The Curse. Tippecanoe Who?

Most of us have heard of the political slogan “Tippecanoe and Tyler too”, but where did it come from and what does it mean? The saying was used throughout the presidential campaign of William Henry Harrison and John Tyler during the election of 1840. Harrison won largely on his victory over the Shawnee at the Battle of Tippecanoe, but the battle spawned a curse lasting more than 120 years.

The Combatants

General William Henry Harrison (1773 – 1841)

William_H._Harrison“Old Tippecanoe.” Governor of the Indiana Territory, a principal contributor in the War of 1812, and the ninth President of the United States. Harrison (left) was the son of founding father Benjamin Harrison and in turn was the grandfather of Benjamin Harrison, the 23rd president. He was a survivor of the 1791 massacre by Little Turtle and his Miami braves at St. Clair’s Defeat.



Colonel Abram Owen (1769–1811)

7504193_1425745214Aide-de-Camp to General Harrison. A veteran Indian fighter, Colonel Owen (right) was wounded during St Clair’s Defeat and participated in many battles during a twenty-year military career. He was a Kentucky legislator and served in the state’s constitutional convention. His death at the Battle of Tippecanoe changed history.



Tecumseh (1768 – 1813)

Tecumseh02Shawnee warrior, chief and primary leader of a large Native American confederacy in the early years of the nineteenth century. Born in present-day Ohio. Growing up during the American Revolution and the Northwest Indian War, Tecumseh (shown left) envisioned the establishment of an independent Indian nation east of the Mississippi River under British protection.




Tenskwatawa, The Prophet (1775 – 1836)

Shawnee_Prophet,_TenskwatawaCommonly known as The Prophet and spiritual leader of the Shawnee. Brother of Tecumseh. In 1808 Tenskwatawa (right) and Tecumseh established a village Americans called Prophetstown north of present-day Lafayette, Indiana. There, the brothers’ pan-Indian resistance movement included thousands of followers, with The Prophet providing the spiritual foundation. Together, they mobilized local Native Americans to fight the invading Americans and remained resolute in their rejection of alien authority and acculturation.

The Battle

In November 1811, as tensions and violence increased in Indiana Territory, Governor (and General) Harrison marched an army of about 1,000 men to disperse Native Americans gathered at Prophetstown.

Tecumseh was away recruiting allies. When Harrison arrived with his army, he asked for a meeting. The Prophet, suspecting the general’s true intentions, attacked November 7 at 4:00 a.m. The outnumbered attackers penetrated Harrison’s lines, but his soldiers stood their ground for more than two hours until the braves retreated, low on ammunition.

After the battle, the Indians abandoned Prophetstown. Harrison burned it to the ground, destroying the food supplies stored for the winter. Having accomplished his goal, Harrison proclaimed a decisive victory.

Public opinion blamed the violence on British interference in local affairs. As a result, the battle helped sway the country toward war in 1812. For the natives, the battle was the end of their dreams of a confederacy against white encroachment, and forced them to join forces with the British as the only defense to their way of life.

IMG_0774Tippecanoe’s battlefield monument, as it stands today, is shown above.

The Owen Connection

Col. Abram Owen is my fourth great uncle on my mother’s side. The Owen family has produced U.S. military members (including this author) since before the American Revolution.

ScanColonel Owen, a veteran of frontier struggles, died in the first few moments of the Tippecanoe Battle in a tragic mix up. The Prophet had informed his sharpshooters that General Harrison rode a white horse and directed all their efforts toward killing him. However, in the heat of battle, Harrison grabbed a dark-colored horse and Colonel Owen mounted a white one. The illustration above depicts that fateful moment. In it, Colonel Owen lies dead on the ground (Source: Indiana Public Library).

Owen’s unintentional sacrifice saved the life of a future president. In praise of Owen, General Harrison said, “… let me not forget the gallant dead. Col. Abram Owen, Commandant of the Eighteenth Kentucky Regiment, who joined me a few days before the action…accepted the appointment of volunteer aide-de-camp to me. He fell early in the action.” Harrison added, “The representatives of his state will inform you that she possessed not a better citizen, nor a braver man.”

Where are they now?

General William Henry Harrison

Harrison lived to become the oldest president ever elected at the time. However, he died of pneumonia a month after taking office. Tyler then assumed the presidency, setting a major precedent and ultimately the adoption of the 25th Amendment to the Constitution. Harrison is buried in North Bend, Miami Township, Ohio.

