Benack's Village

Location: Potawatomi Wildlife Park, 16998 IN-331, Bourbon, IN 46504 (Marshall County)

Installed 2011 Indiana Historical Bureau and Potawatomi Wildlife Park

ID#: 50.2011.1

Text

Side One:

Osheakkebe, also known as Stephen Benack, was an ogimaa (leader) whose village was near here, 1834-1848. Born circa 1780 of Potawatomi and French-Canadian heritage, Benack resisted United States’ taking of lands long inhabited by Indians and sided with Great Britain in War of 1812. He and allied Indian leaders signed 1815 peace treaty at Spring Wells near Detroit.

Side Two:

Indian leaders traded tribal lands in Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, and Wisconsin to U.S., 1817-1832, for annuities, reserves, and land rights. By treaty, Benack secured 2000 acres of land including his village, which remained despite U.S. forced removal of Indians from Indiana in 1830s and 1840s. Benack died in 1855 and was buried at the University of Notre Dame.

Annotated Text

Osheakkebe, also known as Stephen Benack[1], was an ogimaa (leader)[2] whose village was near here, 1834-1848.[3] Born circa 1780 of Potawatomi and French-Canadian heritage,[4] Benack resisted United States’ taking of lands long inhabited by Indians and sided with Great Britain in War of 1812.[5] He and allied Indian leaders signed 1815 peace treaty at Spring Wells near Detroit.[6]

Indian leaders traded tribal lands in Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, and Wisconsin to U.S., 1817-1832, for annuities, reserves, and land rights.[7] By treaty, Benack secured 2000 acres of land including his village,[8] which remained despite U.S. forced removal of Indians from Indiana in 1830s and 1840s.[9] Benack died in 1855 and was buried at the University of Notre Dame.[10]

 

[1] The Indiana Historical Bureau chose to use the spelling “Stephen Benack” because it was used consistently throughout his later years on various documents such as census records, land deeds, tax records, and legal actions. Several examples are listed below.

Dominique Rousseau to Stephen Benack, July 6, 1838, Kosciusko County Deed Records, Book 1, p. 106, Indiana State Library, microfilm (B061439); U.S. Bureau of the Census (a), Sixth Census (1840), Schedule 1, Free Inhabitants, Marshall County, Indiana, roll 99, p. 3, www.ancestrylibrary.com (accessed June 27, 2007) (B061032); Revocation of Letter of Attorney, Stephen Benack to J.B. Chapman, April 21, 1849, Kosciusko County Deed Records, Indiana State Library, microfilm (B061445); and “Delinquent Tax List of Marshall County, for the Year 1854,” Plymouth Banner, November 29, 1855, Indiana State Library, microfilm (B061459).

“Stephen Benack” is also the spelling on his gravestone. Cedar Grove Record of Deceased Male Adults to 1939, Microfilm R-190: 7, p. 42, South Bend Public Library (B061485).

                The 1821 treaty between the United States and the Ottawa, Chippewa, and Potawatomi “Nations of Indians” concluded at Chicago uses Benack’s Potawatomi name paired with a version of his French name “Benac.” “To O-she-ak-ke-be or Benac, one-half section of land on the north side of the Elk-heart river, where the road from Chicago to Fort Wayne first crosses the said river.” Charles J. Kappler, ed., Indian Affairs: Laws and Treaties, Vol. 2, pp. 198-201 at http://digital.library.okstate.edu/kappler/Vol2/treaties/ott0198.htm (accessed October 10, 2007) (B061036).

Additional U.S. documents and reports list names spelled similarly to Osheakkebe. These spellings are phonetic interpretations by the people writing his name, probably reflecting the linguistic bias of each scribe—French, English, or American. There is no consensus among modern scholars about the proper spelling.

                The Indiana Historical Bureau thanks Indiana University ethnolinguist Michael McCafferty for his research and advice on the Potawatomi language and Osheakkebe. Email, Julie Byrd to Dani Pfaff, October 15, 2007, containing emails dated October 13 and 14, 2007 to Julie Byrd from Michael McCafferty (B061503).

