Big Bottom massacre

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Big Bottom Massacre
Location near Stockport, Ohio
Date January 2, 1791
Attack type
Mass murder
Deaths 11 killed
Perpetrators Lenape
Big Bottom Massacre Site
Plaque at the site of the Big Bottom massacre
Big Bottom massacre is located in Ohio
Big Bottom massacre
Nearest city Stockport, Ohio
Coordinates 39°31′58″N 81°46′26″W / 39.53278°N 81.77389°W / 39.53278; -81.77389Coordinates: 39°31′58″N 81°46′26″W / 39.53278°N 81.77389°W / 39.53278; -81.77389
Built 1791
Governing body Private
NRHP Reference # 70000512 [1][not in citation given]
Added to NRHP November 10, 1970
Blockhouse at Big Bottom, 1791
Wife of Isaac Meeks resisting during the massacre at Big Bottom

The Big Bottom massacre occurred on January 2, 1791, near present-day Stockport now in Morgan County, Ohio, United States. Delaware and Wyandot Indians surprised a new settlement at the edge of the flood plain, or "bottom" land of the Muskingum River; they stormed the blockhouse and killed eleven men, one woman, and two children. Three settlers were captured while four others escaped into the woods.

The Ohio Company of Associates acted immediately after this to provide greater protection for settlers.

The Ohio Historical Society manages the three-acre Big Bottom Park site. In addition to the markers noted below, the site features a twelve-foot marble obelisk, picnic tables and information signs about the site's history.

Previous treaties with Indians[edit]

On January 9, 1787 a treaty was signed at Fort Harmar between the United States and the Wyandot Indian tribe. The Wyandots ceded land to the United States and agreed to not sell their land to anyone except for the US. The land of the Wyandots was reduced, but the land in Ohio was still under dispute.[2]

Ohio Company of Associates[edit]

The actions by the Ohio Company of Associates can help understand why the Big Bottom Massacre occurred as well as the Indian wars that were going on in the Northwest Territory. The company was formed by a group of several New England veterans of the American Revolution. They purchased approximately 1,500,000 acres (6,100 km2) from the United States in 1787. These early settlers followed national guidelines for settling the West and respected the government a great deal likely because of their role in the Revolution.[3] The founders of the Ohio Company promoted orderly and nationalistic western expansion. The founders of the company began to worry about problems that arose as more and more individuals bought into the land company, and individual goals began to take over. By 1791, an Indian war was raging in the Northwest Territory and threatened the Company's settlement at Marietta. A financial crisis in New York was hurting the investors as well as the company treasury. Also present among the company was a geographic divide between settlers in the West and settlers and investors in the East. The Company's power structure favored the Eastern part of the territory, and settlers in the West were not well represented. Westerners wanted protection from Indians, but funds were low and the Ohio company refused. Following the Big Bottom Massacre, the Ohio Company provided protection for Western settlers in 1792.[4]

Historical markers[edit]

Big Bottom State Memorial Park near Stockport, Ohio
Monument at the site of the Big Bottom massacre

A sign at the site of the massacre, which appears to be posted by the city of Stockport, reads:

Big Bottom, named for the broad Muskingum River Flood Plain, this park is the site of an attack on an Ohio Company settlement by Delaware and Wyandot Indians on Jan 2, 1791. The Big Bottom Massacre marked the outbreak of four years of frontier warfare in Ohio, which only stopped when General Anthony Wayne and the Indian Tribes signed the Treaty of Greeneville.

A second marker at the site, posted by the Ohio Historical Society, reads:

Big Bottom Massacre
Following the American Revolution, the new Federal government, in need of operating funds, sold millions of acres of western lands to land companies. One such company, the Ohio Company of Associates, brought settlement to Marietta in 1788. Two years later, despite warnings of Native American hostility, an association of 36 Company members moved north from Marietta to settle "Big Bottom," a large area of level land on the east side of the Muskingum River. The settlers were acquainted with Native American warfare, but even so, built an unprotected outpost. They did not complete the blockhouse, put pickets around it, or post a sentry. On Jan 2, 1791, a war party of 25 Delaware and Wyandot Indians from the north attacked the unsuspecting settlers, killing nine men, one woman and two children. War raged throughout the Ohio Country until August 1794 when the tribes were defeated at the Battle of Fallen Timbers.

A third marker was posted in 2002 by the Ohio Bicentennital Commission, the Longaberger Company, the Morgan County Bicentennial Committee, and the Ohio Historical Society. This monument reads:

  • "Erected by Obadiah Brokaw, 1905"
  • "Site of Big Bottom Massacre, Winter of 1790"
  • "Escaped, Asa Bullard, Eleazer Bullard, Philip Stacy"
  • "Killed, John Stacy, Zebulon Throop, Ezra Putnam, John Camp, Jonathan Farewell"
  • "Killed, James Couch, Wm James, Joseph Clark, Isaac Meeks & his wife and two children"

Colonel Stacy’s visit prior to the massacre[edit]

John Stacy and Philip (Philemon) Stacy were sons of Colonel William Stacy of Marietta. Colonel Stacy ice skated thirty miles up the frozen Muskingum River in late December 1790 and warned his sons about the danger of a possible Indian attack. His concerns were realized several days later on January 2, 1791 with the occurrence of the massacre. His son John was killed in the attack, and his son Philemon was taken captive and died later.[5][6][7][8]


  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2008-04-15. 
  2. ^ Duane Champagne, Chronology of Native American History, (Detroit: Gale Research Inc, 1994), 1789.
  3. ^ Andrew R. L. Cayton, "The Contours of Power in a Frontier Town: Marietta, Ohio, 1788-1803," Journal of the Early Republic, (Summer 1986), 103-105.
  4. ^ Timothy J. Shannon, "The Ohio Company and the Meaning of Opportunity in the American West, 1786-1795," The New England Quarterly, (September 1991), 393-413.
  5. ^ Lemonds, Leo L.: Col. William Stacy – Revolutionary War Hero, Cornhusker Press, Hastings, Nebraska (1993) pg 47.
  6. ^ Pritchard, Joan: “Area man discovers long roots”, Marietta A.M. newspaper, Parkersburg, West Virginia (July 24, 1994) pg 1C.
  7. ^ Zimmer, Louise: More True Stories from Pioneer Valley, published by Sugden Book Store, Marietta, Ohio (1993) chapter 10 entitled Massacre at Big Bottom, pg 92-101.
  8. ^ Lane, Eula Rogers: Ode to the Big Bottom Massacre, Richardson Printing, Marietta, Ohio (1975).


  • Adams, James Truslow. Dictionary of American History. New York: Scribner's, 1940.

External links[edit]