B. J. (Benjamin Johnson) Radford.

History of Morgan county, Illinois : its past and present, containing a history of the county; its cities, towns, etc.; a biographical directory of its volunteers in the late rebellion; portraits of its early settlers and prominent men [etc., etc.] online

. (page 3 of 103)
Online LibraryB. J. (Benjamin Johnson) RadfordHistory of Morgan county, Illinois : its past and present, containing a history of the county; its cities, towns, etc.; a biographical directory of its volunteers in the late rebellion; portraits of its early settlers and prominent men [etc., etc.] → online text (page 3 of 103)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


under the dominion of the red men. The English knew, however, pretty



36 THE NORTHWEST TERRITORY.

conclusively of the nature of the wealth of these wilds. As early as
1710, Governor Spotswood, of Virginia, had commenced movements to
secure the country west of the Alleghenies to the English crown. In
Pennsylvania, Governor Keith and James Logan, secretary of the prov-
ince, from 1719 to 1731, represented to the powers of England the neces-
sity of securing the Western lands. Nothing was done, however, by that
power save to take some diplomatic steps to secure the claims of Britain
to this unexplored wilderness.

England had from the outset claimed from the Atlantic to the Pacific,
on the ground that the discovery of the seacoast and its possession was a
discovery and possession of the country, and, as is well known, her grants
to the colonies extended " from sea to sea." This was not all her claim.
She had purchased from the Indian tribes large tracts of land. This lat-
ter was also a strong argument. As early as 1684, Lord Howard, Gov-
ernor of Virginia, held a treaty with the six nations. These were the
great Northern Confederacy, and comprised at first the Mohawks, Onei-
das, Onondagas, Cayugas, and Senecas. Afterward the Tuscaroras were
taken into the confederacy, and it became known as the Six NATIONS.
They came under the protection of the mother country, and again in
1701, they repeated the agreement, and in September, 1726, a formal deed
was drawn up and signed by the chiefs. The validity of this claim has
often been disputed, but never successfully. In 1744, a purchase was
made at Lancaster, Pennsylvania, of certain lands within the " Colony of
Virginia," for which the Indians received 200 in gold and a like sum in
goods, with a promise that, as settlements increased, more should be paid.
The Commissioners from Virginia were Colonel Thomas Lee and Colonel
William Beverly. As settlements extended, the promise of more pay was
called to mind, and Mr. Conrad Weiser was sent across the mountains with
presents to appease the savages. Col. Lee, and some Virginians accompa-
nied him with the intention of sounding the Indians upon their feelings
regarding the English. They were not satisfied with their treatment,
and plainly told the Commissioners why. The English did not desire the
cultivation of the country, but the monopoly of the Indian trade. In
1748, the Ohio Company was formed, and petitioned the king for a grant
of land beyond the Alleghenies. This was granted, and the government
of Virginia was ordered to grant to them a half million acres, two hun-
dred thousand of which were to be located at once. Upon the 12th of
June, 1749, 800,000 acres from the line of Canada north and west was
made to the Loyal Company, and on the 29th of October, 1751, 100,000
acres were given to the Greenbriar Company. All this time the French
were not idle. They saw that, should the British gain a foothold in the
West, especially upon the Ohio, they might not only prevent the French



THE NORTHWEST TERRITORY. 37

settling upon it, but in time would come to the lower posts and so gain
possession of the whole country. Upon the 10th of May, 1774, Vaud-
reuil, Governor of Canada and the French possessions, well knowing the
consequences that must arise from allowing the English to build trading-
posts in the Northwest, seized some of their frontier posts, and to further
secure the claim of the French to the West, he, in 1749, sent Louis Cel-
eron.with a party of soldiers to plant along the Ohio River, in the mounds
and at the mouths of its principal tributaries, plates of lead, on which
were inscribed the claims of France. These were heard of in 1752, and
within the memory of residents now living along the " Oyo," as the
beautiful river was called by the French. One of these plates was found
with the inscription partly defaced. It bears date August 16, 1749, and
a copy of the inscription with particular account of the discovery of the
plate, was sent by DeWitt Clinton to the American Antiquarian Society,
among whose journals it may now be found.* These measures did not,
however, deter the English from going on with their explorations, and
though neither party resorted to arms, yet the conflict was gathering, and
it was only a question of time when the storm would burst upon the
frontier settlements. In 1750, Christopher Gist was sent by the Ohio
Company to examine its lands. He went to a village of the Twigtwees,
on the Miami, about one hundred and fifty miles above its mouth. He
afterward spoke of it as very populous. From there he went down
the Ohio River nearly to the falls at the present City of Louisville,
and in November he commenced a survey of the Company's lands. Dur-
ing the Winter, General Andrew Lewis performed a similar work for the
Greenbriar Company. Meanwhile the French were busy in preparing
their forts for defense, and in opening roads, and also sent a small party
of soldiers to keep the Ohio clear. This party, having heard of the Eng-
lish post on the Miami River, early in 1652, assisted by the Ottawas and
Chippewas, attacked it, and, after a severe battle, in which fourteen of
the natives were killed and others wounded, captured the garrison.
(They were probably garrisoned in a block house). The traders were
carried away to Canada, and one account says several were burned. This
fort or post was called by the English Pickawillany. A memorial of the
king's ministers refers to it as " Pickawillanes, in the center of the terri-
tory between the Ohio and the Wabash. The name is probably some
variation of Pickaway or Picqua in 1773, written by Rev. David Jones
Pickaweke."

