had not prevented it. He is mentioned by 
Logan Esarey as one of the traders who was 
present at the payment of annuities to the In- 
dians, and at the various treaties made with the 
tribes. He was undoubtedly present at the treaty 
of October 27, 1832, for by the terms of that in- 
strument, he was paid five thousand one hundred 
dollars, due him for debts incurred by the Indian 


tribes. Let us hope that he took no advantage of 
the aged and besotted chieftain of the Potawatomi 
tribe. On October 7, 1846, Alexis Coquillard and 
his wife, Frances, conveyed this section to Ed- 
ward C. Sumner, for the consideration of twelve 
hundred dollars. 

Thus passed away the last dominion that Tope- 
nebee ever exercised over the prairies, which, in 
his youth, he had been so familiar with. Six 
years after the treaty of 1832, his tribe passed 
beyond the Mississippi, and old, feeble and broken, 
he retired to southern Michigan, where, in Au- 
gust, 1840, to use the melodious language of J. 
Wesley Whicker, "he passed from among the in- 
habitants of earth and took his trackless way 
alone to the Happy Hunting Ground." 


^atJjsf of tl)E aeicij Mm 

Ho the Potawatomi, the grand prairie, not- 
withstanding its vast stretches, was as an 
open book. He traveled without compass, 
but that instinct which guides the animal through 
the forest, and the fowl through the air, guided 
the wary savage to far away hunting grounds, or 
to the wigwam of his enemy, with unerring foot- 

Mrs. J. H. Kinzie, a historian of the Northwest, 
says: "Their (the Indians') knowledge of the 
geography of their country is wonderfully exact. 
I have seen an Indian sit in his lodge, and draw 
a map in the ashes, of the Northwestern states, 
not of its statistical, but its geographical features, 
lakes, rivers and mountains, with the greatest ac- 
curacy, giving their relative distances, by days' 
journeys, without hesitancy, and even extending 
his drawings and explanations as far as Ken- 
tucky and Tennessee." 

Notwithstanding this intimate knowledge, how- 
ever, the wilderness of the early days was marked 
by many Indian trails, caused by different parties 
of Indians traveling frequently over the same 


route, to hunt or trade. These trails usually fol- 
lowed the path of least resistance, avoiding the 
swamps, bogs and stony places, and choosing the 
high and dry ground. Sometimes they followed 
the traces made by the buffalo or the deer in go- 
ing to watering places or salt licks. It is certain 
that a route would always be adopted, at least in 
times of peace, where water and fire would be 
available, and where the hunting parties would be 
afforded an apportunity, if possible, to camp and 
rest in the groves and woodlands. Mrs. J. H. 
Kinzie mentions a great trail made across the 
prairies of Illinois, by the Sauk Indians, in going 
to Fort Maiden and Detroit, to hold councils and 
trade with the British agent. She describes it as 
"a narrow path, deeply indented by the hoofs of 
the horses on which the Indians traveled in single 
file. So deeply is it sunk in the sod which covers 
the prairie, that it is difficult, sometimes, to dis- 
tinguish it at a distance of a few rods." This 
great Sauk trail passed through Lake and Porter 
counties, in Indiana, running by Cedar lake, 
where fish and game were abundant. 

It must not be understood that these trails 
were always plainly marked. In places they were 
lost in the expanse of the plain, or disappeared 
in marshes and lowlands. However, the general 
outlines of the larger trails were fairly well fixed. 
There might be two or three paths in some places, 
but these would later converge and run together. 
In places the track might be entirely obliterated, 
but would later appear again. 


There is now no doubt that an early Potawat- 
omi trail, of great importance, extended from 
Kick-a-poo Falls, on the Wabash river, near the 
present site of Attica, to the old Indian trading 
post of Chicago, coursing through what is now 
Benton and Warren counties, in Indiana, and en- 
tering the state of Illinois near the present town 
of Sheldon, and thence extending a little west of 
north to lake Michigan. The route of this trail 
may be more explicitly described as follows : Com- 
mencing at Kick-a-poo falls, it extended almost 
due northwest through Warren county, to the 
present site of Rainsville; thence northwest to 
the prairies of what is now Benton county, cross- 
ing Mud Pine creek near Chase ; thence extending 
due northwest across the prairie to Sugar grove ; 
it then ran to the state line, northwest, between 
Indiana and Illinois, somewhere west of Raub; 
thence northwest to a point near the present town 
of Sheldon, Illinois; thence to Bunkum, on the 
Iroquois, or Pinkamink river ; thence extending in 
a northerly direction on a general line with the 
towns of Donovan, Momence and Blue Island, and 
passing on to the Post of Chicago. It crossed 
Beaver creek on the Illinois side, and also the Kan- 
kakee or Theakiki. 

At the point where this trail entered Parish's 
grove, it was joined by another trail or feeder 
which led off to the southeast, in the direction of 
the old trading post of Ouiatenon, just below the 
present site of Lafayette, following the general 
route of what was afterwards denominated the 


Lafayette road. This side trail would extend in 
the preneral direction of the present towns of Ox- 
ford, Otterbein and Montmorenci. 

The line of the main Potawatomi trail, as it 
passed through Warren and Benton counties, was 
well marked as early as 1824. It is recorded that 
in the fall of that year, Berry Whicker, Henry 
Campl)€ll and other Ohio land hunters joined a 
party of Potawatomi who were going to Beaver 
lake on a big hunt. They started at Kick-a-poo 
and followed a well defined Indian path. When 
they got into the big prairies of Benton county, 
the "blue-stem grass grew so high that one of 
the party rode out a few feet into the blue-stem 
from the party in the Indian trail, and the rest of 
the party passed without seeing him." Now the 
only Indian trail extending across Benton county 
in the general direction of Beaver lake, of which 
there is any tradition, is the one that passed 
through Parish's grove. John Pugh, an old and 
reliable pioneer of Warren county, now dead, re- 
lated that when he was a boy of fourteen, that 
he traveled with his father over what he denomi- 
nated as "The Chicago Trail," to Chicago, passing 
through Parish's grove, and thence on by way of 
Bunkum and Momence, Illinois. This shows that 
the very earliest settlers, who knew the Potawat- 
omi well, always spoke of a "trail" instead of a 

An old map of Indiana, published by Colton, in 
1838, shows a road extending northwest from 

A section of Colton's Map of Indiana of the year 1838. Benton County 

was not organized until 1840. The three ranges off the south 

side of Jasper were made into the new county. Parish's 

Grove is shown in Jasper, and Beaver Lake in Newton. 

The old Potawatomi trail from Kickapoo through 

Rainsville and Parish's Grove to Chicago is 

plainly seen. 


Kick-a-poo to Rainsville, and then on to Parish's 
grove. There is no record that a state road was 
ever located over this route, although there is an 
act of the state legislature for the year 1829, es- 
tablishing a state road north from Williamsport 
to Parish's grove and the state line. The trace 
from Kick-a-p>oo to Parish's grove on the Colton 
map is undoubtedly the line of the old Indian 

The exact location of the main trail as it passed 
through the groves and plains of eastern Illinois, 
was probably never delinitely fixed. As before 
shown, the line of these trails was sometimes 
dimly marked. The history of Kankakee county, 
Illinois, fixes the establishment of an Indian trad- 
ing post at Bunkum, on the Iroquois, as early as 
1822, kept by Gurdon S. Hubbard and Noel Le 
Vasseur, and the establishment of what was 
known as "Hubbard's Trail" to and from Fort 
Dearborn, which in a general way "ran almost 
parallel with the Indian trails." This way led 
by Donovan, Momence and Blue Island. Le Vas- 
seur and Hubbard were in the employ of the great 
fur companies, and it is not likely that any of 
those who bartered whiskey and beads for furs 
and peltries would be found anywhere else than 
on the lines of Indian communication. Hubbard 
in his autobiography speaks of Sugar grove and 
tells of camping with some Kick-a-poos on Big 
Pine creek. He says that he accused the Kick-a- 
poos of deceiving General Harrison, at the Battle 
of Tippecanoe, by pointing out an unfavorable lo- 


cation for a camping ground. He says that the 
Kick-a-poos laughed at this and told him that the 
old general had selected the best site in the locality 
for a ground of defense, and Hubbard to verify 
this statement made a trip to the battle ground 
and said he was convinced that the Kick-a-poo 
statement was true. He mentions Burnett's creek 
on the west side of Battle Ground. 

