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History of Darke County, Ohio, from its earliest settlement to the present time .. (Volume 1) online

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can understand the jealousy and enmity which is said to have
existed between the two warriors, and to have finally caused
the brutal murder of the older and more peaceable by the
younger and more unscrupulous. This tradition, however, is
challenged by the statement that the old chief Blue Jacket
is buried in Illinois, which makes it appear probable that the
chief who was buried at Prophetstown was the George Blue


Jacket, above mentioned, who seems to have been a son or
a nephew of the old chief.

Tradition also says that Tecumseh buried twin children on
the spot of his later machinations and the supposed site ot
their grave is still pointed out by the ^klorningstar descend-
ants in the rear of the old Morningstar home on the knoll,
near the junction of ^lud and Greenville creeks.

The incidents connected with the reputed tragic death of
Blue Jacket at Prophetstown throw some interesting side-
lights on the character of Tecumseh and his associates, and
make an interesting addition to the traditional lore of this

Fortunately a local chronicler published an account of this
tradition which we herewith incorporate because of its his-
torical value. Although the date and reputed relation with
the early settlers do not correspond with what has already
been written, the affair contains enough dramatic and his-
toric features to justify' a record in this work.

"The war of 1812 was a new source of trouble and trials to
the new settlers. Those who had settled here as early as
1810, found the Indians were alreadv treacherous and steal-
thy. There were some indeed who preserved friendly rela-
tions with the settlers, but the great majority of them were
gruff and insolent. Xot that they were as yet regarded as
dangerous, but annoying, going into houses and demanding
something to eat, and refusing to leave until the demand
was complied with. Tomahawks and butcher knives
were frequently used to coerce compliance, ^\'hen they had
eaten at one house they would go to the next and demand in
the same way, eating six or eight times in less than a day, so
that they would often become sick from over-gorging. Among
those who proved particularly friendly to the whites and
seemed to court good understanding with them, was the old
prophet Blue Jacket. He seemed to be a really good Indian.
Bad feeling existed between him and the rival prophet Te-
cumseh, so that Blue Jacket was to a considerable degree,
through the influence of Tecumseh, persecuted by his tribe.
Tecumseh was the shrewdest or more dishonest of the two.
Had an inveterate hate against the whites, was stirring up
his tribe to the war paint against them,' while Blue Jacket
contended with him, that war with the whites only meant
their decimation and ruin. That the Great Spirit had set his
face against the red man, and that to prohibit the progress


of the settlement of the country i)y the white man, was be-
yond the combined power of all the tril^es, and as for him,
he was maintaining friendly relations with them. He had
been with tht whites a good deal and always found them
friendly disposed, and not averse to living in the country with
the red man, and he believed the white man's method of liv-
ing was the best, and that in time the red man could live as
comfortable as the whites. This reasonable logic took deep
effect, and for a time the Pottawatomies and Miamis seemed
to be content with it. Tecumseh was now in some dispute
with these tribes and being deeply chagrined left the coun-
try and was no more heard of for several months. He had
traveled south, west and north and had succeeded in persuad-
ing many tribes to join in a general war against the whites.
With this success he now returned to renew his efforts with
his own tribes. These he found still peaceably disposed and
mainly under the influence of Blue Jacket. He now openl}'-
made the charge against him, that he was no true prophet,
and inaugurated a system of trial by which it should be de-
termined which of the two was the true one, as holding
different opinions about the same thing one must surelv be

To test this matter Tecumseh demanded that ten young
men should be selected, five from each tribe, as a hunting
party. That they should go out from the village to hunt ev-
erv dav for ten days and always return at night with what-
ever game they had. That each morning he and Blue Jacket
should prophesy in the presence of three old men, but not in
the presence of each other, the result of the day's hunt. To
this Blue Jacket readily agreed. Three old men were se-
lected who went into a tent to themselves and sent for the
prophet. Blue Jacket. He soon appeared wrapped in his
sacred shawl, which was a very bright red, except a blue
border. He entered the tent, sat down upon a wolf skin,
drew his shawl over his head, and after a silence of one or
two minutes spoke in a rough wavering voice, "I see only
a few turkeys and two or three deer." He arose and retired
from the tent. In the meantime Tecumseh had employed
a spy to listen at a crack in the tent, and immediately report
to him the conduct of Blue Jacket, and what he said. This
spy performed his duty. Tecumseh was now sent for. He
repaired to the tent without any marks of humiliation but
rather in a pompous way, stood erect in the presence of the


old men, and without hesitation said, "I see six deer and a
load of turkeys."

