Mixed Peoples of Our First Nations
The People of The Hunting Ground
Jake" Troxell, was a half-breed Delaware Warrior from Pennsylvania who
had been sent by the personal staff of President Washington to sway the
Cherokee away from the Spanish and to ally with the New Americans. But
after seeing the inhumane treatment the new settlers inflicted on the
Indians in southeast Kentucky and northern Tennessee, Big Jake ended up
joining the Cherokee instead.
Chief Doublehead's daughter
was the beautiful Cornblossom. She and Jake fell in love and
were married. When the Chief was assassinated, Cornblossom became the
leader of her tribe. In the forty years since Boone and forty others
had built the first fort on the Kentucky River, the depredations in the
war between natives and settlers had only gotten worse. Cornblossom, a
skilled warrior, believed that the future of her people lay in
education and assimilation with the white settlers. In the summer of
1810, she began to lead a group to the Sequatchie Valley near
Chattanooga, Tennessee. They would be safe there, enrolled as members
of a Presbyterian school for Indians. Her tribe was to meet at the
rock house beneath Yahoo Falls to begin their migration south.
learned of this meeting, the local Franklinites under Hiram Gregory,
decided to exploit the opportunity. Hiram 'Big Tooth' Gregory and a
band of hardened Indian fighters from some of the counties to the
southwest crossed into Cherokee territory on horseback, gathering at
what is now Flat Rock Kentucky, before heading into the Yahoo Falls
area. Jake Troxell was being realistic when he figured that likely as
not, there would be trouble. He was already guarding the landward
approach to the falls with a few other long hunters and a small group of
Shortly after midnight on August 10th,
Hiram Gregory's men approached. A young Indian in Jake's line bolted.
this was a runner who tried to warn the people gathered under the rock
shelter to scatter, but the boy was immediately shot down. Big Jake and
the front guard were quickly overpowered and scalped. The Indian
fighters rapidly advanced to the falls area. Lining themselves along
the edge of the bluff surrounding the large opening below, they began
firing from all sides on the children now trapped directly underneath
them. Those who were in the valley away from the falls hid and escaped.
100 children and some old men, pregnant women, and mothers huddled
underneath the falls. Big Tooth and his men worked their way down
toward the floor of the rock house on the two side paths while gunners
up top kept their prey trapped. The Natives had a few hatchets but no
other weapons. A woman warrior named Standing Fern,
daughter-in-law of Cornblossom, bravely rushed the paths with a few
others in a desperate attempt to stop the murder. They were soon killed
but managed to take out a few of their attackers.
Some of these
Kentucky Indian fighters had fought alongside Governor John Sevier, an
infamous Indian killer, who is credited with having coined 'nits make
lice'; the same phrase used by Colonel Chivington, summarizing a
certain mindset before the massacre at Sand Creek, Colorado in 1864.
Although the tragic butchery at Yahoo falls was not unique or
extraordinary in the history of western settlement, most Americans know
nothing about it and very little about other similar events. Such
genocidal actions continued for most of the nineteenth century.
Gregory's men killed elders, raped women and younger female children of
all ages, and cut bellies open. Altogether, they senselessly murdered
and scalped over 100 Chickamaugan Cherokee women and children that had
begged for their lives.
Later that morning, Cornblossom who was
travelling behind with a separate party, approached the great rock house
with her children. As they came closer to the falls area, it is said a
hawk flew above them and lit in a nearby tree in a way that told the
Princess something was wrong. The Cherokee were especially sensitive to
the spirit power expressed in birds. The party anxiously pushed onward
to get the children to the falls and safety. Arriving at the entrance
area, she found Jake and the front guards brutally scalped. Leaving the
children there with some women, Cornblossom, her son War Chief Peter
Troxell, Red Bird, and their party of warriors rushed to the Falls
where some of Gregory's gang still going at it. Cornblossom
screams to her warriors to kill these animals. Peter Troxell died
underneath the falls and his mother suffered an agonizing gunshot
Two days later this wound ended Cornblossom's life. It is said that her last words were, "We Are Not Conquered
Yet ... Remember My Children .... Remember My People".
massacre essentially destroyed the Chickamaugan Cherokee from southwest
Kentucky to Knoxville. With no powerful leaders left in Kentucky and
the Cumberland Plateau, many Cherokee decided to leave the area in fear
of the whites, while others sought isolation by hiding in the hills.
The settlers who comprised the Kentucky and Tennessee militias
considered this affair the last of the resistance movement of the
Kentucky and northern Tennessee Cherokees. This was the year Captain
Black Fox finally decided to move his people to Arkansas where,
hopefully, they could pursue a new life in peace. But one who would not
ever leave the region was Little Jake, youngest son of Jake and
Cornblossom. He had arrived with his mother late that morning and
helped kill a few of Gregory's men. It was an experience he would never
forget. Little Jake grew up and became a famous renegade, terrorizing
settlers in the Big South Fork area for years.
To learn more about Cornblossom and her family,
please check out the links below. Wado.
Trail leading to Yahoo Falls
The Cry of The Hawk
The Yahoo Falls Massacre
Standing beneath Yahoo Falls
Please be aware that the title of "princess" is an Anglo title and not a Native American one.