Early Indiana Artist (1809-
George Winter was born in
Portsea, England and came
to America in 1830. He
studied art at the National
Academy of Design in New
York and moved to
Cincinnati to be near family
in 1835. In the spring of
1837, he moved to
Logansport, Indiana, where
he painted some of his
best known work, including
portraits of Frances Slocum
and her native family.
Logansport is situated on
the Wabash River, 30
miles northeast of
The Wabash River and its
broad valley were Miami
hunting grounds since at
least 1700. The Wabash
and its tributaries are
Miami named places. As
the Miami and their allies
were being dispossessed of
their lands in the 19th
century, the Miami
gathered on a large
reserve in current Wabash
and Miami counties. When
George Winter appeared
on the scene, he was in the
heart of Miami country.
Through his art, letters,
and journals we've been
left with a rich source of
enthnohistory of the Miami
Winter's materials on the
tribes of Indiana display
relatively little of the
cultural bias of white
superiority generally held
by many during the 19th
century. George Winter's
work and correspondence
reveals him as a curious
student and keen observer
of native life and people.
|Trail of Death
Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin. For the most part the Indians were either tricked
or threatened into giving up their land by the United States government.
In 1830 President Andrew Jackson decided the US government needed to permanently
remove all of the Native Americans living east of the Mississippi River. Jackson urged the
United States Congress to pass the Indian Removal Act. This law allowed Jackson to make
treaties with Native Americans in the East who traded their lands for new territory in the
Great Plains (Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma).
In 1836 President Jackson signed a treaty with two Potawatomi brothers (Memat-way and
Cha-quaw-ka-ko Toisa). It signed away all of the Potawatomi land in Indiana and Illinois
for $8000, minus the repayment of some of the Indian's debts. The US government also
agreed to provide transportation, food, and shelter for the Potawatomi during their trip to
their new lands in Kansas. No one is sure if these brothers were the actual leaders of the
Potawatomi, but President Jackson accepted their signatures anyway.
In 1838 the US government removed the Potawatomi from Indiana and Illinois. The man in
charge of the removal, General John Tipton, captured several of the leaders of the tribe to
ensure there would be no uprising. He rounded up over 850 Potawatomi Indian people
and marched them west at gunpoint from their Indian homeland, through Illinois, and
finally into Kansas. Many walked the 660 mile distance, which took two months. The US
Government had hired shady businessmen to provide the food, shelter, and water for this
trip, and this decision caused a disaster. With rotten food, poor shelter, and a lack of
water, many Potawatomi soon began to become ill and die. More than 40 died, mostly
children, of typhoid fever and the stress of forced removal. Even their young priest, Rev.
Benjamin Petit, became ill on the trail and died at the Jesuit seminary in St. Louis on
February 10, 1838.
What follows is the story of the Potawatomi Trail of Death told by the men and women who
were a part of this dark chapter of our nations history.
"In 1838, a large emigration of the Pottawattamies took place, under the direction of Genl.
John Tipton and Col. A.C. Pepper, and immediately under the superintendence of Genl.
Marshall, and his subordinates. Much that is sad and touching relates to their removal
It was only by a deceptive (in a moral point of view) and cunning cruel plan, they were
coerced to emigrate … By convening a special Council of the principal Chiefs and Head men,
at the Catholic Mission at the Twin Lakes, near Plymouth, under the pretence of a Council
of Amity, and good will, [Genl. Tipton] secured them as prisoners. A high handed act, for
such it was. For its execution, stern necessity, must be the apology. The policy was as
painful, as it was successful.
This was followed up by the detailing parties to volunteers, who had been previously
enlisted under authority, to bring in from the different villages, men, women and children
into Camp. …
The Camp was now in full organization, but volunteers cam crowding in from all parts of
the State, in anticipation of the Indians resisting, of which at one time, there was a
seeming probability. Very varied was the character of this heterogeneous body of men.
