Our main reason for visiting Tu-Endie-Wei State Park in Point Pleasant, West Virginia was to pay our respects at the final resting place for Chief Cornstalk. We visited the park in July of 2019.
Cornstalk (Shawnee: Hokoleskwa or Hokolesqua) (ca. 1720 – November 10, 1777) was a prominent leader of the Shawnee nation just prior to the American Revolutionary War (1775-1783). His name, Hokoleskwa, translates loosely into "stalk of corn" in English, and is spelled Colesqua in some accounts. He was also known as Keigh-tugh-qua and Wynepuechsika.
Cornstalk opposed European settlement west of the Ohio River in his youth, but he later became an advocate for peace after the Battle of Point Pleasant (1774). His murder by American militiamen at Fort Randolph during a diplomatic visit in November 1777 outraged both American Indians and Virginians.
His final resting place is in Tu-Endie-Wei State Park (click on the link to view our blog past about the park with the location and times), which is the main reason we visited the park. We stopped there so we could find his grave site.
When the American Revolution began, Cornstalk worked to keep his people neutral. He represented the Shawnee at treaty councils at Fort Pitt in 1775 and 1776, the first Indian treaties ever negotiated by the United States. Many Shawnees nevertheless hoped to use British aid to reclaim their lands lost to the settlers. By the winter of 1776, the Shawnee were effectively divided into a neutral faction led by Cornstalk, and militant bands led by men such as Blue Jacket.
In the fall of 1777, Cornstalk made a diplomatic visit to Fort Randolph, an American fort at present-day Point Pleasant. He was seeking, as always, to maintain his faction's neutrality. Cornstalk was detained by the fort commander, who had decided on his own initiative to take hostage any Shawnees who fell into his hands. On November 10, when an American militiaman from the fort was killed nearby by unknown Indians, angry soldiers brutally executed Cornstalk, his son Elinipsico, and two other Shawnees. Private Jacob McNeil, one of the soldiers who participated in the capture of the Chief Cornstalk, attempted to prevent his murder. McNeil testified: "That he was one of the guards over the celebrated Indian chief Corn Stalk – that when he was murdered he this affiant did all he could to prevent it – but that it was all in vain the American (soldier)'s exasperated at the depredations of the Indians."
American political and military leaders were alarmed by the murder of Cornstalk; they believed he was their only hope of securing Shawnee neutrality. At the insistence of Patrick Henry, then governor of Virginia, Cornstalk's killers — whom Henry called "vile assassins" — were eventually brought to trial, but since their fellow soldiers would not testify against them, all were acquitted.
Cornstalk was originally buried at Fort Randolph.
In 1840 Cornstalk's grave was rediscovered and his remains were moved to the Mason County Courthouse grounds. In 1954 the courthouse was torn down and he was reburied in Point Pleasant, West Virginia. A local legend claims that he took his revenge in the 1960s by sending the mysterious Mothman to terrorize Point Pleasant. Legends arose about his dying "curse" being the cause of misfortunes in the area, though no contemporary historical source mentions any such utterance by Cornstalk.
You can find out more about the Curse of Cornstalk in our following "Behind the Haunting" video that we produced. The story does get quite interesting.
If you have heard about this curse or visited this location, please share your experiences and comments down below in the comments section.