The fascinating events of the past helped shape the Mac-O-Chee Valley into the great place it is today. Tom Corwin, former Governor of Ohio, 1840-1842, said these words, “If there is a line where Mac-O-Chee ends and Heaven begins, it is imperceptible- the easiest place to live in and die in, I ever saw.”
Long before I made West Liberty my home, the valley was home to the Shawnee Indians. There were three Indian villages close to the area where West Liberty would be located years later. Mac-O-Chee was east of town, Pigeon Town was 3 ½ miles northwest and Wapotomica was below Zanesfield.
The Mac-O-Chee villagers were the ones who gave the valley its name, “Macachack” which translated means “Smiling Valley.” The Indian village was located on top of a hill overlooking a section of the Mac-A-Cheek Creek. As the creek wound through the valley it curved around the hill on which the Indians lived. When the Shawnee people looked down at the creek it appeared to be smiling at them, thus the name, Smiling Valley. The Mac-O-Chee village was the headquarters of Chief Moluntha, Great Sachem of the assembled tribes.
It was after the Revolutionary War that the white man began encroaching on Shawnee Indian territory. In 1875, a peace treaty was made with several tribes but the Shawnee refused to agree.
In the fall of 1876, Colonel Benjamin Logan was commissioned by General Rogers Clark to attack the Mac-O-Chee towns. Logan sent Colonel Robert Patterson and Colonel Thomas Kennedy to the left and right wing, while he commanded the central division, with Colonel Daniel Boone and Major Simon Kenton leading the ranks.
The Indians were warned but not soon enough because most warriors were hunting and the ones that weren’t were either killed or taken prisoner. Chief Moluntha surrendered along with three of his wives, one of which was known as the Grenadier Squaw, the sister of Chief Cornstalk, and several children.
Colonel Hugh McGary defied orders to leave the Indians who surrendered unharmed, and in thinking he fought against the Chief at Blue Licks took the ax from the Grenadier Squaw and in a rage killed Chief Moluntha. It is said the remaining Shawnees left the area and established settlements in Blanchard Fork located in North West Ohio.
My dad, Rev. Lee Birt Jr loved the early history of the area and explored West Liberty when he was a youngster. During a visit to St. Elizabeth’s Chapel and Cemetery he found a rock with Chief Moluntha’s name on it in the left section of the cemetery kept to bury people who were not family. Unfortunately, nothing remains of this section of the cemetery. There are headstones of beloved family members but you have to walk up the hill to see them. Only the two mausoleums can be seen from the road. The chapel still stood at this time but later burned down.
Even though the Mac-O-Chee Village is no longer in existence, the legend of Squaw Rock remains and has been handed down, in stories and on paper, for many generations. During the raid on Mac-O-Chee led by Colonel Benjamin Logan, one of the soldiers spotted someone hiding behind a large rock (possibly where meetings were held) at the edge of the village and thinking it was a brave warrior he took aim and shot. Upon checking his target he found he had killed a squaw and upon closer inspection he found a baby boy lying beside her. He was so filled with remorse that he buried the squaw at the base of the rock and took the baby home with him to raise him as his own.
The soldier also had a young daughter and the two children grew up happily together. As they got older they became great friends and fell in love with each other. However, the young girl was worried about what others thought about her marrying an Indian so she married a rich white suitor instead. The day after the couples were married they were found murdered in their cabin and the Indian boy was never seen again.
Squaw Rock still stands on the hill overlooking Smiling Valley even though that section of the Mac-O-Cheek Creek is no more. It is a reminder that this land was special to those who lived here before in the beautiful Smiling Valley. West Liberty is our own little piece of heaven on earth, then and now.
By Tami Wenger
Mac-O-Chee Valley by Miss Karen Jane Gaumer, Urbana
William Mac-A-Cheek Piatt ll Memorial Archive
Memories of the Miami Valley
Rev. Tami Wenger
The Village of West Liberty is Ohio's best kept secret travel destination. Come stay awhile in this quintessential Midwestern small town in the heart of the Buckeye State!