The young men were now armed and equippel ready for
the hunt. Tecumseh sent his spy with them, .with instruc-
tions to be sure to get six deer and as many turkeys as they
could carry. The result of this day's hunt was awaited with
considerable interest and anxiety. The evening at length
came, and the hunters began to gather in with their game,
which was carried to the middle of the village and lain down.
When the old men came to inspect and count the game, they
found as the result of the da)^ six deer and eight turkeys.
The next morning at sunrise the old men had reassembled
at the tent, and Blue Jacket again sent for. He entered the
tent with greater humiliation than before, having caused his
nose to bleed profusely, and his whole face daubed with blood
and paint, was quite a disgusting object. The old men looked
at him with pity. He sat down as before, drawing his shawl
still closer about him. He now gave a long groan and said,
"I see the young men grappling with the game, five deer and
seven turkeys, with some other small game." He then arose
and retired. Tecumseh"s sp}^ was instructed this day to
bring in no game except one deer, but be sure to have that.

The hunters again returned at the close of day, the old men
went to see and count the game, and were astonished to find
but one deer. The tribes now began to look upon Tecumseh
with more than usual wonder while poor Blue Jacket was
almost entirely neglected. This heightened the arrogance of
Tecumseh, but was quite depressing on Blue Jacket.

Tecumseh had instructed his spy that if any young men
should kill any other kind of game such as bear, elk, wolf
or panther, they should not bring that in till the next day,
but that he should inform him of the fact. The morning of
the third day now came. Blue Jacket now entered the tent
with still greater humiliation and dejection, crawling into
the presence of the old men on his hands and knees, portions
of his hair torn from his head, and hanging on his shoulders,
daubed with blood and dirt, his head covered with his shawl,
which was also daubed with blood. The old men reviewed
his condition with more levity than pity, which Blue Jacket
discovered, and threw himself flat upon the groimd, gave a
heavy groan, and said : "T see the young men in their wav
but the game has grown wild and timid — the hunt will not


be good today, two deer and no other game." He arose
and left the tent.

Tecumseh's spy in the meantime had told him that in yes-
terday's hutit he had seen a bear crawl into a hollow log, and
had run quickly to the place, and with other logs stopped the
hole so that he could not get out, that he could easily kill
and bring him in the next day. He having been informed
of what Blue Jacket had said now repaired to the tent.
Standing erect he closed his eyes and said: "It is good to
understand the ways of the Great Spirit and to be led by
him. What more evidence of his power can we have than
this, that he enables us to tell in advance what will happen
to our benefit in the future? I see four deer, yes, and a bear
and turkeys. The game runs into the way of our young
men and stands to be captured. Tecumseh now sat down
and had a long talk with the old men. telling them of various
dreams he had, and how they had become true ; that nothing
affecting the interests of the tribes, even remotely, but that
he had a premonition of it — that he had a dream last night, in
which he plainly saw Blue Jacket hanging on a tree, because
he was a false prophet, a traitor and the friend of the white
man. This conversation deeply affected the old men, and was
soon whispered about the camp. The result of this day's
hunt was still more eagerly looked for, and when the hunt-
ers came in bearing on a stretcher a black bear, four deer,
and several turkeys, the excitement was unbounded. It was
announced that the young men would not hunt on the mor-
row, but that they would have a feast of bear's meat. The
old men now gathered Tecumseh upon their shoulders and
amidst great shouting carried him to his tent. Poor Blue
Jacket rather skulked than walked away to his tent, unno-
ticed, except by Tecumseh's spy, who, hopping after him in
a stooping posture, cried out in a harsh guttural tone, "the
game is wild toda}% I see but two deer." The conduct of the
spy being now noticed by others, a great shout of merriment
and derision was raised and followed Blue Jacket to his very
tent door. The old prophet crawled into his tent, threw him-
self down on his buffalo robe, and refused to be consoled
by his family. He lay till near the hour of midnight when
he arose, told his wife that he feared some great evil fore-
boded them : that he had made up his mind to flee to the white
settlement, and ask them to conceal him for a time. His
wife now did everything in her power to reconcile him and