While the following spellings of “Osheakkebe” vary somewhat, it is likely that each refers to Stephen Benack.

                Two separate transcriptions of the 1815 Treaty with the Wyandots, spell Benack's Potawatomi name differently. “Oshe’aw’kee’bee,” Treaty with the Wyandots, et al., September 8, 1815, The Papers of William Henry Harrison, 1800-1815 (Indiana Historical Society, 1994-1999), Reel 10, 662-71, Indiana State Library, microform (B061501). “Oshawkeebee,” Treaty with the Wyandots, etc., September 8, 1815, at Spring Wells (Michigan). Kappler, 2:117-19 (accessed October 10, 2007) (B061036). Thus, some of the variations in the spellings of Benack’s Potawatomi name may be due to different transcribers of the original documents for published works. Locating and transcribing copies of the original manuscript versions of the cited treaties is beyond the scope of this project at this time.

                Two additional treaties have similar spellings of “Osheakkebe.”

                “Ocheackabee,” Treaty with the Wyandot, Seneca, Delaware, Shawanese, Potawatomees, Ottawas, and Chippeway, September 29, 1817 at the Rapids of the Miami of Lake Erie (Ohio). Kappler, 2:145-55 (accessed October 10, 2007) (B061036).

                “Osheochebe,” Treaty with the Potawatomi, October 2, 1818 at St. Mary’s (Ohio). Kappler, 2:168-69 (accessed October 9, 2007) (B061036).

 

[2] James A. Clifton, The Prairie People: Continuity and Change in Potawatomi Indian Culture 1665-1965 (Lawrence, KS, 1977), 57 (B060993) and W. Benjamin Secunda, “In the Shadow of the Eagles Wings: The Effects of Removal on the Unremoved Potawatomi,” Vol. 1 (Doctoral Dissertation, University of Notre Dame, 2008), 41-42 (B061551).

 

[3] Initial research to locate Benack’s land reserves began at the Indiana State Archives’ online Database of Indian Lands on the LaPorte-Winamac Land Office at http://www.in.gov/icpr/3177.htm (accessed November 1, 2007) (B061035).

                From the October 27, 1832 treaty, Benack received three sections of land in Marshall County in the area where the Potawatomi Wildlife Park is located today. They are described as Sections 6, 7, and 8 located at Township 32 North, Range 4 East. All eight sections of land granted to Benack by the 1832 treaty are confirmed by a document apparently recorded in Marshall County Deed Record Book 74, page 580. The document is a copy of a patent “to Ben Ack” for the eight sections, signed by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1905. A copy of this document, available at the Marshall County Historical Society, was photographed by Indiana Historical Bureau staff (B061484). Research in county deed record books available on microfilm at the Indiana State Library provided additional information about transactions involving these lands.

                Various travel accounts, government documents, and archaeological surveys indicate that Benack’s residence and village were located on or near the boundary between sections seven and eighteen in township thirty-two north range four east.

In 1834, U.S. surveyors noted on their map an Indian Village on the north side of a bend in the Tippecanoe River on the boundary between sections seven and eighteen in township thirty-two north range four east. The area is marked with small triangles and labeled “Ind. Vil.” IHB did not find records of Benack’s ownership of section eighteen. United States Surveyor General’s Plats and Field Notes, 1834, photocopy, Marshall County Historical Society, Plymouth (B061067).

                On an 1834 journey along the Tippecanoe River from the Potawatomi Mills (near Rochester) to Turkey Creek prairie, Sandford Cox was informed that the only “house” between the mill and Turkey Creek was “that of Bennack, a half breed, and one of the head men among the Pottowattomies, at the crossing of Tippecanoe River.”  Cox noted “Bennack’s Ford on Tippecanoe River” located “about one half mile below Bennack’s village.” Sanford Cox, Recollections of the Early Settlement of the Wabash Valley (Lafayette, 1860), [135]-139 (B061510).

                In October 1839, William Polke traveling up the Tippecanoe River, stopped at “Benacks village.” On this trip, to notify the Potawatomi Indians about another removal attempt to lands west of the Mississippi River, Polke found the Indians unwilling to move because of the lateness of the season. Dwight Smith, ed., “The Attempted Potawatomi Emigration of 1839,” Indiana Magazine of History (March 1949), 61-62, 72. (B060998).

