Native American Interest Map of the Utmost Rarity -- With a Plea for Justice for Native Americans Dispossessed of Their Land
Extremely rare map and narrative of Lord Dunmore's War in present-day Ohio near the Scioto River and Scippo Creek, along with a depiction of Hopewell Earthworks near Circleville, Ohio. The map notes that it was surveyed by P. N. White, drawn by B. F. Brannan, and engraved by Doolittle & Munson in Cincinnati.
Felix Renick's map and narrative illustrate what he viewed as the great injustice perpetrated against the Indians by colonial forces in Ohio (then Western Virginia) starting in 1774. The map was originally intended as a supplement to letters that Renick had written in The American Pioneer, a Cincinnati publication published by Jonathan Williams in 1842 and 1843. But due to the discontinuation of that publication, he published it on his own.
In Renick's own words:
"The scope of the Map comprises--the ancient Indian Town of the Pickaway Plains and vicinity--the Encampments of Dunmore and Lewis, in their expedition against those Towns, in 1775--and also a small representation of the more Ancient Works where the Town of Circleville now stands."
The map text is somewhat homespun and unedited in its narrative--Renick touches briefly on several episodes in the specific region's history--but the core purpose is clear. In 1843, the year this map was published, the last Indian tribe in Ohio, the Wyandot, were made to leave.
Renick describes how he has converted to his pro-Indian thinking in old age, and how he actively took to the task of preaching to his fellow citizens. Although it seems that, given the practically non-existent publication run of the map, they were not receptive to his ideas.
Felix Renick (1770-1848) was a prominent early settler in Ohio. The Renicks were established Virginia colonists. His father, William Renick, was born in Hardy County, Virginia and served as deputy surveyor to Lord Fairfax, surveying the southeastern counties of Virginia.
William Renick's sons (Felix, George, Thomas and William) settled in the Scioto Valley from 1797 to 1803, where they acquired large tracts of land. Felix settled in Chillicothe, Ohio, where he became a farmer and one of the most noted cattlemen in Ohio, participating in cattle drives from Ohio to Baltimore and Philadelphia. In 1833, he helped organize the Ohio Company for Important Improved Cattle, which was responsible for importing the first stock of purebred shorthorn cattle from England to Ohio. Renick was also a vocal member of his community and contributed to such publications as The American Pioneer. In this capacity he sought to impart the knowledge of the early settlement of the state, to which he had been party.
In a letter written by Felix Renick and published in American Pioneer Vol II, no. V (May 1843) at pp. 37-42, Renick recounts what he had learned from the participants in these battles during his early residence in the region. Addressing specifically James Parsons' oral account of a skirmish between the Indians and Virginia colonists called the "Battle of the Trough" in the Spring of 1756, Renick describes the genesis of his change of heart regarding the treatment of the indigenous people of the region by the early colonial settlers.
This instance, among many other similar ones that has come to my knowledge, has sometimes almost led me to the conclusion that the whites have often been impelled by an influence that they were not aware of, to rush into conflict at such great odds, that they might be punished or scourged for the great injustice done the red people.
Lord Dunmore's War
The war referenced in Renick's map was a conflict between the Colony of Virginia (led by then-Governor John Murray, 4th Earl of Dunmore) and the Shawnee and Mingo Indian nations in 1774.
The war started with escalating attacks between settlers and local Indians. Perhaps the most important leader among the antagonistic Indian tribes was the Cayuga Iroquois war leader, Logan the Orator (1723?-1780). His house is depicted and labeled on this map.
The main battle of the war took place at Point Pleasant when Lewis and his men were attacked by Chief Cornstalk. Lewis's army suffered 215 casualties, of which 75 men were killed. Nonetheless, they defeated the Ohio Confederacy warriors and forced them to retreat.
Dunmore and Lewis advanced to within eight miles of the Shawnee towns on the Pickaway Plains. There they erected a temporary camp called Camp Charlotte. That camp is represented on the map. The terms of the Treaty of Camp Charlotte held that the Shawnee could no longer hunt south of the Ohio River and would stop harassing travelers down the river.
The settler-Indian conflict would stop very briefly and then continue in parallel with the American Revolution, as the Cherokee-American wars of 1776-1794.
Hopewell Culture Earthwork
Renick adds another point of interest with his depiction of the earthwork mound of the Ohio Hopewell culture around which was built present-day Circleville, Ohio. The mound there is thought to have been constructed around 2000 years ago. According to the historical marker there:
Established as the county seat of Pickaway County in 1810, Circleville derives its name from the circular portion of a large Hopewell-era earthwork upon which it was built. The Circleville earthworks, described in 1772 by Rev. David Jones for a Boston magazine, comprised a 1,100 foot diameter circle connected to a 900 foot square. Town director Daniel Dreisbach platted the town directly atop the earthworks, integrating the town plan into the prehistoric landscape. An octagonal courthouse stood directly in the center.
Renick and the Mistreatment of Native Americans
As noted, in later life Renick was inspired to rethink the harsh treatment of the indigenous peoples at the hands of early settlers, so much so that he undertook to publish this map and narrative.
In my youth I was ready to sanction almost every thing done to them [i.e., the Indians] by the whites; but a mature age, with much reflection on the subject, has convinced me of my former error; and now, taking an impartial view of the past, I fear we have a great debt on this score that must at some point and in some fearful way be cancelled, unless we make them proper amends.
The valley I have been speaking of, perhaps affords one among the strongest and most striking proofs of injustice done to that people that is to be found in the annals of their history. . . (Felix Renick, The American Pioneer).
Renick's narrative below the map poignantly describes his feelings about the treatment of the Indians and about their motives for fighting against the settlers, and even for torturing their captives.
Antiquity has thrown its halo around the brave of ancient times, but braver men have never lived than those who fell upon the soil we occupy and call our own, in defence of the graves of their fathers and their native land.
He shifts his tone when talking about the repercussions of the war that were visited upon local settlers:
Among the circumstances which invest this region with extraordinary interest, is the fact that to those towns were brought so many of the truly unfortunate prisoners who were abducted from the neighboring States. Here they were immolated on the altar of the red man's vengeance, and made to suffer, to the death, all the tortures that savage ingenuity could invent, as a sort of expiation for the aggressions of their race.
The latter part of his description is dedicated to the saga of the scout John Slover. He was a scout on the ill-fated Crawford expeditions and was one of six Americans captured by the Indians. He narrowly escaped being burned at the stake and Renick relates the story as follows:
The day was appointed for the consummation of the horrid deed, and its morning dawned without any unpropitious appearances to mark the anticipated enjoyments of the natives collected from the neighboring towns to witness the scene. At the appointed time, Slover was led forth, stripped naked, tied to the fatal stake and the fire kindled around him. Just as his tormentors were about to commence the torture, it seemed that the Great Spirit looked down, and said, "No ! this horrid deed shall not be done !" Immediately the heavens were overcast ; the forked lightnings in all directions, flew ; in mighty peals, the thunder rolled, and seemed to shake the earth to its centre ; the rain, in copious torrents, fell, and quenched the threatening flames, before they had done the victim injury--continuing to a late hour. The natives stood dumb-founded--somewhat fearing that the Great Spirit was not pleased with what they were about to do.
Renick continues telling the story of how Slover escaped, ending with:
Slover then had to travel on foot, with all possible speed; and, between mosquitoes , nettles, brush, briars, thorns, &c., by the time he got home, he had more the appearance of a mass of raw flesh than an animate being.
The map is extremely rare. OCLC locates examples in the Wisconsin Historical Society and the Library of Congress. We handled an example of the map in 2016.