Thomas Jefferson Papers

Statement of John Sappington, 13 February 1800

Statement of John Sappington

I John Sappington, declare myself to be intimately acquainted with all the circumstances, respecting the destruction of Logans family, & do give in the following narrative a true statement of that affair.

Logans family (if it was his family) was not killed by Craesap, nor with his knowledge, nor by his consent, but by the Greathouse,s and their Associates. They were killed 30 Miles above Wheeling, near the mouth of Yellow creek.—Logans camp was on one side of the river Ohio, and the house where the murder was committed, opposite to it on the other side. They had encamped there only four or five days, and during that time had lived peaceably and neighbourly with the whites on the opposite side untill the very day the affair happened. A little before the period alluded to, letters had been received by the inhabitants from, a man of great influence in that Country, & who was then I believe at Capteener, informing them that war was at hand, and desiring them to be on their guard. In consequence of those letters & other rumours of the same import almost all the inhabitants fled for safety into the Settlements.—It was at the house of one Baker the murder was committed. Baker was a man who sold rum, & the Indians had made frequent visits at his house, induced probably, by their fondness for that liquor.—He had been particularly desired by Craesap to remove & take away his rum, & he was actually preparing to move at the time of the murder.—The evening before a squaw came over to Bakers house, and by her crying seemed to be in great distress. The cause of her uneasiness being asked, she refused to tell, but getting Bakers wife alone, she told her, that the Indians were going to kill her and all her family the next day, that she loved her, did not wish her to be killed, & therefore told her what was intended, that she might save herself. In consequence of this information, Baker got a number of men to the amt. of 21 to come to his house, and they were all there before morning. A council was held and it was determined, that the men should lie concealed in the back apartment, that if the Indians did come & behaved themselves peaceably, they should not be molested, but if not the men were to shew themselves and act accordingly.

Early in the morning 7 Indians 4 Men and 3 Squaws came over, Logans brother was one of them.—They immediately got rum & all except Logans brother became very much intoxicated.—At this time all the men were concealed, except the man of the house, Baker, & two others who staid out with him.—Those Indians came unarmed. After some time Logans brother, took down a coat and hat belonging to Bakers brotherinlaw, who lived with him, and put them on, & setting his arms akimbo began to strut about, till at length coming up to one of the men, he attempted to strike him saying “white man Son of a bitch.” The white man whom he treated thus, kept out of his way for some time, but growing irritated he jumpt to his gun, & shot the Indian as he was making to the door with the coat and hat on him: The men who lay concealed then rushed out, & killed the whole of them excepting one child which I believe is alive yet. But before this happened, one with two the other with five Indians all naked, painted & armed completely for war were discovered to start from the shore on which Logans camp was.

Had it not been for this circumstance, the white men would not have acted as they did, but this confirmed what the squaw had told before. The white men having killed as aforesaid the Indians in the house ranged themselves along the bank of the river, to receive the Canoes. The Canoe with the two Indians came near, being the foremost.—Our men fired upon them & killed them both.—The other canoe then went back.—After this two other canoes started the one containing 11 the other 7 Indians painted and armed as the first.—They attempted to land below our men, but were fired upon, had one killed, and retreated, at the same time firing back.—To the best of my recollection there were three of the Greathouse,s engaged in this business. This is a true representation of the affair from beginning to end. I was intimately acquainted with Craesap, & know he had no hand in that transaction. He told me himself afterwards, at Redstone old fort—that the day before Logans people, were killed, he with a small party had an engagement with a party of Indians on Capteener about 44 Miles lower down.—Logans people were killed at the mouth of yellow creek on the 24th. of May 1774 and on the 23d, the day before, Craesap was engaged as already stated.—I know likewise that he was generally blamed for it, & believed by all who were not acquainted with the circumstances, to have been the perpetrator of it. I know that he despised and hated the Greathouse,s ever afterwards on account of it.—I was intimately acquainted with Genl. Gibson, & served under him during the late war,—& I have a discharge from him now lying in the Land office at Richmond to which I refer any person for my character who might be disposed to scruple my veracity. I was likewise at the treaty held by Lord Dunmore with the Indians at Chelicothe. As for the speech said to have been delivered by Logan on that occasion, it might have been or might not for any thing I know—As I never heard of it till long afterwards. I do not believe that Logan had any relations killed except his brother—Neither of the Squaws who were killed was his wife.—Two of them were old women, & the third with her child which was saved, I have the best reason in the world to believe was the wife & child of Genl. Gibson. I know he educated the child & took care of it as if it had been his own.—Whether Logan had a wife or not, I cant say, but it is probable that as he was a chief, he considered them all as his people. All this I am ready to be qualified to at any time—

John Sappington

Attest Saml. McKee Jr

Madison County Feb.y. 13th 1800—

I do certify further, that the above named John Sappington told me, at the same time & place at which he gave me the above narrative, that he himself was the man who shot the brother of Logan in the house as above related, & that he likewise killed one of the Indians in one of the canoes which came over from the opposite shore—

He likewise told me—that Craesap never said an angry word to him about the matter although he was frequently in company with Craesap, & indeed had been and continued to be in habits of intimacy with that gentleman, & was always befriended by him on every occasion—He further told me that after they had perpetrated the murder, & were flying into the Settlements he met with Craesap (if I recollect right at Redstone old fort) & gave him a scalp, a very large fine one, as he expressed it and adorned with Silver.” This scalp, I think he told me was the scalp of Logans brother, though as to this I am not absolutely certain—

Certified by—

Saml. McKee Jr

MS (DLC); evidently in McKee’s hand; endorsed in the same hand: “A Copy of a narrative given by John Sappington respecting the death of Logans family”; in TJ’s hand at head of text: “The declaration of John Sappington recieved after the publication of the preceding Appendix,” that note introducing Sappington’s statement as it was printed as an addendum to the Appendix to the Notes on Virginia (see below).


