Deaf Man's Village
Deaf Man's Village was home to the Miami War Chief, Shepoconah, after the year 1812. After the Chief's retirement he moved his wife, Maconaquah (Frances Slocum) out of his previous headquarters at the Osage Village near the mouth of the Mississinewa River to what was established as "Deaf Man's Village." The village was located eight to nine miles south of present-day Peru, Indiana. The village was established as a trading post using a log cabin at its center for trade and commerce. Shepoconah was called "Deaf Man" by the white men because he became deaf in his later years, leading to his ultimate retirement as War Chief. Until his death, Deaf Man's village was a popular trading settlement and social center for both white men and Indians. After Deaf Man's death in 1833, Maconaquah built a log cabin in the village next to the burial site of Deaf Man. Deaf Man, died in 1833. His widow Frances lived here with her daughters and their families. In addition to bark-covered wigwams, they had log cabins, typical of the Miami, who were living in a forested area reserved to them. Deaf Man's family and others also had stables. In the village were 50 or 60 horses, 100 hogs, 17 head of cattle, as well as geese and chickens. There were many small Miami villages in this area, where Miami people received payments from the United States for their land cessions. Miami villages had Indian, Métis, Anglo-American, and African-American residents. Unlike the Ottawa, Dakota, Menominee, and Winnebago, the Miami, who resided on rich farmland, already were surrounded by a large population of settlers. The settlers relied on the Indian trade and sometimes stole stock or other property from the Miami. In 1830, there were 1,154 settlers, and in 1840, 5,480. Courtesy of Tippecanoe County Historical Association Tourists can see on one side the Mississinewa Dam how the river used to be in relation to the village. However, there's a chance that the village remains are underwater today. Other focus points of interest, such as the Indiana Francis Slocum Trail and Francis Slocum State Forest, are near Deaf Man's Village.
Backstory and Context
In her youth, Frances was given the name Maconaquah. This name means 'Young Bear.' The name was given to her because of her mannerisms. Whilst traveling, Frances would cry and yell. In order to appease her, the Delaware tried to give her toys and nice things to play with. In her frustration she would bat them away with her hand, much like a bear cub would paw at something. From this moment her name, Maconaquah, was given to her. She was then adopted by a childless Delaware couple and raised as their own.(4)(3)
In her adulthood, she married a man by the name of Tuck Horse, a Delaware man.(4) Tuck still lived with his parents in their wigwam, and was rumored to abuse alcohol. Whilst Maconaquah was collecting materials to build her own wigwam, Tuck had lowered to domestic violence. She then moved back in with her adoptive parents.(4)
Miami Tradition has it that Maconaquah was walking through the woods when she encountered a wounded Miami warrior by the name of Shepoconah.(4) She took him back to her parent's wigwam and nursed him back to health. Upon his recovery, Shepoconah and Maconaquah were married. She mothered 4 children, two of whom passed at an early age. Her daughters survived into adulthood and were also married and had children.(1)
Once Shepoconah retired his chiefdom in 1812, he and Maconaquah moved farther upriver to build their home and trading post which became known as "Deaf Man's Village."(1) After the death of her husband, Maconaquah remained in Deaf Man's Village living out her remaining years. She revealed to a traveler, George Ewing, that she was white from birth and recounted her story to him.(6) Fascinated with her biography, Ewing wrote a letter to a Pennsylvania newspaper. After some years, the letter was published and the two Slocum brothers were directed to Deaf Man's Village to find their long lost sister. Upon finding her and urging her to come home with them. She told them this:
"I do not wish to live any better, or anywhere else, and I think the Great Spirit has permitted me to live so long because I have always lived with the Indians. I should have died sooner if I had left them. On his dying bed my husband charged me not to leave the Indians. I have a house and large lands, two daughters, a son-in-law, three grand children, and everything to make me comfortable; why should I go, and be like a fish out of water?"(1)
She died at the age of 80 and is buried nearby.(5) Her grave is marked on the Mississinewa Lake State Park Map.
3Meginness, John F. (1891). Biography of Frances Slocum, The Lost Sister of Wyoming. Williamsport, PA: Heller Bros