CARTOGRAPHIC EVIDENCES—FIRST RECORD OF THE TIPPECANOE--VERSAILLES THE COLONIAL SEAT OF GOVERNMENT—INDIANA AS A PART OF NEW FRANCE—GREAT CHAIN OF FRENCH FORTS— FRENCH-INDIAN AMALGAMATION--INDIANA TRADING POSTS— GOVERNED FROM VINCENNES—INDIANA UNDER BRITISH RULE--SEMI-CIVIL GOVERNMENT AT FORT CHARTRES—UNCERTAIN FRENCH TITLES TO LANDS— AS A PART OF CANADA—AN EXTENSION OF VIRGINIA—IN THE COUNTY OF ILLINOIS— THE NORTHWEST BECOMES NATIONAL TERRITORY—POPULAR ASSEMBLY FOR THE NORTHWEST TERRITORY—INDIANA TERRITORY CREATED—FIRST TERRITORIAL LEGISLATURE —GOVERNOR HARRISON, FATHER OF INDIANA-- INDIAN COMPLAINTS NOT GROUNDLESS-- TECUMSEH AND THE PROPHET IMPLACABLE—THE BATTLE OF TIPPECANOE--SKETCHES [i.e., SKETCH] OF COL. ISAAC WHITE-- INDIAN STRAGGLERS SETTLE IN WHITE COUNTY—CHANGES IN GOVERNORS AND CAPITALS—STATE CONSTITUTION ADOPTED AT CORYDON—INDIANAPOLIS FIXED AS PERMANENT CAPITAL.
As we approach the pages of history, another background is to be painted in which, although it is not concerned with speculation entirely, has little practical bearing on the founding and growth of White County. But it will enable the reader to get a perspective—which is always of advantage—and to obtain a clear idea of the relations of his home country to the various governments which claimed sovereignty over the territory which is now the soil of the United States, Indiana and White County. Such information has therefore a certain domestic value, aside from being the means of conveying to the reader a definite idea of who were the original masters of the soil before the Indians relinquished it to the whites, and the historical processes by which the way was cleared for the establishment of the civil security of the present.
At the very outset of the incursion of the first Frenchmen to the Indian country of what is now Indiana, there is uncertainty as to the date of their coming. At the best it can only be said that La Salle and his men were engaged in their explorations and discoveries down and up the Mississippi and Ohio rivers, and their tributaries, for about twenty years previous to the assassination of the great leader in 1687, and that the most positive evidence as to their actual journeyings in Northwestern Indiana is found in the maps which were issued by the Government during that period. Joliet's large map of 1674 delineates La Salle's route along the main valley of the Ohio, but indicates no French settlements in what is now Indiana. An earlier and a smaller map shows the course of the Ohio as the result of La Salle's explorations which commenced in 1669. Still following the cartographical evidence, it is probable that none of La Salle's parties explored the branches of the Ohio in the present State of Indiana until during the later period of his career.
Franquelin's map of 1684 and D'Anville's map of "La Salle's explorations from 1679 to 1683," are the first to give the courses of the Wabash, the Tippecanoe, the Eel, and lesser tributaries of the Ohio system. But all indication of French settlements is absent from even these later maps, although La Salle's explorations and the cartographic records of them issued by the French government constituted the basis of its territorial claims in North America. But for twenty-five years after La Salle's death, before the Miami Confederation of Indians, who had abandoned their homes at the instigation of La Salle and joined the western alliance against their Iroquois enemies, returned to Indiana soil under the protectorate of New France. Until the early part of the eighteenth century the Ohio country claimed by France was not safe from the incursions of the Five Nations, consequently no French settlements showed on the maps of that period—as there were none.
Prom La Salle's time until the treaty of Paris placed New France formally in the hands of Great Britain, what is now Indiana was governed from Versailles, old France, which was the seat of the colonial office, orders from which were dispatched to the governor general in the New World.
A panoramic view of the French control of Indiana is well presented by Dr. William S. Haymond, for twenty years one of the most scholarly and prominent citizens of Monticello and afterward an honored resident of Indianapolis and a national figure in Congress. As shown in his "History of Indiana," published six years before his death, it is unfolded in this wise: "In 1670, and for many years previous, the fertile region of country now included within the boundaries of the State of Indiana, was inhabited by the Miami Confederation of Indians. This league consisted of several Algonquin tribes, notably the Twightwees, Weas, Piankeshaws and Shockeys, and was formed at an early period—probably in the early part of the seventeenth century—for the purpose of repelling the invasions of the Iroquois, or Five Nations, at whose hands they had suffered many severe defeats. By the frequent and unsuccessful wars in which they were compelled to engage in self-defense their numbers had been greatly reduced until, at the date mentioned, they could not muster more than fifteen hundred or two thousand warriors. They dwelt in small villages on the banks of the various rivers in Indiana and extended their dominion as far east as the Scioto, north to the Great Lakes and west to the country of the Illinois. Their principal settlements were scattered along the headwaters of the Great Miami, the banks of the Maumee, the St. Joseph of Lake Michigan, the Wabash and its tributaries. Although once important among the nations of the Lake Region they had become greatly demoralized by repeated defeats in war, and when first visited by the French their villages presented a very untidy appearance. They were living in constant terror of the Five Nations, practicing only sufficient industry to prevent starvation and indulging all their vicious passions to a vulgar extreme.
"Almost immediately following the discovery and exploration of the Mississippi by La Salle in 1682, and a few years later by James Marquette, the government of France began to encourage the policy of connecting its possessions in North America by a chain of fortifications and trading posts and missionary stations, extending from New Orleans on the southwest to Quebec on the northeast. This undertaking was inaugurated by Lamotte Cadillac, who established Fort Pontchartrain on the Detroit River in 1701.
