William “Apekonit” Wells


William “Apekonit” Wells

Jacobs Creek, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, USA
Death 15 Aug 1812 (aged 41–42)
Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, USA
Burial Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, USA
Memorial ID 18787304 View Source
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War of 1812 United States Army Officer. A major figure in the Indian-White relations in the old northwest, in 1784 at the age of 14 he was captured by the Miami Indians and was adopted by Chief Gaviahatte (the Porcupine). Wells went on Indian raids of white settlements and befriended Chief Little Turtle, and Little Turtles daughter Sweet Breeze. Wells became a scout, government interpreter, and Indian agent. His position as a "White-Indian" made him invaluable as a go-between in negotiations. Because of the way he was viewed, he was looked at as marginally acceptable by either side. Wells assisted Little Turtle in stopping white settlers from encroaching upon Indian land. He assisted the Indians of the Northwest Territory against Arthur St. Clair in 1791. By 1794, Wells had a change of heart. Many people believe that he could no longer stand the bloodshed that characterized the Northwest Territory in the late 1780s and the early 1790s. Despite this supposed opposition to bloodshed, Wells did join the army of Anthony Wayne in 1794. Wayne hoped to secure the southwestern portion of modern-day Ohio from the natives. Wells served as a scout and interpreter for Wayne. He eventually attained the rank of captain and was present at the negotiating and signing of the Treaty of Greeneville in 1795. Under this treaty, the Indians had to forsake all of their lands in what is now present-day Ohio except for the northwestern corner of the state. Wells retired from the military after the Treaty of Greeneville and settled near Fort Wayne, Indiana, with his wife. He lived as a farmer and traded goods with the local Indians as well, but in 1802, President Thomas Jefferson appointed Wells as an Indian agent. Wells assisted the United States government in negotiating treaties with the natives, serving in this position until 1809. As a show of gratitude for Wells's good service as an agent and as an interpreter and scout for Wayne, the United States Congress gave Wells 320 acres of land near Fort Wayne in 1808. Wells presents a tragic figure trying to forge an honorable and just relation between two incompatible cultures. He was killed by Potawatami Indians on August 15, 1812, while leading some Miamis and soldiers from the besieged Fort Dearborn (Chicago). He was beheaded and his heart was devoured by his attackers, who hoped to ingest their victim's courage.

Bio by: Matt Clevinger

Gravesite Details

Specifically: Body destroyed by Potawatomi Indians, Memorial Marker in Fort Wayne, Indiana; Buried in Mass grave in 1813

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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Originally Created by: Matt Clevinger
  • Added: 5 Apr 2007
  • Find a Grave Memorial 18787304
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for William “Apekonit” Wells (1770–15 Aug 1812), Find a Grave Memorial ID 18787304, citing Fort Dearborn Massacre Site, Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, USA ; Maintained by Find a Grave .