Black History Month: Jefferson Logan

February 4, 2022 11:01 am

Jefferson Logan (1836-1927)

Jefferson Logan was born 21 October 1836 in Missouri and became a freedom seeker in 1862. Logan’s “father was able to buy freedom for himself, his wife and one son,” but not for Jeff and his brother Mose.” Eventually, Logan’s brother Moses Logan Rodgers became free when sent to the gold mines in California in 1849. However, various sources disagree about the specific chain of events that led to Logan’s freedom. One source claims Logan and three other freedom seekers escaped with horses into Iowa. While another suggests, Logan joined twelve other freedom seekers in two wagons on their journey to Iowa. Upon arrival in Bedford, the freedom seekers were instructed to head to Des Moines, where Logan remained for the rest of his life.

Rev. Albert B. Marshall, the Central Presbyterian Church pastor in Des Moines, Iowa, told of “colored refugees” arriving on mules in 1862-63. His church cared for, found employment, and taught the freedom seekers their letters, giving them a start in providing an education. As a result, many freedom seekers became respected citizens in Des Moines. “The names of these scholars, so far as remembered, are: Jefferson Logan, Walter White, Johnsie Roberts, Edward Sales, Thomas Todd, Henry Sheeley Benjamin Watson, John Brown, George Larry, Ike Howard, Albert Champion and others.”

However, according to some sources, Logan “was helped out through the Underground Railroad on which Isaac Brandt’s house was a station.” Logan would later serve as a pallbearer at Brandt’s funeral. Eventually, Logan began a twenty-one-year service with the family of Wesley Redhead. He became incredibly close with the family and acted as a trusted confidante. Logan also connected with various public figures and notable men in Des Moines, who he often entertained at his annual possum dinner. Through investments and savings, Logan became an extremely prosperous Black man in Des Moines at the turn of the twentieth century.