The Oregon Trail through Pottawatomie County -- part four
(page 15 continued)


  History says that the Pottawatomie Indians took part in two great battles with the whites in the early settlement of the Northwest territory. The first of these was Saint Clair's defeat, and took place in what is now the northern boundary of Darke county, Ohio, near the Indiana line.

page 16Kansas State Historical Society.

  General Saint Clair, in 1790, with about 2,300 men, exclusive of militia, established a military post at the Miami Indian village at the junction of the Saint Mary and St. Joseph rivers. It is now Fort Wayne, Ind. There were intermediate points of communication between it and Fort Washington (now Cincinnati) to curb the Indians in the country and so to prevent further hostilities.

  Fort Saint Clair was established in 1791. It was a stockade and was located about one mile west of the present town of Eaton, in Preble county, Ohio. The site is now owned by the state of Ohio and has been converted into a beautiful park. This fort was one of a chain that General Saint Clair built. The location of the old stockade is still well marked, and evidences of it may be seen to this day.

  Late in October, General Saint Clair left Pittsburg and met the Indians in battle under Chief Little Turtle, and other distinguished chiefs. The conflict was at the place previously indicated and there he suffered a disastrous defeat. He was, however, honorably discharged from all blame by a committee appointed by congress to inquire into the causes of the failure of the expedition.

  The number of Indians engaged in this battle has been variously estimated from one thousand to three thousand. The principal tribes in the battle were the Delawares, Shawnees, Wyandottes, Ottawas, Chippewas, and some Pottawatomies.

  Later in 1793 General Washington sent Mad Anthony Wayne to the Northwest territory to fight the Indians. His route from Fort Washington followed up the Little Miami river about thirty miles into what is now Warren county, Ohio. There he camped on a stream known as Camp Run. Afterwards a town was laid out at this point and named Waynesville in honor of Mad Anthony Wayne.

  In the summer of 1794, near the site of Saint Clair's defeat, Mad Anthony Wayne met the Indians in battle. He was victorious and on the third of August, 1795, a treaty of peace was concluded with the Indians, at Greensville, in Darke county, Ohio. The number of Indians present were 1,130, to wit: 180 Wyandottes; 381 Delawares; 143 Shawnees; 45 Ottawas; 46 Chippewas; 240 Pottawatomies; 13 Miamis; 12 Weas; and 10 Kickapoos. The principal Indian chiefs present were Blue Jacket and Little Turtle. At this time the Indians mere determined to make permanent peace with the "thirteen fires" as they called the federal states, and the basis of the treaty was that hostilities were to cease and friendship be restored.
4 Thus ended the last battle in which the Pottawatomies fought against the whites. Later, part of them moved to Council Bluffs, Iowa. The rest of them settled on Sugar creek, in Allen and Linn counties, on the Eastern borders of Kansas.
4   Regarding the Pottawatomies, William E. Connelley, in his "History of Kansas," writes as follows: "There is reason to believe that the Pottawatomies, the Chippewas and the Ottawas originally formed one tribe. As one people they lived in that country about the upper shores of Lake Huron. The separation into three parts probably occurred there, and the Jesuits found them at Sault St. Marie in 1640. In 1670 the tribe, or some portion of it, was living on the islands at the mouth of Green Bay. They were gathered about the Mission of St. Francis Xavier. The movement of the tribe was to the southward, and by the year 1700, or about that time, they were seated around the south end of Lake Michigan. Some of them lived far down in what is now the State of Indiana. They were active in the interest of the French to and through the French and Indian War. In the Revolution they were on the side of the British, and they were against the United States until after the close of the War of 1812. They lacked unity of action always, and when settlers crowded in upon them they scattered in various directions. They sold their lands in small lots and realized little from them. They are yet scattered abroad. By the year 1840 most of there were west of the Mississippi. That portion of the tribe which settled in Iowa became known as the Prairie band, while those in Kansas were known as the Pottatomie of the Woods. The Prairie band had first moved to the Platte purchase, in Western Missouri, and their agency was near the present city of St. Joseph. From that point they were removed to What is now Pottawatomie county, Iowa, their chief settlement being at and about Council Bluffs.

