by Jo Ann Merkle Vrabel, Feature Writer
Places where Indians once lived and died are everywhere in Kosciusko County. Farmers and hikers have unearthed arrowheads and Indian hammerheads. An Indian dugout (canoe) was found buried in mud in a swamp reportedly at Dewart Lake and now hangs in the Kosciusko County Historical Society museum, in Oswego.
County natives and residents know Indian stories and rumors that are interesting and colorful. Tell a farmer from Leesburg an Indian story, and he'll tell you two in return. Even though many tales of Kosciusko county Indians are difficult, if not impossible, to authenticate, they are enjoyable to contemplate. Below is an incomplete list of Indian sites and places in Kosciusko county. There are many more, according to local residents.
Indian Burial Grounds
Burial Sites have been located on the west end of Big Turkey Prairie, at Oswego, on Trimble Creek and in Oakwood Cemetery, Warsaw on top of a bluff directly overlooking Pike Lake, according to Reuben Williams in an article "Indians and their Burying Grounds," from the August 5th, 1880 Northern Indianian newspaper. Another Indian burial ground is located on the south side of the Tippecanoe River, opposite the Indian Village of Monoquet, according to James Armstrong in his History of Leesburg and Plain Township Indiana book.
There is an "ancient Indian burial ground" where Winona Lake is joined to the Tippecanoe River by Eagle-Walnut Creek, on the shores of the creek approximately one-half mile from the river, according to Gaddis & Huffman in The Story of Winona Lake.
Today there are between 12 and 15 burial sites in the north and south parts of Kosciusko county that are fairly well authenticated, according to Waldo Adams of the Kosciusko County Historical Society.
In the Tri-County Game Preserve near Flat-Belly Lake are two campfire sites now preserved by the State of Indiana, according to the Pre-White Man map in the museum of the Historical Society.
Early settlers told of seeing camp fires on the north side of Syracuse Lake. They reported the Indians used the area to race horses. Early settlers also found Indian burial in trees in this area according to the Pre-White Man map.
Indian bones were found buried behind Camp Adventure near Webster Lake in the 1960's, according to the Pre-White Man map.
Grave in Leedy's Woods
In Leedy's Woods, which is located near county roads 100 North and 300 East there is Groves Cemetery, a 100 by 100 feet fenced plot. In this cemetery is an unnatural high mound. This mound is rumored to be an Indian chief's grave. In the summer of 1975, Jim Carlson, a Warsaw Eagle Scout, initiated an investigation of this site by his Boy Scout Troop 730 of the First Methodist Church of Warsaw. In May, 1978, Dr. John Davis, a professor from Grace College, Winona Lake inspected the mound with the scouts. He stated it is a grave of a single chief or a pioneer. No funds for excavating the site are available, Carlson says. Leedy's Woods is currently being developed into Hickory Estates Subdivision by Earl Leedy of Warsaw.
Old Carrs Lake Farm
This farm and fields are currently owned by Meredith and Betty Parker and are located in Clay Township due west of and beside Carrs Lake. Kinsey Road runs through and divides the farm land. In the 1920's Max Deaton, of Route. 2 Claypool states he and his brothers and his father gathered many arrowheads and some Indian hammers on that farm, around the west side of Carrs Lake and Reed Lake, which is a small body of water there.
Indians in Woods
Mrs. Ted Melton of Etna Green says her grandmother Mrs. J. M. Hanes told her in 1919 that when she (the grandmother) was a girl, Indians lived in some woods near a pond on which is currently the Ray C and Leta M. Hathaway farm in Seward Township north of County Road 700 South. The Indians were friendly and traded wild animals for eggs, butter and milk, says Mrs. Melton.
Indian campsites are located on the east side of County Road 850 West in Etna Township on what is currently the Willard and Delores Klotz farm; and on the tip of the Tippecanoe River, on the west side of County Road 875 West in Etna Township on the farm currently owned by E. Mearl and Josephine Ulmer, according to Mr. and Mrs. Ted Melton of Etna Green. At this latter river site Indian teepees purportedly once stood and the Meltons have found many arrowheads in the past, they say.
Three other Indian campsites are: on Atwood Hill, the hill that encircles and supports the town of Atwood. The campsite on Atwood Hill is located south east of Atwood, near Old State Road 30 in Harrison Township. Also on Big Turkey Prairie which was located in part of Prairie and Plain Townships and enveloped what is now Clunette and stretched west and slightly north toward Leesburg. Also Little Turkey Prairie which was located in the southern half of Van Buren Township and included a tiny northern tip in Plain Township according to Adams.
On the south side of Old State Road 30 and the railroad in Etna Township on the farm currently owned by John and Eleanor Huffman, the Meltons believe an arrowhead maker once made stone tools. Mrs. Melton says she and her husband frequented the wooded spot where 28 years ago they found lots of stone chips that fell to the ground from sharpened arrowheads.
Straddling farms currently owned by Ruth Stutzman, Glenn and Mary Disher, Max & Doris Nifong and Triple E. Farms, Inc. and near County Roads 400 North and 800 West, in Etna Township is a muck field which was probably once a lake where Indians shot arrows at fish, according to Mr. and Mrs. Melton. The Meltons say they have found many tiny arrow heads used for fishing by the Indians in that field.
