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click to enlarge
Painting by Hal Sherman

et al
by Carlyle Hinshaw


In studying Shawnee Chief Cornstalk, several different native names for him appear, purporting to have the same meaning. The word cornstalk is an English rendition of something similar to a stalk, stem or blade of maize, however, few if any writings about the Chief document the meaning of the native names. In a plea for researchers of things Shawnee, several responders graciously contributed some excellent information of which, some is newly exposed to many of us..

A great deal about Cornstalk has been written, both in manuscript and published form, so here, a note on his life is short, just outlining his background. He was born ca 1720 in one of the Shawnee villages in the drainage of the upper Susquehanna River. At that time, the Shawnees were undergoing another of their migrations and as a youngster, his family moved to Ohio River country on it’s Scioto River tributary, in what is now southern Ohio. By the end of the French and Indian War in the early 1760’s, he had become a principal leader of the Tribe and remained so until he was murdered by whites at Fort Randolph (Point Pleasant, now West Virginia) in 1777. His 1763 foray up the Kanawha River to its Greenbrier reaches was a scourge to Virginians. Cornstalk attempted to ambush part of Lord Dunmore’s Virginia army at Point Pleasant where the Kanawha empties into the Ohio in 1774. Failing, he deftly negotiated a peace settlement, saving the Tribe from devastation. Largely however, Cornstalk and his family were peacemakers and his 1777 death happened on such a mission. He had guided the Tribe through the years just prior to the American Revolution, leading them on another migration to put distance between them and European usurpers.

Three Names, maybe more

Hokolesqua, Wynepuechsika and Keiga-tugh-qua show up in literature most frequently, but treatments of the words, except to relate to Cornstalk, is lacking. The great chief has had all bestowed on him as his native moniker.

Contributor: John Sugden, historical author, Arnside, Cumbria, England.

In his book, Blue Jacket, Warrior of the Shawnees, 2000, University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln, 350 p., Sugden points out that Shawnee children received names in infancy but were at liberty to change them later in life (p. 27). Blue Jacket, one of Cornstalk’s warrior’s, lived as Se-pet-te-ke-na-the, Big Rabbit, until as late as 1776. The demise of Cornstalk elevated Blue Jacket in the hierarchy of Indian-American warfare and he likely selected his later name of Waweypiersenwaw, the Whirlpool, as one more fitting to his newly gained responsibilities. A recorded but obscure name for him, was Sasesequa. British traders called him Blue Jacket as their records of transactions with him reflect, beginning as early as 1752. Blue Jacket and Silver Heels (Silverheels), a younger brother of Cornstalk, hunted together and sold deer skins to Pennsylvania traders as youngsters. Both became respected Shawnee warriors.

Contributor: Hal Sherman, artist of historical events and historian, Englewood, Ohio.

Sherman contributes: "From Draper (Manuscripts) 3Dxviii, the Indian name of Cornstalk was Keigh-tugh-qua signifying a blade (or stalk ) of the maize plant. In Indian Agent George Morgan’s journal’s he was also called Colesqua and his father was White Fish. It listed his brother as Nimwha. C. Hale Sipe’s Indian Chiefs of Pennsylvania says he went by the name of Tamenebuck, or Taming Buck. The most popular name here in Ohio seemed to be the Shawnee name of Hokolesqua."

American National Biography (2002) by Oxford University Press, lists in Cornstalk’s entry, Hokoleskwa, as meaning "a blade of corn". Original names are rendered in white settlers' records as Colesqua, Keightughque, and Semachquaan. A1764 document identifies him with Tawnamebuck, a Shawnee who attended the Lancaster Treaty proceedings in Pennsylvania in 1748, but probably is in error. In a speech of 1775, Cornstalk seems to describe himself as the son of White Fish, but Matthew Arbuckle, who knew them both, implies otherwise in a letter of December 1776. Moravian missionary records indicate that he was the son or grandson of noted headman Paxinosa, and circumstances suggest this to be true.

What Did He Look Like? (For that matter, other eastern woodlands Indians long gone prior to being illustrated?)

A picture befitting a Cornstalk?

Figure 1 of this article.

Hal Sherman also states: "The Ohio Historical Society published a pamphlet on the Indian Chiefs of Ohio and a picture of an engraving of Cornstalk with a note stating that it was after McKinney and Hall's copy of the original in the Smithsonian. The engraving shows him in the same headdress as Karl Bodmer's portrait of the Mandan Chief Mato-Tope."


From The Horses Mouth

Contributor: Noel Schutz, National Chi Nan University, Puli, Tawan.


Schutz, a longtime worker in Shawnee linguistics, culture and history, relates that hokolesqua comes from hokoleshkwa, "Stalk (of plant)." By nuance, it could be stalk of maize. The other most common names utilized for him are Wynepuechsika and Keigh-taugh-quah-qua (Some identify him with Taminy Buck who was a well-known chief in Pennsylvania and was probably associated with Corn Stalk only by the similarity of the name (probably taamini-, ‘corn’ + po’k- ‘mashed"; also Tomenebuck; Tamene Buck; Tokmene Buck; Domini Buck).

