Early Times

For the Indianian-Republican
Reminiscences of Early Times in Kosciusko County
By Reub Williams

Coming to this county when but a small boy my recollection of some of the scenes and incidents connected with the early settlement of this region is quite vivid. There are, at present, but few individuals now resident of the town who were here when I first came to Warsaw. Among these are Benjamin Richhart and family; Joseph A Funk and brothers; Mr. and Mrs. S. E. Loney (then, but recently married); P. G. Frary (then a young man); Judge James S. Frazer (who had just came to Warsaw from Wayne county this state and had just begun the practice of law, and perhaps a few others. I am speaking now of those only who resided in town at the time referred to and who are still residents of the place. Others, of course, arrived soon afterwards and they are now numbered among our old settlers. Among those can be named the Milice family, Mr. and Mrs. A. T. S. Kist, the Wynants, and others. Indeed Champaign county, Ohio along about that time and the following few years sent a large delegation to this region, among whom, especially was my old and esteemed, life-long friend, Thomas Woods, still a resident of this place.

At the time I first came it was not an uncommon thing for there to be more Indians in the place than there were whites. However, Warsaw, proper never was a favorite point for the Indians, and the occasions to which I refer were only the periodical visits of the Red Men. Leesburg, Oswego and indeed, all along what was then called the Big Prairie, were the places at which the Indians mostly congregated. On Trimble's creek near what is known as the Wooden farm, was quite an Indian village of which a chief, or sub-chief, by the name of Topash was the head. This old Indian had two sons by the name of Joaneta and Dominique who were of about the same age of myself and Marion Warner - who still lives at the point near where his father first settled. I speak of him for the reason that on one occasion Marion and myself paid the village a visit and made the acquaintance of the two boys which afterwards kept up until they, along with their father and others who elected not to be removed to the west in 1848, took up their abiding place in Michigan. I then lost track of the family only hearing from them occasionally.

In 1848, as stated, the remnant of the Potawatomies and Miami tribes living in this county were removed by the government to Indian territory, Ezekiel French, then a prominent citizen of Oswego, having the contract for their removal. A more motley looking crowd than this remnant as it passed through Warsaw on its first day's march, I never beheld before or since! They had assembled at Oswego as the starting point and consequently, as they passed through Warsaw they were much like a brand new regiment during the late war--wonderfully encumbered with impediments such as coops of chickens, pet coons, boxes and barrels, and the hundred and one things that would attract an Indiana family, and which it was thought impossible to leave behind. Each wagon was piled so high as to apparently be in danger of toppling over, and I feel sure that within two or three days afterwards much of the surplus goods such as empty boxes and barrels --for it must be remembered that a box or a barrel in an Indian family was something of considerable value--was relentlessly thrown away at the command of the wagon-masters in charge of the train; for it must also be remembered that the entire march to the Indian territory was to be made with wagon, on horseback and on foot.

As they passed through this town I very well remember that "Bill Squawbuck," an Indian quite well known to the whites, sold a favorite pony for the insignificant sum of $10. "Bill" was quite a character among his brethren, and even more so to his white friends, with whom he as on terms of intimacy, and aside from his occasional indulgence in the use of "fire-water--at which times he was somewhat dangerous--he was a clever, good-for-nothing doless sort of an Indian. The fellow disliked very much, to part with his pony. It was a very fine little animal; far better in style and get-up than those belonging to the caravan; but $10 in silver in those days was a big thing, and "Bill" fell a victim to its seductive influence, as better men--those possessing more knowledge, at least--have done, both before and since. Old "Bill" when he finally gave up the little animal to its owner, I remember, hugged it around the neck; talked to it in endearing terms and the tears rolled down his cheeks when it was led away.

As an evidence of the rapid and vast advance this country has made; how greatly it has developed, in material wealth, it is only necessary to say that the writer--young as he is --has witnessed the removal of the last of the Red Men from Ohio, and also from this State. The Wyandottes and Senecas, in the first instance, and the Miamis, & Potawattomies in the second. Think of it! The Red Man still a resident of Northern Ohio within the memory of one but a little over fifty years of age! It is a marvelous thought and when one looks at the bountiful farms, the vast orchards, every tree bending low with rich fruit in its season; the well-filled barns; the evidences of peace and plenty on every hand--covering a region that less than half a century since was still inhabited by the original owners, even to the one who has seen it all with his own eyes, it is still a stupenduous thought! What a vast amount of history has been made in these fifty years! No other half-century, of either ancient or modern history can point to so much; such wonderful events successfully accomplished, the full fruitation of which is just before us! When I was a boy I sometimes asked myself the question at what period in the world's historysupposing that I had the choosing of it myself--would I prefer to have lived, and my answer to myself always was, that wonderful period of discovery; of chivalry--when literature took a new bound--now known as the Elizabethan Era. Asking the same question now, I would answer by saying that I would not have missed living during the past third of a century even were that much more time have been added to my natural life! And of this period, how great has it been in grand results! A nation freed from the internecine strife that had agitated it for the past seventy-five years; the shackles smitten from the limbs of four millions of human beings, the Continent spanned from the Atlantic to the Pacific with bands of steel; the iron horse stopping at almost every farmer's door; that subtle fluid known as lightning made to enter the service of man as a motive power; as a means of talking with one another even beyond the seas, as a means of conversation, and to light the street, the palace and the hovel! These and many inventions almost equally as startling, have been brought out within the lifetime of the writer! Why, then, should I not prefer to have lived during a period so wonderful, rather than in the days of old Queen Bess? More anom. Reub

Indianian Republican Thursday June 7, 1888

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