Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Logan's Lament

Today I am reminded of Logan, the Mingo Indian leader who once called these hills of West Virginia home. His certainly was a tale of woe. I've always thought of Logan as a decent man, and one who was but a victim of his times.

Many locations throughout West Virginia, Kentucky and Ohio bear his name, but I wonder how many remember the man?

Legend has it that Logan was a friend to the white settlers, he gave them food and shelter when they needed it, and even went out of his way to maintain peace among the tribes and the white settlements. It was only when a party of white men led by Daniel Greathouse brutally murdered Logan's brother, wife, daughter and other kin did Logan seek vengeance. It is recorded that Logan's daughter was pregnant at the time, and her baby was cut out of her and beat against some nearby rocks, and the men proceeded to torture her to death. They say when Logan found the bodies of his fallen kinsman, he fell to the ground in a dead faint.

Logan proved to be as capable in war as he was a bulwark for peace, and his actions are believed to have been one of the leading causes of Dunmore's War.
However, Logan erroneously thought that Michael Cresap was the man responsible for murdering his family, but it was later discovered that the brutal act was the handiwork of the Daniel Greathouse party.

When the white settlements, seeking protection and revenge against Logan and all the tribes in the region, sought military protection, Logan once again tried to maintain peace. He seemed to be trying to make everyone understand that his actions were his alone and not the concerted efforts of neighboring tribes. I don't know about you but I can hear the pain in Logan's words in this letter directed at Michael Cresap:

"To Captain Cressap - What did you kill my people on Yellow Creek for? The white People killed my kin at Conestoga a great while ago, & I thought nothing of that. But you killed my kin again on Yellow Creek, and took my cousin prisoner. Then I thought I must kill too; and I have been three times to war since but the Indians is not Angry, only myself."

To me, it takes a decent man to stand up in such tumultuous times and claim responsibility for his actions. Especially considering the great hurt and injustice that had been visited upon Logan.

After the blood lust was wiped from Logan and when he believed the deaths of his kin had been properly avenged, Logan once again became a peaceful man and worked diligently to achieve peace in the Ohio Valley. Logan's desire for peace in the Ohio Valley was not achieved in his lifetime, or even within the generation that followed him. Logan was found murdered in his cabin in 1780. He was believed to have been murdered by a Native American who thought him to be too friendly with the white settlers.

Perhaps Logan is best remembered for the following speech, which he gave after avenging the deaths of his kinfolk.

"I appeal to any white man to say, if ever he entered Logan's cabin hungry, and he gave him not meat; if ever he came cold and naked, and he clothed him not? During the course of the last long and bloody war, Logan remained idle in his cabin, an advocate for peace. Such was my love for the whites, that my countrymen pointed as they passed, and said, 'Logan is the friend of the white men.' 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 relations of Logan, not even sparing 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 a 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."

I don't know about you, but I still mourn for Logan. I pray that he found peace.

For more information on the events of the times in which Logan lived, along with specific information on Logan himself, I highly recommend the book, "That Dark & Bloody River" by Allan Eckert.


Tbird said...

If I remember correctly, Simon Kenton was part of the Greathouse party but settled up and went his own way before the massacre of Logan's family.
Again, if my memory serves me, Greathouse married and started a family. Some years later he and family were moving to a new settlemment and were captured by Indians. They recognized Greathouse and proceeded to torture and kill he and his family to avenge the Logan massacre.

Matthew Burns said...

Tbird--Yes, I've read the same information. I believe all of that is in "That Dark and Bloody River" by Allan Eckert. That really is a great book.

I'm always in awe of the history that this land holds, it seems that around every bend there's another location of a significant historical event.

Thanks for the comment.


Shirley Stewart Burns, Ph.D. said...

Good post, Matthew. I'd love to hear more.

Tbird said...

I guess that's where I remember some of it from, though it's been twenty years since I've read any of Eckert's books.
Alway have admired Simon Kenton(Butler). He was equal to Boone as a woodman and hunter but is virtually unknown to the public. One thing Eckert's books have done is to keep frontiersmen such as Kenton, Michael Stoner,and others from being lost to history.

Matthew Burns said...

TBird-Yes, I've always been fascinated with Simon Kenton/Butler as well. I've always thought that Kenton is often overlooked by history, even though his exploits are the stuff legend is made of. The location where he lived in West Virginia (along the Kanawha River, near the mouth of Campbells Creek) is only about a mile from where I live now. Also, his hunting camp on the Elk River is about 8 or so miles from here. There is a road sign commemorating Simon Kenton at the Elk River location in present day Big Chimney, WV.

For all who don't know, the Allan Eckert book, "The Frontiersman" details the life of Simon Kenton.

I have a connection to another frontiersman of that time, Lewis Whetsel's father was a brother to one of my great so many grandfathers.

Thanks again for the comment, we both seem to find much enjoyment in the history of the region.

Tipper said...

Never hear of Logan-but wow is his history interesting. Thanks for the introduction!

Granny Sue said...

There is an extensive and interesting article about Logan and Thomas Jefferson's role in making Logan's speech widely known at

In all it is a very sad story, and encapsulates, I think, the tragedy of those times. Saddest of all was that Logan himself was killed by his own family, his killing ordered by his people's council because he was too eloquent.

Janet, said...

this was a good post, Matthew. It is very sad what happened long, long ago, but it is good that we remember.

Bob said...


I just came across your blog tonight (I was trying to explain the chivaree to my girlfriend, and Google led me to your post on it), and I've thoroughly enjoyed reading. My mother is from Oak Hill, WV, and I was born and raised in the mountains of NC.

Your photos and stories are just like home to me.

Also, I love Allan Eckert's books.

Bob, the Mountain Man living in Costa Rica