Cherokee Removal Letters
Here are four letters relating to the Cherokee removal, and mentioning locations in Chattooga County. This first letter is included for its reference to "Dert Town" (Dirt Town), now in Chattooga County.
The author of the letter is Colonel William N. Bishop. He is reporting to Governor Wilson Lumpkin. You might want to refer to this site for some background on the Trail of Tears.
[ALL SPELLINGS AND PUNCTUATION AS IN ORIGINAL]
Near Spring Place
Septr. 16th 1833
Wilson Lumpkin Govr &c
I had the Honor to receive your two favours of August 24th by Mr. Underwood and in due time. I received the Arms &c Sent by Mr. Weir all safe. The money came safe to hand. I paid Mr. Weir ten doolars extra for some other articles, which he hawled for the use of the Guard, before I received your letters I had caused, Adair and his associates to appear before a Justice of the peace, and had them bound to appear before the Courts to answer for their offence and also bound them to desist from any further operations until the case was fully decided.
But I have verry little hope of being able to convict them for that or any other offence while our present Solicitor Genl. and Judge is in office as their feelings are entirely with those Indian intermedlers.
I have just returned last evening from a long route through the several counties, Viz. Gilmer Cherokee Cass Walker and Lumpkin.
I was also in Forsyth. I have divided my command into small squads, and have scoured the Country from the Lookout Mountain to the Chattahoochee. We have arrested several persons (Cherokees) charged with crime one Murderer; and another who is charged with having been accessory to the same Murder.
I have placed spies members of my Guard in various parts of
the country to learn the lurking places of those Banditta or band of Rosses Murderers.
This is a slow business and requires considerable management and in fact we shall
be compelled to decoy them off their guard, by their own country men.
I have a plan of this kind on foot and have verry little doubt of our finally succeeding. I have four members of my guard now engaged in this business in the vicinity of Dert Town in Walker County and intend keeping them there until we either drive them from the limits of the State or arrest them. I am happy to learn your intention of ridding Georgia of this troublesome population provided the Representatives of the People will do their duty--which I sincerely hope they will.
I am informed by several influential Cherokees that there is about one hundred leading Cherokees that had determined to call on Ross early in October for his views and plans, and if he does not satisfy them of the propriety of his plans that they will then desert him and co-operate with Ridge.
But Georgia has driven those men to this measure as a last resort. And on Georgia depends the whole of this matter. if however your views and policy is carried out by our next ensuing Legislature no doubt but all will be well.
But if they Faulter and shrink from their duty as they have done on one occasion last winter much trouble and difficulty may yet attend the final settlement of this much perplexed question.---
My men are obedient and prudent yet fully willing to perform any duty regardless of danger. In my last letter upon this subject I stated I had made out the number of thirty nine men, but you will discover from my seekly reports herewith inclosed that I have up to August 30th. thirty six men. Including my serjeant & musicians. One of the number I counted when last I wrote on this subject has since retired from the service in consequence of his having Married. One that I reported as present up to 26th July (Mr. Kearns) has failed to come. The reason I reported him was owing to the following circumstances. At the commencement he told me he was not quite ready to enter service but stated he would be in a short time. I hired a Mr. William Carter to work in the place of Kearns as a Black Smith and have taken Carters receipt for twenty doolars which I paid him for labor which was done by Carter but in the name of Kearns. Kearns failing to come. I at the end of the Month employed another to serve in his place. I intend returning Carters receipt as a voucher up to the time Kearns is reported present. I hope this explanation will prove satisfactory for the report mentioned. My weekly reports up to Sept 6th is here with sent.
I have this day received your letter to Elias Boudinot in relation to his improvements inclosing one of instructions to me. I will immediately investigate the matter and you may rest assured nothing shall be wanting on my part to secure to him his rights. And I will shortly see Mr. Boudinot and inform you further on this subject. All shall be done that can be by me consistent with my instructions from you. and the law under which I act. to remedy the evil of which he complains.
Took the Murderer has had his arm amputated and will no doubt recover. I have put a Guard at Cherokee Jail to prevent his release from Prison. next week being Court week in Cass county where the crime was committed. I am going to take him (Took) there for trial.
While writing I received a letter from John Ridge Informing me of the murder of another of his friends by a Ross Indian.
I am about starting a command to arrest him if possible; also one from Maj. Davis stating the same fact the quarrel was on the ground of a removal.
