Map of Smyrna

An early map of Smyrna in Marion Township, Decatur County.

DECATUR COUNTY – I found reading what Alma Martin wrote about the evidence of Native Americans living in Clinton Township (in what is now Smyrna) very interesting. Mind you, we all know that Native Americans did live here before the “white people” began streaming in and changing the landscape.

Here is what Alma Martin wrote about the land there in Smyrna where the Native Americans had a settlement, and about a veteran of the War of 1812 (that is the estimated time when the Indians were removed from their lands, especially in this area.)

“The Smyrna Church was built in 1816 and called Saint Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church” wrote Alma. “There was a little burying lot for the Jasper Mozingo family consisting of seven graves. A soldier, killed in the War of 1812, his wife and seven children we were told. The government placed a small stone on Mr. Mozingo’s grave and the rest were just small stones out of the creek but still standing erect the last time I was there. Loving hands must have placed them there. The Redelmans own the farm now.”

I checked in the cemetery records of Marion Township that the Cemetery Association did back in the 1960s and early 1970s and found lots of Mozingos buried there but didn’t find a War of 1812 veteran, so that will be some homework that needs doing.

About the “Indians” that lived there, Alma Martin wrote: “There was an Indian Reservation in the south field on the east side of the lane. It must have been there several years because we have found so many arrows and an Indian axe and lots of flint pieces that weren’t finished. My grandpa said the white people came in and took their land by force before they had a chance to save their belongings. They set fire to their wigwams and they had to go.”

Alma wrote that the early settlers settled there, close to four springs of water on the east side of the little brook and two on the other. “They watch so they would have good clear spring water to use. A map I saw shows Vernon Fork, Mascatatuck River going into the community and some creek type waters there. Grandpa built a little milk house over the one spring on the west side and it kept the milk and butter ice cold in summer.”

Something I have noticed in any research about the Indians anywhere in Indiana is that they always made their village near plenty of water, which makes sense.

The description of Marion Township and the Smyrna area in the 1882 Atlas of Decatur County states that it was originally supplied with fine timber such as walnut, sugar and popular, together with beech, ash and elm, but by 1882 most of the good timber had been for the most part exhausted. There are at least two good water sources very close to what became Smyrna, as explained above.

We’ve heard of the battles in the western and northern parts of the state,, but as far as I could learn there was no battles when the white settlers started moving into this part of Indiana (with the exception of Pigeon Roost).

Some years ago, I wrote about the community in southern Indiana named Pigeon Roost in what is now Clark County. Several families from Kentucky moved there around 1809. I read somewhere that it was named Pigeon Roost because there were so many pigeons around there – sort of like the community named Possum Glory that I wrote about years ago.

But some Native Americans, especially the Shawnee, the Delaware and maybe some Potawatomi, took exception to the family taking over the land they thought belonged to them.

The massacre happened about three years after the families settled there. That was the first part of September 1812. The Native Americans organized a war party and surprised the Pigeon Roost settlers. At almost the same time, other Native Americans attacked Fort Harrison in western Indiana and in the northern part of Indiana.

Nine adults and 15 children were killed. The Native Americans also took two children with them. Only about four of the attackers were killed. Some families who live in Decatur County had ancestors at Pigeon Roost.

This ends the Smyrna saga until later.

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