Is Pawalin Cornblossom Doublehead Troxel a myth?

+6 votes
2.2k views

Pawalin Cornblossom Doublehead Troxel, did she exist? Is she a myth? Can we thrash this out once and for all? I admit to having spent many hours searching for any proof of her existence and have come up empty handed. Her name first appears in print in 1958 in a novel Legion of the Lost Mine by Thomas Troxel who states that many of the characters in his book are fictional. No one has offered any genealogical proof of her existence. Websites are mentioned as are books, but not a single source. Let's try to settle this in a scholarly manner. 

WikiTree profile: Cornblossom Cherokee
in Genealogy Help by Jeanie Roberts G2G6 Pilot (127k points)

Miranda, it is a family tradition held dearly by many. 

However, our analysis found no contemporaneous documentation to support it and much to contradict it. 

Jacob Troxell’s daughter Elizabeth (Troxel-109) Vaughn, her husband and children are all here in Wikitree.  Her mother is unknown, but Elizabeth was born in Maryland or Virginia before the family moved West.
Hi Mitch,

I just became aware of the Cornblossom controversy. Never heard of her until two days ago. I read about the call for DNA samples so I forwarded my raw DNA data to GED Match. Will they know what to do with it in regards to this matter?
Hi Dwayne,

I never did find out anything about the DNA project that I saw a reference to. I have quite a few DNA relatives that share Chief Doublehead as a common ancestor, only one lists Cornblossom as this person's ancestor. I suspect that this person and I are related, but probably not through Doublehead. I'll see what GED Match has to say. I'm not that adept at using GED Match, but I do have my DNA posted on Ancestry, MyHeritage, 23&me as well as GED Match. I am descended from Alcy Doublehead.
I think the Cornblossom DNA project went defunct long ago.  There is a Brock DNA project and the Brock descendants have a great Facebook group.  As I’m sure you know, Doublehead has many well-documented modern- day descendants. Almost all are through his daughters,
I don't have a dog in this fight. Didn't grow up with a Cornblossom legend in my family. Never heard of her until this week.

A couple of things come to this old sheriff's detective's mind. The Cornblossom believers seem adamant that they heard the story long before the book was published in 1958 (any body have a copy?) Seems like they should make a serious effort to harvest and assemble in one file as much information about the passers of the information as possible as well as dates they lived. By doing so, they may stumble on new evidence or unmask the originator of a giant hoax.

It's interesting that the complete lack of documentation that Cornblossom lived is matched by the lack of documentation of any other first wife/consort of Jacob Troxel (l). Somebody had those babies!

Don't know how much effort has gone into locating an alternative to Cornblossom, but that may be the easier form of evidence to find. If Jacob Troxel's children were illegitimate, no recorded wife, so much the harder.

I'm not a genealogist. I have no idea what type of government or church records existed in that era. A family bible or letters between family members would be handy. It doesn't seem that locating military records of Jacobs service would prove anything.

Does anyone know the extent of any search for an alternative mother for Jacob's children? I'd be glad to help if it could be done online.

Dwayne Troxel
Wikitree researchers have done

massive amounts of research and posted here on Wikitree.  Jacob Troxell was a well-documented grandson of a “Pennsylvania Dutch,” i.e. German family who lived in Frederick, Maryland and Loudoun, Virginia on opposite sides of the Potomac River before moving to Kentucky.  Women were not named in census records until 1850 (unless they were the head of household), so although the Troxells are enumerated they are not named individually.

Dwayne,

We did an extensive analysis here, touching on many of the points you raise:

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1vK50BYKbKAir9mp37dIqNh-TJoc6gCQWh-RSSHpA3LE

The 1958 fictional document is linked to from within that document, but to save you time, you can find it at the end of a compilation here:

https://www.familysearch.org/library/books/records/item/184281-the-troxell-family?viewer=1&offset=0#page=1&viewer=picture&o=info&n=0&q=

Scroll to image 103 for the start of the book.

Cornblossom does not exist. She is a fictional character made up for a book. Just like Aaron Brock is not Chief Redbird. Sizemore, Troxel’s, Brock’s are not Descendant of Cherokee or any other Native American Group, it was a book. For which the writer has confessed that it was all a made up lie for a book. There are so many false lines showing this “fake book” as true. Anyone with Brock, Sizemore, Troxel, Dragging Canoe, MoyToy, Cornblossom are all made up false lines.
Thanks, AH GWY,

We've come to the same conclusion, and hopefully the various affected profiles here on WikiTree already reflect this understanding. If you find a profile that does not yet do so, please bring it to our attention.

6 Answers

0 votes

I'm not sure why Les Blevins won't engage here on G2G, but I am going to copy and paste some of his claims here, so maybe others can join in. 

NOTE

1. It is important to note that the dates cited for most 15th, 16th, 17th, 18th, and some 19th century American Indian marriages, births, and deaths are, at best, approximations. For example: CORNBLOSSOM was reported to have been the daughter of the second wife of DOUBLEHEAD (TALTSUSKA), and about twelve years old in 1779 and eight years old at the signing of the Treaty of Sycamore Shoals in 1775, which would place her birth sometime around 1767. Although Cornblossom is not a Cherokee word, there is a Delaware word, PAWALIN, which means CORNBLOSSOM and it is a Delaware surname given to women. PAWALIN literally translates as “CORNBLOSSOM FALLS OFF.”

