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The Settlement of the Appalachian Frontier: Chief Logan

The Settlement of the Appalachian Frontier

Sharing information, stories, and ideas for teaching students about the settlement of the Appalachian Frontier. Focusing on the little-known people and history of Southwestern Virginia, Northeast Tennessee, and Eastern Kentucky.

Location: Nickelsville, Virginia, United States

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Chief Logan

Chief Logan was a leading Mingo Indian chief during the eighteenth century. His birthplace is disputed, with most scholars believing it was in Pennsylvania about 1725. Other people claim that his birth occurred in Auburn, New York. Logan's father was a Cayuga Indian named Shikellamy. Logan grew up in Pennsylvania and came to view many whites as his friends. Chief among them was David Zeisberger, a missionary of the Moravian Church. Logan eventually married a Shawnee woman and moved to Ohio about 1770.
He settled in Yellow Creek, a village of the Mingo Indians. He is described by one white-man as “the finest human being, of any race, that I ever met.” He became a war chief but continued to urge his fellow natives not to attack whites settling in the Ohio Country. His attitude changed on May 3, 1774, when Simon Greathouse and a group of border ruffians lured approximately one dozen Mingos to a trading post and murdered them. Among them were Logan's mother and sister. Logan demanded that the Mingos and their allies, principally the Shawnee Indians, avenge the deaths of his loved ones.
Chief Cornstalk, one of the main leaders of the Shawnees, still called for peace, but Logan ignored him. He conducted raids in western Pennsylvania, killing thirteen whites in retaliation for the Mingos' deaths. Continuing south, he raided settlements all across the Clinch and Holston Valleys. More than once he attacked the outpost at Fort Blackmore in present day Scott County. His attacks eventually resulted in Lord Dunmore's War.
In August 1774, the 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. Cornstalk, who had experienced a change of heart toward the white colonists as the soldiers invaded the Ohio Country, dispatched nearly one thousand Shawnee to drive Dunmore's force from the region. The forces (including a large contingent from the Clinch, Holston, and Powell River Settlements, which led the battle) met on October 10, 1774 at what became known as the Battle of Point Pleasant. After several hours of intense fighting, the English drove Cornstalk's followers north of the Ohio River. The two sides eventually met near Chillicothe to determine peace terms. Logan refused to attend but did send a speech known as "Logan's Lament." It was probably read at the conference by Simon Girty, an Englishman that the natives had kidnapped and then raised as one of their own. In the speech, Logan pledged to continue fighting the English as they moved westward into the Ohio Country.
Logan spent the remainder of his life fulfilling his pledge. Cornstalk surrendered to the English in 1774, but Logan kept up his struggle. During the American Revolution, he continued to raid white settlements in Pennsylvania. Most accounts describe Logan as becoming despondent and turning to alcohol after his family's murder. He probably died about 1780, perhaps murdered by his own nephew. Despite his efforts, Logan failed to prevent white settlers from moving into the Ohio Country.

PS - The militia from S.W. Va. (The Fincastle Militia) was very upset with Lord Dunmore’s handling of the battle and peace accords. They strongly expressed their displeasure and grievances in the “Fincastle Resolution” which can be found at http://appfrontier.blogspot.com/