Howthe Celebration Originated
From The History of Clark County, Ohio
Chicago: W.H. Beers & Co., 1881 - Page 368
In the issue of the Daily Republic for June 14, 1880, appeared an able article from the pen of Mr. Thomas F. McGrew, of this city, the historian of the celebration, entitled "The Siege of the Old Indian Town of Piqua," giving a detailed account of the battle of the 8th of August, 1880 [sic - should be 1780], with the circumstances leading to the encounter and showing the objects accomplished in the opening of this rich and fertile valley to settlement and civilization. That paper attracted wide attention and was reproduced by the press of other cities. The propriety of a fitting celebration of the anniversary, as one of paramount importance in the history of Clark County, which took its name from the hero of the enterprise, immediately suggested itself, and at the regular July meeting of the Clark County Veteran Memorial Association, Capt. Alden P. Steele moved the appointment of a committee to consult with citizens and consider the propriety and feasibility of so celebrating. The motion prevailed and the Captain of the association apointed as such committee Capt. Steele, Col. Howard D. John, Andrew Watt, Capt. D. C. Balentine and William H. Grant. At a subsequent meeting, this committee reported favorably upon the proposition and it was resolved by the association to celebrate accordingly, on Monday, August 9, the 8th, the day of battle, falling on Sunday. The original committee was continued in charge of necessary arrangements, with power to call to their assistance any member of the society or community able and willing to work. From the first announcement of this decision, a deep interest was taken in the matter, especially by residents of that part of the country in which is located the scene of the battle, and, although the time was comparatively short, preparations were made so skillfully and promptly with the hearty co-operation of many leading citizens, that everything was in readiness by the evening of Saturday, August 7, and the liveliest anticipations existed among the people of half a dozen counties in Southeastern Ohio. The Veteran Memorial Association is an organization composed of ex-soldiers, officers and privates in the Union army and navy in the war of 1861-65; formed for the purpose of keeping alive the fellowship formed on the battle-field, for showing proper respect to the memory of ex-soldiers passing away in our midst, and for decorating soldiers' graves on the day annually observed in nearly all the States for observance of the beautiful ceremony. It was deemed entirely in keeping, in the lack of a Historical or Central Pioneer Association, that this organization should initiate and conduct the celebration in progress to-day on the site of the old Indian town of Piqua, and Clark-Shawnee battle-ground. A proper share of credit is therefore due the Memorial Association for anything of success achieved.
Gov. Foster and several members of his staff, who had spent Sunday in the camp of the Sixteenth Regiment, O.N.G., at Tiffin, arrived in the city, rather unexpectedly, by the early train and proceeded at once to the Lagonda House, where shortly after they were found by the Reception Committee. The 9:20 excursion train from Columbus brought other members of the Governor's staff, which is represented here to-day by Adjt. Gen. W. H. Gibson, Col. T. E. McNamara, Col. J. H. Sprague and Col. J. C. Wehrle. The procession formed on Limestone street, front of the Lagonda House, at 9:30 A.M., with Col. R. L. Kilpatrick, U.S.A., Chief Marshal, with Capt. Charles Hotsenpiller, U.S.A., Col. A. Dotze, Capt. Amaziah Winger, Capt. J. R. Ambrose and Dr. W. G. Bryant, medical officer, as aides. The procession moved in the following order:
Grand Marshal and Aides.
Seventh Regiment Band.
Veteran Memorial Association, 100 men, commanded by Maj. W.J. White
Squirrel Hunters, Capt. Frederick A. Lewis commanding.
Carriages with officials and invited guests.
In the first carriage rode Gov. Charles Foster, Adjt. Gen. Gibson, Judge William White and Gen. J.W. Keifer.
Second Carriage, Col. Anderson, U.S.A., Commandant Columbus Barracks and grand-nephew of Gen. George Rogers Clark, Hon. J.F. Oglevee, Auditor of State, Rev. T.J. Harris, Chaplain of the day, and Mayor E.S. Wallace.
Third carriage — Dr. Keifer, of Troy, and Governor's staff.
Fourth carriage — Capt. Runyan, of Logan County, in uniform of the old-time militia; Col. Johnson, Piqua; and Commissioners of Clark County.
