--click on the thumbnail to view the larger image --

Joseph Vann, known as "Rich Joe", was a wealthy Cherokee whose large plantation at Springplace GA was worked by hundreds of African slaves. He was an ally of Chief John Ross and was a frequent delegate to Washington DC on tribal business. He died in 1844 when his steamboat, the Lucy Walker, exploded during a race on the Ohio River.

The Vann House at Springplace GA was built by James Vann and inherited by his son Joseph "Rich Joe" Vann. In 1833, his mansion was confiscated by Col. William Bishop of the Georgia Guard (militia) and the neighboring Moravian mission school was turned into Georgia Guard headquarters. At the time of removal, Rich Joe's property valuation showed him as the second richest man in the Nation. 

The Cherokee national newspaper, The Cherokee Phoenix, was first printed February 21, 1828 at New Echota (near present Calhoun, GA) with Elias Boudinot (i.e., Buck Oowatie) as editor. The paper was printed in both Cherokee and English and became popular in the United States and Europe. Boudinot, prominent in the "pro-removal" faction of the tribe, resigned as editor, apparently a result of friction with Chief John Ross over the removal issue. Boudinot was one of three Treaty Party leaders assasinated in 1839 for signing the Treaty of New Echota. The paper ceased publication in May, 1834.

Tah-chee or "Dutch" was a Western Cherokee chief who refused to move from Arkansas to the Indian Territory and took his group to settle in east Texas. The Texas Cherokees were forced to move to Indian Territory after a bloody battle with the army of the Republic of Texas in the 1840's.

John Ross was principal chief of the Eastern Cherokees and later the combined Cherokee Nation in Indian Territory. He served from 1828 until his death in 1866. Ross was 1/8 Cherokee by blood. Although allied with the Confederacy in the American Civil War, Ross allowed himself to be captured without incident by Union troops in 1862 and moved to Philidelphia where he lived until the end of the war. 

Kah-nung-da-tla-geh, "the man who walks the mountain top", was know as "The Ridge" and later Major Ridge, for his participation in the Creek War 1813-1814. He was the leader of the Ridge or Treaty Party. His brother, Oo-wa-tie, "the ancient one", was the father of Stand Watie. He served as head of the Lighthorse Guard (i.e., Cherokee police), member of the National Committee, and speaker of the National Council. The valuation of his property at the time of the removal west showed him to be the third richest man in the Cherokee Nation. He was assasinated in 1839 for signing the Treaty of New Echota for removal of the Cherokees to the West.

John Ridge was the son of The Ridge. He was also assasinated in 1839 for signing the Treaty of New Echota.

The forced removal of the Cherokee in 1838-39 from their homelands in the east to Indian Territory (now Oklahoma) is known as the "Trail of Tears" or "The Trail Where They Cried". Of the 16,000 Cherokees who were herded into stockades and marched west by U.S. troops, about 4,000 died of desease, exposure, or fatigue. A U.S. soldier, John Burnett, recalled in later years, "I saw the helpless Cherokees arrested and dragged from their homes, and driven by bayonet into stockades. And in the chill of a drizzling rain on an October morning I saw them loaded like cattle or sheep into six hundred and forty-five wagons and started toward the west"


Copyright Ken Martin, 1996