Ohio Indian Killings in Piqua, Ohio...Story of the Dilbone Family Massacre of 1813...

A few miles outside of Piqua, Ohio, there is an old millstone mounted on a platform. It is right alongside Rt. 36, on the north side of the road. My husband, Tom, had passed by this millstone twice a day for years, on his way to work, but didn't really know what it was. I had never even noticed the millstone, although I'd been by it many times, too.

Today, we decided to go check it out, and found that it was a memorial for the Dilbones---two settlers, man and wife, who were killed by Indians in 1813.

This is their story...

Henry Dilbone and his wife, Barbara, moved to Springcreek Township, Miami County, Ohio in 1806, five years after they were married. This was about 5 miles east of present day Piqua. They lived in a cabin on the bank of Spring Creek, owning a total of 180 acres.

There was only one other settler in this township besides them. Only a few others settled in the area in the next seven years...

When the War of 1812 ended, over 6,000 Indians had settled near Indian Agent Col. John Johnston's house, which was just north-west of Piqua. The majority of the Indians were peaceful, but there were a few who weren't. Two of these were Shawnee Indians named Tecumseh, and his brother, who was known as "The Prophet". Tecumseh would openly encourage attacks on settlers, reminding the other Indians that the British would pay a good amount for a white scalp.

At the same time, the Dilbones often traded with the peaceful Indians, giving them bread in exchange for deer and turkey meat. He spent a lot of time talking to the Indians, often expressing his opinions about Tecumseh and the other troublemaking Indians. It's said that his words traveled back to one of these Indians by the name of Mingo George, who was Shawnee.

August 18th, 1813...The day of terror

On August 18th, 1813, Henry and Barbara Dilbone went out into one of their fields to pull flax, a grass-like plant used to spin into thread for material. They took along their four children, who were 7, 5, 3, and 9 months old, settling them in the shade of a black walnut tree. The oldest child, John, was the main witness to what happened next...

Henry had been kneeling in the field when he heard his dog start barking. He stood up and was shot in the chest by an Indian who'd been standing at the edge of the field. He had a younger Indian with him who had not carried a weapon. Barbara, recognizing the older Indian as Mingo George, took off running towards her children. Mingo George caught up with her and struck her in the back with his tomahawk.

Reports vary here as to whether George scalped her or not, but the son, John, did not report this happening. As George and his accomplice walked up to the children, they heard a shot in the distance. At this moment, the Indians turned and ran away. It was found out later that the shot was from another attack which killed the Dilbone's neighbor, David Garrard, who lived four miles south of them.

John took the younger children back to their cabin, where a neighbor arrived shortly afterwards, after hearing the gunshot. John took the neighbor back to where his mother lay dead. His father was nowhere to be seen. The neighbor then took the children to his home.

Since it was getting dark, a search party was organized for early the next morning, and they found Henry Dolbone in the woods near the field, still alive, but he died a day later. The bodies were secretly buried not far from where they were murdered. It's reported that the reason for the secrecy was so the Indians would not find the bodies and scalp them for the reward.

Mingo George was hunted down and executed a few weeks later...

Discovering the Dilbones burial spot...and later the memorial and service

In 1918, when the old Piqua-Urbana Rd(now US 36) was being re-surfaced, the workers discovered human bones that were proven to be from Henry and Barbara Dilbone. Later, in 1949, a four foot millstone was erected as a memorial marker.

During the memorial service, a now deceased Piqua historian named Leonard Hill closed the service with these words:

"May all who view this marker be reminded that: the present day comforts of life, the ease of acquiring a living and our assurance of security were not always thus. All of our pioneering ancestors endured many great hardships and a few, as the Dilbones, made the supreme sacrifice."

It is amazing how sometimes we pass through hallowed grounds, and don't realize what had taken place there in the past.

Close-up of engravings.
Close-up of engravings.
Engraved Indian.
Engraved Indian.

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Comments 51 comments

Candie V profile image

Candie V 7 years ago from Whereever there's wolves!! And Bikers!! Cummon Flash, We need an adventure!

Thank you Tammy for a great hub. For whatever reasons, and however we feel about America's history, we need to remember it all, without malice toward anyone, not taking sides... But it is our history and we need to know all of it.

TamCor profile image

TamCor 7 years ago from Ohio Author

Thank you Candie--I feel the same way...

