Indians Murdered 1824

Location: Just north of the N. Pendleton Ave. bridge over Fall Creek, Pendleton (Madison County), Indiana 46064

Installed 2016 Indiana Historical Bureau and Historic Fall Creek, Pendleton Settlement

ID#: 48.2017.1

Text

Side One

U.S. took American Indian lands in central Indiana by treaty in 1818. Some Indian villages and camps remained in the area as white settlers rushed to buy land. In the spring of 1824, white men murdered nine Indian men, women and children living at their winter camp on a stream about eight miles east of here. White residents soon arrested all but one of the culprits.

Side Two

To allay fears of settlers and Indians, U.S. Indian Agent John Johnston used federal funds to provide supplies to families of Indian victims and to build a log jail near here to secure the accused. Following jury trials, three perpetrators were hanged in 1825; Governor James Ray pardoned one young man. In this rare case, Indians obtained some justice from U.S. law.

Annotated Text

Side One

U.S. took American Indian lands in central Indiana by treaty in 1818.[1] Some Indian villages and camps remained in the area as white settlers rushed to buy land.[2] In the spring of 1824, white men murdered nine Indian men, women and children living at their winter camp on a stream about eight miles east of here.[3] White residents soon arrested all but one of the culprits.[4]            

Side Two:

To allay fears of settlers and Indians, U.S. Indian Agent John Johnston used federal funds to provide supplies to families of Indian victims and to build a log jail near here to secure the accused.[5] Following jury trials, three perpetrators were hanged in 1825;[6] Governor James Ray pardoned one young man.[7] In this rare case, Indians obtained some justice from U.S. law.[8]                   

 

Indiana Historical Bureau staff relied upon three types of primary sources to construct the narrative of the murders for this marker project: Indiana newspapers from 1824, U.S. Indian Agency correspondence in 1824, and the published (1825) Confession of convicted murderer James Hudson. It is important to state here that these sources do not always agree on some details. IHB staff has used the best sources from the time of the murders to corroborate the text on the marker focusing on the victims, the murders and the murderers. For a more detailed evaluation of sources and interpretations or motives for these crimes, see Murphy, Murder In Their Hearts, cited in footnote one.

Newspapers cited are accessible at Hoosier State Chronicles unless otherwise noted.

[1] “Address of Judge Wick, before pronouncing sentence upon one of the Indian Murderers,” (Richmond, IN) Public Leger, October 30, 1824, 3; R. David Edmunds, The Potawatomis, Keepers of the Fire (Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 1987), 217-20; C. A. Weslager, The Delaware Indians, A History (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1989), 351-55; Stewart Rafert, The Miami Indians of Indiana, A Persistent People 1654-1994 (Indianapolis, IN: Indiana Historical Society, 1996), 80-91; David Thomas Murphy, Murder in their Hearts, The Fall Creek Massacre (Indianapolis, IN: Indiana Historical Society Press, 2010), 18; Karim M. Tiro, “The View from Piqua Agency: The War of 1812, the White River Delawares, and the Origins of Indian Removal,” Journal of the Early Republic 35 (Spring 2015): 25-54.

The U.S. defeat of the British and their American Indian allies in the War of 1812 also signaled the end of Indian control over most of their remaining lands in the Old Northwest Territory, especially Indiana, Ohio, Illinois and Michigan. In October 1818 at St. Mary’s, Ohio, leaders of the Miami, Potawatomi, Delaware, and Wea tribes signed a series of treaties. By these treaties, the U.S. government took most Indian lands in Indiana south of the Wabash River; and the Delaware Indians living along the White River in the area that became Madison and Delaware counties agreed to move west of the Mississippi River by 1821. The treaty cessions included most of the central third of Indiana and the location for the new state capital, Indianapolis.

