Some readers here may have seen my post #73 (4 April 2001) on Joshua Renick and his son James, both associated with Tecumseh.
Since I wrote that, I have assembled more material on James Renick, who took the name Logan for his benefactor Colonel (later General) Logan, who adopted him after the raid of 1786. That material leads to some intersting connections, provided we accept the identity of Joshua Renick and Chief Moluntha.
The identification of James Logan as a Renick is made in the careful work of B. F. Harlow, Jr., THE RENICKS OF GREENBRIER, 1951, p. 6- 7:
"III.2B. James (Logan) Renick, who changed his name to Logan for his benefactor, Gen. Benjamin Logan, who took him to Kentucky and taught him to read and write.He carved his initials, J.L., on many trees in Ohio after his return there. He lost his life in a fight with a party of British Indians on the banks of the Maumee in November 1812. Claude Feamster tells me (B.F.H.) that a relative of his met Logan Renick in Canada in Nov. 1812, and that Logan sent messages to his relatives in Greenbrier. Dr. Draper says that before his death he had maintained familiar relations with the Renick of the Sciota Valley, who were relatives of his, tho not descended from any ot the captives. Excerpt of a letter dated at Camp Delaware, O. Nov. 9, 1812, from Maj. Jas. William Mathews to Dr. John Mathews, Atty-at-law, Greenbrier County, Va. (now W. Va.):"I this morning got acquainted with Capt. Logan Renick. He is a very genteel man and speaks the English very well.I am told he is very rich. He lives in the Shawnee Nation, and is very much respected by the white people of this State. It is said he is a man of honor and may be depended upon. He asked very friendly for his relations in Greenbrier. He is very polite. He is very fond of horses and cattle. It is said he carries on a large farm. He desires to be remembered to his uncles in the county."
Harlow's credentials as a genealogist seem impeccable, so I see no reason to doubt this identification.
There also seems to be no doubt that the mother of James Logan, whose Indian name was Spemica Lawbe (there are many variant spellings) was Nohelema, known to the whites as Grenadier Squaw, the sister of Cornstalk. An article on her can be found at
She is described as a powerful woman, over six feet tall, friendly to the whites, and a leader among her people. She is referred to in several credible accounts as the wife of Moluntha. Logic thus suggests that Moluntha is the Indian name of Joshua Renick.
If that identification is correct, then we have an account of the death of Joshua Renick, at the hands of one of Logan's soldiers in the raid of 1786. Here is a version of the story, from Withers' "Border Warfare," chapter 17:
"Among the troops led on by Col. Logan was the late Gen. Lyttle (since of Cincinnati) then a youth of sixteen. At the head of a party of volunteers, when the first towns on the Mad river were reduced, he charged on some of the savages whom he saw endeavoring to reach a close thicket of hazel and plum bushes. Being some distance in front of his companions, when within fifty yards of the retreating enemy, he dismounted and raising his gun to fire, saw the warrior at whom he was aiming, hold out his hand in token of surrendering. In this time the other men had come up and were making ready to fire, when young Lyttle called to them "they have surrendered’ and remember the Colonel’s orders to kill none who ask for quarters." The warrior advanced towards him with his hand extended, and ordering the other to follow him. As he approached, Lyttle gave him his hand, but with difficulty restrained the men from tomahawking him. It was the head chief with his three wives and children, two or three of whom were fine looking lads, and one of them a youth of Lyttle’s age. Observing the conduct of Lyttle in preventing the murder of the chief, this youth drew close to him. When they returned to the town, a crowd of men rushed around to see the chief, and Lyttle stepped out of the crowd to fasten his horse. The lad accompanied him. A young man who had been to the spring to drink, seeing Lyttle with the Indian lad, came running towards him. The youth supposed he was advancing to kill him, and in the twinkling of an eye let fly an arrow. It passed through Curner’s dress and grazed his side; but for the timely twitch which Lyttle gave the lad’s arm, would have killed him. His other arrows were then taken away, and he sternly reprimanded.
Upon the return of Lyttle to where the chief stood, he heard Col. Logan give orders that the prisoners must not be molested, but taken to a house and placed under guard for their security; and seeing Major McGary riding up and knowing his disposition, he called to him saying, "Major McGary, you must not molest those prisoners" and rode off. McGary mutteringly replied, "I’ll see to than," and dismounting, entered the circle around the prisoners. He demanded of the chief, if he were at the battle of Blue Licks. The chief probably not understanding the purpose of the question, replied affirmatively. McGary instantly seized an axe from the Grenadier Squaw, standing by and sank it into his head. Lyttle saw the descending stroke and interposed his arm to prevent it or break its force. The handle came in contact with his wrist and had well night broke it. Indignant at the barbarous deed, with the impetuosity of youth, he drew his knife to avenge it. His arm was arrested or the steel would have been plunged into the heart of McGary. The bloody act of this man caused deep regret, humiliation and shame to pervade the greater part of the army, and none were more affected by it, and the brave and generous Logan.—When the prisoners were conducted to the house, it was with much difficulty the Indian lad could be prevailed upon to quit the side of Lyttle."