There is a lot of history is this town, and this area, that we live in, and I've just scratched the surface with this hub...I hope to start digging a little deeper, and writing about more of it as I can...

Thanks again for your comment!

shamelabboush profile image

shamelabboush 7 years ago

This is so sad, I am sorry for them.

ralwus 7 years ago

Hi Tam. This is very interesting to me as i am part Cherokee. I don't see 2 people killed as a massacre though. We have a marker here too for a real massacre of I think 15 Indians who had gone on a rmpage against white settlers. Rangers from the east were sent to hunt them down and they were slaughtered and buried right at the entrance to our city. Their spirits are screaming to me at night as I sit on patio reflecting on life alone under the stars. The screams echo up the hill from a mile away to me for vengeance and justice for what has befallen the many nations of natives.

alekhouse profile image

alekhouse 7 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky

Good story, Tammy. I am also part Cherokee, but that doesn't make the story any less valid. I think ralwus is right though, we need to look at both sides. It was a terrible time in our history for our country and injustices were committed to both sides. Unfortunately, that's the way it is with war.

TamCor profile image

TamCor 7 years ago from Ohio Author

shamelabboush--Thank you for your comment--you're right, it is sad...especially for the children.

CC--I'm not sure what to say, so I guess I'll just do the best I can. My son is part Cherokee, also, as is my husband. I understand the atrocities committed, and my heart aches for those who were wronged... from both sides...

When we first checked out this marker, I had no clue what it was about...I just wanted to see what it was, and possibly write about it. My first thoughts, though, as I started researching this story, was not about who was wronged--Indian or white man--it was about the four little children who lost their parents on that terrible day...to THEM, it was a massacre, I'm sure.

I can't imagine how those poor little ones felt, watching their parents killed. That's what ran through my mind the whole time I was reading about this, and writing about it...

alekhouse--Thank you for your comments--and for understanding. If that marker would have been about the massacre of an Indian couple by white men, I'd have written about that. You're absolutely right--it was a terrible time in our history for both sides...and especially, to me at least, for the surviving children, and families, of both the white man and the Indian who lost loved ones...

Thank you all for your comments, I appreciate your honesty.

Tom Cornett profile image

Tom Cornett 7 years ago from Ohio

TamCor....great work on this. As ralwus said,"The spirits cry out." They cry out from both sides....Indian and white children were orphaned because of blind haterd. The Native Americans, same as the Euopeans were murdering each other long before a white man ever set foot on the land.

An Iroquois friend once told me,"We should all be at peace and walk together....there is no path to the past....there is only the steps past the graves of war.......let them rest...let us do better....let us be brothers."

TamCor profile image

TamCor 7 years ago from Ohio Author

Thank you, Tom...I love what your friend said--it makes so much sense, doesn't it? Don't ever forget the past, but learn from it and go on, the best that you can...that goes for every aspect in life...~~hugs~~

Candie V profile image

Candie V 7 years ago from Whereever there's wolves!! And Bikers!! Cummon Flash, We need an adventure!

Tammy and Tom - my heart exactly.

TamCor profile image

TamCor 7 years ago from Ohio Author

Thank you Candie...~~hugs~~ :)

Candie V profile image

Candie V 7 years ago from Whereever there's wolves!! And Bikers!! Cummon Flash, We need an adventure!

Hugs returned!!

Connie Smith profile image

Connie Smith 7 years ago from Tampa Bay, Florida

Very interesting hub, TamCor. Living most of my life in northern Montgomery County, I too am fascinated by the local history. Years ago, I read the Frontiersman, by Allan W. Eckert. I recommend it. It is written like a novel, using artistic license with dialogue and such, but it is also a very well researched book with hundreds of footnotes to prove it.

I particularly liked the way it was presented. Simon Kenton (also known as Simon Butler), one of the most famous frontiersman in the midwest, shared alternating chapters with Tecumseh. Each of those chapters were written from those points of view, and I found myself horrified at the atrocities of each group in any given chapter. I also felt emphathy for both and this book gave me a much better understanding of that period in our history.