In 1824, Indiana’s white residents held a wide range of attitudes and opinions about the continued presence of American Indians in the state. The following paragraph offers the perspective of the Fifth Circuit Court President Judge, William Wick at his October 1824 sentencing of James Hudson, one of the convicted Indian murderers:

Our forefathers came across the broad Atlantic . . . and . . . obtained a resting place among the Indians and since that time by a series of aggressions, have taken from them their homes and firesides; have pressed them westwardly until they are nearly extinct. . . . Our government has indeed always of late years treated with them as with independent people, and have purchased their soil for valuable considerations, but those treaties and purchases have generally been made, either after some great victory while the Indians were humbled by recent defeat, or when our population was pressing upon them, and they were, as it were, beat back by the ‘tide of emigration.’

Alternatively, in the November 22, 1824 Indianapolis Gazette, a pertinent column published a not-uncommonly held racist attitude, “It is the opinion of some people, that to murder an Indian is an act of magnamity, and to make it criminal, an outrage upon justice.” Hoosiers holding these widely varying attitudes were both participants and spectators at the falls on Fall Creek in the trials and executions of the white murderers of the nine American Indians. Unfortunately, few American Indian opinions from the 1820s about white settlements and white violence against Indians were recorded or are easily accessible to the general public.

For more information about American Indian-settler interactions in Indiana and the Old Northwest read the histories of the Indian tribes cited above.

[2] Edmunds, Potawatomis, 217-222; Weslager, 351-352; David J. Bodenhamer and Robert G. Barrows, eds., Encyclopedia of Indianapolis (Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1994), 1479, accessed at https://indiamond6.ulib.iupui.edu/cdm/search/collection/EOI; Andrew R. L. Cayton, Frontier Indiana (Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1996), 266-267; Rafert, 80-81; David Edmunds, “Justice on a Changing Frontier,” Indiana Magazine of History 93 (March 1997): 48-52, accessed at Scholarworks.iu.edu; Ginette Aley, “Bringing About the Dawn,” in Daniel P. Barr, ed., The Boundaries Between Us, Natives and Newcomers along the Frontiers of the Old Northwest Territory, 1750-1850 (Kent, OH: The Kent State University Press, 2006), 203-05; Murphy, 18-19; Tiro, 26.

Though the Delawares had moved out of central Indiana by 1821, some Indian families and tribes remained nearby. The Treaty of St. Mary’s granted land ownership in central Indiana to prominent Miami individuals like Jean Baptiste Richardville and Francis Godfroy and their extended families; and the Great Miami Reserve extended into northwest Madison County. The unbroken forests and vast numbers of fur bearing animals in the area continued to provide resources for Native American hunters and trappers and their families.The end of the War of 1812 and the signing of the 1818 Treaty also signaled a resurgence of the migration of American settlers into Indiana. Even before the U.S. had finished surveying the public lands to be sold, white men and their families found land to “squat” upon, making improvements with the hope of ownership to come. Indians and settlers interacted in the region and traded forest resources and manufactured goods, for the most part, peacefully.

In 1821, surveyors platted the town lots in the new capital at Indianapolis; in 1823, the Indiana General Assembly enacted legislation to establish Madison County. Approximately 600 white people lived in the county including a small settlement near the falls on Fall Creek. The Indiana population in 1810 was 24,520 and by 1820 (just four years after statehood) the population had grown to 147,178. In the 1820s, Indiana land offices sold 1,963,947 acres of land from the U.S. government.

[3] “From the Indianapolis Gazette,” The Western Register and Terre Haute Advertiser, April 7, 1824; (Richmond, IN) Public Leger, April 17, 1824, 3; Letter, John Johnston to John C. Calhoun, April 28, 1824, Piqua Agency, Letters Received, National Archives and Records Administration, transcription from applicant; Letter, John Johnston to James Noble, December 21, 1824, Piqua, National Archives and Records Administration, transcription from applicant; Samuel Woodworth, The Life and Confession of James Hudson, who was executed on Wednesday the 12th January, 1825, at the Falls of Fall Creek for the Murder of Logan, an Indian Chief of the Wyandott Nation (Indianapolis, IN: 1825), 4-16, Indiana State Library, photocopy; T. B. Helm, History of Madison County, Indiana (Chicago, IL: Kingman Brothers, 1880), 41; John L. Forkner and Byron H. Dyson, Historical Sketches and Reminiscences of Madison County (Anderson, IN: 1897), 766-67; J. J. Netterville, Centennial History of Madison County, Indiana, vol. 1 (Anderson, IN: 1925): 70; John Johnston, “Recollections of Sixty Years,” in Leonard U. Hill, John Johnston and the Indians in the Land of the Three Miamis (Piqua, OH: 1957), 162-164; Brian M. Doerr, “The Massacre at Deer Lick Creek, Madison County, Indiana, 1824,” Indiana Magazine of History 93 (March 1997), 18-47, accessed at Scholarworks.iu.edu; Murphy, 7.

