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250th Anniversary of Washington at Logstown

Milestones Vol 28. No. 1

By Edward V. Rosack

On October 18-19 2003, Beaver County residents will celebrate the 250th Anniversary of George Washington's visit to Logstown and his council with the Indians of that village.

A re-enactment will be staged near what is believed to be the location of Logstown at the time of Washington's visit. There will be more information in forthcoming issues of Milestones, but here is an article giving the background of Logstown and its inhabitants.

Also, coming up is a re-enactment of the Lewis and Clark Corps of Discovery passage through Beaver County in 1803. More on that later, too.


Logstown was the name English-speaking persons gave to the Native American Indian community that existed on the north/east bank of the Ohio River in what is now Harmony Township, immediately north of Ambridge, PA. The native American Indians called their community "Maugh-wa-wa-me," while the French referred to it as "Chiningue," and the English called it "Shenango."

There were ten tribes in Logstown, which came under the jurisdiction of the Iroquois Confederacy, a.k.a. The League of Six Nations. Having come from the east in an effort to get away from the white men, the Logstown tribes included: Seneca, Owendaets (Wyandot), Shawanese, Tisageshroanu (Missisague), Mohawk, Mohicans, Onondagas, Cayugas, Oneidas and Delaware. Of these, the Seneca, Mohawk, Onondagas, Cayugas and Oneidas were members of the Iroquois Confederacy which, along with the Tuscarora who came from North Carolina, comprised the League of Six Nations.

Logstown was situated on the right bank of the Ohiopeckhanne River as it flows north and occupied the land in now Harmony Township from Duss Avenue. to this river, which the French called "La Belle Riviere." Straddling Route 65, it extended from the northern border of the borough of Ambridge to the railroad trestle that goes over Route 65. Logstown was in existence from 1725/7 to 1758, when the Native American Indians abandoned it and went farther west into what is now Ohio.

The name "Iroquois" does not connote a tribe; it signifies the confederation of the six tribes named above. This word is a French derivation and comes from the Indian word "Hiro" meaning, "I have said it," and "Koue," which is a sound either of joy or sorrow uttered by the Indians. These people called themselves "Ho-de-no-sau-nee," "People of the long house," referring to the "hodensote," or long house in which they lived.

The Native American Indians had three types of dwellings: the "hodensote," or bark house, the wigwam and the teepee. In this part of the country, the northeast quadrant, the bark house was the dwelling of choice for the Native American Indian..

There was a long house in Logstown, for George Washington, stated in his diary: "November, 1753. 26th. We met in Council at the Long-House, about 9 o'clock." This long house was made of elm wood and elm bark and consisted of vertical walls and a rounded roof, with flat-roofed entrances at either end. In length, the long house could. extend from 40 to 400 feet and some 20 to 30 feet in width. Inside there were open hearths about 20 feet apart with corresponding smoke holes in the roof above.

Families lived side-by-side (the length of each side of the long house). Their spaces were separated by curtains of hides. Each family's space consisted of a bunk near the floor and a shelf above. The superior of each long house was the eldest woman living therein.

These Native American Indians were known as Woodland Indians. They were farmers, hunters and trappers, as opposed to the Plains Indians with whom we are more familiar.

The first persons, presumably, to come into this area were the members of a French expedition in 1670, led by Robert Cavalier (Sieur de la Salle). By 1682, this expedition had reached the mouth of the Mississippi River and took formal possession of all land drained by this river for the King of France, Louis the Great.

The first Native American Indians to arrive here were the Seneca, the Shawnee and the Delaware; they were here in scattered numbers at the time of the early French expeditions. In 1700, the Iroquois Confederacy claimed this land by right of conquest.

The English were at first denied access to this area by the natural barrier of the Allegheny Mountains, which, incidentally, the French claimed as the eastern border of their claim to these lands. At the time of Logstown, these English-speaking men were here: George Croghan (colony of Pennsylvania), John Frazer (Virginia), Christopher Gist.. (Virginia) and Conrad Weiser (Pennsylvania) and Andrew Montour, who is identified as an interpreter for the Native American Indians. Weiser served as interpreter for the Iroquois Confederacy and Montour for the Shawonese and Miami.

In 1747, the Iroquois Confederacy appointed two of their men to be in charge of the Native American Indians in Logstown. These were Tanacharison, a Seneca, a.k.a. Se-runi-yat-ha, and Scarouady, a.k.a. Scaroyady, an Oneida. The Shawnee translation for Scarouady was Monacatootha.

Both the English and the French wanted the allegiance of the Native American Indians at Logstown and competed for it. The official policy of the Iroquois Confederacy with respect to the French and the English was one of neutrality. However, the inhabitants of Logstown favored the English.

On August 9, 1749, Pierre Joseph Celoron, sieur de Blainville, Captain, Knight of the Military Order of St. Louis of France, arrived at Logstown with 215 soldiers and 55 Indians, and with the Rev. Joseph Peter Bonnecamps, S.J., as troops chaplain. (Celeron Street in Pittsburgh's east end is named after this French Captain.) Celoron warned the people of Logstown to be done with the English. The French departed from Logstown on August 11th.

On November 24, 1753, Major George Washington, 21 years of age, and one of the Adjutants General of the Troops and Forces in the Colony of Virginia, arrived at Logstown by commission of Governor Robert Dinwiddie of the Colony of Virginia. He was accompanied by Jacob Vanbraam, Christopher Gist, Barnaby Currin, John MacQuire, Henry Steward and William Jenkins. Their purpose was to scout French activity in this area and go on to the French Fort fur La Riviere au Beuf and require the "Peaceable Departure" of the French from this region. Accompanying Washington and his company from Logstown to Lake Erie were: "the Half-King (Tanacharison), Feskake, White Thunder and the Hunter." These departed Logstown at 9:00 a.m. on November 30, 1753. The French refused to leave.

On July 3, 1754, Lt. Col. George Washington surrendered to the Frenchman, Louis Coulon de Villiers, at Fort Necessity at 8:00 p.m., and marched out of the Fort about 10:00 a.m., on July 4, 1754.

This defeat of Washington spelled the end of Logstown. Tanacharison who was with Washington at Fort Necessity did not even return to Logstown. He went to Harris' Ferry (Harrisburg) where he died on October 4, 1754 and was buried with a Christian funeral service.