According to an old Indian legend there was once a beautiful lake located in the northwest corner of the intersection of State Road 15 and County Road 675 North near Leesburg on the farmland currently owned by the Brubaker Farms, Inc., and Chris and Ida Kammerer. The story claims the lake was dotted with beautiful islands and covered with groves of barren oaks and water full of fish, according to Armstrong.
Etna Green: The Jordan Addition lots 12, 13, 14 and 15 of Etna Green were owned by a Pottawatomi woman named Poquia in the 1830's. Poquia was the sister of a Pottawatomi named Jose and the wife of an Indian named Noakquote according to the deeds for those lots.
Carey Groninger Farm
On a farm located in Harrison Township south of River Road and east of the intersection of Schram Road and River Road the late Carey Groninger collected many interesting Indian relics including arrowheads, beads and rain dance stones which are square with holes in them. According to their son Tom Groninger, who now owns this farm, Indian relics have been found on neighboring farms too.
According to an early settlers' legend, a sandbar ran across the northern shore of Lake Wawasee called the Indian Trail over which the water was so shallow the Indians could wade across, says Armstrong.
Chapman Lake Ridge
It is rumored that skulls have been found on a big sandy ridge on the west side of Chapman Lake, says Adams
Prehistoric Indian Sites
On April 22, 1881, six human skeletons were found buried in a fire trench at a site located on the west shore of Pike Lake, Warsaw. According to the Indian State Geology Section to the Pre-White Man map in the historical society's museum.
Another area where prehistoric Indian relics have been found within the past five to ten years is near Palestine Lake. There one collector found a Yuma arrowhead which is probably 20,000 years old, according to Adams, and Dean Ryan, of Milford reports that he found an paleo-point near Palestine. The paleo-point is a very rare arrowhead made between 7000 and 9000 B.C. says Ryan who stores this find in his private Indian relic collection.
Between four and five prehistoric Indian campsites are located near Claypool. Three or four of these campsites are located a few miles south of Claypool and one site is located north of Claypool, states Ryan. Within the past seven years Ryan has found between 300 and 400 perfect arrowheads on these four or five Claypool area sites. The arrowheads were made by Indians living in the Early Archaic Period sometime between 4000 and 5000 B. C. according to Ryan.
This was a mound located in the southern part of Winona Lake at the foot of Chestnut street south of Cherry Creek, approximately one-half block across the street from where the town's disposal plant currently stands. According to James Y. Heaton of Winona Lake, local residents believed the mound was built by Indians; and a white man named John Hamilton was buried on its top in 1839. Hamilton's son crowned the mound with a monument to his father, according to authors Gaddis and Huffman in The Story of Winona Lake. But the mound is not in Winona Lake now. In 1944 or 1945, the mound was gradually taken down with a crane and the dirt from the mound was used to fill lowland for the development of Warsona trailer court now extinct, but once located between the Winona Lake Dam and North Country Club Drive. The remaining dirt from the mound was used to fill holes in various places in the county. No one knows what became of the Hamilton monument.
The Myth of Princess Winona
The Myth of Princess Winona: There never was a Princess Winona of Kosciusko County though her face appears on the Winona Lake Town Seal, and several Winona Lake businesses (Including the now extinct Winona Dairy) used the face of a feathered miss for their logos, Princess Winona never lived here. She is a myth.
Until 1895, approximately 47 years after the last Indians were driven from this county, Winona Lake was called Eagle Lake. And Princess Winona Lake was really just the picture of a local girl who posed for a portrait in Indian garb in the early 19-teens.
Renaming Eagle Lake
In 1894, Dr. Solomon C. Dickey, who later became a Winona Lake town founder, was serving in the capacity of superintendent of home missions for the Presbyterian Church of Indiana. He decided the Presbyterian ministers and church workers needed a common meeting place to study the bible and discuss church problems. The first camp he selected was at Bass Lake, in Starke Co., where the Presbyterians bought 160 acres of land to build a church resort. But the Bass Lake project fell through and Dickey turned his sights to Kosciusko County, according to authors Gaddis and Huffman in their book The Story of Winona Lake.
Here, in 1894, Dickey arranged for the Presbyterian Church members of Indiana to buy 160 acres of land which included the northeastern shores of Eagle Lake and also a resort and social center called Spring Fountain Park, located along the eastern shore of Eagle Lake, according to James Y Heaton, of Winona Lake.
In 1895 the Presbyterians changed the name of Eagle Lake to Winona Lake. "Winona" was an Indian word meaning "first born" says Heaton.
Dreaming Up Princess Winona
On June 2, 1913, the town of Winona Lake was incorporated and later a community symbol of an Indian princess was adopted. To secure a princess picture, townsmen asked a Winona Lake teenager girl to dress in a colorful Indian costume and pose for a portrait. The girl was Airy Anna Haymaker who later married and became Mrs. P. L. Osborne of Groves, Texas, according to Heaton and authors, Gaddis & Huffman.
Warsaw Times Union July 8-14, 1974 Spotlight
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