Chief Oconostota Moytoy
- H. Chief Oconostota Moytoy1710 - 1783
- W. Lucy Ward1697 - 1758
m. abt 1737
Facts and Events
Oconostota (ca. 1710-1783) was the Warrior (skiagusta) of Chota and the First Beloved Man of the Cherokee from 1775 to 1781.
Meaning of the name
His Cherokee name, according to 19th century anthropologist Mooney, was Aganstata, which he translated as "groundhog-sausage" (agana = groundhog, and tsistau = "I am pounding it" as in pounding meat in a mortar). It appears as "Oconastota" (with two "a"s) on his grave marker at the site of Chota.
Oconostota was the son of White Owl Raven and Nancy Moytoy, daughter of Amatoya Moytoy and Quatsy of Tellico, and was born around 1704, one of eleven children. The identity of Oconostota's first wife is a mystery, although she was of the Paint Clan. Their daughter, Nionne Ollie, was the wife of his predecessor, Attakullakulla.
After the death of his first wife, Oconostota invited Lucy Ward, a former lady-in-waiting to the Queen of England whom he had met in 1730, to join him in Chota. They were married and had one daughter, Lucy Ward II. The identity of Oconostota's third wife (after Lucy's death in 1758) is unknown.
Oconostota became the Principal Chief of the Cherokee following the death of his cousin Attacullaculla, sometime around 1775-1777. (He was sometimes called "Stalking Turkey", a fact which caused confusion in identifying Oconostota versus his uncle Kanagatucko, "Standing Turkey".) His tenure was fraught with warfare and struggle, which culminated in 1780 in the destruction of Chota-Tanasi by the American revolutionary forces. Oconostota was believed to have died in either 1782 or 1783. He was buried with his hands on his chest holding a broadword pointing down his body.
During the archaeological digs at the site of Chota prior to the Tellico Reservoir impoundment, the remains of Oconostota were found. They were identified by a pair of reading glasses which he owned and that were buried with him. Oconostota's remains were re-interred at Chota in the portion raised by Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) (which includes the site of the council house). A gravestone marks the site.
- Litton, Gaston L. "The Principal Chiefs of the Cherokee Nation", Chronicles of Oklahoma 15:3 (September 1937) 253-270. (accessed August 28, 2006)
- Mooney, James. Myths of the Cherokee, (1900, reprint 1995)
- Kelly, James C. "Oconostota", Journal of Cherokee Studies 3:4 (Fall 1978), 221-238
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 Oconostota, in Wikipedia.
His Cherokee name, according to Mooney, was Aganstata, which he translated as "groundhog-sausage" (agana = groundhog, and tsistau = "I am pounding it" as in pounding meat in a mortar). It appears as "Oconastota" (with two "a"s) on his grave marker at the site of Chota.
- Oconastota, in The Tennessee Encyclopedia of History & Culture.
OCONASTOTA ca. 1710-1783
A prominent eighteenth-century Overhill Cherokee civil and military leader, Oconastota resided at Chota on the Little Tennessee River in present-day Monroe County. He was born around 1710. By the 1740s he had acquired the title Great Warrior of Chota. His reputation grew as he led successful war parties against the French and their Indian allies. During the 1750s, the British explicitly recognized Oconastota as the military and political leader of the Cherokees. He became the Headman, or Uko, at Chota and the effective chief of the Cherokee nation in 1768.
In 1759 the British took Oconastota and thirty of his followers hostage at Fort Prince George following misunderstandings concerning service against the French. Oconastota was released, but when he murdered a British officer outside the fort, the British killed the twenty-eight Cherokees still held captive. To avenge the deaths, the Cherokees, led by Oconastota, captured Fort Loudoun in 1760 and massacred most of its garrison as they were being marched toward Charleston. Despite British retaliation, including the destruction of the Lower Cherokee Towns, Oconastota's reputation rose among the Cherokees.
In subsequent years, Oconastota commanded campaigns against the Creeks, Choctaws, and Iroquois. He also conducted frequent negotiations with the British, as white settlers encroached on Cherokee land and forced the tribe to cede more and more territory. When Revolutionary War forces attacked the Overhill towns in 1776, Oconastota helped to negotiate their withdrawal and the peace treaty of 1777. Oconastota resigned his position as chief about 1780. He died in 1783, and Joseph Martin described his burial at Chota; archaeologists excavated his grave in 1969. Oconastota was returned to the Cherokee people and reinterred at Chota in 1987.
Gerald F. Schroedl, University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Suggested Reading(s): James C. Kelly, "Oconastota," Journal of Cherokee Studies 3 (1978): 221-38.
- ↑ Dwyne Rhodes Patrick, GEDCOM file imported on 31 Oct 1998. (Derived from Eva Hahn of Gilbert Arizona), 31 October 1998.
