Springfield, Ohio

History and Genealogy



Treaty with the Indians


From The History of Clark County, Ohio
Chicago: W.H. Beers & Co., 1881 - Page 450


By Oscar T. Martin

The bloodthirsty Indian wars which had raged along the borders had scarcely ceased, when the settlement of Springfield was made. Its effect upon both sides was plainly visible. It had been a warfare full of malignant spirit. So outrageous had been the acts committed by the Indians on helpless women and children, that the settlers were bound in a common cause against them. During the summer of 1807, the inhabitants were frequently alarmed at reported incursions of the Indians against them. When these rumors seemed to have foundation, all the families were collected in a two-story log house which then stood on the southeast corner of High and Limestone streets, and remained there until the alarm subsided. While the community was in this agitated condition in the autumn of 1807, a white man by the name of Myers was killed by a band of strolling Indians a few miles west of Urbana, and a family by the name of Elliott, living on Mad River not far from the present residence of Peter Sintz, had been frightened by a rifle shot piercing the sun-bonnet of Mrs. Elliott, while gathering wood in their door-yard, supposed to have been sent by an Indian, who a few days before had been refused the use of a butcher knife.

These outrages, taken in connection with the assemblage of the Indians under Tecumseh and the Prophet, created a great alarm among the people of Springfield and surrounding country. Many families moved back to Kentucky, whence they came; others were formed into companies of militia, and Foos' tavern was converted into a garrison. A demand was made by the whites upon the Indians for the persons who had committed these unlawful acts. The Indians denied that these things were done with their knowledge or consent. The alarm, however, continued, and it was finally agreed that a council should be held on the subject in Springfield for the purpose of settlement. Gen. Whiteman, Maj. Moore, Capt. Ward and two others acted as Commissioners on the part of the whites.

The council assembled in Sugar Grove, that then stood on or near Main street, opposite the Foos tavern. Two bands of Indians attended the council, one from the north in charge of McPherson; the other, consisting of sixty or seventy braves, came from the neighborhood of Fort Wayne under the charge of Tecumseh. Roundhead, Blackfish and other chiefs were also present. There was no friendly feeling between these two parties, and each was willing that the blame of the outrages should be fixed upon the other. The party under McPherson, in compliance with the request of the Commissioners, left their weapons a few miles from Springfield. But Tecumseh and his party refused to attend the council unless permitted to retain their arms. The reason Tecumseh gave was that his tomahawk contained his pipe and he might have occasion to smoke. After the conference was opened, the Commissioners, fearing some violence still, made another effort to have Tecumseh lay aside his weapon. This he positively refused to do. At this moment, Dr. Richard Hunt, a tall, slim young man recently from Pennsylvania, and a boarder at Foos' tavern, thinking to reconcile matters with Tecumseh, cautiously approached and handed the chief an old long-stemmed earthen pipe intimating that if he would give up his tomahawk, he might smoke the aforesaid pipe. Tecumseh took the pipe between his thumb and finger, held it up, looked at it for a moment, then at the owner, who was gradually receding from the point of danger, and with an indignant sneer immediately threw it over his head into the bushes. The Commissioners then yielded the point and proceeded to business.

After a full and patient inquiry into the facts of the case, it appeared that the murder of Myers was the act of a single Indian, and not chargeable to either band of the Indians. Several speeches were made by the chiefs, the most prominent of which were those by Tecumseh. He gave a satisfactory explanation of the action of himself and the Prophet in calling around them a band of Indians; disavowed all hostile actions toward the United States, and denied that either he or those under his control had committed any depredations upon the whites. His manner of speaking was animated, fluent and rapid, and, when understood, very forcible.

The council then terminated. During its session, the two tribes of Indians became reconciled to each other, and peace and quite was gradually restored to the settlement. The Indians remained in Springfield for three days, amusing themselves in various feats of activity and strength such as jumping, running and wrestling, in which Tecumseh generally excelled. At this time Tecumseh was in the thirty-eighth year of his age, five feet ten inches high, with erect body, well developed and of remarkable muscular strength. His weight was about one hundred and seventy pounds. There was something noble and commanding in all his actions. Tecumseh was a Shawnese; the native pronunciation of the name was Tecumtha, signifying "The Shooting Star." He was brave, generous and humane in all his actions.

Among others who were present at this council were Jonah Baldwin, John Humphreys, Simon Kenton, Walter Smallwood, John Daugherty and Griffith Foos.

The council had a salutary effect upon the village. It set at rest the startling rumors which discouraged immigration, impeded progress, and paralyzed the ambitious efforts of the inhabitants. The town began to rapidly improve. The valuable water-power attracted men of enterprise, who began to utilize it in various branches of industry. There were no streams of water of consequence nearer than Chillicothe, sixty miles distant, so that mills of various kinds began to spring up in favorable localities.

In the year 1809, John Lingle erected a powder-mill near the mouth of Mill Run. He also built a log magazine for the storage of the powder, a little west of the present city hall, on the north bank of the stream. The machinery of this mill was primitive, but the untiring energy of the proprietor enabled him to supply the demand for that indispensable article in frontier life for some years. The residence of Mr. Lingle was on top of the rocks near his powder mill, but after the loss of a little child by drowning in the mill dam, he moved to a small frame house on Market street, opposite his magazine, where he died in 1818.

The streams in this vicinity, being fed by thousands of springs which poured into them at frequent intervals, were wont, upon the slightest provocation, to assume dangerous proportions, but no serious difficulties were apprehended from inundation until the spring of 1809. Lagonda Creek had then a current which in depth, width and rapidity was not to be compared with the sluggish waters which now crawl over the bed of that once beautiful stream. In the beginning of the season just mentioned, there had been many heavy and long continued rains, which caused the creek to overflow its banks, inundating all that part of the country northeast of the town, which was then an open prairie, and encroaching dangerously near the settled portion of the town. After giving this evidence of its destructive power, it soon subsided, but many began to fear for the safety of the place from a repetition of the overflow, and some who had settled there with the intention of making it their permanent abode soon took their departure.

The founder of the village was not discouraged at the doubts and fears of the timid, for about this time he made a third addition to the original plat, extending his line of lots to Pleasant street. The precise date of this addition is not known, as it was not recorded during Demint's lifetime and not until 1853, but it is thought to have been about the year 1810.