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Orestes, Indiana History

Chief (Captain) Pipe

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David Dwiggins

Chief (Captain) Pipe
By Dave Dwiggins

Prior to my work as a Northern Madison County historian, particularly Orestes, Raymond Davis of Orestes carried the torch and kept the stories and tales of Chief Pipe, Lowry Switch and the gas boom alive. We are all quite grateful for the accounts and histories that have been saved by his work.

Back in 1990 I started reviewing Raymond's work and recalling the stories that my friends and neighbors had told as I sat on their porches and stood in their yards to listen. I had compiled a large amount of Orestes history and knowledge during the thirty years prior and suddenly I was inspired to write the Orestes History once again.

The first item was of course Chief Pipe. John Forkner only vaguely mentioned his existence in Ohio and relates that Pipe was involved in tribal politics with and/or against Killbuck here in Madison County. Killbuck and Pipe both had sons that rode their names and claimed the same fame. Samuel Harden wrote several books and I only have a copy of one and there is no mention of Pipe.

I checked every resource I could and found nothing about the "Great Delaware War Chief residing with his tribe south of Orestes". In disbelief I summoned the official Madison County Historian the late Howard Eldon. Howard was the director of the Indiana Room at the Anderson Public Library at the time and had purchased many of the books of Native American history.

I expressed to him my dilemma. He had observed my passion to do a precise account of Orestes and often directed me to the answers to my history questions. Howard expressed he had been puzzled by the same claims and never received any evidence supporting the story. 

It has been more than fourteen years since I tossed all of my notes about Chief Pipe and his tribe. Recently the thoughts of Pipe were still undigested and I started to open another private investigation into the matter. I prepared and sent letters to those around the county of history influence asking for information hoping they could provide as proof some Chief Pipe information. I also fired off perhaps thirty letters to history departments at Purdue, Indiana, Defiance, Ball State, Ohio State, Fort Wayne IU and Ashland in Ohio. I still have another letter to send to Nebraska University and am expecting more replies. I have now gathered in hundreds of pages about Chief Pipe, Hopocan (Tobacco Pipe), Hobacan, Konieschguanokee, Komeschguanokee (Maker of Day) or Tahunquecoppi. I am sorry to say at this point there is no mention of Orestes, Monroe Township or Madison County, only that a small stream was named Pipe Creek, perhaps after Pipe. 

As I received notes from fellow history and literature lovers there were several nice notes from one particular lady and she spoke highly of her love for folk legends such as Pipe and is pleased with the present accounts. Her opinion did soften my stand somewhat but I still seek the genuine history truths. Several notes I received voiced the claims of Raymond Davis as displayed on local websites.

Another well respected person in the county wrote: "Quite frankly, I tend to disbelieve almost everything that Madison County residents say about the county's Native American past. I've found it to be highly romanticized and anecdotal. The late John Jones, who was otherwise a relatively competent local historian in the 40's and 50's, even dreamed up a fictional daughter of Chief Anderson's and was sure she died and was buried here. As you know, it didn't happen."

As a child I heard about Chief Pipe and loved the stories I believed to be true. I continue to keep my mind open while searching for the truth, which is my responsibility as a historian. Nothing would please me more in all of my history treasures than to find that bit of proof I need as evidence that Pipe did live south of Orestes near the stream. A
t this time I find the claims are unsupported. I welcome any proof anyone would have.
The following is a great account I have found in my search of the legendary Chief Pipe. Enjoy it and form your own opinion and I welcome your comments or information.


Captain Pipe

By Russ Shopbell
Ashland County Ohio

Captain Pipe whose Indian name was "Hobacan," belonged to the Monsie or Wolf tribe of the Lenni-Lenape or Delawares. This famous war chief, in his later years, appears to have resided on the upper branches of Mohican, the head branches of Black river, the Vermillion and the Cuyahoga. It is believed that some time between 1793 and 1795, he made his headquarters at Jerometown, an Indian village about three-fourths of a mile southwest of the present site of Jeromeville, and erected a cabin on the old site of Mohican Johnstown. This village was surrounded south, east and north by alder swamps that were impassable by cavalry, and difficult of penetration by infantry.