                In 1840, Stephen Benack is listed in Marshall County, Indiana Census. U.S. Bureau of the Census (a), Sixth Census (1840), Schedule 1, Free Inhabitants, Marshall County, Indiana, roll 99, p. 3, www.ancestrylibrary.com (accessed June 27, 2007) (B061032).

                Benack appears to have moved off of his Marshall County land by July 1848. Benack was described as living in Kosciusko County where he owned 320 acres of land, with 80 acres cultivated at that time. The report also listed a small number of Indians under his care at this location. Report, Joseph Sinclear to William Medill, U.S. Commissioner of Indian Affairs, July 21, 1848, pp. 2-3, Consolidated Docket No. 317, special file 112, record group 75, National Archives, at www.gbl.indiana.edu/archives/dockett_317/317_68a.html#7 (accessed June 27, 2007) (B061039).

                In 1849, Benack sold a large portion of his Marshall County lands to his daughter, Mary Ann [Benack,] Peashy [Peashway]. This included all of Section 7 (where the village was located). Deed, Stephen Benack to Mary Ann Peashy, September 4, 1849, Marshall County Deed Records, Vol. D-G, 1845-1851, Indiana State Library, microfilm (B061050).

Land sold to his daughter also included the west ½ Section 8, Township 32N, R4E. Deed, Stephen Benack to Mary Ann Peashy, October 15, 1849, Marshall County Deed Records, Vol. D-G, 1845-1851, Indiana State Library, microfilm (B061052).

                In 1850, Stephen Benack, his wife, and a 10 year old male were listed in the Census in Kosciusko County, Indiana. U.S. Bureau of the Census (b), Seventh Census (1850), Schedule 1, Free Inhabitants, Plain, Kosciusko County, Indiana, roll M432_156, p. 349, www.ancestrylibrary.com (accessed June 27, 2007) (B061033).

                                                Charles H. Faulkner, An Archaeological Survey of Marshall County (Indianapolis, 1961), 64-66 (B061042). Faulkner conducted the original archaeological survey of Marshall County and claimed that he “easily found” the “historic Ben-ak village.”  The site, MR-231, is located in section seven, township thirty-two north, range four east on the Tippecanoe River.

                Archaeologist Dr. Mark Schurr conducted excavations for the Notre Dame Archaeological Field School at the Benack Village site in 1996, 1997, 1998, and 1999 and confirmed the location of the village.  The site has been highly disturbed by farming, but the 1999 field school was able to locate the general vicinity of the 19th century Benack cabin.  “The Ben-ack Village site, (12MR231)… is now located in the Potawatomi Wildlife Park.”

Mark R. Schurr, The 1996 Archaeological Investigations at the Ben-ack Village Site (12MR231): an Historic Metis Village Site in Marshall County, Indiana” part 1 (South Bend, 1997), 1, 3, [14-17] (B061043); Mark R. Schurr, The 1997 Archaeological Investigations at the Ben-ack Village Site (12MR231):  an Historic Metis Village Site in Marshall County, Indiana” part 1 (South Bend, 1998) (B061044); Mark R. Schurr, “Results of the 1999 Notre Dame Field School: The Bennac Village, 1999,” www.nd.edu/~mschurr/ArchaeologyField School_files/ProfPageFrameset.htm (accessed November 1, 2006) (B061045).

 

[4] Benack’s exact date of birth has not been located; however, two sources provide clues to the year of his birth. A St. Joseph County cemetery record lists Benack’s death Nov. 19, 1855 at age seventy-five; his birth date would have been 1780. Cedar Grove Record of Deceased Male Adults to 1939, Microfilm R-190: 7, p. 42, South Bend Public Library (B061485).

                However, Benack was recorded in the 1850 U.S. Census as being 68 years old making his birth date 1782. U.S. Bureau of the Census (b), Seventh Census (1850), Schedule 1, Free Inhabitants, Plain, Kosciusko County, Indiana, roll M432_156, p. 349, www.ancestrylibrary.com (accessed June 27, 2007) (B061033).

