Here at the Logan Elm State Memorial, visitors can read the frontier history of the Scioto Valley written in bronze and stone. First conceived in the fall of 1841 by the Logan Historical Society, the Elm and its grounds have become the location of numerous monuments to the Indians and pioneer Americans who conquered and settled the valley.
At its inaugural meeting, held at Westfall on July 23, 1841, the Society resolved to “erect a monument to the memory of Logan’s worth, on or near the spot, (if ascertained,) where his celebrated speech was delivered, or as near as suitable a place can be procured.” While the society succeeded in recording many reminiscences of frontier and pioneer days, the organization passed away, along with its original pioneer members, with no monument to their namesake.
The first memorial, marking the location of the elm was erected in the 1880s by John Boggs. The stone pillar and attached bronze plate, however, was meant to commemorate primarily Boggs’ father, Capt. John Boggs, the first American settler on the Pickaway Plains, upon whose property the Logan Elm was situated.
“Under the spreading branches of a magnificent elm tree, nearby,” reads the monument’s inscription, “is where Logan, the Mingo chief, made his celebrated speech and where Lord Dunmore concluded his treaty with the Indians in 1774 and thereby opened this country for the settlement of our forefathers.” If not the best history of a much longer struggle to hold off American settlement of the Scioto Valley, at least the Boggs Memorial helped attach the history of American settlement to the events that transpired on these grounds.
On October 2nd, 1912, a “Miss May Lowe” of Circleville attended the dedication ceremony of the Logan Elm State Memorial, a dramatic public event, which included historical speeches, the reading of Chief Logan’s famous Lament, and a ceremonial exchange of land titles, wherein the Ohio Archaeological and Historical Society took ownership of the new memorial park, dedicated to the history of Dunmore’s War of 1774.
The state Society published Lowe’s account of the proceedings, including a short address by Mary McMullin Jones, President of the Pickaway Historical Society, in which she explained why the park had been located here on the Pickaway Plains in the Scioto Valley:
“General Andrew Lewis, after his victory at Point Pleasant, did not wait long for his superior, Lord Dunmore, but, crossing the Ohio river, he made for the Indian settlements in the Pickaway Plains. Upon learning of the advance of General Lewis, Lord Dunmore sent a messenger with orders for him to return with his army to the mouth of the Kanawha river. This Lewis refused to do, and continued his advance up the valley, to about where we are now standing, and went into camp.
“Lord Dunmore was sorely tried. He was negotiating peace with the very Indians General Lewis had just whipped with great sacrifice, and this much desired peace could not be obtained unless General Lewis obeyed his order and the influential Chief Logan, who was sullen and non-committal at his home at Old Chillicothe, now Westfall, about five miles to the north-west of here, would lend his presence at the council.
“Accordingly Lord Dunmore himself came here, to General Lewis’ camp, to compel him to return to the Kanawha river and there await his coming. While this act was being played by Lord Dunmore and General Lewis, John Gibson, … was returning from Old Chillicothe with Logan’s message to the white-men, and, here under this great elm, tradition says, it was read by Gibson to Lord Dunmore. ….
“Thus was born the epic which fascinated the scholarly Jefferson to the degree that he declared it compared favorably with any speech of Demosthenes or Cicero. It matters little if this is not the exact spot where Lord Dunmore received the oration. It could not have been far from here. But, tradition, coming down through several reliable families whose representatives still live near here, says this magnificent old elm, the largest in all the land, which then and for many years after had a fine spring flowing from its roots, is the very same elm under whose branches, spreading then as now, the message was delivered.”
Jones noted that Logan’s Speech “has been translated into many languages, and is known by every school-boy and school-girl throughout the land. It is a message filled with fervor, kindness and love, yet, it bristles with righteous anger and fearless revenge. It is filled with pathos and philosophy, and ends in a sentence which is masterful in depicting the extreme sorrow of a great mind.
“It is then fitting,” Jones observed, “that these acres of land and this old elm which were silent observers of the epoch making event which brought peace to the Indians and opened this fruitful country to the new civilization, should be preserved to posterity. Such landmarks are lost all too soon and are too little treasured.
