The Murder of Chief Logan Fontanelle

Omaha Scouts - 1865

Image from Legends of America with article about the Omaha Indians HERE.

From the St. Louis Republican

Death of Logan Fontanelle, The Omaha Chief.

Logan Fontanelle, Chief of the Omahas, has just been slain and scalped at Loup Fork, by a band of Sioux. Logan was a noble fellow, and in this last mortal conflict he dispatched several of the enemy to the spirit land before, to herald the coming of his own brave soul. He fought long, desperately, and with great effect, but numbers finally overcame him, and his life departed through a hundred wounds. He died a martyr for his people, and his name should be carved on fame’s brightest tablet.

Omaha Camp - 1898 (Image from

He was on his annual hunt with his nation. A number of his lodges were pitched on the plains near Loupe Fork. — As a young warrior one day rode around the adjacent hills he espied a powerful band of Sioux encamped along a stream in a sequestered vale. He hastened to inform Logan of the propinquity and power of their natural foe. Logan ordered his people to pack immediately, and proceed in a straight line and with all speed for home, while he would remain behind and divert the Sioux by false camp fires and other devices, from a direct purusit of them. This was about twilight. The people got under way as quickly as possible, but not too soon; for scarcely had they turned a highland, when several Sioux warriors came in sight and discovered the place of their recent encampment. They examined it, and found that Omahas had been there, and then they returned to notify their chief, and bring an adequate force to pursue and slaughter them. Logan, from a hiding-place, saw all, and knew no time was to be lost in drawing their attention from the trail, which they would soon discover and follow, and mounting his horse, he dashed away at full speed across the prairie, at right angles with the route his tribe had taken, and struck a fire about eight miles distant, on an eminence where the Sioux could distinctly see it. He had scarcely done so before a powerful band were upon the spot that he and his people had so lately left, and who, without stopping to distinguish the trail, started for the fire, which they saw rising against the clear blue sky, and where they expected in another moment to imbrue their hands in the gore of their unguarded victims. But Logan had not been unwary. As soon as the fire was lighted, he again mounted and rode on eight or ten miles further, and kindled another fire just as they reached the first. This rather bewildered them. They dismounted and examined the ground. Logan, anticipating this, had trotted and walked his horse around it, so as to make the appearance upon the grass of the treading of a dozen horses; and this drew them into the belief that a small body had lingered behind and kindled this fire, and then gone on to where they could see the new fire burning; and so they followed with renewed avidity. The same thing happened as before. Logan had gone on, and another fire met their astonished gaze, while the same sort of foot-prints were about the one around which they were now gathered. Their suspicions were now awakened. They examined the ground more closely, both far and near, and discovered that a solitary horseman had deceived them, and they knew it was for the sole purpose of leading them off from the pursuit of the party whose encampnent they had first discovered.

Logan saw them going round with glaring torches and understood their object, and knew that his only chance of safety was an immediate flight towards his home; and he further knew that by the time they could retrace their way to their place of starting, and find the trail that his own people had taken, they would be beyond the reach of danger.

The Sioux, in the meantime, had divided into smaller bands, the largest of which was to return and pursue the Omahas, and the others to endeavor to capture the one who had misled them. They knew that he must be an Omaha, and that he would either go further and kindle another watch-fire, or start for his nation in a straight line; and, therefore, one party went on a little further, and the others spread out toward the Omaha country for the purpose of intercepting him. Logan pressed forward as rapidly as his jaded steed could bear him, until he thought he had entirely eluded them; but as the day dawned, to his horror and dismay, he saw his pursuers close upon his track. He turned his course for a ravine, which he distinguished at a distance, covered with trees and undergrowth. He succeeded in reaching it, and just within its verge he met an Indian girl dipping water from a spring. She was startled, and about to cry for help, when he hastily assured her that he needed protection and assistance. With the true instincts of noble woman, she appreciated his situation in an instant, and all her sympathies were with him. She directed him to dismount and go to a small natural bower to which she pointed him, in the verge of the woods, while she would mount horse and lead his pursuers away. He obeyed her, and she mounted his horse and dashing on in a serpentine way through the woods, leaving marks along the brushes by which she could be traced. The pursuers soon followed. When she had got some distance down the branch, she rode into the water and followed its descending course for a few steps, making her horse touch its sides and leave foot-prints in that direction, and then turned up the bed of the stream and rode above the place at which she entered it, without leaving a trace, and back to where Logan was concealed. She told him to mount and speed away, while his pursuers were going in a contrary direction down the ravine. He did so, and got a long distance out of sight, and again thought himself beyond the reach of danger, when, in a valley just in front of him, he saw fifty braves coming up the hill and meeting him. — They were some of those who were returning from the pursuit of his people. He changed his direction and tried to escape, but his poor horse was too much exhausted to bear him with sufficient speed. With savage yells they plunged their rowels into their horses’ sides and gained upon him. As the foremost approached within good shooting distance, Logan turned suddenly and sent a bullet through his brain. Then, loading as he galloped on, he soon after made another bite the dust; and then another and another, until four were strewed along the plain. Just then, however, as he was again reloading, his horse stumbled and fell, and the band rushed upon him before he had well recovered from the shock. He was shot with bullets and arrows, and gashed with tomahawks, and pierced with lances; notwithstanding all which, he arose amidst his foes, and with his clubbed rifle and hunting knife, he piled around him five prostrate bodies, and fell with his back upon their corpses and expired, still fighting.