Some were of the highest respectability in the state, and others, in appearance at least,
vagabonds and pillagers of the lowest order, such as humanity would recognize. …
… the whitemen were gathering thick around them, which was but a sad necessity for
their departure. Still they clung to their homes. But the flames of the torch were applied –
their villages and wigwams were annihilated. The principal Chiefs were secured by the
strong arm of authority, and lead or rather driven Captives out of the land at the point of
the bayonet! It was truly a melancholy spectacle, that awoke a deep feeling of sympathy
for their unhappy fate.” (GWMSS 1-15 , 1-12 )
"Ash-kum was an orator of some consideration and distinction; he however was not
continued in such capacity, when I knew him in 1837 …
In his speeches he always went into a circumlucutary historical account of his tribe, and
the various treaties made with the government he was very minute, tedious and
perplexing, although he had perspicuity of thought, and could clearly express himself …
It was therefore in consequence of Ash-kum’s verbosity and tediousness of detail, that
Col. Pepper requested that in his future business with the Pottawattamies, some other
speaker should be appointed by the Indians. Knas-wa-kay was chosen – and Became
their principal orator …
Ash-kum in person stood above the middle heighth, and some fifty years of age –
perhaps some moons more. … He could not speak much English, though he could make
himself amusingly understood. …
Ash-kum was among those old chiefs who retained their prejudices against having
themselves portrayed – or from the secret contempt for being remembered among white
men through the medium of the pencil. Yet he was amused at others whom I painted, and
was ever ready with his spicy joke upon their likenesses.
To me personally he was friendly and ever wore a smile upon his countenance when we
met on the council group in the forest, or at the town of Logansport where he often came
to trade at Ewing & Walker & Cos well known trading establishment.
I do not remember seeing him among the large number of converts to Christianity under
the missionary labors of Father Petit.
He was however free from the vice of drinking. … He was a peaceable man, but opposed
the emigration westward in 1837. …
He however fell into ranks, in the fall of 1838, when the strong arm of the U.S.
Government coerced the Indians through the active and determined cooperation of Genl.
John Tipton with Col. A.C. Pepper & Col Lewis H. Sands. …
Ashkum was strongly attached to his native forests and lakes – and left Indiana with a
deep feeling of regret." (GWMSS 2-6 , 2-6 )
"After the first days’ march, the Emigration camped upon a small prairie x near a run known
by the unpoetical sobroquet of “Mud Creek” …
About 18 miles from Logansport Muddy Creek crosses the Michigan road. Creek is called
by the sobroquet which it so well deserves – the water as it passes sluggish along has no
small quantity of alluvial matter incorporated with it. On a small prarie near this creek on
 Sept  a thousand Indians of the Pottawattamie tribe encamped after a hard days
travel in sickness – and in tribulation. …
The group of the captive Chiefs was truly a saddening sight, as they lay surrounded by a
vigilant citizen soldiery. Nor did their condition fail to reach even the hearts of many a
settler, who rejoiced mostly, at the x departure of them as a nation. …
On the 9th of [Sept.], the emigration moved some 18 miles towards Logansport, and
camped near Horney’s Mill, in a grove of friendly timber near the vicinity of Eel river. Here
they rested on the sabath.” [GWMSS 1-15 , 2-32 )
"[Sun-go-waw] was among the several Warriors, Chiefs, and Headmen who were made
prisoners at the Catholic Mission at the Twin Lakes. …
Sun-go-waw was one of Father Petit’s converts, and of great usefulness to the Priest in
his godly purposes and work in the Pottawattamie people.
He acted in the capacity of Interpreter to the good father, with marked usefulness and
Sun-go-waw was among the principal men of those who were carried prisoners (in
waggons) at the head of the column of the emigration.
About one week after the departure of the Indians, Sun-go-waw was released, and sent
back to Logansport, with a despatch to Genl. John Tipton, by Genl. Morgan, in command of
the Indians. This commission was a post of honor, which Sun-go-waw greatly
appreciated. I remember the day he appeared at Logansport. He enquired of me as I
stood at Capt. C. Vigus' Hotel corner, for Genl. Tipton's residence, which was about a mile
distant from the bridge, eastward, up the Wabash, which he readily found.