I am Respectfully your Humble & most obt. Servt.
William N. Bishop
Agent and Comdr Geor Rangers
Head of Coosa
Nov 18 1834
To His Excellency
I am now at Jno. Ridges where a council is to be held on the 27 Inst in order to organize a party favourably disposed to Cherokee removals. An election of chiefs in favour of transplanting the tribe will be held at this meeting and a delegation is to be appointed to go to the city to memorialize congress & do everything else in their power to ensure the ratification of A Ross's Treaty & defeat Jno. Ross plan of citizenizing the remnant tribe by which the poor ignorant Indian would be left after spending their substance vagabonds in the land.
Jno. Ross has runners out at a pay of $2.00 per day procuring names from the infant babe up to the old age. The question put is "do you love your land". If they answer in the affirmative their names are put to a long memorial protesting against A Ross's Treaty. By these agents we may expect double the number returned against said Treaty that reside (of that tribe) East of the Mississippi.
In their efforts to bring about a revolution in the minds of the Indians some members of the Treaty party have already been slain while the lives of others are every day threatened. Last spring whilst Maj Ridge & his friends were on their way to Washington City an ambuscade was formed by a party of Indians whose purpose was to stop them- they were armed with all the implements of war but the Maj and his friends having take a road different from that anticipated by the opposite party passed in safety. Sleeping Rabbit headed this party in ambush. One of the party being a member of the church was called to answer before that body whereupon he declared they had acted under instructions from new Town where Lewis Ross & the Brother in law of Jno. were at the time the instructions must have been given. Every days experience confirms me in the opinion these are not by any means the result of idle conversation. There is danger & those who threaten most danger to Ross's plans are in the greatest peril for the Indians by long custom & usage have acted upon the suggestions of their Principal chief as implicitly as if they were direct revelations from heaven.
Not long since a traveller passing near Dirt Town in Floyd Co. was murdered. His bones & the bones of his horse have been found. Indian rumor says upwards of a Thousand Dollars was taken from him at the time of the murder. Smith a Cherokee was arrested but discharged for the want of proof. He though Indian talk had given all the details of the transaction before when called to swear, their repugnance at the idea of swearing before a white man against one of their own people was so great that none would swear to the facts & all plead ignorance - A few days ago the dead body of another traveller was found on the Road through Alabama part of the nation on the Raccoon Mountain. A few days ago a Cherokee killed his fellow traveller & on being arrested & carried before the council was dismissed. he was acquitted because there was no proof of malice - this murder is said to have occurred in Georgia. This same council also had two men arrested and brot before it on a charge of having murdered Baker a white man & McPherson and although this honourable body insinuates the offence was committed by the Indians arrested they were dismissed for the want of evidence - Hog Smith a Cherokee is now under sentence of death by the circuit court of Walker County Ga for the same outrage where it is presumed the most ample proof was adduced of his guilt. When the leaves again put out Indian rumor says there is to be more killing. In this state of things the interposition of the Legislature in affording protection to a party yet in its infancy contending against that supremacy which custom has given their nominal leader John Ross over the minds of the multitude seems to be called for - Where Reservees & their descendants are in the opinion of the Commander of the Guards heartily engaged in furthering the cause of this patriotic band headed by Jno. Ridge would it not be well to give them time to persuade their friends; as well as to settle up their affairs before they are ejected?
The party about to be organized will require money. Their expenses will not fall short of three thousand Dollars in the contemplated visit to Washington city. They have no national faith to pledge by which to prossecute their laudable plans at home or obtain credit abroad while their individual resources are quite limited. They desire me to say one season more will give them an entire apendancy over all opposition provided they receive a hearty support from the states & Gen government, & request that you address the President & Secy of War urging the importance of having a fund to be reached through the draft of the Superintendent to carry on the cause successfully which appears to be gaining a formidable support.
