Cornblossom and Jacob Troxell: An indepth look at their mythical origins

I have previously posted about Princess Cornblossom and her husband Big Jake, Jacob Troxell. The story of their lives has a Disneyesqe feeling and immediately caught my attention. My first post was to apply the Genealogical Proof Standard to several questions posed about their relationships. They failed miserably.

I recently participated in a more in-depth study of this pair to sort fact from fiction and to try to map out the myth, when it started, how it evolved and it's current status. This study was completed by myself and two other accomplished researchers. Our results can be found here.  During our research we looked at documents/books online, in reference libraries, and other repositories. We took into account history, geography and cultural factors which impacted the lives of these people. 

If you are researching Cornblossom and Jacob Troxel, I think you find this work of great interest. All our sources are listed in an annotated bibliography. We sought out every resource we could find. 

Of great interest to us was the writing of Dr. Kenneth Tankersley, whose work and credentials appear to give credence to this story. We contacted Dr. Tankersley who promptly denied ever writing anything about Cornblossom or Jacob Troxel, in fact he claimed that others on the internet were using his name. I would like to give you a synopsis our the email exchange between Tankersley and my fellow researcher Jillaine Smith. It is as follows:

While assisting the WikiTree Native American Project, Jillaine Smith, with support from Jeanie Roberts and Kathie Forbes, started compiling the origins of the various legends and myths surrounding the family of one Jacob Troxel (1759-1843). One author who repeatedly surfaced was that of Dr. Kenneth Tankersley, former head of Native American Studies at North Kentucky University (2004-2007; check), now an Associate Professor at University of Cincinnati. [link to bio] 

A number of web pages created by third parties included excerpts from a single 70-page (check) document hosted on the Kentucky Heritage Council web site, written between 2004-2007 under Tankersley’s name. While the text does include an extensive bibliography at the end of the document, Tankersley did not cite specific sources for the facts written throughout the document, making it impossible to know the source of specific details. 

Jillaine reached out to Dr. Tankersley, requesting more information about the sources he used particularly for the family of Jacob Troxell, including supposed wife Cornblossom and her supposed father, Cherokee Chief Doublehead. Jillaine also sought the origins of the supposed 1810 Yahoo Falls Massacre, which Tankersley’s document also described.  While Tankersley responded right away, he never directly answered Jillaine’s questions. Key points he made:
  • Someone was using his name and attributing to him things on the Internet he had not written; that some people have taken text that he had written or published and embedded it in their own websites. “It is a complete waste of time” (I.e., people should not waste their time reading such content).
  • He had never written any [published] articles about Jacob Troxel; that the document above “was written as a report to the Kentucky Native American Heritage Commission. It has never been published. All of the source-information is cited.” (As noted above, only in general bibliography format.)
  • He suggested that Jillaine would likely find the sources she was seeking in one or both of two works about Cherokee history by Emmett Starr. (Jillaine did review these documents, and while Starr made brief mention of Doublehead, he made no reference to the chief’s family.)
  • He felt that genealogy is now obsolete with the advent of genomics; he recommended that people should get their DNA tested to know who they really are, and that paper records are completely unreliable. 

After some sharp words about other people’s ancestry, “online genealogists,” and the use of online information, Tankersley cut off future correspondence saying this was his last email on the subject. 

Our team took a look at Tankersley 'writings' and tried to prove/disprove his various assertions about Cornblossom and Troxell. You can find it here. We were able to poke holes in most of his statements. Our conclusion was that he wanted nothing to do with the story and that his 'writings' were unsubstantiated and not to be used as a source. 

I hope you find our research helpful. If you have any comments or concerns about sources or conclusions please post. 

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