Waterville Historical Society

your connection to the past

The Waterville Historical Society collects, preserves, provides access to, interprets and fosters an appreciation of history that has an impact on the Waterville, Ohio and surrounding area.

Myths, Lies and History----Myth No. 2: The Great Chief Turkey Foot

During the Battle of Fallen Timbers, next to the Old Indian trail along the river, the great Indian Chief Turkey Foot stood upon a large rock to rally his troops to stand against General Anthony Wayne’s Legion. He was shot dead and the discouraged Indian warriors fled across the river to escape. The legend of the brave chief is widely published in many books and articles about the 1794 battle. It makes a great story and the origin is unknown. Again it was so often repeated that it became “history.” 

Checking facts then, we know, as pointed out in our last article, that the Battle of Fallen Timbers was not fought in the river flood plain but on the high ground north and west of the flood plain. The historical literature about the Indian Confederation does not mention a chief named Turkey Foot and finally, folks who are expert in Indian affairs say that Indians did not name their sons after body parts but only after an admired animal. In other words there never would have been an Indian chief named Turkey Foot and the whole story is a fabrication. Oh dear! We have the famous Turkey Foot Rock on which the fictitious chief never stood, Turkey Foot Creek and Turkey Foot Recreation area that are named after our imaginary hero. What do we do now? There is no harm in a name I suppose and we have a great, often repeated story---so long as we don’t mistake it for history. It always helps to check and re-check the facts when searching for the truth in history or any other endeavor.

P.O. Box 263,  Waterville, OH  43566            whs43566@outlook.com

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