"At this period the zealous Jesuit missionaries, the adventurous French fur traders, with their coarse blue and red cloths, fine scarlet, guns, powder, balls, knives, ribbons, beads, vermilion, tobacco and rum; the careless rangers, or coureurs des bois, whose chief vocation was conducting the canoes of the traders among the lakes and rivers, made their appearance among the Indians of Indiana. The pious Jesuits held up the cross of Christ and unfolded the mysteries of the Catholic religion in broken Indian to those astonished savages, while the speculating trader offered them fire water and other articles of merchandise in exchange for their peltries, and the rangers, shaking loose every tie of blood and kindred, identified themselves with the savages and sank into utter barbarism."
The Jesuit missionaries were always cordially received by the Miami tribes. These Indians would listen patiently to the strange theory of the Savior and salvation, manifest a willing belief in all they beard, and then, as if to entertain their visitors in return, would tell them the story of their own simple faith in the Manitous, and stalk off with a groan of dissatisfaction because the missionaries would not accept their theory with equal courtesy. Missionary stations were established at an early day in all of the principal villages and the work of instructing and converting the savages was begun in earnest. The order of religious exercises established at the missions among the Miamis was nearly the same as that among the other Indians. Early in the morning the missionaries would assemble the Indians at the church, or the hut used for that purpose, and after prayers the savages were taught concerning the Catholic religion. These exercises were always followed by singing, at the conclusion of which the congregation was dismissed, the Christians only remaining to take part at mass. This service was generally followed by prayers. During the forenoon the priests were generally engaged in visiting the sick and consoling those who were laboring under any affliction. After noon another service was held in the church, at which all the Indians were permitted to appear in their finery and where each, without regard to rank or age, answered the questions put by the missionary. This exercise was concluded by singing hymns, the words of which had been set to airs familiar to the savage ear. In the evening all assembled again at the church for instruction, to hear prayers and to sing their favorite hymns. The Miamis were always highly pleased with the latter exercise.
Aside from the character of the religious services which constituted a chief attraction in the Miami villages of Indiana while the early French missionaries were among them, the traveler's attention would first be engaged with the peculiarities of the fur trade, which during the first quarter of the seventeenth century was monopolized by the French. This traffic was not, however, confined to those whose wealth enabled them to engage vessels, canoes and carriers, for there were hundreds scattered through the various Indian villages of Indiana at almost any time during the first half of the eighteenth century, who carried their packs of merchandise and furs by means of leather straps suspended from their shoulders, or with the straps resting against their foreheads.
Rum and brandy were freely introduced by the traders, and always found a ready sale among the Miami Indians. A Frenchman, writing of the evils which resulted from the introduction of spirituous liquors among these savages, remarked: "The distribution of it is made in the usual way; that is to say, a certain number of persons have delivered to each of them a quantity sufficient to get drunk with, so that the whole have been drunk over eight days. They begin to drink in the villages as soon as the sun is down, and every night the fields echo with the most hideous howling."
In those early days the Miami villages of the Maumee, those of the Weas about Ouiatenon, on the Wabash, and those of the Piankeshaws around Vincennes were the central points of the fur trade in Indiana. Trading posts were established at these places and at Fort Wayne in 1719, although for twenty years previous the French traders and missionaries had frequently visited them. A permanent church or mission was established at the Piankeshaw village near Vincennes, in 1749, by Father Meurin, and the following year a small fort was erected there by order of the French government. It was in that year that a small fort was erected near the mouth of the Wabash River. These posts soon drew a large number of French traders around them and in 1756 they had become quite important settlements, with a mixed population of French and Indian.
At this date the English became competitors for the trade with the Indians in Indiana and the surrounding country, and at the close of the old French war, in 1763, when Canada and its dependencies fell into the hands of the British, this monopoly passed over to the victors. Notwithstanding this change in the government of the country, the French who had settled around the principal trading posts in Indiana, with a few exceptions, swore allegiance to the British government and were permitted to occupy their lands in peace and enjoy the slight improvements they had wrought.
The Post, or the Old Post—later known as Vincennes—was established in 1727 and until after the Revolutionary war was the only white settlement in Indiana, although French military forts were established both at the head of the Maumee and at Ouiatenon—the latter on the Wabash, about eighteen miles below the mouth of the Tippecanoe. The post at Ouiatenon is claimed to be the first of its kind in Indiana and dated from 1720. From its settlement until it was finally transferred to Great Britain, Vincennes was under the jurisdiction of New Orleans, although its trade was largely with Canada. It was in command of a governor, Francois Margane, Sieur de Vincennes holding that office from the founding of the post until his death in 1736. During that period, therefore, Indiana was under the direct jurisdiction of Governor Vincennes, and indirectly of New Orleans and Versailles.
Vincennes was slain in battle with the Indians at the mouth of the Ohio, in 1736, and Louis St. Ange commanded Old Vincennes until 1764, or a short time before it was finally surrendered to the British. In May of that year, about six months previous to the proclamation of General Gage, the British commander-in-chief in North America, announcing the cession of the country of the Illinois to His Britannic Majesty, St. Ange appointed his successor to the command of the Old Post and started for Fort Chartres to relieve the commandant at that post, who was on his way to New Orleans. For nearly thirty years he had led and governed the people of Old Vincennes.
On the 10th of October, 1765, St. Ange made a formal delivery of Fort Chartres to Captain Sterling, representing the British government. That military center of the Illinois country became the first semi-civil seat of government established northwest of the Ohio and including the present territory constituting the State of Indiana. Captain Sterling in turn received his orders from General Gage, whose headquarters were at New York, the British seat of colonial government in North America.
