Ohio History Journal






"Rock-a-bye baby, on the tree top,

When the wind blows the cradle will rock."

A certain queer little cradle, hanging from a limb of

a tree, in a great green forest, about the year 1720, is

rocking to and fro as the soft, summer wind sways the

branches above it.

It is a gay and pretty cradle, soft and warm with

the skin of the moose, and gorgeous with bird feathers

and brightly colored quills of the porcupine, and from

it shine out the black eyes of a little red-rown baby

which look out upon the beautiful Scioto valley, filled

with the sound of dashing waters, whispering leaves

and singing birds.

So the little Indian swings, to and fro, making

friends with the birds and squirrels and learning many


As soon as he can toddle about his father, who is a

mighty hunter, becomes his teacher, making for him a

little bow and arrow winged with eagle feathers. The

boy soon learns how to use and make them; as he grows

older he learns to paddle a canoe where the river is

swiftest, and in the hunt he is fleet of foot. He grows

tall and straight and is given the Indian name of Keigh-


* Address at annual meeting of the Ohio State Archaeological and

Historical Society, September 19, 1923.


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tugh-qua, meaning Cornstalk, signifying a blade (or

stalk) of the maize plant.

In order to understand the Indian, it is necessary

to know something of his history and environment. As

far back as 1669, when La Salle's expedition descended

the Ohio, and when at the mouth of the Mississippi in

1682 he claimed all the Mississippi Valley for the

French crown, in his speech he named the Shawanoe

(or Shawnee) tribes in the Ohio region.

It was into one of these Shawnee tribes that Corn-

stalk was born to become its chief. We know but little

of his early history, but one can easily imagine what

the effect would be on a growing youth, to see the

whites coming into his country and taking possession;

making it necessary for the Indians to appeal first to

the French and then to the English for the right to hold

their hunting ground and home-land. They felt that

their enemies had combined for their destruction and

they found themselves engaged in a fearful struggle,

which involved not only their glory but their very ex-

istence. Many of them thought that the two white na-

tions had conspired to destroy them and then to divide

their lands.  Cornstalk the Shawnee, and Logan the

Mingo, were both young men, but there is every reason

to suppose that they received their "baptism of fire" in

the French-Indian war.

Michigan, Ohio, Indiana and Pennsylvania, all are

largely made up of the lands which were by original

treaty given to the Indians.  The Indians had been

much dissatisfied ever since the first treaties were made.

They claimed that they had been made by a few only

and the United States had told them that if any white

citizens attempted to settle on their lands they might

Cornstalk, the Indian Chief 615

Cornstalk, the Indian Chief      615

"punish them as they pleased". Probably the greater

part of the white settlers were ignorant of this provision

in the treaties, as are a great many American citizens

today, who are unaware that the Indians had provoca-

tion, or right to kill intruders on their land. By the nar-

ratives of those who were with the Indians for any

length of time, we learn that prisoners were humanely

treated. The adoption

rites may have been se-

vere, but once received

into the tribe a prisoner

was treated with kind-

ness and consideration.

After the year 1790, this

could not be affirmed of

Ohio tribes.

The Shawnees were a

warlike tribe and there is

no doubt that Cornstalk

was a prominent leader

during the years of In-

dian attack and massacre

between 1754 and 1763.

His forays were directed

against the frontier set-

tlements of Virginia, as

most approachable from the Scioto country where the

Shawnees were mostly located.

The earliest of these expeditions, of which there is

any record, was one against several families on Carr's

Creek in 1759, in what is now Rockbridge County. Pur-

suing frontiersmen rescued the prisoners and recovered

considerable booty. Again in Pontiac's War, Cornstalk

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led a marauding party into the same neighborhood.

Coming in the guise of friendship, they first attacked

the settlers at Muddy Creek in Greenbier County; then

then Clendenins, near Lewisburg, where the family was

horribly massacred, or taken into captivity, with the

single exception of Mrs. Clendenin, who made her es-

cape after being taken prisoner and finally reached

friends. She wandered around for nine days and nights

with nothing to eat but an onion and salt, which she

found in a deserted house.