The above is the position of;Kenneth Barnett Tankersley, Ph.D., Department of Anthropology, University of Cincinnati.

by Jeanie Roberts G2G6 Pilot (127k points)
The above information comes from Les Blevins, he has posted it to the Cornblossom profile. My questions for him include:

1. You state that Cornblossom was reported as being the daughter of Doublehead. Where, when and who made this report? Are you speaking of an actual document? Or are you just quoting a website or book?

2. There is no Delaware language. The Delaware Indians speak Lenape. There is no Lenape word for Cornblossom and on the Lenape language website, the word Pawalin is not recognized as a word in the Lenape language. see http://www.talk-lenape.org/

3. If Jacob Troxel married "Cornblossom" prior to 1790, who did they meet? A Maryland farmer and a Cherokee girl from Tennessee?
Also, a note on the writings of Kenneth Tankersley. He might have a Phd, but he is no genealogist. I have not seen any documentation for his claims. In fact much of what he has written has been disputed by the Cherokee. The Yahoo Falls Massacre is a total historical fabrication.

The blog Ancestor Stealing has some information on Tankersley and his research.

Jeanie, please link to the Ancestor Stealing blog. 

I’m trying to find the origins of these various claims, including the ones that Les Blevins seems to be referring to.  I googled Kenneth Tankersley (PhD and member of a Shawnee tribe/nation) and found a copy the article containing the description of cornblossom and the Yahoo falls massacre:

http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~brockfamily/KYs-Native-Past-byKTankersley.html

The article includes no footnotes— something I find rather surprising for an academic— but does appear to include a list of references at the end, one of which is the work of Daniel Troxell. With a link:

http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~brockfamily/ChiefRedBird-atYwahooFalls.html

This appears to be an extract from the larger book by Troxell. It, too, excludes source citations making it impossible to independently verify the claims he makes. 

There is a link to a Daniel Troxell web page in this last article but the link is dead. 

http://ancestorstealing.blogspot.com/

 

Search for Tankersley or cornblossom and it will take you to the article.
I also added to jacob Troxell’s profile a link to Wikipedia about Ywahoo (that spelling) Falls Massacre and that article also questions the legitimacy of the  massacre as well.

The following was recently posted to the profile of ‘Cornblossom.’  “Tankersley wrote "At Port Vincennes, Jacob Troxell befriended a young Cherokee warrior about his same age from the Cumberland River valley, Tukaho Doublehead, son of Taltsuska (Doublehead) and Creat Priber. Doublehead was born in McCreary County, Kentucky, son of Wilenawa (Great Eagle), grandson of Moytoy, and great-grandson of Amatoya Moytoy—a fourth generation Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation. Tukaho invited Jacob Troxell to his village, Tsalachi, which was located near present-day Burnside, Kentucky. In the summer of 1779, Doublehead welcomed his son’s new friend and invited him to stay and trade with his people. Not long afterwards, Jacob Troxell became smitten over Pawalin, one of Doublehead’s four daughters."

Here are the actual documented facts:   In the winter of 1777, according to his Revolutionary War pension application, (available at Fold3) eighteen year old Jacob Troxell was drafted into service for a period of about one month.  The following year, again in winter, Jacob enlisted at a place he recalled as Red Stone.  His commanding officers were Capt. Ford and Col. Crawford.  In 1778, Jacob marched from Red Stone Old Fort to Fort McIntosh on the banks of the Ohio River.  There he joined the regulars under the command of Col. Crawford and Gen. McIntosh.  On Nov. 19, 1778, the General and his troops left the fort and headed into Indian territory, with the objective of destroying the settlement at Detroit. The expedition failed and the soldiers suffered through the winter. Jacob was with Col. Crawford and Gen. McIntosh for about six months before he returned home to Virginia.  This action is well-documented at http://www.rebeljoe.com/military-history-of-joseph-hancock-jr/mcintoshs-military-expedition-and-command-1778-1779/

While Jacob Troxel was in Ohio engaged in the expedition to Detroit, Dragging Canoe, Doublehead, and the other Chickamauga warriors were hundreds of miles away, assisting the British at Fort Vincennes, in what is now Indiana.  The following is from John Brown’s Old Frontiers pp. 171-173

"During the years 1777 and 1778 Henry Hamilton conducted an energetic Indian warfare against the American frontier.  He offered substantial rewards for American scalps and was hated by the frontiersmen, who called him the 'Hair Buyer'.' .... Hamilton called an assembly of all Indian chiefs who were friendly to the British to be held at the mouth of the Tennessee River early in 1779.  Hamilton planned to use Dragging Canoe's forces as the spearhead of the proposed offensive.  By the end of 1778 the Chickamauga band numbered a thousand warriors.  ...  Hamilton's plans received a rude jolt when George Rogers Clark conquered the Illinois country.  Hamilton advanced against Clark in October, 1778, and retook Fort Vincennes; but Clark, in a winter campaign, surprised Vincennes, captured the "Hair Buyer"," and sent him a prisoner to Virginia."  ....  On Jan. 8, 1779 [Va Governor] Henry wrote to Governor Caswell of North Carolina, asking for cooperation in a campaign for the destruction of the Chickamauga towns. "

 In the spring of 1779 soldiers under Virginian Evan Shelby systematically destroyed the Chickamauga towns. 

