One of the most interesting and probably the - Most authorative account of the history of the deportation of the Pottowattomie Indians from
Twin Lakes in Marshall county down the Eel River, through Logansport and south through Attica and across Illinois to Kansas is given in the
following article written by Ben Stuart of Bennettsville and which appeared In the September issue of the Indiana Historical Magazine
"He who reads and informs himself Of what others have done and said, Will be a leader in the battle of life, While the ignorant ever must be led."
The deportation of Chief Menominee and his -tribe of Pottawattomie Indians from their reservation at Twin Lakes in Marshall county, in September, 1838, covers one of the darkest pages In the history of our state—Indiana—and has no parallel In the annals of American history. The farther In time we get away from this event, the plainer will this appear and the more interest wll be attached to the route which is consecrated by the blood of that helpless people at the hands of civilized and Christian state. Much of the route In this state is a public highway, which I name "The Pottawattomie Trail."
The Pottawattomie Indians originally occupied the territory north of the Wabash river to Chicago and Michigan. Their conversion to the Christian religion through the Catholic faith, dated back to 1680. When they did become converted they were nearly as firm and devout as were the primitive Christians.
When the priests would leave them, trey would teach each other and tried hard, to preserve the religious; Influence they had previousIy enjoyed. Until Bishop Brute was appointed for Vincennes in 1834, they were only visited by priests from that place and Detroit. At that time they numbered four thousand souls. One of the first cares of the bishop was to visit this mission, which was the only one in northern Indiana, and make provision for their spiritual welfare. He caused to be erected a two-story hewed log chapel on the north side of the lake. Near this spot stands a monument erected to their memory through the efforts of Daniel McDonald. ''
Rev. M. Deisseils of Michigan, was put in. charge o this mission and the results were wonderful. The impulse given by the bishop was such that their reverence for the Black Gowns which their fathers had transmitted to them, that they vowed if the Great Spirit would send them another person to minister to their spiritual welfare, they would listen to his Instructions and they came by hundreds to demand them and ask for baptism.
Rev. Dassel’s baptized a quarter of those who had previously been heathens and he soon " after died. The work to which he had been exposed brought on a spell of sickness that left him almost at. The point of death, but feeling that his last moments were fast approaching, he aroused himself and met his faithful children at the altar, and while attending them with his dying hands the last duties enjoined on him by his Master expired on its very steps
Those who had watched him with much anxiety, and unwilling to believe that their master was dead, and hoping he was only sleeping, remained by his corpse for four days, when another clergyman arrived to perform the funeral rites over the body. Rev. Dassells successor was Benjamin Potts, a young Frenchman, who had left his native land and the profession of law, to devote his life as a priest. He did no: know their language, but the ardor of his zeal helped him to soon learn it.
Wondering at his kindness and pleasantness, they said he was not a Black Gown from a foreign land, but a red skin like themselves.
Previous to his time, President Jackson, after being importuned to extinguish the title to the land held by the Indians in Northern Indiana, appointed as commissioners Governor Jonathan Jennings, John W. Davis and Mark Crume. A large number of prominent Indians were present, among them were Wa-She-Anas, Wa-Ban-She, Anb-Bee-Naube and others, and also Captain Bourie
This conference was held at Chippepa, on the banks of the Tippecanoe, north of Rochester, on October 2, 1832, it being the twentieth treaty
Governor Jennings, as usual, had imbibed too freely and his conduct so disgusted the Indians that it came near disrupting the whole conference. After a stormy session-of several days, the treaty was concluded and by its terms all the lands held by the Indians in northern Indiana was ceded to the government, "except certain allotments around Lake Maxinkuckee." and around Twin 'Lakes and north of them. This treaty-included one of the largest villages and a Catholic mission on the banks of the Tippecanoe.
The president did not ratify this treaty until 1836. Meanwhile the trappers, squatters, land sharks and all rushed in, which was in direct violation of the policy of the government, as the president had call ed the attention of congress for information in similar cases.
