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from A History of Indian Villages and Place Names in Pennsylvania

by Dr. George P. Donehoo

Milestones Vol 3, No 2. Spring 1977


Logstown village is considered to be one of the most important Indian villages in the state during the period from the migration of the Delaware and Shawnee, about 1725-27, until the capture of Fort Duquesne by the British, in 1758. It was situated on the right (north) bank of the Ohio, about eighteen miles below the forks of the Ohio. The territory about the headwaters of the Ohio, where the Delaware and Shawnee settled, after their migration from the Susquehanna and Potomac, was claimed by the Iroquois. When the rivalry between France and Great Britain for the possession of the Ohio commenced Logstown was a prominent trading place. The village was inhabited by Delaware and Shawnee, with a number of Seneca, who became known along the Ohio as "Mingos." There were also a few Wyandot, Mohawk and Miami living in the settlement at various times. Tanacharison, the "Half King," was the leading chief in the settlement.

Scarouady, who afterwards succeeded him was also a resident of the place during the early days of the conflict with France. After the Treaty of Lancaster in 1744, the traders of Pennsylvania, Virginia and Maryland became more numerous along the Ohio and its tributaries. The great influx of these English traders soon aroused the jealousy of the French traders, chiefly because the former were charged with selling goods cheaper than the latter. The French traders influenced Peter Chartier, a Shawnee half-breed, to assist them in driving the English traders from the trade in Ohio. In 1747 a number of French traders were killed and scalped by some Indians, who had become enraged because of the low prices paid to them for their furs and peltries. The scalp of one of these traders was sent to the Governor of Pennsylvania, by three warriors at "Detroit," with a letter in which the senders promised to send more scalps.

The letter and the scalp reached George Croghan, who sent the letter to the Governor, and urged that something be done to hold the offered friendship of these western Indians. Conrad Weiser also said that something should be done to hold these Indians in friendly relations, and suggested that a present should be sent to them if a suitable person could be found to take it. After much discussion the Provincial Council decided to send a present to the western Indians during the coming spring. The Assembly was opposed to the

use of "bribes" to qain the friendship of the Indians, and was also opposed to doing anything to incite the Indians to hostility against the French. Governor Palmer wrote to the Governors of Maryland and Virginia, asking them to unite with him in collecting money to buy the proposed presents, and to appoint Commissioners to join those of this Province in the mission. Governor Gooch of Virginia heartily favored the plan, but his Assembly opposed it. The Governor then promised to assist Governor Palmer.

Everything was made ready for the trip to the- Ohio. The goods were purchased, George Croghan had gone on to his home to load his wagons, and Conrad Weiser was to start for the Ohio as soon as Spring would come. Then came a new difficulty. Shikellamy, the Iroquois deputy at Shamokin, became jealous of the attention which was being paid to these western Indians, who were subject to the Iroquois. He went to Weiser and told him that these western Indians could not make treaties or sell lands without the permission of the Iroquois, and that the trip to the Ohio was useless. He also told him that the Iroquois were going to send deputies to Philadelphia in the Spring, and that it would be necessary for him to be there to act as interpreter. Weiser did not know what to do. He finally sent a letter to the Provincial Council explaining the whole situation. Both he and Shikellamy were ordered to appear before the Council, which they did. After much discussion it was decided to postpone the sending of the presents until after the Iroquois had been to Philadelphia. But, in the meanwhile the members of the Council had become aroused over the matter. They saw the necessity of doing something at once to hold the friendship of the Indians on the Ohio, whom the French were gradually winning away from the Province.The Indian trade was worth trying to keep. So, it was decided to send Croghan at once with a present of about 200 Pounds value, and with the promise of a large present later in the summer, when Weiser would meet with them in Council. George Croghan departed on this mission in April, 1748. When Croghan reached Logstown he found that a number of Miami Indians were on their way east to hold a conference with the English authorities. Weiser was informed of this mission and sent messengers to meet the delegates and conduct them to Lancaster. Here four Deputies of the Provincial Council met them and heard the cause of the visit. The result of this conference was the sending of Weiser as soon as possible to Logstown. Weiser started on the 11th of August, reaching Logstown on the 27th, 1748. This journey of Conrad Weiser was the first official mission of the English to the Indians beyond the mountains, and was the chief cause of the French expedition under Celeron DeBienville, the following year, and was the real commencement of the events which led to the struggle of France and Great Britain for the possession of the Ohio.

While at Logstown Weiser asked for a list of the "fighting men" belonging to the tribes living on the Ohio. This list is of interest because it gives the earliest attempt at a Census of the Indians living in the region. "The Senecas 163, Shawonese 162, Owenclats (Wyandot) 100, Tisagechroanu (Mississauga) 40, Mohawks 74, Mohicahs 15, Onondagers 35, Cajukas (Cayuga) 20, Oneidos 15, Delawares 165, in all 789." As this list was made out by the representatives of the various tribes mentioned, it is more apt to be over-stated than otherwise. Most writers have a very exaggerated idea, not only as to the. number of Indians living in the Ohio region before its first settlement by the English, but also of the number living on the Continent at the time of its discovery. Careful examination of all possible authorities leads to the conviction that the number of Indians now living on the American continent is about what it was when the continent was first discovered.

