Verifying the Indian Legend
In the meantime, I began in earnest to see what I could find buried away in the University Archives that might identify the Indian chief in the story and verify the happening that produced the legend.
This required a thorough study of the Indians in the area at the time of Fathers Badin, DeSeille and Petit, before and about the time of the arrival of Father Sorin in 1842. It is said that Petit was revered by the Indians because he had a mother-like spirit and that is why the Indians claimed him as their own and why he could do so much with them. Their frankness and simplicity delighted his heart. I began by reading Father Petit's, Trail Of Death, and other sources which supplied much of the information I was seeking.
In about the year 1685, according to correspondence of the early French Jesuit missionaries, one of the first missions in the northern Indiana was founded for the neighboring Potawatomi and Miami Indians on the St. Joseph River at a point south of the present city of Niles, Michigan. A few years later, Father Claude Allouez, S.J., "the so-called Francis Xavier of the American Indians," according to authentic tradition, came to permanently establish this mission post, known as the St. Joseph Mission. It was abandoned in 1759 after the British defeated the French.
Fr. Thomas T. McAvoy, C.S.C. has written, "A tradition handed down to the Fathers of Holy Cross says that there were bands of Indians living on the shores of the present lakes of Notre Dame before Rev. Theodore Badin, first priest ordained in the United States, came to live there." It was also long known to be a meeting place for explorers, traveling missionaries and early white settlers. For this reason, many believe -- although it has not yet been proven by written record -- that Father Claude Allouez would have visited the encampments of Indians at St. Mary's Lake during his travels throughout the St. Joseph Valley.
It was Father Badin who moved the St. Joseph Mission near Niles, which he was sent to reorganize in 1830, to the new mission center of Northern Indiana and Southern Michigan, when he purchased the land at St. Mary's Lake -- the site of the present University of Notre Dame -- which he named Ste. Marie des Lacs. When Sorin arrived he renamed the site Notre Dame du Lac. Thus we find in this mission center's three periods of history, three names, St. Joseph Mission, St. Mary's of the Lakes and Notre Dame du Lac.
The first church not only at Notre Dame but in Northwest Indiana was a log chapel erected by Badin as early as 1832. Father Badin's chapel fell into disuse in 1848. It was destroyed by fire in 1856. It was known as the 'Indian Chapel.' Father Allouez, died April 27, 1689. His body, it is believed, is buried on the banks of the St. Joseph River, near the old Fort St. Joseph Mission, just south of the present city of Niles, Michigan.Author, Agnes Repplier, speaks of Pere Allouez's "gift of eloquence" The Indians "were so interested in his instruction that they would not let him go to bed at night, but sat in solemn circles waiting to hear more and the sleepy priest could not, in conscience resist gratifying their thirst for enlightenment." Father McAvoy describes the lives of these dedicated black robe missionaries far from their homeland in France. How they spent their energy in all kinds of weather. "They lived in the huts of the natives and shared their primitive food, enduring their savage humors and trying to impose upon their primitive knowledge the saving message of the Gospel. When one died or was killed another came to take his place."(222)
The Ottawa, Chippewa, Potawatomi Indians signed the Treaty of Chicago in 1821 which ceded rights to the Northeast quarter of land now included in St. Joseph County which included South Bend, Mishawaka, Notre Dame and St. Mary's.
By a treaty with the Potawatomis in 1826, the Indians were to cede to the United States 'a strip of land, commencing at Lake Michigan and running to Wabash River, 100 feet wide, for a road, and also one section (1 mile square) of good land contiguous to said road for each mile of the same and also for each mile of road from the termination thereof through Indianapolis. The State of Indiana shall have the right to locate a road and apply sections, or the proceeds thereof, and the said road shall be at their whole disposal. The road was opened at the end of 1832. The first public land sales were made late that same year.(223)
Indian paths never crossed over a hill were it possible to go around, it crept over hollows, avoiding swamps where moccasins might get wet; it clung to the shadows of the big timber belts. It was a warm and sheltered path in the winter, a cool and fragrant one in summer. Indian trails were used by the white people a long time before roads were thought of. These paths became our first roads, our fixed and permanent highways.