In a letter of 10 May 1800 to Samuel Brown, TJ stated that Sappington’s narrative had come to him the day before. Evidently the manuscript was not accompanied by any covering letter, for according to SJL the only letter that TJ received on 9 May was a now-missing one written on that day by Henry Sheaff, his supplier of wines in Philadelphia (MB, description begins James A. Bear, Jr., and Lucia C. Stanton, eds., Jefferson’s Memorandum Books: Accounts, with Legal Records and Miscellany, 1767–1826, Princeton, 1997, The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, Second Series description ends 2:809). In his letter to Brown TJ mentioned that An Appendix to the Notes on Virginia Relative to the Murder of Logan’s Family had already been set into type. The printing was done in Philadelphia by Samuel H. Smith (see Evans, description begins Charles Evans, Clifford K. Shipton, and Roger P. Bristol, comps., American Bibliography: A Chronological Dictionary of all Books, Pamphlets and Periodical Publications Printed in the United States of America from …1639 …to …1820, Chicago and Worcester, Mass., 1903–59,14 vols. description ends No. 37700). The final document in that 52page pamphlet was the statement of John Heckewelder, a composite of the enclosure to his letter of 28 Apr. 1798 to TJ and his letter of 24 Feb. 1800 below, which was followed in the pamphlet by TJ’s “historical statement” about the attack on Logan’s family and a map of the area of the upper Ohio Valley where the events took place in 1774. TJ told Brown that he would try to “annex” Sappington’s statement to any copies of the Appendix that had not already been distributed, and indeed in some copies of the pamphlet Sappington’s declaration, preceded by the brief note TJ added to the top of the document, begins on page 53 and appears in full, including McKee’s statement (see Evans, description begins Charles Evans, Clifford K. Shipton, and Roger P. Bristol, comps., American Bibliography: A Chronological Dictionary of all Books, Pamphlets and Periodical Publications Printed in the United States of America from …1639 …to …1820, Chicago and Worcester, Mass., 1903–59,14 vols. description ends No. 37701; Notes, ed. Peden description begins Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia, ed. William Peden, Chapel Hill, 1955 description ends , 255–8). The Appendix with Sappington’s statement appeared as Appendix No. 4 of an edition of the Notes that William Pechin published in Baltimore later in 1800 (see Evans, description begins Charles Evans, Clifford K. Shipton, and Roger P. Bristol, comps., American Bibliography: A Chronological Dictionary of all Books, Pamphlets and Periodical Publications Printed in the United States of America from …1639 …to …1820, Chicago and Worcester, Mass., 1903–59,14 vols. description ends Nos. 37702, 37703).

John Connolly, who exercised Virginia’s authority along the upper Ohio River in the spring of 1774, was the man of great influence in that country whose letters incited violence against Native Americans (White, Middle Ground description begins Richard White, The Middle Ground: Indians, Empires, and Republics in the Great Lakes Region, 1650–1815, Cambridge, 1991 description ends , 357–63). In the autumn of 1774 Lord Dunmore imposed peace terms on the Shawnees in a treaty conference near the village of Chillicothe on the Scioto River in the Ohio Country, where Logan’s famous address was delivered to the governor (same, 364; Reuben Gold Thwaites and Louise Phelps Kellogg, eds., Documentary History of Dunmore’s War: 1774 [Madison, Wis., 1905], 292–3; Vol. 29:409–10n; Vol. 30:106, 137–8, 514).

In 1774 Sappington lived on the Virginia side of the Ohio River in the region where the events he related took place. For differing accounts of the incidents and Sappington’s role in them, see Thwaites and Kellogg, Dunmore’s War, 9–19; Alexander Scott Withers, Chronicles of Border Warfare: or, A History of the Settlement by the Whites, of North-Western Virginia, and of the Indian Wars and Massacres in that Section of the State, ed. Reuben Gold Thwaites [Cincinnati, 1917], 148–9n. In 1784 Sappington was recommended as a justice of the peace. Three years later he had moved to Kentucky and was appointed a trustee of the town of Boonesboro in Madison county (Hening, description begins William Waller Hening, ed., The Statutes at Large; Being a Collection of All the Laws of Virginia, Richmond, 1809–23, 13 vols. description ends 12:603; CVSP description begins William P. Palmer and others, eds., Calendar of Virginia State Papers …Preserved in the Capitol at Richmond, Richmond, 1875–93, 11 vols. description ends , 3:580).

Index Entries