Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Wednesday search challenge (10/30/13): Who was Major Truman?

This beautiful map came across my desk the other day when I was looking for something else.  I'll let you search for it and get the backstory behind this map (it's a good story).  

But the first thing that crossed my mind when I saw this was "Who was Major Truman?" Or more importantly, why was Major Truman so important that his death was noted on this beautiful, but otherwise fairly empty map? 

Two questions for today: 

1.  Who was Major Truman? Can you find out where (closest current city name) he was killed?  And why was he killed here?  
2.  How much money was paid by Congress to the surviving members of Major Truman's family?   (Approximately...)  

Be sure to let us know HOW you found the answers!  

Search on! 


  1. When I searched on Major Truman and Army lands I found a citation in the Harvard Library - that tells me it's from the collection of Donald Rumsey. The site for the collection seems to be unavailable, but the citation says it's from 1828 and from Frances H. Henshaw's book of penmanship. A search on that, led me to a Slate article about Francis - a schoolgirl who copied maps and annotated them with historical events -

    That provided a link to the congressional proceedings -
    that tell he was sent by General Washington to the Indian lands to make peace and was killed along with everyone in his party. Originally the widow and heirs of Major Truman received $2,100 and then later gave his daughter the additional sum of $100 per year until she was 21, but it's unclear how old she was at the time.

    It appears that the closest current city is Dayton from looking at Google maps.

  2. 1. Officer sent by George Washington "carrying messages of peace to the hostile Indians, were killed by the said Indians" (along with his son) April 20 1792 in what is now Ottawa Ohio.
    This found by Google search through Wikipedia and intermediate sources such as RootsWeb to:
    "Historical register of officers of the Continental Army during the war of the revolution, April 1775, to December, 1783 By Francis Bernard Heitman"
    "Captain" Trueman's original orders:
    The Secretary at War orders Captain Trueman to repair directly to the Miami village to deliver the President's desire for peace in a speech to the Indians. Captain Trueman is to attempt to convince the Chiefs to visit Philadelphia.

    NOTE: Soon found that searches should be repeated for alternate spelling "Trueman" which is found in most "Federal" documents. "Truman" spelling is most prevelant in regional Ohio histories.

    2. Survivors paid aprox. $2100 ("the sum of three hundred dollars per annum, for the same term of seven years") by act of 2nd Congress
    This found by
    "The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America, Volume 6"

    This was a very hard one and involved many more searches and documents than I have listed but it's time to wrap it up.

  3. Findlay, OH/Lima, OH, - Ottawa, OH., Hog Creek specifically… a harrowing account from what may have been the only survivor, William Smalley (Thomas Flinn may have also survived) of Maj. Trueman's ill-fated "peace" mission.
    William Smalley
    "Brothers: The President of the United States entertains the opinion that the war which exists is founded in error and mistake on your part..."
    Frances Henshaw

    as for the survivor benefit amount, less success - look forward to seeing where that is found -
    pass the hat

    1. a couple other bits… and the possibility that the actual payment to Tru(e)man's heirs ($2,100 over 7 years? Approved, February 27, 1793 - # of children 2, maybe 3?) didn't happen despite Congressional action - imagine that… might have been complicated by the possible lack of a body/actual grave site… a more common circumstance then?
      Alexander Truman (Trueman)
      Col John Hardin
      wiki, 2nd Congress
      pension statements
      also on Frances's map:
      Ft. Meigs
      a couple other players:
      Little Turtle
      Buckongahelas, from Smalley's account

      some curious native american/diplomacy parallels -
      fate of "peace" envoys

  4. Good day, Dr. Russell, fellow SearchResearchers


    [Major Truman killed near Lake Erie]

    Northwest Indian War to find with Ctrl F. Major Alexander Truman were murdered on peace missions.

