History Editor Leslie Barker Thomas Digs Deep Into Our Rich Cultural Past with This Ongoing Series About Our Native Ancestors
Those Who Cried
In 1820, President James Monroe offered the Cherokee Council monies for the Cherokees Indians to remove west of the Mississippi River into Indian Territory and guaranteed funds and reparations for them to live with those already removed on their own. The Cherokee Council was made up of representatives from the twelve districts of the Cherokee Nation East and later became known as the Cherokee National Council in about 1825.
The council sent representatives to visit with the Old Settlers in the Indian Territory west of the Mississippi River and they returned more determined to stand their ground in the east. By this time there had been dozens of land cessions made between the United States the Cherokees. The council refused to cede any more lands and made it a major offense to do so by 1825. Monroe was uncomfortable in pursuing the issue further, however when Andrew Jackson became president, he appeared to have no reservations removing the Indians from the eastern lands.
Among those living in the Gilmer area, who voted against removal treaty signers of 1835 along with then Chief John Ross, were the Sanders family of Taloney, Whitepath of Turniptown, Harry Downing of what is now the Logan Farm area, Young Turkey of Long Swamp Creek, Dick Crittenden and the Smiths of Town Creek, John Keith of Mountaintown, the Johnsons of Cartecay, Walkingstick and Rattling Gourd of Ellijay town, George Owens of Toccoa, and many others whose Indian names have long been forgotten.
The city of Ellijay appeared as a town “Elechaye” on the 1825 enumerations with Chief George Sanders (Saunders) followed by Thomas Sanders on the 1830 census records. William Hardin, an early settler, lawyer and judge, reported to the governor that the city of Ellijay had fallen in March of 1832. This probably meant that the Indians had vacated the area or had succumbed to the white rule by moving outside the city. By 1833 the township is listed as being “sparsely settled” by B. B. Quillian, deputy sheriff at that time. He stated Ralph Smith lived a block west of the current courthouse on Gilmer Street. Cherokee Harry Downing operated a gristmill on Cox Mill Creek. Later this became part of the Logan family land development north of town. The 1834 census lists 56 white families in Gilmer County with about 169 persons. The township of Ellijay became a city and the county seat on December 20, 1834, listing 600 Cherokees in residence, per Adiel Sherwood’s Gazetteer of Georgia (1791-1879).
Those removed from the Gilmer County area in 1838 with American sounding names were Robert Berry, William Crittenden, Willis Hendricks, Dave Sanders, Johnson Alberty, John Nockman, Dick Pritchett, John Owans, Charles Robbins, Wesley Smith, Tom Smith, Dick Crittenden, Arley Hornet, Betsy Wolf, Jack Downing, John Keith, Charles Downing, Jim Dobbins, George Owens, Will Scott and Jay Bird to name a few (spellings listed as transcribed). Hundreds more with very Indian names like Squirrel and Terrapin Striker are also found in a listing called THOSE WHO CRIED The 16,000 by James W. Tyner available at most libraries. They are named as head of household with how many full blood males, how many mixed blood males, and how many able to read. Women are listed as weavers or spinners.
At the time Gilmer county encompassed Fannin County to the Tennessee/North Carolina border and down to what is now Highway 20 in Cherokee County Georgia. ACLM
Leslie Barker Thomas is a resident of Ellijay and
the President of the Gilmer County Historical Society; Former President, Georgia Chapter Trail of Tears Association and Board Member of the National TRail of Tears Association.
“When history is erased, people’s moral values are also erased.” –Ma Jian
Visit the Gilmer County Historical Society
Historic Tabor House & Civil War Museum
138 Spring Street, Ellijay, Georgia 30540
Open Thursday–Saturday 10am to 2pm