On March 22, 1824, a small group of white settlers living near Fall Creek in Madison County set out to look for missing horses and before the day was done, members of the group had brutally murdered two Indian men, Logan and Ludlow, three Indian women, and four children who were encamped for the winter on a stream about eight miles east of present-day Pendleton (see NOTES below). John Johnston, U.S. Indian Agent for central Indiana, writing to U.S. Secretary of War, John C. Calhoun on April 28, 1824, declared, “The affair for cold blooded cruelty baffles all description, and in point of atrocity surpasses anything that has ever disgraced the settlement of this Country.”

James Hudson was the first alleged murderer to be tried, convicted, and sentenced to death. His Confession, published by Samuel Woodworth and cited above, provides information about activities leading up to and including the murders. Hudson lists Thomas Harper, Andrew Jones, Andrew Sawyer and his son Stephen, James and John Bridge (sons of John T. Bridge), and himself as the individuals complicit in the murders of Logan and Ludlow. Hudson provides the following information:

After breakfast on March 22, this group of white men set out to look for Andrew Sawyer’s horses and found tracks leading toward the winter camp of Seneca Indians (see NOTES below) named Logan and Ludlow. The white men entered the Indian camp and found two Indian men, Logan and Ludlow, present with the women and children. Apparently, a third Indian man, M’Doal, was away from camp checking his animal traps. Thomas Harper asked Logan and Ludlow to help look for Sawyer’s horses, offering fifty cents to each man as an incentive. Soon after starting out again, the party divided and went separate ways: Ludlow went with Harper, Andrew and Stephen Sawyer, and James Bridge; and Logan went with James Hudson, Andrew Jones, and John Bridge Jr.

After a short distance, Hudson, Jones, and Bridge Jr. murdered Logan, dragged his body into a hole, and covered it with leaves and dirt. Hudson and his group returned to Andrew Sawyer’s house “worried that the others hadn’t killed Ludlow.” When Sawyer returned, the men had dinner and again met with the rest of their party. According to Hudson, James Bridge was replaced by his father John T. Bridge. This group set out again for Logan’s camp.

As the party neared the camp, John Bridge Jr. asked to return home but his father called him a coward and said that God had commanded them to kill their enemies. James Hudson stopped outside of the camp and said that he would not kill children. Soon Hudson heard gunfire and screams. He headed toward the Indian camp and met the other members of the party carrying the goods and property of the Indians. All returned home.

NOTE: To date, IHB staff has not located any primary sources that substantiate the exact location of Logan and Ludlow’s camp. The Western Register and Terre Haute Advertiser, April 7, 1824, placed the Indian camp “on Fall creek, in Madison county, abought [sic] eight miles above the Falls.” John Johnston, U.S. Indian Agent, wrote to Indiana Senator James Noble, December 21, 1824 and referred to the murders as “so barbarous an outrage…as the one on Fall Creek.” Madison County histories written in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries locate the Indian murders either on Fall Creek or on Lick Creek, both running through Adams Township, Madison County. See also Maps of Indiana Counties in 1876 (Indiana Historical Society, 1968). Recent secondary works about the murders by Doerr and Murphy (cited above) put the Indian camp on “Deer Lick Creek” but do not provide sources for that information.Sources also disagree upon the tribal affiliation of the murdered Indians. In his Recollections, cited above, U.S. Indian Agent John Johnston describes the murdered Indian party as including, “one of the subordinate chiefs of the Seneca Indians, with eight of his people.” As the agent in charge of U.S. Indian relations in central Indiana and northwest Ohio, Johnston was the most knowledgeable source about Indian affiliations in his agency.

