Whatever the degree of probability attending these legends, it
would seem that the settlers of Virginia had an acquaintance with
the Cherokees prior to that of the South Carolina immigrants, who
for a number of years after their first occupation confined their
explorations to a narrow strip of country in the vicinity of the
seacoast, while the Virginians had been gradually extending their
settlements far up toward the headwaters of the James River and had
early perceived the profits to be derived from the Indian trade.
Sir William Berkeley, governor of Virginia, equipped an expedition,
consisting of fourteen Englishmen and an equal number of Virginia
Indians, for the exploration of the country to the west of the
existing settlements. The party was under the command of Capt. Henry
Batt, and in seven days' travel from their point of departure, at
Appomattox, they reached the foot of the mountains. The first ridge
they crossed is described as not being very high or steep, but the
succeeding ones "seemed to touch the clouds," and were so steep that
an average day's march did not exceed three miles.
They came upon extensive and fertile valleys, covered with luxuriant
grass, and found the forests abounding in all kinds of game,
including turkeys, deer, elk, and buffalo. After passing beyond the
mountains they entered an extensive level country, through which a
stream flowed in a westward course, and after following it for a few
days they reached some old fields and recently deserted Indian
cabins. Beyond this point their Indian guides refused to proceed,
alleging that not far away dwelt a powerful tribe that never
suffered strangers who discovered their towns to return alive, and
the expedition was therefore compelled to return. According to the
historian, Burke, this expedition took place in 1667, while Beverly,
not quite so definite, assigns it to the decade between 1666 and
1676.1 It is believed that the powerful
nation of Indians alluded to in the narrative of this expedition was
the Cherokees, and, if so, it is apparently the first allusion made
to them in the history of the colonial settlements.
That the Virginians were the first to be brought in contact with the
Cherokees is further evidenced by the fact that in 1690 an Indian
trader from that colony, bearing the name of Daugherty, had taken up
his residence among them, which is alleged by the historian2
to have been several years before any knowledge of the existence of
the Cherokees reached the settlers on Ashley River in South
Early Relations With Carolina
The first formal introduction of the Cherokees to the notice of
the people of that colony occurred in the year 1693,3
when twenty Cherokee chiefs visited Charleston, with proposals of
friendship, and at the same time solicited the assistance of the
governor in their operations against the Esau and Coosaw tribes, who
had captured and carried off a number of Cherokees.
The Savannah Indians, it seems, had also been engaged in incursions
against them, in the course of which they had captured a number of
Cherokees and sold them to the colonial authorities as slaves.
The delegation urgently solicited the governor's protection from the
further aggressions of these enemies and the return of their
bondaged countrymen. The desired protection was promised them, but
as their enslaved brethren had already been shipped to the West
Indies and sold into slavery there, it was impossible to return
The extreme eastern settlements of the Cherokees at this time
were within the limits of the present Chester and Fairfield
districts, South Carolina, which lie between the Catawba and Broad
Mention By Various Early
We next find an allusion to the Cherokees in the annals of
Louisiana by M. Pericaut, who mentions in his chronicle of the
events of the year 1702, that " ten leagues from the mouth of this
river [Ohio] another falls into it called Kasquinempas [Tennessee].
It takes its source from the neighborhood of the Carolinas and
passes through the village of the Cherokees, a populous nation that
number some fifty thousand warriors," another example of the
enormous overestimates of aboriginal population to which the earlier
travelers and writers were so prone.
Again, in 1708, the same author relates that " about this time two
Mobilians who had married in the Alibamon nation, and who lived
among them with their families, discovered that that nation was
inimical to the Mobilians as well as the French, and had made a
league with the Cheraquis, the Abeika, and the Conchaques to wage
war against the French and Mobilians and burn their villages around
On various early maps of North America, and particularly those of De
L'Isle, between the years 1700 and 1712, will be found indicated
upon the extreme headwaters of the Holston and Clinch Rivers, " Bros
villages des Cheraqui." These villages correspond in location with
the great nation alluded to in the narrative of Sir William
Upon the same maps will be found designated the sites of sundry
other Cherokee villages, several of which are on the extreme
headwaters of the "R. des Chaonanons." This river, although
indicated on the map as emptying into the Atlantic Ocean to the west
of the Santee, from its relation to the other streams in that
vicinity, is believed to be intended for the Broad River, which is a
principal northwest branch of the Santee. Other towns will also be
found on the banks of the Upper Catawba, and they are, as well,
quite numerous along the headwaters of the "R. des Caonilas" or
Savannah and of the Little Tennessee.
