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Frank Gray

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Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette
The missing historical marker on Carroll Road will not be replaced unless its accuracy is proven.

Marker site needs proof of accuracy

For nearly half a century, along Carroll Road where it crosses the Eel River northwest of Fort Wayne, there stood a historical marker, calling attention to something called Hardin's Defeat.

The story of Hardin's Defeat is that in October of 1790, at or very near that location – perhaps – a force of 180 Kentucky militia and 30 U.S. Army soldiers – perhaps – were lured into a trap and attacked by a force of Indians, led by Chief Little Turtle – perhaps – and defeated.

The large embossed metal marker was installed in 1966, one of several dozen markers installed to mark the 150th anniversary of Indiana becoming a state.

Well, a resident of that area who's been traveling past that sign for most of his life called my attention to something recently. Sometime in the past year, that historical marker disappeared.

He has no idea what happened to it. Was it removed for some reason? Did a car run it down?

Oddly enough, I found a photograph on the Internet of that very historical marker. The photos showed a bent up pole lying in some grass and that big metal marker lying in some tall grass. Indeed, the sign had been mowed down by a car or truck or something, and it hasn't been replaced.

I called the Indiana Historical Bureau, which is in charge of all historical markers. The people there immediately knew what I was talking about. They knew the marker was gone. It was going to remain gone, too.

The historical bureau is constantly reviewing the historical markers around the state. A lot of them were installed in the days when rules for historical accuracy were, shall we say, a little more lax. That doesn't mean that inaccurate markers are being systematically removed. They aren't.

But if the details on a marker are considered wrong enough, it won't be replaced if something happens to it.

That's the case with the marker on Carroll Road that people have been looking at for almost all their lives.

It turns out it isn't clear whether the battle actually took place there. It also isn't clear exactly how many men were involved, and it isn't clear whether Little Turtle was there, or whether he just laid out the plan and let someone else command the ambush and battle.

That doesn't mean that the sign will be gone forever. If someone is willing to do sufficient research, even some archaeological research, and come up with what are called primary references, not reports written decades after the battle, they could apply to submit the data to have a new marker installed.

For now, though, it's forgotten history.

Where in the US is Gary Lewis?

A couple of weeks ago we wrote about Lewis, a Huntington businessman, describing his plans to travel by motorcycle to the extreme four corners of the U.S. in 21 days.

The ride started in northern Maine amid frost, 37-degree weather and rain. Lewis complained of dangerous drivers on the East Coast and of the hot weather down South.

He got stuck in a traffic jam in Houston, where the temperature was 95, the heat from the pavement was 140 and the heat from his engine was 250 degrees.

He was advised not to drive past Junction, Texas, in the evening, because there was nothing but deer and bad guys on the road at night and no gas for 200 miles.

Well, Lewis headed out from Junction on Thursday morning and traveled at 80 mph for nearly six hours, making it into New Mexico.

His ride from New Mexico to San Diego was cut short when nearly 113-degree temperatures forced him to stop at a truck stop and wait until sundown, when it cooled off to 103 degrees. He rode through Death Valley at night, arriving in San Diego Saturday morning, where the temperature was 61 degrees – and he was freezing, he said.

The fourth corner is only about 1,500 miles away. Then he has to ride back to Indiana.

Frank Gray reflects on his and others' experiences in columns published Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. He can be reached by phone at 461-8376, by fax at 461-8893, or by email at You can also follow him on Twitter @FrankGrayJG.