[4] “From the Indianapolis Gazette,” The Western Register and Terre Haute Advertiser, April 7, 1824; (Richmond, IN) Public Leger, April 17, 1824, 3; (Vincennes) Western Sun and General Advertiser, May 1, 1824; Woodworth, 16-17; Murphy, 68, 88.

Almost immediately, Madison County residents were suspicious of Harper, the Bridges, Jones, and the Sawyers. As the county militia moved to capture the suspects, Thomas Harper escaped. The rest of the perpetrators were captured; Andrew Jones and Stephen Sawyer became witnesses for the state. The alleged murderers were arrested and placed under guard in an empty one-room cabin at the settlement near the falls on Fall Creek under the charge of the Madison County Sheriff Samuel Cory.

[5]  “From the Indianapolis Gazette,” The Western Register and Terre Haute Advertiser, April 7, 1824; Letter, Johnston to Calhoun, April 28, 1824, Piqua, National Archives and Records Administration, transcription from applicant; Letter, Lewis Cass to John C. Calhoun, May 5, 1824, Detroit, enclosing a copy of a letter from Cass to Johnston, May 3, 1824, Detroit, National Archives and Records Administration, transcription from applicant; Letter, Johnston to Calhoun, May 19, 1824, Anderson’s town, White River, Madison Co., Indiana, National Archives and Records Administration, transcription from applicant; Letter, Governor William Hendricks to John Johnston, June 24, 1824, Corydon, IN, copy sent to Department of War by Johnston, National Archives and Records Administration, transcription from applicant; Statement of Expenditures, enclosed in letter, John Johnston to John C. Calhoun, December 22, 1824, Piqua, Ohio, National Archives and Records Administration, transcription from applicant; Doerr, 35.

News of the horrific murders was soon delivered to Lewis Cass, U.S. Superintendent of Indian Affairs at Detroit, Michigan and John Johnston, U.S. Indian Agent at Piqua, Ohio. The Indianapolis Gazette, March 30, 1824, reported the news of the murders with a few details and concluded with information that “All the families in the neighborhood of the scene of this horrible transaction, have removed to the mills, at the falls on Fall Creek, to avoid the retaliatory vengeance of the Indians.” This news story appeared in papers throughout the U.S.

Correspondence of Lewis Cass and John Johnston relate concerns about both settlers and Indians. In a May 3, 1824 letter to Johnston, Cass asked Johnston to go to Madison County “to quiet the alarms of the frontier settlers or of the Indians which might lead to mutual aggression and depredations.”

John Johnston had already begun visiting families of the victims and nearby Indian villages making remuneration which “has been always customary to appease the wrath of the Indians.” He reported these activities to U.S. Secretary of War John C. Calhoun, in an April 28, 1824 letter and asked to be reimbursed for $400 that he would expend on “seasonable presents” for the Indians. He explained, “The murdered persons were among our best friends during the late war. One was a man of great distinction. They have left many relatives who depended on them for a living.”     

Johnston wrote again to Calhoun, May 19, 1824, from Anderson’s Town, Madison County. He explained that he was making arrangements for the trials amid rumors of prisoners’ escape plans. He also stated that he had “requested the honorable James Noble to appear as counsel in aid of the prosecution.” Noble was an attorney and one of Indiana’s U.S. Senators noted for his oratory.

By May 29, 1824, Johnston wrote to Cass to explain that Madison County was too poor to provide suitable guard for the prisoners. Johnston felt “compelled [therefore] to authorize the employment of four men as a guard at $12 per month each for pay and subsistence.”

Johnston also informed Indiana Governor William Hendricks of his activities in Madison County. Hendricks replied June 24, 1824 “much indebted to you [Johnston] for your attention to the subject.” Hendricks had been told that keeping the prisoners in Madison County was a good idea “and that the great interest of the people of the county took in their being brought to justice on account of their own safety would ensure the safekeeping of the prisoners.” Hendricks went on to say that he had met with General John Tipton, U.S. Indian Agent at Fort Wayne, who had given the governor “very favourable accounts of the pacific dispositions of the Indians on the frontiers of the state.”

