Chief Logan

loganChief Logan was born in western New York in 1725. His father was a Cayuga Indian named Shikellemus. The Cayugas were the second westernmost tribe of the 6 tribes of the Iroquois League of the Six Nations. Shikellemus named his son Talgahyeetah, but whites and Indians alike knew him by his white name, Logan. Logan moved to central Pennsylvania on the Susquehanna River when he was young. Later in his life he refused to participate and take sides in the French and Indian war and moved to Ohio. This group of Cayugas that advocated for peace and followed Logan to Ohio are known as Mingos.

Logan and his Mingo tribe settled along the Yellow Creek, a small tributary of the Ohio River near present day Steubenville, Ohio. Though Logan was a war chief, he continued to lead his fellow natives in peace by not attacking whites settling in the Ohio Country. His attitude changed in the spring of 1774, when a group of Virginia trappers led by Jacob Greathouse deceptively and in cold blood murdered approximately one dozen Mingos right across the Ohio from where Logan and his Mingo village slept. Greathouse and friends cordially invited Logan and his comrades over to their camp for games and food. Logan, being the friend to both whites and Indians, accepted but could not attend himself. Among the dozen Mingos that went over to fellowship with the trappers were Logan’s sister and mother. After the Indians had drunk a lot of whiskey and unloaded their weapons in a shooting contest, Greathouse’s men killed all of the Mingos, including women and children, and strung the intestines of Logan’s pregnant sister all over the banks of the Ohio River. When Logan’s village heard the shots, Logan’s father was one of the first in a canoe to race towards the opposite shore. He was killed by a bullet from Greathouse’s party before he got halfway across the river. Logan’s entire family was murdered.

Logan set out to fully glut his vengeance and he killed many white settlers for each one of his family members that was killed. Logan, a long time advocate for peace and friend of the white man, set out to avenge his family.

In August 1774, Pennsylvania militia entered the Ohio Country and quickly destroyed seven Mingo villages, which the Indians had abandoned as the soldiers approached. At the same time, Lord John Murray Dunmore, the governor of Virginia, sent one thousand men to the Little Kanawha River in modern-day West Virginia to build a fort and to attack the Shawnees. The result of this was the battle of Point Pleasant between the militia and the Shawnee lead by Chief Cornstalk. The forces met on October 10, 1774 at what became known as the Battle of Point Pleasant. After several hours of intense fighting, the Virginia miliia drove Cornstalk's followers north of the Ohio River. The two sides eventually met near Chillicothe to determine peace terms. Logan was one of the Indians invited to attend the peace conference. Logan refused to attend but did recite a speech, read to Simon Kenton and Simon Girty under a huge Elm tree north of present day Chillicothe, to be read at the conference. The speech became famous and is known as “Logan’s Lament”:

"I appeal to any white man to say if ever he entered Logan's cabin hungry and I gave him not meat; if ever he came cold or naked and I gave him not meat;
if ever he came cold or naked and I gave him not clothing. During the course of the last long and bloody war, Logan remained idle in his tent, an advocate for peace. Such was my love for the whites that those of my own country pointed at me and said, 'Logan is the friend of the white man.' I had even thought to have lived with you, but for the injuries of one man.
“Colonel Cresap, the last spring in cold blood and unprovoked, murdered all the relatives of Logan, not sparing even my women and children. There runs
not a drop of my blood in the veins of any living creature. This called on me for revenge. I have sought it; I have killed many; I have fully glutted my vengeance.
“For my country, I rejoice at the beams of peace; but do not harbor the thought that mine is the joy of fear. Logan never felt fear. He will not turn on his heel to save his life.
"Who is there to mourn for Logan? Not one."

Logan’s speech was the subject of much talk after that assembly among Indians and especially among whites. The sadness and sorrow that echoed from Logan’s words rattled the hearts of Indians and whites. Men would sit around their campfires; one would ask the dismal question, “who is there to mourn for Logan,” while others would respond, “Not one.”

The remainder of the life of Logan was a melancholy one. His friends were all dead. His tribe was broken up. His hunting ground had gone to make corn fields for the white man. He wandered about from tribe to tribe, dejected and broken-hearted, a solitary and lonely man. He took to drink and partially lost his mind. He said he had two souls, the one good and the other bad. When the good soul was uppermost, he was kind and gentle, but when the bad soul controlled him, he was savage and wanted to murder.

