Sunday, August 17, 2014

AUGUST 17, 1814

200 years ago today, there was probably only one Native American resident remaining in Washington County, Indiana Territory.  The Goodspeed History of Lawrence, Orange and Washington Counties published in 1884 says the following:
“Delaney's Creek took its name from an Indian named Delaney, who
remained two or three years after the others of his tribe had gone. He
had a cabin or wigwam on the bank of the creek.”

The Stevens Centennial History of Washington County, Indiana repeated this statement and added that:
          “He had a wigwam on the banks of the creek about a mile from where it empties into the Muscatatuck and subsisted by hunting and fishing.  He was finally persuaded to go West, but the old fellow very reluctantly turned his back upon the scenes he had so long enjoyed—the streams and woodlands that had afforded him so much pleasure in his latter days.”

His true name will never be known as “Delaney” is to our culture a name of Gaelic origin.  I speculated years ago when I created a dramatic character based upon him  that his name derives from the name of his probable tribe which was the Delaware Indians.  The Delaware called themselves Lenni Lenape.  He name may have been a humorous or insulting combination of Delaware and Lenni Lenape—DeLenni-Delaney.  The names of many Native American tribes were derived from what their enemy or rival tribes called them.  These names ascribed by others were usually not complimentary.  Perhaps that is true of names ascribed to individual Native Americans by the early settlers also.  “Old Ox” which was the name of the leader of the band of Indians living near Royse’s Lick at the time of first settlement of Washington County, Indiana Territory is an example of this tendency.

The lower Delaney Creek Valley and the Muscatatuck Bottoms were basically swamp land until they were drained in the last half of the 19th century.  Settlers did not begin to register land claims in this area until the 1830s and it was common public land for hunting, trapping and foraging.  These extensive wetlands would have provided an abundant supply of fish, fowl, game and walnuts for those in the area including Delaney.  The heavily forested Knobs provided opportunities for the harvesting of upland game and fowl in addition to chestnut and hickory mast.  Hickory nuts were harvested by Native Americans who ground them into a paste that could be kept for year round consumption.  Chestnuts were stored for roasting at one’s leisure.  For a skilled woodsman such as Delaney, the lower Delaney Valley would have been an Eden as long as he remained immune to swamp related illnesses.

After the Pigeon Roost Massacre occurred in September of 1812, the bands of Old Ox and Highland left the area as the fear and resentment of some squatters and settlers would certainly have led to violent retaliation upon the nearest Native Americans available.  Delaney probably had good relations with some of his neighbors who had settled on the ridge between the Delaney and Twin Creek Valleys such as William Logan, Jacob Hattabaugh, and Andrew Housh.  Their militia status would have provided Delany with security against indiscriminate violence or harassment. However, various treaties resulted in more and more Indiana land coming under control of the US government so that there was less territory for Native Americans to occupy free of American land claims.  When the Treaty of St. Mary’s was signed on October 3, 1818 by representatives of the Delaware Indians [Lenni Lenape], they released all claims to any land occupied by them in Ohio and Indiana and agreed to move west of the Mississippi.  Those Lenni Lenape signing were:

 Kithteeleland, or Anderson, his x mark,
Lapahnihe, or Big Bear, his x mark,
James Nanticoke, his x mark,
Apacahund, or White Eyes, his x mark,
Captain Killbuck, his x mark,
The Beaver, his x mark,
Netahopuna, his x mark,
Captain Tunis, his x mark,
Captain Ketchum, his x mark,
The Cat, his x mark,
Ben Beaver, his x mark,
The War Mallet, his x mark,
Captain Caghkoo, his x mark,
The Buck, his x mark,
Petchenanalas, his x mark,
John Quake, his x mark,
Quenaghtoothmait, his x mark,

If Delaney had not left his home in Washington County by then, he certainly would have gone north to the White River settlements of his tribe to prepare for the exodus west to the Buffalo Country.  However, local Monroe Township lore says that Delaney died while living in the valley and is buried on the Knob overlooking the confluence of Delaney Creek and the Muscatatuck.  Whether Delaney died or was relocated, the site of his home was not claimed until sometime between 1837 and 1856.  In fact, some of the wetlands where Delaney lived went unclaimed until they were awarded as long deferred Military Land Grants.  One of Washington County’s unnoted historical ironies is that one of these grants was awarded to Illinois Militia Volunteer Daniel R. Boothsby for his service in the Black Hawk Indian War of 1832.

                                  DELANEY WIGWAM AREA

                                           DELANEY PARK SIGN

                                           BLACK HAWK WAR GRANT ON DELANEY CREEK


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