This is the second part of an essay written by my great aunt Mildred Donaldson as a student in the early 1900s, long before politically correct terms were introduced into conversation and writing.
“Six o’clock,” called Mr. Gray, next morning, “and if you youngsters are going with us you had better get up.”
He called them youngsters, but Ted was the only one eligible to that title, Dorothy and Ellen being young ladies of nineteen and twenty years.
A couple of hours later, after driving through the town, the gray car crossed the river and took its way down to where it bends to the south, and there stopped.
“Nearly two centuries ago,” began Mr. Gray, this place was a wilderness, with the forest creeping down to the river’s edge. Along the shores and on the flats were tall sycamore trees, scarred and whitened by many floods. On the hill sides and through the valleys was a dense growth of chestnut, beech, and oak, mingling with the tall pine.”
“There was only one place in Tidioute open to the sun, a long, cleared space of about thirty acres, along the bank of the river. This place is now called Cullen’s Flats. Thirteen squalid log cabins and a few wigwams of bark, huddled together close to the river, formed Tidioute at that time.
Here, where you see the corn and clover, were the Indians’ corn fields. Beyond the road was a dense forest of pine. Scores of birch canoes were turned on the shore of the river, right here, for launching.”
“The cabins of the village were arranged regardless of order, little streets wound in and out among the houses.”
“Father,” broke in Ellen, “how do they know this? How do they know that this was truly and Indian village?”
“Because the farmers have often plowed up many trinkets, such as Indian pipes, bits of shell and bone earrings or necklaces, stones knives and tips of spears, thousands of different fashioned arrowheads; all of which are mute tokens of this valley’s former inhabitants–the Delawares.”
“Did the Indians use war paint?” chimed in Ted.
“Yes, jump in the car and I’ll show you where they got it and the oil to mix with it.”
He took them to the mouth of Gordon Run, familiar to us all.
“This was called, by the Indians, Mus-we-hic’-Kan, or Red Creek which is the original name for Gordon Run. Here along the bank was a red clay, out of which trickled an oily substance. These two, the oil and the clay, made their war paint.”
“See that little island out there in the river? That is Tidioute Island. At this time it was covered with threes and was many times as large as it is now.”
By this time the members of the touring party were immensely interested and the next question came from Dorothy.
“Father, how did Tidioute get its name?”
“Oh, ho, so I’m proving myself to be quite an encyclopedia. Florida is beautiful, I agree with you, but I notice that you all are agreeing with me that Tidioute is interesting.”
“Well, there is an old tradition about a pioneer who built his cabin where Captain Taggert’s house now stands. He lived alone with his daughter who was unacquainted with the strange ways of the forests. One day her father went away hunting and she, being very timid, was awaiting her father’s return in the even when an owl in the pine that stood by the house hooted in a manner that sounded like the Indians’ war-whoop to the nervous girl.
She fainted and, although she soon recovered, she could only say three words–’Did he hoot?’
‘Did what hoot?’ asked the perplexed father.
‘Too hoot! Too hoot!’ hooted the owl in the pine.
The father was overjoyed at the solution of the problem and resolved to call this place ‘Did-he-hoot,’ which afterward became Tidioute.”
Next week: The conclusion of the story.
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