The reasons for the existence of this great trail 
are at once apparent. The Potawatomi control 
extended from lake Michigan to the north bank 
of the Wabash, reaching down that stream as far 
as the outlet of Big Pine creek. Mr. Hiram Beck- 
with, once president of the Illinois Historical So- 
ciety, is authority for the statement that the 
groves in the prairies west of Lafayette contained 
mixed villages of Kick-a-poos and Potawatomi. 
Parish's grove had an Indian burying ground on 
the west side of it, which was visited by bands 
of Potawatomi as late as the "40's." All the 
groves and prairies of Indiana and Illinois and 
along the line of this Potawatomi trail have In- 
dian traditions connected with them. Topenebee, 
the great chief of the Potawatomi, was well ac- 
quainted with all this ground. Now this great 
trail, running the whole length of the Potawatomi 
domain from lake Michigan to the Wabash, serv- 
ed to unite all the Indian villages in these groves, 
led directly to the great fishing grounds of the 
Iroquois and the trapping and hunting grounds of 
Beaver lake and the Kankakee, and connected the 
different bands of this tribe with the trading post 


under the guns of Fort Dearborn at the north, and 
with the ancient post of Ouiatenon, the French 
traders of the Wabash, and the post of Vincennes 
on the south. In General Harrison's day, and 
later, it was no uncommon sight to see drunken 
Potawatomi and Kick-a-poos in the streets of Vin- 
cennes. Samuel R. Brown, who visited Vincennes 
about 1817, says: "There was several Indian 
traders — great numbers of Indians resort hither 
to sell their peltries. The tribes who frequent 
this place and reside on the Wabash are the Kick- 
a-poos, Miamis, Putawatomies, Shawnese, Weaws, 
and Delawares." Morris Birbeck, another learn- 
ed traveler says : "The Indians are encamped in 
considerable numbers round the town, and are 
continually riding in to the stores and the whiskey 

The early accounts of the Iroquois, the Kanka- 
kee and the Beaver lake, all agree that at one time 
they constituted the great hunting and trapping 
grounds of the Potawatomi in northern Indiana. 
Beaver lake and its contiguous swamps abounded 
at one time with fur bearing animals, such as the 
muskrat, the mink and the beaver. "It was located 
almost wholly within the limits of McClellan 
township, in Newton county, Indiana," and, "as 
shown by the meander lines of the government 
survey, and as the lake existed before being ma- 
terially reduced by drainage, it was the largest 
body of water in the state of Indiana. Its great- 
est width from north to south was about four and 
one-half miles, and its greatest length from east 


to west was about seven and one-fourth miles. It 
covered an area of about twenty-five square miles, 
or about sixteen thousand acres of land. In ear- 
lier times the water of the main body of the lake 
was perhaps six to ten feet deep, and abounded 
in fish of all varieties usually found in streams 
and lakes in this locality, and was especially re- 
markable for the number of buffalo fish that 
abounded in its waters." The party of land hunt- 
ers, heretofore mentioned, who accompanied the 
Potawatomi to this lake in 1824, described it as 
"a beautiful lx)dy of water, very clear and rather 
shallow, a delightful place for the Indians to hunt, 
fish and bathe. It was one of the principal camp- 
ing grounds of the Potawatomi Indians, and with 
the exception of the visit with their friends along 
the Wabash, the white men who were with the 
party, enjoyed the stay at Beaver lake better than 
all the rest of the trip." Is it any wonder, then, 
that we find a main line of travel, extending from 
the groves of the prairies, and from the trading 
posts, to and from these rivers and lakes where 
the savage went to supply his wants, and to se- 
cure those valuable furs which he found so useful 
in exchange? It is plain to be seen that Le Vas- 
seur and Hubbard exercised some degree of intel- 
ligence in establishing the early post of Bunkum 
on one of the main trails leading to these ideal 
trapping grounds. 

The travel over the southern part of this great 
trail, to and from the ancient village of Ouiate- 
non, must have been extensive. No doubt a large 


part of the traffic from Beaver lake went this 
way, keeping to the prairie route where fewer ob- 
stacles would be encountered in the journey, and 
taking advantage of the frequent groves and In- 
dian villages along the way. Fort Ouiatenon was 
one of the earliest French trading posts in the 
west. It was established, as Logan Esarey says, 
for the protection of the fur trade. "It is pos- 
sible," observed Sieur de Vincennes, "to send out 
from this post every year about thirty thousand 
skins." At this point also existed for several 
years an unscrupulous band of half breed French 
traders with whiskey, beads and trinkets, who 
took every advantage possible of the ignorant 
savages. But the Potawatomi were always fa- 
vorable to these French traders, who seemed to 
understand them better, were less brusque with 
them, and frequently intermarried with members 
of the tribe. 

This great Indian pathway is not without its 
historical interest. It played a conspicuous part 
in the shaping of the history of the northwest. 
Over it, probably passed the renowned Shaubena, 
chief of the Prairie Potawatomi, to form a league 
with Tecumseh and the Prophet. This was in the 
spring of 1807, and was Shaubena's first meeting 
with that famous chieftain. The friendship thus 
formed was afterwards cemented by frequent in- 
tercourse. Shaubena was with Tecumseh at the 
great council with General Harrison, in 1810. In 
the fall of that same year, Tecumseh started out 
on his great mission of uniting the Indian tribes 


against the further progress of the white man. 
He rode hundreds of miles across the forest and 
prairie, accompanied by three principal chiefs, 
and all were mounted on spirited black ponies. 
Their nearest route to Shaubena's village would 
be by the side trail leading from the site of the 
present city of Lafayette, west across the prairies 
to Parish's grove. There was a persistent tradi- 
tion among the early settlers of Benton county 
that Tecumseh had at one time camped there. 
This was probably the occasion. Shaubena after- 
wards related that Tecumseh arrived at his vil- 
lage on the Illinois river on a warm day in the 
early part of Indian summer. The trip across 
the vast expanse of prairie at this delightful sea- 
son must have been entrancing. The arrival of 
so distinguished a person as Tecumseh was no 
common event. "On the following day a favorite 
dog was killed, a feast made for the distinguished 
visitors, and the night spent with songs and 
dances." Shaubena accompanied Tecumseh on 
this occasion, on his visit to the Winnebagos of 
Wisconsin, and the success of that venture was 
afterwards shown by the prasence of so many re- 
nowned Winnebago warriors at the battle of Tip- 
pecanoe, dressed in their gorgeous headdress of 
eagle feathers, and mentioned by General Harri- 
son as displaying the most conspicuous bravery. 

Along this famous trail undoubtedly passed 
many of those Potawatomi who took part in the 
terrible massacre of the garrison of Fort Dear- 
bom, on August 15th, 1812. Mrs. J. H. Kinzie 


in her vivid account of this affair, speaks of a 
party of Indians arriving from the Wabash. 
"These were," her narrative continues, "the most 
hostile and implacable of all the tribes of the Pot- 

Says Copley, "they brained innocent children, 
clinging to their mothers' knees, and then struck 
down the mothers, and with hands reeking with 
blood, tore their scalps from their heads even be- 
fore death had put an end to their sufferings." 
Such was the horrible fate that innocents often 
met, at the hands of these cruel and relentless 


tKfje (Blh Cfjitago Eoab 

OiVER the trail of the savage passes the foot 
J of the white man, and civihzation dawns. 
miM A road is an artery along which flows the 
new blood that imparts life and vigor to a new 
country. It was the building of roads that enab- 
led Rome to extend her laws and establish her em- 
pire in the old world; it was by way of the Na- 
tional highway of the early days of the Republic 
that the west was finally conquered and perma- 
nently settled. 

The battle of Tippecanoe over ; the English in- 
fluence over the Indian tribes of the northwest 
forever removed ; the settlement and development 
of the great west went on apace. Soon the "prai- 
rie schooner" appeared, drawn by oxen, and bear- 
ing families and all their possessions over the 
roads of the wilderness. From the time of the 
opening of the United States land office at Craw- 
fordsville, prior to 1828, the development of the 
country in the northern part of Indiana was ex- 
ceedingly rapid. "Crawfordsville," says Logan 
Esarey, "became the converging point for all 
settlers northwest of the Capital. The first set- 
tlers of Lafayette and Delphi, and what was then 


called the Upper Wabash country, made their 
way from the upper White-water valley across 
by Andersontown, thence down White river to 
Strawtown, near Noblesville. There they took 
the wilderness road, by Thomtown, to Crawfords- 
ville. From White river to Crawfordsville, there 
was not a white man's house along the trace in 

With the rough pioneer roads extending to 
Crawfordsville, and later on to Lafayette, there 
came a demand for the opening up of highways 
north of the Wabash river. General Harrison's 
soldiers on their historic march to the battlefield 
of the Tippecanoe, had discovered blue-grass in 
the prairies of Vermilion and Warren counties, 
and they had been wonderfully impressed with 
the vast areas of open plain containing rich and 
productive soil. General Tipton had recorded in 
his rather rough and illiterate diary, that the 
troops of Harrison, on the morning after the bat- 
tle of Tippecanoe, had discovered a "grait Deal 
of corn" at Prophet's Town ; that after loading six 
wagons with corn, the troops had destroyed the 
balance, estimated at two thousand bushels. These 
facts became generally known with the return of 
the troops to southern Indiana and Kentucky. 
Great reports had been made of a virgin land, 
filled with pleasant groves. Deer were known to 
abound, and all kinds of wild game. Discerning 
men, even at that day, saw great possibilities 
♦^head for the grazing of herds. Some of the prai- 
rie groves contained springs; others were located 


on the banks of running streams. Here was water 
and fuel, and refuge from the storms of the prai- 
rie. With Ithe development of markets, their 
greater accessibility, all things were possible. 
Long before the "40's" had arrived, men were pre- 
dicting the coming greatness of the old Post of 
Chicago. There was the old line of the Potawato- 
mi trail from Kick-a-poo to Post Chicago, and 
another ill defined trail leading into this from the 
vicinity of Lafayette, but no roads. 