Colonel Abram Owen

IMG_0779Colonel Owen is buried where he died. His tombstone is visible in the lower right corner of the photo above. His name is also engraved on a plaque visible on the white monument to the left of the tree. Park rangers believe some of the park’s trees were living at his death in 1811. Two counties, one in Indiana and one in Kentucky, are named after Owen.


As a result of the battle, Tecumseh’s confederacy never fully recovered. This led to a further deterioration of relations between America and Britain and was a catalyst of the War of 1812, which began six months later. Tecumseh was killed by Americans in 1813 during the Battle of the Thames near present-day Chatham, Ontario. It is believed the chief’s mutilated remains were left on the battlefield.

Today, the U.S. Naval Academy has a Tecumseh Court which features a bust of Tamanend, an Indian chief who was known as a lover of peace and friendship. However, midshipmen prefer the warrior Tecumseh and refer to the statue by that name.

Tenskwatawa, The Prophet

Legend says that Tecumseh was so incensed at his brother’s ill-fated rush to battle, he swung The Prophet by the hair. The Prophet became an outcast, and moved to Canada during the War of 1812. He remained in exile until returning to the United States in 1824 to assist with the Shawnee removal to Kansas. He faded into obscurity and died in what is now known as Kansas City in 1836. His influence lives on in the form of a deadly curse.

The Curse of Tippecanoe

In revenge, The Prophet reportedly cursed all U.S. presidents elected during years with the same end number, zero, as Harrison.

The curse, first widely noted in 1931 by Ripley’s Believe it or Not! says that ever since Harrison became president (1840), every person elected to the office in 20-year intervals has died while serving as president. Harrison succumbed to pneumonia after just one month in office. Abraham Lincoln (1860) was assassinated, as were James A. Garfield (1880) and William McKinley (1900). Both Warren G. Harding (1920) and Franklin D. Roosevelt (1940) died of natural causes in office, while John F. Kennedy (1960) was assassinated. Ronald Reagan (1980) was the target of an assassin’s bullet, but survived.

Does the Prophet’s curse still hold? To paraphrase Yogi Berra, tough times ain’t over ‘til they’re over.

An Era Without Social Justice

The genocide of Native Americans by Euro-Americans from 1492 to about 1890 remains an atrocious and shameful episode in American history. About the time this reviewer believes this era, one utterly devoid of social justice, had ended, I am proven wrong. Mistreatment of original Americans continued long after Wounded Knee.

Killers of the Flower Moon, The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann details a series of murders of wealthy Osage tribal members in the 1920s. The discovery of oil beneath tribal lands brought the Osage not only enormous wealth, but targeted them for swindle and murder.

Grann details how Osage victims disappeared. Some were shot point-blank in the head. A man was thrown from a train. A couple was burned to death in their own beds. A whistle blower was murdered on his first night in Washington D. C. An unknown number were poisoned. Investigators hired by the Osage were murdered. Many Osage lost not only their lives but fortunes as well due to the schemes of white relatives.

During this carnage, law enforcement turned a blind eye. The Osage County Sheriff was fighting corruption charges and had little inclination to investigate the murder of Indians (incidentally, the sheriff was convicted, then re-elected). Initial investigations by the FBI proved incompetent.

Stung by the Teapot Dome scandal, an exasperated J. Edgar Hoover assigned Special Agent Tom White, a former Texas Ranger to the case. White proved to be a dogged investigator who brought two killers to justice. Both were convicted, sentenced to life, then paroled.

The known murders of Osage numbers thirty-six, but Grann, a meticulous researcher, uncovers more evidence of wrong doing. Osage family lore and long-overlooked records suggest there may have been more than one hundred people killed during this period they call the Reign of Terror.

Grann’s book is an excellent resource for readers who demand the cultural record be accurately informed.

Cougar: A Mountain-worthy Lion

1-IMG_9633For those who are familiar with my novels, you will undoubtedly recognize Cougar. All of the animals in my novels serve a purpose that is richer than mere additional conflict and dialogue. They are vital components to a capricious and delicate natural ecosystem, but all of them are guides, both spiritually and metaphysically, for my main character, Cochiti tribal policeman Peter Romero.

Guide animals in my novels are so named by their proper names e.g., Cougar, Coyote, Wolf, and Bear, etc., reflecting Native Americans’ reverence and each animal spirit’s personality. Historically, all have specific and far-ranging spiritual influence across tribes. Interestingly, dissimilar cultures imbue these animal guides with similar attributes (e.g., Coyote is always the trickster.)

