For 18,000 years the Native American culture existed over this huge continent of the Americas including southeast Kentucky and Wayne County. And from their existence came the most advanced civilization to ever take on the meaning of life itself. From the most accurate calendar system in the world to the highly advanced study of the stars and nature, the Native culture the Cherokee gave unto human beings a shining star for wisdom. Many Chickamauga Cherokee and Kentucky Cumberland River Shawnee inhabited Wayne/Pulaski/McCreary Counties as permanent dwellers in south central Kentucky, building upon themselves a social sophisticated society that marvel scholars today. And in the middle of their existence roamed other tribal hunters and gatherers who came from many different lands as far as Canada to the tip of South America, from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific. They interchanged cultural bonds, traded in extensive commerce, and lived a life of deep respect between their discrete Indian Nations.
From the Totelo Sioux to the southern River Shawnee and Chickamauga Cherokee, the greatest of all Indian Nations placed their historical mark in south central southeastern Kentucky counties at the sacred lands of Wayne, McCreary, Clinton, Pulaski, and more. And at all its mighty sacred geological wonders of the Cumberland Plateau. The Plateau that runs all the way from Moorehead to London Kentucky in the north to south central southeastern Kentucky in the south, to all the way to Chattanooga Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama. A mark to forever be remembered in Native American history as the Land of Lightning, the Land of the Thunderbolt.
The area of south central Kentucky and northern Tennessee and the lands surrounding it became the center of the universe for many Chickamauga Cherokee and southern River Shawnee and most holy sacred grounds to many other Indian Nations east of the Mississippi River, especially to the River Shawnee and Chickamauga Cherokee Nations who became its guardians and protectors.
The painted and crafted Lightning Bolt was worn by these Chickamaga protectors and guardians of the sacred mirror, crescent moon, double sun, and paradise Bear mountains. The area of south central southeastern Kentucky was also the LAND OF THE HUMMINGBIRD.
The Cumberland River was called Ta-Eache, meaning the River of the Blue Flute by the ruling Chickamaugans whereas the southern River Shawnee called it the River of the Shawandasse. Burnside Ky became a huge Chickamauga Cherokee commerce center. This commerce center was called Salachi by the Chickamaugans, later Fort Somerset was built by the invading settlers which became a disgrace to the whites. And Wayne County Ky at “Doubleheads Cave” (Hines Cave) near present day Mill Springs in Wayne County became the most used diplomatic center for the Chickamauga Cherokee northern provincial capital. Chickamauga Cherokee and southern River Shawnee performed ceremonial bonding there. This was an area dominated, controlled, and ruled by the Chickamaugans on which the southern Cumberland River Shawnee and Chickasaws allied their support.
The honored burial chambers at Doubleheads Cave in southeast Kentucky were the resting places of a great people, the Chickamauga Cherokee! The three Great falls area of McCreary County became the most holy of sacred grounds: Ywahoo Falls, Cumberland Falls, and Eagle Falls. All was the Land of the Thunder-Bolt People, the Cherokee, THE THUNDER PEOPLE of the northern territorial nation of Chickamaugans, and on the other side of the Cumberland River the mighty territory of the southern River Shawandasse. Both Shawnee and Chickamauga Cherokee lived on both sides of the Cumberland River yet both understood this territorial marker between the two mighty nations. The Ky Cumberland River was the traditional northern marker of the mighty Cherokee Nation. This was the Cherokee in the north.
Out of the Cumberland Plateau (Ky-Tenn) including the counties of southern and eastern Ky walked the most mighty of Chiefs, War Women, and medicine people of the Cherokee and Shawnee Nations. Of the Cherokee walked Moytoy, War Chief Doublehead, War Chief Gilala (who fought with the Miami with Tecumseh, War Chief Dragging Canoe, Warrior Middlestriker, War Chief Peter Troxell, Beloved Woman Cornblossom, War Woman Standing Fern, William “Little Loud Wolf” Troxell, and many more. Other mighty famous leaders also walked and visited the area such as Chiefs Black Fish, Blue Jacket, Walking Bear, Broken Stick, and Tecumseh of the Shawnee, Pontiac of the Ottawa, and Mad Dog and “The Mortar” of the Creeks, to name a few.
After the Ywahoo Falls massacre of 1810 (see the story of the Cherokee Children Massacre below) this resistance movement would ally friendship with the northern Miami in the Tecumseh Wars and send a force of Chickamauga Cherokee under Ky Chickamaga leader Gilala of the Ky Cumberland River area to aid Tecumseh while in the meantime an underground railroad is formed out of Alabama and Georgia.