    [Major Alexander Truman] in web and in Books

    Link text
    Maj Alexander Truman

    Acts passed at the first session of the 1st Congress - 3d ... - Page 14. Source 1

    [Major Alexander Truman],_Ohio.html

    [1793 us currency in actual dollars]

    Relative value of money


    Who was Major Truman? Can you find out where (closest current city name) he was killed? And why was he killed here?
    A. Major Alexander Truman. He was killed in a peace Mission sent by President George Washington.

    2. How much money was paid by Congress to the surviving members of Major Truman's family? (Approximately...)
    A. In USD.

    750 Annual Allowance.
    675 Pension

    Source: 1.

  5. This was an easy one--took about 2 minutes. Since I recognized the map as Ohio, that being one of my neighboring states, I searched [Major Truman Ohio history]. This brought me right to a Wikipedia page that gave me his full name and the circumstances of his death--Major Alexander Truman was sent on a peace mission to the Wyandot Indians and was killed in a place that later became the town of Ottawa, Ohio. I then searched [Major Alexander Truman Congress] which brought up a wikisource copy of the public acts of the third congress (also available through google books) which gave the annual allowance to his orphan children ($750). That search also brought me to a Wikipedia article on the Northwest Indian War, during which Major Truman was killed.

  6. This was good ! I dragged the map into IMAGES and instantly found all about it at
    From here a link to BOOKS Congressional Edition, Volume 433 and thence SEARCH in books for [death "Major Alexander Truman"]
    which another Congressional Edition 742 which tells us where he was killed,

    About 1 minute


    So Major Alexander Truman in 1792 was asked to go to the Indian towns to treat for peace. Note the 'asked' not ordered by POTUS Washington. He and nearly all his party killed just outside Fort Washington now Cincinnati. Truman's widow and child received $300 per year for 7 years. $2100 up to 1800. After that the child was to receive $100 per year til age 21 but no one present when the Act was signed knew how old the daughter was at that time. This pension was his big reward for volunteering not being ordered to undertake this very dangerous assignment.

    1. Not that it makes a whole lot of difference, but $2100. was probably a lot of money in 1792.

  7. WHO DREW THE MAP This search became more about 'who drew the map' for me. Had I been born in the early 1800's I would have enjoyed attending the Middlebury Female Academy that focused on penmanship/map drawings. One student, Frances A. Henshaw took it a lot further producing remarkable drawings not only geographical maps but of astronomy as well. She created the map we are researching. More can be seen at the David Rumsey Map Collection.Children's Maps

    Details of Frances Henshaw's school days_

    These links show the original map used for the challenge along with an collection of Frances Henshaw’s works.

    query [ "major truman killed here" -harry -capote]

    result Ottawa, Ohio (mentions Major Truman’s death)

    Second source discussing the death of Major Truman

    WHO IS MAJOR TRUMAN Major Alexander Truman was killed in April 20th, 1792 by the Wyandot Indians (now in Quebec Canada) and was sent by George Washington on a peace initiative to nearby Fort St Clair and Fort Jefferson that would later become Ottawa, Ohio. Here is the handwritten letter informing of Major Truman’s death “he was dispatched with the tomahawk”

    Letter reporting Major Truman's death

    COMPENSATION FOR FAMILY In 1793 Congress passed a law giving the widow and child of Major Truman $300 a year for 7 yrs for total of $2100. Then in May 1800 the Congress gave to the daughter of Major Truman $100.00 a year until the age of 21.

    (Source of info google books Congressional serial set, Volume 433
    By United States. Government Printing Office) Digitized Format
    and Google Books - Congressional Serial Set Volume 433

    Google Books
    Blog Search
    Double Quote query
    Digitized Government Documents (Books, Northen Ilinois University)

    (If my links aren't visible and anyone wants them I'll repost them.)

    1. My apologies - I thought my Chromebook could handle link labels - obviously not. Here’s my links

      Children’s Maps's%20Maps?q=frances%20a.%20henshaw&sort=Pub_List_No_InitialSort,Pub_Date,Pub_List_No,Series_No

      Details of Frances Henshaw

      Ottawa Ohio,_Ohio

      Second source of Major Truman’s death

      Letter reporting Major Truman

      Digitized details on compensation from book (I learned that I can look at plain text or pdf to make it searchable & you can copy words)

    2. I kept wondering where did Frances Henshaw see a map that gave her a reference. I found a map created in 1804 by Aaron Arrowsmith & Samuel Lewis

      This map also shows the notation “Major Truman killed” so I think it was the official map used by Frances Henshaw in 1823.