The Indians were led to believe that a white man's road through their country would be a great benefit, but it let in a flood of immigration which swallowed up their whole country. The Potawatomis had sold the last of their heritage before the road was half completed.
It was evident to Father Badin in 1830 that the Indians would be moved, that such would be their fate regardless of their rights. In 1831 he bought 524 acres in St. Joseph County for his "Orphan Asylum." Father Badin had been anxious for some time to build some form of shelter for abandoned Indian children of the nearby villages of Pokagon, Carey Mission and Grand River -- and he chose this site as being the most suitable for such a project.
The "Asylum" was not approved until February 2, 1833 because a cabin was not built at Notre Dame. Two Sisters went to Pokagon Village for the winter of 1833-34. A chapel and farmhouse was built in September 1834 whereupon the Sisters came to Notre Dame for the short-lived orphanage and school.
It did not function for more than a year. Brute writes in 1835, "of the neglected and abandoned orphanage." The chapel was subsequently used as a mission post by Deseille and Petit. It was used as a lay school by David Leeper from 1835-1837.
The title on a tract of land, (St. Mary's of the Lake), now known as Notre Dame, was conveyed by Badin to Bishop Brute in 1835. It was on this tract of land that Father Badin established the first orphan home and school for Indians in Indiana. The home and school were abandoned a year later but on this site seven years later Notre Dame University was founded.(224)
In a book of "Extracts," kept by Brother Aidan, further confirmation that Badin's original orphanage was primarily for the Indians is noted:
It must have been devoted to the care of Indians as there were very few people in St. Joseph County at the time.
Brother Aidan also records a later orphanage which was destroyed by fire in 1849:
After countless difficulties we had just completed our new church, and a large home for our orphans. Eight days after the consecration of the church, the orphanage caught fire, and despite all our efforts, was reduced in a few hours to heap of ashes. The ruins are still smoking. Our poor orphans are actually homeless, without clothes, and like the rest of us without bread, since the kitchen and laundry fell prey to the flames.(225)
In 1876, the Scholastic also describes the area before Badin's time:
"Prior to the coming of Fr. Badin the place seems consecrated to religion, being known to Indian Converts and a few Catholic settlers of the surrounding country as St. Mary's of the Lake.(226)
Yet another Scholastic reports:
The beautiful Lake, being only a mile from LaSalle's portage and in the midst of a rich hunting ground, was the central meeting place for the entire region. Here the Indians came to meet the traders, and here the missionaries came, bringing with them the light of God.(227)
Badin's impression of the site of Notre Dame is described in Sorin's Chronicles:
One day after ministering to the wants of his dear Indians while gazing over the pretty lake on the shores of which he stood in admiration, a thought flashed to his mind that such a beautiful spot should be secured for God. What a delightful place for an orphan's asylum and a college! Instantly he resolved to buy it. 'How well inspired ,' said he later to Father Sorin, 'I was when I entered these 524 acres.'(228)
Over one hundred and fifty years later a modern day Notre Dame may be equally grateful. Detailed information follows about the negotiations by the government for the Indian's land during that period.
Thomas T. McAvoy, former Archivist of the University of Notre Dame, in his book The Catholic Church in Indiana, 1789 - 1834, speaks of those changing times and takes note of the generosity of the Indians.(229)
In 1830, Congress passed the Indian Removal Act, which allowed the government to move Indians beyond the Mississippi River to make room for the settlers who were streaming westward:
When the government first moved the Indians beyond the Mississippi River, it settled them in the Indian Country. This huge region included almost all the land between the Missouri River and the Oregon Territory. Treaties guaranteed this land to the Indians. Americans at first considered the area too dry for farming. But pioneers who traveled to the Southwest, California, and Oregon soon began to cast hungry eyes on the land they passed through. Prospectors discovered gold and silver on Indian land. The government began buying parts of the land back from the Indians during the 1850s, and settled them on reservations throughout the West.
