Who Mourns for Logan?
. . . 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 any living creature . . . Who is there to mourn for Logan? Not one."
Excerpts from a speech by Chief Logan, October 1774
Chief Logan's poignant speech and his personal story of heartbreak echoed far and wide across frontier Ohio. Like Logan, many long-time residents as well as newcomers lost family and friends in the bloody conflicts that erupted between the Native Americans trying to preserve an ancient way of life, and the European settlers trying to make a better life in a new land.
"I appeal to any white man to say if ever he entered Logan's cabin hungry and I gave him not meat; if he ever 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."
For the most part, the Europeans who ventured into the Ohio territory in the early 1700s were greeted warmly and received valuable assistance from the Native Americans they encountered. As the stream of immigrants swelled and they began claiming land and organizing settlements, though, some tribes reacted with alarm and hostility. Meanwhile, the clash of competing colonial and commercial interests of the British and French added to the tension, as both sides? armies tried to win the loyalty of the Indians and recruit their warriors. The frontier wilderness was transformed into a battleground for military and civilian "European and Indian" alike, as forts sprung up, settlements and villages were raided, and ambush parties haunted the forests and riverbanks. Eventually, a few infamous acts of senseless cruelty and betrayal, combined with many unfortunate incidents of mistaken identity and over-reaction, created a climate of escalating retaliation where no one was safe, regardless of their social status or innocence.
As this drama unfolded, Chief Logan remained the frontier's greatest advocate for peace. Since boyhood, Logan seemed destined to promote unity and goodwill. He was born in 1725, the second son of a Cuyaga Indian maiden and a French Canadian trapper who later became chief of the Oneidas. Named Tahgajute1 in his mother's native tongue, the boy was better known as the namesake of his father?s friend, the influential Pennsylvanian James Logan. Throughout Logan's childhood, his father, Shikellimus2, welcomed white settlers into the family home on the shores of Cayuga Lake in New York, and later at the headwaters of the Susquehanna River in Central Pennsylvania.
As he grew to adulthood, it was clear that there was something special about Logan. He was handsome and charismatic, an excellent marksman and athlete, and liked and admired by all he met. Even greater than his physical power were his powers of persuasion and diplomacy. Deeply influenced by his family background and upbringing, Logan perpetuated the tradition of tolerance and understanding. He broadened his diverse alliances even further when he married a Shawnee maiden. Logan established his own home on Yellow Creek near the Ohio River, in what is today Jefferson County, near Jefferson Lake State Park. He followed in his father's footsteps, embracing white and Indian neighbors with equal affection. His tribe, a loose confederation of kin from the Northeast referred to as Mingo, named Logan their chief.
During the French and Indian War, from 1754 to 1763, the Shawnee pressed Chief Logan to join them, but Logan refused. Instead, he worked to smooth tensions and negotiate peace. He also refused to join the rebellion against the British organized by the Ottawa war chief Pontiac in 1763. Far from being outcast for his pacifist approach, Logan was highly respected by his Native American brethren, who continued to seek his advice and welcome him at their councils.
By the early 1770s, tensions escalated even further as the European settlers began moving more freely cross the Ohio River and attempted to settle and farm in the rich wilderness of Kentucky, which the Shawnee reserved as communal hunting grounds. The Shawnee chief Pucksinwah pleaded with Logan to use his influence to call the other tribes to arms and guard the border to prevent any more invasion by the settlers. Logan held fast to his convictions that there was still hope that both the Native Americans and the white could live in harmony, that diplomacy and self-restraint on both sides were key to a lasting peace, and that declaring war on a nation with seemingly unlimited resources and soldiers vastly outnumbering the warriors of all the tribes combined was foolhardy.
Besides, the whites were also Logan's friends.
Not long after Logan's meeting with Pucksinwah, the stage was set for the tragic events that poisoned Logan's optimism and ruined his life. Several miles from Logan's village on Yellow Creek, a party of 20 Mingoes from Logan's village, including Logan's father and other close relatives, were encamped on the shores of the Ohio River at the mouth of Yellow Creek. Meanwhile, several miles upstream on the Ohio River at the mouth of Little Beaver Creek, not far from today's Beaver Creek State Park, two groups of white settlers traveling in canoes met and put ashore to exchange news. The first group, led by the notorious frontiersman Jacob Greathouse, was traveling downstream toward Yellow Creek. The second, a group of surveyors led by Michael Cresap and George Rogers Clark, was traveling upstream and had recently passed Yellow Creek. Cresap reported with regret that his party had encountered and killed two Shawnee warriors downstream, but they had safely passed Chief Logan?s village and the nearby Mingo encampment without incident.