Cornstalk was one of the hostages exacted by Bou-

quet in 1764, but he escaped from Fort Pitt the following

year. Nothing more is known of him until the opening

of the Dunmore War in 1774. About this time, while

Logan was upon the war-path, Cornstalk shielded

Richard Butler and other Pennsylvania traders among

them, from the fury of the Mingoes; and when the lat-

ter were ready to depart with their goods, Cornstalk

sent his brother Silver Heels, to protect them on their

homeward journey.  On the return of this chief and

his two companions, from this friendly mission, they

were waylaid and fired upon by a party of frontiersmen

under William Linn, and Silver Heels was dangerously

wounded. At the same time Cornstalk sent a speech, by

the united advice of several of his associated chiefs, ad-

dressed to the Governors of Pennsylvania and Virginia,

and the commandant at Pittsburgh, entreating them "to

put a stop to any further hostilities and they would en-

deavor to do the same."

About the end of August, 1774, Lord Dunmore,

Governor of Virginia, arrived at Fort Pitt and for sev-

eral weeks was occupied in fruitless negotiations with

the Delaware, Mingo and Shawnee chiefs, the latter of

Cornstalk, the Indian Chief 617

Cornstalk, the Indian Chief     617

whom were requested to meet him and make a treaty,

somewhere lower down the Ohio. The Governor and

about seven hundred men set out in canoes, while five

hundred more under Major William Crawford marched

by land and conveyed the beeves to the fort at Wheeling,

where they arrived September 30th. From this point

Crawford marched to the mouth of Hockhocking and

crossing, his forces began a small stockade named Fort

Gower. A few days later the remainder of the army

arrived under Dunmore's command.

Lord Dunmore had expected to meet General An-

drew Lewis at this point, as he had ordered him to

march with about twelve hundred militiamen from the

southern counties and join him at the mouth of the

Kanawha, where they expected to proceed to the In-

dian villages of the Shawnees. When he did not find

General Lewis there, he decided not to wait for him, but

to push on toward the villages. When he came to the

towns he found that they were deserted and that the

Indians had gone to attack the corps under General

Lewis, encamped at Point Pleasant, where they arrived

on the 6th of October, numbering about eleven hundred

strong. Upon their arrival there they found a message

in a hollow tree directing them to join his Lordship at

the mouth of the Big Hockhocking, but Lewis' men were

spent with the exertion of having marched a distance

of one hundred and sixty miles, through a tangled for-

est, transporting troops and supplies. Pens had to be

built for the cattle and shelter for the stores, so no move

was made. On Saturday, the 8th, came a further order

from the Governor to join him at Fort Gower, but Lewis

replied that he would do so as soon as the troops, food,

powder and supplies reached Point Pleasant. The men

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were angry and did not want to go out of their way to

join Dunmore, but wanted to march directly to the In-

dian towns, which they had started out to attack. The

9th was Sunday and these sturdy Scotch-Irish Presby-

terians spent the day in religious exercises, listening to

a sermon from their chaplain.

Early on Monday morning, the 10th of October, two

soldiers left camp in quest of deer, when they unex-

pectedly came in sight of a large number of Indians en-

camped, who immediately fired upon them, killing one.

The other escaped unhurt, communicated the intelli-

gence that he had seen a large body of Indians, "cover-

ing four acres of ground". The main part of the army

was immediately ordered out under Colonels Charles

Lewis and William Fleming. They had proceeded but

a short distance when they met the enemy and the ac-

tion commenced. At the first onset Colonel Charles

Lewis was killed and Colonel Fleming wounded, the

lines gave way and were retreating when met by re-

inforcements and rallied. The engagement then became

general and was sustained with the most obstinate fury

on both sides, from sunrise till toward the close of eve-

ning, when a fortunate movement on the part of the

Virginia troops decided the day. The Indians finding

themselves unexpectedly between two armies gave way

and about sundown, commenced a retreat across the

Ohio to their towns on the Scioto.

