Fort Wayne Indian Agency collection 1802-1815
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Collection Scope and Content Note

The Fort Wayne Indian Agency collection consists of a letterbook kept by Indian agents John Johnston and Benjamin Franklin Stickney; an English to Ottawa dictionary, likely written by Stickney; and a memorandum book kept by Johnston during his time at Fort Wayne.

The Fort Wayne Indian Agency Letter book (189 pages) was compiled by agents John Johnston (April 15, 1809-November 30, 1811) and Benjamin F. Stickney (April 18, 1812-October 1, 1815), who documented all accounts, disputes, complaints, and other occurrences that transpired between the soldiers at the fort and the Native Americans. The letterbook records the agency business during the critical years before and during the War of 1812, when Fort Wayne was a vital part of American frontier defenses. The volume is comprised of copies of letters, speeches, circulars, and documents, to and from the agents and various departments of the United States government. The correspondents include Presidents Jefferson and Madison; Secretary of State James Monroe, Secretaries of War Henry Dearborn, John Armstrong, and William H. Crawford; the governor of Indiana Territory, William Henry Harrison; and Michigan governors William Hull and Lewis Cass; as well as several Indian chiefs (listed in Additional Descriptive Data). The entries contain lists of supplies received at Fort Wayne, lists of supplies and gifts extended to the Indians, receipts for work done at the garrison, reports on Indian activities, speeches addressed to the Indians, accounts of the war on the frontier, and reports about other conflicts in the area. The volume concludes with a 13-page "statements and observations relating to the Indian department" which summarizes Stickney's efforts during the War of 1812. For a complete transcription of the letterbook, along with a thorough index, see:

Thornbrough, Gayle. Letter Book of the Indian Agency At Fort Wayne, 1809-1815. Indianapolis: Indiana Historical Society, 1961.

The English to Ottawa dictionary (40 pages) contains phonetic spellings for English words in the language of the Ottawa Indians (the Ottawa speak a dialect of Ojibwe). The book, likely composed by Stickney, contains words for mammals, fowl, birds, fish, reptiles, elements (earth, water, wood, stone, clay, etc.) plants, trees, body parts and facial features, food, maladies, medicine, feelings (love, malice, envy etc.), celestial features, weather, clothes and other goods, numbers, colors, and useful phrases. In addition to providing information on the Ottawan language, the dictionary relates concepts and terms that were important to the Americans. This volume was likely never published.

John Johnston kept the Fort Wayne memorandum book (145 pages) during his tenure as Indian agent at Fort Wayne, from 1802-1811. The volume contains both personal and official material. The first entry was March 20, 1801, when Johnson was appointed by General Henry Dearborn to be a clerk in the War Department. He arrived at Fort Wayne on September 20, 1802. The volume contains several lists of supplies for Fort Wayne and for gifts to the Indians, and records bills and accounts from the Indian agency and the War Department. Many of the accounts concern Indian agent William Wells (1802-1803). Johnston also made notes on his daily responsibilities, of enquiries into food and supplies, and on people traveling to and from Fort Wayne and Washington D.C.; Dayton, Ohio; and Detroit, Michigan. Several entries relate to Native Americans, and discuss Little Turtle's adopted son and the husband of Little Turtle's daughter. Among Johnston's personal notes are financial records for planting his farm and orchard in 1808. The memorandum book provides information about life in the Indiana Territory in the early 19th century.

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