Accordingly, we find the legislature of 1829 ap- 
propriating the sum of seven hundred and fifty 
dollars "to extend the location of the state road 
from Indianapolis to Crawfordsville, so that it 
shall run to Williamsport, in the county of War- 
ren, from thence to the state line, in a direction to 
Chicago." This was the establishment of what 
has since that time been known as "The Chicago 
Road." From Williamsport it passed in a general 
northwesterly direction past the site of the pres- 
ent town of Boswell, to Parish's grove, which it 
entered at the southeast comer; from thence it 
passed over the prairies for a distance of eight 
miles to Sugar grove; from thence it passed 
northwest to the state line, near Raub. An exten- 
sion of this road into the state of Illinois passed 
on to Bunkum, on the Iroquois river, intersect- 
ing at that point what was called "Hubbard's 
Trail" to Chicago. To the settlers who later haul- 
ed produce and drove cattle from Crawfordsville 
and Williamsport to Chicago, the whole road from 
Crawfordsville to Chicago was known as "The 


3 •- 


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- ti 


ai w 









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, H 



Chicago Road." From Parish's grove on into Chi- 
cago, the line of the old trail of the Potavvatomi, 
and the line of "The Chicago Road' 'were practi- 
cally identical. Men who traveled it in the later 
days had scarcely heard of such a thing as a trail. 

If you would examine the Colton map of 1838, 
printed in this volume, you will plainly see the 
lines of three roads, all entering Parish's grove. 
The one farthest to the left is the old state road 
from Williamsport and Crawf ordsville ; the one in 
the center, passing through Rainsville, is the old 
Potawatomi trail, extending from Kick-a-poo to 
Parish's grove, over which Berry Wricker and 
his companions traveled in 1824; the one to the 
right is the Lafayette road, running from Lafay- 
ette to Parish's grove, and crossing Big Pine creek. 
This Lafayette road followed the line of the old 
trail extending south and east from Parish's 
grove to Ouiatenon and the Wabash. By consult- 
ing the map, the markings of the trail as it runs 
northwest from Parish's grove, may be plainly 
seen, and also the point of intersection with Hub- 
bard's trail, which is the first trail west of the 
state line. The point of intersection, however, 
should be at the Iroquois river, instead of farther 
south, for Hubbard's trail was first established 
from Bunkum on the Iroquois, north to Chicago. 
The extension of the trail south from Bunkum oc- 
curred in later years. 

Over these roads and trails from the south and 
east came a large portion of the early settlers 


that settled Warren and Benton counties, and 
many passed on into Newton, Lake and Porter. 
From the early "40's" a steady stream of emigrant 
wajrons from the south began to roll over the prai- 
ries toward Illinois, Iowa, Michigan and Wiscon- 
sin. There were whole months, when, at any time 
on any day, a "prairie schooner" might be seen 
traveling across the plains from Parish's grove 
to the northwest. The old trail suddenly assumed 
a national importance. From Ohio, Kentucky and 
all Indiana south of the Wabash, a tide rolled on 
that ultimately filled all the groves and prairies 
north of the Wabash, and overflowed into other 
and newer territories to the north and west. 

The amount of travel alon.'/ this old trail in the 
"40's," and later, was greatly augmented by the 
constantly increasing number of wagons coming 
from Tippecanoe, Warren, Fountain, Montgom- 
ery and other counties, laden with produce for the 
growing market of Chicago, which had an outlet 
to the east by way of the Great Lakes. A promi- 
nent citizen of the early days of Chicago, speaks 
of the "Hoosiers" supplying a large share of the 
food supply consumed and shipped from that 
point, such as hogs, cattle, wheat, rye, flax and 
other articles of consumption. "The Chicago 
Road" became a great feeder to this growing lake 
port. "Prior to the year 1853," says John Ade, 
"at which time the railroad between Indianapolis 
and Lafayette was completed, and the Illinois 
Central began to run trains between Chicago and 
Kankakee, there would be in the fall of each year 


an immense amount of travel on the roads be- 
tween Lafayette and Chicago, mostly farmers' 
teams hauling wheat to Chicago, or coming back 
loaded with salt and groceries of all kinds, either 
for their own use or for the merchants who had 
purchased stocks of goods east and shipped the 
same to Chicago by way of the lakes. To accom- 
odate this travel, camping places, and in several 
instances, "taverns," as they were then called, 
had been established a few miles apart, all the 
way between Lafayette and Chicago." 

To this must be added a large volume of travel 
coming from points farther south along the Wa- 
bash and from Warren, Fountain and even Mont- 
gomery counties. 

The list of "taverns" and camping places along 
this route for the accomodation of travelers is 
thus most interestingly told by Mr. Ade. "After 
leaving Lafayette, the first would be Oxford, at 
that time the county seat of Benton county. Par- 
ish grove was the next point; then Sumner's (Su- 
gar) grove, between Mud Pine and Sugar creek; 
then Bunkum, at which point there were two tav- 
erns, one on each side of the Iroquois river. The 
next was the Buck Horn Tavern, located near 
where the present town of Donovan, Illinois, 
stands. The next tavern was at the crossing of 
Beaver Creek, and the next was known as the Big 
Spring about half way between Beaver Creek and 
Momence. Then on to Momence, at the crossing 
of the Kankakee River. The next general stop- 
ping place was called Yellow Head Point, said to 


be named after an Indian who lived there, by the 
name of Yellow Head. The next point on the road 
was Blue Island, and then came Chicago, a dist- 
ance of about one hundred and thirty miles from 
Lafayette, and taking six to eight days to make 
the trip." 

It might be added that this Indian whom Mr. 
Ade speaks of as being named Yellow Head, was 
a drunken and quarrelsome savage who once caus- 
ed Mr. Gurdon S. Hubbard a great deal of trouble 
at Bunkum after imbibing a little too much fire- 

John Pugh, a late respected citizen of Warren 
county, when a boy fourteen years of age, made a 
trip over this road, which he persisted in calling 
"The Chicago Trail," in the year 1841. The party 
consisted of several men, horses and wagons. 
Peter Schoonover, grandfather of Judge Isaac 
Schoonover, at one time judge of the Fountain 
circuit court, accompanied the party and drove 
two yoke of oxen. It was the custom of those 
days to make the trip to Chicago in companies, in 
order to guard against the hazards of the journey, 
and to provide means of "pulling out" the other 
fellow in case he "got stuck" in the mud. To the 
eager boy of fourteen, this pilgrimage of ten or 
twelve days through the wilderness, crossing 
plains and rivers, sleeping at frontier taverns, and 
at last reaching the great lake and the Post of 
Chicago, was an experience that he remembered 
as long as he lived. 

The way was long and the journey difficult, as 


the ground was extremely soft and wet, and this 
made hard pulling for the teams. The elder Pugh 
had a load of about twenty-five bushels of grain, 
consisting of wheat and flax, the latter grain being 
much grown in the early days to subdue and rot 
the sod of the prairies. The market price of wheat 
in Chicago at that time was thirty-seven and one- 
half cents per bushel, and flax was seventy-five 
cents per bushel. 

Coming out of Warren county the wagon struck 
the main trail in the vicinity of where the town 
of Boswell now stands, and the boy remembered 
seeing a man come across the prairies in a wagon. 
The hoofs of a deer were sticking up above the top 
of the box. Deer were then very abundant. The 
first camping ground was on the northwest slope 
of Parish's grove, near the renowned tavern of 
Robert Alexander. The horses and oxen were 
watered at the fine spring of pure water, at the 
foot of the slope, which had made this a favorite 
camping ground of the Indians. 

