You are here

Questions about a Native American “skirmish” in Richland Township

By Fred Steiner

Second in a series of articles pertaining to indigenous people of Allen, Hancock, Hardin and Putnam counties. Click here to read Fred Steiner's first column in this series.

The plight of native Americans, in many ways ethnic cleansing, expelled from our part of the state in the 1830s, is one of our most tragic stories.

The only first-hand accounts from the Bluffton News of Europeans and native Americans tell mostly tell of settlers encountering graves. The stories raise questions including:

• What did the early European settlers do with the remains discovered in their fields?

• Did these early settlers give any thought to the people they replaced?

• Would we, today, respond any differently than our ancestors?

This column’s focus shares a letter from the late Dr. Delbert Gratz, written to the U.S. Army Military History Institute, concerning a skirmish between native Americans and U.S. troops that may have taken place in Richland Township. 

The second story tells about a native American presenting a talk in Bluffton in 1880. 

The third set of stories tell about three native American mounds discovered in Putnam County, from an article in an 1880 county history.

Dr. Gratz letter

Feb. 8, 1988 

The Director
U.S. Army Military History Institute
Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania 17013

Dear Director:

Several of us are interested in compiling a history of our community and there is one question that I feel you or some of your associates may be able to give us some help.

There is a tradition that I have heard for some 50 years or more concerning a skirmish with the Indians that took place in this area. It was supposed to have taken place in what is now a part of Richland Township, Allen County, Ohio. Earlier this was a part of Section 32 of Riley Township, Putnam County, Ohio. This was supposed to have taken place sometime before the settlement here in 1833. An areas is still pointed out by some as where it took place. I have walked over this area and have not found any artifacts. The dates may have been as early as the 1780s or ‘90s.

Do you have any records or do you have any suggestions or sources that might have information that might concern this skirmish which I presume was between U.S. Army troops and the Indians.

Any aid that you could give in locating such information would be greatly appreciated.

Cordially yours,

Delbert Gratz
Mennonite Historical Library
Bluffton College
Bluffton, Ohio 4817


From Nov. 11, 1880, Bluffton News –

A 19-year-old Native American whose name was Star of the Cheyenne tribe gave a lecture at Bluffton’s Keim’s Hall on “the recent troubles between the various tribes of Indians and the U.S. government.

He talked from the Indian standpoint.” The news article stated that his presentation was in a cool, intelligent manner. The story concluded: “His purposes are noble, and he should receive the support of all who desire the Indian raised from his present degraded condition.”

Go to for the rest of this feature.