(If new to this blog, scroll down to Chapter One)
The Shawnee encampment on Kinniconick may have lasted for a hundred years but it was not to be forever. The Indian youth Tecumseh, like the little Hiawatha in Longfellow’s “Song”, heard the whispers when it was time to say goodbye.
“At the door on summer evenings
Sat the little Hiawatha,
Heard the whispering of the pine trees,
Heard the lapping of the water”
A painting by John Singer Sargent
The Shawnee were allies of the French in the French and Indian War, but when the British won that war, numerous forts and settlements were established in the Ohio River valley and the tribe’s existence was threatened. A Shawnee Chief known as Cornstalk led his warriors against the British colonists in 1774. At the Battle of Point Pleasant, the Indian warriors were defeated and forced to relinquish claims to most of their land in the valley. Their canoes would never again enter the Kinniconick. Tecumseh would never again fish in the beautiful Eddy.
Liles Eddy as I remember it was mostly unchanged since those Indian days. A riffle, more commonly called a rapids, entered the long pool near the level meadow on Field Stafford’s place. The music of running water was always playing there. The whispering wind would have spoken from the hemlocks that grew at the stream’s edge. The creek meandered for about half a mile, quite narrow in places but the water deep. Beds of water lilies and sunken logs provided cover for bass, sunfish and pumpkinseeds, and the muskellunge sunned themselves in open water. The paradise was untouched during the next thirty or forty years.
Then, the stream of flatboats on the Ohio became a flood after the Revolutionary War. Huge land grants were created and some of them penetrated Kinniconick country. Acreage was for sale, especially along the Ohio River, and when a man by the name of Joseph Vance purchased 55 acres west of Kinniconick, the town of Vanceburg was born. The year was 1797, and it probably marked the beginning of frequent explorations by the new American frontiersmen. Perhaps one of their canoes entered Liles Eddy, and the traces of the open meadow could be seen by the rugged adventurers. They would have pitched their tent on the very ground where the Shawnee had camped when Tecumseh was a boy.
Watercolor by John Singer Sargent