Cornstalk's intelligence was far above that of the av-

erage Shawnee. He had before the battle at Point Pleas-

ant, urged his people to keep the peace as their only sal-

vation, but when defeated in council he with great valor

led the tribesmen to war. Their army was composed of

about one thousand warriors from different nations

Cornstalk, the Indian

Cornstalk, the Indian. Chief    619

north of the Ohio; comprising the flower of the Shaw-

nee, Delaware, Mingo, Wyandotte and Cayuga tribes,

and at the head was Cornstalk, known as "King of the

Northern Confederacy."

This distinguished chief and great warrior proved

himself on that day, to be justly entitled to the prom-

inent station which he occupied. His plan of alternate

retreat and attack was well conceived and. called forth

the admiration of his enemies. If at any time his war-

riors were believed to waver, his voice could be heard

above the din of arms, exclaiming in his native tongue,

"Be strong! Be strong!" and when one of his men near

him became reluctant to proceed to the charge, fearing

the example would have a pernicious influence, with one

blow of the tomahawk he severed his skull. It was per-

haps a solitary instance where terror predominated.

Never did men evidence more bravery in making a

charge than did these undisciplined soldiers of the for-

est, in the field at Point Pleasant.

The battle of Point Pleasant was the most extensive,

the most bitterly contested, and fraught with the most

significance of any Indian battle in American history.

The leaders on both sides were experienced and able,

the soldiers skillful and brave; the victorious party had

as little to boast of as the vanquished. It is fair to as-

sume that the loss of the Indians was not far short of

that sustained by the whites.  It was the last battle

fought by the Colonists while subject to British rule.

Some historians claim that it was the first battle of the

Revolution because the Indians engaged in that battle

soon became the British allies. Had Cornstalk been the

conqueror the colonists would have been stunned to in-

action by fear of defeat and the whole course of Amer-

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ican history would doubtless have been otherwise than

history records.

At the first council held after the defeat of the In-

dians, Cornstalk reminding them of their late ill success

and that the Long Knives were still pressing on them,

asked what should be then done.  No one answered.

Rising again, he proposed that the women and children

should all be killed and that the warriors should go out

and fight, until they too were slain. Still no one an-

swered. Then, said he, striking his tomahawk into the

council post, "I will go make peace."

On the third day after Lord Dunmore's army ar-

rived at Camp Charlotte, eight chiefs with Cornstalk

at their head came into camp, and when the interpreter

made known who Cornstalk was, Lord Dunmore ad-

dressed them, and from a written memorandum, recited

the various infractions on the part of the Indians, of

former treaties and different murders unprovokedly

committed by them. To all this Cornstalk replied, mix-

ing a good deal of recrimination with the defence of his

red brethren; and when he had concluded, a time was

specified when the chiefs of the different nations should

come in and proceed to the negotiations of a treaty.

Before the arrival of that period, Cornstalk came

alone to the camp, and acquainted the Governor that

none of the Mingoes would attend; and that he was ap-

prehensive that a full council would riot be convened.

Dunmore then requested him to bring as many chiefs of

other nations, as he could, without delay to the council

fire, as he was anxious to close the war at once; and if

this could not be effected peaceably, he would be forced

to resume hostilities. Meanwhile two interpreters were

despatched to Logan by Lord Dunmore, requesting his

Cornstalk, the Indian Chief 621

Cornstalk, the Indian Chief     621

attendance, but Logan replied that "he was a warrior,

not a councillor and would not come."

Shortly after the return of the interpreters to Camp

Charlotte, Cornstalk and two other chiefs made their

appearance and entered into negotiations which soon

terminated in an agreement to forbear all further hos-

tilities against each other, -- to give up the prisoners

then held by them and to attend at Pittsburgh, with as

many of the Indian chiefs as could be prevailed on to

meet the commissioners from Virginia, in the ensuing

summer, where a treaty was to be concluded and rati-

fied, -- Dunmore requiring hostages, to guarantee the

performance of those stipulations, on the part of the In-

dians. The war of 1774 was concluded by the execu-

tion of this treaty, and it was ratified the next summer

at Pittsburgh, as planned at Camp Charlotte.

