The Great Cherokee Children Massacre at
A Historical Narrative by Dan Troxell
On Friday, August 10th 1810, the
Great Cherokee Children Massacre took place at Yahoo Falls in
southeast Kentucky ...... the Cherokee village leaders of the
Cumberland Plateau territory from Knoxville Tennessee to the
Cumberland River in Kentucky were led by the northern provisional
Thunderbolt District Chief, Beloved Woman/War Woman "Cornblossom,"
the highly honored daughter of the famous Thunderbolt War Chief
Doublehead. Several months before this date, Beloved Woman/War
Woman Cornblossom, was preparing the people in all the Cherokee
villages of southeast Kentucky and northern Tennessee to bring
all their children to the sacred Yahoo Falls area of refuge and
Once all the Cherokee children
were gathered, they were to make a journey to Rev. Gideon Blackburns'
Presbyterian Indian School at Sequatchie Valley outside of Chattanooga
Tennessee in order to save the children of the Cherokee Nation
remaining in Kentucky and northern Tennessee on the Cumberland
This area of Sequatchie Valley
was very near to Lookout Mountain at Chattanooga, the once long
held Chickamauga National capital of the Thunderbolts. Near Lookout
Mountain, just on the other side in northeast Alabama, was the
rendezvous point for the Chickamaugan Cherokees and their allies
the Creek Nation. For by this time, many Creek and Chickamaugan
Thunderbolt Cherokee were defending the rest of the Indian Nations
there as well. The arrangements to save the Cherokee children
through Gideon Blackburns' white protection Christian Indian
Schools, had been made earlier by Cornblossom's father War Chief
Doublehead, who had also several years earlier been assassinated
by non-traditionalist of the southern Cherokee Nation of the
Carolinas and far eastern Tennessee.
A huge gathering area underneath
Yahoo Falls itself was to be the central meeting place for these
women and children to gather and wait. Then all the children
of all ages would go as one group southward to the school to
safety from the many Indian fighters gathering in the neighboring
counties of Wayne and Pulaski in Kentucky. These Indian fighters
were led by an old Franklinite militiaman from Tennessee named
Hiram "Big Tooth" Gregory who came from Sullivan County
Tennessee at the settlement of Franklin and had fought many Franklinite
campaigns under John Sevier to eliminate all the traditional
Thunderbolt Cherokees totally and without mercy. Big Tooth Gregory,
sanctioned by the United States government, War Department, and
Governor of the territory, carried on the ill famous Indian hating
battle cry of John Seveir that "nits make lice". Orders
were understood by these Cherokee haters that nits (baby lice)
would grow up to be adults and especially targeted in all the
campaigns of John Seveir Franklinites were the Cherokees women,
pregnant women, and children of all ages . . .
The Lands from London to Cumberland
Falls were ruled by many war leaders, among them was a great
warrior and friend to Cornblossom, War Chief Red Bird called Chief Cutsuwah, descendent of the Great War Woman Cutsuwah
that fell during the French and Indian War at Burnside Kentucky.
Red Bird was also a close relative to Cornblossom,
War Chief Peter Troxell and their descendants. The cries of Red Bird's
women and children echoed
many times in this genocide campaign of the Franklinites to rid
the area of powerful Cherokee leaders. The blood of many warriors,
men and women, was spilled trying to defend their Cherokee people.
From where today's Pickett State Park lays in northern Tennessee
just below the Kentucky Tennessee State Line lying south of present
day Wayne County Kentucky, the cries of women and children and
fallen warriors of War Chief The Fox could also be heard . .
Standing Fern from the Yahoo Falls
area sent many warriors and war women to counter the Franklinites
move on their boundaries many times as did Cornblossom and War
Chief Peter Troxell. War Chief Peter Troxell had attacked to
the west of Yahoo Falls in 1806 and 1807 the settlers of Wayne
and Pulaski counties, bringing many settlers to the point of
utter fear for their encroach- ments against the Cherokees of
the now Daniel Boone National Forest of southeast Kentucky. But
in 1807, War Chief Peter Troxell had been granted official amnesty
by the Governor of Kentucky if he and his Cherokee war parties
from neighboring McCreary County stop their raids into Wayne
and Pulaski County. War Chief Peter Troxell agreed and turned
over his scalping knife with 9 notches to the authorities at
the courthouse in Wayne County. Peace would last just a short
time when the settlers of Wayne and Pulaski banded together in
1810 to break this peace treaty at the massacre of Yahoo Falls.