The Plains Indians fought to keep their hunting lands and to avoid being confined to reservations. These Indians, unlike those in the East, had horses. American soldiers praised their daring, warlike enemies as 'the best fighters the sun ever shone on.' But fighting between Indians and whites was so bitter that the U. S. Army took over from the state militias the job of fighting the Indians. By 1906 the Indian Territory ceased to exist.(230)
The Potawatomi were the last tribe to enter and to leave the Indiana area. By 1836, many Indian tribes had sold their land to the government. The rest were driven out by military force in 1838. Only a few Indians remained after that. Exceptions were made for Frances Slocum, the Miami white woman and her family and for Chief Pokagon. His band of Potawatomis, because of their Christian conversion, were allowed to stay in the region. In the Treaty of Chicago they gave up their land in the local area in exchange for land at Harbor Springs, Michigan. However, they settled instead, in Dowagiac, Michigan.
This information established the fact that even though most of the Indians in the area were sent to Kansas, even after 1838, there were still Potawatomi Indians in the area. Sorin's Chronicles reveal:
When Sorin arrived, there remained only about two hundred Indians, all the others having been removed beyond the Mississippi.(231)
A few left Kansas and returned to be cared for by the university as one item, mentioned earlier, an 1859 guide to the area reveals:
Here we cross the highway [US 31] leading from South Bend to Niles and find ourselves on the other side of the boundary line separating the college grounds [Notre Dame] from those of St. Mary's Academy. The gate of the Academy is attended by a lone Indian, one of the few remaining in the region. His cottage stands before you as a porter's lodge on the public road. Kindness and charity bestowed this situation, when old age and infirmity were upon him.(232)
I wondered if the age of the gatekeeper Indian would tie in with the legend. Would they be present in the same time frame? I had already learned more about the "gate house," as the cottage was called, in the earlier mentioned Erma Helmen Post's writings about Clay Township residents. In it, she profiles the background of Professor Damis Paul and his wife who were French Canadians. He came with his family from Canada to New York and then to Notre Dame to be the Professor of Music at the University.
She speaks of the small house they moved into. It measured 13 X 23 feet:
The one story 'parrot house' stood near the entrance to St. Mary's and it was called the 'Gate House.' The Paul's youngest daughter was born there in 1887 and was 3 years old when Professor Paul had the house moved to 10 acres of land on what is now the corner of Darden and U.S. 31 [where the Key Bank is now]. After Mr. Paul relocated his home, he made improvements. The Brothers from Notre Dame helped to build the 2nd story part of the house attached to it. Many years later, when it was remodeled, by another owner, they found the original big long low room [the gate house portion] was lathed with 12 foot hand split lath. The sills were 8" X 8' black walnut and timber in the uprights were 4 X 4 oak.(233)
One day while randomly going through files in an accessible file cabinet in the Archives, I stumbled upon this additional reference to what I believe may have been the "Gate House" Indian. It gives a glimpse of the times and the plight of the displaced Indians:
Among the Indians in the northwestern part of the county was a petty chief named Sagganee, who, when the Indians were removed to the west, went to Kansas with some of them, but soon returned saying that he could not live there because there was no sugar tree. He was a devout Catholic and would never eat anything without first crossing himself. In his later days he was cared for at the Catholic University of Notre Dame, at South Bend, where he passed away, and where his remains lie buried. He is said to have been a great brave in his day and to have fought in the battle of Tippecanoe in 1812.(234)
Could this be the Indian gatekeeper mentioned earlier in connection with St. Mary's? And could he also be the Indian chief in the legend? It sounded very likely, if I could prove his age and the time he was on campus matched the eventual age of the tree. The fact that he was a chief, an old man in 1859 and fought in the Tippecanoe Battle in 1812, would definitely put him in the right time frame.
