I visited the Ridge Home/Chieftains Museum in Rome. The Ridge was a prominent Cherokee leader and signer of the Treaty of New Echota, which subsequently caused the Cherokee Trail of Tears-and his assassination.
The staircase inside was original to the house. As I touched the railing Major Ridge used all those years ago, I tried to understand what was going through his mind regarding the great upheaval affecting his tribe during those times. What made him sign that treaty, knowing the Blood Law that he understood and approved of-knowing he was going to die because of it?
I then took a quick trip into Cedartown to see a removal campsite. A spring that was used by the Cherokees for years became the last water the prisoners there drank before moving out west.
There was a meeting of the Georgia chapter of the Trail of Tears Association, and a presentation by Carmen Shuler on Native uses of plants and fibers at the Vann House in Chatsworth.
It’s always good to see that ancient knowledge continuing on into the 21st century.
The Vann House was owned by Cherokee leader James Vann in the early 1800s. He was not only the richest Cherokee of that time but one of the richest people in the country. He owned taverns, ferries, and slaves.
He did, however, run into a problem that affects our Native people to this day: alcoholism. Vann was a binge drinker who became very abusive to others around him, including his wives and slaves. Vann’s temper and the animosity it created finally cost him his life when he was killed in a tavern.
The house went to his son, Joseph. Joseph was evicted by the state of Georgia and established a plantation in TN, before moving to Oklahoma. The house fell into disrepair over the years. It even became a barn before it was restored to its former glory.
At the meeting, I thought I would be speaking to a few people after it was over. I ended up having to speak during the meeting to an audience of 50+!
Kristal said I did okay, and I think I conveyed to them what my hike was about.
I became humbled by the sudden outpouring of generosity when they passed around one of the weaved baskets to take up a collection for me!
It is much needed, and much appreciated!
My thanks to GA chapter president Jeff Bishop for helping me get the word out for the Walk.
I also appreciate the Calhoun (GA) Times for the great writeup they did on me. FRONT PAGE! I’m glad the Trail of Tears still lives in the minds of the people here.
Go to my Facebook page to read it (RonHikesTrailOfTears.)
Now, I must say goodbye to Georgia, if only physically.
I drove into Tennessee to see the sites there. I realized as I crossed the border that the next five states I enter I’ll be WALKING into!