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Warren County Local History by Dallas Bogan

Historic Oldtown Hosted Tecumseh, Daniel Boone

Dallas Bogan on 17 August 2004
original article by Dallas Bogan
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Allow us this week to take a short trip to visit our neighbor to the North, Greene County. In our midst lies the most historic town in the state of Ohio. About three miles north of Xenia, on U.S. 68, lies Oldtown, long before called Old Chillicothe. Many years before the Boston Tea Party, long before Washington's great army defeated the English, this grand town existed in a peaceful fashion.
It was 215 years ago that Daniel Boone first became acquainted with the Shawnee Indians of Old Chillicothe. Boone recorded his historic experiences while sitting in his crude log cabin in Harrodsburg, Kentucky:
"January 1, 1778, I went with 20 men to the blue lick on the Licking river to make salt for the different garrisons. On February 7 I was hunting by myself to procure meat for the company and I met a party of 102 Indians and two Frenchmen marching against Boonesboro. They pursued and took me and that day I capitulated for my men, knowing they could not escape. They were 27 in number, three having gone with salt. The Indians used us generously. They carried us to Old Chillicothe, on the Little Miami river.
"On the 18th of February we arrived there after an uncomfortable journey in very severe weather. On the 10th of March I and 10 of my men were taken on to Detroit. On the 30th we arrived there and were treated by Gov. Hamilton, the British commander of the post, with great humanity. The Indians had such a fondness for me that they refused 100 pounds sterling if they would leave me with the others that he might send me home on my parole. Several English gentlemen there, sensible of my life and touched with sympathy, generously offered to supply my wants, which declined with many thanks, adding that I never expected it would be in my power to repay such generosity. The Indians left my men in captivity at Detroit, and on April 10, after a long and fatiguing march, they brought me back to Old Chillicothe."
Oldtown is dotted with just a few dwellings and is easily passed by. However, if one were to park their vehicle and walk this historic ground, a vision of long ago would begin to grasp their inner being.
Possibly the greatest event in the history of Old Chillicothe was that Tecumseh was born within a few rods of the town. This occasion itself is a distinction of sufficient historical interest.
On the street of Old Town the greatest Red warrior of the time sat around the council fires and planned his many campaigns against the white man. Years before the birth of Tecumseh the village was considered of great importance.
Tecumseh was not the only notable personality to grace the land of the Shawnee. Others included Gen. Josiah Harmar, Col. John Bowman, Simon Kenton, George Rogers Clark, Simon Girty, General St. Clair and numerous others.
The village consisted of one main street, then as now, and approximately one-fourth of a mile in length. No regularity was used in the positioning of the huts and tepees. Most of the huts were located in the vicinity of the old school house.
The common Indians had their huts along the bank of the stream. The council house was a long, narrow building, roughly made, and scarcely waterproof. In the shelter of this committee house plans were possibly made to a degree that made every white man shudder for a circle of two hundred miles.
The old council house served in many capacities, but, Simon Girty and the Scotch renegade, Dixon, came on the scene, and volunteered to aid Chief Blackfish, then in command of the village, to construct a more permanent structure. This new building stood in Oldtown until as late as 1840.
The Shawnees caused the white man more trouble than any other tribes in the vicinity. Their initial village was located at Chillicothe on the Scioto River. Second in importance was the village at Old Town. There was a constant communication between the two villages. The Shawnees being excellent walkers and runners allowed the 70 miles distant to be common ground.
The Shawnees were constantly in contact with the other Indian tribes, the Miamis, the Wyandottes and the Delawares, these latter settlements being farther to the north and west.
When the alarm sounded for war, their primitive methods of communication reached out and the neighboring tribes immediately answered a response.
There is much more to write about Old Chillicothe, but if one were to visit and keep in perspective the history of this area, a more common knowledge would become visible.
There are no less than eight markers in the proximity. The most prestigious marker is located in the Oldtown Reserve, which is situated on the east (right) side of U.S. 68 just north of Xenia. It marks the birthplace of Tecumseh, the great Shawnee Chief.

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This page created 17 August 2004 and last updated 28 September, 2008
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