A brief outline of the career of this noted chief of the Delawares may be interesting to the reader.

He was born, as near as can be learned, on the banks of the Susquehanna River, in Pennsylvania, about the year 1740. Though undoubtedly a member of the royal or ruling family of his tribe, his youth seems to have been remarkably obscure. This obscurity may have arisen from the fact that all Indian youths were taught to show deference to age and experience. It is believed that Pipe and other Delawares located at the junction of the Sandy and Tuscarawas rivers as early as 1758. His first appearance on the historic page was among the warriors at a conference held at Fort Pitt, July, 1759, between the agent of Sir William Johnston, Hugh Mercer, the Iroquois, Delawares and Shawnees.

Pipe was then probably about nineteen years of age, and much too young to be conspicuous. He is next mentioned in an agreement with Charles Frederick Post, the eminent Moravian missionary, in the year 1762. Post had visited the junction of the Sandy and Tuscarawas rivers, in 1761, and obtained the consent of King Beaver, a Delaware chief, to erect a cabin for a school and mission house. When he returned in 1762, with John Heckewelder, then nineteen years old, as an assistant to teach the young Delawares, he located in the cabin, and commenced to mark out a small field for corn. The Indians ordered him to desist. A council was held, in which the Indians expressed fears that a fort would soon appear at that point if they permitted Post to go on with his clearing. On being assured by Post that their fears were groundless, they consented to allow the missionaries a spot of ground-fifty steps each way-for a garden or field, in which to raise corn or vegetables for their support. Accepting these terms, "Hobacan"-Captain Pipe, a young Delaware chief-was ordered to step off the boundaries, and drive stakes at the corners. Pipe seemed very suspicious of the mission, because his people had suffered many wrongs at the hands of the British in Maryland, Delaware and Pennsylvania, and never failed, in a sly way, to urge his tribe to be cautious of the whites and the new missionaries.

In 1764 Colonel Henry Bouquet led an expedition to the Muskingum River against the Indians. When his army reached Fort Pitt, now Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, he delayed his march a few days. Some ten Indians appeared on the north bank of the Ohio River during the time he was at this fort, and asked to have a talk. Part of them crossed the river and entered the fort and not being able to explain their object in coming to the settlement, was detained as suspicious characters or spies. One of these proved to be young Pipe, the Delaware, who, two years prior, had marked out Post's garden spot. He was detained at Fort Pitt until Colonel Bouquet returned from the Muskingum, where he dictated terms of peace and a treaty with the Delawares and Shawnees. The transaction soured the temper of Captain Pipe, and he resolved upon a relentless course in the future against the "Long Knives," as he called the colonists.

Captain White Eyes, "Coquethagechton," chief of the Turtle tribe of Delawares unlike Pipe, was friendly to the missionaries, and opposed him in his hostility towards the settlers in western Pennsylvania. Although Pipe's tribe repressed their hate, with few exceptions, until 1780, he entertained a bitter feeling toward the colonists. In 1765 he attended a conference at Fort Pitt, at which about six hundred chiefs and warriors and many women and children were present. In 1768 he again met in conference at Fort Pitt, George Croghan, the sub-agent of Sir William Jonhston, and over one thousand Iroquois, Delawares, Shawnees, Wyandots and Mohegans. In the meantime Pipe and White Eyes became rivals for ascendancy in the councils of the Delawares. White Eyes was a frank, manly and courageous chief, and had the sagacity to see that to make war upon the border settlers was to invoke incursions into the Indian territory, and bring ruin upon his people. Pipe was haughty and ambitious, and detested the "Long Knives," and longed for the time when it would be safe for him to take the hatchet. His young warriors very generally seconded his warlike ferocity, and a large number of the Turtle tribe was deeply affected by his intrigues.

In 1771 he sent a speech to John Penn, the governor of Pennsylvania, in which he made complaints against white aggression and wrong. Not being relieved of the complaints in 1774, Pipe, White Eyes, and others, met the agent of Governor Dunmore, John Connelly, at Pittsburgh, in conference, in regard to recent aggressions on the Indian territory, and the unprovoked murder of the relatives of the noted Mingo, Logan. At this conference strong efforts were made to pacify the Indians and prevent war. The effort was in vain, for a great battle was fought at the mouth of the Kanawha, in October. It is not known how many of the Delawares participated in that battle.