      The History of Indiana, from Its Earliest Exploration by Europeans, to the Close of the Territorial Government, in 1816:Comprehending a History of the Discovery, Settlement, and Civil and Military Affairs of the Territory of the U.S. Northwest of the River Ohio, and a General View of the Progress of Public Affairs in Indiana from 1816 to 1856

      Contains another account of the killing of Major Trueman (Truman) along with the President’s Speech taken with them on their peace talks. The account while vague was that Truman’s scalp was seen by another soldier.

      I experimented with David Rumsey’s interactive maps which is another way to bring historical maps to life.

    3. That's an amazing find. HOW did you find the 1804 map? You're right... this is quite probably the one she worked from.

    4. see for better image.

  8. Wrote too much and comments are limited to 4,096 characters. Who knew?! Split my answer in multiple comments.

    Right clicked the image in Chrome and selected Search Google with this image.
    Search Engine Results Page (SERP) included "Pages from a 19th-Century Schoolgirl's Gorgeous Hand-Drawn Atlas of the United States"
    It included "The Ohio map is unusual in its representation of historical events (“Major Truman Killed”) and ongoing political disputes."

    Congressional serial set, Volume 433 appears to give the answer to #2.

    "... a like time The whole sum given to the widow and children of Colonel Hardin amounted to 3,150 and that to the widow and heirs of Major Truman to $2,100 On the 14th of May 1800 Congress again took the subject under consideration and gave to each of the children of Colonel Hardin one hundred dollars a year until they respectively attained the age of twenty one years and also the same sum to the daughter of Major Truman From the information given to the committee as to the number and ages of Colonel Hardin's children they received about $2,800 in addition to the 3,150 previously granted them How much was received by the daughter of Major Truman under the law of 1800 could not be known as there was no person before the committee who could state her age when the last law passed The fate of those two officers Hardin and... "

    $2,100 to his wife and daughter with his daughter receiving an additional $100/year until she reached 21 years of age. Her age could not be stated at the time the law was passed.

    I clicked on the page for the map in the Rumsey Collection but didn't find anything.

    Taking the date from Congressional serial set when Major Truman was killed, I searched [ 1792 "major truman" ] It gave me hits on a war departments paper site but not really a location of where the killing happened.

    Trying a different search from information gleaned from earlier [ fort st. clair eaton ohio history ]  and then [ fort st. clair eaton ohio history truman hardin ] gave me an page History of Darke County... I used Command-F to find [ truman ] on the page.

    Search [ major truman death miami ohio ] to get Wikipedia article on Northwest Indian War. Jump down to key figures and find "Alexander Truman, Major - killed on a peace mission at what later became Ottawa, Ohio."

  9. Research 2.

    Your Image on Google Images

    Found. Pages from a 19th-Century Schoolgirl's Gorgeous Hand-Drawn Atlas of the United States

    There I clicked on "an interpretive exhibit"

    The Map version of Henshaw´s "Ohio" is a study in interpretative selectivity. This shows a Google map with layers and has your map.


    Can you find out where (closest current city name) he was killed

    A.Detroit is the nearest city.

    Major Alexander Truman died in Ottawa, Ohio.

    1. Ramón - the Neatline/Henshaw map is a cool find… interesting way to illustrate info and put in geo-context.

  10. Search [ alexander truman ottawa ohio ] On the Wikipedia page for Ottawa, Ohio under history is information about Major Truman. Also find similar information on the Find A Grave web site

    I did another search for [ "major truman" 1792 ] and found this 295 - Digitization Projects Philologic Results It provides more detail about the mission and even talks about how Major Truman's companions were shot and then he was dispatched with a tomahawk.

