On a mid-summer day in 1808, a group of people and a number of pack horses loaded with Indian trade goods forded the Whitewater River and moved north along the high bluff on the western side. Included in the entourage were two white men, John Conner and Michel Peletier, their wives and children, and several Delaware Indians.
They were leaving their store near Cedar Grove and looking for a new location in the Indian Territory and nearer the villages of the Delaware Indians. The group moved up the west bank to a bluff over-looking the river where they made camp. For the next several days they worked on the construction of a large, two-story log cabin. Based on the research of J.L. Heineman, this cabin was probably in the middle of present day Eastern Avenue at the west end of Charles Street. This cabin was to be the center of Conner’s fur trading business for several years.
This Was The Beggining
Since the retreat of the last glacier some 10,000 to 12,000 year ago, what is now Indiana had been inhabited by nomadic bands of Indians; they hunted, fished, and farmed this area. These people have been classified as Eastern Woodland Indians, and by the time the white man entered the region the Miami, the Shawnee, and the Pottawatomi were the dominant tribes. During, and after the Revolutionary War several clans of the Delaware settled along the West Fork of White River; Muncie, Anderson, and Daleville were all Delaware villages. Other peoples of a somewhat higher civilization also lived in the area.
They used metal, made fine pottery, were excellent farmers, and carried on extensive trade. Because they built large mounds for a variety of reasons, we call them the Mound Builders. They were gone from Indiana by the time the first white men arrived. The first white men to reach what is now Indiana were French coureurs de bois, “runners of the woods”.
They brought a variety of trade goods with them from Montreal and Detroit to exchange with the Indians for furs. Fur was very valuable on the European market, and trade with the Indians for these pelts was a lucrative business. French Jesuit persists, “black robes” could be found at French fur trading posts such as Ouiatenon and Vincennes at a somewhat later date.