Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Curse of Chief Leatherlips

Wyandot warrior

It's Leatherlips season again at Willow Manor. Native American Wyandot Chief Leatherlips was executed 201 years ago, June 1, 1810, on the banks of the Scioto River, in the general vicinity of Willow Manor. 

This chief was called "Leatherlips" because he was known to be trustworthy; his word was his bond. He was friendly with white settlers in and around Dublin, Ohio, including the early resident Sells brothers, and was a local fixture at their new Black Horse Tavern. 

Leatherlips' Wyandot people relocated to Northwest Ohio, and were plagued by many mishaps, including disease. They blamed Leatherlips for their turn of unfortunate luck, returning to Dublin to escort him to their northern encampment. When he refused, his fellow Wyandots accused Leatherlips of witchcraft, and pronounced the sentence of death, executing him by tomahawk. 

This time of year is also our local Muirfield Memorial PGA Golf Tournament. It is said that Jack Nicklaus built his course on sacred Wyandot Indian burial grounds, and that the tournament is cursed by Chief Leatherlips. It is certainly peculiar that every year, golfers and spectators are drenched with torrents of rain. Could it be that Central Ohio just gets a lot of rain this time of year? Possibly.

34 comments:

  1. Old Leatherlips was certainly a snappy dresser!

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  2. I get very upset when I think of all the money that goes to other countries to help the people and yet we turn our backs on the American Indians. Disgraceful!

    They should ALL own Casinos.

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  3. And perhaps each year - at this time of the year - old Leatherlips (or his Yorkshire descendant) returns. I arrive in your country on June 7th.

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  4. He could have been a modern day skateboarder...no one would have looked twice.

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  5. I have never heard of the curse before this post. I do not live anywhere near Dublin, Ohio but I have been a golf enthusiast for years.
    This was a very interesting post, of course all of your posts are are interesting.
    Thanks for sharing!

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  6. What a sad story. There must have been so many sad stories on all sides amongst the early settlers and the American native people.

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  7. Wow....I was thinking he could use some chapstick!!!

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  8. very cool history lesson...you always post amazing things

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  9. Yep - it is fairly rainy here this time of year. But I like the curse idea better :)

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  10. A sad story. Thank you for the post.

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  11. Always glad to hear more about the leatherlips saga. We have Wyndott history in the Blue Mountain area so I am wondering; where, exactly is "their northern encampment"? A archeologist in this area, Charles Garrad, UofT has extensively studied the natives of this area, in particular The Petun who later (I believe) became the Wyndott. Love to learn about their Shamanic history. The outfit is to die for. Sad to hear about good ol' leatherlips; a true warrior. Sad to hear about his people turning on him for doing "witchcraft" as I am sure the Salem trials had something to do with this "change of heart". Seriously doubt the natives thought witchcraft were an abnormal part of the culture. Good/Bad as is similar in Zen Buddism not part of the lexicon perhaps?

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  12. Fascinating, Tess. How do you find these stories?

    We all should know more about the places where we dwell. I think it would explain a great deal about what we experience there.

    Thank you for adding revelations like this to our day!

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  13. Interesting story (as always) and a simply fabulous photograph. The little bit of landscape you can see looks so much like Arizona, makes me wonder about Ohio where I imagine rolling green hills and streams.

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  14. this is a pretty cool piece of history connected so closely with your river and town. I too wonder how you find these things out. zounds. Poor leatherlips.

    I have to chuckle at grouchy's statement "they should all own Casinos." I am not a gambler, however I nod my head at the irony of the casinos and also am glad that the Native American's are able to bring in some lucre as the seems to be the goal of so many in our nation.

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  15. What tragedy!

    To think that Leatherlips takes revenge for disrespecting Indian burial grounds by showering the tournament with rain storms makes me smile.

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  16. Tess -- I'm sure that Leatherlips still has some spiritual energy influence in the area of his sacred ground. Interesting photo of the Wyandot warrior clothes. -- barbara

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  17. Evidently, the past is casting more than a shadow on the golfers.

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  18. Another fascinating post and history lesson. And the photo is fantastic.

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  19. Marla in ClintonvilleThu May 26, 12:58:00 PM

    Years ago I remember reading a letter to the editor in the Dispatch that essentially asked, "Do you think Jack Nickalaus would consider moving the Memorial to August when we need the rain?" That has stuck with me for years and it's still true! I feel for you dealing with the extra traffic.

    Happy Memorial Day,
    Marla

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  20. Poor Old Leatherlips. I don't blame him for placing a curse and this year rain is overly bountiful in your part of the country!

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  21. Amazing! What a fantastical event...right on your doorstep. It seems that even today anyone with integrity is subject to a hatchet job of sorts.

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  22. is there a memorial anywhere around there for him? We've got a gravesite and humongous statue of Little Turtle. Maybe they smoked the peace pipe together...

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  23. Tom, there is a monument sculpture of Leatherlips made from limestone. Here's the link, if you're interested:

    http://www.roadsideamerica.com/story/9791

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  24. rain on leatherlips - the kiss of rain. a softer, saltier kiss there couldn't be. steven

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  25. Is he the one responsible for the downed pine?

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  26. that's a very unique monument. Here's a great bio on little turtle, including a rather bad photo of his huge statue. Is Little Turtle known nationwide? He's quite the local celebrity here. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Turtle

    school kids used to always make field trips to his gravesite, but I sort of doubt they do much anymore.

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  27. Fascinating individual, from what you've told us. A trustworthy man executed for witchcraft? Seems a bit strange, and very unfortunate.

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  28. Vicki, when we went up to inspect the damage, my son and I looked at each other and said, "Leatherlips!"

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  29. Tom, thanks for the link to Little Turtle. Fascinating man. All things Native American make my DNA tingle.

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  30. Haha, well, Cro, that isn't actually a photograph of Leatherlips, since he died in 1810.

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  31. Great story! Poor Leatherlips, though... death by tomahawk sounds like a particularly gruesome way to go.

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  32. The 'born to be wild' child should have known better than to mess with the ghost of Chief Leatherlips! :)
    Loved the mini-history lesson of your town too, Tess. Always a fun read. Cheers

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  33. Hi! Willow...
    Thanks, for sharing...I have a strong interests in Native Americans' culture and this post was very interesting to read too!
    [Postscript: Happy Memorial Day! week-end to you, and your readership too!]
    DeeDee ;-D

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Inject a few raisins of conversation into the tasteless dough of existence.
― O. Henry (and me)