Many of the Cherokee who tried to protect their people during
these times simply did not return, dwindling the people down
to small factions . . .
Politically, Two (2) Cherokee Nations
had been formed during Dragging Canoe and Doublehead's fight
for freedom of the traditionalist: The Southern Cherokees of
the Carolinas and far eastern Tennessee and the Chickamaugan
Cherokee of Georgia, eastern Alabama, Tennessee, and Kentucky.
. . But by this date of 1810 Dragging Canoe and the rest of the
so- called Bloody Seven had either died a natural death or been
killed and War Chief Doublehead, Cornblossoms father, had met
his death by means of assassination at the hands of the Cherokee
conformist from the south.
And now, in 1810, one more attempt
would be made to destroy the Cherokees who kept the old traditional
ways. One more attempt would be made to destroy the "nits
that make lice" as the many Cherokee women with their children
began coming to Yahoo Falls in order to make the great "Children"
migration to Seqatchie Valley near Chattanooga, Tennessee. In
southeast Kentucky, underneath Yahoo Falls itself, was War Woman
Standing Fern and over 100 women and children, others stationed
themselves out from the falls. Standing Fern was the mighty woman
war leader of the Yahoo Falls area and was married to the 1st
born of Cornblossom. She was married to War Chief Peter Troxell.
At this time Cornblossom was married to the famous "Big
Jake" Jacob Troxell, a half breed Delaware Warrior from
Pennsylvania who had been sent by the personal staff of President
George Washington earlier to sway the Cherokee away from the
Spanish of Florida and more towards the New Americans in alliance
. . . By 1810, "Little Jake" Peter Troxell was a mighty
War Chief riding along side his mother Cornblossom in all her
campaigns and protecting the sacred sites with his wife Standing
Fern. They were true Cherokee Thunderbolts and wore the sacred
emblem and mark of the Thunder People: the Lightning Bolt.
Standing Fern was in charge of
the gathered children who by August 10th had almost all assembled.
Now they would wait for Cornblossom to bring her younger children
to the falls, then all would be ready and they would go southward
in a children fleeing journey more closer to the Thunderbolts
of the south who were more stronger.
Runners brought word to Standing
Fern at the falls that her husband War Chief Peter Troxell and
Cornblossom were on their way to Yahoo Falls with the last of
the children. Traveling with Cornblossom and War Chief Peter
Troxell were Chief
Red Bird of the Cumberland Falls
area and their children,
the youngest children of Cornblossom, and all the children of
War Chief Peter Troxell. When they arrived at Yahoo Falls the
journey southward would begin. But before Cornblossom, Red Bird, War Chief Peter Troxell, and the children
with them arrived, the old Franklinite "Indian fighter"
by the name of Hiram "Big Tooth" Gregory had heard
of the planned trip several days prior and headed immediately
for the falls area to kill them all with all he could muster
to kill the Cherokee.
Breaking the 1807 peace treaty
between War Chief Peter Troxell and the Governor of Kentucky,
Big Tooth Gregory's band of Indian fighters crossed into Cherokee
territory and came in two directions, one group from Wayne County,
the other from neighboring Pulaski county in southeast Kentucky.
The Indian fighters on horseback joined together at what is now
called Flat Rock Kentucky and headed into the Yahoo Falls area
with fiery hatred . . . This occurred shortly after midnight
in the early morning hours of darkness before the rising of the
sun. This will be the night morning of screams. This will be
the last day of many children. This will be the day that will
forever mark the Troxell Cherokee heritage in history.