Sun-go-waw faithfully performed the duty confided to him. He received an answer from
Genl. Tipton, and on the following day he returned, alone to overtake the emigration, which
he had left several days previously. This was the last time that Sun-go-waw was seen on
the 'loved Wabash.'" (GWMSS 2-24 )
Father Petit Preaches to the Indians
"It was in the month of [September] 1838, and on a sabbath day, that the Pottawattamie
emigration column rested within the shadow of a large grove, near a clear stream of water,
in close vicinity of the Eel River. This was a halt after the second day's march to their far off
destination, West of the Mississippi.
It was here that the Rt. Rev. Brute, Bishop of Vincennes, preached to x the converted
Independent of the moral aspect of this group, it was one of beautiful picturesque
effect. The singularly draped red people, in bright and startling combinations of color,
blending in harmony with the forest rees, tinged with the influences of the decaying year,
created a deep impression upon the beholder. ...
I sketched this imposing and interesting scene, which embraces perhaps nearly 1000
Indians. I have a Cartoon of this subject - and it has always been a subject near my
heart." (GWMSS 2-24 , 1-15 )
The Emigration Continues
"The morning following this eventful and impressive day, the emigrating column was
formed, headed by the Captive Chiefs who were conveyed in wagons, guarded by the
strictest surveillance. Soon the whole nation were seen moving down the hill sides, along
the banks of the Eel river, on the x way to their westward home. ...
Ah! Well do I remember that scene, as the Indians left a beautiful grove of oaks where
they had encamped a few days previous to their emigration, and descended a gentle
declivity, the summit of which commanded an extensive view of a rich and wide spreading
fertile land - and upon which with many others I stood to view with effect the little band as
they passed by us. ...
... they formed with their heavily packed ponies a picturesque scene, which a painter
could but have deemed lovely as they followed the x serpentine windings of a trail on the
lower wild lands. ... I gazed with many others whom curiosity had brought to the spot, at
the little emigrating band until they faded before us in the western horizon. The Indian's is
a mournful memory!
Many melancholy and touching thoughts passed through the mind and these questions
presented themselves, as the indistinct and fast fading forms of the party were lost to the
view. Has the Redman in his entercourse with the White, witnessed the practice of the
immutable principles of justice and probity which a holy religion teaches? Has he been
taught virtue and divine reverence in x example or by precept? ... To these startling
inquiries let the page of history respond. Could the poor and degraded aborigine give his
history to the world, it could but speak in emphatic language - the continual series of
oppressions of the White man, from the day he first put foot upon the aboriginal soil; ans
surely would the gilded enblazonary of Freedom's boasted escutcheon be tarnished in the
sight of Philanthropy and Justice." (GWMSS 1-15 , 2-32 )
The Mother of We-wis-sa
"It was reported that during the emigration of the Pot-ta-wat-ta-mies in the fall of 1838,
that in consequence of the infirmities of the Mother of We-wis-sa, she became of great
inconvenience to the family in keeping up with the main body of the Indians, and that they
held a council for the purpose of deciding whether they should dispose of the old woman
by the x x tomahawk and there-by relieve themselves of the incumberence of caring for her.
I never heard this confirmed, and therefore never regarded the circumstance of an
authentic character worthy of indorsement." (GWMSS 1-17 [38b])
|Entries from the journal of George Winter, an artist and friend to the Potawatomi.
He witnessed the removal.
|Entries from the diary of Jesse C. Douglas, Enrolling Agent under
General Tipton, the United States' conductor of the forced removal.
captured Menominee's village, closed Father Petit's chapel, sent squads of soldiers in all
directions to bring in & enroll Indians. Preparation for journey. Loaded wagons. Put 3
chiefs in jail wagon: Menominee, Black Wolf, & Pepinawa.
x Tuesday 4th Sept. 21 miles, camped at Chippeway (Tippecanoe River & Michigan Road) in
Fulton County. Left at Twin Lakes Chief San-ga-na [Sun-go-waw] & family of 13 because
sick. 20 Indians escaped & took 2 horses. Roads choked with dust. 286 horses, 26
Wednesday, 5th Sept. 9 miles, camped at Mud Creek. Water scarce. 51 persons too sick
to travel, left at Chippeway. A child was born & a child died. Party of 3 indians joined us.
