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Warren County Local History by Dallas Bogan

The Wyandottes Last March Through Ohio

Dallas Bogan on 6 August 2004
original article by Dallas Bogan
Return to Index to see a list of other articles by Dallas Bogan

The Wyandotte Indians, earlier known as the Hurons, were the last remaining tribe in the State of Ohio.
Lands secured west of the Cuyahoga River (the Western Reserve tract) was confirmed by treaty at Fort Industry (Toledo) in 1805. Lands west of Huron and Richland counties and north of the Indiana boundary line (the Greenville Treaty line made by General Wayne in August 1795) to the western limits of Ohio, was purchased by the United States in 1818.
The "New Purchase," as it was called, was made at St. Marys by Louis Cass and Duncan McArthur, Commissioners. Treaty terms stipulated that certain tracts of reservation were made in the purchase tract to the Wyandottes, Delawares, Senecas, and other tribes.
The Wyandottes, numbering between 500 and 700 in 1843, were removed West, under control of the United States Government.
This tribe, which occupied most of northern Ohio, performed the last rites for the dead and gathered their remnants for their final journey.
The expedition was taken in July 1843 when the roads were in good condition. After an easy march, they paused and pitched their wigwams, preparing for a night's rest at the southern part of Bellbrook in Greene County.
Their provisions included many large Conestoga wagons, equipped with large round white covers fastened at each end with draw ropes. These wagons would safely carry about 2 tons.
As they stopped the wagons were quickly unloaded and the wigwams hurriedly set-up. Sleeping quarters included anything that was available. Large numbers of water buckets were put into use watering their teams and for cooking purposes.
A considerable number of horses and a few cattle made up the long procession. All team horses were equipped with bells and when in use displayed a rather melodic tone. Each horse had about a dozen selective sizes. Some saddles and harnesses were beautifully decorated, they being trimmed in cheerful colors.
Many of the chiefs were enhanced in fine paraphernalia consisting of festive colors. They were of high chivalrous persuasion and some could speak English quite fluently. One young observer commented that it was "quite a novel sight to see the caravan coming over and down the hill on north Main street, and before us boys hardly knew it, the long train was in full view."
As nighttime arrived, several of the Indians were readying themselves to "paint the town red." Some members of the tribe rushed at the boys and gave out a herculean war-whoop. The men and women all cleared out, but the boys remained on the streets.
One Indian chased a young lady around a corner, giving one of his tribal war-whoops. "She threw up her hands and screamed, falling backward into the house, thinking sure she was killed." She was not hurt, but was scared our of her wits.
As was related by one of the boys, it was a sight to watch the papooses tied on a board and put on the back of the mothers.
Some of the Indian children, both boys and girls, were quite intelligent, which displayed the results of missionary work. These youngsters shared with the neighborhood children the games and tricks of their culture.
The caravan had packed up and left by seven o'clock the next morning. They traveled through the remainder of Ohio and took a steamer at Cincinnati for their western home, where they were received by their former tribes.

The Western Star inserted an article into the paper which related this last march of the Wyandottes through Lebanon. It read:

"On Monday, the 17th of July, 1843, an Indian tribe - the Wyandottes - passed through Lebanon. This was the last tribe left in Ohio, and they were removing to their far distant home west of the Mississippi River.
"They were removing at their own charge, in wagons and on horseback, and made quite an imposing appearance. There were, in all, about one hundred and fifty wagons and carriages, eighty of which they had hired for the occasion, and the remainder belonged to themselves. From Cincinnati they go by steamboat to a point not far from their destination. They number, in all, between seven and eight hundred, but a part of their people have gone across by land with the stock, and a few yet remain behind to close up their business.
"The tribe is comparatively wealthy. Besides the large sum received in hand, their annual annuity will amount, we understand, to about twenty-two dollars a head, men, women and children. In addition to this they have allotted to them west of the Mississippi perhaps four times as much land as they owned in Ohio, and their stock, in horses, cattle, etc., is very considerable.
"The Wyandottes are far advanced in civilization, and have many men among them of wealth and education. They appeared to be well prepared for the toils and fatigues of the journey, and, withal, happy and contented in view of their change of condition and prospects. Still, one could not but feel melancholy at witnessing the exodus from our borders of the last of a powerful race, which, in times gone by, held undisputed possession of this broad land. But their council fires have gone out; their wigwams are deserted. No more their shrill whoop resounds through the interminable forest, starting the game from its lair to meet the fatal ball of the hunter. They have passed away! Peace, civilization and science have taken their place, transforming the trackless wilderness into cultivated fields, and rewarding the laborer for his toil. They are gone! May the Good Spirit guide and protect them!"

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This page created 6 August 2004 and last updated 28 September, 2008
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