After the chance meeting with Greathouse, Cresap and his group of surveyors continued upstream to attend to business at Fort Pitt, while Greathouse hatched a Greathouse hatched a plan to attack the Mingo camp along the Ohio River. Greathouse paddled quickly downstream to recruit help from the Baker?s Bottom settlement on the West Virginia shore, and hastily assembled a riverside camp opposite the Mingo encampment.
Greathouse and a companion then crossed the Ohio River to the Mingo camp where Logan's now elderly father greeted them warmly as was his custom. In turn, Greathouse invited Shikellimus and his braves to cross the river to his camp and join him and his five companions for a taste of rum and some friendly marksmanship competition.
Not wishing to offend his guest, Shikellimus sent five men, including his own son and son-in-law (Logan's brother and brother-in-law), along with his pregnant daughter (Logan's sister) to socialize with Greathouse and his friends. The invitation was a trap, and a short while after the shooting contest commenced, the visiting Mingos were ambushed by more than two dozen men hidden in the woods.
Hearing the startled cries and gunfire across the river, Shikellimus and the others leapt into their canoes to help. As the canoes approached the Greathouse camp, volleys of gunfire whizzed over the water, killing all of the Mingoes but three. Outraged and grief stricken, Logan vowed to retaliate with unbridled vengeance for the senseless, brutal slaughter of his entire village, including his father, brother, brotherin- law, sister and her unborn child.
For six months, Logan set out on a killing rampage, terrorizing pioneer settlements in the Virginia territory. The faithful, even-tempered friend of the white people became their most terrifying enemy. Compounding the tragedy of the situation, Logan was misinformed about the true perpetrator of the violence against his people, and he believed that the honorable Michael Cresap, rather than the rogue Jacob Greathouse, was responsible.
While Logan was venting his fury, his Shawnee allies engaged the Virginia militia under the command of Lord Dunmore, and were finally defeated at Point Pleasant on the Ohio River. Filled with despair and anguished by the carnage he left in his wake, Logan made his way back up the Scioto River to the Shawnee town near present-day Circleville and Great Seal State Park. He camped in seclusion on the banks of Congo Creek, under the shelter of an elm tree. Logan?s assistance was called for in the peace negotiations, but his heart was too heavy to serve as ambassador this time.
Instead, he offered this stirring speech to Lord Dunmore's courier under the shade of the tree that would be remembered as the Logan Elm.
Soon after Logan's speech was repeated to the treaty council, negotiations were concluded. Logan's speech deeply affected all who heard it. Several newspapers reported it promptly, and Thomas Jefferson reprinted it in his "Notes on the State of Virginia" published in 1788. It has been included as a classic work of American oratory in Washington Irving's Sketchbook, and recited by generations of schoolchildren who memorized it from their McGuffey Reader.
Chief Logan's moving words made him immortal, but his fame brought little consolation. Dispirited, dejected and feeling utterly alone, Logan wandered aimlessly from tribe to tribe, village to village over the next seven years and frequently drowned his sorrows in whiskey. Chief Logan, the most noble and trustworthy of men, was considered unstable and a security risk in the tense times following the American Revolution. One night in the fall of 1781, a distrusting com- panion murdered him with a tomahawk blow from behind.
Logan's legacy of hope lives on in a bustling town, a serene historic site, and two scenic natural areas named in his honor. The City of Logan in Hocking County was named for the great Mingo chief by its founder, Colonel Thomas Worthington, the Father of Ohio Statehood. Nearby Lake Logan, the centerpiece of Lake Logan State Park, was also named in Logan's memory. Mount Logan, the crowning peak in Great Seal State Park, was reputedly the location of a cabin where Logan stayed when visiting the Shawnee town nearby.
Logan's speech is carved in stone on a monument at the Logan Elm State Historic Site on the banks of Congo Creek near Chillicothe. The massive elm that stood for nearly two centuries as the witness to one of the most touching moments in Ohio history finally succumbed to blight and storm damage in 1964.
Jean Backs, Editor
- Also referred to in some sources asTalgayeeta
- Also referred to in some sources as Shickellamy
- Also referred to in some sources as Daniel Greathouse, brother of Jacob Greathouse.
- Eckert, Allan W., The Frontiersman, Little, Brown & Company, Boston, Massachusetts, 1967
- Howe, Henry, Howe?s Historical Collections of Ohio, Volumes I and II, The Laning Printing Company, Norwalk, Ohio, 1896
- Knepper, George W., Ohio and Its People, The Kent State University Press, Kent, Ohio, 1989
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