More pieces of the puzzle of this unknown Indian chief began to fall into place. In article 9 of the Treaty With The Potawatomi, 1826 is a list of Indian chiefs who signed the Treaty at the Wabash on October 16, 1826. Included in the list is "Saukena, his x mark"(235)
Later still, I found what appeared to be the same name again, spelled slightly differently. In the pages of an 1829 Account Journal kept by Lathrop Taylor, a local South Bend merchant, was an entry with the name "Sauginna."(236) On the next reel of microfilm I found another, spelled "Saugina" on the 1832 Hanna & Taylor list of unpaid Indian debts taken by traders to the Treaty grounds.
Cedar Grove Cemetery
Shortly afterward, I found references to two other Indian burials at Notre Dame besides the aforementioned Indian gatekeeper at St. Mary's. One named Alexis was buried in 1896. No birth date or age was noted. However, in Irving McKee's Trail of Death is this entry at Menomomee's Village on the Yellow River:
DeSeille baptized the chief with the Christian name Alexis on August 24, 1834 'under the branches of an old, shady oak tree.'(237)
The second Indian mentioned was also a likely candidate for the legend. In a book of minutes kept by the Brothers of their activities on campus, was this notation about the second one which was picked up and reprinted in the Scholastic in 1891:
Brother Frances Xavier buried in Cedar Grove Cemetery, Notre Dame, Chippa, an Indian reputed to be nearly 150 years old. He was one of the few aboriginals remaining in this part of the country and formerly belonged to the tribe of Miamis who lived in the neighborhood of Ft. Wayne.(238)
Later, I found additional evidence on, Chippa, which revealed that he was also a chief. In Harrison: Messages And Letters, "Chepe or (?) his X mark" appears on a list of Indian chiefs who signed the Armistice With Indians at Detroit on October 14, 1813.(239) The question mark undoubtedly refers to the unsureness of the spelling of the name, Chepe. As evidenced earlier, it was not uncommon for Indian names to be misspelled or altered slightly. Because they were spelled the way they sounded, they were apt to be different according to who was recording them.
Although all three Indians were reported to be buried on campus, I could find index cards in the burial records only on Chippa and Alexis who died in the 1890s. I could find nothing at St. Mary's or Notre Dame on the burial, of the Indian gatekeeper at St Mary's mentioned earlier. However, I had already learned some of the early burial records at Cedar Grove Cemetery were destroyed in a fire, which would explain their absence. If the story is true, then either of these three Indian Chiefs could have been the chief mentioned in the legend.
There was an French and Indian cemetery in the area before Cedar Grove was established, west of U.S. 31, on the south side of Angela Boulevard, southwest of the St. Joseph High School:
Little Badin Cemetery, was a quarter of an acre in extent with a wire fence enclosing it and a large cross at its center. It was the first home of the Catholic dead in the area and was said to be the more notable because it was blessed by Father Badin. It was mostly for Indian interments but also for those of several whites. Among the latter were Angelique Liquette, the interpreter. Most of the bodies (including the Indians) were finally transferred to Cedar Grove cemetery. The first interment there was October 3, 1844.(240)
Angelique Liquette's mother was a Potawatomi. Because she knew the language she was a great help to Father Badin in establishing his mission.
