Auglaize County, Ohio

History and Genealogy



History of Western Ohio and Auglaize County


Religion


The Indians were a superstitious race of people, but did not practice idolatry, so common among the barbarous nations of the Eastern Continent. "They believed in a great spirit, everywhere present, ruling the elements, showing favor to the obedient, and punishing the sinful. He they worshipped; to Him they sacrificed. But not in temples, for they built none. They also believed in many subordinate spirits — some good, some bad. Both classes were believed to frequent the earth. The bad spirits brought evil dreams to the Indian; diseases also, bad passions, cruel winters, and starvation. The good spirits brought sunshine, peace, plentiful harvests, all the creatures of the chase. He believed that the Medicine Man, or Prophet, obtained a knowledge of these things by fasting and prayer, and then made revelations of the will and purposes of the spirit world. All their religious ceremonies were performed with great earnestness and solemn formality."

In connection with their religious rites they indulged in a great variety of wild barbaric dances. They had the corn dance, which took place in the spring, and was an important ceremony, for its object was to secure favor of the Great Spirit, that their crops might be bountiful. The green corn dance took place at the time that Indian corn was sufficiently matured for roasting ears. It was a time of dancing, feasting and thanksgiving to the Great Spirit. The replacement dance was another ceremonial engaged in on funeral occasions. Before the dance, a game of chance of some kind was played, and he who won the game, became heir to the possessions of the deceased, after which all joined in a merry dance. The complimentary dance was given in honor of a Medicine Man, after he had, as was believed, effected some cure. But as is well known, the war dance was the one in which they took the greatest interest and delight. Before engaging in the exercise, the warriors painted their faces and bodies in hideous colors, and decorated their heads with the feathers of the eagle, hawk or other bird. The warrior was fond of hanging about his person numerous trappings; claws of bears, fangs of rattlesnakes, claws of hawks, bones of animals and scalps of enemies. After spending the night in festivities and dancing the warriors leave the village in the early morning, apparently impressed with the perils of the enterprise, and preserve the most profound silence in their departure.

An immoderate love of play, or games of hazard so common among people unaccustomed to the occupations of regular industry was universal among the Indians. Their games and plays consisted of running, wrestling, shooting at a mark, racing in canoes along swift rivers or placid lakes, playing at ball, or engaging in intricate and exciting games, performed with small stones resembling checkers or dice. The Indian under ordinary circumstances was indifferent, silent, and phlegmatic, but as soon as he engaged in play he became animated, impatient, noisy, and almost frantic with eagerness. Under the influence of fierce passion, he would hazard his entire possessions.

To forgive an injury or grievance was accounted a weakness or shame by all the Indian nations of America. Revenge was considered to be a noble virtue. The Indian was treacherous and cruel beyond description, and was never so happy as when at the dead of night, he roused his sleeping victims with an unearthly yell, and massacred them by the light of their burning home. "Much, though, as he loved war, the fair and open fight had no charms for him. To his mind it was madness to take the scalp of an enemy at the risk of his own, when he might waylay him in ambush or shoot him with an arrow from behind a tree." If prisoners were captured they were taken to certain noted localities where they were tortured. In these tortures they exhibited the most diabolical ingenuity in devising the most excruciating torments. We have never seen an estimate of the number of white people, tortured by the Indians during the Colonial and Revolutionary periods of our history, but from the summing up of all accounts, the number must have amounted to several thousand. Among the noted localities where large numbers of prisoners were tortured we note the following: Fort Duquesne, Chillicothe, Upper Sandusky, Lower Sandusky, the Shawanee towns of Piqua, Wapakoneta, St. Marys, and Fort Wayne. The latcer named place is said to have been the most noted one in the Northwest Territory.

"The extreme point of land just below the mouth of St. Joseph river (near the present city of Fort Wayne) is said to have been the accustomed place of burning the prisoners taken in southern and southeastern Ohio. The records of depravity present no more terrible examples of cruelty than were furnished on this spot. The prisoners who had been captured and reserved for this horrible rite, were bound to stakes, and slowly burned to death. After life was extinct, they were devoured by the savage blood-thirsty fiends in the presence of the whole tribe, who had assembled to witness the awful spectacle. The last poor victim sacrificed in this way, at this place, is said to have been a young man from Kentucky, who had been captured in the latter part of the Revolutionary War."



From "History of Western Ohio and Auglaize County with Illustrations and Biographical Sketches of Pioneers and Prominent Public Men" by C. W. Williamson, W.M. Linn, Pub, Columbus, 1905.