Chief Tecumseh

Shawnee Chief Tecumseh was an outstanding leader who worked to unite all tribes into a single alliance to defend Indian lands. When the famed Native American was killed on October 5, 1813, leading his forces in Canada, he owed Richmond co-founder John Smith “a coonskin for a balance due on some ammunition.”

Tecumseh was a gifted orator and a shrewd warrior. He was born northeast of Dayton and traveled frequently from his home in Ohio, doing much to cultivate the culture of the Indians of the Ohio Valley region. When white settlers began rapidly taking Indian lands, he began a crusade to stop it, and formed an Indian confederacy preaching anti-white doctrine.

At this time the village in the present site of Richmond was called Smithville in honor of John Smith, who came here in 1806 and foresaw that local lands would one day make for a thriving community.

Smith erected a log cabin to conduct local business. It was here that Indians and nearby settlers came to trade furs for supplies, guns and ammunition.

Smith was a shrewd trader and even the most wary Native Americans were friendly to “the great spirit,” including Tecumseh, who eventually incurred debt.

According to Dr. John T. Plummer’s Historical Sketch of Richmond,’ Smith traded often with Indians and ‘…remarked with a smile that the celebrated warrior, Tecumseh, yet owed him a coonskin for a balance due on some ammunition.”

Smith never held it against Tecumseh. He thought Tecumseh’s “unpleasantness with Uncle Sam probably prevented him from paying it."



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June 19, 2012