Fort Chartres was a very unhealthful place and Captain Sterling, its first British commandant, lived only three months after taking possession. In September, 1768, Lieutenant Colonel Reed, in command, set up a sort of civil government for the Illinois country. Its main feature consisted of the seven judges, who constituted the first court west of the Alleghanies and retained authority until 1774, when the British Parliament restored civil law in full force.
The steps leading to the formal assumption of the civil administration of the territory embracing Indiana by the Canadian authorities, with Quebec as the seat of the dominion government, are thus epitomized: "The arbitrary act of General Gage, in 1772, in ordering all the whites to immediately vacate the Indian country, aroused the settlers and they at once vigorously protested. They declared they held the title to their lands from officers of the French government, who had a right to convey such titles, and that when the French government transferred the territory to the English their rights were duly protected by the treaty of cession. Gage was autocratic and determined, and on the receipt of this remonstrance he ordered that all written titles to the possession of the lands should he forwarded to him at New York for examination. The inhabitants were a careless set and mainly ignorant, and had failed to properly care for the written evidence of the grants made to them, and many of them had been left in the hands of the notary who had drawn them. They never dreamed of any question ever being raised as to their right to the lands they were occupying and had been occupying for nearly half a century. So it was that this last order of Gage fell like a thunderbolt upon the poor inhabitants. Some deeds were found, but many more could not be found. An appeal was made to St. Ange at St. Louis. He responded by reciting that he had held command of the post (Vincennes) from 1736 to 1764, and that during that time, by order of the governors, he had conceded many parcels of lands to various inhabitants by written concessions, and had verbally permitted others to settle and cultivate lands, of which they had been in possession for many years. Other officers certified that many deeds had been carried away, others removed to the record office of the Illinois (at Fort Chartres) and still others had been lost or destroyed by rats. But the British government had already heard the mutterings of discontent in the eastern colonies and did not want to add to the embarrassments at other points, and in 1774 the whole territory northwest of the Ohio was put under the dominion of Canada."
When the Illinois country, or the territory northwest of the Ohio, was transferred from France to Great Britain about a decade before, the entire population did not exceed 600 families, or perhaps 4,000 people, and when it came under the government of Canada it was considerably less, as many of the inhabitants had gone to St. Louis, New Orleans, and other points in Louisiana.
The British took possession of Vincennes in May, 1777, but it was captured by the Americans in August of the following year, who relinquished it for three months to the English, when it was recaptured by Gen. George Rogers Clark and became forever a possession of the United States.
During the Revolutionary war no British or American settlements were made within the limits of Indiana, although while General Clark was in authority at Vincennes a number of Americans were added to the post settlement, and the Indians ceded to the commandant himself 150,000 acres of land around the falls of the Ohio River, which grant was afterward confirmed by Virginia and the National Congress. As an energetic Kentuckian, an able, brave man, of military genius, and backed by the Old Dominion and the statesmanship of Patrick Henry, then governor, General Clark was admirably fitted to be the conqueror of the Northwest, whether fighting against the British or the Indiana
In 1778, when the news of Clark's capture of Vincennes and Kaskaskia reached Virginia, its assembly passed a law organizing all the territory northwest of the Ohio into the County of Illinois and placing Col. John Todd in control as county lieutenant. As Kaskaskia was the seat of government, Indiana again came under a new administration centering ultimately at Richmond, Virginia. Todd arrived at his capital in May, 1779, and at once commenced his administration as county lieutenant, leaving Clark free to pursue his military enterprises; but he himself was killed at the battle of Blue Licks in 1782. Although by statute the organization of the County of Illinois had expired in 1781, its civil officers continued to exercise power and grant land concessions until the passage of the ordinance of 1787.
We now approach the period of stable American government, when the United States as a nation extended its jurisdiction to the County of Illinois and the territory northwest of the Ohio River. That immense domain was claimed by Virigina by right of conquest, but in January, 1783, the General Assembly of the Old Dominion, in the interests of the United States, ceded to the National Congress all its rights, title and claims to that great land. The Virginia deed of cession was accepted by Congress in the spring of 1784, and in July, 1788, Gen. Arthur St. Clair, who had been elected by Congress governor of the Northwest Territory under the famous ordinance of the previous year, arrived at Marietta, Ohio, to take over the civil administration of the national domain now included within the states of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin. At that time, therefore. the future Hoosier State was governed indirectly from Philadelphia and directly from Marietta, the territorial capital.
Until Indiana was organized as a territory in 1800 there were few settlements within the limits of the present state. In 1798, under the provisions of the ordinance creating the Northwest Territory, and providing that when its population should number 5,000 free inhabitants, a popular assembly was elected to represent the Northwest, and in January, 1799, convened at Cincinnati, whither the seat of government had been moved from Marietta. Ten members of the upper house, of council, were then appointed by President Adams, upon recommendation of the elected assembly, and when the two bodies met at the new territorial capital in September, 1799, a near approach to popular government had been effected in the territory northwest of the Ohio River.
The Legislature selected as the territorial delegate to Congress, William Henry Harrison, who was filling the position of secretary of the Northwest Territory. The new government was hardly under way before the tremendous domain over which it had jurisdiction underwent its first carving, under authority of the Ordinance of 1787. By act of Congress, approved May 7, 1800, it was declared that "from and after the fourth of July next, all that part of the territory of the United States northwest of the Ohio river which lies to the westward of a line beginning at the Ohio opposite the mouth of the Kentucky river and running thence to Fort Recovery, and thence north until it shall intersect the territorial line between the United States and Canada, shall, for the purpose of temporary government, constitute a separate territory to be called the Indiana Territory." The seat of government was fixed at Vincennes and William Henry Harrison was appointed governor. He reached Vincennes in January, 1801, the gubernatorial duties having been performed since the preceding July by John Gibson, secretary of the territory.
