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Questions about a Native American "skirmish" in Richland Township

• And, an impressive lecture presented in Bluffton

in 1880 by a Native American; • plus the discovery of three mounds in Putnam County

The plight of native Americans, in many ways ethnic cleansing, expelled from our part of the state in the 1830s, is one of our most tragic stories.

The only first-hand accounts from the Bluffton News of Europeans and native Americans tell mostly tell of settlers encountering graves. The stories raise questions including: • What did the early European settlers do with the remains discovered in their fields?

• Did these early settlers give any thought to the people they replaced?

• Would we, today, respond any differently than our ancestors’ responses?

The first story in the feature contains a letter from the late Dr. Delbert Gratz, written to the U.S. Army Military History Institute, concerning a skirmish between native Americans and U.S. troops that may have taken place in Richland Township.

The second story tells about a native American presenting a talk in Bluffton in 1880.

The third story tell about three native American mounds discovered in Putnam County, from an article in an 1880 county history.

1 - Dr. Gratz letter

Feb. 8, 1988

The Director

U.S. Army Military History Institute

Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania 17013

Dear Director:

Several of us are interested in compiling a history of our community and there is one question that I feel you or some of your associates may be able to give us some help.

There is a tradition that I have heard for some 50 years or more concerning a skirmish with the Indians that took place in this area. It was supposed to have taken place in what is now a part of Richland Township, Allen County, Ohio.

Earlier this was a part of Section 32 of Riley Township, Putnam County, Ohio. This was supposed to have taken place sometime before the settlement here in 1833. An areas is still pointed out by some as where it took place. I have walked over this area and have not found any artifacts. The dates may have been as early as the 1780s or ‘90s.

Do you have any records or do you have any suggestions or sources that might have information that might concern this skirmish which I presume was between U.S. Army troops and the Indians.

Any aid that you could give in locating such information would be greatly appreciated.

Cordially yours,

Delbert Gratz

Mennonite Historical Library

Bluffton College

Bluffton, Ohio 4817

Note: Dr. Gratz received no response from this request.

2 - From Nov. 11, 1880, Bluffton News –

NOTE: The entire article is published at the bottom of this story.

A 19-year-old Native American whose name was Star of the Cheyenne tribe gave a lecture at Bluffton’s Keim’s Hall on “the recent troubles between the various tribes of Indians and the U.S. government.

He talked from the Indian standpoint.” The news article stated that his presentation was in a cool, intelligent manner. The story concluded: “His purposes are noble, and he should receive the support of all who desire the Indian raised from his present degraded condition.”

(Note: this presentation took place just four years following the Battle of the Little Bighorn, where U.S. 7th Cavalry, a force of 700 men, suffered a major defeat while commanded by Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer.)

3 - Mound Builders in Putnam County

History of Putnam County, Ohio

H.H. Hardesty & Co., Publishers, Chicago and Toledo, 1880

Cabinets of these curiosities are being formed in the county

The largest mound in (Putnam) the county is on Section 16, Perry township. This was about eight feet high and about fifty feet in diameter, beautifully situated on the Auglaize River.

When this mound was examined, by a shaft sunk at the center, the first two feet were found to be a sandy loam; then to the bottom it was a fine yellow sand, as clear of muck as if it had been burned.

At a depth of four feet from the surface was the skeleton of a full-sized person, badly decayed, and which fell to pieces on exposure from the air. It was evidently the remains of someone deposited there since the erection of the mound.

At a depth even with the surface of the surround lands were quantities of broken pottery, the pieces indicating vessels that would have held ten gallons; several arrow points of flint in the shape of a knife-blade, about three inches long, half-an-inch in width, and the sixteenth-of-an inch thickness, sharp on one end and edge.

Occasional pieces of charcoal were found through the sand, from the top to the bottom.

One mile northwest of this mound, and in sight of it, was another one on the high bank of the Auglaize River. This one was never examined, and the river had gradually encroached upon it until it has almost entirely disappeared.

A third one, on the farm of Mr. Ayers, not so large, has never been examined. This one is on the Blanchard River. Another was on the Agner farm, one mile east of Ottawa, on the Blanchard. This one was noted of the large amount of broken pottery around it. Also, one on the farm of Mr. Collett, on Hog Creek, noted for the large quantity of pottery.

Fine specimens of stone axes, grooved hammers, perforated balls, pestles, flat perforated slate stones, badges or wands, tubes, etc., are found scattered over the county, and, until within a few years, have excited but little interest, having been regarded merely as something odd, and then cast aside.

This indifference, however, is becoming changed, and greater care is taken of them, as several cabinets of these curiosities are being formed in the county.

Final note, from the Ohio Historical Society:

By 1831 only 2,000 Indians remained in Ohio. In August, 1831, The Shawnee at Wapakoneta, and the Seneca on the Sandusky River relinquished their reservations by treaty and moved west. Then, in 1842 the Wyandot reservation at Upper Sandusky was abandoned making the end of organized tribal life in Ohio.

Nov. 11, 1880, article from Bluffton News - Keim's Hall was located on Main Street, probably just to the north and on the same side of street as current Et Cetera Shop.


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