|Frances Henshaw's map of Ohio (1832)|
From Rumsey map collection (see below).
Who WAS Major Truman?
Without much to go on, I didn't think that searching for
[ Major Truman killed ]
would give me much. (The words are pretty common.) So I did a quick search on Google Maps to verify that this part of the US near Lake Erie IS in fact in Ohio. Once I looked at the map, I realized that this IS a map of Ohio--just labeled with things I hadn't heard about before. ("Army Lands"? In Ohio?) I hadn't heard of Ft. St. Clair before, and I wasn't sure if "Cincinata" was the same as "Cincinnati" or not. But once I saw the map, it was clear.
And that led to my first search:
[ Major Truman killed Ohio ]
Like many of our Regular Readers, I found the article on Slate (the online magazine) telling the story of Frances Henshaw, a young girl at the Middlebury Female Academy. In April 1823, she put together a "Book of Penmanship" to demonstrate her skills at penmanship and cartography. (This marvelous book can be found at the David Rumsey Map Collection: Frances Henshaw. It's worth looking at the entire book.)
Somewhat to my surprise, the Slate article had a link to the Google Books scan of the Congressional Serial Set #433 (1844) which has the story of Major Truman. His company left to make peace with the local Indian groups. But the negotiations didn't go well, and Truman (and his group) were killed.
This Congressional action was a record of the law Congress passed to extend support to the families of Truman (and his compatriot, Colonel John Hardin, who suffered the same goal... and fate). In the Serial Set it says that:
"...the widow and child of Major Truman three hundred dollars per year for a like time [ 7 years ] ... "
Or, $2100. But then Congress acted to extend $100 / year to the children of Truman and Hardin until they became 21. We know how much the Hardin children received, but it wasn't known how much Truman's child received.
There are many fascinating details here. For instance, why is Congress doing this? Answer: there wasn't a Veteran's Affairs department yet... that was set up in 1930, still a long time in the future. While hospitals and domiciliaries had been set up, Congress was still managing these cases on a one-at-a-time basis. (See the list of statutes passed by Congress in 1793, including the one for Truman and Hardin's families.)
While you're looking at that list of statutes passed, note that Truman is ALSO spelled "Trueman." You have to remember (when doing archival searches) that variant name spellings were common in the 18th century. (Sidebar note: I know this is true in English--was it also true in other languages of the period?? Anyone happen to know?)
While looking for background information, I was trying to understand what Truman (Trueman) and Hardin's (aka "Harding") mission was all about.
By searching for
[ Major Alexander Truman Washington ]
I was pointed to the Wikipedia entry about the Northwest Indian War (a topic about which I admit to knowing nothing), a war that is also known as the "Old Northwest Indian War", the "Ohio War", the "Ohio Indian War", and the "War for the Ohio River Boundary." In U.S. Army records, it is known as the "Miami Campaign." (See footnote 1 below.) So even the simplest searches quickly get complicated.
That same search led me to the FindAGrave site for Truman, which tells us that he was killed near the town of Ottawa, Putnam County, Ohio. That's certainly consistent with everything else we've learned, so I suspect his last stand was somewhere there.
This search also led me to the RootsWebAncestry site for Alexander Truman. But by following up a note I saw there ("... See American State papers, Indian affairs, volume 1, page 243.") I was able to locate the original story of the ill-fated mission. (A link to the high-quality TIFF image of that page from the LOC American State Papers. The site link is here.) It's a sad story. He was killed, then scalped. His scalp was then later recognized by a passenger on a boat going upriver (and confirmed by the man with the scalps he held "...on a small stick...").
|From American State Papers: Indian Affairs, Volume 1, p 243.|
Highlighting by Dan.
Remember that our questions were:
1. Who was Major Truman? Can you find out where (closest current city name) he was killed? And why was he killed here?
2. How much money was paid by Congress to the surviving members of Major Truman's family? (Approximately...)
We figured out much of this already: He was sent out by President Washington to offer a peace treaty to the Indians in that part of Ohio (the Miami tribe). He was apparently killed near Ottawa, in central Ohio, while conducting negotiations.