The judges and juries were soon in action and in July, 1805, the first Legislature of the Territory of Indiana met at Vincennes. At that time Indiana had been shorn of Michigan for about six months, and in 1809 Illinois was carved away, leaving its territory as at present.
Governor and General Harrison is acknowledged to be the father of a settled and secure Indiana. Within five years from the time he assumeed control of affairs, both civil and military, he had perfected treaties with the Indians securing cessions to 46,000 square miles of territory, including all the lands lying on the borders of the Ohio River, between the mouth of the Wabash River and the western boundary of the State of Ohio. At the same time, in co-operation with the Legislature, he guided the revision and improvement of the territorial statutes, and at his recommendation Congress established several land offices. In 1804 three were opened—at Detroit, Vincennes and Kaskaskia, respeetively —and in 1807, a fourth at Jeffersonville, Clark County.
But despite treaties and the protection of the National Government, personified by such a rugged character as Harrison, the original lords of the soil continued to show just causes for uneasiness and indignation. Even the governor, in his 1806 message to the Legislature, remarked that they were already making complaints, some of them far from groundless. While the laws of the territory provided for the same punishment for offenses committed against Indians as against white men, unhappily there was always a wide difference in the execution of those laws. The Indian was, in all cases, the sufferer. That partiality did not escape their observation. On the contrary it afforded them an opportunity of making strong comparisons between their own observance of treaties and that of their boasted superiors.
During the period from 1805 to 1810, especially, the Indians complained bitterly against the encroachments of the whites upon the lands which they had not ceded. Not only the invasion of their favorite hunting grounds, but the unjustifiable killing of many of their people, were frequent charges which they brought to the attention of Harrison. An old chief, in laying the troubles of his people before the governor, said earnestly: "You call us your children; why do you not make us as happy as our fathers, the French, did? They never took from us our lands; indeed, they were in common between us. They planted where they pleased; and they cut wood where they pleased; and so did we. But now, if a poor Indian attempts to take a little bark from a tree to cover him from the rain, up comes a white man and threatens to shoot him, claiming the tree as his own."
All such complaints found voice in Tecumseh and his brother, the Prophet, the one playing upon the superstitions and passions of the Indians and the other organizing them into a strong confederacy, which was to control the disposition of lands instead of allowing them to be ceded by separate and disunited tribes. Both in 1808 and 1809 the Prophet visited Harrison at Vincennes to assure him of his friendliness and to protest against the charge that he and Tecumseh were in league with the British. In the later part of the year 1809 it was estimated that the total quantity of land ceded to the United States under treaties which had been effected by the governor exceeded 30,000,000 acres; and all of these concessions were accomplished in direct opposition to the influence of Tecumseh and the Prophet; but the break between these powerful leaders of the white and the red races was near at hand.
In July, 1810, Governor Harrison made an attempt to gain the friendship of the Prophet by sending him a letter offering to treat with him personally in the matter of his grievances, or to furnish means to send him, with three of his principal chiefs, to the President at Washington. The bearer of this letter was coldly received both by Tecumseh and the Prophet, and the only answer he received was that Tecumseh, in a few days, would visit Vincennes and interview the governor; this he did, with seventy of his principal warriors, in the following month. For over a week conferences were carried on with the haughty Shawnee chief, who on the 20th of August delivered an ultimatum to Harrison, to the effect that he should return their lands or fight.
While the governor was replying to Tecumseh's speech, the Indian chief interrupted him to declare angrily that the United States government, through General Harrison, had "cheated and imposed on the Indians." Whereupon a number of the Indian warriors present sprung to their feet and brandished their clubs, tomahawks and spears. The governor's guards, which stood a short distance off, marched quickly up, and the red men quieted down, Tecumseh being ordered to his camp.
On the following day Tecumseh apologized and requested another interview. The council was thereupon reopened, but while the Shawnee leader addressed Harrison in a respectful manner, he did not recede from his former demand as to the restoration of the Indian lands.
The governor then requested Tecumseh to state plainly whether or not the lands purchased at the Treaty of Fort Wayne in 1809 could be surveyed without molestation by the Indians, and whether or not the Kickapoos would receive their annuities in payment for such cession. The proposed grant was partly in Illinois. Tecumseh replied: "Brother, when you speak of annuities to me, I look at the land and pity the women and children. I am authorized to say that they will not receive them. Brother, we want to save that piece of land. We do not wish you to take it. It is small enough for our purpose. If you do take it, you must blame yourself as the cause of the trouble between us and the tribes who sold it to you. I want the present boundary line to continue. Should you cross it, I assure you it will be productive of bad consequences." This talk terminated the council.
On the following day Governor Harrison, attended only by his interpreter, visited Tecumseh's camp and told him that the United States would not acknowledge his claims. "Well," replied the Indian, "as the great chief is to determine the matter, I hope the Great Spirit will put sense enough into his head to induce him to direct you to give up this land. It is true, he is so far off he will not be injured by the war. He may sit still in his town and drink his wine, while you and I will have to fight it out."
Tecumseh's last visit to the governor previous to the battle of Tippecanoe, which crushed the red man's power in Indiana and the Northwest, was on July 27, 1811. He brought with him a considerable force of Indians, but that showing was offset by the 750 well-armed militia which Governor Harrison reviewed with some ostentation. The interview was conciliatory on the part of Tecumseh, who, however, repeated that he hoped no attempts would be made to settle on the lands sold to the United States at the Fort Wayne Treaty, as the Indians wished to keep them for hunting grounds. He then departed for the express purpose of inducing the southern Indians to join his confederacy.
