EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is another article on Findlay area history adapted from a series written from 1959 to 1974 by the late R.L. Heminger, publisher and editor of The Courier.
By R.L. HEMINGER
Much information with regard to the Indians in Hancock County is found in the reminiscences of Job Chamberlin, who wrote extensively of early life in Findlay and Hancock County many years ago.
“The country was full of Indians, chiefly Wyandots,” he said. “Those that we became best acquainted with were Solomon, Big Pan, Bear Skin, Kuqua, Johnny Cake, Half-John, Tree-in-Top-in-the-Water, Isaac Hill and one named just Armstrong.
“Solomon had been a chief of his tribe in the war of 1812 and he had the temerity to boast to some of his white friends here of the barbarous feats and inhuman treatment of his captives. He said at one time he cut his prisoner’s tongue off. He used to make a gurgling sound down his throat to mimic the victims of his cruelty in their efforts to talk. He also boasted of having killed 20 women at one time. He and another Indian went to a house where the 20 women had collected for safety. He broke open the door and went in while the other Indian stood at the door to prevent the escape of the women. They crawled under a bed and he tomahawked them one by one, he said.
“Kuqua was the Indian doctor and he practiced divination. To cure a patient he would pow-wow around the sick bed and thump around the room with his ‘spirited rappings’ until the so-called demons which were supposed to be the cause of the disease would be driven out and the patient restored to health.
“The Indians were generally peaceable. Sometimes there would be difficulty between them and the whites, generally about hogs. Their hogs ran wild in the woods and occasionally a reckless white man would forget the rules of discretion and would kill some of them, and then the innocent would be blamed. My father had a yearling calf stray away to town and when he went after it the Indians had caught it and fastened it with a cord. They would not give it up. My father went and commenced untying it, when Big Pan came up and took hold of his hand, saying, ‘No, no, no,’ but Father persisted and untied it and set it free. The Indian complained, ‘Now you steal my cow and maybe you steal my hog.’
“There were a few drunken Indians and they came into my father’s cabin one day. My sister was sitting in a chair in front of the fire, and one of them came up to her and flourished his knife overhead, making murderous demonstrations, but squaws soon came up and took away the Indian’s knife, and all soon left.”
Mr. Chamberlin said the Indians were a fruitful source of wealth to traders in furs and deer skins. He went on to say that Squire Carlin, who had settled in Findlay a couple years after the Chamberlins arrived, engaged largely in this kind of traffic.
“I must relate a good joke on Carlin that got into circulation,” wrote Mr. Chamberlin. “In his rounds gathering up furs, he got very hungry, and coming to a wigwam where the Indians had some nice-looking meat stuck on sticks cooking around the fire, Mr. Carlin could not resist the favorable opportunity to satisfy the pangs of hunger. So he began to eat the dried meat with avidity. The Indians looked on with intense interest at him without speaking until he had finished, and then one said, ‘You like um fox?’ Mr. Carlin replied, ‘Yes, don’t you?’ The Indian shook his head and answered, ‘Kah! For my dogs,’ at the same time pointing to his canine.”
The Indians were ludicrous in some of their habits. The squaws would tie their papooses on a board, with their faces outward, and then strap them on their backs when they traveled out very far from their wigwams. When they wished to go into the house of a white man, they would take off their papooses and boards and set them up against the house, or some object outside, while they went inside to transact their business with the people inside.
“These Indians were very fond of ornaments. Some would have two or three silver rings dangling from their noses. Ear rings were very common and some would have their clothing stuck full of silver brooches.”