Johnston’s many exertions on behalf of the settlers, Indians, and federal government are listed in his December 22 “estimate of the Expenses already incurred, and to be incurred, in the apprehension, confinement, trial and execution of the Murderers of the nine Indians in Indiana.” The U.S. Secretary of War paid most of these costs included building a jail, guarding prisoners, costs and fees of county clerk and sheriff, provisions and clothing for Indians, and attorneys’ fees.

[6] Western Sun and General Advertiser, May 1, 1824, 3; “Indianapolis, April 13,” Gettysburg (PA) Republican Compiler, May 12, 1824, 2, accessed NewspaperArchive.com; Letter, Johnston to Thomas L. McKenney, Indian Office, War Department, October 9, 1824, Madison County, Indiana, National Archives and Records Administration, transcription from applicant; Indianapolis Gazette, October 12, 1824, Indiana State Library, copy of photostat; Letter, Johnston to McKenney, October 19, 1824, Piqua, National Archives and Records Administration, copy from applicant; Richmond Leger, October 30, 1824, 3; (Corydon) Indiana Gazette, October 30, 1824, 3; “State of Indiana vs John Bridge and James Hudson,” Indictment for the Murder of Logan, copy from Bridge and Hudson vs State, Appeal to Indiana Supreme Court, November Term 1824, Indiana State Archives, copy; “Escape of James Hudson,” Indianapolis Gazette, November 23, 1824, Indiana State Library, copy of photostat; Indianapolis Gazette, December 7, 1824, Indiana State Library, copy of photostat; “Governor’s Message,” (Lawrenceburg) Indiana Palladium, January 21, 1825; Indianapolis Gazette, January 18, 1825, Indiana State Library, copy of photostat; “Murderers of Indians Convicted,” Indianapolis Gazette, May 17, 1825, Indiana State Library, copy of photostat; “Trials for Murder,” Indianapolis Journal, May 17, 1825, Indiana State Library, microfilm; “Execution for Murder,” Indianapolis Journal, June 7, 1825, Indiana State Library, microfilm; “Execution of Sawyer and Bridge,” (Lawrenceburg) Indiana Spectator, June 17, 1825, 3; Doerr, 33, 38-39;  Murphy, 93.

 Swift justice for the murders of the nine Indians was delayed by the illness of President Judge William W. Wick, Fifth Circuit including Madison County, and by the shortness of the court sessions—by Indiana law, lasting only three days.  At the April 1824 session of the court, the Madison County Grand Jury handed down indictments for murder to James Hudson, John T. Bridge and his son John, and Andrew Sawyer. Judge Wick was unable to attend and the cases were postponed until the October 1824 session of court.

The October session of the Madison County Circuit Court began on October 7. The murderers “had engaged seven attorneys, among whom were some of the ablest in the state” including B. F. Morris, William R. Morris, Calvin Fletcher, Martin M. Ray. Prosecuting attorneys for the State were U.S. Senator James Noble, Hervey Gregg, and Phillip Sweetser. James Hudson was arraigned first; he pleaded “not guilty.” Counsel for the State and for the defense presented evidence and gave argument on October 8 until about 1 pm when the jury retired. After a short period of time, the jury returned with a “guilty” verdict. On Saturday, October 9, Judge Wick delivered a long statement (published in the Richmond Leger, October 30, 1824) before sentencing James Hudson to death by hanging on December 1, 1824. Hudson’s attorneys quickly filed an appeal to the Indiana Supreme Court but the lower court’s decision was affirmed. (See Doerr, 38-39.)              

John Bridge, the son, was arraigned on October 8; he pleaded “not guilty.” The court met to hear his case on October 9 but, according to John Johnston, October 19, 1824, couldn’t find twelve men to serve as jurors “who had not disqualified themselves in having expressed an opinions unfavourable (sic) to the case of the prisoners.” So the trials of John T. Bridge and his son, and Andrew Sawyer were postponed again until May 1825. When U.S. Indiana Agent John Johnston heard rumors about an attempt to rescue the prisoners before Hudson’s execution on December 1, he hired ten guards and an officer to keep the prisoners secure. When James Hudson escaped from jail in mid-November, Governor Hendricks postponed his execution until January 12, 1825. Hudson was soon recaptured. The Indianapolis Gazette, January 18, 1825, reported that Hudson gave a full confession before he was hanged at the falls of Fall Creek on January 12, 1825.

