FIRST MILLIONAIRE IN WAYNEDALE
Waynedale’s first millionaire was Miami Indian Chief Jean (John) Baptiste De Richardville. Chief Richardville’s parents and ancestors were well known Indian traders. His mother, Ta-Cum-Wa was a sister of Miami Chief Pacanne and related to Chief Little Turtle. She was highly respected and a shrewd business parent. His father was a French Canadian trader. He was one of the very first of European blood that came to Fort Wayne and truthfully claimed by all as “royal family”.
Chief Richardsville’s personality was very kind and cooperative. He wisely settled any disagreement within his tribe, as well as, within other tribes and thus with the government.
Tribal custom came about when Indian scouts brought in a British scout. The scout was tied to a tree and fully prepared for a suitable burning. Chief Richardville’s mother pleaded with the captors, “This man has no gun, means no harm, and comes with peaceful intent,” but the captors continued with their merriment. Chief Richardville’s mother thrust a knife in her son’s hand and instructed him to free the captive. Everyone was surprised as he acted quickly and a new leader was born. His mother later furnished the British scout with a boat and saw him off without harm.
Chief Richardville was born in 1761. He was a tribal leader at a young age and increased his knowledge by traveling throughout the 3-river area. He talked with people journeying through the portage. He was very experienced in the many aspects of the portage. He knew the importance of the southwest shores of the St. Mary’s River, especially the area 3 miles southwest of the river confluence. This is where his tribe made their home and where the government in 1827 built his home on his own government reservation, now easily found at 5705 Bluffton Road.
Without a doubt, this is the oldest home in Waynedale. Allen County was very busy with portage traffic and was probably the scene for treaties. This home was a show mansion with oriental rugs, French drapes, pictures and beautiful furniture, all furnished by France (still keeping a foot in the door), for that important fur trade.
In 1833, Chief Richardville built a home for his mother, Ta-Cum-Wa near Huntington at the southwest terminal of the portage, thereby acquiring an appreciated monopoly. His vast income was shared between the portage guide business and his vast land holdings, which were given as a reward for the many treaties he helped to negotiate.
He died in 1841, the first millionaire in Waynedale, the richest Indian in North America. In 1846, the last of the Miami Indians were sent to Oklahoma reservations.