Morning on the prairie was glorious. An early 
start was made, and the party arrived at Bunkum 
on the second evening and at Beaver Lake creek 
on the third. At Beaver lake creek the wagons 
mired in the bog, and were pulled out by Schoon- 
over's oxen. On the arrival of the company at 
Chicago, which was then a small place, Pugh re- 
membered of watering the horses at the lake 
front. The waves were very high, and at one 
moment the horses were splashing knee deep, and 


at the next they would be standing on the naked 

After disposal of their loads and doing some 
trading, the party returned over the same route. 
Pugh recalled the bartering of seventy-five coon 
skins, the product of many a good night's hunt, 
and of his father buying a stove, which was then 
a curiosity, and some articles of wearing apparel. 
The whole party of travelers, however, were clad 
in homespun, the product of the pioneer looms of 
those days. 

The whole country from Warren county to the 
lake was then in a state of nature. Bogs and 
marshes were frequent, but in places the level 
prairie extended in unbroken grandeur for many 
a league. Wild game v/as extremely plentiful in 
the fall of the year. In the night time, when the 
wagons rolled along, the great flocks of geese and 
brants, aroused by the approaching teams, and 
arising from the ponds and low places, made a 
great noise and clamor. 


^ Cabern of ti)e €>lb 3iaps 


ONE forever are the old time taverns, and 
the old time roads, but the history of one 
of the most famous road houses of that 
day, north of the Wabash river, will serve to 
bring to light some most interesting events con- 
nected with early travel, and the pursuit of wild 
game by hundreds of sportsmen who formerly 
flocked from every direction to the prairies of the 

Nothing was more natural than that a tavern 
should be established at the point of convergence 
of the three roads that formerly entered Parish's 
grove. Thousands of cattle and horses were 
driven over them to Chicago. Emigrant wagons 
were constantly to be seen lumbering over the 
prairies, drawn by gaunt horses or oxen, and gen- 
erally with a dog trailing along behind. Com- 
panies of farmers passed through with produce, 
or were wending their way homeward from the 
city on the lake with their purchases. Hunters 
came here with fleet footed horses and packs of 
well trained hounds to pursue deer and wolves. 

Robert Alexander was formerly the keeper of 
a ferry at Lafayette. He came to Parish's grove 


about 1836 and established his tavern on the west- 
ern side, on high ground, commanding a view of 
the prairies and the Chicago road to the north- 
west. West of this tavern a short distance was a 
spring of good water, at which travelers watered 
their horses, and procured a fresh supply for the 
journey. The tavern itself was unpretentious, but 
meat and provisions could be secured there, and a 
part of the travelers, if they were not too numer- 
ous, could be accomodated with lodgings. There 
were two or three bedrooms, and plenty of blan- 
kets. Sometimes cots were made on the floor. To 
add to the good cheer of the place, there were two 
large open fireplaces, and he who had ridden in 
the chill autumn air of the prairies, might light 
his pipe and watch the great logs bum. There 
was a "bar room," and Alexander kept plenty of 
good whiskey. Early in the *'40's" the Washing- 
ton Temperance Societies were rampant and Alex- 
ander had six indictments returned against him in 
1841, in the newly established court at Oxford, In- 
diana, for selling certain gills of whiskey to cer- 
tain named persons; but good cheer continued 
long after that. Alexander was florid of count- 
enance, told a story well, and occasionally rounded 
out his sentences with a ferryman's oath. 

His business flourished. One who entered the 
grove at night fall, while the season of travel was 
on, saw horses and wagons, men, women, children, 
and even dogs, in great numbers. The camps of 
the emigrants were generally established close to 
the tavern and the spring. At times the whole 


western side of the woods was lit up and illumi- 
nated with the camp fires. 

But the stirring times in the history of the old 
tavern were when the parties of hunters with 
horses and hounds came out from Chicago, Indian- 
apolis, Lafayette, and even from as far south as 
Cincinnati and Louisville, with guns, horses and 
packs of hounds. Many came to engage in the 
chase. Sportsmen of national reputation often 
came there. Others came to hunt geese and 
ducks. Great numbers came in the fall of the 
year to hunt the prairie chickens, and this was 
probably the most entertaining of all the plea- 
sures of the field. 

Judge James Hall has described an early morn- 
ing scene on the great prairies with so much fidel- 
ity that we cannot refrain from copying it here. 

"If it be the spring of the year, and the young 
grass has just covered the ground with a carpet 
of delicate green, and especially if the sun is rising 
from behind the distant swell of the plain, and 
glittering upon the dew drops, no scene can be 
more lovely to the eye. The deer is seen grazing 
quietly upon the plain; the bee is on the wing; 
the wolf, with his tail drooped, is sneaking away 
to his covert, with the felon tread of one who is 
conscious that he has disturbed the peace of na- 
ture ; and the grouse, feeding in flocks, or in pairs, 
like the domestic fowl, cover the whole surface — 
the males strutting and erecting their plumage 
like the peacock, and uttering a long, loud, mourn- 


ful note, something like the cooing of the dove, 
but resembling still more the sound produced by 
passing a rough finger boldly over the surface of 
the tambourine. The numl>er of these fowls is 
astonishing. The plain is covered with them ; and 
when they have been driven from the ground by 
deep snow, I have seen thousands — or more, prob- 
ably tens of thousands — thickly clustered in the 
tops of the trees surrounding the prairies." 

The scene above described, in its entirety, was 
particularly applicable to the grand prairie north 
of the Wabash until as late as the early 70's. No 
one in this age may even conceive of the vast num- 
ber of prairie chickens, or pinnated grouse, that 
covered the plains. It was possible to shoot them 
in numbers from the bed of a wagon driven 
through the prairie. They got up almost at the 
horses' feet. The sport of shooting these birds 
was keenly relished, but thousands of them were 
slain uselessly, and those who murdered the young 
birds before they had arrived at a proper age, 
were poor sportsmen. 

"The story of the pinnated grouse," says Van 
Dyke, "is the story of the prairie, interwoven with 
that of the buffalo, the Indian, the white man's 
gun and the plow of civilization. The buffalos, 
which for countless years held undisputed sway 
over the broadest country out of doors, were first 
to go." Only a few scattering flocks of these 
birds now remain north of the Wabash. With 
the coming of a denser population, and the 
breaking up of the prairies, they gradually began 


to disappear, moving farther west and following 
the frontier, but in the days of Alexander's tav- 
ern, and much later, the hunting of the prairie 
chicken was one of the principal sports of the fall 
season, and brought men, dogs and guns from far 
and near. 

John Reynolds, governor of Illinois, during the 
Blackhawk war, in speaking of the prevalence 
of wild game on the early prairies of Illinois, says : 
"Wild fowls in pioneer times were very numerous. 
In the fall and spring, great numbers flew over 
us north and south, and at times the air was al- 
most darkened with them. The fowls generally 
flew in order, and assumed the form something 
like the letter "V," point foremost. One alone 
is generally in front, and the two lines are ex- 
tended back from the foremost patriarch of the 
flock." He who has not seen these great flying 
squadrons of geese and brants, literally filling the 
whole air, and emitting their sharp cries until the 
whole sky was filled with their clamor; who has 
not heard their wild honking on dark and stormy 
nights when they seemed to have lost their bear- 
ings, and were wearily seeking a haven of rest; 
or who, as a boy, has not lain awake long after 
their cries had passed on into the darkness, and 
wondered where they were going, and whether 
the old gander who was always at the head, would 
pilot them safely out of danger, has missed pleas- 
ing sights and recollections. The great marshes 
of the Kankakee and Beaver lake swarmed with 
millions of geese, ducks and brants. In the early 


70's and 80's, when the grain fields began to ap- 
pear on the prairies to the south, and fields of corn 
would often-times remain unhusked over the win- 
ter and until the following spring, the geese 
would make daily pilgrimages to the south to 
feed, appearing in the northern horizon early in 
the morning, and flying to the north again late in 
the evening. To estimate the numbers would be 
impossible. There were thousands upon thou- 
sands of them, all in "V" formation, and with the 
great ganders in the lead. If the wind w^as high 
and the flocks were beating against it, they tacked 
like a sailing vessel at sea, sometimes flying so 
low that you could almost see their eyes. Thou- 
sands of them were slain by the guns of hunters, 
but with the growth of the countrj^ the great 
flocks disappeared and one of the most pictur- 
esque features of the early prairies was forever 

Many strange and curious tales greeted the 
ears of the hunters who made their rendezvous 
here in the early times; tales told by the landlord 
to his guests as they sat smoking and drinking 
before the cheerful blaze of the logs. There were 
great fires on the prairie that ran through the 
dr>' grass with the speed of a horse, carrying 
death and destruction to many forms of animal 
life; there were terrible blizzards that swept 
across the open plains in the winter. The velocity 
of the winds during these storms, with nothing 
on the open plains to obstruct or retard their fury; 
the blinding drive of the fine snow, obscuring 


everything, and penetrating the heaviest gar- 
ments, the bitter cold benumbing the limbs — 
meant speedy death to him who lost his way. A 
lone horseman had started late one day for Sugar 
grove. The blizzard came on and he lost his way. 
Weeks afterward his body was found buried in the 
entrails of his horse. He had slain the animal 
and burrowed in to escape the cold, but had miser- 
ably perished. Alexander did not exaggerate in 
this instance. A pioneer relates that in later days 
and after Alexander's time, a blizzard occurred 
that piled up the snow on the prairie so deep, that 
he w^as forced to remain at Parish's grove for a 
period of ten days. Another instance of lost tra- 
velers killing their horses and attempting to save 
themselves by burrowing into the carcass, is re- 
corded in the history of Lake county. 