                A French baptismal record from August 9, 1803 states: “Estiene [?] Benac born at St. joseph of joseph Benac and of a Sauvagess poutataimis.” Baptismal Records, April 9, 1803, St. Mary [formerly St. Antoine], Monroe, Michigan, Burton Historical Collections, Detroit Public Library, microfilm (B061289).  The Indiana Historical Bureau thanks independent scholar Suzanne Sommerville for her initiative in locating, translating, and analyzing several of the documents which clarified the ancestry and early life of the man who became known as Stephen Benack.

                In the genealogy cited below, Benack’s mother was listed as: “an Indian near Maumee Bay.” Benack’s father, Joseph Stephen Porlier dit Benalque was born in Montreal and became a trader. The name has been spelled Porlierbenac, Porlier Benac, Benalque, Benac, or just Porlier. “St Joseph Maumee Bay” was listed as Benack’s birthplace. Harold Frederic Powell, Robert L. Pilon, and Stephen F. Keller, eds., Genealogy of the French Families of the Detroit River Region, rev. ed. (Detroit, 1987), 1: 90-91 (B061273). 

Benack’s birthplace may refer to a location on or near where the St. Joseph River joins with the Saint Mary’s River at Fort Wayne to form the Maumee River that empties into Lake Erie. However, a location along the St. Joseph River [of Lake Michigan] located near what is now South Bend is also a possibility.

                The 1850 U.S. Census listed Benack’s birthplace as Indiana (B061033).

                Baptismal Records, April 9, 1803, St. Mary [formerly St. Antoine], Monroe, Michigan, Burton Historical Collections, Detroit Public Library, microfilm (B061289). 

 

[5] There are two accounts that describe instances of Benack’s involvement in the War of 1812. George Winter, an artist who sketched Benack in 1837, wrote that “Ben-ache” was at the Massacre at Chicago [Ft. Dearborn, August 1812]. Sarah E. Cooke and Rachel B. Ramadhyani, Indians and a Changing Frontier, The Art of George Winter (Indianapolis, 1993), 52 (B060994); George Winter Collection, Purdue University Libraries and Tippecanoe Historical Association, http://earchives.lib.purdue.edu/cdm4/browse.php?CISOROOT=/gwinter (accessed August 8, 2007) (B061271).

Another source, “G.H.” described an attack near the garrison at Ft. Wayne, circa 1813, in which “Benack, a Pottawattomi chief, and ten other Indians” surrounded a small party, killed a young Miami boy, and kidnapped an Army Sergeant. Michigan Pioneer and Historical Society, Historical collections, collections and researches, 28 vols. (Lansing, 1989), 12:450-55, Indiana State Library, microform (B061410).

“G. H.” is likely George Hunt who was appointed issuing commissary at Ft. Wayne in January 1813. Paul Woehrmann, At the Headwaters of the Maumee, Indiana Historical Society Publications, Vol. 24 (Indianapolis, 1974), 254 (B061526).

 

[6] On September 8, 1815, at Spring Wells near Detroit, “Chippewa, Ottawa, and Potawatimie, tribes of Indians . . . associated with Great Britain in the late war . . . manifested a disposition to be restored to the relations of peace and amity with the said States.” In this treaty, the U.S gave “peace to the Chippewa, Ottawa, and Potawatimie, tribes.” Among the Potawatomi “sachems, head men and warriors” is listed “Oshe’aw’kee’bee,” a version of Benack's Potawatomi name, “Osheakkebe” associated with “Benac” in the 1821 treaty mentioned earlier (see note 2). Treaty with the Wyandots, et al., The Papers of William Henry Harrison, 1800-1815 (Indiana Historical Society, 1994-1999), Reel 10, 662-71, Indiana State Library, microform (B061501).  

 

[7] The Potawatomi names listed with the treaties below are in quotation marks to indicate that IHB has copied each name as it was transcribed within that specific treaty. It should also be noted that the 1821 and 1828 treaties specified the exact locations for Benack’s reserves whereas the 1832 treaty specified only the amount of land to be reserved. U.S. surveyors had not yet surveyed these Potawatomi lands.