Cougar is one of the most compelling characters of my Peter Romero series. Beautiful, sleek, mysterious, he is also a killer…passionate, unapologetic, and mesmerizing. For those who would like to know the lions of America, and learn more about Cougar himself, I’ll share some facts about mountain lions.

A dwindling species, few of us have had the privilege of seeing one (hopefully from far away) in the wild. They have many commonly-used names: “cougar”, “panther”, and “puma” among them. Regardless of the name they’re called, this majestic animal has been revered throughout the centuries by Native Americans. It is to our detriment that the reverence has faded as the animals now struggle to survive. They’re losing population but, just like his spirit, this is one tough cat.

Physical Attributes: He’s a big kitty.


  • Body Length: 39-59″, Tail Length:24-35″
  • Height: 24-30″, Weight: 66-176 lbs., though there are records of them reaching 250lbs. 1

Coat color varies from buff to reddish brown, to light silver and slate grey. The coat is short, coarse, uniform in color, and essentially unmarked. Cougar’s head is relatively small for a large cat, with dark brown to black patches on the muzzle, and beautiful irises of green gold to yellow brown. The ears are short and rounded, with forelegs shorter than hind legs, and footpads are large. The tail is long and slim. Cats found in Central and South America are smaller than those found in North America.

Distribution: He’s probably watching you now.


Cougar has the largest range of any terrestrial mammal in the western hemisphere. They roam from the Yukon in Canada to the southern tip of South America. Population densities have been estimated at no more than four adults per forty square miles in North America, and up to eight in South America. Radio telemetry studies in Chile found Cougar ranging up to forty square miles, with the cats often covering seven miles in just a few hours.


Survival Skills: You can’t outrun Cougar but you can outrun your buddy.


Adaptable and athletic, Cougar has great leaping, climbing, and swimming ability. Sight is his most acute sense, hearing is well developed, but his sense of smell, unlike dogs, is not particularly keen.

The bulk of Cougar’s traveling and hunting is done at night. The cat hunts over a wide area, carefully stalking prey and leaping on its back, or seizing after a short, swift dash. In North America, deer make up sixty to eighty percent of the diet. Cougar will eat whatever is most abundant in any given ecosystem, but seldom eats carcasses killed by other animals.


Cubs (or kittens) are adorable, spotted, fluff balls with dark brown spots over a brown buff coat. Spots fade away as they grow. Brilliant blue eyes change to greenish yellow or yellowish brown by sixteen months of age. These amazing cats can live to twenty years of age

Legendary Influence: He’s got pull.


Many cultures sought the big cats for spiritual inspiration. For example:

  • The Peruvian city of Cuzco was laid out in the shape of Cougar.
  • Peru’s Lake Titicaca (gray-colored puma) is still sacred to local natives.
  • US Great Lakes tribes believed the tail of an underwater panther, whipped up waves and storms.
  • To the Algonquins, the underwater panther was the most powerful underworld being.
  • The Ojibwe traditionally held them to be masters of all water creatures, including snakes.
  • Christian missionaries in Southern California found Cougar to be an obstacle due to natives’ refusal to hunt the cat.
  • New Mexico’s Cochiti Indians (Peter Romero’s home tribe) carved life-sized stone statues of Cougar and created a mesa-top shrine in his honor.

Conservation: Where are they? Can I help?


By the second half of the 20th century the mountain lion population was forced west of the Rockies. The only area where Cougar survived historical extermination and removal is a single population in the Everglades forests of southern Florida.

But all the news is not bad. Cougar is re-populating former Midwest habitats. Since the 1960s, the cats have become managed game species. In California, Cougar is a protected mammal. Populations are now growing and expanding their territories. Breeding programs established in the Dakota Black Hills and Badlands and western Nebraska have been successful. Sightings of Cougar in Oklahoma, Missouri, Arkansas, and Illinois are frequent. Today, the Mountain Lion Foundation counts Cougar’s population in the US as 30,000 animals.

The main threat to Cougar today is deadly highway traffic and rural development. Highway crossings and underpasses are required to prevent further losses. Outside North America, Cougar is shot on sight or subject to bounties. More prudent game management is needed. Despite wholesale loss of habitat and suppression of the cat’s numbers, Cougar is not considered endangered.

