Princess Aracoma Memorial
Logan County, West Virginia, is home to one of America's most romantic legends: the story of Princess Aracoma Sky Cornflower Cornstalk and her white lover, Boling Baker. Their story began in Logan County—known as “The Islands” to the Shawnee people—more than 200 years ago when Boling was taken captive by the Shawnee Tribe. Aracoma Sky Cornflower Cornstalk asked her father, Chief Cornstalk, to spare the British soldier’s life; they were wed, uniting the Native and white settler culture in that region. Aracoma was born in 1740 and died in 1780 during the “Battle of the Islands.” A memorial to Princess Aracoma may be found outside the Logan County Courthouse. Every year, The Aracoma Story, Inc. hosts a theatrical re-telling of the lovers’ story, which is housed at the Liz Spurlock Amphitheatre in Logan.
Backstory and Context
As the daughter of the Shawnee Chief, Aracoma was favored among her people. It has been told that she grew into a beautiful women, standing almost six feet tall. When Aracoma was sixteen years old, in 1756, she met Boling Baker for the first time. Baker— a white renegade, horse thief, and a deserter from the British army—was taken captive by the Shawnees.3,4,5 He was brought before the Shawnee Chief, Cornstalk, and his council, and sentenced “to run the gauntlet.”6 Baker courageously accepted his fate. His courage was noticed by the young princess, who pleaded with her father to spare his life; "it is said Chief Cornstalk was kind at heart and he spared Baker from death."3 He became a member of the tribe and fell in love with Aracoma. When the two married they settled the conflict between the Shawnee and the white settlers in the region.3
It is believed that sometime after 1760 Chief Cornstalk established “The Islands” in what is now called Logan County, West Virginia. Chief Cornstalk gave his daughter, and her husband the land, as some of her people went to live under her rule.3 Her tribe resided on the bank of the Guyandotte River where they built their own Native village. It was on this island where their six children were born: Little Black Bear, born in 1761; Snow Lily, born in 1763; Running Deer, born in 1765; Laughing Water, born in 1767; Blue Feather, born in 1769; and Princess Raindrop, born in 1771.5 In 1776 tragedy struck the village when a great plague of smallpox swept through the area; all six of Princess Aracoma and Boling Baker's children died.5
In 1774, Chief Cornstalk was killed at the "Battle of Point Pleasant," and Aracoma was given command of the Shawnee Indians. In the spring of 1780 and after the majority of the tribe had died from smallpox, Baker led a group of Indians to raid the settlers in the New River Valley as a last resort to survive. While Baker was absent, a raid on Aracoma's village was led by John Breckenridge and William S. Mason. This raid came to be known as the “Battle of the Islands.” 2 According to the website titled “Logan, WV History and Nostalgia,” “among the wounded Indians was a woman, who from her dress and bravery, was at once recognized as leader of the Indian party.” Aracoma was wounded during this event, but was rumored to have said these last words to the white settlers before she passed:
“My name is Aracoma, and I am the last of a mighty line. My father was a great chief and a friend to your people. He was murdered in cold blood by your people when he came to them as a friend to give them warning. I am wife of a pale-face who came across the great waters to make war on my people, but came to us and became one of us. I am dying, bury me with my face toward the setting sun, that I may see my people in their march to our happy hunting grounds. For your kindness, I warn you to make haste in returning to your homes, for my people are still powerful and will return to avenge my death.” 3
According to findagrave.com, a grave was uncovered in Logan, WV, which was suspected to be Aracoma’s due to the depth of her body and the location in which it was found; “the odd and haunting irony was that the skeleton was buried at the bend of the Guyandotte, almost exactly where the old and half-forgotten traditions claimed was the final resting place of Princess Aracoma.”4
Originally, current day Logan County Courthouse was named after Aracoma in 1852; however, it was changed in 1907 to align with the name of the post office.1 The love story of Princess Aracoma and Boling Baker is reenacted every summer at Chief Logan State Park, performed and produced by the local community.
Photo Source: http://gosoutheast.about.com/od/historicsitesculture/p/aracomastory.htm