                1817 “Ocheackabee” is listed among the signers of the Treaty with the Wyandot, Seneca, Delaware, Shawanese, Potawatomees, Ottawas, and Chippeway, September 29, 1817 at the Rapids of the Miami of Lake Erie (Ohio). The U.S. agreed to pay the Potawatomi tribe $1300 annually in specie for 15 years. Kappler, 2:145-55 (accessed October 10, 2007) (B061036).

This treaty ceded land in what is now south central Michigan and in northwestern Ohio. R. David Edmunds, The Potawatomis, Keepers of the Fire (Norman, Okla., 1978), 245 (B060996).

                1818 “Osheochebe” signed the Treaty with the Potawatomi, October 2, 1818 at St. Mary’s (Ohio). The U.S. agreed to pay the Potawatomi “a perpetual annuity of two thousand five hundred dollars in silver….”  Additionally, those whose names were listed in an “annexed schedule,” were granted land. Kappler, 2:168-69 (accessed October 9, 2007) (B061036). 

                The land included in this treaty is a small part of east-central present day Illinois and west-central Indiana. Edmunds, The Potawatomis, Keepers of the Fire, 245 (B060996).

                1821 “O-she-ak-ke-be” is listed on the Treaty with the Ottawa, etc., August 29, 1821. Benack received one half section of land on the north side of the “Elk-heart River.” Indenture, Stephen Bennack to Alexis Coquillard and Frances Comparet, July 14, 1831, recorded May 23, 1851 in Whitley County Deed Record, Book E, p. 3, Indiana State Library, microfilm (B061412). The U.S. agreed to pay the Potawatomi tribe $5000 annually for 20 years and $1,000 for fifteen years in the support of a blacksmith and teacher. Kappler, pp. 2:198-201, (accessed October 10, 2007) (B061036).

The land included in this treaty is located along the northern border of present day Indiana and in southwest and south-central Michigan. Edmunds, The Potawatomis, Keepers of the Fire, 245 (B060996).

                1828 Neither “Benac” nor “O-she-ak-ke-be” appear on the list of signers of the Treaty with the Potawatomi, September 20, 1828 at St. Joseph. Kappler, pp. 2:198-201, 210-11 (accessed October 10, 2007) (B061036). However, the 1828 treaty granted Benack one section of land located as Section 4, Township 32 North of Range 10 East. Elkhart County Deed Record, Book 2, 188-90 (B061413); Indenture, Elkhart County Deed Record, Book 5, 195 (B061414). The U.S. agreed to pay the Potawatomi tribe a permanent annuity of $2000 plus $1000 per year for twenty years, goods valued at thirty thousand dollars, an additional ten thousand dollars in goods, and five thousand dollars in specie.

                The land included in this treaty is located in present-day northeast Indiana and southwest Michigan. Edmunds, The Potawatomis, Keepers of the Fire, 245 (B060996).

                1832 “Banack,” appears among the signers of the Treaty with the Potawatomi, October 26, 1832 on the Tippecanoe River. The U.S. agreed to pay the Potawatomi tribe $20,000 annually for 20 years; $130,000 in goods; U.S. paid Potawatomi debts totaling over $60,000. Kappler, 2:367-70 (accessed October 11, 2007) (B061036). “Ben-ack,” apparently did not sign the Treaty with the Potawatomi, October 27, 1832 on the Tippecanoe River. Kappler, 2:372-75 (accessed October 11, 2007) (B061036). However, “Ben-ack” received “eight sections” of land from this treaty (see note 11). The U.S. agreed to pay the Potawatomi $15,000 annually for 12 years, $42,000 in goods, and to pay Potawatomi debts totaling $20,721.

                These two 1832 treaties ceded the last Potawatomi tribal lands in Indiana to the U.S. The land is located in present-day northwest and north-central Indiana. Edmunds, The Potawatomis, Keepers of the Fire, 245 (B060996).