His family was paid at least $2100 ($300/year for seven years) PLUS $100 / year until his daughter turned 21 years of age.
A. Fred found a fascinating ref. When he did a Book search for:
[ "major alexander truman" ]
he found this page in The Papers of Alexander Hamilton gives the expense for supporting Truman's children at $300 / year. "That can be interpreted that he had 3 children not one being paid $100 per year."
B. Rosemary wisely points out that when you're in Google Books you can copy out the TEXT of the book by using the Selection widget in the top part of the book view.
Once you've selected the tool, you can sweep out a region of the text (yes, it's an image, but there's text underneath it).
Here I've highlighted the section about Major Truman and the law passing benefits to his family.
You can now copy this as either text (in the "Selection text" region) or as an image (Books gives you a URL to the image) OR as an embeddable text widget.
Which is how I get quotes from Books like this (from the reference given above). Note that there are small OCR errors...
"The committee has had its attention called to what Congress has heretofore done for the widows and heirs of Colonel John Hardin and Major Alexander Truman Those gentlemen were sent by General Washington then President of the United States each with a separate flag in the year 1792 to the Indian towns to invite the Indians to treat and make peace The Indians flushed with the signal victory which they had gained the year before over St Clair refused to treat of peace and put to death Hardin and Truman and all who accompanied them On the 27th of February 1793 Congress passed a law giving to the widow and children of Colonel Hardin four hundred and fifty dollars a year for seven years and to the widow and child of Major Truman three hundred dollars a year for a like time The whole sum given to the widow and children of Colonel Hardin amounted to $3,150 and that to the widow and heirs of Major Truman to $2,100. On the 14th of May 1800 Congress again took the under consideration and gave to each of the children of Colonel Hardin one hundred dollars a year until they respectively attained the age of twenty one years and also the same sum to the daughter of Major From the information given to the committee as to the number ages of Colonel Hardin's children they received about $2,800 in addition to the $3,150 previously granted them How much was received the daughter of Major Truman under the law of 1800 could not be determined as there was no person before the committee who could state her age when the last law passed..."
Search lessons: There are a few here.
1. Image search actually works on this. As noted by a few readers, Search-by-Image actually finds the Slate article that this image came from. (I'm impressed. I didn't expect it to work!)
2. Variant spellings are a fact of life as you go further back in history. Be aware that you might have to search for different versions of the same name. (Truman and Trueman)
3. Variant NAMES are also a fact of historical record. This incident was part of the Northwest Indian War, the Ohio War, the Miami Campaign... and so on. Remember this because different names often also encode different points of view. (Consider the "First Battle of Bull Run" vs. "First Manassas" -- same event, but very different perspectives.)
4. Remember that you can select text out of Books by using the tool. Be sure to making checking-out-the-tools part of your daily life. Be curious about what's out there--you never know what you'll find!
5. Information is often best found by pulling together pieces from multiple resources and then using THAT combined information to find yet another piece. (Here we got information from FindAGrave, RootsWebAncestry, and Wikipedia!)
(Note 1) After the Revolutionary War, the Americans considered the region in the northwest (that is, much of present day Ohio) theirs by conquest. Through the creation of the Northwest Territory in 1787, they began to divide the land north of the Ohio River for settlement. Native Americans living in the territory resisted and violence escalated with Native Americans forming Western Confederacy. Their goal was to keep the Ohio River as a boundary between Indian lands and the United States. Little Turtle emerged as one of the leaders of this confederacy, which included the Shawnee under Blue Jacket and the Delaware under Buckongahelas. The war which followed has become known by historians as the Northwest Indian War, but it was also once known as "Little Turtle's War."
After several battles, Little Turtle and Blue Jacket defeated another American expedition in 1791 led by General Arthur St. Clair. It was the worst defeat the Americans would ever suffer at the hands of American Indians, with some 600 American soldiers killed in action. While Little Turtle and Blue Jacket fielded more than 1,000 warriors, they lost only 40.
Despite this success, the confederacy was defeated at the Battle of Fallen Timbers, forcing the Western Confederacy to sign the Treaty of Greenville.