This website is under construction and was last modified on: 02 October 2010
Individual Cherokees such as Dragging Canoe, Nancy Ward, Sequoyah, John Ross and Major Ridge would hold their own in any list of prominent early American leaders. Instead of resisting change, like so many of the other tribes, the Cherokees made a substantial effort to adapt white men's ways to the unique Cherokee socio-economic situation. For example, in the 1820's, the Cherokee developed their own method of writing their language and thus became the first and only literate American Indian tribe.
Their story is one of survival, perseverance, and adaptability against many forces of change. They suffered deplorable treatment from white settlers, the Georgia State Government and the U. S. Government, culminating in their forced removal from their homes in 1838 and sent westward to Indian Territory over the infamousTrail of Tears. Their removal and that of the other so called "civilized tribes," i.e., the Creeks, Chickasaws, Choctaws and Seminoles constitutes one of the lowest moral points in United States history.
Cherokee Family Groups Described at this Website
My purpose in establishing this web site is to provide biographical descriptions of several interconnected Cherokee family groups during the period 1819-1860. These families had originally resided either in southeastern Tennessee or northwestern Georgia. The families were of mixed blood, i.e., Cherokees who had one or more white ancestors. The story begins after the signing of the Cherokee Treaty of 27 February 1819, when the Cherokee Nation in the east had been reduced to only a little over 12 thousand square miles. From this time forward, both the State of Georgia and the U. S. Federal Government exerted relentless pressure on the Cherokees to relocate to the western side of the Mississippi River. Day-to-day living for the eastern Cherokees became virtually intolerable. Finally, on 29 December 1835, the Treaty of New Echota was signed by Major Ridge and his followers, which required the removal of all the eastern Cherokees to lands west of the Mississippi River. However, a majority of the eastern Cherokees, under the leadership of Principal Chief John Ross, opposed the Treaty and refused to relocate by the deadline (23 May 1838) established by the Treaty. Accordingly, most of the remaining eastern Cherokees were forcibly removed by the U. S. Army during the period June 1838-March 1939. This forced removal occurred over several routes which came to be known collectively as "The Trail of Tears."
Ridge-Watie Party Cherokees Versus Ross Party Cherokees
The Cherokee families described at this website belonged to the "Ridge Party" or "Treaty Party" and had been in favor of a Federal Government subsidized, voluntary removal to lands west of the Mississippi River. These families complied with the New Echota Treaty deadline and, by 23 May 1838, they had removed to the designated Indian Territory in the west. Unfortunately, in 1839, after the majority Ross or Anti-Treaty Party Cherokees arrived, a virtual civil war broke out between the Ross and Ridge supporters. Many signers of the Treaty of New Echota, including Major Ridge himself, were assassinated in 1839. After death of Major Ridge, Stand Watie became the de facto leader of the Treaty Party. After 1845, to escape the continuing bloodshed between the Ross Party and the Treaty Party, several of these Cherokee families removed to Rusk County, Texas where they formed what came to be called the Mount Tabor Indian Community. These families purchased land and prospered during the years prior to the outbreak of the American Civil War. Unfortunately, their prosperity was ended by the Civil War of 1861-1865.
The American Civil War had a catastrophic effect on all of the Cherokees, both those in the Cherokee Nation and those who lived elsewhere. The substantial economic gains made by the Cherokees since the Removal were almost completely erased. The destruction caused by the regular Confederate and Union armies was further exacerbated by a renewed struggle between the Ross and Ridge-Watie factions among the Cherokees, this time under the venire of a conflict between Cherokee supporters of the Union and Cherokee supporters of the Confederacy. By 1880, the internal Cherokee conflict had, for the most part, come to an end. The leaders of both warring factions had died. John Ross died in 1866 and Stand Watie died in 1871.
This website tells the story of the removal generation of Cherokees, primarily from the standpoint of a genealogist rather than that of a political historian. There are many websites that can provide a good political history of the Cherokee Nation; however, there are few sites which present the history of these people from the standpoint of several ordinary families that had to actually live through the catastrophic events that befell the Cherokees during the period 1819-1860.
Cherokee Census Data - 1835
This website will ultimately provide the complete enumeration of the families included in the "Henderson Roll," otherwise known as the Cherokee Census of 1835. To the best of my knowledge, no other internet site provides such complete information. A few websites offer indices providing names of the heads-of-household, but not the complete record for each household.
The suffering and hardships endured by the families of the Cherokee Nation up to, during and just after the time of the Indian Removal are almost unimaginable to people of the modern era. Most of these once formidable protagonists of the White Man have now been forgotten. It is my hope that this web site will aid in restoring to historical memory their names and their story. It is to these brave men and women, both full blood and mixed blood, that I dedicate this web site.
The information at this website is supported, where possible, with primary genealogical evidence. Unfortunately, much of my information comes from family records and recollections which are subject to error. In some cases, I have utilized information obtained from the writings of competent Cherokee historians and genealogists such as James Mooney, Dr. Emmett Starr and George Morrison Bell, Their work is impressive considering the data sources that they had to work with. Even so, their writings do contain errors and some of these same errors have probably crept onto this website. In most cases where their work is used, the information has been appropriately labeled. I am sure that there are many other errors and omissions, in these cases the mistakes are entirely my own.
I currently support twenty-two websites. Thirteen sites are related to philosophy and art and nine are related to genealogy and local history. Hyperlinks to these sites are shown below.
Philosophy and Art:
* Sites which are still under construction
Genealogy and Local History:
Copyrightę 2005-2007 by Phil Norfleet
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