Recent private email communications between myself and Kenneth Tankersley, author of the various works being cited for claims about Cornblossom, suggest that he stands only by his peer-reviewed, hard-copy, published research: "I have never published anything about Jacob Troxel." 

When asked about the article under his name posted on the Kentucky Heritage web site (the long piece most frequently cited for all his Doublehead/Cornblossom/Troxel claims), he pointed out that this was a report to the commission and was never published. 

Tankersley had stronger language about anything else online and also concluded that only genetics could prove genealogical relationships.

He soundly refused further email communications about the topic.

Bottom line interpretation on my part: Tankersley does not stand behind what he wrote for the Kentucky Heritage commission and that anything we find online associated with him should not be relied upon as a source for anything about this set of profiles.

I agree with your interpretation Jillaine. Tankersley, seems to be backpedaling on his claims. The article was written over ten years ago, and possibly does not reflect well on his current status.

His comments about genealogy were rather derogatory, implying that genealogy was dead, and genetics will solve all our ancestor questions. Shows his ignorance on both topics.
Update: the Kentucky Heritage web site has removed Tankersley's report!
Progress! Thanks for posting this.

While removed from the Kentucky Commission web site, the article is still findable thanks to Archive.org's WayBack machine:

UPDATE 25 June 2020: This paper has apparently been removed from the Council’s web site. An archived copy may be found via Archive.org’s WayBack Machine here.

+2 votes

Bottom line:

Cornblossom was a myth created in 1958 by a Troxel descendant, then further mythologized in 1975 by a publicist for the National Parks service  . Prior to that time, there is no independent evidence of her existence. If anyond can find such evidence, there are many people who would like to know of it.

The only known parent of Katy Troxel is Jacob per her marriage bond. He has been assumed to be the Jacob Troxel born 1758/9 in Frederick, MD and who was in Kentucky around the time Katy married there .

This Jacob’s only known spouse is Elizabeth who sought a widow’s pension in 1843. IF the 56-year-old Elizabeth Troxel of the 1850 DeKalb county census is this same widow, then she was not Jacob’s first wife nor mother of Katy. 

by Jillaine Smith G2G6 Pilot (775k points)
I am a descendant of Katy Troxel and my relatives have talked about an "Indian princess" called Cornblossom in our family since long before 1958. While I have no proof of Cornblossom's existence, I can attest that Thomas Troxel did not invent her in Legion of the Lost Mine even though his may be the first published account of her.
Todd, anything you can find concerning the origins of this family legend is much appreciated.
I too am a princess cornblosscor descendent through the bells.  And same here, although we don't have documentation we did know we came from a Indian princess long before that book.  My grandpa was a striking image of a Cherokee even not being full blooded.  So my question is.. where did we come from and why is my family tree so elaborate?  Why would someone go to the trouble of making a family tree with a fake Indian story and confuse 100s of said fake Indians offspring for generations?  None of this makes sense.  I get the Yahoo falls being a sketchy stoey but still where did we come from??
Brandi, If you can find evidence of Cornblossom's story prior to the 1958 book, many people would like to know.

it's wholly possible that you have Native American ancestry. But if so, it wasn't through "Cornblossom". If you've read that Google doc, you'll see there are so many holes in the various stories that's it's pretty clear someone(s) used very active imaginations and fictionalized a great deal. Jacob Troxel clearly had a wife, and they clearly had children. But we currently know nothing about her identity.

And.... hang around genealogy long enough and you'll find MANY examples of people making things up so they could claim ancestry from specific people or groups of people.
Perhaps there isn't much documentation with the government because see didntd want to go on the trail of tears or be murdered?
Brandi, the Trail of Tears did not take place until 1838. Cornblossom is claimed to have died in 1810.

See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trail_of_Tears
+2 votes
Here is the article about the false documentations of this Cornblossom  daughter and about yahoo falls etc

http://ancestorstealing.blogspot.com/2017/08/
by Arora Anonymous G2G6 Pilot (109k points)
Just because someone faked the Yahoo falls story doesn't mean she is fake.  Is there some way we can prove through dna?  I'm game for that I'd love to to know what I am

Brandi, it's not just the Yahoo Falls massacre that is fake-- a slew of things related to this tradition have been shown to be false. Please review our 2017 analysis of the various claims:

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1vK50BYKbKAir9mp37dIqNh-TJoc6gCQWh-RSSHpA3LE

0 votes
No she is not a myth she was my 6th Grandmother.
by
0 votes
I am a direct descendant and I grew up not far from where the massacre happened.  I have visited the place and her husbands “Big Jake” grave marker.  Yes, it is factual
by
Sorry, but no one is buried where the grave marker is placed, it was put there to attract tourists to the site.  Jacob Troxell died in Alabama in 1843.

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