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According to legend, in 1170 AD Welsh Prince Madoc left Wales in a ship and traveled west. His ship sailed up the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers until he reached the Falls of the Ohio and thence to Devil’s Backbone. I prefer a Native American explanation for Devil’s Backbone. My cousin, Danny Calton, asked: Why can’t both theories be true? He has a point. The Welsh could have come upon a deserted Devil’s Backbone fort or they may have defeated the Shawnee.

Legend number 1: Prince Madoc and followers left the ship on the Indiana shore and marched around the Falls of the Ohio to Devil’s Backbone. They defeated the Shawnee and took over Devil’s Backbone. What happened to them? Legends of Welsh speaking people living persist, but no one has found them.

Legend number 2. Rumors in Louisville speak of a battle waged between Prince Madoc’s army and Indians at Sand Island where the ship could have landed. The Welsh were defeated. Rumors of armor discovered on Sand Island and other islands in the Ohio River have circulated for years. Other rumors speak of a graveyard in Jeffersonville, Indiana. The skeletons and armor have vanished, if they existed. Somebody in the Louisville area may have the armor—who knows?

Jupiter from Kentucky

On August 9th, 2019, my son Eric Suddeth took this photo of the moon with Jupiter clearly visible below it. Eric uses digital cameras to take professional-quality photos. The Ohio River and the  town of Harrod’s Creek, Kentucky are at the bottom of the photo. This is close to Louisville.

The Witches’ Castle (also known as Mistletoe Falls) is about 4 miles downriver from the Devil’s Backbone. It is on the outskirts of Utica, Indiana. Rumors about it abound: a friary, pagan temple, home to 3 witches, built by Prince Madoc (more about him at a later date), estate built in 1940, and the rumor that intrigues me:

It was the home to 3 Meti (Shawnee/French mixed blood) sisters, daughters of Charles Tully, the founder of Shawnee Tullytown. The residents of Utica had already lost a small battle with Shawnee of the Devil’s Backbone area, so a mob burned the Witch’s Castle down and tied the 3 sisters to a raft. The raft was let loose. Though no one knew for sure, the raft was assumed to have gone over the Falls of the Ohio, taking the sisters to their deaths. I do know that Shawnee descendants still live in the Devil’s Back Bone/Charlestown, Indiana area. I may be one—I am researching it. My father’s family lived in the area, many of them taking Indian wives. Some of the wives were likely Shawnee.

 

Devil’s Backbone overlooks the Ohio River and Fourteen Mile Creek. (located in Charlestown State Park, Charlestown, Indiana) About 3 miles northeast was Tullytown, a Shawnee settlement centered around a trading post operated by a Meti (French/Shawnee mixed blood) named Charles Tully. Were these the people from Devil’s Backbone? Whites drove the Shawnee out and named it Springville—it is now part of Charlestown.
About 3 miles upriver on the Ohio from Devil’s Backbone is Bull Creek. The Ohio River here used to be fordable on horseback during dry weather. About 1790, a small fort was built to keep Shawnees from crossing the Ohio and raiding Kentucky (Tullytown?). The home pictured is a farmhouse built on the probable site of the fort. I lived here as a baby (our farm went clear to the Ohio). Bull Creek is to the viewer’s right. (also a night photo)
According to local legend (1780?) settlers from Utica, Indiana tried to attack Tullytown. Shawnees ambushed and defeated them at a creek now called Battle Creek. This is about 4 miles downriver from Devil’s Backbone, just upriver from Utica (pictured).

Today is National Book Lover’s Day. (I am not plugging my own books, I am not that egotistical) I am reading a thriller, Rules of Engagement, by Bruns and Olson. HOWEVER. It does not matter what book you are reading, just read a book. It will help your mind and your health, maybe even your soul. Peace.

My cat is not the least bit happy. If I fail to post the truth about International Cat Day, I am in baaaaad trouble. My cat will stay up all night yowling and quit using the cat box and have nothing to do with me.

The truth: Every day is International Cat Day, not just once a year. Spread the word and help me out!. Please?

(seriously, visit a shelter and find a cat that will own you)

Devil’s Backbone overlooks the Ohio River and Fourteen Mile Creek. (located in Charlestown State Park, Charlestown, Indiana) It is about 14 miles from the Falls of the Ohio, which was a natural place for pre-Columbian Native Americans to settle. Travel on the Ohio River past the falls was hazardous.

A team of archaeologists has proposed that Devil’s Backbone before Columbus was a temple Complex. (the state of Indiana has never conducted an archaeological exam). Here are my proposals from the tribes involved, listed in order of likelihood.

  • Shawnees: They were associated with the Ohio River further upriver, but a group lived just five miles away in Tullytown, near Charlestown.
  • Siouan Tribes: The Lakota/Sioux and kindred tribes. These Indians lived along the Ohio River, especially on the north side. They split up, groups going south, west of the Mississippi, and to the Great Lakes area.
  • Cherokees: They once had a town on the Cumberland River, near the Ohio River. Even in the present, they live in eastern Kentucky

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