Weiser "Set up the Union Flag on a long Pole" on September 1st, 1748, which was the first time which the banner of Great Britain was ever unfurled on upper Ohio, and just ten years before it was unfurled over the ruins of Fort Duquesne. Various conferences were hold with the various tribes represented, the presents were distributed, the complaints of the Indians concerning the rum traffic were heard, and Tanachharison and -Scarouady returned thanks to "Brother Onas" (Pennsylvania), and "Brother Assaraquoa" (Virginia) for the presents which had been given the Indians.

In the summer of 1749 Captain Celeron De Bienville, with a detachment of French soldiers, descended -the Conewango, Allegheny and Ohio, taking formal possession of the territory for France. He deposited leaden plates at the mouths of the various tributaries of the Ohio, on which was stated the fact of the act of possession. He reached Logstown, where he remained for two days, the 9th and 10th of August. Father Bonnecamp, who was with him, estimated the number of cabins in the settlement at 80. He said in his Journal, "we will call it Chiningue, from its vicinity to a river of that name" (Beaver). He also says, "The village of Chiningue is quite new; it is hardly more than five or six years since it was established." This French exipedition, consisting of 250 Frenchmen, Canadians and Indians, went on down the Ohio, after having ordered the tearing down of the British Flag which had been put up by Weiser. The French visit to the Ohio aroused the Governors of Pennsylvania and Virginia to greater activity for holding the Indian trade on the Ohio. The latter Colony became especially active in its efforts. The organization of "The Ohio Company" in 1749 was the first organized effort for the taking possession of the lands along the Ohio River. Christopher Gist was employed by the Company, and given instructions concerning the exploration of the Ohio region. He reached Logstown on November 25, 1750. In his Journal he says "In the Loggs Town I found scarce any Body but a Parcel of reprobate Indian Traders, the Chief of the Indians being out a hunting." While Gist was at Logstown he was informed that George Croghan and Andrew Montour had passed through the place a week before, on a mission from Pennsylvania. Croghan's mission was caused by the report that the French Agent Joncaire was on the Ohio, seeking to win the Indians and to drive the English traders from the region. Croghan had been at Logstown on November 16th, and in his report to the Governor had given the first notice of the building of a fort on the Ohio. He said that the opinion of the Indians was "that their Brothers the English ought to have a Fort on this River to secure the Trade."

Croghan went on westward to the Muskingum, where he was overtaken by Gist. After Croghan had returned from this trip the assembly voted 700 Pounds for the purchase of presents, and employed Croghan and Montour to deliver them. They reached Logstown on May 18, 1751, where they were received "by a great number of the Six Nations, Delawares and Shawonese." During this mission of Croghan's, the French Agent, Joncaire, arrived in Logstown with 40 warriors of the Six Nations, and sought by every possible means to win the Indians away from an alliance with the English. While Croghan was at Logstown a Dunkard from Virginia made a request for which the Indians made answer that it was not in their power to dispose of Lands; that he must apply to the Council of Onondago." In the meanwhile the Ohio Company, and the ever active Governor Dinwiddie, of Virginia, were busily engaged in efforts for the actual taking possession of the Ohio region. Thiis land was claimed, not only by virtue of the King's Charter, but also by the terms of the Treaty at Lancaster in 1744, by which the Iroquois sold to Virginia the lands "to the setting sun."

Thus was commenced the struggle between France and Great Britain; the conflict over the Boundary between Pennsylvania and Virginia, and also the struggle between the Delaware and Iroquois, who claimed the lands "by right of conquest." All were fighting for the same territory about the Forks of the Ohio." During this early stage of affairs "the lack of organization was the weak spot in English trade. Local contention and jealousy was beginning to destroy the fruit of what Conrad Weiser gained at Logstown in the summer of 1748." In 1751 Governor Dinwiddie appointed James Patton, Joshua Fry and Lunsford Lomax as Commissioners to meet the Indians at Logstown. These Commissioners arrived at Logstown May 31, 1752, at which time various conferences were held with the Indians. On June 13th the Commissioners had the Indian chiefs sign a ratification of the Treaty of Lancaster, 1744, allowing the English to form settlements on the south and east side of the Ohio, but at the same time the Indians denied the English claim to any lands west of the mountains. The Governor General of Canada, Duquesne, was kept informed of all of these events which were taking place on the Ohio and early in 1753 he sent the expedition which commenced the erection of a series of forts, which was to connect the French possessions in Canada with those upon the Mississippi. The building of these forts led to the mission of George Washington and Christopher Gist in 1753. The real intent of this mission was to hold the lands on the Ohio River for the "Ohio Company," and to enforce Virginia's claim to these lands, not only against the French but also against Pennsylvania. There was just as much rivalry between the traders of Pennsylvania and Virginia on the Ohio as there was between the traders of France and the English Colonies. This most unfortunate lack of harmony between the two great Colonies of Pennsylvania and Virginia was the chief cause of all of the lack of harmony in Braddock's expedition (1755), and the dispute concerning the route to be taken by General Forbes in 1758, and it was carried into almost every disaster which the English settlement of western Pennsylvania had to pass through. "The Virginia Dispute" was one of the most unfortunate incidents in the early history of western Pennsylvania.