Years later in 1781, Logan sat in a Detroit bar drinking his life away. When the bartender refused to serve him any more whiskey, Logan made a sarcastic comment about going to the Americans to get more whiskey. A few minutes later when he left the bar, an unknown perpetrator put a tomahawk in the back of his head.

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The following is from The Frontiersman by Allan W. Eckert ((c) 1967), an
authentic scholarly non-fiction novel on how the whites took Kentucky and the
Ohio Valley from native American tribes at the close of the 1700s. In his
Author's Note, Eckert wrote: "This book is fact, not fiction. Certain
techniques normally associated with the novel were used, but in no case was
this at the expense of historical accuracy. In no case was there any 'whole
cloth' fabrication or fanciful fictionalization. Every incident described
actually occurred; every date is historically accurate; and every character,
regardless how major or minor, actually lived the role portrayed."

Wednesday, March 16, 1774
Blue Jacket was deeply impressed by Tal-ga-yee-ta, the tall angular Mingo
chief of the Cayugas-better known to both Indians and whites as Logan-not
only because he had heard so much about this highly revered man, but because
he was the first Cayuga the youth had ever seen. It seemed incredible that
Logan's influence could be so great that with his encouragement alone the
unaligned tribes might side with the Shawnees to repay the whites in kind for
the harassment to Blue Jacket's adopted tribe.

In his three years with the Kispokothas, Blue Jacket had entered into their
work, games, hunting, politics and religion with such fervor and sincerity
that already he had become a leader among those of his own age and was looked
upon with high favor by the older members of the sept. This was why he had
been permitted to accompany Pucksinwah and his party in their important
journey to visit Logan at his little village on Yellow Creek on the Ohio side
of the big river.

No other Indian on the frontier was as widely respected by both whites and
Indians as this Mingo. Time and again his wisdom and persuasiveness had
prevailed to smooth strained relationships between the two races and his word
carried great weight, not only among the Cayugas and Seneca, but among the
Delawares, Shawnees, Miamis and Wyandots as well. But it was not for this
reason along that before him now sat the stern- faced delegation from the
Shawnee tribe, come to task him to raise both voice and hand against the
whites. There was a more personal reason involved: Logan was especially
sympathetic to Shawnee problems because many years before he had married a
Shawnee maiden.

That Tal-ga-yee-ta should be known by the English name of Logan was not
surprising. His father, Shikellimus, had many years ago formed a close
personal friendship with James Logan, intimate of William Penn and founder of
the Loganian Library at Philadelphia. So firm was this friendship that
Shikellimus had named his second son after him. And now, just as Shikellimus
had been a good provider and friend of the whites on the shores of Cayuga
Lake in New York, so his son Logan's wegiwa was famed as an abode of warm
hospitality, friendship and kindness to all, without distinction, along the
shores of the Ohio River.

From Cayuga Lake, Logan had moved as a youth to the banks of the Juniata-a
lovely, rambling river in central Pennsylvania which empties into the great
Susquehanna. Here he built a cabin and later met and married the beautiful
Shawnee girl. In spite of the many outrages committed upon the Indians by
white men, Logan continued to remain a friend to all and not only refused to
take part in the French and Indian war of nineteen years ago and that of
Chief Pontiac which followed, but became a notable peacemaker during both. He
was welcomed equally in the councils of various tribes and in the homes of
white settlers; all of them knew they could trust him completely. He was a
highly skilled marksman and brilliant hunter with either bow or gun, and he
had a certain aura about him that commanded unblemished respect. As one
crusty old white trader put it: "Logan is the best specimen of humanity I
ever met with, either white or red."