At this conference the governnent had forbid any intoxicating liquor being brought on the grounds. hen "Jack Douglas" brought some very fine wines and brandies, they, of course, were confiscated and put in the council chamber of one of the commissioners for safe keeping, and ready use as the occasion might require. This proved to be one of the essentials in making this treaty.
The terms of this treaty were obtained through persuasion, liquor bribery, threats and intimidation, and perhaps this is why its ratification was held up for four years. Were a set of men to appeal to our federal court today to confirm their title to a piece of real estate obtained by such methods as did these commissioners employ, the court would dismiss the case, give the appellants a severe reprimand and order their arrest before they got out of the city.
The terms of this treaty were not what was desired by the land sharks, and their next move was to have; Col Abdel Pepper, the Indian agent who. was stationed at Logansport, buy these allotments, and after several attempts failed.
The next move was to have the state legislature memorialize the federal government to extinguish the title to these lands, Consequently President Jackson appointed John T. Douglas (perhaps the "Jack Douglas" that took part in the conference of 1832) as commissioner, and the Indians were represented by Chee-Chan-Chosee-As-Kum, Wee-Saw-Muk-Kozie and Qui-Quit-To-On
Historians differ as to time and Place of this treaty. Thomas B. Helms of Logansport, a very reliable historian, says It was made in Washington, D. C., on February ratified within one week from Its conclusion all of which appears very plausible and Is also confirmed by Menominee In his speech.
This treaty was a ratification of all former treaties and it was further stipulated that they would move at the end of two years to lands provided for them by the government, along the Osage river to Kansas, the expense of the removal And one year's subsistence to be met by the government
By the terms of the treaty of 1832 Menominee and his tribe, which numbered about 1,500 Indians, were allotted about twenty sections of land around Twin Lakes, which extended to within a mile of Plymouth. Their principal village covered nearly two sections north of the lakes and consisted of one hundred wigwams or huts. They raised corn and vegetables as a part means of subsistence. They were peaceable and friendly to the whites, who would often attend their church
Father Benjamin Petit had charge of the mission, as has been previously stated, and they would come for miles and form large congregations, and were very devout in their mode of worship. Some of them had received an English education and were in a fair way to be assimilated into a loyal citizenship. But this was not to be, and as soon as this supposed treaty was made known, they were harassed by land sharks or their agents, squatters and trappers.
Col Abdel Pepper was also nagging at them to move and at a council at Pretty Lake, he threatened to remove them by force. When all had had their say, Menominee arose, his white head towering above all others, with the dignity of Daniel Webster and just as defiant, said substance — the president does not know the truth. He, like me, has been deceived. He does not know that your treaty is a lie, and that I never have signed it He does not know that you made my chiefs drunk, got their consent and pretended to get mine. He does not know that I refused to sell my lands and still refuse. He would not by force drive me from my home, the groves of my tribe and children, who have gone to the great Spirit, nor to allow you to tell me that your braves will take me, tied like a dog, if he knew the truth. My brother, the president, is just but he listens to his young chiefs, who have lied. When he knows the truth, he will leave me to my own. I have not sold my lands. I will not sell them. I have not signed any treaty and I shall not sign any I am not going to leave my land. I do not want to hear anything more about It, and amid the applause of his chiefs, he sat down.
This speech, delivered in the peculiar style of the Indian orator, presented one of those very rare occasions of which history gives but few instances, and would have made a profound impression on any one except those who could see nothing but those broad acres of fine lands.
Andrew Jackson was president when this supposed treaty was made. He stated that it was the policy of the government to deal fairly with the Indians, pay them, for their lands, obtain their consent for possession and removal, and whenever possible teach them the arts of civilization, that in time they would assimilate and become loyal citizens. He had previously Called on congress for an investigation of cases that had come to his knowledge of where the whites had infringed-on the lands of the red men, vice versa.
That It was the duty of the federal government of the state to extinguish the title to lands held by the Indians, and when it did that, he matter rested with the state, and the Indians could leave; or stay but were amenable to the laws of the state; and any further interference on the part of the federal government would be an infringement oa the rights of the state and was dangerous.