In 1778 a conference was held at Fort Pitt between Andrew and Thomas Lewis, United States commissioners, and Captains White Eyes, Killbuck, and Pipe, deputies and chiefs of the Delawares, concerning the wrongs inflicted by the "Long Knives," and the retaliation of the Indians.

The long-impending separation of Pipe and White Eyes soon after this took place. Pipe made an effort to overthrow White Eyes. Seeing the effect of the intrigues of Pipe upon the Turtle tribe, White Eyes summoned a council, and declared that if they determined, in spite of his remonstrance, to go to war, he would lead the warriors himself and die with his tribe. This heroic proposition turned the scale, and his people remained the friends of the colonists. Pipe, and the warlike members of his tribe, departed from the Tuscarawas and located on the Walhonding, about fifteen miles above the present site of Coshocton, and attached himself to the British, who furnished his warriors blankets, tomahawks, guns, and ammunition, in exchange for human scalps.

In the midst of the revolution (1780) Captain Pipe and his warlike Delawares removed from the Walhonding to the Sandusky, on Tymocktee creek, and united his forces with the Wyandots, Senecas, and other savages favoring the British cause. While he resided in this region he organized an expedition (1781) for the removal of the Moravian Delawares from the Tuscarawas. He was accompanied by three hundred warriors, two distinguished chiefs, and the notorious Captain Elliott, then active in the British service. After the removal, Colonel Williamson and a large number of border ruffians from western Pennsylvania, made an expedition to the deserted villages on the Tuscarawas, barbarously murdered all they could find, and burned their houses and bodies.

In 1782 followed the unfortunate expedition of Colonel William Crawford. Captain Pipe has been censured for the cruelty inflicted upon Colonel Crawford and the other captives. We are apt to think, notwithstanding ingenious attempts have been made to excuse that wicked expedition, that it was the deliberate intention of Crawford and Williamson, and the barbarous persons who accompanied the expedition, to first assault and destroy the Moravian settlements, and then finish their work of blood and death upon the Wyandots.

The barbarities of the men who accompanied the new expedition on the Tuscarawas, led Pipe and his people to believe that no Indian would be spared. The Delawares, Wyandots, and Shawnees, were ready to meet the invaders and give them a hot reception. They were not non-resisting Moravians. They fully appreciated their position, and, like brave men, met their enemies and put them to flight. The subsequent tragedies were such as Crawford and his men should have expected when Williamson and his men failed to show mercy even to praying women and innocent children.

Yet Williamson was actually a candidate to lead the new expedition, and some writers are surprised that the historians of that day should entertain the idea that the expedition contemplated the destruction of the remaining Moravians. Pipe was relentless. It was a contest of life and death. Crawford had to die, because he would have killed Pipe and his people, and burned their towns. Retributive justice is severe, but generally overtakes bad enterprises.

Captain Pipe appeared before the British authorities at Detroit, as a witness against the Moravians, and finally excused them against the false accusations of Girty and others; and expressed a determination to treat the captive missionaries better in the future. In December, 1781, he appeared before the same British officer, Colonel Arentz Schuyler DePeyster, and reported the result of his military enterprise against the colonists, and bitterly reproached that officer for seducing the Indians into a war, in which they were acting the part of a hunter's dog, which, being hissed to the attack, received all the injuries inflicted by the ferocious beasts of the forest. At the same time he expressed a determination to withdraw from their service by returning his war tomahawk. In 1785 he was present at the conference at Fort McIntosh, and signed the treaty of that date. His name, by the interpreter, was affixed to that treaty, as "Wobocan," and signed. At this period, it is evident; he made frequent trips up and down the Muskingum, and possibly to his old residence at Sandy. We next hear of him at the mouth of the Big Miami, below Cincinnati, at a treaty with the Shawnees and others, as late as 1786. He was not a party to the treaty, however, but was present, and signed the document as a witness. One year after this, according to Zeisberger, the missionary, he attached himself to the tribes friendly to the United States, but in a short time violated his new engagement.

