Hancock County has rich Native American history

Indiana will soon be 200 years old. Can you imagine? What do you know about Hancock County 200 years ago?

The Delaware were the predominate Indian group in Hancock County. But some say the the Shawnees were also in Blue River and Brandywine Townships. The Delaware Indians are members of an Algonkian speaking tribe who called themselves the Lanape or Lenni Lanape.

The word Lenape standing alone means “Common Peo- ple.” Lenni Lenape means “Genuine Man” or “Original People” in the Delaware language. Delaware is not an Indian word and they are the only ones to have a complete Anglicized name. It is derived from Thomas West, Lord de la Warr, an early Virginian colonial governor. The “Lord de la Warr” name was given to a bay and river and it was later modified to Delaware. In 1806 William Anderson or Kikthawenund became became principal chief of the tribe until his death in 1830. The city of Anderson is named after him.

The first 50 years after 1828, the settlers were busy ditching and draining the fields and pastures for farming. As a result, many of the materials left behind by Indians were destroyed. A family living on Fortville Pike noticed many “gold rings” could be seen across their field so they called in a team from Indiana University to investigate.

The team from IU discovered these rings were where the Indians split rocks around a fire to shape axes and other stone utensils. It was determined that this location was a point where tribes came to trade from the central Indiana area and beyond. Other sites have been discovered in Hancock County, including where a bridge was widened over the Blue River.

During the early days of settlement, small bands of Indians often roamed central Indiana. They traded with the settlers or trapped fur bearing animals to trade. They often camped on land of local farmers when they were in the county. The old state road (the Old Centerville Road) that ran east and west across the county before the National Road was completed was used by Indian bands, and some local people worried about Indian danger on the old Pike. The Old Centerville Pike ran one or two miles south of the Old National Road. It is possible that 100 South follows the path of the old road.

Enough. I have told you all that I know and some things I don’t. Talk to me.

You can write

to Joe Skvarenina at jskvarenina@hotmail.com or in care of the Daily Reporter at 22 W. New Road, Greenfield, IN, 46140.