Southern Cherokee at Scuffletown & Henderson, Kentucky
It was no accident that Chief James Martin established the Southern Cherokee Nation in Scuffletown/Henderson, Kentucky. There are four very logical reasons why the Southern Cherokee Nation is now located in Henderson, Kentucky: First, According to maps made prior to the European invasion most of Kentucky was traditional Cherokee territory. Second, The Southern Cherokee had relatives living in Scuffletown and on the banks of the Green and Ohio Rivers. Our third Chief of the Southern Cherokee Nation is Thomas “Silver Fox” Scott. Remember, Scuffletown got its start in 1800 when Jonathan Thomas Stott-(Scott) -(Fox) a Full Blood Shawnee married Mary Polly Cooper a full blood Cherokee. They had two sons Jonathan Stott and Thomas Scott during the Cherokee removal their father was shot and died in Shawneetown Illinois in 1838. Third, Chief James Martin must have learned the tobacco business in Oklahoma from his Cousin, General Stand Watie who raised tobacco on his farm and owned a successful tobacco factory. Local whites complained and he was eventually driven out of business by the Federal Government. Scuffle Town and Henderson were the hub of the tobacco Industry until England imposed high tariffs on imported tobacco after World War I. Former Kentucky Governor John Young Brown was a Colonel in the Confederate Cavalry during the Civil War and also a resident of Henderson, Kentucky. It is reasonable to assume that he not only knew Confederate Cavalry General Stand Watie on a professional basis, but was sympathetic to the plight of the Southern Cherokee. On December 1893 the Southern Cherokee Nation was Welcomed to Kentucky in Scuffle Town, Kentucky and recognized as an Indian tribe by Governor Brown. The Southern Cherokee are still living around the area today.
Scuffletown Cherokee, Circa 1890-1910
December 26, 1893 Proclamation of Kentucky Governor John Young Brown
The Great Cherokee Children’s Massacre
Ywahoo Falls Kentucky 1810
On Friday, August 10th 1810, the Great Cherokee Children Massacre took place at Ywahoo Falls in southeast Kentucky . The Cherokee village leaders of the Cumberland Plateau territory from Knoxville Tennessee to the Cumberland River in Kentucky was 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, 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 Ywahoo Falls area of refuge and safety.
Once all the Cherokee children were gathered they were to make a journey to Reverend Gideon Blackburns Presbertearian 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 Plateau.
This area of Sequatchie Valley was very near to Lookout Mountain at Chattanooga, the once long held Chickamauga National capital of the Thunderbolts. The arrangements to save the Cherokee children thru Gideon Blackburns white protection Christian Indian Schools had been made earlier by Cornblossoms 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 large gathering area underneath Ywahoo Falls itself was to be the center 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 militiamen 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 Seveir to eliminate all the traditional Thunderbolt Cherokee 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 Seveirs Franklinites were the Cherokee women, pregnant women, and children of all ages. John Seveir, Big Tooth Gregory, and all the rest of the Franklinites philosophy was that if they could destroy the children of the Cherokee, there would be no Cherokee and no Cherokee Nation to contend with in their expansion of white settlements, the white churches, and the claiming of territory for the United States.
Orders were issued to the Franklinites to split open the belly of any pregnant Cherokee woman, remove the baby inside her, and slice it as well. To the Franklinites, the Cherokee baby inside the mother was the nit that would eventually make lice.
Runners brought word to Standing Fern at the falls that her husband War Chief Peter Troxell and Cornblossom were on their way to Ywahoo 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 Ywahoo 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 Gregorys 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 Ywahoo Falls area with fiery hatred. Big Tooth Gregory and his Indian fighters could not allow these children (nits) to escape. Being only 1 good accessible way in by land and 1 way in by water, Gregorys band of Indian fighters chose the quick way by land, sending a few side skirmishers by way to block anyone trying to escape. Before they reached the falls, at todays entrance to Ywahoo Falls, the Indian fighters encountered a front Cherokee guard consisting of “Big Jake” Jacob Troxell (husband to Cornblossom), a few longhunters friendly to the Cherokee mainly thru intermarriage and some remaining Thunderbolt warriors, all who were guarding the entrance to the falls. 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.
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”. It was said that “Bones and Blood ran so deep underneath Ywahoo Falls that the murdered dead were all put there together in a heap to be their grave”. The place of innocence and the Ancient Ones now became a place of death of the innocent. The Falls ran red that day of darkness, Friday, August 10, 1810.
This massacre ended all power of the mighty Chickamaugan Thunderbolt Cherokee people in Kentucky to Knoxville Tennessee. These people of southeast Kentucky and northern Tennessee held out unto death. And as it is often said “Today was a good day to die” for “We are not conquered.”