If at Point Pleasant Cornstalk manifested the bravery

and generalship of a mighty captain, in the negotiations

at Camp Charlotte he displayed the skill of a statesman,

joined to powers of oratory, rarely if ever surpassed.

With the most patriotic devotion to his country, and in

a strain of most commanding eloquence, he recapitu-

lated the accumulated wrongs, which had oppressed

their fathers, and which were oppressing them. Sketch-

ing in lively colors the once happy and powerful condi-

tion of the Indians, he placed in striking contrast their

present fallen fortunes and unhappy destiny. Exclaiming

against the perfidiousness of the whites and the dishon-

esty of the traders, he proposed as the basis of a treaty,

that no persons should be permitted to carry on a com-

merce with the natives for individual profit; but that

their white brother should send them such articles as

they needed, by the hands of honest men, who were to

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exchange them at a fair price, for their skins and furs;

and that no spirits of any kind should be sent among

them, as from the "fire water" of the whites, proceeded

evil to the Indians.

Colonel Benjamin Wilson, then an officer in Lord

Dunmore's army, and whose narrative of the campaign

furnished the facts which are here detailed, according

to Withers in The Border Warfare, at the time when

the speeches were delivered sat immediately behind and

close to Dunmore. In remarking on the appearance and

manner of Cornstalk while speaking, he says, "When he

arose, he was in no wise confused or daunted, but spoke

in a distinct and audible voice, without stammering or

repetition, and with peculiar emphasis. His looks while

addressing Dunmore, were truly grand and majestic, yet

graceful and attractive. I have heard the first orators

in Virginia, Patrick Henry and Richard Henry Lee, but

never have I heard one whose powers of delivery sur-

passed those of Cornstalk on that occasion."  If that

speech had been preserved, it might have been as fa-

mous as Logan's.

Here I should like to close my address, because the

murder of Cornstalk is a blot on American history.

In October, 1777, Cornstalk, with his heart filled with

good will to his Big Knife friends, came fearlessly to

the garrison at Point Pleasant to renew pledges of

friendship and report the movements of the Indians in

the interest of the British. He told them that he was

opposed to joining the British in the war of the Revo-

lution, but that all of his nation save his own tribe, were

fully resolved to do so; and that of course, he and his

clan would have to run with the stream, as he expressed

it. Cornstalk was held as a hostage for the neutrality

Cornstalk, the Indian Chief 623

Cornstalk, the Indian Chief     623

of his people, with two other Indian messengers pre-

viously made captive. Captain Arbuckle, in charge of

the camp, assured them no violence would be offered

them.  On the ninth of November, Cornstalk's son,

El-i-nip-si-co came to learn if his father was alive and

well. The day after his arrival a council was held and

Cornstalk made a speech in which he said, "When

I was young, and went to war, I thought that each ex-

pedition might prove the last, and I would return no

more. Now, I am here amongst you; you may kill me

if you please; I can die but once; and it is all one to me,

now or another time." Within an hour after this coun-

cil meeting, a man by the name of Gilmore was shot and

scalped, within a short distance of the fort, by some of

the enemy concealed in the weeds on the bank of the

stream. When his body was found a short time later

by some soldiers, they shouted, "Let us kill the Indians

in the fort." Unhappily none of the officers were pres-

ent, save Captains Stuart and Arbuckle, who were pow-

erless to prevent the tragedy. As the soldiers reached

the cabin door, Cornstalk rose up and met them, baring

his breast and remarking, "If any Big Knife has any-

thing against me let him now avenge himself"; El-i-nip-

si-co, trembling with fear and terror, was encouraged

by Cornstalk not to be afraid, for he said the Great

Spirit had sent him there to die with him; and shamed

him for a disposition to hide in the loft, that he had

but once to die, and should die like a warrior. The

Great Spirit, he added, knew better than they did when

they ought to die; and as they had come there with good

intentions, the Great Spirit would do good to them. A

volley was fired, seven or eight balls passing through

his body. He fell lifeless upon the floor. El-i-nip-si-co

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was shot dead as he sat upon a stool awaiting his fate.

