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Native American Stories



Native American Stories

     Like most of Indiana, the Barbee Lakes area used to be the home of Native American tribes, notably the Piankenshaw, Potawatomi, and Eagle River Miamis. Because very few of the Indiana tribes are still around today, documented information about them is scarce; however, stories about them still are told.


"Arrowheads still found on Tumble Inn grounds"
P.V. Sheridan: Potawatomi, Eagle River Miamis, and the Piankenshaw were the original Indians up there. Chief Little Turtle’s Miami group owned the land and it sold it to the United States as part of the Treaty of Greenville in the 1790’s. And part of where the lakes is now was ceded to the white man, to the territory of Indiana.
           You still can, if you look hard, find many arrowheads still. I found a lot arrowheads around our cottage. One day, about ten years ago, I just walked out the door on to the back porch and there was a pristine arrowhead just sitting there in the gravel. It was perfect; it was a perfectly shaped one.


"Princess Barbee helps find body of drowned man"
Betty Sheridan:  Years ago, Princess Barbee would come down to the lake and water her horses. She went with an old man that lived up there, and he married her finally.
             And when Mr. Cookson died—drowned in the lake—it was when my brother Bob was killed, same week—nobody could find his body—they dynamited the lake and everything—in Sechrist [another lake in the Barbee chain]. Nobody could find the body, and they cleared the lake of everybody; nobody could be down on the lake. The Indians came, and found his body right away. That is another true story.


"Ghost of Princess Barbee finds body of drowned girl"
P.V.: Historical perspective: Princess Barbee, while canoeing a couple of hundred years ago, capsized and drowned.
         When I was about eight years old a very wealthy Chicago family was vacationing at the lakes, and their daughter supposedly drowned. But they spent a week dragging the lake, dynamiting the lake, and no body could be found. However, an Indian, White Feather, made everyone get away from the lake, and said he would find the body. Princess Barbee’s ghost helped White Feather found the body of the girl. He would never tell his technique but he found the body within the hour. Everyone figured the Princess had helped him because of her spirit and knowledge of the lake.



"Princess Barbee and lover meet in middle of the lake"
Bob Sheridan:  On one side of the lake was an Indian village, and on our side of the lake was another Indian village. It was like Romeo and Juliet; Princess Barbee and he would paddle out into the middle of the lake to meet him. They did this until one day when one of the relatives got wise and killed them. So every once in a while when there is a full moon, you can see them paddle out into the middle of the lake.


"Ghostly canoe appears"
Molly Sheridan:  I was in the boat last summer and I saw a figure in a canoe shape. After Grandpa [Bob] had told the story of Princess Barbee, I pointed out the canoe; everyone looked, and it vanished into thin air.


        "Ghostly couple appears in canoe"
[Mary and Larry Kuzma own a cottage on Big Barbee Lake.]
Mary Kuzma: My grandma and grandpa liked to fish. Anyway, after the reunion last year, just before it turned dark, this old-time fishing boat just appeared, right in front of our cottage. And there was an old man and an old woman; the old woman had a hat on, and the man had a baseball cap on, probably Cubs. It parked there for a while, and then they were gone. This is a true story. We were going to see if they would talk, but then they disappeared.
Donnie Kuzma: I remember that you said "Let’s go get Dad and we can see who they really are" but when you got back they were gone
Mary: I wanted to see if they would talk. And did they catch fish Donnie? They did, every once in a while they’d catch something. It was strange.








Tumble Inn Home

Thursday, May 31, 2001