Jackson County, Alabama

Native American Records



The Cherokee Indians Removed West

[Source: History of Jackson County, By John Robert Kennamer, 1935 - Transcribed by C. Anthony]

All of that part of Jackson County south and east of the Tennessee River was occupied by the Cherokee Indians, until a treaty of transfer was signed at New Echota (near Rome, Georgia), on December 29, 1835. Congress had passed a law in 1834, providing for the removal of the Cherokees in Alabama, Tennessee, and Georgia, to the Indian Territory. One faction of the Indians, led by Chief John Ross, opposed the removal West and refused to sign the treaty. Their removal from their native home in 1837-38 furnished one of the touching and most pathetic stories in American history. The government thought it best to move these Indians from their homes because they resisted the civilization of the white man who had settled on their territory. These two people differed greatly in race, language and customs; and in their struggle for existence the white man would survive to the injury of the Indian. As it was impossible for whites and the Indians to live together, the government moved the Indians to the Territory west of the Mississippi. Who can not apprehend the bitter grief of the Indians on leaving their happy hunting grounds and the graves of their fathers as theyturned and took one long farewell look and marched under guard to their homes in the Indian Territory.

General Winfield Scott was commander of the military forces that collected the Indians into concentration camps. His troops entered the territory of the Cherokees and divided into small parties for the purpose of searching every home. The soldiers,with their rifles in hand, pursued the Indians as though they were wild beasts. They would surround their homes, force them out, place them in line and march them to the nearest camp. The Indians were compelled to leave all their property behind and follow the soldiers. A majority submitted to their fate without trouble, but some rebelled and were brought to camp by force. These camps, or palisades, were enclosed by stakes set in ground and pointed at the top as a fence. Many Indians died in these camps where as many as 5,000 were assembled at a time. One out of every seven died before reaching his new home in the West. There were three ports of embarkations of those who went by water:
Charleston on the Hiwassee River, Ross' Landing (now Chattanooga), and Gunter's Landing on the Tennessee. By the spring of 1837, detachments were being forwarded. The journal of Dr. C. Sillybright tells the story of one such detachment which left Ross' Landing, March 3, 1837, in eleven flatboats. This fleet of flatboats was met at Gunter's Landing by the steamer Knoxville, which took charge of the boats and guided them to Decatur, Alabama. From Decatur a portage was made around Muscle Shoals to Tuscumbia in railroad cars. There the emigrants were met by the steamer Revenue with a flotilla of keels. On March 27 these emigrants were unloaded at a point just beyond Fort Smith, Arkansas.

John Ross, who had opposed all along the removal of the Indians, got an agreement with Gen. Scott to move his people. He marched more than 10,000 overland in separate bands and in different routes in order to be assured of finding a supply of water and game for food on the way. The season had been so dry the marchers suffered untold privations, and sixteen hundred perished en route. Ross' wife, who had gone on the boat, Victoria, died on the way andwas buried at Little Rock, Arkansas. There were a few old decrepit Indians not able to make the journey left behind to perish amid scenes most familiar to them.

Alexander Reid and Jonathan Beeson of Paint Rock Valley; William Sims, Samuel Hill, Nathan Kennamer and other citizens of the county served in the army which removed these Indians.


Submitted by Larry Benefield

Other Improvt [Improvement] at Ross Ferryon Tennessee Rivernearly oposite [opposite] [unclear: Bele Fonte]Alabama 1 Cabin 16 by 16 round logs board roof & puncheon floor Wood Chimney Stone back & one door worth$20.00
1 Other house 16 by 16 round logs finished as above20.00
1 Ferry Bank & large Ferry boat 40 by 10 feet Strong & [unclear: Sorond] good Iron chain and good Oars worth50.00
1 horse lot5.00
30 Acres rich river botom [bottom] at the Ferry at $8240.00

This is part of the Andrew Ross Valuation. This was his ferry across the river from Bellefonte and it later became the Gays Ferry and one end of Gays turnpike. Andrew Ross was the brother of Cherokee chief John Ross and lived at Willstown  This doc came from the University of Georgia web site