Now, to charge my country and your country, a Christian nation, with being guilty of making this attack on Christianity and civilization is wrong, not sustained by facts and is an unjust accusation. As to Col. Abdel Pepper, he was a man holding a government position a fiend, a pliable tool in the hands of Gov. David H. Wallace, father of Gen. Lew Wallace, and those who coveted these lands.
During the summer of 1838, preparations were made to remove these Indians by force. The Indians were aware of this and had resolved to fight when through the counsel of Father Petit, and on his promise to accompany, them to their new home, they promised him if the worst did come, they would submit peacefully. This averted a general massacre
The Catholic church had labored with these people over one hundred an fifty years, oft times at the cost of the lives of her priests. She had seen hex missions swept aside, one by one, until only this one remained. True to her trust she stood by these people and used her Influence to stay the hand of execution, but all in vain, all the time counseling them to avoid the shedding of blood.
The work of destruction began, in August, 1838, when a body of men entered their village, took possession of their crops and lands, which was. resisted by the Indians driving them out and tearing down their shanties. The crisis came when the cabin of Mr. Waters was torn down by the Indians, and then he and others in return burned some of their huts
A courier was seat to notify their agent. Colonel Pepper, at Logansport, who sent one on to Indianapolis to notify the governor.
Governor Wallace authorized Gen. John Tipton to raise an army proceed to Twin Lakes and remove them. This removal had been planned to take place later in the fall. This army was made up of troops from Lafayette, Logansport, South Bend and Laporte. Among these were Josiah Powell, I. N. Clary and William Clary, his brother., I. N. Clary drove a four-horse team for which he received the sum of $800.00 at the instances of Colonel Pepper.
Colonel Pepper incited all the tribe to a council to be held at the village on August 29th. Not knowing that they were being decoyed, many of them assembled and at the time Mr. Pepper was pretending to hold a council. General Tipton appeared with his army, which was secreted, surrounded the village and made all, between three and four hundred, prisoners. He then proceeded to the church where they were engaged in worship and made his presence known by firing guns and surrounding the church and made all within prisoners.
This is the first and only time a religious meeting was broken up and the worshipers made prisoners like a lot of law-violators by the order of the governor of our state, whose sworn duty if was to protect them..
They plead for mercy and to be let alone, but all to no effect, as General Tipton was a military man and knew to obey orders. When evening came and they did not return home, others were sent out in search of them and they, too, were made prisoners All of these were held under guard while other troops were scouting the reservation for others and destroying their homes. They also rounded up about four hundred ponies that were to be used in their journey.
Many tragic scenes were enacted In this round-up. Some fought like demons till they were overpowered and roped, some went in hiding, others sought shelter in Michigan." One case where they had surrounded the hut and called on the Indian to surrender, he sprang for his tomahawk and rifle and when he saw the cross which the priest wore, threw down his weapons, crossed his arms and held them out to be tied.
Then what of Chief Menomonee? When approached by the troops he seized a knife, and bid defiance, when they surrounded him, tossed a lariat over his head and threw him to the ground where they roped, him and held him a prisoner.
Thus was sealed the fate of the Great chief.
This work. was kept up until they had gathered near 1,500 and had placed 859 names on roll. Father Petit was permitted to assemble them for a final service. He says, "At the moment of my departure I assembled all my children to speak to them for the last time. I wept and they sobbed aloud. It was a. sorrowful sight, and over this, our dying mission, we prayed for the success of those missions that they would establish in their new home to which they were being driven."