But the more interesting narratives were those 
relating to the Indians. They had regarded this 
grove as a great camping ground and had aban- 
doned it with reluctance. The abundance of game 
on every hand, the plentiful supply of wood, and 
the running streams of water had made it an ideal 
location. Flint arrowheads in great abundance, 
and stone hatchets, had been discovered here; to 
the west of the spring was an old burial ground, 
and straggling bands of Indians still came there to 
dance about the graves. 

The Indians that came, however, were sadly 
lacking in that boldness and sagacity that had 
marked their ancestors. With the breaking up of 
the great confederacy of Tecumseh, the warriors 


had lost both leadership and spirit, and the fright- 
ful ravages of fire-water had made them degener- 
ate. They were now but a handful of despised 
and miserable outcasts in their own land, fast 
passing into oblivion and forgetfulness. 

Among the members of one of the degenerate 
bands was an old Kickapoo by the name of Parish. 
Either to escape his crimes, or to hide his face 
forever from his fellow men, he had fled to this 
grove. In the top of an enormous walnut tree 
on the summit of a high crest, he had erected a 
scaffolding, some say to protect himself from the 
mosquitoes. He was a drunkard, and tradition 
said that one day, while in a drunken stupor, he 
fell from his lofty perch, and that his life was 
dashed out on the ground below. Besotted as he 
was, the grove was given his name. The tree that 
he fell from, and the markings of his burial place, 
were long afterwards pointed out to the curious. 
The tree from which Parish fell was of enormous 
proportions, being six feet in diameter, and twen- 
ty-one feet in circumference. A man from Kent- 
land bought a piece of it, thirty feet in length, and 
two inches thick, to be used as a counter in a store. 

Other tales were told of great flocks of wild 
pigeons which were so thick as to obscure the sun. 
Wild turkeys were also found in this grove in the 
days of Alexander, and later. A flock of wild tur- 
keys was driven by the farmers of Warren county 
across the prairies and into this grove, and many 
of them were slain there. 


®t)e (§ranb prairie 

HN Sunday, the 3rd day of November, 1811, 
General Harrison's army, with scouts in 
front, and wagons lumbering along be- 
tween the flanks, crossed the Big Vermillion river, 
traversed Sand Prairie and the woods to the north 
of it, and in the afternoon of the same day caught 
their first glimpse of "The Grand Prairie," in 
Warren county, then wet with the cold November 
rains. That night they camped in Round grove, 
near the present town of Sloan, marched eighteen 
miles across the prairie the next day, and camped 
on the east bank of Pine creek, just north of the 
old site of Brier's Mills. To the most of them at 
least, the sight must have been both novel and 
grand; if they could have known then that the 
vast undulating plain before them stretched west- 
ward in unbroken grandeur, a distance of two 
hundred and fifty miles to the Mississippi river 
at Quincy; that these vast possessions in a few 
short years would pass from the control of the 
savage tribes that roam.ed over them, and would 
become the future great granaries of the world, 
producing enough cereals to feed an empire, what 
must have been their thoughts! 


The magnitude of this great plain, now teem- 
ing with thousands of homes and farms, is sel- 
dom realized. Draw a line straight west from 
old Fort Vincennes to the Mississippi, and prac- 
tically all north of it, to the Wisconsin line is "The 
Grand Prairie." "Westward of the Wabash, ex- 
cept occasional tracts of timbered lands in north- 
em Indiana, and fringes of forest growth along 
the intervening watercourses, the prairies stretch 
westward continuously across Indiana, and the 
whole of Illinois to the Mississippi. Taking the 
line of the Wabash railway, which crosses Illinois 
in its greatest breadth, and beginning in Indiana, 
where the railway leaves the timber, west of the 
Wabash near Marshfield (in Warren county), the 
prairie extends to Quincy, a distance of more than 
two hundred and fifty miles, and its continuity 
the entire way is only broken by four strips of 
timber along four streams running at right angles 
with the route of the railway, namely, the timber 
on the Vermillion river, between Danville and 
the Indiana state line; the Sangamon, seventy 
miles west of Danville, near Decatur; the Sanga- 
mon again a few miles east of Springfield, and the 
Illinois river at Meredosia. And all the timber 
at the crossing of these several streams, if put to- 
gether, would not aggregate fifteen miles against 
the two hundred and fifty miles of prairie. Tak- 
ing a north and south direction and parallel with 
the drainage of the rivers, one could start near 
Ashley, on the Illinois Central railway, in Wash- 
ington county, and going northward, nearly on an 


air line, keeping on the divide between Kaskaskia 
and Little Wabash, the Sangamon and the Vermil- 
lion, the Iroquois and the Vermilion of the Illinois, 
crossing the latter stream between the mouths of 
the Fox and DuPage, and travel through to the 
state of Wisconsin, a distance of nearly three hun- 
dred miles, without encountering five miles of 
timber during the whole journey." 

All of that portion of Indiana lying north and 
west of the Wabash, is essentially a part of "The 
Grand Prairie." "Of the twenty-seven counties in 
Indiana, lying wholly or partially west and north 
of the Wabash, twelve are prairie, seven are mix- 
ed prairies, barrens and timber, the barrens and 
prairie predominating. In five, the barrens, with 
the prairies, are nearly equal to the timber, while 
only three of the counties can be characterized as 
heavily timbered. And wherever timber does oc- 
cur in these tv/enty-seven counties, it is found in 
localities favorable to its protection against the 
ravages of fire, by the proximity of intervening 
lakes, marshes or watercourses." On the Indiana 
side, the most pronounced of the tracts of prairie 
occur in westera Warren, Benton, southern and 
central Newton, southern Jasper, and western 
White and Tippecanoe. Benton was originally 
covered with a great pampas of blue-stem, high as 
a horse's head, interspersed here and there with 
swamps of willows and bull-grass, while only nar- 
row fringes of timber along the creeks, and some 
five or six groves of timber and woodland, widely 


scattered, served as land marks to the early tra- 

Those who early observed and explored the 
grassy savannas of Indiana and Illinois, always 
maintained that they were kept denuded of trees 
and forests by the action of the great prairie fires. 
Amonj? those who have supported this theory are 
the Hon. James Hall, author of The West, publish- 
ed in Cincinnati in 1848; the Hon. John Reynolds, 
former governor of the state of Illinois, and the 
Hon. John D, Caton, a late judge of the supreme 
court of Illinois. Caton's observations on this 
subject are so interesting and ingenious that we 
cannot refrain from making the following quo- 
tation : 

"The cause of the absence of trees on the upland 
prairies is the problem most important to the agri- 
cultural interests of our state, and it is the inquiry 
which alone I propose to consider, but cannot re- 
sist the remark that wherever we do find timber 
throughout the broad field of prairie, it is always 
in or near the humid portions of it, as along the 
margins of streams, or upon or near the springy 
uplands. Many most luxuriant growths are found 
on the highest portions of the uplands, but always 
in the neighborhood of water. For a remarkable 
example, I may refer to the great chain of groves 
extending from and including the Au Sable Grove 
on the east and Holderman's Grove on the west, in 
Kendall county, occupying the high divide between 
the waters of the Illinois and the Fox rivers. In 
and around all the groves flowing springs abound, 


and some of them are separated by marshes, to 
the borders of which the great trees approach, as 
if the forest was ready to seize upon each yard of 
ground as soon as it is elevated above the swamps. 
Indeed, all our groves seem to be located where 
water is so disposed as to protect them, to a 
greater or less extent, from the prairie fire, al- 
though not so situated as to irrigate them. If the 
head v/aters of the streams on the prairies are 
most frequently timber, as soon as they have at- 
tained sufficient volume to impede the progress of 
the fires, with very few exceptions, we find for- 
ests on their borders, becoming broader and more 
vigorous as the magnitude of the streams in- 
crease. It is manifest that the land located on the 
borders of streams which the fire cannot pass, are 
only exposed to one-half the fires to which they 
would be exposed but for such protection. This 
tends to show, at least, that if but one-half the 
fires that have occurred had been kindled, the ar- 
boraceous growth could have withstood their de- 
structive influences, and the whole surface of 
what is now prairie would be forest. Another 
confirmatory fact, patent to all observers, is, that 
the prevailing winds upon the prairies, especially 
in the autumn, are from the west, and these give 
direction to the prairie fires. Consequently, the 
lands on the westerly sides of the streams are the 
most exposed to the fires, and, as might be ex- 
pected, we find much the most timber on the east- 
erly sides of the streams." 