This is part of a letter to General Scott

Submitted by Larry Benefield

General--------I have the honor to report that I was detailed for duty in the Indian Department as Disbursing agent on the 10th June 1838 ordered to report myself for duty to Genl. N Smith, principal Superintendent Cherokee Emigration on or before the 18th June 1838, I received orders to join & accompany a party of Cherokee Emigrants, about to leave Ross' Landing on the 17th June, not having received the necessary funds I was not able to join the party until it reached Bellefonte, Alabama on the 25th June, on the morning of the 26th June when about to commence my march with the party, a Cherokee Indians arrived in camp from the Agency with a letter to one of the Surgeons accompanying the party, he informed the emigrants that he had brought orders for them to return back to Ross' landing. A large majority of them positively refused to proceed any further & unloaded the wagons & left the company exertion was on the part of the agents to bring them back, but with little success. A small company of mounted volunteers was assembled, with their assistance a large number was brought back-yet 225 escaped. The feeling of discontent among the Emigrants were so great that Genl N. Smith thought it advisable to accept the services of the volunteers as a guard to accompany the Indians to Waterloo, Alabama, & ordered me to muster them in to the service of the Unites States for one month, unless sooner discharged, I am of the opinion this guard was of great service in preventing desention & keeping the Indians from spreading through the country committing depredations, on my arrival at Waterloo, Alabama I was ordered to muster the company out of the service, to discharge my teams & embark on board the Steamboat Smelter & proceed to Fort Gibson


Submitted by Larry Benefield

The Cherokees are informed that the Superintendent of their removal West, will have Suitable Steam Boats ready for their transportation at the Agency on the 5th day of Feby [February], capable of taking One Thousand persons at a time, with comfort and Safety to their new homes, in fifteen days. The removal by land with unavoidable exposure and fatigue will require at least Seventy days; the choice of way is, however, given to the emigrant. The places of Rendezvous will be [deleted: [illegible]] the Agency, Ross' Landingand a point opposite Bellefonte, at each of which places the Boats will stop to take in Emigrants.
The Superintendent takes this occasion to repeat that he has been instructed by their great Father the President to treat the Cherokeeswith kindness and friendship, and to assure them that to linger in the midst of a white population, suffering oppression and encroachment, ruin and extermination must inevitably fall on them. In tenderness then to their persons and interests, he would urge them in the most friendly manner, assuring them at the same time that the Treaty will not be altered, to make speedy preparation, settle their business with the Commissioners, and remove before the 23rd. of May, when the time arrives for the application of Military Force.

CherokeeAgency East January 20, 1838
[Signed] Nat [Nathaniel] SmithSupt. Ch. [Superintendent Cherokee] Removal


submitted by Larry Benefield

[ Note: This document contains both written and printed text. ]

ORDERS. No. 25.
Head Quarters, Eastern Division.
Cherokee Agency, Ten. May 17, 1838.

MAJOR GENERAL SCOTT, of the United States' Army, announces to the troops assembled and assembling in this country, that, with them, he has been charged by the President to cause the Cherokee Indiansyet remaining in North Carolina, Georgia, Tennesseeand Alabama, to remove to the West, according to the terms of the Treaty of 1835. His Staff will be as follows:

LIEUTENANT COLONEL W. J. WORTH, acting Adjutant General, Chief of the Staff.
MAJOR M. M. PAYNE, acting Inspector General.
LIEUTENANT R. ANDERSON, & E. D. KEYES, regular Aids-de-camp.
COLONEL A. H. KENAN& LIEUTENANT H. B. SHAW, volunteer Aids-de-camp.
Any order given orally, or in writing, by either of those officers, in the name of the Major General. will be respected and obeyed as if given by himself.
The Chiefs of Ordnance, of the Quarter-Master's Department and of the Commissariat, as also the Medical Director of this Army, will, as soon as they can be ascertained, be announced in orders.
To carry out the general object with the greatest promptitude and certainty, and with the least possible distress to the Indians, the country they are to evacuate is divided into three principal Military Districts, under as many officers of high rank, to command the troops serving therein, subject to the instructions of the Major General.
Eastern District, to be commanded by BRIGADIER GENERAL EUSTIS, of the United States' Army, or the highest officer in rank, serving therein: - North Carolina, the part of Tennesseelying north of Gilmer county, Georgia, and the counties of Gilmer, Union, and Lumpkin, in Georgia. Head Quarters, in the first instance, say, at Fort Butler.
Western District, to be commanded by COLONEL LINDSAY, of the United States' Army, or the highest officer in rank serving therein: -- Alabama, the residue of Tennesseeand Dade county, in Georgia. Head quarters, in the first instance, say, at Ross' Landing.
Middle District, to be commanded by BRIGADIER GENERAL ARMISTEAD of the United States' Army, or the highest officer in rank, serving therein: -- All that part of the Cherokeecountry, lying within the State of Georgia, and which is not comprised in the two other districts. Head Quarters, in the first instance, say, at new Echota.
It is not intended that the foregoing boundaries between the principal commanders shall be strictly observed. Either, when carried near the district of another, will not hesitate to extend his operations, according to the necessities of the case, but with all practicable harmony, into the adjoining district. And, among his principal objects, in case of actual or apprehended hostilities, will be that of affording adequate protection to our white people in and around the Cherokeecountry.
The senior officer actually present in each district will receive instructions from the Major General as to the time of commencing the removal, and every thing that may occur interesting to the service, in the district, will be promtly [promptly] reported to the same source. The Major General will endeavour to visit in a short time all parts of the Cherokeecountry occupied by the troops.
The duties devolved on the army, through the orders of the Major General & those of the commanders of districts, under him, are of a highly important and critical nature.
The Cherokees, by the advances which they have made in christianity and civilization, are by far the most interesting tribes of Indians in the territorial limits of the United States. Of the 15,000 of those people who are now to be removed -- (and the time within which a voluntary emigration was stipulated, will expire on the 23rd instant -- ) it is understood that about four fifths are opposed, or have become averse to a distant emigration; and altho' [although] none are in actual hostilities with the United States, or threaten a resistance by arms, yet the troops will probably be obliged to cover the whole country they inhabit, in order to make prisoners and to march or to transport the prisoners, by families, either to this place, to Ross' Landingor Gunter's Landing, where they are to be finally delivered over to the Superintendent of CherokeeEmigration.
Considering the number and temper of the mass to be removed, together with the extent and [unclear: fastnesses] of the country occupied, it will readily occur, that simple indiscretions -- acts of harshness and cruelty, on the part of our troops, may lead, step by step, to delays, to impatience and exasperation, and in the end, to a general war and carnage -- a result, in the case to those particular Indians, utterly abhorrent to the generous sympathies of the whole Americanpeople. Every possible kindness, compatible with the necessity of removal, must, therefore, be shown by the troops, and, if, in the ranks, a despicable individual should be found, capable of inflicting a wanton injury or insult on any Cherokeeman, woman or child, it is hereby made the special duty of the nearest good officer or man, instantly to interpose, and to seize and consign the guilty wretch to the severest penalty of the laws. The Major General is fully persuaded that this injunction will not be neglected by the brave men under his command, who cannot be otherwise than jealous of their own honor and that of their country.
By early and persevering acts of kindness and humanity, it is impossible to doubt that the Indians may soon be induced to confide in the Army, and instead of fleeing to mountains and forests, flock to us for food and clothing. If, however, through false apprehensions, individuals, or a party, here and there, should seek to hide themselves, they must be pursued and invited to surrender, but not fired upon unless they should make a stand to resist. Even in such cases, mild remedies may sometimes better succeed than violence; and it cannot be doubted that if we get possession of the women and children first, or first capture the men, that, in either case, the outstanding members of the same families will readily come in on the assurance of forgiveness and kind treatment.
Every captured man, as well as all who surrender themselves, must be disarmed, with the assurance that their weapons will be carefully preserved and restored at, or beyond the Mississippi. In either case, the men will be guarded and escorted, except it may be, where their women and children are safely secured as hostages; but, in general, families, in our possession, will not be separated, unless it be to send men, as runners, to invite others to come in.
It may happen that Indians will be found too sick, in the opinion of the nearest Surgeon, to be removed to one of the depots indicated above. In every such case, one or more of the family, or the friends of the sick person, will be left in attendance, with ample subsistence and remedies, and the remainder of the family removed by the troops. Infants, superannuated persons, lunatics and women in a helpless condition, will all, in the removal, require peculiar attention, which the brave and humane will seek to adapt to the necessities of the several cases.
All strong men, women, boys & girls, will be made to march under proper escorts. For the feeble, Indian horses and ponies will furnish a ready resource, as well as for bedding and light cooking utensils -- all of which, as intimated in the Treaty, will be necessary to the emigrants both in going to, and after arrival at, their new homes. Such, and all other light articles of property, the Indians will be allowed to collect and to take, with them, as also their slaves, who will be treated in like manner with the Indians themselves.
If the horses and ponies be not adequate to the above purposes, wagons must be supplied.
Corn, oats, fodder and other forage, also beef cattle, belonging to the Indians to be removed, will be taken possession of by the proper departments of the Staff, as wanted, for the regular consumption of the Army, and certificates given to the owners, specifying in every case, the amount of forage and the weight of beef, so taken, in order that the owners may be paid for the same on their arrival at one of the depots mentioned above.
All other movable or personal property, left or abandoned by the Indians, will be collected by agents appointed for the purpose, by the Superintendent of CherokeeEmigration, under a system of accountability, for the benefit of the Indian owners, which he will devise. The Army will give to those agents, in their operations, all reasonable countenance, aid and support.
White men and widows, citizens of the United States, who are, or have been intermarried with Indians, and thence commonly termed, Indian countrymen; also such Indians as have been made denizens of particular States, by special legislation, together with the families and property of all such persons, will not be molested or removed by the troops until a decision on the principles involved can be obtained from the War Department.
A like indulgence, but only for a limited time, and until further orders, is extended to the families and property of certain Chiefs and and head-men of the two great Indian parties, (on the subject of emigration) now understood to be absent in the direction of Washingtonon the business of their respective parties.
This order will be carefully read at the head of every company in the Army.

