Background image is of Highway 19, by Forest Park - circa before 1900
Our Awakening Land
Nestled deep in the rich wilderness of middle, eastern Ohi'yo (Seneca Name for Ohio) in December 1777, was born to Richard and Margaret Conner, a boy they named William. They, as a growing number of other brave souls, were carving an existance out the awakening land through their shear tenacity, bearing children along the way. The frontier was far from easy. It was frought with hostile peoples who were against westward expansion by the colonist. Harsh conditions, ravaging sicknesses and colliding military factions could wipe out an entire villages. Clash of cultures was inevitable. Alliances formed and shifted. Our country was England. And the seeds of Revolution were rooting deep within our soils. It was through this backdrop William would grow and thrive.
This area recently acquired from the French after the end of the French & Indian war, was lush, offereing good hunting and rich soils. It wasn't to last. Unable to stay in Ohi'yo due to the plethora of problems and England's difficulty administering this area due to thin rescources, his father moved the family shortly after William's birth to what has become known as Macomb County, Michigan. The Conners traveled with Moravian missionaries and their Delaware converts to the new homeland.
By 1795 William was a man and had aquired nearly 4000 acres of land from his father. He was trading with the native peoples around Saginaw Bay.
Through his fur trading, William, along with his older brother John, became agents for Canadian fur trader, Angus Mackintosh. This alliance carried them south where they would settle among the Delaware along the White River. While immersing himself into this new land, William married Mekinges, a Delaware woman with whom he had six children. She was the daughter known to us as Cheif William Anderson (his real name being Kikthawenund)
Again, the frontier was frought with clashing cultures and strained alliances. 1808 was no exceptions. Conner held together the loyalty of the Delaware during the Brithish & American struggle that later became known as the War of 1812. He served under William Henry Harrison, crushing the efforts of a confederation sewn together by the great warrior, Tecumseh. It was William who identified the body of Tecumseh following the Battle of the Thames. Shortly after, William became an interpreter during the Treaty of St. Mary's in 1818. It was in these negotiations his wife and children left with their peoples for lands west of the Mississippi River as the Delaware ceded their lands to white settlers expansion. William gave his wife 60 horses as part of her side of the trading business. He remained here.
One could only guess why William did not follow his wife and family to the western fringes, however it doesn't take much to surmise it has it's stirrings in falling in love with another woman. A mere three months after his family's departure, Williams married 18 year-old Elizabeth Chapman. Over the next twenty-five years the two would produce ten children.
In 1818, William petitioned to secure legal right to his land from the Delaware. Moving fast by the day's standards, Conner secured his petition by 1820 and set out to divide assets with his business partner William Marshall.
For his new bride, Conner began the construction of his brick home overlooking the White River in 1823. It was the first seat of government and mail stop in what would become Hamilton County.
William and his brother John, began acquiring land which they would turn around and sell at a high profit to new settlers. He and another business partner, Josiah Polk platted Noblesville in 1823. Also a little later, they plotted Alexandria and Strawtown. At one point William owned approximately 4000 acres.
NEXT PAGE - The First Settlers, by A. F. Shirts