There is so much in that book about the Piqua area (Pick-a-way, if I remember correctly) and I was fascinated by a battle that I found through the footnotes that was conducted on the grounds of the downtown Dayton Public Library.

john guilfoyle profile image

john guilfoyle 7 years ago

ah man...I'm familiar with this and many other true tales of atrocities...the saddest truest truth is that both sides were victims of hatred, fear, prejudice etc., that were instilled by those who desired and ultimately gained control over the hard working peoples of the times....it always seems that terrible things occur and good peoples suffer and a select few reap immense profits as a result...it is amazing that this tried and true formula continues to be successful, and will continue as long as there is a tidy profit to be gained...

TamCor profile image

TamCor 7 years ago from Ohio Author

Connie--Thank you for commenting, and recommending the book--it's sounds like one both my husband and I would like to read...I have barely even scratched the surface of all the history in this area--the more I read, the more I find out about! It's hard(for me) not to feel empathy for both sides...

John--So true...it seems sometimes that people will never learn from the past, and that's so discouraging to me. Thanks so much for your comment.

Connie Smith profile image

Connie Smith 7 years ago from Tampa Bay, Florida

You are welcome, TamCor. It reminds me of a hub by JamaGenee about being a tourist in your own town. It is funny that many of us go on vacation to other places without ever having visited our own local attractions and historical sites. In our case, there are many to visit (that I never have) like the Air Force Museum at Wright Patterson AFB, several places about Wilbur and Orville Wright, among others. The only time I ever really did any of this was in school on field trips to the Serpent Mound, Carillon Park and a few others I can't remember at this moment.

TamCor profile image

TamCor 7 years ago from Ohio Author

Connie--that's so true...We've lived in Piqua for 11 years now, and know very little about its history. But, after this hub, it makes me want to delve into the rest soon! I'll have to check out Jama's hub--I haven't seen that one yet--thanks!

maggs224 profile image

maggs224 7 years ago from Sunny Spain

A very interesting and moving hub, a sad tale unfortunately not an uncommon story in those troubled times. Well written and it held me right to the end. I look forward to reading more as you explore your local history.

TamCor profile image

TamCor 7 years ago from Ohio Author

Thank you maggs...you're right, it is so sad, and not at all uncommon.

I'm glad to hear your perspective on this--it means a lot!

Dr. Larkin profile image

Dr. Larkin 7 years ago from In the portrait of a madman

Being part Cherokee myself, I am told our tribe never really got along that well with the Shawnee. Nonetheless, it is a relief that there were more peaceful Indians in the area than not. I feel bad for those kids, that must've been terrible

TamCor profile image

TamCor 7 years ago from Ohio Author

Thanks Larkin--I'm so glad to hear your opinion of this--it means a lot to me...

ralwus 7 years ago

TamCor, I too felt horror for that family and my heart ached for the children. Atrocities were done by all sides. It was a cruel world then. I have read many heartbreaking tales of this nature. Some of my own ancestors on both sides were among the 'evil-doers'. My Grandmother's family was fortunate to hide in the mountains and avoided the Trail of Tears. They quickly rejected there 'Indian' heritage and became 'white', intermarried and lied to the Census takers.

A.M. Gwynn 7 years ago

As I started reading comments I got worried that it would fall apart into accusation and disrespect. So glad people respected. History is always interesting and always important. All sides of history. Each era believes they have had it the worst. But that was a hard time in this land, for everyone who lived in it.

This sums the piece up for me nicely:

"be reminded that: the present day comforts of life, the ease of acquiring a living and our assurance of security were not always thus. All of our pioneering ancestors endured many great hardships."

And it was so, for every man woman and child both settler and native of that time. Thanks for some local history.

TamCor profile image

TamCor 7 years ago from Ohio Author

CC--I'm really glad to hear that your grandmother's family avoided the Trail of Tears, but it's so sad that they had to reject their heritage...I am so sorry...

A.M. Gwynn--Thank you for your nice words--I really appreciate them. I, too, was hoping this hub wouldn't stir up controversy--it was not my intention at all.

CC mentioned the Trail of Tears--I have read so much about that time in history, and it always makes my heart ache, reading about it...as well as the horrors done to ALL innocents during that time.

I really wish people could learn from history, and quit repeating it...

Am I dead, yet? 7 years ago

Nice discovery you happened along and find. A lot of things we tend to miss if don't take a look once and awhile. Great read, and also very informative comments.

TamCor profile image

TamCor 7 years ago from Ohio Author

Am I dead, yet--Thanks so much! It's hard to tell how many things like that that we have missed--you're so right...