In 1788, when the pioneer settlers landed at what is now Marietta, they found Captain Pipe and about seventy warriors encamped in the neighborhood. At that time General Harmar described him as a "manly old fellow, and much more of a gentleman than the generality of the frontier people." Colonel John May, during the same spring, says: "Here (at the residence of General Harmar) I was introduced to 'Old Pipe,' chief of the Delaware Nation, and his suite, dressed like the offspring of Satan." Here he is described as "Old Pipe." According to the most reliable accounts, Captain Pipe was then about forty-eight years of age.

When we consider the fact, that Blackhoof, and perhaps Thomas Lyon, each lived over a century, Captain Pipe was then in his prime. This leaves Captain Pipe quietly navigating the Muskingum and its branches, hunting and making annual trips, at the proper season, to exchange furs and peltry for such goods and supplies as were needed by himself and people. Whether he visited Marietta at a later period than 1790 does not seem quite clear, though it is possible he may have done so.

It seems to be conceded, very generally, that Captain Pipe took an active part in the campaign against Harmar in the fall of 1790. It is urged, however, by some authorities, that he did not freely second the wishes of the Delawares in that campaign; and that he was opposed to entering the struggle against Harmar; but that he was overruled and yielded a reluctant consent to enter the contest. Pipe was no coward. He was rash and vindictive. His wishes for peace in this instance were pretended. He entertained no scruples about entering the campaign against General St. Clair in 1791. It is related that he boasted of slaughtering the soldiers of that unfortunate expedition until his arm was weary. That was the temper of Pipe when roused to vengeance. He was a merciless foe.

In the campaign of General Anthony Wayne in 1794, we are of opinion Captain Pipe was one of his bitterest foes. We are also of opinion he was engaged in the battle of Fallen Timbers, and was even present at the treaty of Greenville in 1795, though it is asserted that he died in 1794. His name is not attached to that treaty. Why is this? Captain Pipe was in disgrace. He had betrayed his friendship for the United States; brought ruin upon his people by his alliance with Little Turtle and other leaders in that war. The Delawares were left in a state of anarchy. They had warred against the United States by the advice and aid of Captain Pipe, and ruin and disorganization had overtaken them. Pipe, with a few of his friends, skulked away, and came down to the branches of the Mohican.

A late writer says "he died a few days previous" to the battle of Fallen Timbers, in 1794. Where and under what circumstances? "Upon the Maumee River." Where? In the presence of whom? Who first gave circulation to the story of his death? "Joseph Brandt," a Mohawk, who desired to pacify the trembling Moravians. Why did Heckewelder, Loskiel, and other Moravians not hear of and mention the circumstance? They had had bitter experience under the rule of Pipe, and would have been rejoiced to be liberated from his surveillance and dictation. Heckewelder, who is so frequently assailed as a romancer, would have been but too happy to have penned a criticism on his old accuser and foe. Heckewelder passed down these valleys many times between 1794 and 1810, and could have thrown much light on the decease of Pipe, and the incidents connected with his last hours. He is silent. So is Loskiel and others; and Zeisberger doubtless based his statement on a rumor, and subsequent writers have simply repeated that rumor.

Now for the reason. About the year 1795, John Baptiste Jerome, a French trader, who had married a Delaware woman, on the Auglaize river, about 1790 or 1791, located with his wife and daughter, then some four or five years of age, upon the present site of Jeromeville, and after whom the village was called. The stream passing said village also received his name, and has ever since been called the Jerome fork of the Mohican. When the earliest settlers came into that region, in 1808-9, Jerome had a good cabin, and some thirty or forty acres of land cleared and in a tolerable state of cultivation. About three-fourths of a mile southwest of his cabin, across the Mohican, was located the ancient Mohican Johnstown, then inhabited by Delawares, and near which old Captain Pipe, Hobocan, located about the same time. Is there any mistake about that? The identical spot of his wigwam is yet known. From whom was this information gleaned? From John Baptiste Jerome, the French trader, who accompanied Captain Pipe to this region, and who knew him well. Jerome often related to the pioneers the circumstances connected with the battle of Fallen Timbers, the utter amazement and terror of the Indians over the movements and victory of "Mad Anthony." According to his statement, Pipe was in the battle of 1794, although it was his opinion that Pipe was not present at the treaty. He often stated to pioneers, yet living in this county that after the treaty of Greenville Captain Pipe began to see that his diplomacy had brought distress upon his people, and though accepting the terms of peace, bitterly regretted that he had not refrained from identifying himself with the allied tribes and the British. In a vain endeavor to correct the errors of the past, he left the region of the Maumee, and quietly sought repose on the Mohican.

