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Early Settlement along the Ohio River

Christened in 1800, “Indiana” means Land of the Indians,  Various American Indian tribes are a significant part of Indiana history, including the Miami, Chippewa, Delaware, Erie, Shawnee, Iroquois, Kickapoo, Potawatomie, Mohican, Nanticoke, Huron and Mohegan.  Indian George Ash was captured by the Shawnee, & later granted land by the Indians.

The Greenville Treaty established the Indian Boundary line which ran north from what is now Lamb, Indiana.  Mad Anthony Wayne had defeated the Indians at the Battle of Fallen Timbers in Ohio.  The resulting 1795 treaty divided the lands of settlement from Indian lands to the west.  Indian George Ash settled at Lamb on land just west of the new Treaty Line.  He had been captured in 1785 at age 10, and lived & fought with the Shawnee for 17 years.  After the Battle of Fallen Timbers, he returned to living with whites, built a fine brick home, married a white woman and operated a ferry service.  Neighbors still did not completely trust Indian George.  His house at Lamb is one of the oldest in Indiana.

The first settlement in this area of southeast Indiana, was made by Heathcoat Pickett, who settled above Plum creek only a few miles east of where the Swiss began their homesteads.  Pickett built a cabin in 1795 and remained for several years.  There being an abundance of game his family was always supplied with meat.  The bread was made from corn ground in a hand mill.  His family consisted of his wife, two sons and one daughter.  In spite of the threat, no Indian massacres have ever been recorded in this region.

In 1798 the Cotton and Dickason families settled up Indian creek about three miles from the Ohio river.  This was along Venoge (Indian Creek), which was one site of early Swiss vineyards.  Geoge Craig, of European descent, settled near the river.  Between 1805 & 1807, more immigrants arrived and began clearing land for agriculture.

Scotland native John Shaw arrived in Switzerland County in 1817.  His family developed a strain of Clair Timothy hay, a naturalized timothy that yielded excellent first-year growth & matured earlier than regular timothy.  Farmers considered Clair Timothy an agricultural breakthrough, & this led to the invention of the Hay Press by Samuel Hewitt, a Switzerland county native.  Large bales were pressed, hauled to the river on horse drawn sleds and shipped to southern markets as far away as New Orleans.

Thus, the early history of Switzerland County reveals an indigenous population of Indian tribes, who were joined by white settlers, many originally from Europe, coming from the upland south or down from the northeast via the Ohio River.