Hoosier Dusty Files - January 8, 1790 - Governor St. Clair Reaches Falls of the Ohio on Western Tour
|A Year of Indiana History - 2016|
Northwest Territory Governor Arthur St. Claire embarked on a tour of the Western portion of the Northwest Territory from the Territory’s capital at Marietta. He left in the winter of 1789 to organize local governments in the vast territory. The citizens of the newly formed territory clamored for some governmental organization.
Around January 1 the party departed Losantiville, which St. Claire had renamed Cincinnati and traveled by boat down the Ohio River, arriving at the Great Falls of the Ohio on January 8, 1790.
Arrival at the Great Falls
He arrived with the Territory's Secretary, Winthrop Sargent and the Territory's Supreme Court judges. After his arrival, St. Claire authorized a temporary local government at Clarksville. He appointed William Clark Justice of the Peace and captain of the Militia. They visited Fort Finney, later renamed Fort Steuben in 1791.
Communications with Vincennes
While in Clarksville St. Clair sent dispatches to Vincennes commander Major Jean François Hamtramck. These dispatches contained messages to the Wabash Indian tribes. He also addressed a shortage of corn in Vincennes, relating that there was plenty of corn in Clarksville if the people of Vincennes could pay for it. He sent these via the trader Antoine Gamelin of Vincennes. The French trader was friendly with most of the native tribes of the Wabash River region. Gamelin delivered these messages to the tribes over the next several weeks, after visiting Major Hamtramck at Vincennes.
Major Jean François Hamtramck (1756–1803)
Born in Montreal, Hamtramck joined the Continental Army in 1776, at the beginning of the American Revolution. He served bravely, becoming a decorated officer. He left the military at the conclusion of the war, but returned to service in 1785. He received appointment as commander of the garrison at Vincennes in 1787. He carried out a successful campaigned against the Wabash tribes later in 1790. He remained in Vincennes until after he distinguished himself in the Battle of Fallen Timbers; General Anthony Wayne named him the first Commander of Fort Wayne in 1794.
From Clarksville, the Governor departed for Kaskaska, Illinois on the Mississippi River to organize the government there.
A Year of Indiana History - 2016
© Paul Wonning