Captain Pipe resided on the Mohican in 1809-10-11 and 1812, and when the Finleys, Carters, Warners, Chandlers, Coulters, Olivers, Rices and Tannehills, most of who still survive, settled on the branches of the Mohican. He continued to reside in a wigwam, about a mile southwest of the present site of Jeromeville, until the spring of 1812, when he and most of his people quietly disappeared from that locality and never returned.

In the fall of 1811 a great feast took place at Greentown, an Indian village on the Black fork of the Mohican, about ten miles southwest of Jerometown. Captain Armstrong, chief of the Turtle tribe, and his people, resided in Greentown. There were present between three and four hundred Delawares and other Indians. Among the number of chiefs was Captain Pipe, of Jerometown. The whites present were the Rices, the Coulters, Tannehills, and the Rev. James Copus, and a few others. Some of these are yet living. They all describe him as "Old Captain Pipe." Armstrong, then sixty-five or seventy; Thomas Lyon, seventy-five or eighty, and other aged Indians, were present. In the opinion of nearly all the white persons present, the majority of whom have furnished statements, Captain Pipe is represented as being quite advanced in years, in fact, "Old Captain Pipe." Captain Pipe, when last seen at Jerometown and Greentown by the pioneers, appeared to be about seventy years of age, was tall, straight, dignified, and very imposing in appearance. He always dressed as an Indian. This corresponds with the description of Mr. Adams.*

This was the Pipe of Crawford, Richland, Ashland, Summit, Knox, and Muskingum counties, and was none other than "old Captain Pipe," the executioner of the unfortunate Colonel Crawford. The Pipe, of Pipestown, south of Upper Sandusky, was too young to be "old Captain Pipe" in 1812. He was about the age of Silas Armstrong, who resided at Greentown, with whom Wesley Copus, and other pioneers yet surviving, ran races and wrestled in their boyhood in sugar camps along the Black fork of Mohican. Armstrong, the father of Silas, was never seen in this region after the war of 1812; neither was young Pipe nor the old captain, his father. Young Pipe could not have been over twenty-two or twenty-three years of age at that period.

In 1814, after the close of the war, Captain Pipe, Killbuck, and White Eyes, and thirteen Delawares signed a treaty in the presence of William Walker, a Wyandot interpreter-General Harrison and Govenor Lewis Cass, being commissioners of the United States. This was probably young Captain Pipe, son of old Captain Pipe; and the Killbuck and White Eyes here mentioned were evidently the sons of the chiefs of that name, who were then deceased. It is supposed by an old author that the elder Captain Pipe survived until 1818, when he visited Washington City on business connected with the Mohican reservation. He is probably mistaken in the identity of the parties, for young Captain Pipe was then a half chief. Old Captain Pipe probably died some time between 1812-14, perhaps in Canada. There is a shade of mystery covering his later years. His son was half chief with Silas Armstong, son of old Captain Thomas Armstrong, who ruled the Turtle tribe at Greentown in Ashland County. The younger chief, or sub-chief, Captain Pipe, never married He removed with his tribe to Kansas, and died in 1839 or 1840, aged about fifty-five or sixty years.

It will be seen at once that in 1808-12 he was too young to be called "old Captain Pipe." He was too young to be called "old Captain Pipe" at Wakkatomica, at Mohican Johnstown, and at Greentown. "Old Captain Pipe" was generally accompanied on these occasions by his wife. The young captain had no wife. The distinction is marked. There can be scarcely a doubt, then, that after the disastrous battle at Fallen Timbers, Captain Pipe and a remnant of the Wolf tribe located at Mohican Johnstown, on the Jerome fork, with John Baptiste Jerome, wife and daughter, where he was residing when the pioneers of Mohican, Lake, Green, and Mifflin townships commenced to erect cabins and open up farms in 1808-9.