While Tecumseh was absent on that mission the battle of Tippecanoe was fought under the leadership of the Prophet, and Indiana became white man's land forever. After Governor Harrison had exhausted every means to maintain peace with the Indian leader he resorted to decisive military measures. His army moved from Vincennes in September, 1811; he built a new fort on the Wabash in the following month, resumed his march, and on the 6th of November, after an unsatisfactory conference with a representative of the Prophet, about half a mile from the town, encamped on the battleground, six miles north of the present City of Lafayette. The selection of that location is said to have been at the suggestion of the Indians, who pronounced it a good place for a camp; the Prophet may therefore to be said to have selected the ground on which his people met with such signal defeat.
General Harrison's force consisted of about 250 regular troops, 600 Indiana militia and 150 volunteers from Kentucky. Just before daybreak of the 7th of November the Indians made a sudden attack on that part of the camp guarded by the militia. They broke at the first onslaught, but soon reformed, and the entire body of Americans presented a determined front to the wily foe, but did not attempt an offensive until it was light, when several gallant charges were made by the troops and the Indians totally defeated. The Indians being familiar with the ground had been able to inflict severe losses on the Americans. Among the killed were Maj. Jo Daviess, the gifted and brave Kentuckian and Col. Isaac White, the gallant Virginian, who fell side by side while leading a charge of dragoons.
By George F. White
It is gratifying to know that the county was named in honor of so brave a gentleman as Col. Isaac White, an interesting sketch of whom has been written by his grandson, George F. White. As stated by the author, "much of the information was gained orally from his father, some from his cousins in Virginia and some from old letters."
The article follows: "Isaac White was born in Prince William County, Virginia, shortly after the beginning of the Revolutionary war. The exact year is not known, but from the record of his initiation in 1811, as member of Vincennes Lodge No. 1, F. & A. M., in which he states his age was then thirty-five years and from certain interesting family notes written by Mrs. Sarah M. Hayden, it is likely he was born in 1776. His father was probably of English origin and was a man of education, refinement and good standing for before he settled in Virginia, he held a captain's commission in the British Merchant Marine Service. Surrendering this office he purchased a large tract of land in Prince William County, and devoted himself to farming until the Revolution began when he took up arms with the colonies and lost his life, near the close of the conflict, nobly battling for his country.
"The old house where he lived, a substantial stone structure, indicating a home of refinement and luxury, is still standing in an excellent state of preservation, near Brentsville, Virginia, the county seat of Prince William County. In this home Isaac White was born as was also his elder brother, Thomas, and one younger sister, Katie, and here he continued to live with his mother, assisting her as he grew in age and experience until he was past twenty-three years old, when an unhappy event in his mother's life impelled him and his brother Thomas to seek a more adventurous career in the great Northwest Territory.
"It seems that one day when the two sons and all the male tenants of the plantation were absent, a strange man called at the house and asked for something to eat, and in accordance with the hospitality of those days, his request was at once granted but, not satisfied with such kindly treatment, he demanded of her the keys to the drawers where the family treasures were kept. She refused and he tried to get them from her by force. Her screams attracted the attention of a neighbor who, as the account states, was 'a bachelor gentleman,' on a hunting expedition, who rushed in and brained the would-be robber at once. For this chivalrous act he was arrested, tried, acquitted and wholly exonerated from all blame. As stated, he was 'a bachelor gentleman,' she a widow. His was a heart innocent, confiding and susceptible, while she, like most widows, was conversant with all the wiles and snares which so beset the pathway of bachelors. He was weak. She was strong. He surrendered: they were married and 'lived happily ever after.'
"Of course her two sons, Thomas and Isaac, objected to this union, but to no avail. However, they remained with their mother until their sister Katie was married, and then with only a small amount of money left home and went to Vincennes, which was soon to become the Capitol of the Northwest Territory. This was in the early part of the year 1800. His appearance at Vincennes created some excitement, as he was full of spirit, well bred, dashing and a general favorite with all, but especially with the young ladies. Mrs. Hayden's notes are full of references to the family of Judge George Leech, then living at Vincennes, and especially of his oldest daughter, Sallie, who soon succeeded in capturing the heart and affections of our hero.
"Such, in brief, is the account coming to us from Mrs. Hayden, whose mother was formerly Miss Amy Leech, a sister to Sallie, who became the wife of the subject of this article. This Amy Leech subsequently became the wife of the Hon. John Marshall, for many years President of the Bank of Illinois, at Shawneetown, Illinois.
"Isaac White was somewhat aristocratic, his wife seems to have been an honest well-meaning backward girl of her period, but their marriage was a most happy one. It is thought Judge Decker officiated at the wedding which was some event as the wedding dinner is said to have been quite an elaborate affair.
"This gentleman, Judge George Leech, into whose family Isaac White married, had emigrated from Louisville, Kentucky, to Vincennes, in 1784, and the members of his family had each selected homesteads in Knox County, but after three years of hardships among the Indians, all except Francis Leech, who had died, moved back to Louisville, but nine years later, in 1796, Judge Leech moved back again to Vincennes, but the Governor of the Northwest Territory refused to allow him to re-occupy his old home, though it was vacant, and he was compelled to occupy the land which had been his brother's. After William Henry Harrison was appointed Governor of the Northwest Territory, Judge Leech was granted one hundred acres more land which he gave as a marriage present to his daughter, and to this day it is known as the 'White-Hall' farm in Knox County, Indiana, and this was the nucleus of a very considerable estate which Isaac White acquired subsequent to his marriage.
"They were encompassed with the many hardships incident to pioneer life, but they were surrounded by good neighbors and when their home was destroyed by fire, these good friends rebuilt for them a substantial log residence in which their only child, George Washington Leech White, was born. That the family of Isaac White was refined and highly respectable is proven by the fact that a strong friendship was cemented between it and the family of Governor Harrison which has been transmitted to their successors.
