Cornplanter was a great war captain of the Seneca nation, a member of the Iroquois Confederacy. During the American Revolution, the Iroquois warrior Cornplanter rose to prominence, becoming a principal Seneca leader. He was also known as John O'Bail after his Dutch trader father. After the Revolution, Cornplanter quickly decided that keeping the peace with the new Americans was the best way to help his own people. Although his mission as a peacekeeper was often unpopular and difficult, he negotiated the best possible terms for his people on numerous occasions when he traveled as a statesman to Philadelphia.

The American Revolution split this Confederacy, destroying its New York bulwark against the whites. Most of the Iroquois, including Cornplanter's tribe, sided with the British against the Americans. To eliminate any threat from the Senecas, the most powerful member of the Iroquois Confederacy, in 1779 General George Washington dispatched General John Sullivan, along with four thousand men, to lay waste and devastate the Iroquois homeland. During this invasion of Seneca territory, the only full-scale military engagement between the Senecas and U.S. soldiers to take place in Yates County occurred at Kashong Creek. The devastation inflicted upon the Senecas, in terms of lives and property lost, was immense. Over forty villages were wiped out, and more than one-hundred and fifty thousand bushels of corn were destroyed, resulting in starvation for the survivors. Defeated, Cornplanter signed the Treaty of Fort Stanwix (1784) with the government, ceding land to the United States. This disgraced him in the eyes of his people, but made him a favorite of whites, including Thomas Jefferson, with whom Cornplanter became friendly.

In gratitude for his assistance in keeping the Seneca neutral during the Indian wars in Ohio, Cornplanter was given a grant of land on the western bank of the Allegheny River, where he lived to a very old age. In 1791, the grateful Commonwealth of Pennsylvania established Cornplanter's Grant. In 1789 the recommendation was made that Chief Cornplanter be given a grant of 1500 acres of land in western Pennsylvania. By act of the Pennsylvania assembly passed February 1, 1791, he was granted lands for which the patents were issued March 16, 1796. The final gift, an area of about 700 acres, was the Cornplanter Grant, located in Warren County about three miles below the southern boundary of New York state. There were three separate units in this grant, Planter's Field and the town of Jennesedaga on the mainland along the Allegheny River, and two adjacent islands, Liberality and Donation.His views were opposed by the energetic Red Jacket but supported by Handsome Lake (Cornplanter's half brother).

Cornplanter was reputed to be about a hundred years old at the time of his death.

NOTE: Another website reports this: He was a rival of Red Jacket, another Seneca, but Cornplanter was born before the birth of Red Jacket, and he lived several years after Red Jacket died. The birth date of Cornplanter, or Ki-on-twog-ky, has not been definitely determined, but it was between 1732 and 1740. He was born at Connewaugus, on the Genesee River in New York. His mother was a fullblood Seneca, and his father is thought to have been an Irishman named O'Bail. The name has sometimes been used as O'Beale, and Cornplanter has been referred to as John O'Beale. Recently however, I have had the good fortune of receiving mail from a descendant of Cornplanter who tell me that Cornplanters father was a Dutch man who went by the name of Abeel not an Irish man as mentioned before.

Twirl Pattern Lisa Wray