On May 9, 1825, President Judge of the Third Indiana Judicial Circuit, Miles Eggleston, convened the spring session of the Madison County Circuit Court at the home of Thomas McCartney near the falls settlement. Samuel Holliday and Adam Winsell were associate judges. The murder trials began on May 10 with Andrew Sawyer who pleaded not guilty to manslaughter. Sawyer was convicted of manslaughter and then faced a separate trial and conviction for the murder of Ludlow. On May 11, John Bridge Jr. was arraigned and he pleaded not guilty. The jury of Madison County residents deliberated for about three hours and returned a guilty verdict but with a recommendation of pardon due to his young age.

John T. Bridge, the father was tried on May 12 for murdering and assisting to murder women and children at the Indian camp; the jury returned a guilty verdict. Judge Eggleston sentenced all three convicts to be hanged at the falls on Fall Creek on June 3, 1825. He, too, recommended an Executive pardon for John Bridge Jr.

James Hudson had already been executed January 12, 1825 as mentioned earlier in this note. And, on June 3, 1825, John Bridge Sr. and Andrew Sawyer were hanged at the falls near the settlement on Fall Creek. As to a motive for these heinous crimes, a spectator at the May trials told the Indianapolis Journal, May 17, 1825, “No other inducement was shown in the trial but plunder, nor is that very clearly proved.”              

[7] “Murderers of Indians Convicted,” Indianapolis Gazette, May 17, 1825, Indiana State Library, copy of photostat; Indianapolis Journal, June 7, 1825; “Indianapolis, June 7, Execution of Sawyer and Bridge,” Sandusky (OH) Clarion, July 23, 1825, 2, accessed NewspaperArchive.com; Doerr, 43.

 Before the stated execution date, ninety-four community members signed a petition and sent it to Indiana Governor James Brown Ray. The petition asked for John Bridge Jr. to be pardoned because of “his youth, ignorance, and the manner which he was let into the transaction.” No word of a pardon was received. But on June 3, 1825, as John Bridge Jr. was about to be executed, Governor Ray arrived and handed the young man a pardon admonishing “him never again to violate the laws of god and his country.”

According to the (Lawrenceburg) Indiana Spectator, June 17, 1825, “The Governor in exercising this high authority of the constitution, has acted in accordance with the wishes of not only the jury & officers of the court who tried young Bridge, but of most of the citizens of the state. Several Indian Chiefs from the north of Ohio, who were present with their interpreter, expressed a perfect willingness that the young man should live.” 

[8] Letter, Johnston to Calhoun, April 28, 1824; Murphy, 115-116; Doerr, 46; Edmunds, 52; Bruce P. Smith, “Negotiating Law on the Frontier: Responses to Cross-Cultural Homicide in Illinois, 1810 to 1825,” in Barr, Boundaries Between Us, 161-177.

During the many years of frontier hostilities between Native Americans and white settlers, Indian victims of settler violence and their families were rarely accorded the remedies of the American judicial system. More often, Indian agents like John Johnston offered gifts, supplies, and other goods to the Indians as remuneration for the actions of settlers against the Indians.

However, as remarkable as the executions of the white Madison County settlers may have been, IHB staff cannot confirm, as stated on the 1966 Indiana State Historical Marker located near Markleville, that these executions were the first wherein white settlers were hanged for murdering Indians. Nor has staff been able to locate any information to suggest that this particular case and its outcome established any precedent for future Indian encounters with American settlers and the American justice system.

While historians Daniel Murphy, David Edmunds and Brian Doerr do agree that the outcome of this case was a “rare instance,” they do not offer any evidence that this incident was the first time white settlers were executed for murdering Indians. Further research is beyond the scope of this project. For a study of cross-cultural homicide in Illinois, see Bruce P. Smith, cited above.

Keywords

Native American, Law & Court Case