Hokolesqua, Sachem Cornstalk

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Hokolesqua Wynepuechsika "Keigh-tugh-quah"

Also Known As: "Chief Peter Cornstalk", "Strongman", "Keigh-tugh-quah", "Hokoleskwa Wynepuechsika", "Cornstalk", "Chief Cornstalk", "Holoesqua", "Shawnee"
Birthdate: (65)
Birthplace: Wynepuechisika Village,, Pennsylvania
Death: November 10, 1777 (65)
Ft. Randolph, Point Pleasant, West Virginia, overlooking the junction of the Kanwha and Ohio Rivers (murder)
Place of Burial: Point Pleasant, Kanawha, WV, USA
Immediate Family:

Son of Okawela, Sachem Cornstalk and Meskwa-katee "Red Skirt" "Bird" Cornstalk
Husband of Helizikinopo; Ounaconoa Muskrat; Julia Ailstock; Creek woman; Catherine Vanderpool and 1 other
Father of Walker Pomethea "Robert" Cornstalk; Chenusaw T. J., Cornstalk; Aracoma "Sky" Baker; Elizabeth, Cornstalk; "Young Peter," Sachem Cornstalk and 25 others
Brother of "Sa we la ha" Eliza, Cornstalk; Nonhelema "Grenadier Squaw", Cornstalk; Ca wa chi le, Cornstalk; Nimwha, Okowellos Cornstalk; Mis ka pela thee Red Hawk, Cornstalk and 1 other
Half brother of Sarah Catherine House; Wa kee am pea, Cornstalk; Nay tha kei na, Cornstalk; Buckangolas, Cornstalk and E wi kun wee, Cornstalk

Occupation: Sachem (Chief) of the 20 tribe Northern Confederacy in the Ohio Valley, Chief of the Shawnee Nation., Shawnee Chief of 20 Tribe Coalition 1755 - 1777, Chief Shawnnee Nation
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Hokolesqua, Sachem Cornstalk


"It is better for us to die like warriors than to diminish away by inches. The cause of the red man is just, and I hope that the Creator who governs everything will favor us." Statement supposedly made by Chief Cornstalk prior to the Battle of Point Pleasant during Dunmore's War, Oct. 1774

Hokolewska (ca. 1720 – November 10, 1777) — known as Cornstalk — was an important 18th century leader of the Shawnee people. In the Shawnee language, his name meant "blade of corn". His name was spelled a variety of ways, including Colesqua and Keigh-tugh-qua.

• considered by some to have been an ally of the British in the Revolution

Cornstalk and the rest of the Shawnee people migrated into present-day Ohio in the 1730s, pushed by European colonial encroachment into their traditional lands. He and his tribesmen participated in many battles against the English settlers of Virginia, Kentucky, and Ohio. His death came at a time when he had been at peace with the whites. His effort to warn the fort of impending plans of massacre by militant natives defines the reputation of this Native American hero.


Cornstalk, Red Hawk and another Indian were taken as hostages. The Americans believed that they could use him to keep the other tribes from attacking. They forced the Native Americans into a standoff for none of them wanted to risk the life of their leader. Cornstalk’s name not only stuck fear into hearts of the white settlers up and down the frontier, but it also garnered respect from the other Indian tribes. He was gifted with great oratory skills, fighting ability and military genius. In fact, it was said that when his fighting tactics were adopted by the Americans, they were able to defeat the British in a number of battles where they had been both outnumbered and outgunned.

Although taken as hostage, Cornstalk and the other Indians were treated well and were given comfortable quarters, leading many to wonder if the chief’s hostage status may have been voluntary in the beginning. Cornstalk even assisted his captors in plotting maps of the Ohio River Valley during his imprisonment. On November 9, Cornstalk’s son, Ellinipisco, came to the fort to see his father and he was also detained.

The following day, gunfire was heard from outside the walls of the fort, coming from the direction of the Kanawha River. When men went out to investigate, they discovered that two soldiers who had left the stockade to hunt deer had been ambushed by Indians. One of them had escaped but the other man had been killed.

When his bloody corpse was returned to the fort, the soldiers in the garrison were enraged. Acting against orders, they broke into the quarters were Cornstalk and the other Indians were being held. Even though the men had nothing to do with the crime, they decided to execute the prisoners as revenge. As the soldiers burst through the doorway, Cornstalk rose to meet them. It was said that he stood facing the soldiers with such bravery that they paused momentarily in their attack. It wasn’t enough though and the soldiers opened fire with their muskets. Red Hawk tried to escape up through the chimney but was pulled back down and slaughtered. Ellinipisico was shot where he had been sitting on a stool and the other unknown Indian was strangled to death. As for Cornstalk, he was shot eight times before he fell to the floor.

And as he lay there dying in the smoke-filled room, he was said to have pronounced his now legendary curse. The stories say that he looked upon his assassins and spoke to them: “I was the border man’s friend. Many times I have saved him and his people from harm. I never warred with you, but only to protect our wigwams and lands. I refused to join your paleface enemies with the red coats. I came to the fort as your friend and you murdered me. You have murdered by my side, my young son.... For this, may the curse of the Great Spirit rest upon this land. May it be blighted by nature. May it even be blighted in its hopes. May the strength of its peoples be paralyzed by the stain of our blood.”


Young Hokolesqua Cornstalk of Chalakatha/Mekoche (Shawnee) lineage became Chief of the 20 tribe Northern Confederacy in the Ohio Valley in 1755 serving until his death in 1777. He was the first “Chief Peter Cornstalk”, given the name by whites due to his height of over 6 ft 6 and his flowing white hair, “Cornstalk”.


