Where History Meets Historical Fiction
Ever since the time my history teacher in southern California introduced me to the life of Simon Kenton and Tecumseh through the historical fiction writings of Allan W. Eckert, I was hooked. I could picture the verdant wilderness of unexplored forests and lands thick with game.
When I moved to Ohio some years later, it never occurred to me that I would be moving smack-dab to the center of where all of these stories had taken place. Finding evidence of this area's history everywhere only takes a little investigating.
One of our favorite places to frequent is the little, hidden cemetery where James and Rebekah Galloway are buried. James Galloway, one of the original settlers of this land, fought in the Revolutionary War and became good friends with the Shawnee Tecumseh.
As Eckert dramatizes in his book The Frontiersmen:
"What did he say his name was, Daddy?"
"An unusual man," Galloway muttered, appearing not to have heard her. "Most unusual. He said he lives now over on the Whitewater River in the Indiana Territory. I wonder where he learned to speak English so well." He caught himself and smiled at his daughter. "Excuse me, Becky. He said his name is Tecumseh."
Tecumseh would later ask for the hand of James and Rebekah Galloway's daughter (also named Rebecca) in marriage, an offer which Tecumseh would later resend when Becky agreed under the condition of the Indian chief adopting their way of dress and life.
For a long moment the Shawnee chief held her close. He pressed his lips first to her right eye and then to her left and then kissed her lips tenderly. But his voice, when he spoke, was heavy with regret.
"I will not come back again, Rebecca. I cannot take you as my wife under your conditions. To do as you require would lose for me the respect and leadership of my people."
He held her close again, briefly, then turned and disappeared soundlessly into the forest.
And Rebecca Galloway wept.
It is easy to think of these people as mere figments of the author's imagination, but the reality comes to life when you see memorials to these people whom history has almost forgotten.