 

NOTE: U.S. treaty commissioners also concluded a Treaty with the Potawatomi made near the mouth of the Mississinewa River, October 16, 1826. The Potawatomi ceded land in Indiana along the Wabash River and near Lake Michigan. They also ceded a strip of land 100’ wide for a road beginning at Lake Michigan and running to the Wabash River (the Michigan Road) and including one section of land contiguous to the road for each mile of the road. Kappler, 1:273-77 (accessed October 10, 2007) (B061036).

                Benack apparently did not sign the treaty, nor did he receive grants of land. However, U.S. Indian agent, John Tipton recorded “Ben,nack” receiving rations for 12 individuals on a list of “Pottawattamies Bands” in attendance at this treaty. Nellie Robertson and Dorothy Riker, The John Tipton Papers, 3 vols. (Indianapolis, 1942), 1:7, 24-25, 614-18 (B061041).

 

[8] See footnote 3.

 

[9] Settlers voiced their demands for removal of the Miami and Potawatomi tribes as evinced by the petitions and memorials from the Indiana General Assembly to Congress for the extinguishment of Indian titles throughout the 1820s and early 1830s. John D. Barnhart and Donald F. Carmony, Indiana from Frontier to Industrial Commonwealth, 2 vols. (Indianapolis, 1979, reprint), 1:210-12 (B061530).

                Historians have traced the roots of U.S. Indian removal policy to Thomas Jefferson’s presidency. In February 1803, President Thomas Jefferson wrote to Indiana Territorial Governor William Henry Harrison expanding on his Indian policy. Jefferson wrote, “[The] system is to live in perpetual peace with the Indians, to cultivate an affectionate attachment from them, by every thing just & liberal which we can [offer?] them. . . . We wish to draw them to agriculture, to spinning and weaving. . . . When they withdraw themselves to the culture of a small piece of land, they will perceive how useless to them are their extensive forests, and will be willing to pare them off from time to time in exchange for necessaries for their farms & families. To promote this disposition to exchange lands, which they have to spare and we want, we shall push our trading houses, and be glad to see the good and influential individuals among them run in debt, because we observe that when these debts get beyond what the individuals can pay, they become willing to lob them off by a cession of lands.” Logan Esarey, Messages and Papers of William Henry Harrison, 2 vols. (Indianapolis, 1922), 1:69-73 (B061395).

The following authors describe the changing U.S. policy toward Native Americans that eventually led the federal government to remove Native Americans to land west of the Mississippi River. Colin G. Calloway, First Peoples: A Documentary Survey of American Indian History (Boston, 2004), 209-11 (B061549); Gregory Evans Dowd, A Spirited Resistance: The North American Indian Struggle for Unity, 1745-1815 (Baltimore, 1992), 116-19 (B061547); Robert M. Owens, Mr. Jefferson’s Hammer: William Henry Harrison and the Origins of American Indian Policy (Norman, Okla., 2007), 76 (B061550); and Daniel K. Richter, Facing East from Indian Country: A Native History of Early America (Cambridge, Mass., 2001), 226-27 (B061548).

                According to Reginald Horsman, after 1812, removal of Indians from white settlements rather than assimilation of Indians with white settlements became the policy of the U.S. government. Reginald Horsman, Expansion and American Indian Policy, 1783-1812 (Michigan State University Press, 1967), 170 (B061514).

                In his 1830 message to Congress, President Andrew Jackson stated: “. . . the benevolent policy of the Government, steadily pursued for nearly thirty years in relation to the removal of the Indians beyond the white settlements, is approaching to a happy consummation.” President Andrew Jackson’s Message to Congress “On Indian Removal” (1830) at www.ourdocuments.gov (accessed June 29, 2007) (B061062).

                On May 28, 1830, Congress approved “An Act to provide for an exchange of lands with the Indians residing in any of the states or territories, and for their removal west of the river Mississippi,” at http://memory.loc.gov/ll/llsl/004/0400/04590411.tif (accessed February 21, 2008) (B061063).