The Scholastic mentions this cemetery in 1876:
It is the intention to erect a large cross on the ground formerly used as a Catholic Cemetery near the St. Joseph's River, close by Mr. Leeper's residence. We understand that the remains of quite a number of persons lie buried there.(241)
In the Diocese of Fort Wayne these cemeteries are described in detail:
Father Badin had blessed a tract of land, about a mile north of South Bend, between the upper Niles Road and the river, known as the "Old Indian Graveyard," for a cemetery. This location was looked upon as not desirable, and when Father Sorin arrived in 1842 he laid out the present cemetery on Notre Dame Avenue, half way between Notre Dame and South Bend. Brother Francis, C.S.C. had charge of this cemetery, and when, some years later, his favorite evergreens gave it a sightly appearance, he called it Cedar Grove Cemetery. In 1842, it formed but a small corner, but it now extends over 25 acres, and is being enlarged year after year. In the early days, Cedar Grove was the only graveyard for Catholics within miles of South Bend, and for this reason corpses were brought from great distances to be buried by the side of relatives and friends who are interred there.(242)
In 1910 another Indian burial ground was discovered on land along the river on the Northeast side of the Angela Bridge while excavating Navarre Place.(243) Then again, in 1926, more burials were found during another excavation which would have been in the vicinity of the Little Badin Cemetery:
An Indian burial ground was uncovered by workman operating a steam shovel in North Shore Terrace. The excavations were being made east of Tecumseh Avenue, in grading Angela Avenue from Lafayette boulevard to the Dixie highway.(244)
In 1932, the South Bend Tribune describes the reinternment of the remains in Cedar Grove Cemetery under the heading: "Mystery Cloaks Indian Burial Grounds." Beside pictures of the marker placed over the graves at Cedar Grove is this explanation:
Perhaps a tribal chieftain and his warriors are lying beneath this smooth green mound in Cedar Grove Cemetery at Notre Dame. No one could discover the names of these Potawatomis when they were removed from the tiny Indian cemetery at the top of Angela hill in 1928. Their first resting place was hidden in a thicket and marked with a plain iron cross. All identification has been lost in the mystery and silence so peculiar to the race. The graves were transferred to permit widening of Angela boulevard. On the marker are the words:
POTAWATOMI INDIANS --
REMAINS TRANSFERRED TO
CEDAR GROVE CEMETERY FROM
AN INDIAN BURIAL GROUND
ABOUT ONE MILE WEST --
SEPTEMBER 22, 1928.(245)
In the spring of 1990, Miami and Potawatomi medicine men presided over a big ceremony at Cedar Grove Cemetery (said to be 150 people), with drums etc., when they buried two skeletons of their ancestors rescued from the museum of the Western Michigan College. The sexton, Tim Mosier, who was there, said their visit was very quietly accomplished to avoid any publicity and was over before anyone else knew about it.
It is also possible that those Indian chiefs not recorded in the Cedar Grove Cemetery records could have been buried in the nearby Little Badin Cemetery and that might account for the lack of information about them.
Yet a fourth burial of an Indian Chief turned up later, one who might have been an even better candidate for the legend. On February 6, 1875, the Scholastic reported: "Mr. John Piashway, a one time Chief of the Miamis was buried here last Wednesday.(246) Piashway lived in the area where Peashway street is now, directly across from the present golf course at Notre Dame. He was the son of Chief Richardville, also Chief of the Miamis, and married the daughter of another chief, Chief Steven Benneck who died in 1853 at 75 years of age. His wife's father lived with them on the land across from Notre Dame. Since both lived in close proximity to the campus, either one could have been the Indian Chief who visited it often enough to have relayed the legend. The tale was beginning to sound more and more plausible.
Interesting Descriptions of Early Notre Dame in Indian Times
Further evidence of Indians being associated with Notre Dame at the time Sorin founded it, in 1842, surfaced in a book called Circular Letters of Very Rev. Edward Sorin. It verified below and in another letter that, indeed, Sorin thought St. Mary's was one lake: "I would tell them of our beautiful lake, the delightful banks of our neighboring river, etc." It also contained letters written by Sorin to Father Moreau shortly after his arrival at Notre Dame in which he mentions the Indians . . . :
. . . Then, when we least dreamed of it, Providence permitted that an offer should be made to us of a section of excellent land (640 acres) in the county of St. Joseph, on the banks of the river St. Joseph, and not far from the city of St. Joseph, forming a delightful solitude -- about twenty minutes ride from South Bend -- which solitude, from the lake it encloses, bears the beautiful name of Notre Dame du Lac, and, besides, it is the centre of the Indian Mission, the Mission of the Badins, the De Seilles and the Petits.
