Logan’s Lament

Logan's status

Logan, also called Logan the Orator, born about 1723 and died in 1780, was a Native American orator and war leader born in the Iroquois Confederacy.  The statue above in Logan, West Virginia, honors his memory.  Although Logan was of the Cayuga nation, after his 1760s move to the Ohio Country, he was sometimes referred to as a Mingo.  This suggests that Mingo may have been a differentiation of location, not of tribe.  This may also suggest that other Mingos were Cayuga as well.

Scholars agree that Logan was a son of Shikellamy, an important diplomat for the Iroquois Confederacy, but which son has been disputed by scholars. Logan the orator has been variously identified as Tah-gah-jute, Tachnechdorus (also spelled “Tachnedorus” and “Taghneghdoarus”), Soyechtowa, Tocanioadorogon, the “Great Mingo”, James Logan, and John Logan.

The name “Tah-gah-jute” was popularized in an 1851 book by Brantz Mayer entitled Tah-gah-jute: or Logan and Cresap. However, historian Francis Jennings wrote that Mayer’s book was “erroneous from the first word of the title” and instead identified Logan as James Logan, also known as Soyechtowa and Tocanioadorogon. Historians who agree that Logan the orator was not named “Tah-gah-jute” sometimes identify him as Tachnechdorus, although Jennings identifies Tachnechdorus as Logan the orator’s older brother.


Logan’s father Shikellamy,  above, who was of the Oneida nation, worked closely with Pennsylvania official James Logan in order to maintain the Covenant Chain relationship with the colony of Pennsylvania. Following a prevailing Native American practice, the man who would become Logan the Mingo took the name “James Logan” out of admiration for his father’s friend.

Iroquois who migrated to the Ohio Country were often called “Mingos.” Logan the Mingo is usually identified as a Mingo “chief”, but historian Richard White has written that “He was not a chief. Kayashuta and White Mingo were the Mingo chiefs. Logan was merely a war leader….”  Like his father, Logan maintained friendly relationships with white settlers moving from eastern Pennsylvania and Virginia into the Ohio Country, the region which is now Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky, and western Pennsylvania.

Logan’s friendly relations with white settlers changed with the Yellow Creek Massacre in 1774.

The Yellow Creek Massacre was a brutal killing of several Mingo Indians by Virginia frontiersmen on April 30, 1774. The atrocity occurred at Yellow Creek on the upper Ohio River in the Ohio Country — now Yellow Creek Township, Columbiana County, Ohio — and was the single most important incident contributing to the outbreak of Lord Dunmore’s War (May-October 1774). It was carried out by a group led by Jacob and Daniel Greathouse. The perpetrators were never brought to justice.

This incident was all the worse because Mingo leader Logan was a good friend of the English-speaking settlers in the region. Logan was away on a hunt but his wife Mellana, his brother Taylaynee (called John Petty by many English speakers), Taylaynee’s son Molnah and his Logan’s and Taylaynee’s sister Koonay were among the slain. Koonay was also the wife of John Gibson a prominent trader between the English and various Native American groups who at the time of the massacre was on a trading expedition to the Shawnee.

The Greathouse group lured the Mingos who had been living near the mouth of Yellow Creek under Taylaynee to the cabin of Joshua Baker, a settler and rum trader who lived across the Ohio River from the Mingo village, with a promise of rum and sport.  They then sprung an ambush on the Mingos and shot them dead. After the killings many of the bodies were mutilated. In a particular brutal killing Jacob Greathouse ripped open Koonay’s abdomen and removed and scalped her unborn son. The only member of the first group who was not killed was Koonay’s two-year-old daughter who was eventually returned to the care of her father, John Gibson, after she had for a time been in the care of William Crawford.  Gibson’s daughter survived, married George Wallace and Gibson spent his elder years with her.

At least two canoes were dispatched from the Yellow Creek village, but they were repelled by Greathouse’s men concealed along the river. In all, approximately a dozen were murdered in the cabin and on the river. Logan was summoned to return by runners.