 

Edmunds, The Potawatomis, Keepers of the Fire, 240-72 (B060996). The first removal, attempted in 1833, was overshadowed by a treaty council at Chicago in September of that year—over six thousand Indians attended the negotiations. The U.S. attempted removals of Potawatomi from Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, and Wisconsin with varying success in 1834, 1835, 1836, 1837, 1838, 1839, and 1840. The largest single removal of Potawatomi from Indiana occurred in 1838.

From the October 26, 1832 treaty, Menominee and three other headmen received and shared a reservation of 22 sections of land near present-day Plymouth, Indiana. Menominee and other headmen traveled to Washington D.C. in 1835, and federal officials promised that Menominee could remain on his land as long as he owned it. In spring 1836, Menominee again refused to sell; but in August, the U.S. agent Abel C. Pepper persuaded the other three headmen to sell. Menominee and his followers protested the illegal sale of the reservation without Menominee’s agreement. The other three headmen and their followers agreed to remove to the West in August 1838. Though Menominee refused to join the removal, white settlers moved on to the reservation hoping to secure the best farmland. Violence broke out; Indiana Governor David Wallace authorized John Tipton to lead local militia to remove the Potawatomi by force; Menominee and other headmen were imprisoned; and the U.S. illegally seized their lands. In the midst of an 1838 typhoid epidemic, the militia rounded up 850 Potawatomi and forced them to march to the Osage River Indian Agency in Kansas. Over 40 Potawatomi died enroute; seventy years later, this march was referred to as the “Trail of Death.” Edmunds, The Potawatomis, Keepers of the Fire, 264-68, 271 (B060996); The Tipton Papers, 3:674-82, 713-21 (B061041); Barnhart and Carmony, 1:212-14 (B061530).

                Irving McKee, “The Centennial of ‘The Trail of Death,’” Indiana Magazine of History, vol. 35, no. 1 (March 1939), p. [27] (B061508) stated that the September 4, 1838 removal of Potawatomi was named “The Trail of Death” by Jacob P. Dunn. McKee cited Jacob Piatt Dunn, True Indian Stories (Indianapolis, 1909), 234-52 (B061509).

                While most of the Native American population in Indiana had been removed by 1850, there were individuals, families, and scattered remnants of village populations still living in Indiana. See footnote 12 below.

                While the exact numbers of Native Americans remaining in Indiana in 1850 cannot be determined from U.S. Census records, geographer Gregory Rose has summarized his findings. Gregory S. Rose, “The Distribution of Indiana’s Ethnic and Racial Minorities in 1850,” Indiana Magazine of History, vol. 87, no. 3 (September, 1991), pp. 257-59.

                More research in local county records could provide more accurate numbers of Natives who remained and/or returned. That research is beyond the scope of this project.

 

[10] According to the earliest cemetery records located (1939), “Stephen Benack” died on November 19, 1855.  Cedar Grove Record of Deceased Male Adults to 1939, Microfilm R-190: 7, p. 42, South Bend Public Library (B061485).

A 1966 transcription of St. Joseph County cemetery records listed “Stephen Beuock” under Cedar Grove Cemetery, Notre Dame, Indiana. It also indicated that he died Nov. 19, 1855 at age seventy-five. St. Joseph County Ind. Cemeteries, 3 Vols. (Indianapolis, 1966), Vol. 2, p. 4 (B061201).

As additional corroboration of the 1855 death date, staff has located a record showing Stephen Benack as the purchaser of property in Leesburg, Kosciusko County in an agreement entered into August 24, 1855; recorded August 28, 1855. Indenture, John and Ann Raling to Stephen Benack, August 24, 1855, Kosciusko County Deed Records, Book 15, p. 285, Indiana State Library, microfilm (B061441).

Later cemetery records (1970 and 1988) listed Benack’s death year as 1853. Leon Glon, Cemetery Sexton at Cedar Grove Cemetery to IHB, July 31, 2007, 10:45 a.m. (B061222); University of Notre Dame Catholic Church Cemetery Records, Cedar Grove Cemetery Lot Info. 1850-1988, Section B, Microfilm #41, 3, South Bend Public Library (B061486). IHB staff believes that the deterioration of Benack’s headstone by the 1970s is the cause for the different year of death.

Keywords

American Indian, Early Settlement and Exploration