Thursday 6th Sept. - Sunday 9th Sept. 17 miles, Logansport, Ind. 49 of those left at
Chippeway caught up. 4 children died. Mass conducted on Sunday by [Bishop Brute].
Physicians report 300 cases of sickness so medical hospital erected.
... Saturday 15th Sept. 10 mi., camp by filthy stream near Indiana-Illinois state line. Young
Indians allowed to go hunting. 2 small children died along the road.
Sunday 16th Sept. 15 mi., crossed state line at noon, camped at Danville, IL. Left 7
persons in camp, 1 a woman about to give birth. Whole country afflicted with sickness. 4
whites died in town. Father Petit arrived, got chiefs out of jail wagon, baptized dying
Monday 17th - Wednesday 19th Sept. 6 mi., Sandusky’s Point, Illinois. Remained in camp
due to illness. The sick left behind yesterday caught up, had new baby. 3 children & 2
adults died. A child was born. Dr. Jerolaman assisted by Dr. James Buell of Williamsport.
Thursday 20th Sept. 10 mi., Davis’ Point. Most volunteers discharged, 16 retained. Gen.
Tipton left, Wm. Polke is now in charge.
Friday 21st Sept. 12 mi., Sidney, Ill, chief Muk-kose & a child died.
Saturday 22nd Sept. 16 mi., Sidoris' Grove, Heavy rain, exceedingly cold. A wagoneer
discharged for drunkeness. 2 intoxicated Indians locked up.
Sunday 23rd Sept. 15 mi., Pyatt’s Point on Sangamon river. Father Petit performed service
before journey started. A child died this morning. 29 sick persons left in camp.
Monday 24th - Tuesday 25th Sept. 15 mi. Sangamon Crossing in Illinois. 2 children and 1
adult died. Indian men permitted to go hunting. Sick left in camp yesterday caught up.
Wednesday 26th Sept. 14 mi., Decatur, Ill. The physician is sick. A child died after dark.
Thursday 27th Sept. 14 mi., Long Point, Ill. Indian men procuring so much game that
rations not needed, camp is full of venison.
Friday 28th Sept. 18 mi. Crossed Sangamon River. Polke promised Indians tobacco after
going thru Springfield tomorrow if the present a good appearance. Chief I-o-weh in charge
of celan up. Forage is plentiful. 2 children died during the night.
Saturday 29th Sept. 17 mi., McCoy's Mills. Indians dressed up to pass thru Springfield, Ill.
Camped at stream with little water.
Sunday 30th Sept. 6 mi., Island Grove. A child died. A dragoon (note: soldier) dismissed
Monday 1st Oct. 17 mi., Jacksonville, Ill. A child fell from wagon and was crushed by
wheels, will probably die. Late at night the camp was complimented by serenade from
Tuesday 2nd Oct. 16 mi. Marched into Jacksonville town square where presents of tobacco
and pipes given to Indians by citizens. Band played & escorted Indians. Camped at Exeter.
Wednesday 3d - Thursday 4th Oct. 9 mi., Naples, Ill. Spent 9 hours fording Illinois River.
Able to wash clothese & make mocasins. 2 children died.
Friday 5th Oct. 12 mi., McKee's Creek. Subsistence: beef & flour. Had to hunt for water,
found only in stagnant ponds.
Saturday 6th Oct. 18 mi., barren encampment we named Hobson's Choice. Beef and
potatoes issued to Indians tonight. A child died this evening. Rain, cooler.
Sunday 7th Oct. 12 mi., Mill Creek in Illinois. A child died.
Monday 8th - Wednesday 10th Oct. 7 mi., Quincy, Illinois. Steam ferry across river, entered
Missouri. 3 children died. Permission granted to remain in camp each succeeding Sabbath
for devotional services (note: attended Mass at St. Boniface Catholic Church in Quincy).
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