KOSCIUSKO COUNTY —In January of 1966 the Kosciusko County Historical Society was formed. One hundred sixty-five persons attended the first meeting held at the courthouse. From that beginning fifty years ago, the society has grown to nearly 500 members and has become the caretaker of the Old County Jail (now a museum), the Chinworth Bridge (Greenway Trailhead) and the Pound Store in Oswego (oldest commercial building in county). But the society does not only preserve historical sites, they also are the caretakers of the official county records, and business, family, and personal histories.
The Potawatomi Indian Chief, Monoquet, was the most influential of the five chiefs residing in Kosciusko County at the time white people came to the county in 1832. In 1835, chief Monoquet age was estimated as 60 years. This would place his birth at about 1775 or near the beginning of the Revolution. He became a young warrior at age 15 or 16.
His village contained about fifteen bark-covered wigwams, which were scattered randomly over two or three acres of land on the north bank of the Tippecanoe River near the site of the present day racket club on S.R. 15 N.
Monoquet was a thin, spare man, stood five feet seven inches high in his moccasins, his forehead was high and rather square, his eyes small and bright, his nose was aquiline, his voice was tenor, clear and sharp. He never left Kosciusko county, and died before the forced migrations of his people to Kansas.
Monoquet’s death was sudden. He became ill from what his tribesmen believed was poison. An Indian woman, who had been visiting Monoquet’s tribe, was accused of the poisoning the chief. The Indian woman fled the area, but two of Monoquet’s warriors found her one mile south of Leesburg and killed her for the suspected poisoning. Monoquet was given an Indian type burial south of his village.
Kosciusko County’s great Miami chief was Chief Papakeechie, also known as “Flat-belly”. He was one of the most politically powerful chiefs of the Miami nation in 1834. He claimed a total of 36 sections of land located in Kosciusko and Noble Counties, including approximately one-half of the eastern side of Lake Wawasee.
Papakeechie was a large strong Indian of a dark copper color. He weighed approximately 300 pounds and was 60 years old in the 1830’s. He lived in a one-story brick house (built for $600) given to him by the United States government in exchange for land. Chief Wawasee was the other Miami chieftain. He was a brother of Flat-belly and a minor leader. Like his brother, Wawasee, he was big and strong. This chief dressed up for special occasions by wearing a large silver ring that hung from the cartilage of his note. He sometimes substituted a fish bone for the ring. In the mid 1830’s, Wawasee’s village was situated near the southeast corner of Lake Waubee, approximately two and one-half miles southeast of Milford.
Born in 1772, Musquawbuck was chief of the Potawatomi band in Plain Township (Oswego, Tippecanoe Lake) from 1800 until his death in 1837. He had four known sons: Macose, Mazette, John, and Bill. He was 65 years old when he died a natural death and is buried near Oswego. He was at the Tippecanoe Treaty north of Rochester where he was allotted four sections of land between Leesburg and Tippecanoe Lake. These lands were taken back by the United States government in 1838, one year after his death.
Pottawatomi Chief Mota, whose face was disfigured by the loss of a part of his nose, ruled a reservation of four sections of land approximately one mile due east of Atwood and south on the banks of the Tippecanoe River.
Pottawatomi Chief Checose was a shrewd land dealer with the whites. He was the leader of the Indians living on four sections of land located on the banks of the Center Lake, northwest of Warsaw (now North Lake Street).
The Kosciusko County Historical Society has two books published for our 50th anniversary, That’s Life and Schools Kosciusko County, 1835-1975. That’s Life contains short stories of interesting people, places and events in the county and is available at the Old Jail Museum for $18.16. Schools of Kosciusko County, 1835-1975 will be available in September for $37.50 plus tax (Pre-order your book now. Supplies are limited). Contact the society for more information, (574) 269-1078.