  "Their Kansas reservation resulted from the treaty of 1837, by which they ceded their lands in Indiana. For these they were to have a tract on the Osage river, just west of Missouri, 'sufficient in extent and adapted to their habits and wants.' Pursuant to the terms of this treaty a tract of land about thirty-six by forty-two miles in extent was surveyed for the Pottawatomies. It was located some eighteen miles west of the Missouri line. Its south line was the north line of the lands assigned to the New York Indians, and passed about nine miles north of the present town of Iola. The north line of the tract ran about six miles south of Ottawa. The reservation contained about fifteen hundred square miles. Some of the tribe moved to this tract of land, settling along the Osage, and on what came to be known as Big and Little Osage creeks. Also on Sugar creek and on Pottawatomie creek, in Miami county. The Iowa band had not disposed of the lands held about Council Bluffs. It was clear that there never could be a united nation under those conditions.

  "In June, 1846, a treaty was held with the two divisions of the tribe. It was concluded at the Pottawatomie agency, near Council Bluffs, on the 5th day of June with the Iowa or Prairie band; and on the 17th of June with the Kansas band, on Pottawatomie creek. In this treaty there was an attempt to bring together the tribes formed by the ancient division of the Pottawatomies. It provided that the various bands of the Pottawatomie Indians, known as the Chippewas, Ottawas and Pottawatomies, the Pottawatomies of the Prairie, the Pottawatomies of the Wabash, and the Pottawatomies of Indiana, being the same people by kindred, by feeling, and by language, should unite and be consolidated into one people to be known as the Pottawatomie Nation. Their Kansas and Iowa lands were ceded to the United States. In lieu of these lands they were assigned a new reservation in Kansas, described as follows:

  "A tract or parcel of land containing five hundred and seventy-six thousand acres, being thirty miles square, and being the eastern part of lands ceded to the United States by the Kansas tribe of Indians, lying adjoining the Shawnees on the south, and the Delawares and Shawnees on the east, on both sides of the Kansas River."

page 17The Oregon Trail.


  There is some confusion among historical writers over the proper interpretation of the name "Potawatomie."
5 An old legend states that bitterness existed among certain tribes of Chippewas and Ottawas over territory that is now the state of Ohio. On the night following a battle a warring chief went to sleep under a very large oak tree. Later in the evening an enemy chief decided to sleep under the same tree, and a third chief also chose that spot to slumber. It was discovered the next morning that one had slept on the south, one on the north, and one on the east. Two of them were very old and the third was very young. They came together under the big oak. They agreed that peace should be restored and the young man was commanded to start a fire from which the peace pipe might be lighted. They called the young chief "Potawatomie" and the name was afterwards applied by the different tribes of the Central Plains to the official pipe lighter.

  The tribe now bearing the name of "Pipe Lighter" is a mixture of the Chippewa and Ottawa. Their original home was the territory bordering on the Great Lakes as far south as central Indiana and Illinois. Tribal troubles broke out and as many as 4,000 insurgents separated from the mother tribes. As the Indians described it they "built a new fire." As the legend of the meeting of the three warring chiefs under the huge oak was still fresh in their minds, the insurgent chief and his followers took the name "Potawatomi" or "one who builds a fire for himself."
5   "The Handbook of American Indians," Bureau of Ethnology, Report 30, gives the following:

Potawatomi; J. B. Bottineau, speaking Chippewa and Cree fluently, gives Potawatamink or Potawataganink, i. e., "People of the place of the fire," as the primary form of the name. This derivation is strongly confirmed by the Huron name Asistaguerouon (Champlain, 1616), for Otsista geronno, likewise signifying "People of the place of the fire," which was applied by them to their enemies who dwelt in 1616 on the west shores of Lake Huron. The Jesuit Relations for 1671 (42, 1858) has the following passage: "Four nations make their abode here, namely, those who bear the name Puans, (i. e., the Winnebago), who have always lived here as in their own country, and who have been reduced to nothing from being a very flourishing and populous people, having been exterminated by the Illinois, their enemies; the Potawatomi, the Sauk, and the Nation of the Fork (La Fourche) also live here, but as strangers (or foreigners), driven by the fear of the Iroquois (the Neuters and Ottawa) from their own lands which as living between the lake of the Hurons and that of the Illinois." The Jesuit Relations employ the expression "Nation of Fire," until in the one for 1670 (p. 94) occurs the first use of "Maskouteng," who are represented as living then on Fox river in what is now Wisconsin. Hence, it seems clear that the term "nation of fire" was originally applied to the Potawatomi and their close neighbors, the Sauk and the "Nation of the Fork," dwelling on the west shore of Lake Huron.