The Red Hawk's son, who attempted to climb up the

chimney, was pulled down and shot; while the other In-

dian, Old Yie, was shamefully mangled and long in the

agonies of death. It was a sad and sickening tragedy.

Eight days after this tragic event, General Hand

arrived at Point Pleasant, and was much concerned to

learn of the unhappy occurrence. He wrote to Gov-

ernor Patrick Henry, of Virginia, expressing regret

and horror at the deed, but said that it would be vain

for him to attempt to bring the perpetrators to justice.

"From this event," wrote General Hand, "we have

little reason to expect a reconciliation with the Shaw-

anese, except fear operates on them; for, if we had any

friends among them, those unfortunate wretches were

so; Cornstalk particularly appearing to be the most ac-

tive of the nation in promoting peace."

In retaliation for this barbarous act the Virginia

frontier suffered to such an extent that it was known

as the bloody year of the three sevens.

In Cornstalk were blended the sterling qualities of

bravery, eloquence, wisdom and justice, which com-

bined to constitute him one of the most remarkable men

savage life has ever produced. Captain Arbuckle had

the Indians respectfully buried and Cornstalk's grave,

which is located in the courthouse yard at Point Pleas-

ant, West Virginia, was marked in 1896, with a grey

sandstone monument, on which is the word "Corn-


Such a man was truly a hero and patriot and the

state of Ohio, which gave him birth, should not be be-

hind West Virginia, in recognizing his sterling worth,

by erecting a monument to his memory, in the locality

Cornstalk, the Indian Chief 625

Cornstalk, the Indian Chief     625

in which he spent his life. Ohio is strangely lacking

in markers commemorating great events, in comparison

with Eastern states. However, since the last general

assembly has seen fit to remember this Society so gen-

erously in the appropriation for this Memorial Build-

ing, I feel sure they will want to continue the work, by

buying and marking places of historical interest.

As I am a great-granddaughter of Colonel Benja-

min Wilson, of Virginia, and a life member of this So-

ciety, as well as a Daughter of the American Revolu-

tion, it seems fitting to me, at this time, to ask that some

steps be taken, by this body, to purchase and appropri-

ately mark the site of the treaty, that made it possible

for our Colonial soldiers to win the war for Independ-

ence, for after the treaty the border of Virginia was

free from Indian attack for more than two years.

On September third, Mr. and Mrs. C. B. Galbreath

accompanied Mr. Dryer and me on a tour of investiga-

tion to locate Camp Charlotte. After having read all

the descriptions available in regard to the location of

the camp and making many inquiries, finally through

the courtesy and interest of Mrs. Mary Steely, of Cir-

cleville, whose father was born on the farm where the

camp was located, we were able to reach our destina-

tion and place our feet on the soil of Camp Charlotte.

It was located at a place now called Leistville, about

seven miles east of Circleville, on the Circleville and

Adelphia Pike, on the south bank of Scippo Creek and

comprised about twelve acres, which is now planted in

corn. There seems to be some doubt as to whether the

soldiers were encamped on one or both sides of the

creek, but there is no doubt as to the general location,

which is along a beautiful stream and would be an ideal

Vol. XXXII--40.

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spot on which to erect a monument that could be seen

for miles around. It would seem as though nature had

been preparing for this event when she generously de-

posited a number of large boulders on the shore of

Scippo Creek, which could be piled together to form a

high monument, on which to place a tablet with the

names of the soldiers present at this treaty, as well as

that of the famous Indian Chief Cornstalk, who died

the death of a martyr.