    1a. Who was Major Truman? He was a major who was sent by President Washington to villages in northwestern Ohio under a flag of truce to start the process of peace talks
    with the native americans that still were in the area.
    1b. Can you find out where (closest current city name) he was killed? Ottawa, Ohio.
    1c. Not totally clear on this question - And why was he killed here? Because that is where the bad native americans were?!?
    2. $2,100 to his wife and daughter with his daughter receiving an additional $100/year until she reached 21 years of age. Her age could not be stated at the time the law was passed.
    Except when I did a book search for [ "major alexander truman" ] I found this page in The
    Papers of Alexander Hamilton
    which gives arrerages in the price of $300 per annum. That can be interpreted that he had 3 children not one being paid $100 per year.
    And here it mentions $675 dollars being paid
    Looking further through the SERP for the book search it became clear that the money paid to the heirs of Major Truman were used as a precedence for later house bill (No. 131) for the relief the heirs of Joseph Gerard. [ colonel hardin major truman heirs ] to here.
    Book search for [ "major alexander truman" ] took me to Genealogy of the Pedens of Kentucky, 1756-1986 where I learn that Major Alexander Truman was the son of Henry Truman and Ann Magruder.

    Google search [ henry truman ann magruder ] to find Re: Ann Magruder Truman Henry and Ann had 6 children. No. 3 - Alexander Truman, d. OH married Margaret Reynolds in 1781, MD.
    [ alexander truman margaret reynolds ] to an entry for Alexander Truman Alex and Margaret had 3 children.
    Alexander Magruder Truman b. 1782 approx. 10 when his father died. 11 years to 21 * $100 = $1100
    Mary Ann Truman b. 1777 approx. 15 when her father died.  6 years to 21 * $100 = $600
    Thomas Truman b. 1783 approx. 9 when his father died.  12 years to 21 * $100 = $1200

    2100+1100+600+1200=  approx. $5000
    So I'm going with $5000 but still have questions about why the one entry only listed the Mrs. and a daughter. doesn't show a death for Thomas so he could have died before reaching the age of 21.

    1. Fred - the Northern Illinois U. link is interesting - the description of events varies a bit with the Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources (ODNR) article - William Smalley.
      Ran into the 4096 myself with the And the answer was... or should have been.../John J. Williams question… maybe Dan will put a twitteresque number on history questions??;)

  11. Ramón - The Neatline link was quite interesting. Google Earth does a basic version whereby you can do an image overlay but you wouldn't get the narrative. I use image overlay on occasion in Google Earth for hiking purposes.

    Fred- Your genealogy result got me to go searching for supportive links confirming the info. I couldn't find anything and two things bother me 1) the Congressional Serial Report mentions "a daughter of unknown age" and the date of birth being 1777 doesn't fit as you would expect. Maybe someone else found something on his family.

    Remji - I didn't see the link for the ODNR and I would like to read it. Maybe that will explain 4096. I'll have to figure out how to do these links better.

    I appreciate the multiple sources people used to solve this challenge. Can't wait to see what Dr. Russell comes up with. By the way finding that map in the first place is impressive. I may not be a history buff but you made me want to find out all I could about the story and children's maps. Maybe its an art that needs to be reshaped for our times.

    1. So after reading Rosemary's comment, I dove back in. I live in the area where the Truman's are from. I'm currently looking through the resources my public library provides. One resource is HeritageQuest Online. They have a 7 page scanned document for Alexander Truman stating he was killed in the Indian War. Still trying to read the rest of the document. More later...