Local observation would seem to confirm the 


judge's views. Parish grove, on the old Chicago 
road, in Benton county, was filled with springs, 
and a rather large spring on the west side of the 
grove, supplied water for the horses of the emi- 
grants and travelers who took this route to the 
northwest in the early 40's. Besides this, the 
grove was situated on rather high upland, where 
the growth of grass would be much shorter than 
on the adjoining plains. It is probable that this 
spring on the west side, and the springy nature 
of the highlands back of it, kept the ground moist 
and the vegetation green, and these facts, coupled 
with the fact that the grass as it approached the 
uplands would grow shorter, probably retarded 
and checked the prairie fires from the southwest, 
and gave rise to the wonderfully diversified and 
luxuriant growth of trees that was the wonder 
of the early settlers. Sugar grove, seven miles 
to the northwest of Parish grove, and stopping 
place on the old Chicago road, lay mostly within 
the point or headland caused by the junction of 
Sugar creek from the northeast and Mud creek 
from the southeast. Scarcely a tree is on the south- 
western bank of Mud creek, but where it widens 
on the south side of the grove, it protected the 
growth of the forest on the northern side. Tur- 
key Foot grove, east and south of Earl Park, for- 
merly had a lake and depression both on the south 
and west sides of it. Hickor>' Grove, just west of 
Fowler, in the early days, had a lake or pond on 
the south and west. The timber that skirted the 
banks of Pine creek, was heaviest on the eastern 


iWagfeotia, tlje ^lace of tijc fin 

BHE savage, that true child of nature, speak- 
ing the language his great mother had 
taught him, called the prairie "Mas-Ko- 
Tia," or "The Place of the Fire." The name was 
appropriate, for those giant conflagrations, feed- 
ing on the tall, dry grass of the autumn savannas, 
and fanned into a fiery hurricane by the western 
winds, at night time illuminated the whole hea- 
vens, and sweeping onward with the speed of the 
wild horse, left nothing behind them but the black- 
ened and smoking plains. 

Imagine, if you will, thousands of acres and 
mile upon mile of the early prairie, covered in 
most places with giant blue-stem and the coarse 
blades of the bull-grass. A party of land hunters 
riding through Benton county in the fall of 1824 
and following the line of an old Indian trail, 
found blue-stem so high that a horseman could tie 
the ends over the top of his head. An observer of 
the prairies around Danville, Illinois, testified 
that: "the grass grew so high that it was a source 
of amusement to tie the tops over the withers of 
a horse, and in places the height of the grass 
would nearly obscure both horse and rider from 


view." Now let the drought of August and the 
frosts of September come, and all the plain be 
turned to a russet and brown of dry, waving 
grass, and let some party of Indians set the prai- 
rie on fire to start up the game, or some unwary 
traveler let a c^mp fire start a blaze when a heavy 
wind is on, and almost in a moment a maelstrom 
of destruction is sweeping over the plain, licking 
up and destroying everything in its path. 

The rushing noise of the hurricane, the shoot- 
ing flames leaping fifteen or twenty feet in the air, 
the vast billows of smoke rolling up into the hea- 
vens, made these prairie fires a terrible sight to 
the early squatter, who, unless he had taken the 
precaution to plow some furrows about his prem- 
ises, and had burnt out the inside of the circle, or 
had adopted some other expedient known to the 
early settler, was likely to see the work of his 
whole season, ricks of hay, stacks of grain, fields 
of corn, and all else, destroyed like a fiash. At 
night time, if one was at a point of safety, the 
spectacle was one long to be remembered. An 
advancing fire in the night time is thus described : 
"When a fire .starts under favorable conditions, 
the horizon gleams brighter and brighter until 
a fiery redness rises above its dark outline, while 
heavy, slow-moving masses of dark clouds curve 
upward above it. In another moment the blaze 
itself shoots up, first at one spot, then at another, 
advancing until the whole horizon extending 
across a wide prairie, is clothed with flames that 
roll and curve and dash onward and upward like 


— r X 

•^ s 


waves of a burning ocean, lighting up the land- 
scape with the brilliancy of noon-day. A roaring, 
crackling sound is heard, like the rushing of a 
hurricane. The flame, which in general rises to 
the height of twenty feet, is seen rolling its waves 
against each other, as the liquid, fiery mass moves 
forward, leaving behind it a blackened surface 
on the ground, and long trails of murky smoke 
floating above." The vivid description above is 
given by Judge James Hall, an early observer of 
these great fires. His description is verified by 
Mr, Alonzo D. Sleeper, of Fowler, who was raised 
on the prairies. He lived in 1860 just west of the 
town of Oxford. To the north some eight or nine 
miles extended a long line of rolling uplands, con- 
stituting a long ridge just south of the present 
town of Fowler. A fire along this ridge at night 
lighted up the whole heavens so that a printed 
page could be read at the Sleeper home. 

"A prairie fire when first started, goes straight 
forvv'ard with a velocity proportioned to the force 
of the wind, widening as it goes, but the center 
keeping ahead; it spreads sideways, but burning 
laterally, it makes but comparatively slow pro- 
gress; and if the wind is moderate and steady, 
this spreading fire is not difficult to manage, but 
if the wind veers a point or two, first one way and 
then the other, it sends this fire beyond control. 
The head fire in dry grass and a head wind is a 
fearful thing, and pretty sure to have its own 
way unless there is some defensive point to meet 


The early settlers on the prairie developed 
great sag'acity in coping with these fires, but 
sometimes the wind was so strong and the veloc- 
ity of the fire so great that it seemed to leap all 
obstacles and forge ahead to the inevitable de- 
struction of the settler's property. The fire fight- 
ers were generally able to determine where the 
head of the fire was coming, by the volume of 
smoke and ashes flying, and the general outline of 
the flames. Starting at a plowed furrow, which 
was hastily run with a plow, or a cow-path, or 
roadway, or some other base of operations, a 
"backfire" was set that ran counter to the wind 
and met the advancing head, which then suddenly 
died out for the want of material. The fighters 
would then pass to the right and left and battle 
with the side fires as they came up, until all dan- 
ger was past. 

Great care had to be exercised, however, in 
starting the "backfire," for generally the currents 
of air in front of an oncoming prairie fire were 
very strong, and the backfire was likely to leap 
the furrow or cowpath used as a base, and go with 
the wind, and then the fighters had to hastily plow 
another furrow or go back to another point of 
vantage, if possible. Sometimes the "backfire" 
was not started in time to burn out a wide area 
in front of the advancing head fire, and then the 
madly rushing flames would leap the gap and rush 
on to the destruction of the settler's property. 

Strange to say, it is not recorded that any 
settlers' lives were lost in these great fires. The 


trampling of men and animals around the set- 
tler's house and stable, and for some distance 
out from the same, and the fact that live stock 
generally kept the grass cropped down around the 
premises, and fields were plowed there, served to 
protect the settler's home, but the fires often de- 
stroyed long lines of his rail fences, great quanti- 
ties of stacked hay and grain, for in those days 
the grain was stacked, and leaped into the corn 
fields and stubble ground. It was to save these 
precious possessions that the fire fighters worked 
with both men and teams for long hours at a time, 
and until men and horses were both utterly ex- 

One of the strange sights on the early prairies 
was the great number of so-called "tumble-weeds," 
seen rolling across the plains by tens of thousands 
after the frosts and in the early days of the fall, 
when the first heavy winds blew. They grew on 
the early sod lands, were globular in form, and 
after the frosts, became brittle at the base and 
were easily detached and started rolling by the 
fall winds. These great weeds would roll up 
against the long lines of rail fences, and form a 
huge bank there, and the others would roll over, 
sometimes bouncing several feet in the air when 
driven by a heavy gale. This mass of tumble 
weeds against the rail fences, however, was a 
perfect fire trap, and many a mile of fence has 
been utterly destroyed by reason of them. 

One of the spectacular sights of the early days 
was the long lines of side fires burning out in the 


prairies late in the night. It was very difficult 
to determine the distance they were away. They 
might be one mile or ten. But the long lines of 
shooting flames made you think, somehow, of ad- 
vancing armies, and lines of men. These were the 
armies of flame. 

An early traveler, Mr. John Bradbury, has ob- 
served: "That in a state of nature, these prai- 
ries were covered with a luxuriant growth of 
grass and herbaceous plants, affording a most 
abundant supply of food for the stock of the new 
settler; and it is worthy of notice, that any part 
of these prairies, when constantly fed on by cat- 
tle, becomes covered with white clover and the 
much esteemed bluegrass (Poa Compressa), as 
frequent pasturing seems to give these plants a 
predominance over all others." 

Following the early squatter on the prairies, 
came the large stock men, with their herds. The 
herds kept the long grasses down and blue-grass 
seized hold of the soil ever>'where. The preva- 
lence of large pastures of blue-grass, and the 
growing acres of cultivated fields, gradually les- 
sened and finally did away with the danger from 


#rDbe£j anb plains 

SOTHING could be more delightful than 
the open prairie in the spring and early 
summer. Stirred by the fresh morning 
breezes, the billowing grasses stretched as far 
as the eye could see, while a profusion of wild 
flowers filled the air with fragrance and added 
hues of violet and purple to a background of 
green. "A fanciful writer asserts that the preva- 
lent color of the prairie flowers is, in the spring, 
a bluish-purple; in the mid-summer, red; and in 
the autumn, yellow." Be this as it may, from the 
time that the first violets appeared under your 
feet in the spring, until you plucked the beautiful 
wild asters and goldenrod in the autumn, a rapid 
succession of flowers of all shades and colors be- 
decked the plains and added life and color to their 
wondrous beauty. "The gaiety of the prairie," 
says an early observer, "its embellishments, and 
the absence of the gloom and savage wildness of 
the forest, all contribute to dispel the feeling of 
lonesomeness which usually creeps over the mind 
of the solitary traveler in the wilderness." 

To relieve the eye, and add a pleasing variation 
to these plains of grass, little groves nestled here 


and there on the bosom of the prairie, that on a 
bright spring morning, resembled islands of blue 
in a sea of green. To enter these groves, filled 
with the songs of the thrush and gay with the 
blossoms of the crab-apple and the wild plum; to 
swing on the vine of the grape that entwined its 
ends about the tallest limbs; to listen to the chat- 
ter of numberless birds and the caw of the great 
black crows that nested and raised their young 
there; to climb into the tallest hickory or walnut 
and catch glimpses of the prairie through the vis- 
tas of the woods, was to realize the pure joy of 
living. The groves of the prairies were generally 
located on the side of a pond, or had springs of 
water in them ; sometimes a pleasant stream of 
water ran through them. The famous spring to 
the west of Parish's grove furnished an abund- 
ance of pure, fresh water to the emigrants and 
travelers on the old Chicago road. One entering 
this famous grove in 1840 would have observed 
trees of majestic height and proportions. Here 
appeared the burr-oak, elm, hickory and sugar 
trees, above all the massive and towering trunks 
of the black walnut. As you penetrated farther, 
masses of underbrush and tangled vines barred 
the way. You were entering the favorite haunts 
of the wild turkey and the partridge, which in 
the old Indian days had been numerous. In places 
you would have observed the underbrush and 
vines trampled down by the foot of the deer. The 
most surprising fact, however, was the sudden 
change in the contour of the ground. The sur- 


face was no longer regular like the surrounding 
prairie, but broken in places by sharp undula- 
tions and deep ravines. Nature stood forth here 
as wild and grand as from the beginning, present- 
ing on the one hand, woody glens and grottoes, 
scarcely touched at noonday by the rays of the 
sun, and on the other, ascending slopes, crowned 
with the tall colonnades of sylvan giants, from 
whose tops the whole panorama of the prairie ex- 
tended in the perspective. 

To many who lived on the prairies, however, 
the most beautiful time of the year, was the period 
knowTi as Indian summer, when the Indian corn 
was ripening; when cob-webs floated through the 
air and hung from the tall joints of the blue-stem 
like threads of silver ; when an indescribable haze 
permeated the landscape and made the misty 
groves look far away and low on the horizon; 
when heat waves seemed to be dancing in the air 
far over the plains, and the sunsets were red and 
golden. The fairy groves were now changed to 
red and russet and brown ; all the prairie was now 
filled with dry, rustling grasses, and after these 
dreamy days were over, the great fires came and 
robed the prairie in black, for the coming death 
of winter. 


tKfjE Jfirst Jiig Cattle=4Wan 
Moxti) of tte Wabai\} 

TiHE first to utilize the open prairies north 
______^ of the Wabash were the cattle-men. In 

01^ closing this brief work, a sketch of Ed- 
ward C. Sumner, who bought the section of land 
awarded to Topenebee at Sugar grove, and who 
in his day was without question the largest pro- 
prietor of herds north of the Wabash, may not be 
without interest. 

To the right of the highway leading south from 
the village of Earl Park, Indiana, and on the sum- 
mit of a crest that commands the valley beyond, 
stands the figure of a man carved in stone. On 
approaching we find that the face of this figure 
seems to regard the whole plain to the south and 
west. The landscape is remarkable. Far to the 
southeast is the grove of the Indian Parish — in 
the summer an island of blue in a sea of yellow 
grain ; to the west of this the headlands of Prairie 
Green extending to the plains of Illinois. To the 
extreme right lies Sugar grove, at the foot of the 
Blue Ridge — and everywhere the fields of tassel- 
ing corn, the ripe haiwest, and the wondrous 


bounty of nature. Standing on this summit a lit- 
tle over a half century ago, one might have seen 
the curling smoke of the campers' fires ascending 
from these groves in the evening, and the white 
tops of their wagons gleaming on the prairies in 
the day time. Now, 'tis a vast panorama of fields 
and farms, schools and homes, and the face of the 
image gazing on the scene by day and by night, 
seems satisfied. This is the ripening and the 
glorious fulfillment of the dream of the past. 

The conception of the artist is indeed unique. 
Sumner, in stone, contemplates, where Sumner, in 
life, once moved. Tradition says that he first 
saw this plain from Parish grove in 1834, and 
rode over the prairie on horseback to Sugar grove. 
He was then a poor pioneer in a naked wilder- 
ness, without railroads and without markets. He 
lived to see the day when from this eminence he 
could view twenty thousand acres of his own land, 
and when a herd of two thousand cattle grazed 
in the valleys below. In his trip on horseback, 
he found a wood and some running water — two 
invaluable assets in the open prairie. Persever- 
ance, grim determination, and thirty years in the 
saddle did the rest. Where other men passed 
carelessly by, he found opportunity ; where others 
scattered to the winds, he saved. Riding over 
this hill with boots and spurs, just after the civil 
war, he half jocosely, half seriously remarked to a 
companion: "This is the top of Pisgah, from 
which Moses viewed the promised land." 

The appearance and characteristics of this man 


are as interesting as his career. Sumner was a 
heavy man, nearly six feet in height, and of com- 
manding presence. His eyes were clear and gray; 
his complexion florid. His hair was wavy and 
of a yellowish tinge, changing in later years to a 
silvery gray. His forehead was lofty, and his 
head large. In conversation, he frequently dis- 
played a nervous habit of slapping his knee with 
his hand, and then you saw the pent up force of 
the man. From 1876 to the time of his death in 
1882, he rode about mostly in an old bugg>'. He 
drove two black horses and had four or five 
hounds following in the rear. He never loitered 
anywhere about his estate, but gave his orders 
directly, and drove on. 

In dress, Sumner was always scrupulously 
clean. He constantly wore a white shirt and cra- 
vat. In early days on his trips to Buffalo and 
New York with cattle he wore a silk plug hat, and 
this, together with his fine general appearance, 
attracted considerable attention. His favorite 
color was black. He used tobacco sparingly, and 
once told his men that he never touched a drop of 
liquor until he was forty years of age. This was 
remarkable in an age of drinking, and among cat- 

His habits were regular. He retired early and 
arose promptly at four o'clock in the morning. He 
moved about the rooms with a candle, and always 
called his men. He gave orders in the men's room 
at about 5 :30 o'clock in the morning, and outlined 
the day's work. No man ever received a charge 

Sumner's monument. The figure in stone faces what 
was once a blue-grass prairie of twenty-five 
thousand acres, watered by Sugar Creek and 
its tributaries. Photo by Alexis Frech- 
ette, of Fowler, Indiana. 


the nig-ht before. Among his men he was always 
popular, and those who associated with him per- 
sonally were always loyal to him. At times he 
lightened the monotony of the long evenings in 
the winter by playing cards with them. He loved 
a diligent man, but despised a sloth. He was 
never known to treat one who labored for him, 