* The following is a translation of the inscription on the plate: "In the year 1749. reign of Louis XV.,
King of France, we, Celeron, commandant of a detachment by Monsieur the Marquis of Gallisoniere, com-
mander-in-chief of New France, to establish tranquility in certain Indian villages of these cantons, have
buried this plate at the confluence of the Toradakoin, this twenty- ninth of July, near the river Ohio, otherwise
Beautiful River, as a monument of renewal of possession which we have taken of the said river, and all Its
tributaries; inasmuch as the preceding Kings of France have enjoyed it, and maintained it by their arms and
treaties; especially by those of Ryswick, Utrecht, and Aix La Chapelle."



38 THE NORTHWEST TERRITORY.

This was the first bloodshed between the French and English, and
occurred near the present City of Piqua, Ohio, or at least at a point about
forty-seven miles north of Dayton. Each nation became now more inter-
ested in the progress of events in the Northwest. The English deter-
mined to purchase from the Indians a title to the lands they wished to
occupy, and Messrs. Fry (afterward Commander-in-chief over Washing-
ton at the commencement of the French War of 1775-1763), Lomax and
Patton were sent in the Spring of 1752 to hold a conference with the
natives at Logstown to learn what they objected to in the treaty of Lan-
caster already noticed, and to settle all difficulties. On the 9th of June,
these Commissioners met the red men at Logstown, a little village on the
north bank of the Ohio, about seventeen miles below the site of Pitts-
burgh. Here had been a trading point for many years, but it was aban-
doned by the Indians in 1750. At first the Indians declined to recognize
the treaty of Lancaster, but, the Commissioners taking aside Montour,
the interpreter, who was a son of the famous Catharine Montour, and a
chief among the six nations, induced him to use his influence in their
favor. This he did, and upon the 13th of June they all united in signing
a deed, confirming the Lancaster treaty in its full extent, consenting to a
settlement of the southeast of the Ohio, and guaranteeing that it should
not be disturbed by them. These were the means used to obtain the first
treaty with the Indians in the Ohio Valley.

Meanwhile the powers beyond the sea were trying to out-manceuvre
each other, and were professing to be at peace. The English generally
outwitted the Indians, and failed in many instances to fulfill their con-
tracts. They thereby gained the ill-will of the red men, and further
increased the feeling by failing to provide them with arms and ammuni-
tion. Said an old chief, at Easton, in 1758 : " The Indians on the Ohio
left you because of your own fault. When we heard the French were
coming, we asked you for help and arms, but we did not get them. The
French came, they treated us kindly, and gained our affections. The
Governor of Virginia settled on our lands for his own benefit, and, when
we wanted help, forsook us."

At the beginning of 1653, the English thought they had secured by
title the lands in the West, but the French had quietly gathered cannon
and military stores to be in readiness for the expected blow. The Eng-
lish made other attempts to ratify these existing treaties, but not until
the Summer could the Indians be gathered together to discuss the plans
of the French. They had sent messages to the French, warning them
away ; but they replied that they intended to complete the chain of forts
already begun, and would not abandon the field.