The route of the procession was east on High street to Sycamore, north to main street, west to Market, south to Market space, where footmen boarded the train for the grounds, carriages and horsemen proceeding by pike.
On arrival, the exercises at the speakers' stand began with music by the band and prayer by Rev. T.J. Harris, Pastor High Street Methodist Episcopal Church, and Chaplain of the day.
Gen. Keifer then delivered the following welcome address:
Fellow-Citizens: The duty assigned me is a pleasing one. I am warned to be brief and not to trench on the work alloted [sic] here to others. The welcome extended to our distingusihed guests must be found more in the hearty spirit in which all give out signs of pleasure over their presence, than in words which I may utter.
Speaking for those whose persevering efforts we are permitted to meet on this occasion; also for all who have interested themselves in this centennial day, I extend a hearty welcome to all persons assembled here.
A perfect realization of the importance and interesting character of this meeting can be had only by bringing into vivid recollection the incidents and events which have occurred on these grounds a hundred years ago.
Here, then, savage and civilized man joined in mortal combat. The battle fought and won on that day had most important results. The border pioneer settlers, especially from Kentucky, fought to free their homes from depredations by the merciless red men. But the greatest results are to be read in the fact that here, on that day, the most warlike Indian tribe on the continent was defeated and forced back, and the pioneer white man was allowed to advance to new possessions. On this field as upon every other where an untutored and barbaric race of men have measured prowess with an educated and civilized race, the latter has proved the most valiant. No race of men ever were great and successful warriors whose training did not comprise something more than is obtained in the chase or alone in the use of arms. The Hebrew people, just out of centuries of Oriental bondage in which they were strangers to war, and who in all their history had been trained to peaceful pursuits, proved more than a match for the numerous large warlike bands with whom they came in contact in their forty years' journey through the wilderness to the Promised Land.
On these grounds, 100 years ago, were the then principal villages of the Shawnee Indian tribe. This tribe had occupied different portions of the now territory of the United States during nearly three hundred years of preceding history, and it was the most warlike of all the Indian tribes. It had rarely been at peace with the other tribes when it went to war with the whites. Their chiefs possessed more sagacity and more of the true spirit of warriors than the chiefs of other tribes. Their traditions were of war, extending back to a time when they, in search of conquest, "crossed a sea" to this continent. In this tribe alone did the latter tradition prevail. Here the head chiefs made their home. On account of the abundance of game, the richness of soil, the pure water from the numberless perennial springs, the large quantities of fish which then abounded in the limpid waters of Mad River and its tributary streams, the facilities for engaging in favorite sports upon the river and the then open prairies, these aboriginal people had become more than ordinarily attached to this place as a home. The acquisition of these lands may have been at the cost of many of their chiefs and braves. Here were the graves of their ancestors and those dear to them. They followed the natural instincts of mankind in defending this country against the aggressions of the white race. I am not charged with the duty of picturing the scenes of the battle fought here. That duty will be performed to-day by others; and by simulation we are soon to witness all the scenes of that eventful day. Already we witness the contending forces gathering for the fray.
Who were here on that memorable day? There were here (at their birthplace) the three ten-year-old brothers — triplets — with their Creek mother, two of whom became famed in the bloody history of the West. The names of those boys were Tecumseh (a cougar crouching for his prey), Ellskwatawa (an open door), afterward named and recognized as the Prophet, and Rumskaka. The principal chiefs and braves of the Shawnees, supported by about three hundred Mingo warriors under the notorious renegade white man, Simon Girty, fought upon this field. George Rogers Clark, then but twenty-eight years of age, and who stood deservedly high in public esteem as an Indian fighter, commanded the "long knives" — the white soldiers.
Among those with the expedition, perhaps more in the character of a scout and a spy than a soldier, was the famous Western adventurer, Daniel Boone.* Though the army of Col. afterward Gen. Clark was small — only about one thousand in numbers — it contained many who are known in the annals of history.
The day we celebrate was an anxious one. Success that day was to the pioneer settlements a guarantee of freedom from the scalping knife of the savage; and success to the Indians was the preservation of their rude homes, their small crops and natural hunting grounds. From the women and children, witnesses of the battle gathered on these heights, there doubtless went up prayers for the success to the Great Spirit above; for they worshiped a "Great Unknown." These "children of the forest," as said by another, had seen the Great Father
"In clouds and heard Him in the winds."