"On April 30, 1805, Governor Harrison appointed Isaac White Agent for the United States at the Salt works at Saline Creek, Illinois, contiguous to the village of Equality in Gallatin County, Illinois. Here Isaac employed John Marshall, a man of sterling character, who afterward became a banker and acquired a splendid reputation in Indiana and Illinois. The following year Mr. Marshall married the younger sister of Mrs. White, Miss Amy Leech. This wedding occurred October 21, 1806, and the day following both White and Marshall, accompanied by their wives, departed for the Salt works. On September 8, 1806, Gov. Harrison appointed Isaac White Captain of the Knox County Militia and on September 10th, of the same year, his oath of office was taken before 'William H. Harrison.'
"The Salt works did not long survive. The Act of Congress of March 3,1803, authorized the leasing of the springs belonging to the government and White, in 1807, had acquired an interest in the Salt works which he held until just before his death, when he disposed of it to Wilkes, Taylor & Co., and returned to Vincennes.
"While living at the Salt works he had two daughters born to him, Harriet Grandison, June 12, 1808, and Juliet Greenville, on July 30, 1810. While he was employed at the springs, White was commissioned a Colonel, probably in the Illinois Militia, which organization was perfected under the Act of Congress of February 3, 1809. This commission is now lost but there is little doubt of its having been issued to him. Shortly after he was commissioned Colonel, occurred one of the most important incidents connected with his life. Duelling was at that time, not uncommon, especially in military circles, but Col. White had a great antipathy to that method of settling differences that arose between men. On May 23, 1811, he wrote a tender and pathetic letter to his wife saying that on the next day he would fight a duel with one Captain Butler, who had offended him, and when his offense had been resented had challenged him and he had accepted. He tells his wife in this letter to sell 'Sukey and the children' and from the proceeds buy a slave in the Territory and then having written his will, bids his wife a tender farewell.
"Their meeting took place on time at a place now called Union Springs, Kentucky, opposite Shawneetown, Illinois, but the result was somewhat different from what might have been expected. By the rules governing the code the challenged party could choose the weapons and the distance; availing himself of this privilege, Col. White chose horse pistols at a distance of six feet. Captain Butler protested, saying that it meant certain death to both, but White insisted that he had the right to name the weapons and fix the distance whereupon Butler left the field and the little affair of honor was ended. In view of the Ordinance of 1787, which prohibited Slavery in the Northwest Territory, it may seem strange that he would advise his wife to 'sell Sukey and the children' and invest the proceeds in a slave in the Territory, but it is a fact that Slavery existed for many years in the Territory and in that part which is now comprised within the limits of our own state.
"The records of Vincennes Lodge No. 1, F. & A. M., disclose the fact that on September 18, 1811, Isaac White was raised to the sublime degree of a Master Mason in said lodge, by Joseph Hamilton Daviess, Grand Master of Kentucky. Daviess was a Major from Kentucky, who had come to Vincennes to offer his services to Gov. Harrison, in his projected campaign against the Indians, in the Wabash Valley. With the consent of his friend, Major Daviess, White joined the expedition in the capacity of a private soldier, which accounts for his name being on the south tablet of the Battle Ground Monument, among the 37 privates killed in this battle. His is the last name but one on this tablet. They left Vincennes on September 26, 1811, and on their departure, Daviess and White, notwithstanding one was a Major, and the other a private, exchanged swords, and when they were afterwards found on the battlefield, each had the other's sword. Lieut. George Leech, brother-in-law of White, says both were buried in one grave under an oak still standing not far from the grave in which the other dead were placed and some logs were hastily rolled over the grave and burned that the Indians might not be able to discover and loot the grave, but all to no avail, for as soon as the soldiers left, their bodies were exhumed by the Indians and left to wither and rot on the ground. Isaac White was thirty-six years of age when he met his death, yet he left, what for that period, was a considerable fortune, for notwithstanding his well known liberality, he died seized of several thousand acres of land in addition to a fair amount of personal property. He was a man of chivalrous manner, kindly and generous disposition and well beloved by his associates. In 1816, his widow married for her second husband, Samuel Marshall, brother of John Marshall, with whom she lived until her death in 1819.
"Isaac White left three children, one of which, George Washington Leech White, afterward became a prominent citizen of Indiana and served his country in the Black Hawk War;
"Harriet Grandison White, who married Albert Gallatin Sloo, at 'White-Hall' farm in Knox County, and Juliet Greenville White, who married James Huffman. From Isaac White's son, who marriage Miss Eliza Griffin Fauntleroy, of Kentucky, have descended many quite prominent people.
"By his Will, written with his own hand the day before his duel was to have been fought with Captain Butler, he ordered the payment of all his debts: to his wife he gave all his household and kitchen furniture and two hundred acres of land, in the same item charging her with the proper rearing of his children, and expresses the hope that his son, George, be given a classical education and especially that he be taught fencing: as to the two girls, they were to be given 'a good English education.' He gives to his neighbors, Charles White and John Justice 464 acres and seventy poles of land, one moiety to each, with certain restrictions, and also 'To my niece, Betsey White, one mare, saddle and bridle,' to be worth in cash $100. Let us indulge the hope that Betsey fully enjoyed her equine gift.
"The will then gives to his son George all the residue of his estate out of which he is to pay to his sister Harriet, at her majority or marriage, $1,500 and to his sister Juliet on the same contingency he is to pay $1,000. This Will is dated May 23, 1811, and is duly witnessed by G. C. Harlt and Francis Leech."