Soon after this, no satisfaction being obtained from the Ohio regard-



THE NORTHWEST TERRITORY. 39

ing the positions and purposes of the French, Governor Dinwiddie of
Virginia determined to send to them another messenger and learn from
them, if possible, their intentions. For this purpose he selected a young
man, a surveyor, who, at the early age of nineteen, had received the rank
of major, and who was thoroughly posted regarding frontier life. This
personage was no other than the illustrious George Washington, who then
held considerable interest in Western lands. He was at this time just
twenty-two years of age. Taking Gist as his guide, the two, accompanied
by four servitors, set out on their perilous march. They left Will's
Creek on the 10th of November, 1753, and on the 22d reached the Monon-
gahela, about ten miles above the fork. From there they went to
Logstown, where Washington had a long conference with the chiefs of
the Six Nations. From them he learned the condition of the French, and
also heard of their determination not to come down the river till the fol-
lowing Spring. The Indians were non-committal, as they were afraid 'to
turn either way, and, as far as they could, desired to remain neutral.
Washington, finding nothing could be done with them, went on to
Venango, an old Indian town at the mouth of French Creek. Here the
French had a fort, called Fort Machault. Through the rum and flattery
of the French, he nearly lost all his Indian followers. Finding nothing
of importance here, he pursued his way amid great privations, and on the
llth of December reached the fort at the head of French Creek. Here
he delivered Governor Dinwiddie's letter, received his answer, took his
observations, and on the 16th set out upon his return journey with no one
but Gist, his guide, and a few Indians who still remained true to him,
notwithstanding the endeavors of the French to retain them. Their
homeward journey was one of great peril and suffering from the cold, yet
they reached home in safety on the 6th of January, 1754.

From the letter of St. Pierre, commander of the French fort, sent by
Washington to Governor Dinwiddie, it was learned that the French would
not give up without a struggle. Active preparations were at once made
in all the English colonies for the coming conflict, while the French
finished the fort at Venango and strengthened their lines of fortifications,
and gathered their forces to be in readiness.

The Old Dominion was all alive. Virginia was the center of great
activities ; volunteers were called for, and from all the neighboring
colonies men rallied to the conflict, and everywhere along the Potomac
men were enlisting under the Governor's proclamation which promised
two hundred thousand acres on the Ohio. Along this river they were
gathering as far as Will's Creek, and far beyond this point, whither Trent
had come for assistance for his little band of forty-one men, who were



40 THE NORTHWEST TERRITORY.

working away in hunger and want, to fortify that point at the fork of
the Ohio, to which both parties were looking with deep interest.

" The first birds of Spring filled the air with their song ; the swift
river rolled by the Allegheny hillsides, swollen by the melting snows of
Spring and the April showers. The leaves were appearing ; a few Indian
scouts were seen, but no enemy seemed near at hand ; and all was so quiet,
that Frazier, an old Indian scout and trader, who had been left by Trent
in command, ventured to his home at the mouth of Turtle Creek, ten
miles up the Monongahela. But, though all was so quiet in that wilder-
ness, keen eyes had seen the low intrenchment rising at the fork, and
swift feet had borne the news of it up the river ; and upon the morning
of the 17th of April, Ensign Ward, who then had charge of it, saw
upon the Allegheny a sight that made his heart sink sixty batteaux and
three hundred canoes filled with men, and laden deep with cannon and
stores. * * * That evening he supped with his captor, Contrecceur,
and the next day he was bowed off by the Frenchman, and with his men
and tools, marched up the Monongahela."

The French and Indian war had begun. The treaty of Aix la
Chapelle, in 1748, had left the boundaries between the French and
English possessions unsettled, and the events already narrated show the
French were determined to hold the country watered by the Mississippi
and its tributaries ; while the English laid claims to the country by virtue
of the discoveries of the Cabots, and claimed all the country from New-
foundland to Florida, extending from the Atlantic to the Pacific. The
first decisive blow had now been struck, and the first attempt of the
English, through the Ohio Company, to occupy these lands, had resulted
disastrously to them. The French and Indians immediately completed
the fortifications begun at the Fork, which they had so easily captured,
and when completed gave to the fort the name of DuQuesne. Washing-
ton was at Will's Creek when the news of the capture of the fort arrived.
He at once departed to recapture it. On his way he entrenched him-
self at a place called the " Meadows," where he erected a fort called
by him Fort Necessity. From there he surprised and captured a force of
French and Indians marching against him, but was soon after attacked
in his fort by a much superior force, and was obliged to yield on the
morning of July 4th. He was allowed to return to Virginia.