“Mr. Chairman,” Jones concluded, “Pickaway County, Ohio, is proud of being instrumental in preserving this historic place, and with confidence that the State of Ohio, through her Archaeological Society will preserve it, I hand you the deed on behalf of our County Society. In another few hundred years this tree may be forever lost, but the site shall remain, and, let us hope that posterity may suitably commemorate with a monument of bronze the world-famed speech of the great Mingo Chief, Logan.”
There would be many bronze plates installed here over the decades, but never one for Logan’s famous lament. Instead, his speech would be carved in stone in 1919, with the likeness of the old elm cast in bronze and mounted above his words.
Organizers of the dedication in 1912 arranged for the ceremony to occur while Columbus hosted a meeting of the National Association of American Indians, thereby assuring the presence of a large number of Indian participants, men and women identified by Lowe as Chippewa, Winnebago, Sioux, Mingo, Seneca, Osage, Cheyenne, and Cherokee.
Lowe set the scene as follows: “There were assembled about five thousand people…. A hay-ladder, draped with American flags, was placed adjacent to the tree and served as a platform for the speakers…. The platform was occupied by the officers of the Ohio Archaeological and Historical Society and their guests, red and white, and by Mrs. Howard Jones, President of the Pickaway County Historical Society.”
The honor of reciting Logan’s speech fell to “Miss Calvert of the Sioux Tribe.” Logan’s words, as recorded by Captain John Gibson, and later published in Jefferson’s Notes on Virginia, read:
“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 camp, an advocate for peace. Such was my love for the whites that my countrymen pointed as I passed and said, ‘Logan is the friend of the white man’. I had even thought to have lived with you but for the injuries of one man. Colonel 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 glutted my vengeance. For my country I rejoice at the beams of peace; but don’t harbor 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.”
When Charles E. Dagenett, “a representative of the same tribe to which Logan belonged,” spoke, he assured the crowd, “Today the spirit of Logan looks across the intervening unknown from the Indian’s happy hunting grounds which lie in the pleasant prairies of the spirit land, and knows that there are those of his friend and enemy, the white man, who wishes to atone for the wrong done this child of nature – he knows now, that there are those who do mourn for Logan.”
Nearly exactly, one-hundred years later, on September 30th, 2012, the Ohio Historical Society celebrated the “Logan Elm Centennial,” with a “Tree Planting Ceremony.” One of the honored guests was Paul Barton of the Deer Clan, Seneca-Cayuga Tribe of Oklahoma, a seventh generational nephew of Logan, who spoke extemporaneously to the crowd. He explained that it has long been the tradition of his people to think about how their actions will impact the lives of their descendants seven generations into the future. “When my uncle Logan acted, he acted with me and my generation in mind.”
Weakened by Dutch Elm disease, the tree died from storm damage in 1964. Its measurements were 104 feet tall, with a circumference of 23 feet, and a crown spread of 154 feet.
In addition to the original Boggs monument, the park is now appointed with a number of stone and bronze memorials, dedicated to the memory of Logan and other Native American leaders who were caught up in Dunmore’s War, such as Cornstalk and his sister, Nonhelema, whom the Americans called “Grenadier Squaw.” There is also one marker placed here to correct an error in Logan’s speech in order to clear the name of Michael Cresap, who Logan had mistakenly blamed for the massacre of his family.
One of the more interesting monuments happens to also be one of the smallest, an inscribed stone that the students of nearby McDowell Exchange School arranged to have placed at the foot of Logan’s monument in 1980. In an effort to correct the racist language found carved into the adjacent monument, which referred to Logan as “a noble man of a savage race,” the McDowell monument simply reads, “The Indians were neither barbarians nor savages – they fought for their mother the earth – they fought to live.”
Visit the site of the Logan Elm, where Lord Dunmore and Andrew Lewis’s army of Virginians first heard a report of Logan’s Speech. Consider the ways in which Ohioans and Native Americans have for more than a century commemorated Dunmore’s War.
Howard Jones, “Logan and the Logan Elm,” Ohio History, Vol. 23 (1922): 314-327.
May Lowe, “Dedication of the Logan Elm,” Ohio History, Vol. 22 (1912): 267-307.
William H. Safford, “An Outing on the Congo. A Visit to the Site of Dunmore’s Treaty with the Shawnees 1774,” Ohio History, Vol. 7 (1899): 349-366.
“Unveiling of the Cresap Tablet,” Ohio History, Vol. 26 (1916): 123-140.