Fort Quiatenon –The Bible

General George Washington ordered Fort Quiatenon to be destroyed in 1791. A militia from Kentucky carried this out, burning it to the ground. At its peak possibly 3,000 people lived there including five Wea and two Kickapoo villages. The French rendering of the name in the Wea language, waayaahtanoski means ‘place of the whirlpools’. It was the first fortified European settlement in what is now Indiana. Its intent was to prevent British expansion into the Ohio and Wabash country. The French traded for beaver, buffalo, and other pelts with the native Indians at this Fort located 70 yards from the Wabash River. It was approximately 3 miles south west of modern day West Lafayette. Michael Strezewski, an archaeologist, used a ‘magnetometer’ (high-end metal detector) and uncovered the original site. Removing one foot of top soil permitted the scientist to find remnants of wooden structures 21 feet in diameter. In addition, domestic items, a musket ball and gun flint-markings of a colonial-era identified the site.

Fort_Ouiatenon_blockhouse

Strezewiski believes the structures were wigwams built by the Kickapoo or Mascounten tribes. The French and Indians existed together for 74 years in this ‘real hub of activity’ because they had the ‘same wants and desires’. (Scripture reveals that every human has three ‘lusts’ or desires: needs of the flesh, eyes, and mind (pride of life). The Indians needed copper kettles, axes, knives which they could not produce so they captured animals and traded the skins to the ‘white man’.

The Bible was utilized for two important reasons: to learn about God, and a place to record births and deaths. John and Sophia Brockus, along with their nine children were listed in their family Bible while they lived in Carroll County, Indiana. John was born June 1, 1793; Sophia was born January 19, 1791. Each of the children’s births was likewise recorded. A granddaughter, Phebe Roach of Monticello, Indiana has this heirloom.

It is refreshing to learn about the lives of people in Indiana in 1717 when Fort Quiatenon was built and the fact that George Washington believed in God as well as the Brockus family. Today, the community of Lafayette, West Lafayette, and Purdue University hold an annual celebration of the Fort and call it “The Feast of the Hunter’s Moon.” Faith in God, the Bible, community efforts together, and a love for our origins remain important.

Rev. Raymond Parnell is Pastor Emeritus of Christ Memorial Temple in Lafayette, Indiana.

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