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Chief Leatherlips RIP

Story by Milli Thornton. Photos Copyright © Brian Williams.

Feature photo: Painting of Chief Leatherlip’s last moments by Ohio historical artist Hal Sherman, on display at Indian Run Falls Park, Dublin, Ohio

On Saturday Brian was at the Hamvention® in Dayton, Ohio, a convention for amateur radio operators.

While beer drinking is not one of the main activities, Brian found welcome respite from the sun by finding a shady spot to sit down for a brewski and talk to the friend he was there to meet. People watching is another of the side events. Brian’s pictures below show a female ham with an interesting hairstyle. (Yes, that’s an antenna sticking out from the top of her ‘do!) She seemed happy to stop and pose for photos.

Antenna hairdo at Hamvention 2012

Hammy hairdo says it’s the world’s largest amateur radio gathering, attracting hams from around the globe. Brian could not get a hotel room in Dayton so he stayed at the Red Roof Inn in Dublin, a suburb of Columbus. One block from his hotel he found a pretty park with a waterfall. The City of Dublin has added nature trails and observation platforms to make it more accessible.

Indian Run Falls and the stream it feeds

Indian Run Falls and the stream it feeds

Tree and bridge near Indian Run Falls, Dublin OH

Left: A beautiful old tree that Brian wanted to show me
Right: A footbridge up in the tree canopy

The territory around Indian Run Falls and the stream it feeds was once home to the Wyandot Indians.

General Anthony Wayne defeated the Wyandots and other Ohio Indians at the Battle of Fallen Timbers in 1794. They surrendered most of their lands in Ohio with the signing of the Treaty of Greeneville. In 1843 the United States government sent the Indians off to a reservation in Kansas. They were the last Indian tribe to leave Ohio.

– from Ohio History Central

One of the other sad stories about the Wyandots is about Chief Leatherlips. (According to, he was known to white men as Leatherlips because of his “admirable trait of never breaking a promise.”) Brian took a photo of the story for me so I could read about the Chief.

An eye-witness account from Wm. H. Sells in 1870 told of how Leatherlips was opposed to the Indians fighting one another. Six young warriors came hunting for him. A horse worth $150 was to be offered by a group of his supporters among the white community in exchange for the Chief’s life. The Chief gestured to heaven, as if to say, “Your maker will reward you.” He then walked to the top of a hill where his grave had been prepared, knelt down and prayed and then gave the signal that he was ready. An Indian standing behind him knocked him on the head with a tomahawk and he fell into his grave. Wm. H. Sells helped bury him.

I was unclear from the account (which was reproduced in the uneducated English of the times) whether the Chief had his own people kill him—to save him from a more brutal fate—but that’s what Brian deduced when he read it. Such a shame he had his life cut short. Chief Leatherlips sounds like the Ghandi of his times.

Brian wanted to see the monument to Chief Leatherlips but he didn’t get a chance to visit. Check Related Topics below for a link to see the monument, which is constructed from limestone slabs. The sculpture, by Boston artist Ralph Helmick, is shaped to allow visitors to climb up inside the “scalp” and have their photo taken.



Chief Leatherlips Monument

Ohio History Central: Wyandot Indians

Brian Williams

Brian in Russia


Brian R. Williams, former spouse of Milliver, has often been the photographer (including video) for the stories Milli writes. An electronics and RF engineer, Brian writes emergency communications software for his company, Comtekk. Milliver counts it among her victories in life to have published reluctant writer Mr. Williams as a guest blogger, with a fascinating story from his stint in Russia: A Sakhalin Road Trip.

Milli at Devi, Montreal

Milli at Devi, Montreal

Milli Thornton (aka Milliver) is the author of Fear of Writing: for writers & closet writers. She is owner of Unleash Your Writing! and the Fear of Writing Online Course, where her mission is to put the fun back into writing. Milli blogs at Screenwriting in the Boonies and the Fear of Writing Blog and coaches writers individually at Writer’s Muse.

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  1. Ahhhh! Indian Run Falls looks idyllic, I could just sit on that bridge and happily watch it all day. And I can see why Brian wanted to show you that tree 🙂

    The story of Leatherlips is fascinating, I just hope he was actually dead before they buried him :-S

    Very cool post Brian and Milli 🙂

    • Thanks, Jo. I had to live vicariously for that one, but at least Brian brought home some good photos.

      Good point about the burial. I read that back in the Middle Ages in Europe they used to rig up a bell for each grave so the ones who weren’t truly dead could summon a gravedigger to get them out. *shudder*

      • I think that was done in the Victorian period as well, those who feared being buried alive would have a bell string threaded through the lid of the coffin before it was placed in the family crypt.

  2. Milli,
    LOL, the antenna hairdo is a hoot!
    What a beautiful park Brian found! At places like this, I find I like to imagine how it was like to sit on land untouched by progress. It must have been so quiet, and peaceful for them, before others came to ruin their serenity. Its a sad story.
    Thanks, I love the photos.

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