I love the work of the Brothers, as much, I think, as one can love it, and less than ever do I think of return. But to declare everything without reserve, I love, too, the Indians of M. DeSeille and of M. Petit. I thank Heaven that I am now among them. No, I cannot believe that it was without some special design that, for many years, God inspired me with so great a desire to labor for them; I cannot suppose that, without any premeditation on my part, He has brought me among them from so far, simply to see them without being of any service to them. Do not be afraid, dear Father, to wound my self-love by changing my first obedience. I shall be glorious, for I see nothing in the world to be preferred to this condition of a missionary among the Indians. I have been informed of the best means of inducing them to do good, and I hope, with the help of God, to succeed in this some day. I am still young, I shall learn their language in a short time; in a year I hope to be able to understand them. I shall often write to you about my dear Indians, and, no doubt, everything concerning them will interest you. Let me then hasten to my dear Indians. Yes, it is settled -- you grant my request -- you permit me to look upon this flock, now without a shepherd, as my own portion. Thank you, Father; please write to me as soon as possible, that I may see your permission with my own eyes. Tomorrow, or rather, this very day, I shall commence to study the language. When your letter comes, I may be able to return you my thanks in Indian.
Pray, then, pray often for all of us, and especially for the poor Indian missionary, who signs himself the devoted servant of all, but particularly of your reverence. -- E. Sorin
In another letter from the same book written about the same time (1842) to a Father Chappe, he speaks again of the Indians at the time of his arrival:
May God be blessed for the many consolations He has given me, in the midst of my new flock at Notre Dame du Lac, where, before I came, there had been no pastor except the missionary from Chicago -- 86 miles from here! . . . I have not yet seen my poor Indians; they have gone hunting, not being aware of my arrival. If they knew a priest was here, they would return at once and throw themselves at his feet to receive his blessing. Their return is fixed for the 6th of January, and then I shall undertake to give them a retreat with the aid of an interpreter.(247)
Br. Aidan's "Extracts" quotes Father Sorin:
I feel a more keen desire than ever before to have here one day an establishment for little orphans. Such it was, it seems, the first intention of Mr. Badin in buying this land. How happy I would be one day to fulfill this pious intention.(248)
An 1899 Chicago Tribune article also describes those earlier times under the heading: "Institution Started in a Wilderness, Where Indians Were the Founders Only Neighbors, Never Received a Dollar of Endowment, but thrived and attained Large Proportion -- College is a Municipality in Itself:"
Within sound of the brawling St. Joe, lying peacefully in grass-grit basins are the twin lakes of Notre Dame. On their gently sloping bluffs are primeval oaks, beneath whose shade councils were held with the Potawatomis and here a little band of religious of the Order of the Holy Cross saw fit more than half a century ago, to lay the crude beginning of a college. The work of Notre Dame was begun. A limitless expanse of wilderness, a log hut, built by unskilled Indians, through the gaping crevices of which the snows swept inward, rising in unwelcome heaps on the humble cots of the occupants, a young priest with a few brothers literally without staff, scrip, or money -- this was Notre Dame in 1842.
