Roadside historical marker sign for Wapatomica
Wapatomica historical marker near Zanesfield in Logan County, Ohio (Photo by T.S. Bremer, 2014)

Wapatomica is considered the most significant site of Shawnee history in Ohio.

Inscription on the monument placed by the Eastern Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma at Wapatomica

On a quiet country road in Logan County, Ohio, a humble marker notes the site of tragic encounter, a place of massacre and displacement.

Most passersby hardly notice the isolated and mostly forgotten forested hill. At one time this land bustled with the village of Wapatomica. It had been the political center of the Shawnee people in the eighteenth century. Tribal leaders from all over the region converged here for intertribal councils.

Wapatomica, however, came to a tragic end. Revolutionary War veteran and Ohio Indian fighter Benjamin Logan arrived in the autumn of 1786. His troops burned the village to the ground along with several other nearby native settlements. The murder and plunder of the Shawnee people forced a series of relocations in the coming decades. They left for Oklahoma on the Trail of Tears along with other Ohio tribes in the 1830s.

Returning to Wapatomica

Descendants of the Shawnee people who had left Ohio in the 1830s returned in 2007. Chief Glenna Wallace brought her people back to Wapatomica. Their arrival marked the first time Shawnee people had been there in more than two centuries. They visited the site again in 2010 to place a stone monument. The dedication reads, “In memory of all our Tribal Ancestors who walked the path of life before us, may we follow with dignity.” The inscription tells of the aftermath of the massacre:

At Wapatomica, on a pole 60 feet high, flew the flag of Moluntha, the great chief of the Shawnee who was killed surrendering during the 1786 raid. Nearby stood the honored council house measuring about 75 feet wide, 150 feet long, and 16 feet high. It was built with split wood poles and covered with bark. Remnants of an ancient circular earthwork surround this memorial.

These days, this memory-place obscures its violent past beneath a pastoral calm. I happened across it in the Ohio springtime some years ago. The last blooms of dogwood hung amidst a forest of green, with grasses filling in beside farm fields already planted. A quiet gray morning revealed nothing of the pained echoes of cries set adrift by Logan’s torches. The centuries of suffering remain buried in the charred soil atop this silent hill.

Notes: For the return of the Shawnee to Wapatomica in 2007, see Thomas S. Bremer, “The Modern Religiosity of the Newark Earthworks,” in The Newark Earthworks: Enduring Monuments, Contested Meanings, ed. Lindsay Jones and Richard D. Shiels (University of Virginia Press, 2016), 208–10. For Chief Glenna Wallace’s encounter with the Newark Earthworks and her activism to preserve them, see “The Newark Earthworks: Ancient structures, modern monuments.” Though the Wapatomica site is closed to public access, you can view the monument placed there in 2010 at Wapatomica Historical Marker (hmdb.org).

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3 Comments

  1. With all the pain that the American Indians suffered at the hands of the white man they still, to this day, hold their heads up high. The black man could learn a lot about persecution and hardship from the Red Man.

  2. The Shawnee people would love to regain any known artifacts or historical papers please mail them with any details and you do not have to provide your details for privacy .

    Any historical items or stories you have been told would be welcome.
    As a member you can just mail that to our complex or to the Business committee.
    The Eastern Shawnee Tribe

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