Auglaize County, Ohio

History and Genealogy

History of Auglaize County

The Shawnees

The Shawnees have always been a restless people, and their history, even after the settlement of America, is wrapped in obscurity. They moved about so incessantly, and were so often divided in their migrations, that we are unable to track the various divisions. It is inferred that the Shawnees were present at that first beneficent treaty of peace and friendship negotiated by Wm. Penn in 1682. But there is no assurance of this fact, for to Penn and his associates but just arrived, all Indians were simply Indians, and the treaty makes no mention of their nation or names. The presence of the Shawnees is inferred from the fact that in Penn's later council with the Indians in 1701, we find Wapatha, a chief of the Shawnees, expressly mentioned as representing his people; and in 1722, in conference. with the whites, the Shawnees are said to have exhibited a copy of the first treaty, though the two treaties of Penn may have been confounded. As early as 1684 there were Shawnees in the west, allied with the Miamis, and yet we afterward hear of southern Shawnees expelled from Georgia emigrating to the west and building a village at the mouth of the Wabash.

When the war between England and France broke out in 1754 it involved the English colonies in America in a struggle with the French in Canada and the west; and the Shawnees on the Ohio took part with the French.

The Shawnees were at one time divided into twelve bands or tribes, but the number gradually declined to four. The present remnant of the once powerful Shawnees is very small, many of them having become absorbed by intermarriage with other Indian tribes; but the strength of this once powerful people has been wasted in the almost ceaseless wars in which they have been engaged, against the whites and other Indian nations. They have ever been eager to take the sword, and they have perished by the sword. The Shawnees were accustomed to boast of their superiority to the other tribes, and their haughty pride has had much to do with their conflicts and their destruction. This arrogant pride and warlike ferocity made them one of the most formidable of all the tribes with which the white settlers had to contend in the Ohio valley. They slew old and young, male and female, without pity and without remorse. They rejoiced in battle and carnage, in deception, stratagem, and faithlessness. But in judging them we must not forget that they were savage. Their whole education made them what they were; and in too many instances the white men, in the bitter struggles of "the dark and bloody ground," easily forgot their civilization, and fell into the cruelty, bad faith, and revengefulness of savages.

The Miamis, Wyandots, Shawnees, and Delawares possessed this region as a hunting-ground at an early period. The Miamis claimed to have been the original proprietors of all the forests and hunting-grounds along the Great Miami and Mad Rivers, and the other streams that flowed into them. It is not known with entire certainty when the Wyandots located in northwestern Ohio, but it was probably as early as 1700, and by permission of the Miamis. The Shawnees settled along the Mad and Miami Rivers about the year 1750.

The next noticeable event in the history of this territory is the settlement of the Shawnees at Wapakoneta and Ottawa towns in 1782, and the forests of Auglaize, Allen, Mercer, and Van Wert became their favorite hunting-grounds, and continued so until after the invasion of Harmar, St. Clair, and Wayne. At the treaty of Greenville in 1795, the various tribes engaged in repelling invasion by General Wayne, entered into a treaty and ceded to the United States a vast territory, covering most of the present States of Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, and Indiana. The line known as "the Greenville treaty line" passed some distance south of Auglaize County, leaving all this region still in the possession of the Shawnees and Wyandots. When the earliest settlers entered Auglaize County it was densely covered by timber, while vast numbers of deer and other game roamed through the forests. From the undulating surface of the country the red hunters of the Shawnees made it a favorite resort during the hunting season. The McKees, Girtys, and other fur traders had many stations for the purchase of peltry. In those days a great number of wolves thronged the forests, making night hideous by their discordant serenades.

In September, 1818, the commissioners on the part of the United States made a treaty at St. Marys with the Shawnees, when they released all rights to land in Ohio except the Shawnee Reservation at Wapakoneta, twelve miles square. In August, 1831, a treaty was negotiated with the Shawnees of Wapakoneta by James Gardiner and Col. John McElvain, special commissioners appointed by the general government for this purpose, and Willipie, head chief, the aged Black Hoof, Harvey Clay, Pusheta, and others of the Shawnees. The terms offered were so liberal that the Indians consented to give up the lands of their reservation in what is now part of Duchouquet, Union, Clay, Pusheta, Washington, Moulton, and Logan, townships mostly in this county, and remove beyond the Mississippi, to the Indian territory on the Kansas River, in the Far West, in September, 1832, D. M. Workman and David Robb being the agents for their removal. The Shawnees who emigrated numbered about 800 souls.

They waste us—ay—like April snow
In the warm noon, we shrink away
And fast they follow as we go
Towards the setting day—
Till they shall fill the land, and we
Are driven into the western sea. — Bryant.

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