A Guard should be forthwith organized to keep peace &
aid the civil authorities in the execution of the law - without an energetic commander
such as colo Nelson or Colo Bishop but little good could be expected to result from
I Have the Honor to be
Your very Obt Servt
Ben. F. Currey
Benj. F. Currey
Communicated Decemr. 5th
May 5th 1835
I have just returned from a long Tour through the western part of the Cherokee Territory in the Look out Valley and along The Alabama Line and have had considerable business to transact with the Cherokees. I have been able to settle all in that quarter without any particular difficulty, although in this wilderness part of the country much more feeling of Hostility Exists against the operation of the Laws than does nearer the older Settlements. I have Endeavoured to ascertain the feelings and views of Those people in regard to the Treaty arrangement, and from my observations I am led to the conclusion that a large portion of the Ross Party will go against the propositions offered Through Ridge - Some will from force of circumstances be driven from their Servile Love of Ross - but since his return amongst them they are much more Hostile to Ridge and his Party - an opinion is now prevailing amongst Them that Ross will yet be able to make a more advantageous arrangement with the President than the one proposed through Ridge. Runners have been Sent through the nation and all the Ross Party summoned to attend at Red Hill on Monday next to determine Some Course. Ridge and his friends have met this week in Floyd County to Settle on some plan of opperations. but I have learned from Some verry Intelligent Cherokees of The Ross Party that they have determined never to allow Ridge to be instrumental in the consumation of any propositions that may be Submitted and from the unlimited Influence they have Heretofore had over those uninformed misguided people. I fear they shall be able to defeat Ridge. if however they should I have verry little doubt but what you will be able to see those difficulties brought to a close before the Expiration of your present Administration, as all agree some thing must be done soon and a final adjustment of this perplexing question must be had --
before my return Home I met the publication in the Georgia Journal purporting to be Spence Riley but which in fact is Samuel Rockwells - The absence of some persons of whom I wish to get Certificates has prevented me this Mail from contradicting the Statements contained in said Publication. So soon as I can procure Them I will prove Those charges to which you allude in yours of April 9th false and give another colour to the Transaction. -- (Please accept my Kindest thanks for your expressions of disbelief of Those charges and believe me Sir that my whole End and Aim has been to carry the Laws confided to my care into faithful operation with out any other object had in view.)
This is another pitiful attempt to arrouse new prejudices against the Laws - and Excite if Possible the feelings of Some of our friends at a distance and perhaps to Try to injure you by misrepresenting my conduct to the public as I received my appointment from you -- and you in the main responsible for my conduct. This was intended I have no doubt to Try to filch from you your well earned Laurels gained by your energetic and efficient course in relation to our Indian difficulties weathering every storm that could burst from the clouds of falsehoods arising from the busoms of your unrelenting and disappointed Enemys - but you are far above their reach as your useful Services has taken too deep root in the Hearts of your countrymen to be plucked up by such Miscreants as those now attempting it. I think I shall be able to satisfy you in relation to the charges made in said publication and our friends Generally in this circuit there is verry little complaint even by our Enemys of whom we [have] nothing to Expect. All the complaint is with a few political aspirants who are willing to rise on the ruins of any they can reach. Many of Rileys Political friends say He forfeited all claims to his life in the course He took and they who would can produce no excitement Here in relation to said Transaction
Maj. B.F. Currey had passed my place before my return home which I regret as I wished to see him verry much.
I remain with Sentiments of
High Esteem your Humble & most obt
William N. Bishop
William N. Bishop
5th May 1835
[ALL SPELLINGS AND PUNCTUATION AS IN ORIGINAL]
Pleasant Green 15 March 1838
The Indians are unusually quiet and seem to wait instructions from Ross. We cannot persuade ourselves that they intend hostility, but as their time has nearly expired and they have as yet made no preparation for going, it is probable that when suddenly dispossessed and forced into measures that there will be some very unpleasant occurrences.
Ross is certainly a disappointed man and whether after his promises to the Indians he will be able to reconcile them to the sudden removal that now awaits them is doubtful--
As it will be the close of our Indian difficulties perhaps it will
be best to be prepared at all points -- and as Chatooga valley lays between Taylors Ridge and Lookout Mountain (both abounding in hiding places) it would be prudent to have soldiers located in this valley near the line dividing Walker and Floyd --
It is possible that this point may be occupyed by Col Linsey - or rather by a company sent by him - as we have heard of his intention to send a company -- but should he fail to do so there will be a propriety in your giving attention to the Valley--
As I presume you have heard from others whose knowledge of
circumstance is more definite I shall forbear any further remarks except to state that it will be very unpleasant for the resident militia to be called off from their farms during planting season or crop time.
Pleasant Green Ga
March 16th 1838
His Excely George R. Gilmer 15 Mar 1838
Return to Correspondence Index
Return to Home Page
Compilation Copyright 1998 - Present by The GAGenWeb Project
This page was last updated on -03/23/2013