There are many programs we can join to help in the preservation of these magnificent animals. Click here to start:

To read about the powers of Peter Romero’s own spirit guide, Cougar, read Animal Parts by David E Knop. Found on Amazon and everywhere eBooks are sold.



Honorable, Indeed

Animal Parts was bestowed an Honorable Mention in the 11th PSWA Conference in Las Vegas, NV, in July 2016!

There were a couple points taken off for Cougar having eaten a couple of spectators and a judge.

The thrilling mystery, Animal Parts by David E Knop, would’ve won First Place at the 11th annual PSWA Writers Conference but having a hungry 170lb mountain lion as your companion tends to complicate things.

Cougar asks that you read Animal Parts…and soon.

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US Review of Books Praises Animal Parts

Animal Parts Book cover-6th final-cropped

A Review of Animal Parts by David E Knop by the illustrious US Review of Books

Animal Parts
by David E. Knop

reviewed by Joe Kilgore

“They dragged the blubbering man off and the door slammed. Silence. Dark silence. Romero knew he wasn’t dead. Death couldn’t hurt this much.”
When it comes to novels, it’s virtually impossible to think about the combination of crime, mystery, and Native Americans, and not think about Tony Hillerman. His Navajo Tribal Police stories gave readers a different way to view people who had frequently been marginalized and too often caricatured in books, films, and television. This author’s oeuvre is similar, yet distinctive in its own right. His third and latest installment of the life and times of Cochiti Pueblo Police Officer Peter Romero is addictively engaging, thoroughly entertaining, even occasionally educational when it comes to events in history and tribal migration seen from a different perspective.
The book opens compellingly with a cougar in the crosshairs of a high-powered rifle. The big cat had recently attacked a couple of hikers, and Romero had been paid to dispatch the animal. One shot kills the beast, but his death is not the end. Actually it’s only the beginning of an adventure filled with danger, brutality, and mysticism.
It seems that poachers are out and about and it’s Romero’s job to find and stop them. But as is generally the case in these sorts of tales, there’s more here than meets the eye. While some poaching is being done to feed hungry families affected by the sluggish economy in New Mexico, there’s also mounting evidence that much of it is being done to fuel the lucrative but highly illegal market in animal parts. Elk and more are being found with their brains and sexual organs removed—organs that will likely end up in very expensive and questionably effective aphrodisiacs. But then the poachers start to end up dead. Not just shot, stabbed, or choked, mind you, but totally eviscerated. One might even say eaten.
Of course Romero must intercede, but things are not going well for him. His wife has left him, and he wants her to return. Local officials have sanctioned him, and he wants them off his back. A thoroughly alluring FBI agent might be coming on to him, and he’s not at all sure he can marshal the reserves to resist. His neighbor is attacked by something that appears to be neither man nor animal, and to top it all off, the cougar he was sure he killed returns. Just when it looks like things couldn’t possibly get worse, they get horrific.
Knop starts his tale in high gear and never takes his foot off the accelerator. He maintains a blistering pace not only with tightly woven subplots that zip from one chapter to the next, but also with prose that is short, sharp, and finely tuned. His exposition is quick and clipped. His dialogue is realistically conversational and spot on when it comes to nailing the way people actually react. This is a confidently written tale by an excellent storyteller.
Not surprisingly, there is even a surprise ending, which will certainly not be revealed here. Some readers may well find it completely appropriate, while others might find it slightly maddening, but whichever camp you find yourself in, you’ll have had an exciting dash to the finish line through the pages of this first rate thriller.
Read the super review here:  US Review of Books-Animal Parts

Buy Animal Parts at or

Please let us know what you think!

Tops among Cops

Animal Parts, a mystery by David E. Knop, was awarded Honorable Mention at the prestigious Public Safety Writers Association Writing Contest held in Las Vegas. PSWA members include police officers, civilian police personnel, firefighters, emergency personnel, security personnel and others in the public safety field.

It was a high bar to pass the scrutiny of judges who have spent most of their lives in the field keeping us safe. I am deeply honored.

Save the Date! Animal Parts Book Launch, April 10


Sunday, April 10th from 3:30-6:30, I will be celebrating the launch of my latest novel, Animal Parts, A Peter Romero Mystery.

There will be a reading from my novel, Animal Parts, an art show, and music by The Silver Spurs.

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Location will be at the Coronado Community Center, Boathouse Club room. You can find the address and directions on their website,

Hope to see you soon!