    2. Keep going, Fred! It'll be interesting to see what else you can dig up from local resources.

    3. Fred, curious to see what the 7 page account reveals… remember to keep it under 4096² ;)

      Rosemary - the ODNR link (from my initial comment), "4096" is a reference to the comment character limitation mentioned by Fred in his comment (10/30, 3:09 PM). Sorry for the confusion.
      fwiw, the Major must have had some unique locks to allow identification from a bloody scalp… wonder if there is an app for that? Perhaps it was Thomas Lynch's scalp? -
      "The old Indian listened thoughtfully to William’s story, and agreed to return him to the Delaware. Then he tossed Lynch’s bloody scalp on William’s lap, and suggested that he should clean and dress it as a present to the principal Delaware chief, Buckongahelas. William was sickened at the prospect of the gruesome task…"(ODNR, Ohio State Parks magazine article)
      from your History of Indiana reference:
      "The account while vague was that Truman’s scalp was seen by another soldier."

  12. Googling major truman ohio
    gets a Wikipedia article for Ottawa, Ohio: "In 1792 Major Alexander Truman,[9] his servant William Lynch and guide/interpreter William Smalley were sent by George Washington on a peace mission. Truman and Lynch were killed; Truman was apparently killed prior to April 20, 1792 at what later became Ottawa, Putnam County Ohio"

    (I added Ohio after looking at map to see where the site was likely to be.)

    Then Googling Major Alexander Truman Congress gets a Google Books result for "Acts passed at the first session of the 1st Congress - 3d session of the …" in which his orpha children were given $675 for "arrearages of pension"

    This took far more time to type than it did to find.

  13. Searched for major truman killed near lake erie and found link to the book, Congressional Edition, Volume 742, for the House of Representatives, First Session of the Thirty-Third Congress. On page 163, "Major Truman went in person... on the 7th of April, 1792,... killed and scalped by the Indians shortly after they left the fort at Cincinnati." And later on the page, "A pension was given... $300 a year to the family of Major Truman" for seven years. Plus, in May 1800, Congress passed another law... "that there shall be annually paid to the guardians of the sons and daughters... of Major Alexander Truman, for each son and each daughter, the sum of $100" until they were 21 years old.

  14. Anne and Deb are back! We finally had a few minutes to work on a search challenge! A good one to come back to as we found it fairly easy to solve. We started out by uploading the image into Google images. From that search we got to: Frances Henshaw: the schoolgirl's hand-drawn maps of the US
    That site had a link to the congressional record which gave us the information regarding how much was paid to his family. His heirs were originally given $2100 but then an additional amount of $100 per year until his daughter reached age 21 was allotted.
    Major Truman was sent along with another officer by Gen. George Washington to make peace with the native americans who lived there. The officers were killed by the natives who refused to enter into a peace agreement.
    The site is now Ottawa Ohio. We found this information by doing a search for Major Alexander Truman which brought us to several sites, including this Wikipedia article which listed where he died. We then checked in Google maps and compared the 2 locations and they seemed to match.

  15. Here is the document I was able to download from HeritageQuest on Alexander Truman. Some parts are hard to make out. I got more interested in the tools HeritageQuest has for research. You do a normal view as well as a negative view. This helped me make out some of the words that weren't easy to make out on the normal view. You can also make notes for each of the documents and and save your findings in a notebook.
    I found an entry for Thomas Truman from the census of 1790.

    1. if you are on a mac, the keyboard combo of [command|option|control|8] (⌘⌥⌃8) will give you a "negative" contrast view too - as you say, it can make text easier to read.
      No doubt a similar action will work on pcs?

    2. it's a good thing this is all so simple… not. Progress has necessitated an update: (may apply to Mac OS X 10.9 Mavericks also?) It just works… except when it doesn't…

      HT3488 Re: Control-Option-Command-8 does not work on Mountain Lion, does it?
      Jan 22, 2013 6:48 AM (in response to mszargar)
      Mountain Lion simply disables the keyboard shortcut so you need to turn this on to use it.

      open the Keyboard preference pane in System Preferences
      select Display
      tick the check mark next to Invert Colors to select this keyboard shortcut

      Now the same key chord of Control-Option-Command-8 will toggle the color palette inversion as before.

    3. Okay... I learned something new. This is a GREAT trick for quick contrast-shifted reading. (I would have just taken an image of the page and then copy/pasted into Photoshop for contrast and color curve manipulation.)