Influential tribal chiefs in the region, such as Cornstalk (Shawnee), White Eyes (Lenape), and Guyasuta (Seneca/Mingo), attempted to negotiate a peaceful resolution lest the incident develop into a larger war, but by Native American custom Logan had the right to retaliate for the murders. Several parties of mixed Mingo and Shawnee warriors soon struck the frontier, including one led by Logan. They attacked settlers in several frontier regions, both killing and taking captives. The Royal Governor of Virginia, Lord Dunmore, responded by launching an expedition against the Mingos and Shawnees, in the conflict that became known as Dunmore’s War.

Following the Yellow Creek Massacre, Logan wrote this letter:

“To Captain Cressap – What did you kill my people on Yellow Creek for. The white People killed my kin at Coneestoga 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 time[s to war since but] the Indians is not Angry only myself.”

— Captain Joh[n Logan]

It was not Cresap who murdered Logan’s family.  The relationship between Logan and Michael Cresap led to the latter naming his son after Logan after the two resolved their differences and Cresap proved his innocence.  Since then three generations of Logans followed.

Logan was not at the Battle of Point Pleasant (10 October 1774), the only major battle of Dunmore’s War. Following the battle, Dunmore’s army marched into the Ohio Country and compelled the Ohio Indians to agree to a peace treaty. According to tradition, Logan refused to attend the negotiations and instead issued a speech that would become famous as “Logan’s Lament,” although some scholars debate whether the words were actually his.

“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 have even thought to live 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 sparing even my women and children. There runs not a drop of my blood in the veins of any living creature. This has 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 harbour 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.”

It was John Gibson, Logan’s brother-in-law, who produced the written version of Logan’s speech.  The speech was printed in colonial newspapers, and in 1782 Thomas Jefferson reprinted it in his book Notes on the State of Virginia. The American elm tree in Pickaway County, Ohio — under which he supposedly gave the speech — became famous as the “Logan Elm” and grew to great size before dying in 1964.

The remainder of Logan’s life is shrouded in obscurity. Along with many other Ohio natives, he participated in the American Revolutionary War against the Americans. He was murdered near Detroit in 1780 by a nephew.

Fort Hill Cemetery in Auburn, NY has a large monument place on an Indian mound in his honor for the fact that he was from the Cayuga Indian tribe which was based where Fort Hill Cemetery is now located.

About Roberta Estes

Scientist, author, genetic genealogist. Documenting Native Heritage through contemporaneous records and DNA.
This entry was posted in Cayuga, Dunsmore's War, Iroquois, Lenape, Military, Mingoes, Oneida, Seneca, Shawnee. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Logan’s Lament

  1. P K Yates says:

    Wow! Great research! I am familiar with these places and families. I lived in WV for many years and grew up in southwestern VA where the Wilderness Trail began that became the “Gateway” to the Ohio/Kentucky/Tennessee territories… I have also done much courthouse research professionally and have come across many interesting tidbits of info on what the early settlements and claims to land were…

    -P K Yates

  2. ekunkle says:

    Hi – I am trying to track down my great-great grandmother who was in Logan’s tribe. She married Johan Michael Kunkle in 1765 and had by then changed her name to Anna Margaretha Schittler. I am wondering if there is anyway to find her original name?

  3. My Frisbey family is thought to be descended from Chief Shikellamy. I shed tears thinking of Betty Shikellamy being cut open and having her unborn son removed from her body and scalped by Daniel or Jacob Greathouse. What horrible evil must have posessed someone to do such a deplorable thing. However little two
    year old Polly Gibson was spared and given back to her father John Gibson to be raised by him. What horrors must have haunted this little girl the rest of her life remembering the slaughter of her Mommie.

  4. Scott says:

    I don’t know why the remainder of his life is a mystery, I am a long descendant of Chief John Logan. He had a child that lived, under the same name, John Logan. His whole family was not murdered, or I wouldn’t be alive. We live under his name proudly to this day.

    • Debbie George says:

      would like to know more about you if will share. There is much controversy over whether he was Cayuga or not here. My husband is a Cayuga Chief. My email is 27.ribbons6@gmail.com if you care to speak to us.

    • Zzzeke says:

      My 4th great-grandfather was John Keener, the man killed by Logan on June 5th, 1774 as Logan left the scene of the Spicer Massacre.

      • Eric Muccino says:

        My 5th great-grandfather was William Spicer Jr, one of the two children abducted by the Mingos.

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