It was a June day in 1831, when seven settlers from Naples, New York first encountered a vast tract of beautiful land they called the “dry prairie.” As the story goes, they settled under a great oak tree to camp. There, they made their first contact with members of the Potawatomi tribe Native Americans. In 1931, Pioneer Rock was placed under the oak tree where Athens’ first settlers are believed to have camped, to commemorate their historic arrival.
When the Potawatomi tribe was forced to relocate in 1840, many Athens residents were outraged. They viewed the tribe as friends, and didn’t understand why the government was making them leave.