In numerous ways, Sumner clung to old fash- 
ioned and odd ways. When he visited the bank 
at Lafayette, Reynolds would stuff his pockets 
full of check books. The next order in payment 
for cattle or grain would probably come in written 
on the margin of a newspaper or a piece of paste- 
board. He always maintained the man be- 
hind the check was the important thing. He car- 
ried in his vest pocket a short, stubby lead pencil, 
and with this he often wrote with hasty hand, 
orders and checks for thousands of dollars. He 
bought at one time a herd of one hundred and 
fifty cattle from a man near Frankfort, Indiana. 
He wrote a check on the margin of a copy of the 
old Chicago Times, and the payee got scared. The 
check was honored, however, at the Lafayette 
bank. He carried his money in a roll in his pants 
pocket. When asked for money by one of his men, 
he always went through the perfunctory process 
of feeling in one vest pocket and then in the other, 
where he invariably met with failure; and then 
he went after the roll. In handing over a bill, he 
always turned away his head, when the money left 
his hands. At one time Mrs. Sumner purchased 


a carriage for three hundred fifty dollars. It was 
the finest equipage on the prairies, and was hand 
made in Attica. Sumner considered this as ex- 
travagance, and was highly indignant. Still, he 
said nothing to his wife, as he always had the pro- 
foundest respect for her. His own tastes were 
simple, and this was the fixed habit of a life of 

An old man intimately acquainted with Sumner, 
relates that he had a wonderful mind and mem- 
ory. He said that he remembered of reading to 
Sumner in the spring of 1861, Lincoln's First In- 
augural address. He was amazed to find that Sum- 
ner could repeat it almost word for word. With- 
out culture, he was keen and discerning, had a 
fine knowledge of men and human nature, an*-/ 
pursued the matter in hand with relentless ten- 

Although born in the state of Vermont. Sumner 
had in his veins a strain of the Irish blood. He 
had a fine sense of humor and like many men of 
his time, loved a rough joke. He also loved a 
fight. In the early days there were many con- 
tentions and many lawsuits, and Sumner had his 
share. Daniel Mace, of Lafayette, was his law- 
yer for fourteen years in the legal struggle over 
the lands of the Potawatomi chief, Topeneebee. 
in section thirty-one, known as "The Indian 
Float." He told a companion in after years that 
a lawsuit to him was a recreation ; something that 
drew his mind away from the strain of his af- 
fairs. He enjoyed the wrangles of the attorneys, 


and the clash of the forum. He often invited men 
to go and hear the lawyers "tear up the other 

In the early days men often traveled in the 
night to avoid the swarms of green-head flies. 
One night William Reynolds, the banker, and a 
friend by the name of Brainbridge, arrived at 
Sugar grove at about 11 p. m. In those days 
many travelers put up at Sumner's grove, as it 
was a station on the old Chicago trail, and was the 
only resting place between Parish grove and Bun- 
kum. Reynolds wanted to stop, but Sumner told 
him the house was full, and that he did not know 
what he would do. All at once, Sumner told them 
to wait a minute and he would see. He said he 
had a man in one of his beds who was going to 
Bunkum and who wanted to be awakened at four 
o'clock in the morning. He went in and turned 
the clock up, aroused the man, politely helped him 
to saddle, and sent him on his way. He said to 
Rejmolds after the man had left: "That fellow 
will think it is a hell of a long time till sunrise." 
Reynolds always told this story with much zest. 
To the last, and when an old man, Sumner was 
tireless in his energy. He loved the great herds 
of cattle and salted them all with his own hand. 
From 1877 on to the time of his death, he kept 
twelve yoke of oxen for ditching purposes. Ditches 
v/ere cut mostly in the pastures, and from 
eighteen to twenty inches in depth, and about five 
feet wide. It was the primitive start of an open 
system of drainage and greatly benefitted the 


grass lands. He often rode in front of the oxen 
on horseback to direct the way. 

In his youth he had been possessed of great 
physical strength and endurance. He rode in 
the winter time bare-handed and without gloves, 
and could stand more cold and hardship than any 
of his men. 

In an age of swearing, Sumner was profane. 
However, this was lost sight of in the face of his 
great industry, his regular and temperate habits, 
his indefatigable pursuit of a great life's work. 
Many harsh things were said of him, but it was 
a harsh age, and men often judged too hastily. 
That he accomplished a great task and built up a 
great industry in the midst of a wilderness, re- 
mains unshaken. He was a mighty factor in the 
development of the great prairies north of the 
Wabash river. 

Sumner's operations in the cattle business from 
the year 1870 to the time of his death are not 
fully appreciated by the present generation. In 
1876 he had four great herds around Sugar grove 
and on the Illinois side. He was a familiar figure 
now, not only at the stockyards at Chicago, but 
among the cattle brokers and exporters in the 
cities of Ruflalo and New York. Buyers came here 
frequently to inspect the herds, and such men as 
"Billy" Monroe, one of the famous cattle buyers 
of that day, were often entertained at Sumner's 
house. Gradually, all his business had been sys- 
tematized, and with the opening up of the railroad 


through Earl Park in about the year 1875, he 
was afforded a nearer and better shipping point. 
Gradually, too, he had surrounded himself with 
small tenant farmers, who raised the most of the 
corn for his winter feeding. In 1876, fifteen were 
located on his estate. The rental usually taken 
was two-fifths in the shock, and the tenants sold 
their own shares to Sumner at fair prices. 

In 1880, cattle were five cents a pound, and 
Sumner had six hundred fine head of steers on 
hand, averaging fourteen hundred pounds apiece. 
About the time they were ready for market, a 
buyer for Monroe, by the name of Thompson, ap- 
peared and offered the market price. The herd 
was a particularly fine one, and Sumner's Yankee 
thrift induced him to ack $71.00 a head, flat. 
Thompson faltered, but his mouth watered for 
the bunch of cattle, and Sumner knew it. Thomp- 
son finally secured the services of William S. Van 
Natta, then one of the finest judges of cattle on 
the prairies, and after the herd was looked over 
again, Sumner got his price. 

In 1882, Sumner sold eleven hundred head of 
cattle at one sale to "Billy" Monroe. On that oc- 
casion, Monroe was buying for the export trade 
and came in person to inspect the herd. The price 
finally paid was six and one-half cents per pound, 
and the whole purchase amounted to nearly $100,- 
000.00 That event was long remembered among 
cattle-men, and was probably the biggest sale of 
cattle ever made north of the Wabash river, up 


to that date. All of these cattle were corralled in 
a pen of some five or six acres in the grove, were 
weighed over the scales there, and driven up the 
old trail along Sugar creek, past the site of the 
present monument. Two consignments were made, 
and one of these consignments made up a whole 

It follows naturally, that the building up of 
this immense business finally attracted the at- 
tention of the outside world. The great cattle- 
men of that day collected about them a group of 
small grain farmers who furnished the winter's 
feed. These farmers in turn, developed the won- 
derful soil, learned its great value in the produc- 
tion of cereals, drained it, and finally turned the 
prairie into the paradise of farms of the present 



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(Kankakee Public Library'.) 

21. History of Indiana. Jacob P. Dunn. (Indi- 
ana State Library.) 

22. History of Vi7icennes. John Law. (Indiana 
State Library.) 

23. Indiana Magazine of History. Vols. 11, 12, 
13 and 14. 

24. Indiana as seen by Early Travelers. Harlow 
Lindley. 1916. 

25. Jasper and Neivton Counties, Indiana. 1916. 
Article on "Prairie Fires" by Louis H. Ham- 

26. Jounml of Harrisori's Treaty of 1809. (In- 
diana State Library.) 

27. Jasper and Newton Counties, Indiana. Ar- 
ticles by Judge William Darroch, 1916. 

28. Judge Isaac Naylor's Description of the Bat- 
tle of Tippecanoe in Report of Tippecanoe 
Monument Commission, 1905. 

29. Legends of the West. James Hall. (Indiana 
State Library.) 


30. Michigan Pioneer and Historical Recollec- 
tiotis, XIV and XXX. (Indiana State Li- 

31. My Own Times. Governor John Reynolds. 
1855. (Chicago Public Library.) 

32. Map of Indiana. J. H. Colton, 1838. (Indi- 
ana State Library.) 

33. Memories of Shaubena. N. Matson. Chi- 
cago, 1878. (Chicago Public Library.) 

34. Newton County, 1853-1911. John Ade. (In- 
diana State Library.) 

35. Romayice of Western History. James Hall. 

36. Report of Tippecanoe Monument Commis- 

sion, 1905. (Indiana, Public Library.) 

37. Report of the Comtnissioner of Fisheries and 
Game. Indiana, 1908. Article by Van Dyke. 

38. Sketches of the Wabash Valley. J. Wesley 
Whicker. 1916. 

39. Switzler's History of Missouri. (Indiana 
State Library.) 

40. The West. James Hall. Cincinnati, 1848. 
(Chicago Public Library.) 

41. United States Statutes at Large. Indian 
Treaties. 1856. 

42. Verden vs. Coleman, 4 Ind. 457. Supreme 
Court Reports of Indiana. 

43. Vincennes Western Sun. Issue of Aug. 18th, 

44. Waw-Bun, the Early Day in the Northwest. 
Mrs. J. H. Kinzie, 1855. (Indiana State Li- 




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