  And since a part at least of the Pottawatomi tribe bears the name Maskotens, officially known as the ''Prairie Band," and the tribe as a whole was a part of those who were called "People of the Fire," a natural confusion arose as to the application of these two names, and so the term "Fire Nation" at last became permanently affixed to a people whose proper name was "People of the Small Prairie," latterly known as the Mascoutens. -- Hewitt.

page 18Kansas State Historical Society.


  The Indians had klans.
6 As many as fifteen existed at one time among the Pottawatomies. There were the Fish klan, the Eagle klan, the Bear klan, the Wolf klan, and many others. These klans were much like our present-day fraternal orders. Each klan had its secret oath obligation. The klans regulated society and controlled the morals of the tribe. Marriage and divorce were referred to them. Because of differences between Pottawatomie chiefs the tribe separated into three bands, the Prairie band, the Pottawatomie of the Woods, and the Wabash band. Later they more or less united. At this time, June 5, 1846, the government concluded a treaty with the three branches at Council Bluffs, Iowa. They agreed to move back to Kansas on a reservation thirty miles square. This tract lay in the present counties of Shawnee, Wabaunsee, Jackson and Pottawatomie. It has diminished to the present reservation in Jackson county, eleven miles square, and there they are to-day.

  These facts were compiled by A. R. Snyder, formerly superintendent at Mayetta.

  When the Pottawatomies united in 1846 and later moved to the reservation in Pottawatomie county a large number of them came from Council Bluffs, Iowa. Still others came from Sugar creek, in Linn and Allen counties, in 1847 and 1848. The following is quoted from volume VII, "Kansas Historical Collections":

  "St. Marys Mission, among the Pottawatomie Indians, was originally established on Sugar creek in July, 1841, by Father Christian Hoeken. When the tribe moved to the reservation in northern Kansas, in the fall of 1847, the mission was transferred to the Kansas valley in the spring of 1848 and permanently located at the present site under the charge of Father Morris Gailland. Father Duerinck came to the mission in 1849. It continued as a mission school up to 1869.

  7 St. Mary's Mission was moved from Sugar creek in 1848. The remainder of the Pottawatomies, that had been living at the trading post on Sugar creek,

6 In regard to the Pottawatomi klans William E. Connelley, in his "History of Kansas," gives the following:

  "The Pottawatomies have the social organization found in the tribes of the Algonquian family. The clans or gentes of the tribes are as follows: (1) Wolf; (2) Bear; (3) Beaver; (4) Elk: (5) Loon; (6) Eagle; (5) Sturgeon; (8) Carp (Golden Carp); (9) Bald Eagle; (10) Thunder; (11) Rabbit; (12) Crow: (13) Fox; (14) Turkey; (15) Black Hawk."

7 William F. Connelley, in his "History of Kansas," makes the following statement about the mission at St. Marys:

  "The Catholics also founded a mission among them. This mission was at the junction of the three forks of the Wakarusa. It had been commenced on Sugar creek, on the old first Kansas reservation, in 1837, by Father Christian Hoecken. He came north with one of the first parties, and in 1847 began the erection of mission buildings at the forks of the Wakarusa, in 1847. Some twenty log cabins were erected at that point. It was soon discovered that the mission was south of the reservation line, and on the Shawnee land. As the Pottawatomies could not collect their annuities until they had moved on to their own land, they abandoned their houses and moved north of the Kansas river. The Catholic fathers established themselves at a beautiful site, now the town of St. Marys. The mission has grown into one of the principal Catholic institutions of the West."

page 19The Oregon Trail.

then settled in what is now southeastern Pottawatomie county. Others from Council Bluffs, Iowa, also came. Soon they began to till the land. Thus the first settlers or pioneers of Pottawatomie county were the Pottawatomie Indians. They settled from St. Marys west to the Vermillion river, along the Oregon Trail.

page 19 continued in part five table of contents Kansas Collection