This plaque hangs near a house on Piqua Road that once housed a tavern, beginning in 1853. (DHI Media/Jim Langham)
This plaque hangs near a house on Piqua Road that once housed a tavern, beginning in 1853. (DHI Media/Jim Langham)

VAN WERT COUNTY – A mile north of Willshire, one of the most noted historical roads in Van Wert County breaks off from Ohio 49 to the left and heads toward Decatur, Indiana.

Its importance actually began southwest of Toledo where the Battle of Fallen Timbers proved to be an outstanding win between General Mad Anthony Wayne and the Native Americans in the Northwest Territory.

The historical book, “Greenwood to Wren,” states that for many centuries the land on which Wren is now located and the surrounding townships was occupied by Native Americans, especially those of the Miami Tribe. They had originated in Wisconsin, but soon spread into Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Northwest Ohio, including Van Wert County.

The history states that in the late 18th century, the United States was not governed as it is presently, but was under the Articles of Confederation, a very weak decentralized form of government.

On March 4, 1789, George Washington became the nation’s first President and immediately began working on strengthening the nation.

One of Washington’s first projects was to settle the Northwest territory where Great Britain still maintained posts and incited Native Americans against American settlers.

“The administration decided in 1793 that the time had come to the Army to fight the Indians,” commented the history book. “This time the officer in charge was Wayne, who spent the winter in Greenville in the art of Indian warfare.”

In London, John Jay was negotiating and Nov. 19, 1794, he signed a treaty providing that the British posts in the Old Northwest Territory be evacuated by 1796. In so doing, the young US had cleared the Northwest Territory of the British, militarily and diplomatically.

Unaware of what Jay had accomplished in England, Wayne continued to badger the Indians and built the beginnings of Fort Wayne. Finally, on Aug. 3, 1795, Wayne signed the Treaty of Greenville, giving the U.S rights to much of the Northwest Territory.

“What is of concern is that on Wayne’s return to Greenville he followed an old Indian trail, known today as the Piqua Road. By taking this particular route, Wayne came through the southern corner of Van Wert County, very close to Wren (and Willshire)," stated the history.

A marker south of Bobo on the Piqua trail, indicates that six of Wayne’s men died at the spot and are buried in the old Schafer Graveyard.