The English Government immediately planned four campaigns ; one
against Fort DuQuesne ; one against Nova Scotia ; one against Fort
Niagara, and one against Crown Point. These occurred during 1755-6,
and were not successful in driving the French from their possessions.
The expedition against Fort DuQuesne was led by the famous General
Braddock, who, refusing to listen to the advice of Washington and those



THE NORTHWEST TERRITORY. 41

acquainted with Indian warfare, suffered such an inglorious defeat. This
occurred on the morning of July 9th, and is generally known as the battle
of Monongahela, or " Braddock's Defeat." The war continued with
various vicissitudes through the years 17567 ; when, at the commence-
ment of 1758, in accordance with the plans of William Pitt, then Secre-
tary of State, afterwards Lord Chatham, active preparations were made to
carry on the war. Three expeditions were planned for this year : one,
under General Amherst, against Louisburg ; another, under Abercrombie*
against Fort Ticonderoga ; and a third, under General Forbes, against
Fort DuQuesne. On the 26th of July, Louisburg surrendered after a
desperate resistance of more than forty days, and the eastern part of the
Canadian possessions fell into the hands of the British. Abercrombie
captured Fort Frontenac, and when the expedition against Fort DuQuesne,
of which Washington had the active command, arrived there, it was
found in flames and deserted. The English at once took possession,,
rebuilt the fort, and in honor of their illustrious statesman, changed the
name to Fort Pitt.

The great object of the campaign of 1759, was the reduction of
Canada. General Wolfe was to lay siege to Quebec ; Amherst was to
reduce Ticonderoga and Crown Point, and General Prideaux was to
capture Niagara. This latter place was taken in July, but the gallant
Prideaux lost his life in the attempt. Amherst captured Ticonderoga
and Crown Point without a blow ; and Wolfe, after making the memor-
able ascent to the Plains of Abraham, on September 13th, defeated
Montcalm, and on the 18th, the city capitulated. In this engagement
Montcolm and Wolfe both lost their lives. De Levi, Montcalm's successor,
marched to Sillery, three miles above the city, with the purpose of
defeating the English, and there, on the 28th of the following April, was
fought one of the bloodiest battles of the French and Indian War. It
resulted in the defeat of the French, and the fall of the City of Montreal.
The Governor signed a capitulation by which the whole of Canada was
surrendered to the English. This practically concluded the war, but it
was not until 1763 that the treaties of peace between France and England
were signed. This was done on the 10th of February of that year, and
under its provisions all the country east of the Mississippi and north of
the Iberville River, in Louisiana, were ceded to England. At the same
time Spain ceded Florida to Great Britain.

On the 13th of September, 1760, Major Robert Rogers was sent
from Montreal to take charge of Detroit, the only remaining French post
in the territory. He arrived there on the 19th of November, and sum-
moned the place to surrender. At first the commander of the post,
Beletre : refused, but on the 29th, hearing of the continued defeat of the



42 THE NORTHWEST TERRITORY.

French arms, surrendered. Rogers remained there until December 23d
under the personal protection of the celebrated chief, Pontiac, to whom,
no doubt, he owed his safety. Pontiac had come here to inquire the
purposes of the English in taking possession of the country. He was
assured that they came simply to trade with the natives, and did not
desire their country. This answer conciliated the savages, and did much
to insure the safety of Rogers and his party during their stay, and while
on their journey home.

Rogers set out for Fort Pitt on December 23, and was just one
month on the way. His route was from Detroit to Maumee, thence
across the present State of Ohio directly to the fort. This was the com-
mon trail of the Indians in their journeys from Sandusky to the fork of
the Ohio. It went from Fort Sandusky, where Sandusky City now is,
crossed the Huron river, then called Bald Eagle Creek, to " Mohickon
John's Town" on Mohickon Creek, the northern branch of White
Woman's River, and thence crossed to Beaver's Town, a Delaware town
on what is now Sandy Creek. At Beaver's Town were probably one
hundred and fifty warriors, and not less than three thousand acres of
cleared land. . From there the track went up Sandy Creek to and across
Big Beaver, and up the Ohio to Logstown, thence on to the fork.

The Northwest Territory was now entirely under the English rule.
New settlements began to be rapidly made, and the promise of a large
trade was speedily manifested. Had the British carried out their promises
with the natives none of those savage butcheries would have been perpe-
trated, and the country would have been spared their recital.