Washington and Gist reached Logstown on November 24, 1753, where they remained until December 1st, then they departed for Venango (Franklin) accompanied by the "HalfKing," Tanachharison, and two other Indian chiefs.

George Croghan reached Logstown on the 14th of January, 1754, after the departure of Washington and Gist. On the 16th of April, 1754, the French army under Contracoeur, descended the Allegheny River, from Venango, and captured the fort which was being erected by Edward Ward, at the forks of the Ohio. This fort was being erected by the Ohio Company, for the protection of its Indian trade on the Ohio. After the French had taken possession of the Ohio, Logstown was deserted by the English traders. The two Iroquois deputies, Tanachharison and Scarouady left the village and later removed to Aughwick, after Washington's defeat at Fort Necessity. In 1756, at the Council at Carlisle, George Croghan reported that he had sent Delaware Jo, a friendly Indian, on a tour of investigation along the Ohio. He went "to the Log's Town, where he found about one hundred Indians and thirty English Prisoners taken by the Shawonese living at the Lower Shawonese Town from the western Frontiers of Virginia and sent up to Log's Town." Christian F. Post, who was sent on the mission of Peace to Kuskuski, reached Logstown on August 23, 1758. When he returned from this mission he was immediately sent back. The army of General Forbes had then reached Ligonier. Post reached Logstown on December 2nd. He says in his Journal, "I with my companion, Kekiuscuncl's (Tedyuskung) son came to Log's-town, situated on a hill. On the east end is a great piece of low land, where the Old Logs-town used to stand. In the new Logs-town the French have built about thirty houses for the Indians. They have a large corn field on the south side, where the corn stands ungathered." After the fall of Fort Duquesne, and the British occupation of the Ohio, Logstown declined as a trading place, although Croghan and others had trading houses .here. After the defeat of the Indians at the Battle of Bushy Run, in August, 1763, all of the trading houses in Logstown were destroyed by the Indians. In 1764 when Colonel Bouquet marched through the place on his way to the Muskingum, the place was entirely deserted. The Journal of this expedition reads, "October 5.-In this days march the army passed through Loggstown, situated 17 miles and a half, fifty-seven perches by path from Fort Pitt. This place was noted before the last war for the great trade carried on by the English and French, but its inhabitants abandoned it in the year 1758. In 1765 George Croghan passed through on May 16th. The village was then in ruins. After this time many travellers down the Ohio River make mention of passing through the site of the old Indian village. Rev. Charles Beatty and Rev. George Duffield passed through Logstown on September 11th, 1766, when on a missionary trip to the Ohio Indians. George

Washington stopped here in 1770, when on his way to the Kanawha River. Butler, in 1784, says, "I find the old fields quite grown up with shrubs, which have destroyed their beautiful appearances and verdure. There is still a great deal of fine blue grass among the plumb trees and other bushes." Arthur Lee, who passed through December 17, 1784, says, "The next place is Loggstown, which was formerly a settlement on both sides of the Ohio." Cummings speaks of it in 1807, as "a scattering hamlet of four or five log cabins." Fordham's Personal Narrative, 1817, mentions it as "Indian Logstown 18 miles from Pittsburgh." A settlement on the south side of the river is called "Indian Logstown," in Western Navigation, 76, 1814.

General Wayne's army, known as the "Legion of the United States," encamped a short distance below Logstown from November 1792 until April 1793. The camp was called Legionville, which name still remains. A town called Montmorin was laid out at the site of Logstown in 1788, for which advertisements were published in the Pennsylvania Gazette for March 12, 1788. The proposed town never came into existence. In 1824 George Rapp, the head of the Harmony Society, established the settlement near the site of Logstown, which became one of the most prosperous communities in the United States. It was called Economy.

The origin of the name "Logstown" is difficult to figure out. There seems to have been no Indian name applied to the place, of which this was a translation, nor has any Indian name for the village been discovered. Shenango has been. given as a probable name, but this has been due to the pronunciation of the French name Chiningue, which is similar. Thwaites states that the Indian name was N/laughwawame, but no such name appears in any of the Records, Archives, letters, journals or maps as applied to the site of Logstown. The common name of the village, Logstown, was evidently a Traders name for the place, and may have been due to the great quantities of logs and driftwood spread over the level country after a flood in the river. The writer can remember how these great logs used to pile up along these levels during a flood on the Allegheny River. After the French occupation of the Ohio, as previously stated, a number of log houses were built here for the Indians. These may have been built from the logs which could be gathered from the highwater line. The present slackwater in the Ohio has changed the conditions along the river.