banish his apprehensions, but to no effect. He got up, put
on his belt, adjusted his tomahawk and butcherknife in it,
took up his medicine bag, and as the camp by this time had
become quiet, stealthily walked away. He traveled six or
seven miles, and as daylight was not yet apparent, and not
wishing to approach the settlement in the night season, lay
down behind a log, which was well covered with brush, and
concealed himself within, having neither ate nor slept much for
several days, and being worried from travel, he unconsciously
fell asleep. At an early hour the camp was astir, and some
having supposed the prophet may not have understood the
arrangements for the day called at his tent to inform him
that there would be no hunting that day. But upon making
inquiry for him found he had left the camp during the night.
This was soon noised about, and the whole camp was in an
uproar. Tecumseh now rushed to the middle of the camp,
and cried with a loud voice to the old men. ■'^^'hat now is my
dream, is it so soon to be made true?"

The dream was soon rehearsed by Tecumseh, whereupon
his spy. with several others, ran to the prophet's tent and
demanded of his wife where he was. To this she replied
that she did not know at which answer the spy flew into a
great rage, and with one blow of his hatchet almost cleft her
head in two. He now turned to the prophet's daughter, a
verv fair voung squaw about sixteen years old, and demand-
ed of her where the prophet was. She answered that he had
left in the night while she was sleeping, and she did not
know where he had gone. "Lying creatures, as your parents
tell me, now this hatchet will also do its work on you. For
a moment she was silent, then looking imporingly up, she
said, "I do not know." Quick as lightning the hatchet fell
on her defenseless head, splitting it to her very ears.

These atrocities were quickly made known to the camp, and
a party under the directions of Tecumseh were soon upon
the track of the prophet. Xor had they much trouble in find-
ing him, as he did not expect to be pursued, and had taken no
pains to conceal his trail. He was found still asleep and
within half a mile of the settlement. This party had been
instructed by Tecumseh to pursue him into the white settle-
ments, and if they refused to give him up, not to leave one of
them alive. It is well the prophet had not gone into the set-
tlement as the worst of calamity would have befallen them. The
prophet was dragged from his couch, placed in the midst of


the party and forced back tu camp. Here a ring was soon
formed and the prophet placed in the center, three or '"our
steps from the inner portion of the ring. It was now de-
manded of him that he should explain his conduct, and prom-
ised that he might make a short speech.

He then said: "My conduct is not so bad and so full of
mi.'-chief as to justify all tiiis sus-)icion. Some e\"ii ^iiirit
seems to have taken hold of me, and compelled me to lie to
th.e old men. and rather than lie and deceive I gave up the
prophesying and to avoid the disgrace left the camp.

You should have remembered that I have always been a
good and true man, that my nation has always been dear to
me, and my life has l^een devoted to it. I had four sons,
r;ood and true, who brought much provisions to my tent,
enough for us and much to spare which your children ate.
Where now are those four sons? Their bodies a prey to
ivolves and wild beasts, and their bones bleaching on that
last disastrous battlefield ('^^'ayne's victory on the Maumeej.
My family are now all taken away from me. \Miat have I
to live for? You can kill me. as I expect you will, but first
I demand to know who has killed my defenseless and inno-
cent wife and daughter. Does no one speak? Are you al-
ready ashamed of the deed that yoti hide it? Let the cow-
ardly brute who has performed this perfid'ous deed acknowl-
edge it. Coward, you dare not say, "I am the man." The
spy now advanced a few inches, and said, "False prophet, I am
the man." Quick as lightning the. prophet drew his hatchet,
and with unerring aim and terrific force threw it, striking the
spy full in the breast, where it was buried to the poll. The spy
fell dead at his feet. He now, v\'ith dexterous like motion
drew his knife, and with full force made a plunge at Tecum-
seli. At this instant a savage from behind struck him with a
heavy club on the side of his head, which felled him stunned
to the ground. His knife was now taken from him. his hands
tied firmly behind his back, when Tecumseh cried out with a
loud voice, "Let him be hanged to that tree." A piece of raw
iiuft'alo hide was soon procured, and fastened round his neck.
Several now caught and lifted him up while another in the
tree made him fast to a limb. Thev then walked away from
under him and the prophet was left kicking and dangling in
the air.