But now the visage of the chief was troubled as he listened carefully to
Pucksinwah's plea: the whites were not only increasing their harassment of
the Shawnees, but were spreading into the Can-tuc-kee [Kentucky] hunting
lands and must soon cross the Ohio to drive them away from their villages.
Some whites in the border areas were masquerading as Indians in order to
steal horses or other possessions of their fellow men, were even murdering
and scalping them so the blame would be placed upon the Shawnees or other
Indians. The Shawnees could fight their own battles with the whites, but the
word of Logan was needed to encourage the other tribes to stand fast and
stop, by battle if necessary, any whites crossing into the Ohio country; the
Shawnees alone could not and should not be expected to guard the entire
frontier against encroachment for the benefit of all the tribes; there was
word that the white fathers in the east were massing armies to come against
the Shawnees and all tribes must do their part to stem this flood.
Blue Jacket was moved by the impassioned plea of his chief, but the reply of
Logan, no less moving, was a deep disappointment. Never had Logan raised his
hand against the whites, even when some members of this own family had been
slain in battles with them, for there was no future in warring with a nation
having unlimited resources and more men than all the tribes together. Were
not the Shawnees themselves guilty of stealing horses and equipment from the
border whites? Had they not, when occasion prompted it, slain whites? Would
defiance of the armies make the war wither and die or would it, instead,
cause violent and immediate retribution against which there could be no
standing? The Shawnees were brave and their complaints to some degree
justified, but how much better to attempt to reach an understanding, how much
better to be guided by clear thought than blind emotion? There must be a way
in which whites and the red men could live in harmony and peace, but this
could not be consummated without restraint on both sides. Logan would not
raise either his hand or voice against the whites, but he would send
emissaries to them to ask of them the same restraint that he was asking of
the Indians.

Pucksinwah argued no further. The meeting adjourned, and as the small party
of Kispokothas mounted their horses for the ride back to their village on the
Scioto, the Shawnee chief addressed the Mingo one final time: Logan was a
wise man but he must beware lest Matchemenetoo, the Bad Spirit, blind him to
the inevitable and he one day find himself in grave peril from the white man.
There was not now, nor could there ever be, a true and equitable peace
between Indian and white.

Saturday, April 30, 1774
It was customary, when canoes bearing whites met on the Ohio, to put ashore
and pass along whatever news each might have about the direction from which
they had come. Rarely, however, did both parties have news as momentous as
when the single large canoe bearing Jacob Greathouse, Bill Grills and John
and Rafe Mahon encountered the six canoes of the Michael Cresap party near
the mouth of Little Beaver Creek.

The news from Cresap, who was coming upstream, was the killing two days
before of a pair of Shawnee warriors at their Pipe Creek camp. Except for
Cresap himself and his husky companion, the party of 24 men was jubilant
about it. Their only regret seemed to be that one of the trio of Shawnees had
escaped and that Cresap, as leader of their surveying party, had sternly
forbidden them to carry out their half-formulated plan of completing the job
by wiping out the Yellow Creek village of Chief Logan.
Cresap's companion was a strikingly handsome individual of 21. He was from
Albemarle County, Virginia, and his name was George Rogers Clark. At this
moment he was still almost beside himself with rage at what he termed "the
brutal, savage, senseless killings."

Roaring with bullish laughter, Greathouse slapped him on the back and told
him not to worry about it, that the men were justified in the deed. At
Pittsburgh, he explained, they had learned that Lord Dunmore was gathering an
army with the intent of striking the Shawnees on the Scioto River. "So, just
as well those two are killed now as later, eh?"

After some discussion, and in a rather casual way, Greathouse asked where
Chief Logan's village was located and learned that it was some miles up
Yellow Creek from its mouth, but that there was a contingent of about twenty
Mingoes from Logan's village camped right at this moment along the Ohio River
shore quite close to the mouth of that creek, directly across the river from
Baker's Bottom.

At this news, Greathouse shook his head and remarked that he hoped they could
pass them by unseen at night so as to avoid possible trouble, but he winked
at the Mahon brothers and Bill Grills. A wicked fire sprang to life in the
eyes of John and Rafe.

The two parties camped together that night and parted in the morning's early
light; Cresap and his men continued their paddling toward Fort Pitt and the
large Greathouse canoe drifted downstream. By late afternoon the four men had
reached Baker's Bottom and put ashore, there to be met by a scraggly-bearded
individual with rotted teeth and evasive eyes whom Grills recognized as a
rather disreputable character named Tomlinson. With him were 27 men and they
made up a motley group-loud, mostly drunken and filthy. They shouted familiar
greetings and jovial obscenities at Greathouse and the Mahon brothers.
Within minutes of the landing, Tomlinson and Greathouse had their heads
together discussing something in undertones. Once they sauntered to the
river's edge where, by looking diagonally downstream, they could just make
out the Mingo camp on the Ohio shore. Greathouse grinned and nodded and
thumped Tomlinson on the back.