To confirm this opinion, we now offer an authority often quoted as reliable, and of undoubted weight in Indian tradition and history. We mean the late Governor William Walker, of Wyandotte, Kansas. In a letter on the subject of Pipe and the Delawares, addressed to the author some months prior to his death, he says:


WYANDOTTE CITY, November 10, 1873-

"Dear Sir:--Yours of the twenty-seventh ultimo I received yesterday. I regret, deeply, that owing to certain untoward circumstances, I have been prevented from attending to and complying with your request earlier. And now, being able to do some clerical work at short intervals, I cheerfully proceed to give you what little information I am in possession of, though I fear you will be disappointed on reading my meager details. To begin then: I am not an Ohio, but a Michigan Wyandot, came to Ohio after General Harrison's campaign into Canada. That winter, 1813 and 1814, I saw several of the Delawares and Mohicans at the Indian agency (my father then an officer of the Indian department) from what they called Greentown. Among these were a very aged man named Lyons and his son George Lyons, Billy Montour, Solomon Jonacake, Buckwheat, Monnis Dalledoxis, and Jim Jerk. At the head of these Indians as ruling chief, it seems, was a white or part white man named Armstrong. I never saw him, as he died that winter or the following spring. He was succeeded by Captain Pipe, jr., and Silas Armstrong, son of the deceased. Silas died of smallpox in Washington City, in the winter of 1817. The elder Armstrong left eight or nine children. Among these was James, Mrs. Margaret Hill, Silas, Joseph, Tobias, Robert, and two or three younger. These were all smart, stirring men, jovial, fond of fun and frolic. James, if living, resides in Canada. They are all dead except Tobias, who is somewhere down South. The following summer, 1814, I was west on the borders of Indiana, and on my return a part, if not all, of these people had settled on the Sandusky river, five miles south of Upper Sandusky. This settlement took the name of "Pipetown." At the treaty of Maumee, held in the summer of 1817, at the instance of the Wyandot chief, a party to the treaty, a reservation of a township, to include "Pipetown," was made to these people. When the colonization of Indians in the west, under General Jackson's administration, went into operation, they, with other Ohio tribes, ceded their domain and went west and rejoined their kindred from Indiana, under the leadership of Captain Pipe, their surviving chief. The elder Captain Pipe could not have died as early as 1794, for he certainly was at the treaty of Greenville, when the pacification took place in the following year: and Howe, in his pictorial history, says the Delaware Indians had a settlement at or near Jeromeville, which they left at the beginning of the war. Their chief was old Captain Pipe, who resided near the road running to Mansfield, one mile south of Jeromeville. When young he was a great warrior, and the implacable foe of the whites. He was in St. Clair's defeat, where, according to his own account, he distinguished himself, and "slaughtered white men until his arm was weary with the work" I can not learn where he died. I can gather no reliable information about him from the present generation of Wyandots. The late Captain Pipe was undoubtedly the son of the former, and the only son. He died in this country in 1839 or 1840, leaving no children. I do not think he ever married. He was a man of fine natural abilities, good natured and genial in disposition, and popular with his people. I do not know whether I have answered all of your questions or not. Most of my papers are in Kansas City, Missouri, where I reside. If I can add more, will cheerfully do so. I expect to return south the last week in this month to attend the great Okmulgee council, which will meet simultaneously with Congress, to organize the prospective Indian Territory, determine the question whether the Indians will organize their own government, or Congress. The former, I opine, will be the finale. I thank you warmly for the papers you were so kind to send me. They interest me a good deal.

Very respectfully, William Walker.


This would seem to be conclusive as to the existence of "old Captain Pipe" after the year 1794, as well as his residence on the branches of the Mohican, as late as 1812. There is not a scintilla of evidence that the younger Pipe fought against Harmar and St. Clair, as well as Wayne. The story of John Baptiste Jerome concerning the last battle, and the part Pipe and himself took in those campaigns, confirms his identity, and renders his presence on the branches of the Mohican as definitely certain as any human event, not recorded at the time of its occurrence, can be.

By Russ Shopbell

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