James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 7 years ago from Chicago

Sad story. Very nicely researched and written by you. Thanks!

TamCor profile image

TamCor 7 years ago from Ohio Author

Thank you so much, James...This was a hard one for me to write--just so sad..., you're right.

lrohner profile image

lrohner 7 years ago from USA

Really great hub. When I read the title, at first I thought I was in for a pretty dry and boring read. You captured my interest in no time and I was intrigued right until the very last word. Good job.

TamCor profile image

TamCor 7 years ago from Ohio Author

Irohner--What a nice thing to say--thank you very much! This was the first time I've attempted this type of story, so I'm glad that it kept your interest...

k@ri profile image

k@ri 7 years ago from Sunny Southern California

This sent shivers down my spine and gave me goosebumps. The words of Leonard Hill are very powerful reminders. Great hub!

TamCor profile image

TamCor 7 years ago from Ohio Author

Thank you so much, k@ri...

Hill's words really make you think, don't they?

ripplemaker profile image

ripplemaker 7 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

Hi TamCor, I was about to jump in with glee and congratulate you for being a Hubnugget Wannabee.  But then reading your hub made me silent and reflective.  And so I am still for awhile as I pause in silence...

To vote for this hub and to join the Hubnuggets click this link:  http://hubpages.com/community/Get-In-Shape-For-Sum...



TamCor profile image

TamCor 7 years ago from Ohio Author

Thank you ripplemaker--I really appreciate your comments on the hub!

And thanks again for the Hubnugget Wannabee nomination--I'm thrilled!

one2recognize2 profile image

one2recognize2 7 years ago from New York

Hi Tammy, wonderful Hub. I am sure the Dilbone's are glad that you wrote about their ordeal so well. Always a fan of history and now I am tempted to research a bit more about my new surroundings. Thank you.

TamCor profile image

TamCor 7 years ago from Ohio Author

one2--You're welcome--thank you, also, for your comments. This area is full of history, and I am just now starting to research it, after living here for 11 years...I'm sure you'll be able to find something in your area, too!

02SmithA profile image

02SmithA 7 years ago from Ohio

wow, I live pretty close to there and I had no idea of this. I'm glad to learn new history, but saddened to hear of such a terrible tragedy. The children had to see such an awful thing take place.

Steve Rensch profile image

Steve Rensch 7 years ago

You write simply. Simple is best.

And you have a way of writing the story in a manner that allows us to feel you but which leaves us to have our own reaction.


Bill Widner 7 years ago

Good piece. Well written, tells the facts, without embellishment, but gives a great jumping off point for a piece of historical fiction based on this. (I have to agree with others though. I would hardly count this as a massacre.

TamCor profile image

TamCor 7 years ago from Ohio Author

02SmithA--Thank you for your comment--I agree, I can't even imagine the children's anguish...

Steve--Thank you--I really appreciate your thoughts on my writing. This is fairly new to me, and so I'm learning as I go...

Bill--Thank you, too, for your thoughts--I honestly love that folks take the time to let me know their feelings on my method of writing.

The stone has the word "massacre" on it, so that is the main reason I used the term in this story. I think that possibly this word was used in a different manner back then, than it is now--

livewithrichard profile image

livewithrichard 7 years ago from Charleston, SC

Amazing story and wonderfully written. Thank you for sharing it with us. It's sad that we take for granted all the sacrafices our ancestors made for us. It's even more sad when we are made to feel guilty for those sacrafices. Loved Mr. Hill's words too.

TamCor profile image

TamCor 7 years ago from Ohio Author

livewithrichard--Thank you for the compliments--I really appreciate it. As I have said before, this was very hard, emotionally, for me to write. I have plans to do more, but will probably wait a little while...

Wealthmadehealthy profile image

Wealthmadehealthy 7 years ago from Somewhere in the Lone Star State

Wonderful Hub! I live in the middle of an Indian Reservation and I am thankful that the ones I know would not commit such horror, but I do understand why the Indians past did these things. I do not agree with the killings, but do understand how they felt stolen from as to their lands. Here, they still hold tribal councils, but are very civil. They produce wild rice and it is interesting learning about their culture.

TamCor profile image

TamCor 7 years ago from Ohio Author

Thank you Wealthmadehealthy--It sounds like you live in an interesting place--I'm envious! I understand, too, what you're saying--there were terrible atrocities on both sides...it's a sad history to look back on.

