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100 Years Ago

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Dilbone Massacre
Three Killed in Indian Attack

David Garrard lived on the bank of Spring Creek about four miles south of what is now State Route 36. He was a neighbor of the Dilbone family that suffered at the hands of the same two Indians who caused his death. Garrard was with a friend (Mr. Ross) making shingles in the woods some distance from his property, just past noon, on August 18, 1813, when two Indians fired on them, striking Garrard and wounding him. Ross, ran for the house pursued by one of the Indians, who subsequently, upon the urging of his friend, gave up the chase and returned to the site of the shooting.

It is reputed, that Ross then ran to Staunton, a former Indian village that had become a white settlement (part of present day Troy, Ohio), to warn others about the attack and was able to alert a group of volunteer militia who were drilling at that location. The warning went out too late to help the Dilbones, and by that evening most of the settlers were housed in blockhouses specially constructed for safety against such attacks.

Garrard’s body was discovered later that evening surrounded by evidence that, although he was wounded, he fought valiantly against his attackers before succumbing. Garrard’s widow would later marry Cephus Carey, a prominent settler in Hardin, Shelby County. Coincidentally, Carey’s first wife, Jane, was killed by Indians in 1814.

Henry and Barbara Dilbone were married in Pennsylvania in 1801 and moved their family to Miami County about six years later, locating their new log cabin on Spring Creek. They were the second settlers to locate in Springcreek Township north of the current U.S. Route 36. As time passed, other settlers moved into the area, including George and John Caven, Benjamin Winans, William McKinney and David Garrad.

It was 1813 and many of the region’s Indians were allies of the British fighting the Americans in the War of 1812 that did not conclude until December 24, 1814. Col. Johnston, the Indian agent situated northwest of Piqua, had over 6,000 neutral Indians living at his location and under his protection.

It was August 18, 1813, and the Dilbones along with their four children, John 7, Margaret 5, Priscilla 3, and William 9 months, left their cabin during the afternoon to pull flax from their flax patch. Flax, a grasslike plant, was grown by early pioneers, and spun into a thread that was used to make material for clothing and other uses. After passing through a corn field they arrived at the flax site, and Mrs. Dilbone placed the children safely under a tree.

Sixty years later their son John, related what occurred next. His father, upon hearing their dog barking, stood up and was shot in the chest by an Indian the dog had discovered at the edge of the corn field. His mother began to run toward the children, after having recognized one of the assailants as Mingo George, a local renegade Shawnee. As she ran to her three children (Margaret had returned to the house to get a drink), in their full view, she was struck and killed from behind by a tomahawk. Young John also recognized Mingo George as the killer. His accomplice carried no weapon and was a young teenage boy. At that point in time, as the Indians approached to look at the children, a gunshot was heard in the distance prompting the man to drop his weapon, and to cause both Indians to retreat into the corn field.

Young John, realizing that their mother was probably dead, and their father had not returned, helped the other children back to the house where he explained to Margaret what had happened. Shortly after that, Mrs. Samuel Winans visited the Dilbone house and the children related the incident to her and she sounded the alarm to others. Eventually, William McKinney arrived at the house, and with John’s help located the death scene.

Barbara Dilbone was dead from a large wound in her back. The Indian’s gun, knife and blanket were on the ground close to where the children had been sitting.

Since it was getting dark, McKinney took the children to his home where other settlers had gathered. They decided to relocate to the safety of Richard Winan’s station. On the next day, an armed scouting party led by Benjamin Dye arrived at the Dilbone homestead where Henry Dilbone was found alive in the woods, close to the corn field, by Jacob Simmons. Henry, remaining alive by plugging a bullet hole in his chest with a piece of his shirt, desperately asked about the safety of his wife and children. One account reports he died soon after being found, while another concludes that he died on the next day.

Both bodies were taken by sled (also known as a mud boat) to a site west of Fletcher where they were secretly buried. Several weeks later, Mingo George was captured and executed for his part in the murders, and his body was ignominiously sunk into a quagmire of mud.

The orphaned children were nourished, loved, and raised by the Dilbone’s neighbors. Priscilla died at the age of 13, while John, Margaret and William lived into adulthood. John lived to a ripe old age and eventually owned much of the original Dilbone farmland. Margaret married John Lindsay and lived nearby. William moved to Shelby County; buying farm land in Perry Township.

In 1918, when the old Piqua-Urbana Road (U.S. State Route 36) was being paved, excavation uncovered human bones that were proven to be the remains of Henry and Barbara Dilbone. A 4 foot mill wheel memorial marker was erected on the site in 1949, (located on the north side of U.S. Route 36, five miles east of Piqua), during a ceremony remembering the massacre, and can still be seen there today. Leonard U. Hill, a deceased Piqua historian and acclaimed researcher and prolific writer on area history, closed the dedication ceremony 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."

Hill also records in his writings that there are at least three 19th century accounts of the event, and although they differ in some respects, they are, for the most part, the same in their description of what occurred. An example of one discrepancy, is that the Dilbones were buried quickly and secretly because they had not been scalped, and the settlers, knowing that the British paid the Indians a bounty for American scalps, thought that they would return to take the scalps they had neglected to obtain. Another report, apparently, indicates that Mrs. Dilbone was scalped at the scene.

'Indian' segment written in December, 1997 by David Lodge


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