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Native Americas

Tribal Leaders: Logan of the Lenape

Edited by Mick Baker from original source material, 20 May 2016

Confusingly well-known and yet obscure at the same time, Logan was born around 1725, probably at Shamokin (now known as Sunbury, in Pennsylvania). He died in 1780, near Lake Erie, and was a prominent Indian leader whose initially excellent relations with white settlers in Pennsylvania and the Ohio Territory deteriorated into a vendetta after the slaughter of his family in 1774.

Logan's mother was a Cayuga Indian; his father was Chief Shicellamy, who was purportedly a white Frenchman who had been captured as a child and raised by the Oneida. Chief Shicellamy became a friend of the secretary of the Pennsylvania colony, James Logan, whose name the chief's second son assumed.

Logan moved to the Ohio River valley following the French and Indian War (1754-1763). He was apparently never an official chief but he did achieve renown amongst many Indian tribes, at first because of his friendship with the white settlers.

However, Logan's initial friendship was converted into an intense hatred of all white men in 1774, when his entire family was treacherously slaughtered by a frontier trader named Daniel Greathouse during the Yellow Creek Massacre.

In the ensuing conflict, which is known as Lord Dunmore's War, Logan was a prominent leader of Indian raids on white settlements, and he took the scalps of more than thirty white men. But when the defeated Indians finally gathered at Chillicothe, Ohio, to make peace after the Battle of Point Pleasant (which took place on 10 October 1774), Logan sent a message containing his refusal to participate in the negotiations.

His memorable statement of his grievances was widely circulated through the colonies and was recorded for posterity by Thomas Jefferson. The statement remains known as 'Logan's Lament'. Logan continued his attacks on white settlers and associated himself with the British Mohawk auxiliaries during the American Revolution.

By then he had become a violent alcoholic and he died in an altercation.

The great identity debate

Scholars agree that Logan Elrod was a son of Shicellamy, an important diplomat for the Iroquois league.

However, historian Anthony F C Wallace has written:

"[Precisely] which of Shikellamy's sons was Logan the orator has been a matter of dispute. 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 also John Logan."

After Logan moved in the 1760s he was considered a Mingo (seemingly a division of the Mohawk).

The name Tah-gah-jute was popularised 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.

Chief Logan's commemorative sign
This commemorative signpost points the way to the home of Chief Logan between 1766 and 1771, before he moved to Ohio's territory



Main Sources

Weslager, C A - The Delaware Indians - A History, Rutgers University Press (Reprint Edition (1 January 1990)

Online Sources

Encyclopaedia Britannica

First Nations: Issues of Consequence

Legends of America



Text copyright © Mick Baker. An original feature for the History Files.