Sorin and the Brothers arrived at Notre Dame on November 26, 1842. On August 28, 1843, Feast of St. Augustine, the corner-stone of the main college building was laid. A charter for the college was granted to the University by the legislature of the state on January 15, 1844. Many Indians assisted in erecting the edifice and the session of 1844 opened in the new building. Some rooms were occupied by June, 1844. In August 1844, closing exercises of the first years school took place. Alexis Coquillard, afterwards the wealthy South Bend wagon builder, was the first student enrolled. When the original small bit of land became inadequate, they reclaimed hundreds of acres of malaria infested swamplands.(249)
A Scholastic reports: "On July 4, 1848 at commencement exercises, a premium was awarded Thomas La Fontaine, Indian son of the Chief of the Miamis."(250)
In later years Sorin in his Chronicles paints a charming picture of the campus in 1860:
Notre Dame has been known for some years past as one of the leading Catholic institutions of the West. It possesses a little domain of seven hundred acres of land on the banks of the St. Joseph River, two miles from South Bend, the county seat of St. Joseph County. This property contains two little lakes or bodies of spring water, on the banks of which, to the east, the University of Notre Dame is built. It has today the appearance of a most agreeable and most romantic little village.(251)
In creating yet another picture of what the Notre Dame campus was like when Indians were still apart of it, I have excerpted the following interesting early descriptions from Howard's History Of St. Joseph County Indiana:(252)
To the right of you, to the left of you, in front of you, and behind you, reigned the primeval forest. There were not thirty acres of clearance in the whole section of land belonging to the college.
In 1876 Howard recalls those earlier times:
. . . when several of the students were sons of civilized Indian Chiefs or other distinguished braves among the remnants of the tribes yet left in northern Indiana and southern Michigan, even finer sport was found in the weekly excursions, by foot and carryalls and other hired vehicles and winter sleigh rides. Bears, wolves, deer, turkey, coons, opossums, catamounts and prairie hens were found in the pathless woods and prairies, while the lakes and streams were covered with wild geese and other aquatic game.
On one of these occasions it is related:
The boys found a bear in a bee tree, trying to rob the honey. The Indian boys soon smoked out the bear, and then made short work of him, much to the amazement of their white companions. They managed also to get the honey which the unfortunate bear had been after.
With the Indians and the bears, such exciting excursions came to an end; but the charms of the weekly tramps continue even to this day. They are, however, of necessity now confined to the grounds of the University and chiefly by the margins of the charming lakes.
I had my evidence, Indians were very much in evidence on the Notre Dame campus from Badin's time until the Indian removal, and even afterward.
Howard's history details those early Indian days in a tearful account of the Indian removal on September 4, 1838, at Menominee village at Twin lakes, five miles southwest of Plymouth. One of the "rendezvous for these foundlings of the forests." He quotes from the reports of General John Tipton who was appointed to command this removal. The Indian Chapel erected by Rev. Stephen Badin, the first Catholic priest ordained in the United States, was used as General Tipton's headquarters. Father Benjamin Petit, also resided there until the quarrel between the Indians and the whites when he left Twin Lakes and retired to South Bend (Notre Dame).
Timothy Howard quotes from a poignant address of Representative Daniel McDonald of Plymouth, Indiana delivered in the house of representatives, Indianapolis, Friday, February 3, 1905 on the bill to erect a monument to the memory of the Potawatomi Indians at Twin Lakes, Marshall county:
He asks the state of Indiana to authorize the erection of a monument to mark the dawn of civilization in northern Indiana; rebuilding of the first house of Christian worship in the entire great northwest, east of the Pacific coast [Badin's Indian Chapel at Menominee village], and to perpetuate the memory of the Potawatomi Indians, owners and first inhabitants of the country north of the Wabash River, and south of the great lakes, whose written history is entirely the work of the white people, the government agents, traders, and schemers who wrote from the white man's selfish and prejudiced standpoint. I stand here today, in this magnificent presence to plead for the Potawatomi Indians; to give their side of the story which has never before been told. As I stand here today, I wish you to imagine that the spirit of the good Indian Menominee has come back after nearly three quarters of a century to tell you the truth in regard to the cruel and inhuman manner in which he and his tribe were treated by the government agents who dispossessed him of his property against his will, without compensation, and forced him and his people into captivity beyond the great Missouri, where he was never heard of again and where he undoubtedly died of a broken heart.