On the Sunday before their departure they were visited by many whites who came to bid them farewell. No doubt there were some in that assemblage whose conscience was not at rest. On the last day here they were permitted, under guard, to visit the graves of their departed friends, and held an impressive service, where heart-rending scenes, that were indescribable were witnessed
General Tipton went prepared with sixty wagons and hired teams of horses and oxen. In the mean time these were being loaded with their goods, such as would be needed, and the old, the sick, at which there were over one hundred, and the women and children
On September 4th, 1838, they were lined up, some afoot, some on ponies, followed by the wagons, and all heavily guarded with a lot of guards at the rear with bayonets, which were often used to keep the weak ones in the procession
Before starting, the torch was applied to the Indian village, so that they might see their. homes destroyed and they would not want to return. When all was in readiness, this gruesome procession, nearly three miles long, like a funeral procession which in reality it was started on its final journey. It was a sickly season. The sun was hot and the road was dry and dusty. They drove down the Michigan road to Chippewa, on the Tippecanoe, where they, camped the night of the fourth.
It was here that more was added to their, cup of sorrow. They wished to take their dead with them and when this was denied, they had to l eave them at the roadside or camping ground, hence ievery camping ground was a burial ground.
In making preparations for their expedition It was thought a picnic and many volunteers were turned away, but at the end of the first day, twenty of the troops, heartsick stole twenty of the Indians ponies and deserted the command
On September 5th, they, moved down to Mud Creek, which is the name applied, to the upper course of Big Indian Creek, where they camped. There was much suffering for water, as many of the streams were dry and for food as but little preparation had been made for this
On, September 6th they reached Logansport and camped on Horney creek for three days and nights. The physicians’came out and rendered what aid they could to, the sick. While there two adults and several children died, and they were buried just north of the Vandalia railroad where they lie to this day
These people were human beings and the love of parent for their offspring was strong. Then think what must have been their grief on taking their march, and the anxiety of the father at the close of the, day to learn of the condition of his family.
On September 10th they started on their march down Michigan avenue to Eel-River then down the north side of the Wabash River, through Georgetown and forded Crooked Creek near the mouth, thence on to the county line, then followed the bank of the river to a creek. On the west side of this creek was Old Winamac’s Village, and is about eleven miles below Logansport. They reached this point at 5:00 p. m., and camped here. I name this Menominee's Camping round on September 10th, 1838. Food was scarce, but the spring branches proved a blessing, although at times the Indians were driven away from them at the point of the bayonet
On September 11th, at 10:00 a. m. they took up their march. Here the road left the river and followed the foot of the bluff to the Jacob Mullendore farm. From here they followed the top of the bluff to Little Burnetts Creek, then at the foot of the bluff through Lockport On the hillside north of the road is a spring, which was much larger then that it Is now. Here some of the Indians were permitted to drink. This spring I named Pottawattomie Spring.
From here they followed the foot of the bluff of the line between the Schneip and Kirkpatrick farms to the river, thence west to Rattle Snake. They forded the creek, ascended the Gilliam hill, where there was a camping ground for tribes that preceded this one thence on a line through Connor's Reserve to Pleasant Run Creek, where they went into camp, after traveling all day in the hot sun, enveloped in a, cloud of dust.
"Cruelty unspeakable! Outrage infinite!" For such were the scenes witnessed that night in the grove along the creek, whose waters went rippling along to swell the mighty deep. With their condition growing worse every day, one cannot help but wonder if the faith in the God of Mercy, whom they had learned to worship, will hold out
May the great Ruler of Nations never again permit Indiana to be disgraced by such scenes as were witnessed in Carroll county those two days and nights while these exiles passed through it, should be the prayer of every liberty citizen.
On September 12th, they took up their line’ of march by following the road up the hill , crossed the range line to the creek and followed it to Pittsburg.
The Delphi Oracle of September 15th, 1838, edited by Henry B. Milroy, said: "The tribe of Pottawattomie Indians passed down on the west side of the Wabash a few day's ago on their way to their new home along the Osage. River in Kansas. The procession is very Imposing covering a distance of nearly three miles, all in charge of Gen. John Tipton, who will place them in charge of Judge Polk at the state line."
From here they followed, the Delphi and Battle Ground road along the bank of the Wabash to the Case farm, then along the bluff fording the Tippecanoe River at 11:00 am. at Hog Point and reached. Battle. Ground at noon. They camped near here the night of the 12th. It was here that Gen. Tipton distributed $5,000.00, worth of goods to allay the discontent and revive their spirits.