Jacob Troxell, the long hunters,
and warriors instantly sense the trouble, a Cherokee runner takes
off in flight to attempt to warn Standing Fern at the falls but
is cut down by 2 side skirmishers on the way. At the same time
Jacob Troxell and the front guards lock in a fierce battle of
flintlock against flintlock and hand to hand fighting, trying
to keep Gregory and his band out, but are overcome in a short
time by the numbers of the Indian fighters. All the front guard
is killed at this entrance to Yahoo Falls. It was said through
the memories of the Cherokee people of southeast Kentucky that
Jacob Troxell and 1 renowned great warrior were the last to fall
of the front guards. Jacob, now swinging a half broken highly
decorated war club in one hand and a large skinning knife in
the other, stood fighting hand to hand with blood coming out
of his mouth from several bodily wounds and was said to have
kept screaming to the end in a loud voice over and over, "The
The Great Warrior witnessed the
fall of Jacob as the Indian fighters took sharp aim and fired
a whole volley of lead into Jacob's body finally downing and
scalping him. Jacob will survive this attack but is mortally
wounded and will live 2 months before he dies as a result from
this massacre. So some say that Jacob died at this massacre to
denote his final breath to save the children because that was
where his heart was - defending the children of a now forgotten
people lost within the hills and valleys of southeast Kentucky
waiting for remembrance of their families. The Great Warrior,
who was still standing and the last to fall, was jumped by several
Indian fighters and downed to the ground. Breaking his arms the
Indian fighters then cut his throat and scalped him.
This had all been witnessed and
watched by a hidden son of one of the front Cherokee guards who
was given orders to flee into the woods upon the Indian fighters
approach. This hidden Cherokee son would carry down this memory
for generations (today . . . the Yahoo Falls area is part of
the Big South Fork River and Recreation Area of the National
Park Service and is the tallest waterfall in Kentucky which drops
113 feet, underneath and behind the falls is an open huge gigantic
rock shelter where the children and Standing Fern had gathered).
Gregory with his Indian fighters
after scalping all the front guards, then moved onward in a rush
to the falls area. Lining themselves all along the top rim of
the bluff surrounding the falls and large "rock house"
below it, they began firing from all sides down on War Woman
Standing Fern and over 100 children now trapped directly underneath
them. The ones out from the falls ran, hid, and escaped. Trapping
the 100 children with other old men, pregnant women, and mothers
underneath the falls, Gregory and his men worked their way down
into the gigantic area of the rock house on the 2 downward side
paths while the ones on top kept them bottled in. As children
and women fell all around her from the volley of lead above,
War Woman Standing Fern and her few warriors now take to the
two left and right inclining side paths that lead into the huge
rock shelter hoping to meet and stop the Indian fighters. Looking
outward from underneath the falls itself, Standing Fern and several
warriors took the right hand path that would lead upward, the
other few warriors took the left path. The trapped Cherokee people
and the children old enough to hold a weapon grabbed what ever
they could in their grasps to defend themselves. Some would have
a knife or hatchet, while most would only have a rock or a clay
cooking bowl to throw or nothing at all to use as a weapon. Some
of the ones who escaped out from the falls, hid among the rocks,
water, and trees and would watch in horror with tears to tell
the story for generations so that we may remember what happened
that day, Friday, August 10th, 1810.
Standing Fern and her warriors
were very quickly overcome by the Indian fighters and brutally
killed but not before Standing Fern fought with a passion of
defense taking with her several of the Indian fighters in hand
to hand combat along the right path while the other warriors
fought with the ever fevered courage of a Thunderbolt as well.
The fall of Standing Fern occurred at a narrow spot on the right
path fighting several of the Indian fighters with the swinging
of a hatchet in hand to hand combat. As she was fighting she
was shot twice, once in the shoulder and once in the hip, and
gutted in the belly with an unforeseen knife. As the knife entered
her belly, at the same time she was shoved over the ravine by
several Indian Fighters, but not before taking some with her.
With Standing Fern and all her
warriors now defeated and murdered, the Indian fighters set upon
the children and others that were trapped under the falls, rushing
it with more volleys of lead and close attack. Using what useless
weapons they had, the women, old men, and children fell prey
to the evil dark designs of the attackers. They screamed an earthquake
of death and tears. The water and ground ran red.
Hiram Big Tooth Gregory and all
his Indian fighters raped the women and younger female children
of all ages, pillaged, cut bellies open, murdered, and scalped
over 100 Chickamaugan Cherokee women and children that had been
trapped underneath Yahoo Falls, killing most of them as they
ran, begged, huddled together, and screamed and pleaded for life.
Meanwhile this same day the party
of Cornblossom approached with her children. As her party came
closer to the falls area, it is said a hawk flew above them and
lit in a nearby tree and acted strange. Investigating this remarkable
occurrence, it was found that the tree was bleeding blood out
of its bark, the leaves trembled, and the sound of the hawk was
as a cry and scream of a baby. Fearing something wrong, Cornblossom
and her party pushed onward in a frantic pace to get her children
to the falls and safety. When Cornblossom arrived at the falls
entrance area, she found all of the front guards brutally scalped
and killed with her husband "Big Jake" Jacob Troxell.