"Thus is recorded the tragic end of one of the great men of
the Miami nation. He did not die as the coward, vet he was


not entirely satisfied. He knew that Tecumseh had brought
on his ruin. If the unfortunate blow on his head had been
delayed but for a single second his knife would have cut the
heart of Tecumseh and he would have been satisfied. As it
was Tecumseh still lived to bring great calamity upon both
his friends and foes. All the day long Blue Jacket hung upon
the tree, for a while the jilt and sport of the camp. But
toward night a reaction took place. They remembered his
speech and his family, and the many kind acts he had per-
formed. They had been cured of sickness by his medicines,
shared his sumptuous fare, and his spritely conversation. He
was now taken down from the tree, his property gathered
about him, and early next morning nearly the whole tribe ac-
companied his remains to the burial ground at the council
house, which was situated on the lands now owned by Joseph
Bryson, Esq., where his grave remains to this day."

We close this chapter with an appropriate descriptive and
narrative poem by the late Barney Collins, formerly of Darke
county. This poem was published in the Greenville Courier,
edited by ]Mr. John Calderwood, a brother of Mrs. Collins,
and should be treasured as the work of one of the best lit-
erary geniuses that the countv ever produced.

A\"ithin these lovely vales, these hills around,
There still remains of former times the trace

When great Tecumseh and his brother bound
By oaths in common league their war-like race,
To drive from hence, their favorite hunting place.

The pioneers, and boldly strike a blow

That would them crush and ev'ry line eilface

They had established here, so that no foe

Could tempt again these haunts so sacred to the bow.

Where form our tranquil streams their confluence.

The mighty Shawnee had his cabin reared ;
And oft upon their shores his eloquence

To wildest rage his dusky warriors stirred,

And gathered chiefs and tribes that list'ning heard
Their common cause his voice persuasive plead,

His counsels chose, and him as chief preferred.
Their restless bands to fields of war to lead,
\\'here ev'rv home should blaze and ev'rv inmate bleed.


Then he who rulVl with more than regal power,

No less did Laulewasikaw the Seer
Who here foretold the time — the day — the hour —

When in deep gloom the sun would disappear,

And black, obscuring shades o'erspread this sphere!
And where our hill embosomed waves unite,

The prophet waiting stood with air severe,
'Till Luna's shadow hid the orb of light
And cried: "Have I not veiled that burning world from sight?

Behold! ye tribes! the truth behold at last!

Yon sun is rayless at the noon of day!
O'er it his frown great Manito has cast

That you might doubt no more but me obey!

The time will come ! It is not far away I
When he, will you, ye braves ! to victory call !

But here your chief must first his bands array
In these deep wilds so sacred to us all.
Ere yet, war's path we take where ev'ry foe shall fall !"

They could not doubt — with awe their breasts were flll'd
As to the darkened earth they trembling bent ;

Nor were their souls that shook with terror stilled.
Until this sun encumb'ring gloom was rent.
No more to his commands they urg'd dissent.

But what their proven prophet did direct
They chose to do, and gave their full assent

To ev'ry scheme of war that he'd project.

And though they failed, on him they never would reflect.

From here his hostile bands Tecumseh led

To join that no less savage, heartless foe
That Britain sent upon our shores to spread

Ruin and war's infinity of woe !

A few there are who yet survive that know
The perils that did the pioneers invest

When tomahawk and torch and bended bow
Their work of death perform'd with horrid zest.
Nor age was spared, nor babe that clasp'd the mother's breast !

But when at Thames the red man's hopes were crushed.
And with him here a final treaty was made —

Here, a broad tide of emigration rush'd

Which to improvement gave its needed aid,


Where through the wildreness the footpath stray'd
O'er which the foliage of the forest spread

Broad avenues of enterprise and trade
Were built — and progress forward swiftly sped
Until these vales were filled with wealth unlimited.


