During the early days of settlement, small bands of Native Americans often roamed central Indiana. They traded with settlers or trapped fur-bearing animals to be used for trade. They often camped on land of local farmers while in the county.
The old state road, the Centerville Road, ran east and west across the county before the completion of the National Road and was a well-used route of travel for the Native Americans. Some of the settlers were fearful they would take children or cause other mischief.
Of all the townships, perhaps Sugar Creek has been most successful in recalling the lore of the Native Americans. The Delaware Native Americans had two villages within Sugar Creek on the north side of U.S. 40 just west of Philadelphia. Another village is on the land comprising Palestine Cemetery.
The Native Americans had a cornfield near the old part of the cemetery. Mr. J.N. Snodgrass tells in an article in “New Palestine History 1871-1971” that probably 200 Native Americans lived there and gave the name of their leaders as Wa-Wa-See, whose son was Tuck-Ohee.
Another story is that there was a pond north of Gem that had a large rock with markings near its shore thought to be sacred to Native Americans. Local stories tell of Native Americans returning to the area to use the site long after they were gone from the area. Is the rock still there?
Do any of you have any Native American stories about Hancock County? I have told you everything that I know and some things I don’t. Talk to me.
Joe Skvarenina is an expert on local history and author of several books on Hancock County’s past. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or in care of the Daily Reporter at 22 W. New Road, Greenfield, IN, 46140.