"History and Stories of Nebraska"
by Addison Erwin Sheldon

Produced by Connie Snyder


LOGAN FONTENELLE


When the white men first came to Nebraska to live, a hundred years ago, they found Indians everywhere. The Omaha Indians lived a little way from where the city of Omaha is located. One of the white men named Lucien Fontenelle, who came up the river from St. Louis to hunt and trade with the Indians for furs, built a log cabin on the bank of the Missouri River near the Omaha Indian village. He hunted and traded many years. He visited with the Omaha Indians very often and after a time he took an Omaha girl for his wife. They lived for many years more in the log cabin near the river bank. They had four children, who grew up tall and strong and spoke two languages -- one the Indian language which their mother knew and the other the French language, for their father was a Frenchman. They played all the summer long under the shade of the great trees which grew on the bank of the big river. Sometimes they went with their mother's Indian people away across the prairies to hunt buffalo. Such sport as they had on these hunts! In the fall they always came back to their home in the log cabin by the big river.


Logan Fontenelle

One of the boys was named Logan by his father. He grew to be a very brave and handsome boy. He learned to speak English besides French and Omaha. When one of the old chiefs died, Logan, who was then a very young man, was made chief in his place. He was the first Indian chief in our state who could talk with the white men just as well as a white man and with the Indians just as well as an Indian.

In 1854 when more white men began to come across the big river and wanted to buy part of the Indian land, Logan went to Washington with the other Indian chiefs, who were not able to talk in the white man's tongue, and helped them to get as much for their land as they could.

The Omaha Indians and the white men were always at peace, but there was war between the Sioux and the Omahas.

In the summer of 1855 the Omaha Indians left their village by the big river to go out west to hunt buffalo. They went along the Elkhorn River for two or three days and then crossed the prairie toward the Platte. They were in what is now Boone County when the Sioux Indians suddenly came over the hills to fight. Then the Omaha women and children ran back to the camp as fast as they could, while Logan and several other Omaha Indians went out to fight the Sioux. Logan had a fine, new double-barreled rifle of which he was very proud. It would shoot a great deal farther than any other gun in the Omaha tribe. The Sioux had not seen a rifle that shot twice without loading and so were much surprised when they found what Logan's gun would do. Perhaps this is what cost Logan his life. He rode boldly out toward the Sioux and when they charged him he did not retreat but kept on shooting. Five or six of them mounted on their ponies made a rush at him. He killed three but the others came on and shot and scalped him.


Site of Fontenelle's Grave near Bellevue.
(From photograph by A. E. Sheldon.)

Then there was great sorrow in the camp of the Omahas. They gave up their buffalo hunt and sewed the body of Logan in an elk skin and brought it on two ponies all the way back to the Missouri River. On the top of a little hill between Omaha and Bellevue; from which one can look a long way up and down the river, they dug a grave and buried him. All the white men came to the funeral and were sad. All the Indians cried and mourned for many days. His grave is near the little tree which you can see in the picture.


QUESTIONS

  1. Can you find any part of Logan Fontenelle's name on the map of Nebraska?
  2. Do you think Logan Fontenelle was more white man than Indian? Why?
  3. Should the grave of Logan Fontenelle have a monument?



BACK | CONTENTS | NEXT