[Signed] Winfield Scott. By Command:
[Signed] [unclear: Lieut. Col.]
Chief of the Staff


submitted by Larry Benefield

Head Quarter's Eastern Division
New Echota May 24 1838
N 34
A sufficient number of troops having arrived or known to be approaching the collection of the Indians within the CherokeeCountry, preparatory to their emigration beyond the Mississippi, will be commenced in Georgiaon the 26th inst. [instant] or as soon thereafter as this order may be received, & in the adjoining States ten days later
The Commanding Officer at every fort & open Station will first cause to be surrounded & brought in as many Indians the nearest to his fort or station, as he may think he can secure at once, & and repeat the operation until he shall have made as many prisoners as he is able to subsist & send off, under a proper escort, to the most convenient of the emigrating depots -- the Cherokee Agency, Ross's Landing& Gunter's Landing. These operations will be again and again repeated, under the orders of the commanders of the respective Districts, until the whole of the Indians shall have been collected for emigration.
In many cases it may be almost impracticable for the commander of an open station to escort his prisoners to one of the distant emigrating depots mentioned above. It is permitted therefore, [unclear: to] such commander, when necessary to send his prisoners under a proper escort, to the nearest fort in the direction of one of those depots there to wait for a [unclear: farther] escort.
On the arrival of Indian prisoners, at an emigration depot they will be received in the first instance by the Commanding Officer at the place.
Page: [2]  
In every case when detachments are sent out to bring in Indians a sufficient guard will be retained to hold the fort or to guard the subsistence & all other property left at the open station.
Every Commander of a fort or open Station will report his operations & whatever else of interest that may occur around him to the commander of his District, & the latter will frequently make reports to the Major General
[unclear: Instant] references will be made by all to the letter and the spirit of the printed general Order, No 25, which has been extensively circulated for the purpose.
Until the arrival of Brigadier General Armistead, Brigadier General Floydof the GeorgiaMilitia, will be the Commander of the Middle District, head quarters for the present New Echota.

By command of Major General Scott
[Signed] W. J WorthLt Colo [Colonel]
Chief of the Staff
After Order
To each Indian prisoner will be issued daily without regard to age or sex one pound of flour and half a pound


submitted by Larry Benefield

Head Qrs. [Headquarters] Eastern Division
AthensTen. [Tennessee] Nov 9th 1838
This last requisition for funds to defray the expenses of Twelve land detachments of emigrants, takes the numbers so emigrated, from the several muster rolls in the possession of Capt. Page, disbursing Agent &c [et cetera] which muster rolls make the whole number emigrated, by land, under the arrangement entered into with me, 11721 souls. But the Cherokeeauthorities, a party to that agreement, allege, that after several of the muster rolls were closed, many additional families and Individuals joined the detachments in March increasing the twelve detachments emigrated, by land, to the aggregate of 12608 emigrants -- making a difference of 887 Souls. Should this be found to be correct when the said land detachments shall be finally mustered West, an additional requisition may be made by the Cherokeeauthorities for the excess of individuals, whatever the number, over and above the number of 11721. Who have been in this Country mustered in the twelve detachments which are now on the road.
Page: [2]
Capt. Pagewill send a copy of this memorandum to the mustering officer on the Arkansawand desire his particular attention to the Subject, so that a final settlement, on account of the twelve land detachments of emigrants may be made according to the principles of justice.
[Signed] Winfield Scott




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