Bourbon Sesquicentennial


Otwan Onago, aka Anthony Nigo

Anthony Nigo was the last full-blooded Indian to reside in Marshall County. He lived in Bourbon Township for a number of years. He is buried in the northeast section of St. Michael's Cemetery in Plymouth amid former priests who lay at rest there. The stone marking his grave was placed there through the efforts of the Daughters of Isabella and is inscribed with the wrong date of death (1878), although the monument expresses well the esteem Nigo earned during his lifetime. Nigo died on the 19th of March 1877. His obituary appeared in the Plymouth Democrat, on 22 March, 1877, and states that Anthony Niago was born in Kosciusko county in the year 1805. He came to Marshall County and settled near Tippecanoetown in 1828. His name on the land records is Otwan Onago, Otwan Nigo and Otway Onigo; local folks found it easier to say Anthony Nigo. Likewise, the bride he married had the name Ash-nuc in 1828 when she married Nigo in the Indian chapel at Twin Lakes. To local folks, she was simply Angeline. Nigo's father was a Pottawatomie and his mother a Miami Indian. Angeline was a half-breed having both French & Indian parents. In this same chapel and in the year 1828, Anthony Nigo was baptized into the Catholic faith by a missionary "sent to look after the spiritual welfare of the Aborigines of the Western wilderness" and at that time was presented with a prayer book by the priest.

Land records show that Otwan Onago received a land patent from the U.S. Government dated May 8th 1844 (after the Pottawatomie were removed) for 40 acres and another patent from the State of Indiana for an adjacent 40 acres dated January 5, 1853. Both were for land in Bourbon township. His name is still on that land on an 1872 plat map. In 1850, he purchased 40 acres from Mary Ann Peashway and sold it in 1852 to Stephen Benack. This land was in Tippecanoe township on the south side of the present State Road 10 just east of Cedar road.

Nigo had no children, but Angeline had at least one known son. It was this boy, named Peter Shipshewana, who Anthony Nigo was protecting when he had to shoot another Indian by the name of William Marshall. Marshall had knocked the boy to the floor in Nigo's home and was threatening to kill him with the next blow. This sad event took place while the family lived north of Bourbon. An inquest was held in Nigo's home on the 29th of April 1854 by "six good and lawful men in said township", namely John C. Hedrick, Jonas C. Mooney, Henry H. Baxter, Daniel Studebaker, Marvin Hamilton and Francis Kincade. They determined that Nigo acted in justified defense of his family.

The last land Nigo owned in Bourbon township was 80 acres on the northwest corner of what is now Fir & 9B roads. Nigo was a devout Catholic and in later life he sold this farm and moved to Plymouth. He lived in a home near St. Michael's Catholic Church so he could take an active part in the services there. Anthony Nigo was a peaceful Christian man, who but for the fact that he was descended from the Miami tribe through his mother, would have been removed to Kansas with the Pottawatomie Indians in 1838. The following poem appeared at the end of his obituary:

ON THE DEATH OF NIAGO

Time solves the mysteries of life;

So far as human ken can know.

Death marks the close of earthly strife

And reaps alike the friend and foe.

The white man hopes beyond the grave;

The red man looks for hunting grounds.

Both shall meet the true and brave,

Where the bright throngs of earth are crowned.

Far in the West there echoes still

The wild whoop of the warrior braves,

Whose thoughts turn back to land and rill

Where sleep the dead in unknown graves.

Farewell, Niago! Thy chiefs are fled.

The scattered tribe returns no more.

Sleep thou, with consecrated dead,

Till summoned from the mystic shore.


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