Monday, May 19, 2014

The Ring of the Logans

The family of Logan lived in the Highlands of Scotland for many centuries and the chieftain of the clan was defeated at Flodden Field (1513). Before he died he gave to one of his faithful men a finger ring with the request that the man should deliver it to the chieftain’s wife. She was to keep it for his son and heir. The ring could only be worn by the Chief and had gone from one Chief to another for several hundred years. It was gold with a large Onyx setting on which was carved the family coat of arms. The coat of arms is a heart pierced by a dagger and surrounded by the words Hoc Majorum Virtus, which translated means, “This valor of my ancestors.” The ring was given to the wife and in the course of years to the son who in time gave it to his son. It was lost and stolen several times but always was returned to its rightful owner.

In the early 1840s a young Scotsman landed in New York. He was the son of a clergyman of the Presbyterian Church and was recognized as the Chief of Clan Logan because he wore the ring. He enlisted in the Northern army and fought in support of the Union during the Civil War. For gallantry on the field of battle he rose in the ranks and at the close of the war was a Lieutenant. He stayed in the Army and was sent West to fight the Indians. “In the early 1870s the Indians were troublesome along the foothills of the Rockies. Capt. Logan participated in almost every campaign...” He had many narrow escapes. In 1877 he and his troops were led into an ambush. The battle was called “Battle of the Big Hole.” Capt. Logan and all his troops died. After his death his body was mutilated and every article of wearing apparel including a 32nd degree Masonic ring and the Logan Ring were taken.

Mrs. Logan then moved with her family away from the frontier and took up land in Montana. Her daughter married Captain Comba who was a member of the regular Army and the family did everything within their power to find the Ring of the Logan’s. One day a trapper called at one of the posts on the Indian reservation in Idaho and showed the officers a 32nd degree Masonic ring. He had found it on the skeleton of an Indian in one of the canyons of the Judith Basin four hundred miles from the battle of the “Big Hole.” They bought the ring from the trapper for four dollars worth of provisions. They advertised for the owner, and Col. Comba of the fifth United States infantry saw the ad. The Captain who knew about his father-in-law’s ring visited the post and obtained the ring.

In 1898, 22 years after the death of Capt. Logan, his oldest son, William Logan, was appointed an Indian agent and stationed in Montana. For years he made a diligent search and inquired at all the Indian agencies in the Northwest hoping to find some trace of the ring which rightfully now belong to him. Finally he gave up hope and wrote to his a maternal grandfather in Scotland asking for a description of the ring and a copy of the family coat of arms because he intended to have a similar ring made here. The old gentleman declined to send it, reminding the grandson that the ring had been lost many times before and would in time be returned to the rightful owner.

One day William Logan was in his office in a small town in the Northwest when an Indian “squaw” entered. She placed her hand on the railing around his desk and there on the middle finger of her left hand was the missing ring. He quickly purchased the ring and the Indian “squaw” told him this story. The Indian who had scalped his father had taken the ring and as he was dying had given it to the Indian “squaw.” Just to be sure, William Logan sent the ring to his sister who was the wife of Captain Comba.

Captain Comba, who in 1877 made such a diligent search for the ring was now a Colonel in the Fifth Infantry and was stationed at Fort Sheridan, Illinois, with his family. He was commander of the Twelfth Infantry that captured the stone fort in the battle of El Caney, “where the real fighting in Cuba was done.” At the time this story was published in the Chicago Tribune he was in the Philippines.

The story ends here in the Tribune but if you goggle the name William Logan you will find more information about his life and the rings are mentioned. Also, if you look for Clan Logan on the Internet, you will discover that the clan does not presently have a Chief recognized by the Lord Lyon King of Arms.

The question is what happened to the original “Ring of the Logans?” Perhaps some of our readers who belong to the Logan Clan can help us with an answer. It appears to be a true story.

Note: I have quoted freely from an article in the Chicago Daily Tribune, 21 April, 1901, page 46.

Wayne Rethford, President Emeritus
Illinois St. Andrew’s Society

Upcoming Events:

June 7, 2014 - Next meeting of the Scottish American History Club. We will talk about D-Day, June 6, 1944. We will remember and honor those who died and the Flag under which they served. 

June 20-21 - Chicago Highland Games

July 19, 2014
- Annual History Tour.  Save the date and watch for details.

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