Several counties in this state are named in honor of those who were engaged in the battle of Tippecanoe, and when White County was organized in 1834, it took its name from Isaac White, the subject of this article. On November 7, 1836, the twenty-fifth anniversary of this battle, John Tipton, who then owned the Tippecanoe Battle Ground, and who was also present in the engagement, conveyed the grounds to the State of Indiana, and the constitution of our state makes it obligatory on the Legislature to forever maintain it in memory of those who participated in the battle. For many years efforts were put forth by various organizations to induce the state and Federal governments to erect a monument over the graves of those who were buried there; but not until November 7, 1908, were their efforts crowned with success. On the last named date, being the ninety-seventh anniversary of the battle, was unveiled the splendid obelisk which now towers over the graves where in solitude and silence for more than a century, have lain the bodies of those, who fell in this action. It was, judged from the men engaged, a mere skirmish, but in its results, it was one of the most important battles ever fought on this continent.
May we ever hold in loving memory the hero after whom our goodly county is named!
The author is pleased to add to the foregoing the main portions of the very interesting biography of Colonel White written by B. Wilson Smith and published in the historical edition of the Monticello Herald, December 8, 1910; the omissions are those portions of the sketch which would be but repetitions of the story prepared by Colonel White's grandson and even as given there are necessarily several overlappings of facts in the two papers.
"Thirteen counties of Indiana," says the Smith biography, "were named for heroes who fought at Tippecanoe--practically one-seventh. That battle is usually measured by the number engaged rather than the mighty issues involved. It is too easily forgotten that the last and greatest Indian confederacy on this continent, headed by the greatest of the great Indian warriors of our history, was overthrown just on the eve of its completion by the clear comprehension of General Harrison in crushing this gigantic combination of so many tribes before its consummation.
"For more than fifty years I have been a gatherer of scraps of information here and there of events of our State building, which unfortunately had no great chronicler embodied in one well equipped writer.
"Among the notable men and heroes who fought and fell at Tippecanoe was Col. Isaac White, for whom our county is named. I think our school children ought to be taught thoroughly the early history of their State, county and towns— should know these by heart. These things should be taught at the fireside, in the schools and by the press. We forget that children learn history with avidity before they can grasp the problem of arithmetic. Memory antedates the reasoning faculties.
"Col. Isaac White was born in Prince William county, Virginia shortly after the commencement of the Revolutionary war. The exact date of his birth is not now exactly known, but from the records of his initiation in 1811 as a member of Masonic Lodge, No. 1, of Vincennes, Indiana, in which his age is stated to be 35 years, it is altogether likely that he was born in the year 1776. His father was an Englishman by birth and held a commission as captain of British Marines. He resigned his commission and came to Virginia, bought a large estate, and on the breaking out of the war of Independence, cast his lot with the oppressed colonies, and fought through the war till near its close, when he lost his life in defense of his adopted country, He left three children, Isaac, Thomas and daughter Katie. The first lost his life at Tippecanoe and the second was shot through the body in that battle. It was he of whom it is told that the surgeons several times drew a silk handkerchief through the wound to cleanse it. Though supposed to be mortally wounded, he recovered.
"On account of the unsatisfactory second marriage of their mother these two brothers were impelled to seek a new and more adventurous career in the Northwest Territory. They made their way to Vincennes, soon to become the capital of Indiana Territory, in the year 1800. They were not heavily cumbered with property but had a wealth of determination and energy. Isaac White, the subject of this sketch, soon after his arrival met the lovely and accomplished daughter Sallie of Judge George Leech, who came to Vincennes from Louisville, Kentucky, as early as 1784, but after many hardships, ending with the burning of his home over his head by the Indians, returned to Kentucky and did not again take up his residence at Vincennes till 1796. * * * Soon after the organization of Indiana Territory, and the coming of Governor Harrison to Vincennes, the Harrisons and Whites became very intimate friends. A striking evidence of this is shown by the appointment of Mr. White as agent of the United States at the Salt Works on Saline Creek, in Gallatin county, Illinois. The following is a copy of this appointment:
"'William Henry Harrison, Governor and Commander in Chief of the Indiana Territory.
"'[SEAL.] To all who shall see these presents, greetings:
"Know ye, that in pursuance of instruction from the President of the United States, I have constituted and appointed, and do by these presents constitute and appoint Isaac White of Knox county to be agent for the United States, to reside at the Salt Works on Saline Creek, for the purpose of receiving and selling the salt, and to perform such other acts and things as the Government of the United States may think proper to charge him with. This commission to continue during pleasure.
"'Given under my hand and the seal of the Territory, at Vincennes, this 30th day of April, 1805, and of the Independence of the United States the Twenty-ninth.
"'By the Governor.
"'Jno. Gibson, secretary.
"During the year 1806 Governor Harrison appointed Mr. White a captain in a regiment of Knox county, commission dated Sept. 10th, 1806. (The commission by copy is now before me). After a short service as agent for the Government at the Saline, he on the change of the Government as agent, became a lessee with partners and during this relation acquired considerable property. This interest he sold during the summer of 1811 and removed with his family to Vincennes.
"It is claimed by some that he was appointed colonel of Illinois Militia during his sojourn at the Saline. (Illinois was organized as a Territory Feb. 3rd, 1809.) But I am quite sure this is a mistake. He never was colonel of an Illinois regiment, and never brought an Illinois company with him to the Battle of Tippecanoe, but he was colonel of the 3rd Regiment of Indiana Militia and tendered this regiment to Governor Harrison for the expedition to the Prophets' town.