Here then was witnessed the exultations of victory, and the crushed hopes and sorrows and sufferings and defeat. The cycle of an hundred years has beheld the vain struggle of a once proud and vailant race of God's people for thier homes and for an existence. The Shawnee tribe is now almost extinct; a mere remnant of it, without tribal identification, can only now be found in the far-off Indian Territory, merged with a similarly fated tribe — Pottawatomies. Though these "children of nature" flourished and were long known to history (under varied names), before their defeat on these historic plains their star of destiny was set. They are doomed to extinction. Their fate has been or will be the fate of all other savages on this continent. While we deplore the poor Indian's fate, and hesitate to pronounce his treatment by our kindred and race just and human when tested by divine precepts, we can still hope that He who rules all things for the best will not, as retributive justice, visit a like or kindred fate on our own race.
Reaching back a century, where certain records of history "fade away in the twilight and charm of tradition," we gather up the marvelous growth of civilization in the New World.
The past century is rich in the romance of American history. Progress has reigned with imperial power. The savage war-whoop has been superseded by the neighing of the "iron horse." The event we celebrate sharply marks the point where barbarism ended and civilization set in. Here barbarism was driven back still farther in its native forests, where through all the ages it has had its securest home, and the inseparable twins, Christianity and civilization, bearing the ax of Time, have cloven along their retiring footsteps room for a better, purer and holier life, in all of which we may be able to read the decree of Almighty God.
To bring us closer, if possible, to the condition of things as they once existed here, and to aid in paying just tribute to our fathers who fought here, or who but little later were the avant couriers of our present peaceful and happy State, let us speak in the words of one of Ohio's poet sons:
"The mighty oak, proud monarch of the wood,
Upon these hills in stately grandeur stood.
Along these vales did ferocious panthers prowl,
And oft was heard the fierce wolf's frightful howl;
But all these savage beasts have passed away,
And the wild Indians too — where are they?
They have disappeared — most of these tribes are gone,
Like the night's dark shades before the rising dawn.
Can we forget that brave and hardy band
Who made their homes first in this Western land?
Their names should be enrolled on history's page,
To be preserved by each succeeding age:
They were the fathers of the mighty West;
Their arduuous labors Heaven above has blessed,
Before them fell the forest of the plain,
And peace and plenty followed in the train."
Gen. J. Warren Keifer was then responded to by Gov. Charles Foster, who spoke as follows:
Ladies and Gentlemen of Clark County:
I am very grateful indeed, for myself and for my associates here from the State Government, for the welcome that has been given us in words, and not only in words, but for the welcome expressed by this magnificent presence before us. It has been my good fortune (I suppose I may call it good fortune) to visit almost every county in this State within the past year. Ohio is a great State, with populous cities and influential towns and counties — at least we of Ohio think it is a great State — and I noticed in all the counties I visited that every one thought their town the best town in their county and the best county in the State. I conclude that the remark is equally current here. Unfortunately for me, I failed to visit Clark County last year, but I am happy to be present with you to-day. Among the first things I heard when I arrived this morning was that "same old story," that the county of Clark is the finest in Ohio, and that the city of Springfield is the finest city in the State — or in any other State for that matter. Even my old friend, your honored citizen, one of the Judges of the Supreme Court, dignified and thoughtful as he is, said that this county and this city of Springfield were the best county and the best city in the State (Laughter.)
I am glad to be here to-day on this centennial occasion — this centennial of an occasion that marked the downfall of barbarism and the beginning of the rise of the splendid Christian civilization we now see in Clark County, and not only in Clark County, but throughout the great Northwest.
I congratulate you, the people of Clark, on your splendid civilization, on your agricultural industries, on your great manufacturing interests, and your institutions. Again, in behalf of myself and my associates, I thank you for the kind invitation and for this most genious welcome. (Applause).
* According to other accounts Boone must have been in the "Carolinas" searching for his wife and family at the time of this expedition.
Battle of Piqua
Early Clark County
George Rogers Clark
Education in Clark County
Indians in Clark County
The National Road
Springfield in 1852
Springfield in 1863
SHS 1951 Yearbook
Then & Now