An excerpt from A History of the Wyandott Mission at Upper Sandusky, Ohio Under The Direction of the Methodist Episcopal Church by Rev. James B. Finley
Between-The-Logs was born near Lower Sandusky, about the year 1780. His father was a Seneca, and his mother a Wyandott, belonging to the Bear tribe. When he was about eight or nine years old, his father and mother parted a thing very common among the heathen Indians. After this he lived with his father, until the old man’s death, by which time he had nearly arrived at manhood. After the death of his father, he lived with his mother, among the Wyandotts. Of the particulars of his life, previous to this time, there is but little known. Not long after his return to his mother, he joined the Indian warriors; and with them suffered a defeat by the army under Gen. Wayne, in the decisive battle at the Rapids of Maumee. He then lived at Lower Sandusky. His good sense, persevering and enterprising disposition, with his prompt obedience to the commands of the chiefs, and faithful discharge of what ever duty was assigned him, began to call him into public notice in the nation, and laid the foundation for his being promoted to the office of a chief; and because of his retentive memory, and ability in discussion, he was constituted chief speaker of the nation. He soon be came the intimate friend and counselor of the head chief. When he was about twenty-five years old, he was sent to fathom the doctrines and pretensions of a celebrated Seneca Prophet, whose fallacy he soon detected. About two years afterwards, he was sent on a like errand to a noted Shawnee Prophet, (Tecumseh’s brother,) with whom he staid nearly a year, and then returned, convinced, and convincing others, that the Prophet’s pretensions were all delusive, and destitute of truth.
Shortly after his return from this Prophet, the late war commenced. On the part of the Wyandotts, he and the head chief attended a great Indian council (of the northern nations) at Brownstown, in which he firmly rejected all overtures to join in the war against the Americans, al though surrounded by warriors attached to the opposite interest. They left the council; and on their return to Sandusky, immediately joined the American cause. When Gen. Harrison invaded Canada, Between-the-logs, in company with a party of Wyandott chiefs and warriors, attended him. But the principal object of the chief, at this time, was to detach that part of the Wyandotts from the British interest, who, by the surrounding Indians, had, in a measure, been forced to join the English. This was effected.
After the war he became permanently settled in the neighborhood of Upper Sandusky. He now sometimes indulged in intemperance to excess, on which occasions unbridled passion got the better of his natural good sense. In one of these drunken fits he killed his wife. As well as I now recollect, Between-the-logs was excited to this deed by a wretch who owed her some ill will, and took the opportunity of his drunkenness, and insisted that she was a bad woman, a witch, &c., and that he ought to kill her. For sometime he maintained that she was a good woman, and refused; but was, at last, overcome, and stabbed her. When he became sober, the horror of this deed made so deep an impression on his mind, that from that day forth he measurably abandoned all use of ardent spirits. Being deeply impressed with a sense of the necessity of a preparation for another world, and having a strong regard for his countrymen, he frequently besought them to forsake drunkenness, and pursue a righteous life.
In 1817 a new field opened for the exercise of his wisdom and courage. The United States having made arrangements to extinguish the Indian title to the lands claimed by them in Ohio, commissioners were sent to treat with them. The Wyandotts refused to sell their land; but the Chippewas, Potawatomies, and Ottowas, without any right, laid claim to a great part of their land. Gabriel Godfroy and Whitmore Knaggs, Indian agents for these nations, proposed in open council, in behalf of the Chippewas, &c., to sell said land. The commissioners then declared, that if the Wyandotts would not sell their lands, they would buy them of the others. Between-the-logs firmly opposed all these measures; but however just his cause, or manly his arguments, they were lost upon men determined on their course. The Wyandotts, finding themselves so circumstanced, and not being able to help themselves, were thus forced to sell on the terms proposed by the commissioners. They did the best they could, and signed the treaty; but only from a strong hope, that by representing to the President and the government the true state of things, before the treaty was ratified, they should obtain some redress from government. In resorting to this course, Between-the-logs acted a principal part. Accordingly he, with the Wyandott chiefs, and a delegation from the Delawares and Senecas, immediately proceeded to Washington, without consulting the Indian agents, or any other officer of government. When they were introduced to the Secretary of War, he remarked to them that he was surprised that he had received no information of their coming by any of the agents. Between-the-logs answered with the spirit of a free man, “We, got up, and came of ourselves. We believed the great road was free for us.” He so pleaded their cause before the President, Secretary of War, and Congress, that they obtained an enlargement of their reservations, and an increase of annuities.
About a year afterwards, the Gospel was introduced among the Wyandotts, by a colored man, named John Stewart. Between-the-logs was decidedly in its favor, and maintained its cause in the national council; and when the Rev. J. B. Finley, sometime afterwards, formed a Church amongst them, he was the first man who joined society the first who turned his back on their old heathen traditions.
After he embraced religion, and his understanding be came enlightened, he earnestly pressed upon his people the necessity of faith in Christ, and a life of righteousness. Soon after this, he was regularly appointed an exhorter in the Church, in which station he remained till his death a devoted friend and advocate of the cause of God. He also watched with unremitting diligence over the temporal interests of the nation; enduring the fatigues of business, and of the longest journies, for the welfare of his people, without complaint. He was uniformly an attendant upon the Ohio Annual Conference, before which he made some of the most rational and eloquent speeches ever delivered by an Indian before that body. He felt, and always manifested a deep interest in the welfare of the mission and school.
In his last illness (pulmonary consumption) I had the pleasure of visiting him. On my first visit, I strove to be faithful. I asked him of his hope. He said it was, “The mercy of God in Christ.” I asked him of his evidence. He said it was, “The comfort of the Spirit.” I asked him if he was afraid to die. He said, “I am not.” I inquired if he felt resigned to go. He said, “I have felt some desires of the world, but they are all gone. I now feel willing to die or live, as the Lord sees best.” Some days afterwards I visited him again. I found his mind still stayed on God; but he was evidently approaching his dissolution. I informed him that there were some evidences that his son (Richard Reese, his only child) had experienced religion. He rejoiced, and said, “I wish you to keep him at the mission. It is the best place for him. Keep him at school keep him out of bad company.” A few days after this he closed his life, in peace with God and man, on the 1st of January, 1827, about the forty-sixth year of his age; and was buried in the grave-yard by the meeting house, (a little way south east from the house.) The Rev. J. B. Finley preached his funeral sermon, to a large, attentive, and weeping company of his people, the mission family, &c.
Between-the-logs was rather above the common stature; broad and thin built, but otherwise well proportioned, with an open and manly countenance.
Through his life he had to contend with strong passions, which, through grace, he happily overcame in the end. His memory was so tenacious that he retained every matter of importance, and related it, when necessary, with a minute correctness that was truly astonishing”. And such was his natural abilities otherwise, that had he received a suitable education, few would have exceeded him, either as a minister of the Gospel, or as a statesman or politician.
P. S. The particulars of the foregoing narrative (except what relates to his attending conference, his death bed, &c.) were told me by Isaac Walker and John Hicks. I wrote them down at the time, as related, and have given them substantially as I received them.
The foregoing biography of Between-the-logs was furnished by Rev. J. Gilruth, and is, as will be seen, merely a brief notice of some points in his history. Many other important and interesting particulars will be found in the preceding History of the mission; which, in some sort, is, itself, a history of the life of this distinguished Indian chief and faithful servant of God.