Jim Cornells established a homestead at Burnt Corn, not far from Burnt Corn Springs at the crossing of the Federal and Pensacola Roads crossing several years before the Creek Indian War. Jim was from a family of traders who had entered the Creek Indians Nation in the late 1700s and married into the Creek clans. Joe and Bob Cornells were brothers who were the first Cornells to live in the indian nation. Joe married an Indian woman from the Village of Tuckabatchy.
His second daughter married Alexander McGillivray, who was William Weatherford's uncle. McGillivray was the most influential of all the Creek Chiefs. He had uncanny diplomatic skills and until his death had sucessfully played the British, Spanish and Americans against each other to the advantage of his people.
Before the outbreak of the Creek War, according to General Thomas Woodward in his "Woodward's Reminiscences," Jim "swapped" his niece, Polly Kean, to a man named Sam Jones for a woman named Betsy Coulter with whom he had travelled in the Creek Nation with from Fort Wilkinson. He took Betsy for his wife. Sam Jones did marry Polly Kean but was killed by Jim Cornells in 1816 (Polly then married "one-eyed Billy Oliver" as he was known in Indian Country.")
As tensions heightened, a group of warriors headed to Pensacola to purchase weapons from the Spanish. Along the way, Betsy was captured by the leader, Peter McQueen, son of another trader, Old James McQueen who supposeedly went into the nation in 1716 and married a Tallassee woman. Jim and his family did not follow the Prophet Tecumseh who had pushed the Creeks toward war with the whites. He and many half-native Americans were becoming victims of their fellow Indians. Peter and Jim Boy, another principal war chief, took Jim's wife and a man named Marlowe to Pensacola. They sold Betsy to Madame Barrone, a french lady, for one blanket.
Jim was not at his home when this out rage took place. When he returned and found his wife gone, his house and corn crib burned, he mounted "a fast grey horse" and rode south, warning others, including settlers at Jackson. On July 27, Cornells and others formed a large group of mixed bloods and whites and waited in ambush for the returning war party. So began the battle of Burnt Corn.
After the surrender of Weatherford at Fort Jackson, William Weatherford returned to his home on Little River. But because of the hostile feeling his neighbor felt towards him, he decided to turn himself in to Col. Russell at Fort Claiborne. He was placed in a tent and under guard. One of the gaurds assigned to him was Jim Cornells. Jim had sworn to kill Weatherford, whom he held responsible for the capture of his wife. Weatherford heard of the threat and confronted Jim directly, asking if Jim would take advantage of him while under guard. Jim replied that no, he would not take advantage of him while under his care. But promised to kill Weatherford when the time was over. Cornells later learned that Weatherford had nothing to do with the kidnapping of his wife and the two became friends.
After the war, Cornells went to Pensacola and finally retrieved his wife. For his support of the white cause, during the Creek Indian War, he was awarded many arces of land at Burnt Corn
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