The Yellow Creek Massacre

Yellow Creek is a tributary to the Ohio River in Hancock County, West Virginia, currently at the site of the Mountaineer Race Track and Gaming resort. On this land, a horrible massacre took place and those who perpetrated the massacre walked free and were even made out to be heroes to some.

On April 30, 1774, Daniel Greathouse, a settler living in the Ohio Country would lead a group of other white settlers to treachery against the family of a man known as “Chief Logan,” a man who was know as a friend to the white, English speaking settlers. The land where Greathouse had proclaimed his was in what is now the Northern panhandle of West Virginia, the Virginia Colony had claimed this area as Augusta County, Virginia, despite the fact that it was outside the proclamation zone set by King George. Greathouse and other white settlers in the area had heard rumors of an impending attack from “Indians,” fears based upon rumors circulated in the upper Ohio Valley and the hostile actions between settlers and Indians led Greathouse to gather other local settlers and plan an attack of their own.

Just across the Ohio River at the mouth of another creek there was a settlement of natives, these people were the relations of Chief Logan, and included members of the Mingo tribe as well as some Shawnee and other local tribes that had come to be a “family” by marriage, blood and friendship. The group lived peaceably near the shore of the Ohio river, collectively working the land, hunting and trading in the area.

Chief Logan – West Virginia Archives and History

On the day before the attack. Daniel Greathouse, his brother Jacob and another man, crossed the Ohio River to do some reconnaissance on the native settlement. The men found that the settlement was well defended and would have to devise another plan. The men chose to lure Logan’s family members across the river by promising a nice party with alcohol and games. The natives saw this as a friendly gesture and several of them chose to go across on the evening of April 30, 1774.

The natives were invited inside what was called Baker’s Tavern, food and drink were served. One of the native men had put on one of the settlers jackets in a way of joking, imitating the settlers. This seemed to be the spark that the settlers were looking for to light the fuse. The following statements were taken from men present at the Massacre, long after the incident.

” On the Town Fork of Yellow Creek, where the Indian town was, a small one; and they concluded to move Elsewhere down the river, stopped at Baker’s, drank. Mrs. Baker told Danl. Greathouse that a squaw told her (in a drunken fit) that the Indians intended to murder Baker’s family before leaving. Greathouse went & raised a party of abt. 30 men, George Cox, Edward King & others & went to Baker’s; there an Indian was drinking & strutting around in a military coat, some one shot him, & King then stabbed him while in the agonies of death, saying “Many a deer have I served in this way.” Then killed another Indian there; & two squaws the two latter shot by Danl. Greathouse & John Sappington. One of the squaws had a child, which was saved & sent to Col. Gibson as its father. Twelve Indians were killed in all. ”
Recollections of George Edgington

“Jos. Tomlinson said, that one of the Squaws was in the habit of crossing to Bakers to get milk, & Mrs. Baker was kind in giving her some for her 2 children. this squaw was Logan’s sister, & the father of her children was John Gibson. One day she said that the Indians were angry and would be over next day by a certain hour, & advised Mrs. Baker to move to Cat Fish’s camp (Washington PA): the next day several Indians came at the appointed time with their faces painted black; the men at the time were not in [the] house; the Indians went into Bakers, & without permission took liquor & drank, & also took what rifles there were there, & one put on Nathaniel Tomlinson’s military coat. After a little, Daniel Greathouse, Daniel Sappinton, & Nathl. Tomlinson, George Cox, & one other came in. Tomlinson wanted his regimental coat, which the Indian did not feel disposed to yield to its owner; & Tomlinson declared he would kill him, if he did not, & the probability is the Indians were indulged with more liquor. Cox was opposed to this summary course, said it would breed an Indian war, & that he would have no hand in it; & had not gone far in the woods [when he] heard firing at the house. Greathouse, Tomlinson & Sappington were all that were concerned in the affair. Baker had no hand in it, nor was he probably present. ” –
Information given to Dr. Draper by Michael Cresap, Jr.

The reality of what happened that night was nothing short of a modern horror story. Logan was away from the settlement on a hunting and trading trip with the Shawnee. Logan’s wife, Mellana, his brother Taylaynee, Taylaynee’s son Molnah, Taylaynee’s sister Koonay, who was the wife of English settler and trader John Gibson,were all at the camp, and accepted the invitation to come to Baker’s Tavern. All of the visitors were shot, and there bodies mutilated by Greathouse and his men. Jacob Greathouse ripped open Koonay’s abdomen and removed and scalped her unborn son. The only member of the first group who was not killed was Koonay’s two-year-old daughter who was eventually returned to the care of her father, John Gibson.

Logan, after the massacre of his family would state the following, which would come to be known as Logan’s Lament:

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 cabin, an advocate for peace. Such was my love for the whites, that my countrymen pointed as they passed, and said, Logan is the friend of white men. I had even thought to have lived with you, but for the injuries of one man. Col. Cresap, the last spring, in cold blood, and unprovoked, murdered all the relations of Logan, not sparing even 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 do not harbour 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. “

Chief Logan – Explore PA History

You can find further statements on the history of the Yellow Creek Massacre at the following sites:

WV History and Culture

Greathouse Point

The West Virginia Encyclopedia

Special thanks to Alan Gutchess, Museum Director of the Fort Pitt Museum, who peaked my interest in this subject.

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