|Nonhelema's Memorial Stone|
Logan Elm Park
According to the journal of Indian agent George Morgan, their father was named White Fish, and Cornstalk seemed to confirm that in a 1775 speech. However, according to the records of the Moravian missionaries, Cornstalk was the son or grandson of a well-known Pennsylvania Shawnee chief named Paxinosa, or “Hard Striker”, who has been mistakenly identified by some writers as Tecumseh’s father. I’ve found some accounts online that link the two names, so both may be correct. Nonhelema first married an unnamed Shawnee man, and later in life married the Shawnee chief Moluntha. She had several children, including a son, Thomas McKee, from her relationship with Indian Agent Colonel Alexander McKee and another son, Captain Butler/Tamanatha, with Colonel Richard Butler.
Logan Elm Park, Ohio
Nonhelema reputedly fought at the Battle of Point Pleasant in 1774, where the Shawnee force led by Cornstalk was defeated and the war essentially ended. Since Shawnee women played important roles in relations with other nations, she most likely attended the treaty with Cornstalk. The place where the treaty was signed and where Logan made his famous lament for his murdered relatives was less than 4 miles from Nonhelema’s Town. She and Cornstalk abided by this treaty for the rest of their lives, unlike the majority of the Shawnee.
Nonhelema’s participation in colonial frontier wars apparently convinced her that the survival of her people depended on living peacefully with the Americans. By the Revolution Nonhelema had become a peace chief, and she spent the rest of her life working toward that end. However, hers and Cornstalk’s peace proposals were opposed by a large faction of the Shawnee, who hoped to use an alliance with the British to reclaim the lands taken from them by settlers. By the winter of 1776, the nation was divided between those who advocated neutrality in the war between the Americans and the British, led by Nonhelema and Cornstalk, and those who allied with the British, led by men such as Black Fish and Blue Jacket, who will also appear in Refiner’s Fire.
|The Power of the Gospel|
David Zeisberger preaching to the Indians
On July 25, 1777, Nonhelema warned the soldiers at Fort Randolph on Point Pleasant that most of the Shawnee were allying with the British and planned to attack other forts. Cornstalk came to Fort Randolph with another chief, Red Hawk, that November to warn the fort’s commander that he could not hold his warriors back from going to war against the Americans. The commander held the men as a hostages to ensure the Shawnee’s neutrality, and when Cornstalk’s son came to visit him, he was also held. On November 10, 2 American militiamen from the fort who had gone out to hunt were found killed by Indians. The enraged soldiers broke into the room where Cornstalk and his companions were being held and brutally murdered them in retaliation.
In spite of her brother’s murder, Nonhelema did not waver in her friendship for the Americans. In 1778 she again warned Fort Randolph of a coming attack. On May 20 a Wyandot and Mingo force under Dunquat, the Wyandot Half King, surrounded the fort and began a week-long siege, during which Nonhelema’s large herd of cattle and horses was destroyed. Unsuccessful in their effort to force the fort’s defenders to surrender, the Indians began to move up the Kanawha River to attack Fort Donnally. Nonhelema dressed 2 messengers, John Pryor and Philip Hammond, as Indians so they could carry a warning160 miles to the garrison at Fort Donnally, which then also withstood attack.
|Present-day view at site of|
|Historical Marker at Nonhelema's Town|
Nonhelema’s story includes many difficult and sad circumstances, but she was a great leader among her people at a critical time in their history and ours.