The renowned chief, Pontiac, was one of the leading spirits in these
atrocities. We will now pause in our narrative, and notice the leading
events in his life. The earliest authentic information regarding this
noted Indian chief is learned from an account of an Indian trader named
Alexander Henry, who, in the Spring of 1761, penetrated his domains as
far as Missillimacnac. Pontiac was then a great friend of the French,
but a bitter foe of the English, whom he considered as encroaching on his
hunting grounds. Henry was obliged to disguise himself as a Canadian
to insure safety, but was discovered by Pontiac, who bitterly reproached
him and the English for their attempted subjugation of the West. He
declared that no treaty had been made with them ; no presents sent
them, and that he would resent any possession of the West by that nation.
He was at the time about fifty years of age, tall and dignified, and was
civil and military ruler of the Ottawas, Ojibwas and Pottawatamies.

The Indians, from Lake Michigan to the borders of North Carolina,
were united in this feeling, and at the time of the treaty of Paris, ratified
February 10, 1763, a general conspiracy was formed to fall suddenly



THE NORTHWEST TERRITORY.




PONTIAC, THE OTTAWA CHIEFTAIN.



44 THE NORTHWEST TERRITORY.

upon the frontier British posts, and with one blow strike every man dead.
Pontiac was the marked leader in all this, and was the commander
of the Chippewas, Ottawas, Wyandots, Miamis, Shawanese, Delawares
and Mingoes, who had, for the time, laid aside their local quarrels to unite
in this enterprise.

The blow came, as near as can now be ascertained, on May 7, 1763.
Nine British posts fell, and the Indians drank, " scooped up in the hollow
of joined hands," the blood of many a Briton.

Pontiac's immediate field of action was the garrison at Detroit.
Here, however, the plans were frustrated by an Indian woman disclosing
the plot the evening previous to his arrival. Everything was carried out r
however, according to Pontiac's plans until the moment of action, when
Major Gladwyn, the commander of the post, stepping to one of the Indian
chiefs, suddenly drew aside his blanket and disclosed the concealed
musket. Pontiac, though a brave man, turned pale and trembled. He
saw his plan was known, and that the garrison were prepared. He
endeavored to exculpate himself from any such intentions ; but the guilt
was evident, and he and his followers were dismissed with a severe
reprimand, and warned never to again enter the walls of the post.

Pontiac at once laid siege to the fort, and until the treaty of peace
between the British and the Western Indians, concluded in August, 1764,
continued to harass and besiege the fortress. He organized a regular
commissariat department, issued bills of credit written out on bark,
which, to his credit, it may be stated, were punctually redeemed. At
the conclusion of the treaty, in which it seems he took no part, he went
further south, living many years among the Illinois.

He had given up all hope of saving his country and race. After a
time he endeavored to unite the Illinois tribe and those about St. Louis
in a war with the whites. His efforts were fruitless, and only ended in a
quarrel between himself and some Kaskaskia Indians, one of whom soon
afterwards killed him. His death was, however, avenged by the northern
Indians, who nearly exterminated the Illinois in the wars which followed.

Had it not been for the treachery of a few of his followers, his plan
for the extermination of the whites, a masterly one, would undoubtedly
have been carried out.

It was in the Spring of the year following Rogers' visit that Alex-
ander Henry went to Missillimacnac, and everywhere found the strongest
feelings against the English, who had not carried out their promises, and
were doing nothing to conciliate the natives. Here he met the chief,
Pontiac, who, after conveying to him in a speech the idea that their
French father would awake soon and utterly destroy his enemies, said :
" Englishman, although you have conquered the French, you have not



THE NORTHWEST TERRITORY. 45

yet conquered us ! We are not your slaves ! These lakes, these woods,
these mountains, were left us by our ancestors. They are our inheritance,
and we will part with them to none. Your nation supposes that we, like
the white people, can not live without bread and pork and beef. But you
ought to know that He, the Great Spirit and Master of Life, has provided
food for us upon these broad lakes and in these mountains."

He then spoke of the fact that no treaty had been made with them,
no presents sent them, and that he and his people were yet for war.
Such were the feelings of the Northwestern Indians immediately after
the English took possession of their country. These feelings were no
doubt encouraged by the Canadians and French, who hoped that yet the
French arms might prevail. The treaty of Paris, however, gave to the



Online LibraryB. J. (Benjamin Johnson) RadfordHistory of Morgan county, Illinois : its past and present, containing a history of the county; its cities, towns, etc.; a biographical directory of its volunteers in the late rebellion; portraits of its early settlers and prominent men [etc., etc.] → online text (page 3 of 103)