Schutz notes that Cornstalk’s ‘siblings were Nonhelema ( "grenadier Squaw"; Catherine), Silverheels, and Nimwha. Some say his father was Paxinosa, ‘Hard Striker’ (not the father of Tecumseh as some think in error, but a well-known Pennsylvania Shawnee chief). Some of his children that have been mentioned are Oceano, Elinipso (Elinipisco, Elinispisco Nipseko), Aracroma (The Aracroma legend, married Boiling Baker), Greenbrier (name from the Greenbrier area of the Kanawha River?), Bluesky, Wynepuechiska (Peter), Wissecapoway, Piaserka (The Wolf). Other names mentioned are Mary, Elizabeth, Esther, Peter, Nern-Pe-Nes-Quah. Keigh-taugh-quah. Elizabeth See was a white captive Cornstalk married prior to her repatriation. Cornstalk is said to have been born in western Pennsylvania at least by 1720, but some say 1708 or 1710, and moved with his family when he was about 10 to Ohio.

Not yet finding the stems involved, Schutz notes Wynepuechsika is glossed as "Stout Man", for Cornstalk’s son of that name. Since Peter Cornstalk is frequent in the literature, researchers and authors may have equated Wynepuechsika to Cornstalk, meaning the father rather than the son. Schutz notes that Keigh-taugh-quah, the other of common names for Cornstalk but actually that of one of his sons, may relate to the stem {takhwa-} "pound, grind to make bread’.


Schutz continues with, "At the time Peter Chartier’s band was in Alabama among the Creeks, the "King" of the Shawnee there was listed as "King Aculusska’ of the village of "Shalapheagyee" (a variant among the Creek of the village of Chillichacagees, the Chalakaa Shawnee village in the south [with the plural ending -ki) with other Shawnee headmen on September 25th, 1755. Aculusska is a variant of Hokoleskwa. If this identification is admitted, Cornstalk was in the south at this time with a great many of the hostile Shawnee."

Rank has its Privileges


In compiling this article, the uncovering of the word hokolesqua’s being used as a specie designation came as a surprise and Dr. Grantham was gracious in supplying the answer.

Contributor: Dr. Richard A. Grantham, Entomology and Plant Pathology, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater.


Hansonopeda hokolesqua

This new species was described in 1996 and the reference is as follows:

TI: Two new species of Hansonoperla (Plecoptera: Perlidae) from

eastern North America.

AU: Kondratieff-Boris-C {ta}; Kirchner-Ralph-F

S0: Annals-of-the-Entomological-Society-of-America. 1996; 89 (4)


PY: 1996

LA: English

AB: Two new species are added to the eastern Nearctic genus

Hansonoperla, which included only H. appalachia Nelson.

Hansonoperla hokolesqua n. sp. is described from northeastern Kentucky and southwestern West Virginia, and H. cheaha n. sp. from northeastern Alabama. All 3 species are described from the adult male, adult female, and the egg. Diagnostic features and a key for separating the 3 species are presented, supported by illustrations and scanning electron microscopy photomicrographs.

AN: 199699136354

Under "etymology" the article states "the name hokolesqua honors Chief Hokolesqua, one of the ten foremost chiefs of the Shawnee. He was also known as Chief Cornstalk, the principal Shawnee chief at the Battle of Point Pleasant (West Virginia), Monday, 10 October 1774.


Figs. 7-11. H. hokolesqua. (7) Head and pronotum. (8) Male terminalia, dorsal. (9) Extended adeagus, lateral. (10) Dorsal. (11) Female subgenital plate, ventral.

Figure 2 of this article.

A finishing Note

The Cornstalk family, the great Chief, brothers Nimwha and Silverheels and sister Nonhelema, all wove a fascinating history into Shawnee heritage and the family continues to do so. During the Civil War, Shawnees living at Sebastian, Kansas, six miles east of Lawrence at the crossing of the Wakarusa River, learned of Confederate Captain William Clarke Quantrill’s successes at Independence, Missouri against Union troops. Quantrill was headed west from Independence and Eliza Silverheels, wife of David Likens Bluejacket, bundled up the community children, including her one year old, and led the kids and older adults into the limestone hills above and south of Sebastian. Early in the morning of August 21, 1863, Quantrill crossed the Wakarusa at Sebastian with 400 of his raiders, heading toward Lawrence to punish the anti-slavery zealots there of many years standing. Eliza, not given to having her hearth and home violated by the confederates, came back down from the hills and waited in the dark, armed with a family pipe tomahawk.

As the heinous guerillas rode through the Shawnee enclave, one, hell bent on looting Eliza’s home and perhaps intending on doing bodily harm to any inhabitants, tried to enter by a window. He came face to face with this young, enraged Shawnee Indian woman. With great effort, Eliza gave a mighty swing of her weapon, so mighty in fact, that when the axe met the raider, her arm broke. The haft of the tomahawk broke at the same time. The Quantrillian was not so fortunate, as the blow rent his head fiercely, doing him in for good! The confederate van hit Lawrence at 5 AM, killing upwards of 200 inhabitants, looting, raping and setting fire to the entire town. Later, Quantrill was abandoned by most of his men and killed by Union troops in Kentucky. The pipe tomahawk of that conflagration is today in the care of Robert Withrow, Jr., of Kanab, Utah, great great-grandson of Eliza Silverheels. The piece was cast in 1833 in the Naylor, Vickers and Company’s Sheffield, England foundry. It was decorated in London by a Vickers metal smith. Pipe tomahawks were commonly given Indian leaders at treaty ceremonies, had inserts for tobacco and the hafts were drilled for smoking, "peace pipes" if you will.

A Silverheels descendant, Georgie Honey of Miami OK, is the Treasurer of the Shawnee Tribe, carrying on a very long family tradition of service. And that my Shawnee fans, is


et al


December 13, 2002 ….. 1713 Baron Drive Norman OK 73971 bjexploration@swbell.net

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