Without regard for their own safety, settlers continued to pour into the Ohio valley and were easy targets for Logan and his rage. No white family was safe from this vengeful warrior. All toll, Logan was responsible for taking at least 30 scalps and prisoners that summer.
Logan always believed that Captain Michael Cresap was responsible for leading the group of outlaws who murdered his family. Three days after William Robinson was adopted into his family, Logan dictated to Robinson the following note, written with a mixture of gunpowder and water:
To Captain Cresap:
“What did you kill my people on Yellow Creek for? The White People killed my kin at Conestoga a great while ago and 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 are not angry, only myself.” Capt. John Logan July 21, 1774 (Sipe, Indian Chiefs of Pennsylvania, p.443)
This sullen message was found at the scene of the last of Logan’s bloody massacres, the killing of the John Robertson family of Southwestern Virginia. This note tied to a war club was conspicuously found on the cabin floor among the dead bodies of the family and signed Capt. “John” Logan.
In mid-October of 1774, Logan arrived at Camp Charlotte, near present day Chillicothe, to find the remnants of Chief Cornstalk’s defeated warriors in disarray. They had just returned from a decisive defeat at the Battle of Point Pleasant, near the mouth of the Great Kanawha River. Col. Andrew Lewis’ forces had routed the Indians several days before and the Indians hurriedly tried to regroup at Camp Charlotte. Lord Dunmore was headed their way with fresh troops, including Col. Lewis’ remaining battle-weary troops.
The time for peace was at hand and Logan knew it. Logan argued for peace and pleaded with the Council of Chiefs present not to continue the war. Finally, the council wisely decided against any further bloodshed and sent a delegation of chiefs to Dunmore to sue for peace. Lord Dunmore agreed to a conference and runners were sent out to invite all the council chiefs to attend the Camp Charlotte conference.
Tired and alone, Logan retreated to his cabin, a short distance away, to think and reflect. He would refuse to attend the conference. As most of the council chiefs assembled at Camp Charlotte, Logan again refused Lord Dunmore’s invitation to talk.
Dunmore, impatient and yet concerned, dispatched a trusted aide, one Col. John Gibson to persuade Logan. Whether genius or luck, Dunmore’s choice of Col. Gibson was at least good diplomacy. Gibson was the alleged father of the two-month-old child of Logan’s sister, whose life was spared by the Greathouse gang at Yellow Creek. Logan would at least listen to Gibson.
Logan, still hesitating to go to the conference, proposed that he and Gibson take a walk in the woods and discuss his concerns. There on the Pickaway Plains of southern Ohio, under that now famous Elm tree, Logan turned and stood before Col. Gibson and spoke about the total devastation of his people in their homeland at the hands of white men. With tears in his eyes and a heavy heart, Logan lamented:
“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 white men.’ I had even thought to have lived with you, but for the injuries of one man. Col. 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 gutted my vengeance: for my country, I rejoice at the beams of peace. But do not harbour a thought that mine is the joy of fear Logan never felt fear. Logan will not turn on his heel to save his life. Who is there to mourn for Logan? Not one.” (Jefferson, “Notes on the State of Virginia,” The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, p. 66)
Col. Gibson wrote down this simple cry of words in the wilderness and forever made the name of Logan immortal. His words were read at the conclusion of Lord Dunmore’s conference and this impassioned plea from a dying race was immortalized. Thomas Jefferson furthered the publicity of “Logan’s Lament” in his now famous “Notes on the State of Virginia,” and challenged any European or American statesmen to surpass this speech. Even Col. Gibson guaranteed this immortality to “Logan Lament’s” when he swore to its authenticity in an affidavit before J. Barker in Pittsburgh on April 4, 1800.
