Peabody Singing Tower

 North Manchester, Indiana

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North Manchester

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Source: NMHS Newsletter May 2003

Pony Creek

This stream is called by different names. Near Manchester where it empties into Eel River, and for several miles above it is best known as Ogan Creek, deriving this name from John Ogan who was one of the very first settlers in the township and built a cabin on its banks in

Page Six May, 2003


1834. Further up and from thence to its source (in Huntington County) it has the name of Pony Creek, by which title it is designated on the maps. Tradition tells how it received this name, and the legend seemed worthy of a place in this work.

Years and years ago at the time when the first pioneers had just begun to penetrate this region, and white settlers were few and far between while the dusky Miamis hunted the deer through the forest-covered lands of Chester and adjacent townships, a band of white desperadoes organized and carried out a plan of stealing their ponies, which evinced much ingenuity; and for a time was very successful.

In the central part of the township extending through sections 23 and 24 in Range 7 and Sections 19 and 20 in Range 8, there was a strip of land known as the "Windbrake" in which all the trees had been blown down by a tornado some years before and here among the young timber that had sprung up since, vegetation was more luxuriant than in the surrounding forest. To this spot, the Indian ponies when turned loose were wont to find their way.

Taking advantage of this circumstance these renegades constructed a trap or pound, with a converging lane leading to it which was so placed as to intercept the trail taken by the ponies on their way to the "Windbrake". Entering the lane, it was an easy matter for them to find their way into the inclosure through its narrow opening, but once fairly inside they could not readily escape. From here they were taken by the gang, who ran them off to the northward until they came to the creek, half a mile above, and near the county line. They followed down the bed of the stream "to break the trail" and so elude pursuit. Keeping to the creek for about a mile and a half, and reaching Sect. 19, they secreted their stolen property in a pen on the farm now belonging to Warren Jenks. This pen, like the former, was strongly built, being about eighteen rails high, and inclosed an area of nearly two acres. When a sufficient number of ponies had been brought together in this way, and a favorable opportunity occurred, they were then run off to some remote locality and there disposed of.

Stealing ponies, however, while it might have been profitable for those engaged in it, was an occupation that had its risks and dangers. The Indians learned to keep a closer watch over their property; and

May, 2003 Page Seven

though it is doubted by some whether they ever discovered the mysterious traps, yet the gang on several occasions were closely pursued and narrowly escaped with their lives. One of them, Wicks by name, had lived among the Indians a large part of his life and having adopted their dress and habits was hardly distinguishable from one of the tribe. About 1840 he disappeared mysterioously and it has always been supposed met with summary retribution at their hands. This band of pony thieves had their headquarters in a hut on the farm later owned by Lewis Dailey in Section 20.

Indian ponies in those days were worth from fifteen to twenty dollars each. Though much too light for farm work, they were very tough and hardy and from the scarcity of better animals were often made use of by the settlers.

The Indians and their ponies together with the men who stole them, have all passed away. The place where the lower pen was built is now a cultivated field, and all traces of its existence long since obliterated. A few old and nearly rotten rails, and a space in the woods which shows by the absence of large trees that it had once been cleared, is all that is left to show where the trap once stood; but the name of Pony Creek still remains to perpetuate the legend of border times which has been related here.