Other accounts definitely identify the slain chief as Moluntha. Here is one:
THE HISTORY OF HARDIN COUNTY, OHIO. CHICAGO:WARNER, BEERS & CO.1883.
In 1786, the Mackacheek towns (in Logan County) were destroyed by Gen. Benjamin Logan, after whom that county was subsequently named. He burned eight towns, destroyed many fields of corn, took seventy-five prisoners and killed twenty warriors. Gen. William Lytle, who was then but sixteen years of age, took part in this, and was instrumental in capturing a number of prisoners, Moluntha, the great Sachem of the Shawnees, and the Grenadier squaw being among those captured. Col. McGary, who was blamed for the defeat at Blue Licks, basely murdered Moluntha, after he had been taken prisoner by young Lytle. Before any of the others could interfere to save his life, McGary grabbed an ax from the Grenadier squaw who was standing near, and sank it to the eye in the chiefs head, who died without a struggle.
Another is the reference made by Tecumseh in his speech toWilliam Harrison, Tecumseh on August 11, 1810:" "We were told, if any white people mean to harm you, hold up these flags and you will then be safe from all danger. We did this in good faith. But what happened? Our beloved chief Moluntha stood with the American flag in front of him and that very peace treaty in his hand, but his head was chopped by a American officer, and that American officer was never punished."
This evidence suggests that the young Indian who witnessed the murder of Moluntha was James Renick/Logan, and that his adoption by Logan was in part motivated by pity and remorse. I suggested in my earlier post that it was also possible that Logan knew of Joshua Renick being among the Indians, since he came from the same community from which Joshua was captured; they were baptized by the same minister.
Is there anything questionable about the identification of Joshua Renick with the murdered Moluntha?
The argument FOR the identification is that if James Renick is the son of Joshua, who was reportedly a chief among the Indians, with an Indian wife,and that Grenadier Squaw is both the mother of James and the wife of Moluntha, then Joshua and Moluntha are the same person.
A possible argument AGAINST the identification is that a reliable historian, John Sugden, the author of the recent biography of Tecumseh, refers (p. 45) to Moluntha as "an elderly Mekoche." Was Joshua old enough to be considered "elderly"? We know that he was baptized in 1746 by the Rev. Mr. Craig, so he was born no later than that date. And if the church into which he was baptized did not practice infant baptism, he might have been born some time earlier. Joshua would have been no younger than 40 at the time of Moluntha's death in 1786, and surely no older than 50. Was that enought to be considered elderly? Sugden provides no specific source for the adjective he attaches to Moluntha, but his work relies heavily upon contemporary accounts or later reports by contemporaries, so I assume one of them may have described Moluntha as an elder. That might not refer to calendar years as we use the term, but to position and respect.
One current website assigns the birth year 1692 to Moluntha:
DEEDS / NATIONS
Directory of First Nations Individuals in South-Western Ontario 1750 - 1850
by Greg Curnoe
Mullunthy / Maloontha [born c.1692; killed November 1786],
Shawnee/Chaouanon chief, Meshquashake clan community; Moluntha, Shawnee chief, fought at Fort Boonesville, September 25-31, 1778; he attended a conference at Fort Finney in January 1786; Maloontha signed the US Big Miamis [Maumee River] Treaty, January 31, 1786; Moluntha, Chief Shade and Chief Painted Pole sent a message to the British stating that the Shawnee had been cheated by the US on February 9, 1786; Melunthe was captured and killed by US forces in November, 1786 (US 1837; Eckert: 165, 244, 285; Tanner: 86; MPHSC vol. XXIV: 20, 24).
If this were accurate, it would surely rule out the identification of Joshua and Moluntha. But 1692 is simply not credible. It would mean that Moluntha was fighting at Boonsville at the age of 86, and was 94 when murderd for having acknowledged being present at the battle of Blue Licks.
On the whole, I believe the logic that links Joshua and Moluntha is stronger than the negative implication carried by Sugden's adjective "elderly." And thus I think it likely that Joshua and Moluntha are the same man, and that we therefore know the circumstances of Joshua's death, at the hands of an impetuous soldier who did not know, or care, that he was killing a white man of his own stock.
I welcome comments and criticism of this argument. What more evidence or logic can we bring to this question?