Auglaize County, Ohio

History and Genealogy

History of Auglaize County

Little Turtle

Michikinagwa, or Little Turtle, was the son of a Miami chief and Mohican woman. As the Indian custom gives to offspring the condition of the mother, he had to earn whatever rank he might attain. His extraordinary talents secured him rank at an early age, and his first services were those of a warrior. His history is closely interwoven with that of the expeditions of Gen. Harmar, who was defeated by the braves of the Turtle, and that of St. Clair in his expedition against the Miami Valleys in December, 1791. The Turtle was chief commander of the Wyandots, Shawnees, Delawares, and Senecas in that memorable engagement in which St. Clair was compelled to retreat upon Ft. Jefferson in carnage and disaster. This slaughter is said to have but one parallel, which is the defeat of Braddock. The subsequent victory of Gen. Scott served only to exasperate the Turtle and his followers. Again he was brought to face Gen. Wayne ("the Black Snake") when he marched against Presque Isle in 1792. During the night preceding this battle some of the chiefs favored attacking Wayne that night, but it was at length determined to wait until the next day, and then attack Presque Isle. This proposition was favored by Blue Jacket, but opposed by the Turtle. The latter even felt the hopelessness of the cause, and was inclined to peace. He urged: "We have beaten the enemy twice under separate commanders, and cannot expect the same continued good fortune. The Americans are now led by a chief who never sleeps. The day and night are alike to him, and during all his marches upon our villages, notwithstanding the watchfulness of our young men, we have been utterly unable to surprise him. Think well of this; there is something whispers to me, it will be prudent to listen to offers of peace." Charged with cowardice by other chiefs, he took his position in battle, but the success of Wayne only confirmed the wisdom of his position. After the conclusion of peace he settled about twenty miles from Ft. Wayne on Eel River, where the government erected him a comfortable house. He visited Washington and Philadelphia on several occasions. Although he would not attend the councils of 1802 and 1803, yet he was chosen one of four referees by the chiefs of the other tribes, the duty of these four being "to finally settle and adjust a treaty" with the agents of the United States. The Turtle was the head of this commission. He had many opposers all along among the chiefs, which would, perhaps, explain his sometimes vacillating conduct, as he had to sacrifice his own judgment at times to palliate an opposing majority, and thus sustain his position. He even opposed Tecumseh and the Prophet in all their designs, which probably accounted in a measure for their tardiness of preparation. Of his character it may be said he looked with horror upon intemperance and human sacrifice. Brave as the bravest, he could not look upon the torture of any, and so gave his great influence against the crime. Whether his motives were of a pure or sinister character, it is certain he condemned the intemperance of his people, and took active measures against the wrong. While in the east he was a keen observer of the manners of civilized life and the working of our institutions, making inquiries pertaining to everything which came under his observation. During his visit to Philadelphia in 1797 he met and became personally acquainted with Kosciusco, in whose story of the great crime against Poland he was interested to deep emotion. On his return he visited Capt. Harrison (Governor), and made further inquiries concerning the great European murder of human rights. When the Capt. gave him a description of the last defeat of Kosciusko, he rose and pacing the floor, exclaimed in agitation: "Let that woman (the Empress of Russia) take care; this may yet be a dangerous man" (Kosciusko). During this visit he also became acquainted with the renowned French philosopher, C. F. Volney, who took great interest in the savage, as the author was then preparing his "Travels in America." The Turtle had just communicated with Gov. Harrison touching the approaching war of 1812, and announced his sympathy for the American cause, when he died at Ft. Wayne, July 14, 1812, and was buried by the commander with the honors of war.

From "History of Auglaize County, Ohio, with the Indian History of Wapakoneta, and the First Settlement of the County", Robert Sutton, Publishers, Wapakoneta, 1880