He was scalped, and hundreds of warriors held a great war-dance over him.

Thus Logan Fontanelle departed, and his noble spirit was followed to the spirit-land by the sighs and lamentations of his nation and the sympathies and aspirations of the brave of every land.

The Mountain Democrat (Placerville, California) Oct 25, 1855


Woe for the proud departed!
Bowed in grief.
Wail for the lion-hearted
Not from the white man’s steeple
Moans thy knell,
But from thy stricken people

They wail thee in thy mystic
Temple’s dome,
The shades of thy majestic
Forest home.
Like some great warrior-eagle
Fought and fell,
Their Sachem, brave and regal —

Sublime and self-reliant,
Stern he stood,
High heart and brow defiant
Raining blood,
Death-waters like a river
Rage and swell,
Then didst thou blench? No — never!

Like Death himself, thou’rt scything
Down the foe!
Around thee they are writhing
Prone and low,
Yet shadows darkly, dimly,
O’er thee fell;
Thy soul fled, strong and sternly,

Thy clay in scorn they taunted,
Stark and frore;
The owl’s cry from the haunted
Echoed the Sioux’ sharp, savage
Whoop and yell,
Over their deeds of ravage,

The springtime blooms in gladness
Yet dwells a tone of sadness
On the air;
And rythmic winds are sighing
Down the dell,
Where they dead heart is lying,

In thine ancestral bowers,
Long ago,
Where through their banks of flowers
Streamlets flow;
A voice, like some soft-ringing
Fairy bell,
Was wont to greet thee, singing —

Did life-joys like a river
Sweeping by,
In death’s dread moment quiver
O’er thine eye?
And, did thy brave heart dying,
Strive to quell
Thought of that lone one, crying

Did one sweet face, elysian,
Fond and dear,
Seem to thy failing vision
Floating near?
Did eyes that thou wert loving
Passing well,
Look forth to find their roving

Aye! Eyes watch from thy fortress
Keen glances of the portress
Pierce the shade;
And footsteps like the markless
Fleet gazelle,
Come bounding through the darkness —

That eye-beam ne’er shall greet thee
Home again,
Her fleet foot spring to meet thee
O’er the plain;
Yet all the world, admirant,
Owns thy spell,
Oh! Glory’s young aspirant,

We’ve known no sadder story
Yet live — live in thy glory
Let age to age thy stately
Triumphs tell,
Thou’st perished — but how greatly,

By Lucy Virginia French

Title: One or Two?
Authors: Lucy Virginia French, Lide Smith Meriwether
Publisher: Meriwether Bros., 1883
(Google book LINK) pgs. 76-79

From the following book:

Title: Our Debt to the Red Man; The French-Indians in the Development of the United States
Author: Houghton Louise Seymour
Publisher: BiblioBazaar, LLC, 2009

Page 70 – Limited Preview only on Google Books

From the following book:

Title: The American Cyclopaedia: A Popular Dictionary of General Knowledge, Volume 12
Authors: George Ripley, Charles Anderson Dana
Publisher: D. Appleton, 1883
(Google books LINK page 624)

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