After dinner the two leaders discussed a plan with the rest of the men. Of
them all, only one objected-Bill Grills-and he was quickly sneered down. Less
than an hour later, shortly after full darkness had come upon them,
Greathouse and Tomlinson crossed the river to the Mingo camp where they were
greeted in a friendly manner by Shikellimus, father of Chief Logan. Old and
wrinkled and mostly toothless, he was pleased to be honored by a visit from
the whites. Greathouse, reasonably fluent in the Iroquois tongue, smiled
pleasantly and wished him peace, happiness and a full belly. His party of six
men were camped just across the river, he said, and they would be pleased to
have the Mingoes join them for some fine rum spirits and perhaps to engage
with them in a marksmanship competition.

Shikellimus shook his head regretfully. It was a disappointment, he said,
that most of them had work to do, since they were breaking camp in the
morning. However, he did not wish to offend these kind white men and so he
would send five good marksmen to represent him and his party. They shook
hands again and the two white men paddled back to their camp.

Ten minutes after their return, a light canoe scraped ashore and from it
stepped five Mingo braves and a decidedly pregnant squaw. She was sister of
Logan and daughter of Shikellimus, and she declined to drink any rum, as did
her brother, Tay-la- nee, and her husband. The other three men, however,
tilted the jug frequently, not noting that the six white men took only small
sips when they drank. There was laughter and some small talk between
Greathouse and Logan's brother, and before long the three drinking Mingoes
had become very unsteady.

Greathouse cut four sharp little pegs from a twig and tacked his handkerchief
to the trunk of a tree within the light of the fire. With a piece of charcoal
he made a small circle in the center, marked off thirty paces and invited the
braves to show their skill. In succession the three tipsy Indians fired, two
missing the handkerchief entirely and the third hitting just the edge of it.
Logan's brother, however, sent a shot into the exact center of the little
circle, and his sister's husband cut the charcoal with his ball.

Engrossed and laughing with their own fumbling efforts to reload, the Indians
did not realize anything was amiss until Logan's sister suddenly ran toward
the river, screaming an alarm in the still night air. The Mingoes looked up
in surprise to find themselves quite alone in the center of an arc of men who
had leaped from hiding, their rifles at ready. Rafe snapped off a quick shot
at the squaw and her screaming was cut short as she flopped disjointedly to
the ground. The Mingoes dropped their useless guns and clawed for knives and
tomahawks, but a volley of shots rang out and all five fell, dead or dying.
A barely audible shout came from across the river and within half a minutes a
lookout from Tomlinson's group warned that the remaining Mingoes were on
their way over to investigate. Those who had fired reloaded swiftly and the
entire party of whites crouched in the darkness along the shore until the
boats came within range. At a shout from Tomlinson, 31 rifles roared-all
except Grill's-and most of the occupants of the boats were killed instantly.
Those few who were not dove into the water and struck out for the Ohio shore,
but only three made it. Shikellimus was not among them.

Now the whites returned to the camp and methodically scalped the five dead
men lying there. Logan's sister, they found, was still alive. The rifle ball
had entered her back and lodged in her right lung and she was only
semiconscious. Under orders from Greathouse she was lashed by her wrists to a
pole which was then raised and angled into the fork of a tree so that her
feet hung a foot or two off the ground. The frontiersman cut away her garb
and tossed it aside; then he jerked the tomahawk from his underarm sheath and
with one vicious swipe, laid open her belly, spilling its pitiful contents in
an obscene hanging mass.

No one had even noted that Bill Grills was longer with them. >From fifty
yards away in the heavy darkness of the woods he had been watching, but now
he turned and slipped silently away. His association with both Jacob
Greathouse and the frontier had just ended permanently.

Sunday, May 1, 1774
With a gentleness belying the great anger that raged in him, Chief Logan cut
loose the body of his sister and laid her on the ground between the bodies of
her husband and brother. Wordlessly he touched her lips and then did the same
with his brother and his sister's husband.

He recalled now the warning given him six weeks ago by the Kispokotha chief,
Pucksinwah, that he should beware lest Matchemene too blind him to the
inevitable. He had been blinded then; just as he had been blinded several
nights ago when the young Shawnee, Blue Jacket, had come with an account of
the death of his two companions by Michael Cresap's party and his warning
that he had overheard the men planning to destroy Logan's own Yellow Creek
village.

