Big Joe Logston was a noted character in the early history of the west. He was born and raised among the Alleghany mountains, near the source of the north branch of the Potomac, some twenty or thirty miles from any settlement. He was tall, muscular, excelled in all the athletic sports of the border, and was a first-rate shot. Soon after Joe arrived at years of discretion, his parents died, and he went out to the wilds of Kentucky. There Indian incursions compelled him to take refuge in a fort. This pent up life was not at all to Joe's taste. He soon became very restless, and every day insisted on going out with the others to hunt up cattle. At length no one would go with him, so he resolved to go out alone. He rode the greater part of the day without finding any cattle, and then concluded to return to the fort. As he was riding along, eating some grapes, with which he had filled his hat, he heard the reports of two rifles; one ball passed through the paps of his breast, which were very prominent, and the other struck the horse behind the saddle, causing the beast to sink in its tracks.
Joe was on his feet in an instant and might have taken to his heels with the chance of escape greatly in his favor. But to him flight was never agreeable. The moment the guns were fired, an Indian sprang forward with an uplifted tomahawk; but as Joe raised his rifle, the savage jumped behind two saplings, and kept springing from one to the other to cover his body. The other Indian was soon discovered behind a tree loading his gun. When in the act of pushing down his bullet, he exposed his hips and Joe fired a load into him. The first Indian then sprang forward and threw his tomahawk at the head of the white warrior, who dodged it. Joe then clubbed his gun and made at the savage, thinking to knock him down. In striking, he missed, and the gun now reduced to the naked barrel flew out of his hands. The two men then sprang at each other with no other weapons than those of nature. A desperate struggle ensued. Joe could throw the Indian down, but could not hold him there. At length, however, by repeated heavy blows, he succeeded in keeping him down, and tried to choke him with the left hand while he kept the right free for contingencies. Directly, Joe saw the savage trying to draw a knife from its sheath, and waiting till it was about half way out, he grasped it quickly and sank it up to the handle in the breast of his foe, who groaned and expired.
Springing to his feet, Joe saw the Indian he had crippled, propped against a log, trying to raise his gun to fire, but falling forward, every time he made the attempt. The borderer, having had enough fighting for one day, and not caring to be killed by a crippled Indian, made for the fort, where he arrived about nightfall.
He was blood and dirt from crown to toe, and without horse, hat, or gun.
The next morning a party went to Joe's battle-ground. On looking round, they found a trail, as if something had been dragged away, and at a little distance they came upon the big Indian, covered up with leaves. About a hundred yards farther, they found the Indian Joe had crippled, lying on his back, with his own knife sticking up to the hilt in his body, just below the breast bone, evidently to show that he had killed himself.
Some years after this fight, Big Joe Logston lost his life in a contest with a gang of outlaws. He was one of those characters who was necessary to the settlement of the west, but would not have been highly esteemed in civilized society.