  • Cornstalk, The Shawnee Chief by Rev. William Henry Foote Published in the Southern Literary Messenger. Volume 16, Issue 9, pp. 533-540, Richmond, Virginia. 1850 Transcribed by Valerie F. Crook, 1998

Also known as Cornstalk

Cornstalk was a leader of the Shawnee Indians. He was born about 1720. His Indian name was variously pronounced as Hokolesqua, Colesqua and Keigh-tugh-qua and was freely translated to mean "blade of corn". Little is known about his early years. In all likelihood, he was born in Pennsylvania, the home of the Shawnee in the 1720s, and then moved to Ohio around 1730 with most of the Shawnee people.

  • His murder by American militiamen at Fort Randolph during a diplomatic visit in November 1777 outraged both American Indians and Virginians.

During the French and Indian War, Cornstalk and the Shawnees sided with the French. They feared that English settlers would come rapidly into the Ohio Country if they were not stopped. Cornstalk led raiding parties into western Virginia, hoping to drive the English away from Shawnee territory. He also played an active part in Pontiac's Rebellion in 1763. Colonel Henry Bouquet defeated the Shawnee in 1764. To assure that the natives would sign a peace treaty ending the rebellion, Bouquet seized several hostages, including Cornstalk. The Shawnee agreed not to take up arms against the English again.

During the next decade, fighting did occur between the English and the Ohio natives. Cornstalk tried to peacefully ease the tensions, but the arrival of more white settlers placed him in the minority as to how to deal with the whites. By the spring of 1774, violence was constant. On May 3, 1774, a group of English colonists killed eleven Mingo Indians. At least two of them were relatives of Logan, a leader of the Mingos in the Ohio Country. Upon hearing of the murders, many Mingos and Shawnees demanded retribution. Some, like Cornstalk, urged conciliation. Cornstalk and most other Shawnee Indians promised to protect English fur traders in the Ohio Country from retaliatory attacks since the traders were innocent. Logan, however, was not easily convinced, and Shawnee and Mingo chiefs permitted him to attack the parties responsible for his family members' murders - British colonists living south of the Ohio River.

Logan took approximately two dozen warriors to exact revenge on the colonists. He did not go into Kentucky. Rather he traveled into western Pennsylvania. There, his followers killed thirteen settlers before returning back across the Ohio River. Captain John Connolly, commander of Fort Pitt, immediately prepared to attack the Ohio Country natives. John Murray, Lord Dunmore, the royal governor of Virginia, offered his colony's assistance. Dunmore hoped to prevent Pennsylvania's expansion into modern-day West Virginia and Kentucky. He believed the best way to do this was to place Virginia militiamen in these regions. He also hoped to benefit by opening these lands to white settlement.

In August 1774, Pennsylvania militia entered the Ohio Country and quickly destroyed seven Mingo villages, which the Indians had abandoned as the soldiers approached. At the same time, Lord Dunmore sent one thousand men to the Kanawha River in modern-day West Virginia to build a fort and attack the Shawnees. Cornstalk, who had experienced a change of heart about the white colonists as the soldiers invaded the Ohio Country, dispatched nearly one thousand Shawnee warriors to drive Dunmore's force from the region. The forces met on October 10, 1774, at what became known as the Battle of Point Pleasant. After several hours of intense fighting, the English drove Cornstalk's followers north of the Ohio River. Dunmore, with a separate force, followed the Shawnees across the river into the Ohio Country. Upon nearing the Shawnee villages on the Pickaway Plains, Dunmore stopped and asked that the Shawnees discuss a peace treaty with him. The Shawnees agreed, but while negotiations were under way, Colonel Andrew Lewis, and a detachment of Virginia militia that Dunmore had left behind at Point Pleasant, crossed the Ohio River and destroyed several Shawnee villages. Fearing that Dunmore intended to destroy them, the Shawnees immediately agreed to terms before more blood was shed.

Under this new treaty, the Shawnee Indians agreed to the terms of the Treaty of Fort Stanwix (1768). They had to give up ownership to all lands east and south of the Ohio River. This was the first time that natives that actually lived in the Ohio Country agreed to relinquish some of their land. In addition, the Shawnees promised to return all white captives and to no longer attack English colonists traveling down the Ohio River.

Cornstalk abided by this treaty for the rest of his life. Most Shawnees did not. By 1777, the Shawnee Indians again planned to drive the white settlers from the region. This time they did so at the urging of British soldiers who sought assistance in defeating the colonists in the American Revolution. Cornstalk and his son, Elinipsico, went to Point Pleasant, the site of an American fort, to warn the whites of the impending attack. The Americans took the natives hostage. Shortly thereafter, news reached Point Pleasant that, the Shawnee had ambushed and killed an American soldier. Seeking vengeance, the colonists killed Cornstalk, his son, and other natives in American custody.

Cornstalk illustrates the division of the Native Americans in the Ohio Country. Even within the same tribe, members could not agree on how to deal with white settlers moving into the area. http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=Indian+Chief+Cornstalk+&view=detail&id=12C085E12533B59F97C34023DCE3ACF7670BE76C&first=0 wikipedia info http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cornstalk and then of course there is a curse http://www.prairieghosts.com/cornstalk.html

Determining bloodlines descending from this great warrior can be challenging: One biographer contends that this polygamous chief had 8 wives, at least one of whom was a captive (Catherine Vanderpool Sharp).

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