Nancy 6 years ago

I enjoyed your summary of the Dilbone Massacre and the responses from others. I plan to see the memorial one day, as Henry and Barbara Dilbone were my g-g-g-g-grandparents.

You may not be aware of this, but Barbara (Millhouse) Dilbone's sister, (Susannah Millhouse Simmons) had just returned to Piqua not too long before this happened, after being held captive as one of the few survivors of the Fort Dearborn Massacre. Her husband, John Simmons, and her young son were killed in the massacre and Susannah and her infant daughter Susan managed to survive. They were held captive for several months and she was forced to travel by foot for hundreds of miles from Chicago to Greenbay, WI and then to Detroit before being ransomed and returned to Miami County, Ohio. The child Susan later married into the Winans family of Miami County and later left Ohio for Iowa. She is believed to be the first white child born in (what was soon after) Chicago. There are numerous historical markers in Chicago that commemorate the Fort Dearborn Massacre. Few in your area know these interesting tales of the early history of Miami County. The same is true in Chicago (where I live).

Pete 6 years ago

Many years ago I lived very close to that site. I would travel past that marker but I never bothered to stop and see what it said. Thanks for the article. It was very interesting. There are several markers near Johnston's farm also. Recently I visited the area near the farm and also the graves where Johnston and his family are buried.

Greensleeves Hubs profile image

Greensleeves Hubs 4 years ago from Essex, UK

This is an interesting little story TamCor about an episode which may be long forgotten and inconsequential in the long history of the struggles in the pioneering days of America, but which was clearly deeply tragic for the lives of the family and especially the children. It makes one appreciate how difficult and uncertain life was for settlers back then.

The words of the Piqua historian are very true, and so is your parting comment - I live in a country steeped in history, but in so many towns and cities there are little reminders of events long ago, which the majority of residents are totally unaware of. History is so interesting and full of stories like the one which you relate. Voted up. Alun.

jlwilgus 3 years ago

This is so interesting. My 4th Great Grandfather was William "Rowdy" Richardson. His second wife was Catherine Millhouse who was a sister to Barbara Dillbone. This masacre that happened to his wifes sister and husband made him mad to the point of hunting down the three Shawnees and Rowdy is the one that killed them. He killed Mingo George on the Auglaize River. I have copies of this masacre and articles of the story where Rowdy killed the three indians. I love this!!!!! Rowdy lived to be 109 years old and died of injuries sustained by breaking a colt. Also Rowdy and General "Mad" Anthony Wayne were first cousins, their mothers were sisters.

stephfogt 3 years ago

This is all interesting information! I have been to The Piqua Library History Department, which has an incredible amount of information from this time era. I am interested in reading about any ancestors of the time of approx. 1775- 1820 or so. My 6th Great Grandfather was John Manning and he had purchased the log cabin from Job Gard along the Miami river and erected the first grist mill in the town. He arrived in 1799 and Colonel Johnston was a huge part of keeping peace with the Indians so that the new settlers could industrialize and begin to develop the city. My Great Grandfather (6th) Manning along with Matthew Caldwell applied for land deeds for sections of the town. I have a copy of ours, signed by James Madison (President). Armstrong Brandon laid out the land plots for sale for new settlers to purchase. At one point, the War with Mad Anthony Wayne and a Fort was constructed to keep the Indians out. Matthew Caldwell's daughter married Col. Johnston and I am sure that everyone knew each other and had business dealings together as well as discussions of how to keep peace while the town developed. It is terribly interesting and many books exist with a depth of history about the significance of the pioneership of Piqua. MANY people have no clue of the historical significance of many of the happenings of that time. As well, a descendant of the Dillbones, I remember her as Mrs. Dillbone, lived to a ripe age next to what is now the YWCA - I recall my mother taking her books and baked goods when she could no longer get out and about. The house has since been replaced, sadly. John Manning had 12 children and it would be interesting to see if any were married to some of the names I have seen mentioned above.

Mary, a Dilbone decendant 2 years ago

Thank you for keeping my family's memory alive.

Earl Wagner 20 months ago

My uncle lived right across the road from the Marker. I walked across 36 one day and read it's description. I had no idea they were buried there.

rachelle 6 months ago

I'm also Rowdy was my 4th great grand father as well. Looks like I'm related to a few people on this thread!

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