William Wells

William Wells’ life can be concluded and described as a man who was the product and lived within two cultures. William Wells was born in 1770 and in 1786 when he was 16, he was captured by Miami warriors in (what would become) Kentucky. William wells was adopted by Chief Graviahatte. Soon enough, Wells would learn the Indian ways and become a successful young warrior. Many attempts were made to lure Wells back to his pioneer family, however, William Wells was loyal to his new Indian family.

William Wells would go on to marry Manwangopath, the daughter of Chief Little Turtle.  William Wells fought many early battles under his father-in-law, Chief Little Turtle, against the United States. As a consequence, William Wells’ wife and daughter were captured by U.S. forces.

On November 4, 1791 General St. Clair of the U.S. Army and his 1400 men were camping out near the Wabash River, with the ultimate goal of reaching Kekionga and attach the Miami. Chief Little Turtle however, anticipated St. Clair’s plan and his 1000 warriors were already on their way to the Indian village.  As St. Clair’s men settled at Kekionga, the Miami warriors surrounded the camp and readied for battle. As the U.S. forces were eating breakfast, Little Turtle’s men attacked the camp and killed over 600 of Clair’s men. Little Turtle and his warriors had handed the United State’s Army the worst defeat it had ever experienced.

In 1792, William had traveled to Vincennes to try to have the Miami’s prisoners released. There he spoke to General Hamtramck, but were not able obtain the prisoners back. It was during this year, that William decided to go back to his white family. In 1794, Wells served as Major General Anthony Wayne’s “chief of spies.” Wells would provide Wayne with “scouting reports” on the camps of the Shawnee and their allies. It was Wells’ information that helped Wayne and his men win the Battle of Fallen Timbers.

Because of William Wells’ time as a member of the Miami tribe, he had a conflicting time as an Indian Agent .

Since he was a supporter of Indian rights, Wells, along with Little Turtle tried to help the Miami keep as much as their land during treaty settlements from 1796-1809. In 1809, Wells was discharged as an Indian spy and again had the Miami support. In 1812, William Wells was bringing back some of the Miami tribe to Fort Wayne from Fort Dearborn (present day Chicago), when they were attacked by the Potawatomi. Wells knew of the danger before he advanced, but wanted to fulfill his mission. Wells would eventually be killed during this attack. However, despite being enemies, the Indians cut off his head and as a sign of honor ate his heart on the spot.

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