During the time of George Washington and the Revolutionary War, Americans were
moving westward at the same time they were fighting the British so America could be
a nation. It had always been a pattern, moving onwards into the unexplored
woodlands, ever since the Pilgrims had come.
There would be land, rich and unplanted, that they could get to plant crops and
settle their families. They could establish towns in the new territories, where doctors and
lawyers and drug store owners (apothecaries) could practice trades. A whole new
world would open up where only woodlands had been.
The first settlement spot in a new woodland world would be a log or sometimes stone
fort. Whether it was in New York State, in Pennsylvania at Pittsburg, in western Virginia
or the south or in Kentucky at Knoxville or Harrodsburg, log forts were the first home of
People wanting to build a log fort would look for good ground near a river or Indian
path for easy traveling. They would probably start simply, with a cabin in the middle
and a strong, high wall or “palisade.” Trees would be cleared for crops and so no
enemy could sneak up on the people in the fort. From the fallen timber, the men
sharpened logs and placed them in the tall pole fence. They would need to include,
or be near, water. Deer, rabbit, squirrels and other game animals would be nearby for
Such a fort, an early one, was built even before the Revolution in the “outpost” of
what would be Indiana. It was started as an Indian trading post by the French in the
late 1600s. It was near the starting point of the Maumee River. Miami Indians would
come in, bringing beaver skins which people used to make hats. They would receive
pot and pans, blankets and trinkets in return. Many Indians settled around the trading
fort and named their village Kiskakong or Kekionga. English also occupied the fort, at
some point calling it Miamitown after the Miami Indians who were clustering there.
But the particular fort, Fort Wayne, we are interested in was built just after
Washington and his men had won the Revolution. Now the territory of the Midwest
would be American, so a fort in the wilderness was needed. The old French and English
fort on the site near the river had been deserted but some stray people continued to
trade furs. The Indians were angry that white men were coming into their territory and
ready to fight them for Indiana.
In 1790 Washington wanted to take that fort at Miamitown and Americans fought a battle. The Indians won this under their leader Little Turtle. But then General Anthony Wayne defeated the Indians at the Battle of Fallen Timbers and in 1794 he built a fort on that old site, what would be the town of Ft. Wayne, Indiana. Today it is the second largest town in Indiana, 250,000 people but then-nothing but the fort and an Indian
General Wayne’s fort was decayed by 1800 and a new fort had to be built, and it is
this second fort we will visit and meet our avatar people in the year of 1805.