This only proved temporary. On The 13th they traveled seventeen miles and reached Lagrange, where they camped. Heat and dust getting worse, teams worn, out, many of the troops sick and unable to proceed, Dr. Richie and son attending Physicians, nearly out of medicine, one hundred and sixty Indians sick; large numbers had to be left to their fate along the road, and children dying at the rate of three to five per day, the faith that had carried them thus far was being shaken and the Indian spirit of freedom or death was showing itself
It was at this time that Colonel Pepper and General Tipton began to come to their senses. General Tipton sent an urgent message back to Father, Petit to .hasten, to his aid, and by permission of Bishop Brute, he started.
On September 14th they reached Williamsport, where they camped, and on Sunday, September 16th, near Perrysville. Father Petit came up to them. He says: "I came in sight of my poor Christian children marching, in a line guarded by soldiers who hastened their steps, a burning hot sun cast its rays down upon them. After them came the wagons, into which, were crowded the women, children, the sick and dying. I baptized several newly born babes, whose first step was from exile to Heaven
At Danville on September 18th the command was handed over to Judge Polk, who was appointed by the government to receive them. After resting two days they took up their line of march, leaving six graves under the shadow of the cross.
Their hardships only increased as they moved along over the prairie; no water, and the night's getting cooler. After nearly two months' journey, the remnant of this tribe reached the Osage River with a loss-of one-fifth of it's original number, besides the great number of children. And here they were turned loose without even a jack knife.
Father Petit was so worn out that fie could not return at once as directed by the bishop, but at soon as he was able he started on his return and reached St. Louis where he died. His remains now He at Notre Dame beside those of Father Deseilles.
Of all the names connected with this crime, there is one, the name, of Father Benjamin Petit the Christian and martyr, which stands like a star in the firmament, growing brighter, and will, shine on through ages to come.
In conclusion, if the reader in his imagination, will go with me where the trail crosses the highway near the Rattle Snake bridge, not far from the banks of the Wabash, I will show him a pen picture part of which was drawn by an eye witness. He said; "It was a sad and mournful spectacle to see these children of the forest, half clad and starved, as they slowly retired from the homes of their childhood.
As they cast mournful glances backward to the loved scene that were fading in the distance, tears fell from the eyes of the warriors, old men trembled, matrons wept, and the swarthy cheek of the maiden turned pale. Sighs and half suppressed sobs escaped from the motley group as they passed along, some on foot, some on ponies and others in wagons, all driven like cattle to the shambles, to a strange country, they knew not where.
I saw several of the warriors casting glances toward the sky as if they were imploring aid from; the spirits of their departed - heroes who were looking down from the clouds, or from the Great Spirit, who would ultimately redress the wrongs of the red man, whose broken bow had fallen from his hands and whose sad heart was-bleeding within him
Oh Civilization! What crimes are committed in thy name!
Dear reader, in fancy I stood there at midnight, the moon shone in all its splendor with nothing to break the stillness of the night the occasional hooting of [an owl] when I heard the hoofs of a [horse] as he came galloping down the Gillam hill. I heard him as he passed through the creek; and passed by I saw that he [carried a] messenger, but it was not [Paul] Revere. The next day at 10 a.m. on looking to the east, I saw a cloud of. dust, then came [gallop] down the road a horse and [ridder] and as he drew near I saw [that it] was not Phil Sheridan, but [Father] Petit, fastening on to comfort [his] people and to counsel them to humbly submit to the will of [David H. ] Wallace, the governor of the Christain state - Indiana.
You need not go to Concord! Winchester, nor any bnattlefield [to] learn of deeds of heroism far off Arcadia and behold the [?]ing of Grand Pre to l earn of the injustice meted out to the [weak by] the strong and greedy. It you [?] the history of your state [?] our [?] Indiana.
Logansport Pharos Tribune, Monday, November 27, 1922