THE BIG INDIAN
The following is excerpted from an undated letter written by Doctor N. E. Henthorn (who died around 1880) to John B. Noll, Esquire.
"In 1831, I was returned home from Cincinnati by land. I stopped overnight in the town of Reading, 12 miles from the city and stayed at Jackson’s Tavern. When the landlord asked where I was from, He said his father and an old Indian would like to talk to me. I went to their room and Mr. Jackson, Sr., said he knew my grandfather at the old blockhouse in Wheeling. He further stated that, at the time Boggs was killed at Boggs’ Island, the Indians were pursued by the white men. He said he had wounded this Indian and, when about to kill him with his tomahawk, the Indian told him that he was a medicine man of his tribe and that if he would spare his life, he would cure the cancer on Mr. Jackson’s nose—which he did. He said that the Indian had lived with him ever since and that he was with him in the War of 1812 under General Harrison. The Indian told me that the Indian name for Sunfish Creek was Buckchitawa and the Indian name for Opossum Creek was Eagle Creek. He further told me that a big Indian was killed at Buckchitawa at about the same time Marietta was settled in 1788. The Indians had a white prisoner whom they forced to decoy their boats to the shore. A small boat was descending the river carrying white people when the prisoner was placed under the bank to tell those in the boat that he had escaped captivity and to come to the shore and take him in. The Indians were concealed but the big Indian stuck his head out from behind a large tree and, as a result, it was pierced by a bullet from the gun of the steersman of the boat. The Indians cried out, "Wetzel, Wetzel!" and fled. The prisoner was never seen again. The Indians returned the next day and buried the big Indian.
" When Chester Bishop was digging a cellar for Asahel Booth in Clarington many years ago, he came across a skeleton. The bones were carefully removed by Dr. Richard Kirkpatrick. From his measurements, the height of the man would have been about eight feet and five inches when he was alive. The Indian at Mr. Jackson’s further told me that there was lead on Opossum Creek, on Sunfish Creek, and on Captina Creek but that the ‘veins were thin.’"
Taken from History of Monroe County, Ohio by the Woodsfield Chamber of Commerce, 1963.
Sunfish Creek and Oppossum Creek are located in present day Salem Township, Monroe County, Ohio. Both empty into the Ohio River, where this confrontation occurred.
The Wetzel reference undoubtedly refers to the famed Lewis Wetzel, who was called Deathwind by the Indians. Whether he or one of his brothers were in the boat or if they assumed the accurate shot and rapid recognition of the ambush suggested it was a Wetzel cannot be determined.