Sunday, October 11, 2009

Tecumseh and the Shawnee Village of Chalahgawtha

The Village of Old Town on U.S. 68 north of Xenia and right along the Little Miami Bike Trail near the Old Town spur where you can park your bike is also the historic location of Chalahgawatha or Old Chillicothe, once the main Shawnee village in the 18th century. U.S. 68 is historically a Shawnee trail running the length of Ohio (Bullskin Trail) and at the confluence of the Little Miami River and Massie Creek is where the village was located. There is a lot of history in this location.

Both Daniel Boone and Simon Kenton were held prisoner at this village and Kenton was forced to run a gauntlet here of about 200 yards.
There are historic markers so that you can get an idea as to location and distance. The primary site is now where the Tecumseh motel is located. If you either park in the motel lot or if traveling by bike, park at the spur and walk over to the location, you will find a number of markers pointing out the historic facts.

Looking behind the motel across what is now farm land, there is a rise on which the council house of the Shawnee stood. The village of Chalahgawatha had been destroyed several times and rebuilt by the Shawnee. One particular incident if noted on one of the markers.
This was the event where 10 Kentucky soldiers were killed in 1779 during an attack on the village. The marker unfortunately does not tell the whole story. Col John Bowman, commander was jealous of the fame George Rogers Clark had received in his capture of Vincennes from the British forces. He decided he would assemble volunteers to move against the Shawnee village at Chalahgawatha. What he did not know was that the Shawnees had split and half of them had moved to the west of the Mississippi and the rest of the primary braves were away from the village leaving mostly young boys and elderly. As Bowman moved against the village, he failed to keep silent and early warning of the soldiers' approach was heard by the tribe. Fearing they were going to be massacred, they moved to the council house where the women were singing the death chant. While Bowman's forces burned the wegiwa (teepees) belonging to the individual families. As they burned, they looted and during that time, the ten soldiers were killed by the few Indian gathered in the council house. Fearing a much bigger force, Bowman hesitated and ordered a withdrawal. Realizing they had the upper hand, the young Indian braves gave chase and killed more as the soldiers continued to retreat.

This is a historic area. Besides the terrible loss of the ten Kentucky soldiers, near this location the great Shawnee leader, Tecumseh,
was born near a springs about 500 feet away at the Old Town Preserve area. There isn't much to see in the location unless you have an active imagination and can try to imagine what the area looked like at the turn of the 18th century. But to stand in these shadows and think about the history behind the tragic events of the American Indians and the eventual domination of the white settlers, one cannot help but be moved.

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