And now, because of that blindness, his family was dead, viciously murdered
without cause. A cold, frightening fire burned in his eyes as he raised his
tomahawk high and told the Mingoes with him that peace had ended, that they
would not return to the Yellow Creek camp but to Kispoko Town on the Scioto
River and that his tomahawk would not again be grounded until he had taken
ten lives for every one that was slain here last night.

Wednesday, October 26, 1774
Simon Girty, Simon Kenton and John Gibson found Chief Logan where they had
been told his little camp was located: beneath the branches of a great
spreading elm along the south bank of Congo Creek. They had come when it was
learned that Logan had refused to attend the peace conference but would
dictate a message to be read there. Girty would translate and Gibson would
take it down on paper.

Logan stood before them silently, a figure commanding the respect of any who
might look upon him. He was clad only in fresh doeskin leggins and high
moccasins laced to mid-calf. At the back of his head he wore four
white-tipped brown eagle feathers and on each wrist and his left upper arm
were wide bands of beaten silver. Around his neck was an intricately
fashioned necklace of colorful beads and silver and down his well-muscled
bare chest hung two queues of straight black hair held near their ends by
smaller circlets of silver. He wore no weapon of any kind. Despite the
primitive costume, his bearing was as regal as any king in royal garb.
Most striking, however, was his strong face, etched by sadness, his deep dark
eyes reflecting an inner pain beyond description. The expression did not
change as he shook hands briefly with the three white men, nor did it alter
to any appreciable degree as he began to dictate in a soft voice:
"I appeal to any white man to say if ever he entered Logan's cabin hungry and
I gave him not meat; if ever he came cold or naked and I gave him not meat;
if ever he came cold or naked and I gave him not clothing.
"During the course of the last long and bloody war, Logan remained idle in
his tent, an advocate for peace. Nay, such was my love for the whites that
those of my own country pointed at me and said, 'Logan is the friend of the
white man.' I had even thought to have lived with you, but for the injuries
of one man.

"Colonel Cresap, the last spring, in cold blood and unprovoked, murdered all
the relatives of Logan, not sparing even my women and children. There runs
not a drop of my blood in the veins of any living creature.
"This called on me for revenge. I have sought it. I have killed many. I have
fully glutted my vengeance.

"For my country, I rejoice at the beams of peace; but do not harbor the
thought that mine is the joy of fear. Logan never felt fear. He will not turn
on his heel to save his life.
"Who is there to mourn for Logan? Not one."

Monday, November 28, 1774
The treaty had been swiftly concluded after the reading of Chief Logan's
speech-a speech that had moved the whites as much as the Indians. Many of the
soldiers had committed it to memory and it was the subject of much
conversation around the campfires; especially the last lines. One militiaman
would ask the question aloud, "Who is there to mourn for Logan?" and another
would reply with great feeling, "Not one."
At the first public reading of it, George Rogers Clark had turned to Michael
Cresap who stood beside him and muttered, "You must be a very great man that
the Indians shoulder you with every mean thing that ever happened."
Cresap scowled. "If I ever encounter Greathouse again, I swear I'll tomahawk
him."

Saturday, September 1, 1781
Simon Kenton was well aware that the worst of the Indian atrocities were
committed after the attacking savages had discovered and consumed stores of
whiskey. He could also name off more than a score or more white men who had
been slain because they were too befuddled by drink to protect themselves. If
more basis was needed, it had come with a shock this summer when Simon
learned from a Detroit escapee that liquor had, indirectly, caused the death
of his Mingo friend and benefactor, Chief Logan.

Logan, he was told, had also become addicted to whiskey, and when it was
refused him at Detroit one night he had mumbled an angry retort to the effect
that if the British wouldn't give it to him, perhaps the Americans would and
that he would go to Clark in Kentucky. The fear that he would influence his
Mingo friends equally in this matter was enough to seal his fate. He had been
followed and, while on the path to the very cabin Kenton and Girty had helped
him build, was murdered by a tomahawk blow from behind.

***If you would like more resources on Chief Logan, check out these books and authors:

The Frontiersmen by Allan W. Eckert

Logan the Last of the Race of Shikellemus, Chief Cayuga Nation by Joseph Doddridge

Words That Rang Around the World by George Thomas Swain

Strait Up to See the Sky by Timothy Truman

Logan the Mingo by Franklin B. Sawvel