“The Little People” of the Mississinewa

One of the foundations of the strange and unusual experiences that permeates this part of North-Central Indiana, particularly along the Mississinewa River, stretching from 5 Mile Bridge in Marion to Seven Pillars near Peru, is what locals have referred to as  “Hobbitland” for the past sixty years or so.

The heart of “Hobbitland” is found in and around the area where the annual Mississinwa 1812 reenactment and living history museum is held, located in Grant County, Indiana, along the Mississinewa River, near the town of Jalapa.

Trail

Very few locals could tell you how “Hobbitland” got its name, besides the obvious Tolkien reference, but it’s the sort of thing that seeps from the collective unconscious to take on a new life beyond simple folklore and urban legend.

Why? Because the Miami natives revered this area as the home of the Paissa.

goblin

What were Paissa? Magical “little people of the forest”, akin to what Northern Europeans would call gnomes, fairies, or wights.

The Paissa were said to be dangerous trickster spirits, imbued with great magical powers who stood between two or three feet tall. Paissa literally translates as “little ones.” Some Miami traditions place these Paissa in a more important religious role,  being guides who lead the spirits of the dead through the Seven Pillars to the Milky Way and on to the afterlife.

FrancesSlocumTrailThePillars

When I was a child in Converse, it was said that two local men had captured one of these creatures in an animal trap and kept it in their workshop near Fox Lake, but it escaped, most likely with the help of others of its kind.

As teenagers, “Hobbitland” was sacred territory for me and my friends, and, I guess, for young people all across the tri-county area. It had been for decades. It’s where you slinked off, far from the prying eyes of adults. It’s where we took our girlfriends, told ghost stories around campfires, drank cheap alcohol, and smoked cigarettes for the first time.

It’s also where many saw their first ghost, or encountered strange, otherworldly sounds in the night… where they got their first taste of the paranormal, and it still holds true to this day.

It’s a magical place — a place where the veil between this world and the next is thin.

pillars4

I have had numerous encounters out in the Mississinewa, along its river and the surrounding forests, in its caves and abandoned places.

I have heard the voices and sounds of things that could not be seen and some that could —  full bodied apparitions, unnatural orbs, and spectral lights that danced upon the water.

From Five Mile Bridge to Somerset to Seven Pillars and all points in between, there have been more mysteries than I could possibly recount.

But recount them I’ll try — tales of Hobbitland and the Circle of Stone, of Goose Creek and the Murder House, of Cliff Cave and White Feather and the Black Coven and more…

So many stories. So little time.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: