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.
To read more about this...
- Dilbone Massacre; shelby county ohio historical society
This was one of the reports that I referenced while writing this.