The Killing of John Logarthy

by Dale Cox

Capt. John Logarthy, a boat captain from Pensacola, lost his life to Native American warriors on September 1840. He was piloting a barge down the Chipola River when the attack took place.

The Second Seminole War was then underway in the peninsula of Florida, but Muscogee (Creek) not Seminole warriors attacked Logarthy’s vessel. Several bands of Creek families were trying to escape the Trail of Tears by hiding in the swamps of the Florida Panhandle. They fled there in 1837 after a band of outlaws raided the concentration camp where they were gathered in Alabama. Desperate for food and supplies, they raided frontier homes and, in this case, a cargo barge.

The incident took place south of Marianna on September 13, 1840, three days after a bloody raid on the Wiley Jones’ home on Econfina Creek:

…Mr. John Logarthy, while descending the Chipola river, in a boat laden with potatoes, eggs and chickens, was killed probably by the same party, as pieces of tarpaulin belonging to the boat were found at their camping place about a mile above Jones’s. [I]

Logarthy was carrying $300-$500 in gold and silver, the location of which was never found.

Logarthy’s “barge” was probably a smaller version of this one sketched by Alfred R. Waud. The Historic New Orleans Collection

The captain, who earlier took the first sailing ship up the Chattahoochee River to ports in Alabama and Georgia, was no stranger to violence. Alabama authorities accused him of murdering a member of his crew on that voyage:

Logarthy was credited with taking a schooner like this one up the Chattahoochee River to Columbia, Alabama. Drawn by Alfred R. Waud.
The Historic New Orleans Collection

Capt. John Logarthy, an Italian, commanded the first sailing vessel, a small schooner, that ascended the Chattahoochee, whose name is not recollected. He and his comrades came upon a treaty expedition. They brought with them such articles as were suitable for a new country, sugar, coffee, salt, tobacco, etc. and retailed them out to the people on both sides of the river, at reasonable prices, which was quite a convenience at that time. They ascended the river as high up as Howard’s landing, ten or twelve miles above Columbia. The captain was unfortunate. On his return trip, he was charged with killing one of his men, was arrested and delivered over to Sheriff Morgan, for safekeeping until court. [II]

The schooner may have been the Marianna. Logarthy was listed as the captain of a vessel bearing that name by the New Orleans Price-Current and Commercial Intelligencer on October 3, 1829. The vessel’s home port was at Pensacola and she had picked up a cargo of groceries at New Orleans. [III]

The captain’s murder case ended somewhat bizarrely:

…There was no prison house at the time in the county, and the sheriff had to let shackle him and keep him as best he could, let him hobble about the yard and kept a watch over him. One day while the prisoner was hobbling about with chains he unfortunately came in contact with a vicious cow, that made battle, much to the horror and consternation of the sea captain, who declared that he would rather be in twenty storms, at sea, than encounter a mad cow and be in chains. The captain was however not much injured, but frightened out of his senses. Court came on and no prosecutor appeared, and he was set at liberty. The affair however pretty much ruined him pecuniarily. The writer saw him many years after that, running a little barge from Apalachicola up the Chippola river to Marianna. [IV]

Logarthy was killed as he navigated his barge or flatboat down the Chipola River.

Logarthy’s death coupled with a series of attacks on the homes of frontier settlers electrified the region. A force of men formed at old St. Joseph and went in pursuit of the Creek raiders:

A company of volunteers started in pursuit of the Indians and tracked them to the Dead Lakes on the Chipola. Volunteers are now being raised in this county to continue the pursuit, but we fear that the Indians cannot be overtaken. – Where are the fifteen hundred volunteers authorized to be raised for the protection of the people of Florida – is Middle and East Florida alone entitled to protection? [V]

As the newspaper editor feared, the warriors slipped away and the volunteers failed to come up with them. The U.S. Army eventually built Fort Chipola in Calhoun County as a base for companies of mounted troops that kept up regular patrols along the Chipola River.

The warriors themselves did not surrender until 1843 when Pascofa’s band gave up to federal troops on the Ochlockonee River.

To read about another raid near the Chipola River, please see Seminole War Attack in Jackson County, Florida.

References

[I] Fayetteville Weekly Observer, October 7, 1840.

[II] Green Beauchamp, “Sailing Vessels Ascending Chattahoochee River,” Eufaula Times, June 29, 1873.

[III] New Orleans Price-Current and Commercial Intelligencer, October 3, 1829, page 1,

[IV] Green Beauchamp, “Sailing Vessels Ascending Chattahoochee River,” Eufaula Times, June 29, 1873.

[V] St. Joseph Times, October 18, 1840.