Published on April 27, 2012 by Amy
Nonhelema (ca. 1720 – 1786) was a Shawnee chieftess during the 18th century and the sister of Cornstalk, with whom she migrated to Ohio and founded neighboring villages.
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Nonhelema, known as a warrior, stood nearly six feet, six inches. Some called her “The Grenadier” or “The Grenadier Squaw”, due to the large height of 18th-century grenadiers.
Nonhelema had three husbands. The first was a Shawnee man. The second was Richard Butler, with whom she had a son, “Captain Butler” (or Tamanatha). The third was Shawnee Chief Moluntha.
Nonhelema was present at the Battle of Bushy Run in 1764. She and her brother, Cornstalk, supported peace with the infant United States. In Summer 1777, Nonhelema warned Americans that parts of the Shawnee nation had traveled to Fort Detroit to join the British. Following Cornstalk’s 1777 murder at Fort Randolph, Nonhelema continued to support the Americans, warning both Fort Randolph and Fort Donnally of impending attacks. In retribution, her herds of cattle were destroyed. Nonhelema led her followers to the Coshocton area, near Lenape Chief White Eyes. In 1780, Nonhelema served as a guide and translator for Augustin de La Balme in his campaign to the Illinois country.
In 1785, Nonhelema petitioned Congress for a 1,000-acre grant in Ohio, as compensation for her services during the American Revolutionary War. Congress instead granted her a pension of daily rations, and an annual allotment of blankets and clothing.
Nonhelema and Moluntha were captured by General Benjamin Logan in 1786. Moluntha was killed by an American soldier, and Nonhelema was detained at Fort Pitt. While there, she helped compile a dictionary of Shawnee words. She was later released, but died in December 1786.
Nonhelema is the subject of Warrior Woman, a novel authored by James Alexander Thom.