Leaving the children with some women at the front guard entrance,
Cornblossom, her son War Chief Peter Troxell, Red Bird, and their party of warriors and war women
then rushed to the Falls itself, where they find some of Gregorys
murderers who had remained behind still finishing their evil
work of rape, torture, and scalping. Cornblossom screams for
her warriors, Redbird, and her son Chief Peter Troxell to kill
these remaining men with a blow of passion. Her famous cry was
once again heard as she had always shouted in all her many campaigns:
"Shoot Twice Not Once!" War Chief Peter Troxell, Chief Redbird, and the Thunderbolt Warriors, along with
Beloved Woman / War Woman Cornblossom (Selu-Sa-tah), charged
the murderers with screaming Cherokee war hoops and passion of
justice, a battle ensues with a short volley of rifle fire and
close hand to hand combat with all its fierceness. All the remaining
men of Gregory's Indian fighters are cut down to never more harm
the Cherokee people.
From this last fight of Cornblossom,
her son War Chief Peter Troxell was himself killed at the huge
rock shelter underneath the falls and Cornblossom herself received
an agonizing long rifle gunshot injury. Cornblossom will live
2 days before this wound takes its full toll on her life. Beloved
Woman Cornblossom, wounded and in much pain from wound and sorrow,
will sing and wail the "Death song of the Cherokees."
And on the rising of the Sun on
the 3rd day .... Cornblossom passed on into history a Great Cherokee
Woman and mother of generations to come. Holding the Beams of
Sunlight in her Eyes Forever. . . Clinching her raised fists
and raised open arms to the Great Spirit, day and night, she
kept screaming the words of her father Doublehead, son War Chief
Peter Troxell, and daughter-n-law War Woman Standing Fern: "WE
ARE NOT CONQUERED YET!"
. . . From this massacre, Jacob
Troxell (husband to Cornblossom), the Great Warrior, and all
the front guards killed, War Woman Standing Fern (wife to War
Chief Peter Troxell) and her elite Thunderbolt warriors all killed
defending the children below the falls, War Chief Peter Troxell
killed in the last fight, and over 100 women and children waiting
to go south to safety in a children journey to a Christian mission
school, all lay dead, massacred, raped, tortured, and scalped,
by these "Indian fighters" . . .
This massacre ended all power of
the mighty Chickamaugan Thunderbolt Cherokee people in Kentucky
to Knoxville Tennessee. Cornblossom and Standing Fern were the
last powerful "Beloved Women/War Women" of the Thunderbolt
Cherokees of the Cumberland Plateau . . .
After the massacre at Yahoo Falls,
Reverend Blackburn's "Indian schools" in Tennessee
are discontinued due to Blackburn's illness and grief over the
many women and children killed at Yahoo Falls in southeast Kentucky.
Reverend Blackburn is caught with a boatload of whiskey and becomes
an alcoholic. Chief
Redbird isolates his people
that live near Cumberland Falls and sends any remaining people
into hiding until the remembrance.
The children of Cornblossom and
Standing Fern survived. William Troxell the youngest son of Cornblossom,
and my descent, survived and removed himself to northeastern
Alabama 7 yrs after the massacre, lived with the Creeks, and
became a link between the hidden Cherokee of Kentucky and Tennessee
before and after the Trail of Tears.
. . . Also in the last fight of
Cornblossom, Peter Troxell, and Redbird
when they attacked the remaining murderers at the Falls, 3 of
the white men were held and spared briefly and executed personally
by the hidden children who had escaped and run into the nearby
hill. This execution of justice came shortly after the passing
of Cornblossom on the 3rd day after being weighed in judgment
by the Cherokee
Council of Women of Redbird
. . .
I, Dan Troxell, Deni
U-Gu-Ku, direct descendant through Cornblossom and her last
born son William Troxell, comes out from isolation and proclaims
our history alive for I am a Real Human Being, I am a Thunderbolt,
I am Cherokee. The Thunderbolt people will now wait for a remembrance.
LET US NOT FORGET THEM
REMEMBER THEM WITH A CHEROKEE TEAR