Ironically, Logan did not know that Capt. Michael Cresap, the bane of his existence and source of his vengeance, was not the murderer of his family. Many reputable sources, including George Rogers Clark and Simon Kenton, testified to the fact that Cresap was not the murderer of Logan’s kin. In fact, Clark, in a letter to Dr. Samuel Brown of Kentucky, stated emphatically that: “The Conduct of Cresap I am perfectly acquainted with, he was not the Author of that Murder, but a Family of the Name of Greathouse. But some transactions that happened under the conduct of Capt. Cresap a few days previous to the Murder of Logan’s Family gave him sufficient grounds to suppose it was Cresap who had done him the Injury.” (James, “The Life of George Rogers Clark” p. 505)
Roger’s says Cresap was with him that very day but also agreed that some transactions that happened under Cresap’s command, several days prior to the Logan family murders, gave Logan sufficient reason to suspect Cresap. Thus, Logan had probable cause to fuel his passions and left historians to forever ponder his words.
Logan was to wander the rest of his life among the remnants of the once proud tribes of the eastern frontier. Broken, bitter and always melancholy, he turned to drink to ease the pain of the friendships of his father gone sour. Several accounts of Logan’s death are told by historians with the most likely cause of his death coming at the hands of his own tribe. The respect and awe, in which Logan was held by the white man, was no less powerful among his own people. There were those in his midst who could no longer bear his being held in such high esteem that they begged the elders of the tribe to silence him.
Tradition has it that Logan met his death mercifully by one swift blow of the hatchet, from behind, while he sat beside his evening campfire. The appointed executioner was his own nephew. It was customary, among the Indians, to designate a close relative to do the unpleasant task; the object being to avoid all risk of starting a blood feud between families. When Logan’s nephew was asked years later why the tribe had ordered his uncle’s death, the young man replied:
“Because he was too great a man to live...he talked so strong that nothing could be carried contrary to his opinions, his eloquence always took all the young men with him. He was a very, very great man, and as I killed him, I am to fill his place and inherit all his greatness. When I am so great a man as he was (putting his right hand over his heart speaking with emphasis), I am ready to die-And whomsoever puts me to death will inherit all my greatness, As I do his” (Kent & Deardorff, “John Adlum on the Allegheny: Memoir for the Year 1794.” pp. 471-72)
The foretelling loneliness of Logan’s “Lament” is real, and it truly matters not whether Logan was John or James, first or second son of Shikellamy, but that there was a Logan. He stands tall in our minds as a symbol of his great race, uncorrupted and unafraid, rather than as a single person whose life can be traced through the pages of history. Logan’s name has become synonymous with Indian legend and lore, rising to heights larger than life.
His memory is preserved forever in many place names across the Eastern Frontier. From Loganton and Logan’s Spring in Pennsylvania to Logan’s Elm (under which it is said he voiced his “Lament”) on the Pickaway Plains near Circleville, Ohio; Logan lives on. Not a drop of his blood flows in our veins, yet we still feel his greatness.
“Logan, the kind, generous-hearted and magnanimous Mingo chief, has passed away. His ashes rest, if not in the same locality with his kindred, at least in the same common grave. To a world of spirits, beyond the dark and shoreless river, whose waveless tide the known and unknown worlds divide. Where we all must go, he has gone to mingle with the departed. On a grassy knoll in that rich and beautiful valley, watered by the Scioto, and not far from the very spot where he delivered his speech to Gen. Gibson, among the wild flowers which nature has strewn over his grave, repose in silence all that remains of the once noble and manly form of Logan.”
(Strickland, Pioneers of The West; or Life in The Woods, p. 245)
Logan emerges in spirit as-in his own words-a man of “two souls”, one good and one bad. Personification of the paradox which has made many Indians, both heroes and demons, the heart and soul of frontier legends. Logan’s life had come full circle. From his days as a child roaming the West Branch of the Susquehanna’s Buffalo Valley, he was reduced at the end to begging for whiskey among the officers at Fort Detroit; somehow comforting his tormented soul in death. Now over two centuries later, we repeated his story. It is simply a story destined to be committed to the fates of the common man. Who is there to mourn for Logan? I do!
“From somewhere on the Pennsylvania Frontier… Ron Wenning