The history in this area just fascinates me and fortunately I have a friend that is native born and likes it when I do some research to talk about here.
In the recollections of Jack Hilderbrand in the summer of 1908, he recounts how his father was sent here by the government to build a mill for the Cherokee on Hiawassee River where the Columbus farm is now. His father married Betsy Harland, a half-breed Cherokee woman. Her mother was a daughter of Nancy Ward, a full-blooded Cherokee woman. “My father’s children were Barbara, Jim, Louis, Jenny, Katie, John, Ellis, Newton, Elizabeth and Minerva. My father lived here until after the Ocoee Purchase and then went to the Indian Nation. My brothers and sisters went to the Indian Nation, three of them married before they left.”
He remembers “My great-grand uncle. Five Killer, was the first Indian Cherokee that ever crossed the Hiwassee River and at Breedswell Glade he killed a buffalo, the last one ever killed in the country. This was right below the Pippinger place. Fifty or sixty were in the party that went out in the hunt and they stayed two or three months. This was long before the Hiwassee Purchase in 1819. These people came from about Echotah, near the mouth of Tellico River. Five Killer died at what is known as the Five killer place where Doc Wright used to live, and is buried at the Hancock place, along with his mother who was one hundred and forty years old at her death. They arrived at her age by the time of the Penn Treaty, when the Penn Treaty was made in Pennsylvania she was about twelve years old at that time. Those that were watching at her death bed – she was the grandmother of old Walker, said it was about dark when she died, in a little cabin, and when her breath left her the light that was in the room went out and a dim light was seen going out at the door, there being only one door in the cabin. Old John Hambright told me it was a fact, he being there at the time she died, not right in the house, but all those that were there told him that it was a fact. She was a good woman, saved many lives. When John Sevier made his raid down here he always spared her (Nancy Ward’s) town. She raised several white children. Her father was the chief that William Penn [made] his treaty with. John Hancock’s place and Five Killer’s place is the same place on which Nancy Ward is buried.”
In 1817 the U. S. Federal Government bought from the Cherokee Indians all the land between Hiwassee, Little Tennessee and Big Tennessee Rivers lying west of Starr Mountain and the foothills of the Smokies; and that part of Polk County lying north of the Hiwassee River. The Cherokee towns on Valley River in North Carolina were called the Overhills Towns. This purchase of 1817 was called the Hiwassee Purchase. So Hiwassee River and Starr Mountain were the boundaries of the United States from 1817 to 1836.
Sometime after the purchase, the land was laid out in Townships and Sections which, according to history, was the first place ever be done so.
When people think of the Cherokee in our area they mostly think of the Trail of Tears, a tragedy in US and Cherokee history. There is so much more to the story of The People and our area is steeped in the times before the trail. Take time out of your busy schedules and appreciate how much of our own lives here in the mountains have been touched by the way of life before us. I suggest a visit to the Cherokee Historical Associations Mountain Theater and Oconaluftee Village.
We want to thank you for spending a little time with us today and as always
Welcome to The Mountains