|Pigeon Roost - Scottsburg, Indiana|
|Exploring Indiana's Historic Sites, |
Markers & Museums
South East Edition
Entrance to Pigeon Roost State Historic Site, US 31, 5 miles south of Scottsburg. (Scott County, Indiana)
2004 Indiana Historical Bureau, Preservation Alliance, Inc., and Scott County Community Foundation
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Pigeon Roost, settled 1809 in Clark County, was attacked on September 3, 1812. Over twenty settlers and an unknown number of Indians were killed. Clark County militia unsuccessfully pursued the remaining Indians. That same month Fort Harrison and Fort Wayne were attacked by Indians. The U.S. had declared war on Great Britain, June 18, 1812.
The Pigeon Roost raid was part of the ongoing conflict between Indians—influenced by the British—and settlers along the frontier, one of the contributing factors of the War of 1812 in the west. The State of Indiana appropriated $2, 000 for construction of the memorial here, dedicated October 1, 1904. This site became a State Historic Site 1929.
The first War of 1812 action in Indiana occurred at the village of Pigeon Roost when native warriors, seeking scalps to claim bounties offered by the British, struck at the village at dusk on September 6, 1812.
The War of 1812
There were many reasons for the American declaration of war on Great Britain on June 18, 1812. The most important ones were Britain’s habit of stopping United States ships on the high seas and impressing sailors into the Royal Navy and other humiliations of US ships. Trade restrictions imposed on the United States by Great Britain during their war with France were another reason. Britain also threatened American western expansion by encouraging the native tribes to attack settlers moving into new areas. They encouraged the attacks by offering bounties on any scalps the natives brought to a British Outpost. The attack at Pigeon Roost was in response to this bounty system.
Pigeon Roost Village
William E. Collings (1758-1828) established the village of Pigeon Roost in 1809. The settlement was in lands still claimed by the Shawnee. There was an Amerindian village a few miles from the new settlement. Most of the settlers came from Kentucky. The village consisted of a line of cabins along the mud road leading to Vienna from Henryville. Vienna and Henryville were the closest blockhouses to Pigeon Roost. The settlers chose the name of Pigeon Roost because large numbers of passenger pigeons inhabited the area.
Few men remained in Pigeon Roost at the time of the attack, as most were at Vincennes with William Henry Harrison's force there. The war party consisted mostly of Shawnees, but some Pottawattamie and Delaware were probably in it as well. Legend says they crossed the White River near Sparksville and proceeded through Vienna without attacking it. There are stories of bad blood between the Collings family and the Shawnee and that is why the natives chose Pigeon Roost. The first settler to sense something was wrong was Jeremiah Payne of Vienna. Upon investigating his cattle lowing, discovered arrows protruding from several of them. He rode to his cabin and took his wife and children to Vienna's blockhouse, then sped to Pigeon Roost to spread the warning to his brother Elias. Upon arrival at his brother's cabin, he discovered the dead and scalped bodies of his sister-in-law and their seven children. Elias and a neighbor had been scouring the forest, searching for bee trees and the honey they offered. The attackers went on through the settlement, burning the cabins, killing and scalping anyone they encountered. Many of the settlers managed to escape to the blockhouse at Henryville, but not before the warriors killed over twenty settlers. The survivors buried most of the victims in a mass grave near the site.
Militia units located in Charlestown heard of the attack and set off in pursuit of the war party. They lost the trail near the Muscatatuck River. A band of Indiana Rangers from Washington County led by Captain Henry Dawalt intercepted them at Sand Creek in Bartholomew County. They engaged the party, but failed to stop their escape.
Pigeon Roost Memorial
Scott County maintains the site, a former Indiana State Historic Site. Indiana turned the facility over to Scott County. Scott County has built a log cabin on the site similar to the cabins that would have been there in 2014. The State of Indiana erected a limestone memorial to the victims in 1904. The Memorial is on US 31 just south of Scottsburg, Indiana