"A very important incident occurred in Col. White's life just before leaving the Saline in Illinois during the year 1811. He was challenged to fight a duel by one Mr. Butler. Though, unlike most Virginians of that day, he was morally opposed to dueling, yet he thought there were cases where it could not be avoided. Particularly a military man when challenged could not decline. Col. White accepted, chose horse pistols as the weapons, and six paces as the distance. The meeting place was Union Springs, Kentucky, opposite Shawneetown, Illinois. All parties were on time at the meeting, but when the terms became known, the challenger and his friends objected to the conditions as not offering any chance for the escape of either challenger or challenged. Col. White and his friends stood firmly by the terms, and the challenger and his friends abruptly and precipitately withdrew. The want of space forbids the insertion of Col. White's letter to his wife on the eve of this occurrence.
"Soon after Col. White's sale of his interest in the Illinois Salt Works and his return to Vincennes, he was entered and passed as an apprentice and fellowcraft Mason in the Masonic Lodge at Vincennes then under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Kentucky, and on the 18th of September, 1811, he was raised to the sublime degree of a Master Mason by his friend the celebrated Colonel Joseph H. Daviess, Grand Master of Kentucky, who had come to Vincennes to offer his services to Governor Harrison in an expected campaign against the confederated Indians at the Prophet's town.
"Col. White earnestly solicited Governor Harrison to have his regiment (the 3rd Indiana Militia), or at least a part of it, included in the forces of the expedition but was told that the United States troops then on the way—the 4th Regiment from Pittsburgh and the other forces already organized, would be sufficient for the expedition. But he was not to be deterred, and with Thomas Randolph, late Attorney General of the Territory, he enrolled himself in the company of dragoons commanded by Captain Parke, which company and two others were placed, as a squadron of dragoons, under command of his friend Col. Daviess. An incident of this early soldier association is worthy of mention. Col. Daviess and Col. White, exchanged swords and on the fatal November morning, November 7th, the sword of Col. White was found buckled to the belt of Col. Daviess, and the sword of Col. Daviess was found held in the iron grip of his friend Col. White. They had fallen side by side in that fatal charge. White was stark and cold in death, and Daviess, though living, was pierced by three balls in the breast, either of which would have been fatal. The flash of his pistol had exposed him to the deadly aim of three savages.
"At daylight the Battle of Tippecanoe was won--but at what a fearful price! Of the nine hundred men, one hundred and eighty-three killed and wounded, of whom thirty-seven were killed in action and twenty-five died of their wounds.
"And now, side by side, these two noble patriot friends sleep their last sleep, and with them in the same grave, their common friend, Col. Owen, an aid to General Harrison, who fell early in the action at the side of his commander. On the battlefield markers tell where Daviess and Owen fell, but by inexcusable ignorance no marker tells where Col. White fell, nor is his name on the monument among the officers, but in the list of privates. Will White county permit this neglect of the gallant soldier whose name she bears?"
Milton M. Sill, in his unpublished "History of White County," has this to say about one aftermath of the battle which specifically relates to home matters: "After the decisive battle of Tippecanoe with the Pottawattamie Indians, and their defeat and the destruction of their principal town at the mouth of the Tippecanoe river, the remnant of that tribe, fleeing north, settled at various points on the river (two within the limits of White county) and built villages. One of their villages was located on the west bank of the river half a mile above Monticello, and the other five miles further north on the east bank near what was afterward known as Holmes' ford. At both the villages a small patch of ground was cultivated in corn, all the labor being performed by the squaws, the men deeming it beneath their dignity to perform menial labor until they became too o1d for war or the chase; and even then they avoided any manual labor by being installed members of what they called the Council.
"The Pottawattamies were divided into two distinct and separate bands or tribes, each having a head man or chief, and having little, if any, communication. By far the larger section of the tribe inhabited southern Michigan and a part of northern Indiana. They were under the guidance of a chief called Pokagon, who lived to a great age, and was distinguished for his firm and unswerving friendship for the white settlers and his unflinching integrity, as wel1 as his scholarly attainments which were by no means limited." As we know, the other tribe was controlled by the unfortunate Prophet.
Governor Harrison's prolonged absences from the seat of government on military duties made it necessary to place the civil administration in other hands. In 1812 and the first four months of 1813 these responsibilities devolved on John Gibson, secretary of the territory. In February of the latter year President Madison nominated Thomas Posey, United States senator from Louisiana, for governor of Indiana, as General Harrison had been made commander-in-chief of the American forces in the West. Governor Posey arrived at Vincennes in May, 1813, and in December of that year the Legislature met at the new capital-- Corydon, Harrison County. The State House at that place had been partially erected in 1811, but was not entirely completed until 1815.
In December of the latter year, the Territory of Indiana applied to Congress for admission into the Union as a state, since more than 60,000 free white inhabitants then resided within its limits—to be exact, 63,897. Congress passed the enabling act in May, 1816, and the delegates elected to frame a state constitution held a convention at Corydon, lasting from the 10th to the 29th of June, of that year. Instead of deliberating in the stuffy little State House they held most of their meetings under a huge elm tree on the banks of Big Indian Creek, several hundred feet northwest of the capitol. The grand old tree still stands, fifty feet in height with a spread of branches nearly 125 feet across. The first session of the Legislature of the State of Indiana opened at the Corydon State House on November 4, 1816.
Corydon remained the state capital until 1825, although the site of Indianapolis had been selected by the commissioners appointed for that purpose by the Legislature in 1820. In 1819 Congress had donated to the state four sections of land to be selected from any tract of the public domain then unsold, and in May of the following year the locating commissioners fixed upon a tract on the west fork of White River near the geographical center of the state and platted the new capital as Indianapolis. The seat of government of the commonwealth was moved thither in 1825, as stated, and the first state house completed in 1836. As designated in the congressional grant, Indianapolis was fixed as the permanent capital of Indiana, and all its counties have since looked to that city as the seat of their governmental authority. The transfer of that center from Corydon was effected seven years before White County was created.