After the peace of Greenville in 1795, and the occupancy of
Detroit by the Americans in 1796, a feeling of security came
over the settlers along the Ohio. They soon left their pali-
saded forts and blockhouse stations and advanced into the
beautiful valleys of the Muskingum, Scioto and the two
Miamis to establish new homes, and reclaim the land. In
1796 the advance guard of the Miami valle_y settlers arrived
at the junction of Mad river with the Miami and established
the settlement of Dayton. In order to secure nails and hard-
ware for their log cottages thej- burned the log fort and
buildings at Greenville, which had been evacuated in the
spring of that year. On account of accessibility by water,
no doubt, also probably because of the more open condition
of the country, the land immediately adjacent to the Miami
river first became sparsely settled, with nucleii at Hamilton.
Dayton and other well located sites. The swampy and less
accessible lands about the headwaters of the branch streams
awaited the establishment of a larger population in the more
open and better known countrj' before bra\'e hearts essayed
to explore their mysteries.

Prof. W. H. Mcintosh speaks of conditions at this time,
as follows : "At the close of the Greenville treaty, the coun-
ty to the westward was a wilderness ; but, in addition to the
Indian traces leading from the Miami to the Maumee. and
threading their devious way to other savage villages, there
were the broad trails cut by pioneers, trodden by horsemen
and footmen, and marking the route of armies and the forays
of detachments. The soldier was also the citizen and the
settler, and his quick, appreciative glance took in the possi-
bilities of the countries he had traveled. For him the woods
of Darke had no charm. The conditions elsewhere were here
wanting. Contrast the statement made concerning the Miami
settlement to the east with the actual condition of the lands
of this county. There the country was attractive all about
the settlement. Nature presented her most lovely appear-


ance ; the rich soil, mellow as an ash-heap, excelled in the
exuberance of its vegetation. Cattle were lost from exces-
sive feeding, and care was required to preserve them from
this danger. Over the bottom grew the sweet annis, the
wild nettle, the rye and the pea vine, in rich abundance,
where the cattle were subsisted without labor, and these,
with nutritious roots, were eaten by swine with the greatest
avidity. In Darke lands there were found the woods, the
endless variety of vine and shrub, impassable swamps, lack
of roadway, and the great difficulty of making passable roads.
Nor were the forests the only or most formidable barrier to
early settlement. We have seen the woods to be filled with
Indians. Their principal town was at Piqua, distant but
eighteen miles ; their camps were along the creeks. In the
neighborhood of larger settlements they were treated rough-
ly, and are entitled to little consideration, and it was known
from bitter experience that lone families were in constant dan-
ger of the sudden wrath of the savage." * * * "Some por-
tions of the county abounded in game, and among those timid
and harmless anim.als were found those fierce and dangerous,
as might be judged from the names of creek and locality.
Still this might be regarded more as an annoyance than as
a dread, and, later, premiums for scalps of wolf and panther
supplied the settler with means of paying tax or buying
necessaries. There existed a still more potent influence de-
barring occupation, and this was ill reports of health and cli-
mate. The men of that day were little afraid of labor ; they
knew the Indian must give way, but they were peculiarly
influenced by whatever partook of the mysterious, and ru-
mor's many voices soon changed the natural to the marvel-
ous, and Darke county was shunned as the haunt of a plagu*^,
designated "milk sickness.'' Some implicitly believe in its
prevalence to this day. while others assert that it is a myth,
undeserving of credence. Endeavors to find a case have al-
ways proved futile. It is heard of "just "over in the next
township," but, going thither, report placed it further on in
the next township, or perhaps in the one just left, and the
phantom always places the breadth of a township between its
locality and the curious investigator. But whether a myth
or a reality, the report spread along the Miami and be^-ond ;
the settlers believed it, and, what was worse, regarded it with
dread. Even the Indians asserted that certain districts were
infected with an air freighted with the odors of disease, and


gravely told the whites, "Not live much here — too much bel-
ly sick," and, whatever the cause, there was sickness where
they gave this word of warning. It will thus be seen that
the territory which afterward became Darke county had won