An excerpt from an account of the removal of the Indians underscores the above assertion:
Fraudulent representations were made to induce the red man to leave his native land to encroaching white neighbors. One white lady of wealth and influence was looked upon with the reverence due to a mother by the Indian women. She treacherously lent herself to the deportation scheme, telling her red friends that she would accompany them to the new reservation, which was represented as a land of milk and honey. She did indeed accompany them thither, but, having acted as a decoy returned.(253)
Whither they went and how they fared,
Nobody knew and nobody cared.
Daniel McDonald concluded his stirring 1905 address with these words:
They are now all gone -- not one is left to tell the story. But whether the legislature authorizes the erection of this monument or not the Potawatomi Indians will not be forgotten.(254)
Their memory has been preserved, and will continue to be perpetuated for all time to come in the rivers, lakes and various localities bearing their names. Aubenaube and Kewanna, and Tiosa, in Fulton county, and the beautiful Tippecanoe, with its rippling waters of blue; and the picturesque Manitou, and the lovely Maxinkuckee, the St. Joseph, and especially the famous Wabash, where
'Round my Indiana homestead wave the cornfields,|
In the distance loom the woodlands clear and cool;
It was there I spent my days of early childhood --
It was there I learned the love of nature's school.
I can hear my mother's voice call from the doorway
As she stood there years ago and watched for me;
I can hear the birds sing sweetly in the springtime,
On the banks of the Wabash, far away.
Oh, the moon is fair tonight along the Wabash
From the fields there comes the breath of new-mown hay,
Through the sycamores the candle-lights are gleaming
On the banks of the Wabash, far away.'(255)
All these names will perpetuate for all time to come the memory of the Potawatomi Indians, the first owners and inhabitants of all the beautiful country north of the Wabash river and south of the great lakes.
'The Indians all have passed away,
Further confirmation of the presence of a few Indians at Notre Dame even after the removal is evident in the following words spoken by Father Sorin at a time when he was considering the question as to when the new Sacred Heart Church should be dedicated:
What a consolation will it not be to see the dedication of a temple in honor of our Blessed Mother on the spot where we well remember having seen with our own eyes the wigwams and the fires of the Potawatomis!(256)
An old ledger containing early obituary records on the college recorded this death notice, entered on the 28th of March, 1847 for William Richardville (1846-1847). This additional information was also included:
This young man, the son of an Indian Chief, of the Miami Tribe was our first student who died. He died of consumption in the old building where the present Infirmary stands in the actual corridor between the students office and the minims wash room. He was the first person buried in the present Parish Graveyard [Cedar Grove Cemetery].(257)
Further on in the same ledger was another Indian death, John LaFountaine, this one accidental:
This young man, the son of the Indian Chief of the Miami tribe, was here a student for several years. At that time he manifested a great delight in Church Service particularly in ringing the bell. He would claim this honor before returning from vacation as a great favor. Unhappily, he did not persevere in this pious disposition. He became addicted to drink in the course of time, and died in consequence of a fall. But he was attended, I think, by the priest of the place. May his soul rest in peace. He was 25 years old or about.
All of the above gives credence to the presence of more than one Indian chief who might have been associated with the campus, before and after Sorin's arrival, in 1842. And any of the aforementioned Indian chiefs might have been in the vicinity and could have told the story, which became the legend.
My own feeling is that the Indian gatekeeper, who was also in the Tippecanoe Battle, if he was Chief Sagganee, is more likely to be the chief in the legend. Mainly, because he was elderly in 1859, and could have been there during the time the legendary sycamore tree might have taken root. He would also have been on campus over a period of years, long enough for the legend to have been passed on to the Brothers, who passed it on to one another. Chief John Peashway and his father-in-law, who was also a chief, since they lived on the land across from the future golf course, might also have been frequent visitors on the grounds.
Aging the legendary sycamore now became of prime importance and sharing the legend had to be just around the corner. It was time to move on . . . .