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An Important Key to Our History

And Yet Almost all of it's History is now Lost

With Thanks to Chatham-Kent Museum

The Tecumseh Memorial Monument.

This one little monument is the source of so much frustration. How could the history of such a small yet so highly significant piece of the History of Chatham-Kent be broken and now lost. Yet as we look through so many of these old monuments we see it so often.

As mentioned very little is known of the history of this monument. The following is about all that we know.

  1. A boy found this monument on the battle site along the very edge of the river stuck into the bank somehow. He realized it should be saved and brought it home with him.
  2. One day he took it to school to show the class. George Sims saw the memorial stone and convinced the boy that it should be placed into the museum.
  3. We believe that it is now a part of the collections of the museum and is sometimes on display.

But, what was it's purpose? Where did it come from? About all we know about it is the following.

  1. It is almost certain that the monument was NOT placed here by Proctor himself. He was running from the site of the battle in the heat of retreat. He did not return. He died a short time after in England. AND above all he and Tecumseh were about as unfriendly to each other as one could get. They were pretty much personal enemies. So Proctor is extremely unlikely to have ordered this put here.
  2. It is almost certain that it is NOT a monument for the grave of Tecumseh. The general feeling is that the Native warriors took care of his body making sure to protect it's location so it would not be disinterred by grave robbers or anyone else. Today there are many theories of it's location from Ohio to Walpole to along the river bank near Bothwell Bridge to the area of the rail way just behind the battle site.
  3. A write up of the Battle describing the burial of the soldiers describes the return of a US Citizen to the battle site about a hundred years later. And it describes the graves as still unmarked yet the graves still visible due to the mound of dirt over top of the graves. (Extra dirt left due to the size of the bodies buried underneath.) If you have not seen this write up it is very important that you read it. You will learn so much about the lives of soldiers back then. A life you seldom see described anywhere else in this way!
  4. Might this have been an original monument to mark the location of the burials placed there before his visit for example, but then already destroyed by then? Might it have been placed on the site by the Militia of Upper Canada shortly after the battle to mark the spot? Might it have been placed there by some local citizens who saw the battlesite after the battle but before the burials so to realize the significance of those mounds. And in turn realized how many men who simply wanted to live died there? We do need to remember that in the early 1800's monuments like this were not that common. They were likely quite expensive for people who had little or no money.

It is VERY likely that we will NEVER know the true history of this monument unless the base of it should somehow be found again near the present day monument somewhere. But we can always hope that somehow, someone might find the other part of it to mention what it's text was or someone might find a small note about it somewhere in a family history or a museum somehow saved by someone who might not even know the significance of those few words that were on it that have now been lost for so very long.

If you should visit the monument site please remember that it is the burial site for many people. Not only is it almost certainly the burial spot of the soldiers, but their native allies as well. Also it is the location of another relatively large grave yard, and many individual graves. There are likely well over a hundred people buried in this small area. So please respect it for it's significance, AND remember those who lie there today, both Natives, Soldiers, Local People, and almost certainly some people who simply were buried there after they died in their canoe en route to somewhere.

N.B. Your writer has become 100% convinced over the last year that the soldiers and warriors are ALL buried in three areas VERY close to the present monument and on both sides of it. However, we do not know if this will ever be able to be proven for absolute certain! Proving such would require archaeological digs and many hurdles to be crossed. But a number of things including the probable reasoning for the location of the monument a century ago, photographs, descriptions, A Native description describing the location of Native Graves closer to Thamesville, and dowsing, all point to the same result

Since the above was written, the above information was provided by Mario Cini of the Chatham-Kent Museum...

He was a local teacher and one day as he was talking to his class about the War of 1812 and Tecumseh, one of his students mentioned that his grandfather had Tecumseh’s “headstone”. That boy went on to mention that his grandfather had been fishing in the Thames at the point where in bends, at the battle site, and snagged the stone. The teacher asked if he could speak to the boy’s grandfather, and the boy was glad to put him in touch with him.

He took it home and cleaned it up, although not enough to expose the engraved writing. His grandfather had been using it as a footrest in front of his fireplace. Later on he discovered the writing and assumed it was Tecumseh’s headstone and informed the museum of his finding.

The teacher didn’t tell me when it was found or exactly where, and I assumed that the museum would already know the story; since I am a relative newcomer to the area I simply thought that I had not been told anything new.

Anyhow, according to this teacher and further reading, I came to know that the stone was made by the British and presented to the local native people as a way to mark the significance of Tecumseh involvement in the war, and to try and heal the betrayal that our native’s felt regarding General Proctor’s mishandling of the whole affair; fleeing and leaving the native warriors to take the brunt of the assault. That and the resultant death of Tecumseh.

See More photographs of this important piece of the history of Chatham-Kent.