Our County History
by County Historian Marion W. Coplen

There were about 500 Indians in our county when the first white settlers came in 1833. Most of them were Pottawatomies and lived in villages along the Tippecanoe river. As the whites moved in, it was to be expected that differences would arise between the two races. Every schoolboy knows the difficulty which the whites had with Chief Menominee and his band of Indians in Marshall county to the west. In that case, it was finally necessary to use armed forces to move them off their reservation.

The early settlers of our county report that the Indians were insolent at times but were usually trustworthy. In 1835, a white man named William Anderson accidentally shot and killed an Indian while hunting in the region which later became Seward township. An inquest was held. Chief Monoquet himself being in attendance. Justice of the Peace James Garvin decided it was accidental, but required Anderson to give the widow squaw a fat hog and a sack of corn meal. The decision was in every way satisfactory to the Indians, and especially so to Anderson.

Probably the Indian most popular with the whites was the youngest son of Chief Musquawbuck, who was called "Bill" by the settlers. He was about 25 years old at the time and spoke fair English. History records that when the Indians were removed to the West, Bill left with great reluctance, having to part with white friends, in addition to leaving his native land and home.

The whites, however, did not always deal honestly with the Indians' money. Men would get two or three prices for their products sold to the Indians. The Pottawatomies received their annuities from the government each October at a mill on the present site of Rochester. Traders, freebooters and gamblers would congregate at the place of payment and use all kinds of schemes to get the Indians' money. Men would come with claims against the red men, many of the claims being unjust. When the claims were all paid, the annuity was divided among the tribes, and the Indians would tie it in the corner of their blankets. many a time these corners were clipped as the Indians lay in a drunken sleep after a big dance sponsored by the whites.

Warsaw Times-Union Sat. July 18, 1954