Skip Navigation

"Famed Tecumseh Was A West Virginian"

Beckley Post-Herald
January 27, 1962

Any list of outstanding men who were born in West Virginia territory and became famous leaders of their kind should include the name of Tecumseh. This celebrated Indian chief is said to have been born on Hacker's Creek, most likely in the Indian village at the mou t h of Jesse's Run, in Lewis County.

Hacker's Creek got its name from its first white settler, John Hacker. This Indian village site was at the point where the old Weston-Clarksburg road passed over Hacker's Creek. Today the place is known as JaneLew, a town that got its name from Jane Lewis, mother of Lewis Maxwell, Congressman from that district, who laid off the site in in lots and sold them.

This Jane Lew was the home Gen. J. A. L. Lightburn of Civil War note and "Lightburn's Retreat" renown. But some of the lustre of Jane Lew comes from its being in the vicinity of the birthplace of Tecumseh, Shawnee Indian leader.

Tecumseh's first raid on white settlers was made on Hacker's Creek upon the family of John Waggoner in May, 1792. That May evening of almost 170 years ago found Waggoner on his place on Jesse's Run over two miles above the point it empties into Hacker's Creek. Waggoner had been burning some logs and was sitting on a log with a big handspike in his hand, resting from his labors.

Tecumseh, who had been lying in wait for a shot at John Waggoner, was nervous when he fired because he took the handspike in the hands of the huge Waggoner to be a gun. Although only 30 paces from Waggoner when he shot at him, Tecumseh's aim went bad. The bullet passed through the sleeve of Waggoner's shirt. Unhurt, Waggoner darted homeward to find his home being attacked by some of the Tecumseh band. They killed a small boy in the yard of the house and carried Mrs. Waggoner and her children away captive.

A mile or so distant the Indians killed another of the children. After they had gone a bit further the savages slew Mrs. Waggoner and two other children. In a few days the Indians reached their towns across the Ohio with the remaining two girls and a boy. In time the girls were returned. However, the boy took up a homestead, so to speak, with the Indians. He was Peter Waggoner, eight when captured, and remained with the Indians 20 years. He married a squaw and had children by her. He was found later and induced to return to his childhood area. There at Jane Lew he lived to the age of 93, there having married a white woman and by her raised another family. At Jane Lew if you will turn aside to Harmony Cemetery you will find the grave of Peter Waggoner, the last survivor of the John Waggoner family massacre.

Tecumseh and his actions led to the election of a President of the United States in 1840.

Chief Tecumseh was a smart man. Having been forced to move many times by white men, he saw himself and the other Indians being crowded out. He wanted to keep the Midwest for them. One day a military officer came to his wigwam to tell Tecumseh that he and his tribe must move farther west. They sat down on a log to talk it over.

In a few minutes the chief asked the general to move over a little further. This was repeated until the general was near the end of the log. Then Tecumseh gave the general a shove and said, "Move again!" At the end of the log, the general said, "I can't; I'm on the end of the log!" Then Tecumseh told him that this was the way it was with the Indians, yet the white man kept saying to the red man, "Move on!" To remedy matters, Tecumseh organized the tribes of the Midwest to drive out white settlers.

To put down this Indian uprising a force went out under William Henry Harrison, then governor of Indiana Territory and son of Governor Harrison of Virginia who was one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. Harrison marched his army to the Tippecanoe River and there he stopped. A battle was fought there and the Indians were defeated.

Tecumseh was not in the battle as he had gone south to urge other Indians to join the battle. However, Tecumseh was in later battles. He went to Canada in 1811 to help the British who were getting ready to fight us in the War of 1812. Governor Harrison took a force out of our country and, in a battle in Canada, Tecumseh was killed while fighting for the British.

Governor Harrison received great praise for what he had done and was made a general in the U. S. Army. As the "Hero of Tippecanoe," Harrison was elected president in 1840. John Tyler was his Vice President. During the "log cabin" campaign of 1840 the battle cry was "Old Tippecanoe and Tyier, too."

Had it not been for the famous West Virginia Indian Chief, Tecumseh, and the uprising of the Indians which he sparked, William Henry Harrison might never have been elected President. A month after being inaugurated, Harrison died and the whole country was filled with sorrow. He was our first President to die in office.

Sources on Tecumseh