As a Warner’s collector, the name Tippecanoe is instantly familiar to me as the brand name selected by H. H. Warner to replace his original bitters line. But where did the name come from? I was familiar with the Battle of Tippecanoe, but was not clear about its significance in American history.
It seems that on November 7, 1811, forces under the command of native Virginian William Henry Harrison, then the Governor of Indiana Territory engaged a force of Tecumseh’s American Indian Confederation under the command of Tecumseh’s brother, Tenskwatawa. The battle occurred at the confluence of the Tippecanoe and Wabash Rivers near Prophet’s Town, north of present-day Lafayette, Indiana.
Harrison, fearing the increasing strength of Tecumseh’s confederacy, launched a preemptive strike with a force of 1100 men. The ensuing battle lasted about two hours and the forces under Harrison claimed victory when Tenskwatawa’s forces fled and their village was destroyed. Some view the Battle of Tippecanoe as a draw, but it improved the safety of white settlements in Indiana Territory and caused Tecumseh’s confederation to disband. Harrison was haled as a hero and the name Tippecanoe followed him into politics and ultimately into the White House, when he was elected president in 1840. He holds the dubious distinction of having the shortest term as president – 31 days. It seems that as a result of his long winded inaugeral address in the rain, he developed pneumonia and died.
The Warner trade card pictured above attempts to depict the famous battle. Presumably Harrison is the guy on the horse with his sabre drawn. The message reads “After once using our Tippecanoe – You will use no nostrums nor preparations called Bitters.” I guess that taking Warner’s Tippecanoe gave you the strength to take on a band of marauding indians. It was clearly an attempt by Warner to move away from the term bitters, although the content of the preparation was doubtless the same.
Oh, by the way, the name Tippecanoe is an anglicized version of the Miami word “Kethtippecanoogi” and means “place of the succor fish people.” The county in which Lafayette, Indiana is located in named Tippecanoe and is the home of Purdue University.
And that, in the immortal words of Paul Harvey, is the rest of the story. Thanks to Glassworks Auction for the photo of the Tippecanoe bottle.
You can find additional information on the Battle of Tippecanoe at: http://survey.fold3.com/email/email887878f2954f493da3e6b92d002dc6b8.html