From Willming-Patrick Family History, Dwyne Rhodes Patrick
- Oconostota, in Fiske, John, and James Grant Wilson. Appleton's Cyclopaedia of American Biography. (New York, NY: D. Appleton, 1898-99).
OCONOSTOTA, head king or archimagus of the Cherokees. The exact dates of his birth and death are unknown, but he had attained to the age of manhood in 1730, and was living as late as 1809. He was a man of herculean frame, undaunted courage, and great physical prowess, and while yet a very young man was one of the six delegates that, in 1730, visited George II. at “his great house across the water.” About 1738 he was elected head king of his nation, and exercised almost despotic sway over the Cherokees and their allies, the Creeks. He sided with the English in the war with France, but afterward, exasperated by an attack on a party of his men by settlers, who accused them of horse-stealing, he invested, with 10,000 allied Creeks and Cherokees, Fort Prince George and Fort Loudon, in the heart of the Cherokee country. At the same time he made a general attack upon the back settlements of the Carolinas. By stratagem he lured into his power and massacred the commander of Fort Prince George, and he soon reduced Fort Loudon to the alternative of surrender or starvation. Being allowed to retain their arms and promised safe conduct to Virginia, the garrison of two hundred surrendered, but was treacherously attacked at the close of the first day's march, and, according to the generally received account, all but Capt. John Stuart, Isaac Thomas, a scout, and a soldier named Jack, were killed. Oconostota then directed Stuart to work the captured guns, with which he proposed to reduce Fort Prince George, and, on his refusal, threatened to burn him at the stake. Stuart's life was saved by the vice-king, Atta-culla-culla (q. v.), who conducted him in safety to Virginia. The English then destroyed the Cherokee towns, and reduced the nation to the last extremities. Peace was finally granted them only on the intercession of Atta-culla-culla. Oconostota was ever afterward the faithful ally of the English. In 1770 a handful of pioneers, under James Robertson (q. v.), crossed the Alleghanies and settled upon the Cherokee territory at Watauga. The Cherokees received them kindly, and Oconostota granted them an eight years' lease of the lands that they occupied, but when, in March, 1775, they demanded an absolute cession of the territory, he opposed it in an eloquent speech in which he predicted the fate of his nation. He was overruled in the great council of the tribe, the cession of the Watauga lands was made, and also of the Cherokee claim to Kentucky. When he had signed the treaties he turned to Daniel Boone, who had been active in the negotiations, and said to him: “Young man, we have sold you a fine territory, but I fear you will have some difficulty in getting it settled.” In a little more than a month the battles of Lexington and Concord were fought. John Stuart, who had been appointed British superintendent of the southern Indians, at once conceived a gigantic scheme for crushing the southern colonies by a combined front and rear attack. A British land and naval force was to descend upon the seaboard, while Oconostota, at the head of 20,000 combined Choctaws, Chickasaws, Creeks, and Cherokees, should attack the back settlements. A year of time and millions of money were expended in the preparation, and in July, 1776, the execution of the plan was attempted. Sir Peter Parker descended upon Charleston, but was beaten off, and a like fate befell the scattered rear attacks, Oconostota himself being driven back by John Sevier with only forty men. A five years' struggle followed, during which Sevier, with at first only 200 men and with never more than 1,000, inflicted defeat after defeat upon the old king and his 10,000 warriors. At last the nation dethroned Oconostota. and elected in his place the peace-loving Rayetayah. This broke the spirit of the old monarch, and he sought oblivion in drink, which soon robbed him of his manhood. For nearly thirty more years he is known to have wandered about, a homeless, weak, besotted, and despised old man, begging a measure of meal or a gallon of whiskey from the “white brother” he so intensely hated, and he did not sink into the grave until he had seen that his own evil policy had brought about the entire subjugation of his country. The last recorded account of him is in the letters of Return J. Meigs, U. S. agent among the Cherokees. He writes in 1809 that his study of the classics was often interrupted by the intrusion into his tent of the “greasy old Oconostota,” who would wail for hours over his departed greatness.
- Virginia (Colony). Lieutenant Governor (1751-1758 : Robert Dinwiddie); Robert Dinwiddie; Virginia) Virginia Historical Society (Richmond; and R. A. (Robert Alonzo) Brock. The official records of Robert Dinwiddie, Lieutenant-Governor of the colony of Virginia, 1751-1758, now first printed from the manuscript in the collections of the Virginia Historical Society. (Richmond [Virginia]: Virginia Historical Society, 1883), 132 - footnote.
(95) Oconostota, a chieftain of great influence, is styled at this period "Prince of Chote" and the "Great Warrior of the Cherokee Nation."