Mention is again found of the Cherokees in the year 1712, when 218
of them accompanied Colonel Barnwell in his expedition against the
hostile Tuscarora and aided in the subjugation of that savage tribe,
though along the route of Barnwell's march the settlers were very
nearly persuaded that they suffered greater damage to property from
the freebooting propensities of their Indian allies than from the
open hostilities of their savage enemies.
The old colonial records of South Carolina also contain mention
in the following year (1713) of the fact that Peter St. Julien was
arraigned on the charge of holding two Cherokee women in slavery.5
In 1715 the Yamasse, a powerful and hitherto friendly tribe,
occupying the southwesterly portion of the colony of South Carolina
and extending to and beyond the Savannah River, declared open
hostilities against the settlers. In the desperate struggle that
ensued, we find in full alliance with them the Cherokee, as well as
the Creek and Appalachian.
In his historical journal of the establishment of the French in
Louisiana, Bernard de la Harpe states that "in January, 1716, some
of the Cheraquis Indians, who lived northeast of Mobile, killed M.M.
de Ramsay and de Longueil. Some time after, the father of the latter
gentleman, the King's lieutenant in Canada, engaged the Iroquois to
surprise this tribe. They sacked two of their villages and obliged
the rest to retreat towards New England."
Territory Of Cherokees At Period Of
At the time of the English settlement of the Carolinas the
Cherokees occupied a diversified and well-watered region of country
of large extent upon the waters of the Catawba, Broad, Saluda,
Keowee, Tugaloo, Savannah, and Coosa Rivers on the east and south,
and several of the tributaries of the Tennessee on the north and
west. It is impossible at this late day to define with absolute
accuracy the original limits of the Cherokee claim. In fact, like
all other tribes, they had no definite and concurrent understanding
with their surrounding savage neighbors where the possessions of the
one left off and those of the other began. The strength of their
title to any particular tract of country usually decreased in
proportion to the increase of the distance from their villages; and
it commonly followed as a result, that a considerable strip of
territory between the settlements of two powerful tribes, though
claimed by both, was practically considered as neutral ground and
the common hunting ground of both.
As has already been stated, the extreme eastern settlements of the
Cherokees in South Carolina in 1693 were in the district of country
lying between the Catawba and Broad Rivers, and no claim has been
found showing the existence at any time of any assertion of
territorial right in their behalf to the east of the former stream.
But nevertheless, on Bowen's map of 1752 (obviously copied from
earlier maps), there is laid down the name of "Keowee Old Town." The
location of this town was on Deep River in the vicinity of the
present town of Ashborough, N. C. It was a favorite name of the
Cherokees among their towns, and affords a strong evidence of at
least a temporary residence of a portion of the tribe in that
vicinity. A map executed by John Senex in 1721 defines the Indian
boundary in this region as folio wing the Catawba, Wateree, and
Santee Rivers as far down as the most westerly bend of the latter
stream, in the vicinity of the boundary line between Orangeburg and
Charleston districts, whence it pursued a southwesterly course to
the Edisto River, which it followed to the sea-coast. The southern
portion of this boundary was of course a definition of limits
between Carolina and the Creeks, or rather of certain tribes that
formed component parts of the Creek confederacy. No evidence has
been discovered tending to show an extension of Cherokee limits in a
southerly direction beyond the point mentioned above on the Edisto
River, which, as near as can e ascertained, was at the junction of
the North and South Edisto. Following from thence up the South
Edisto to its source the boundary pursued a southwesterly course,
striking the Savannah River in the vicinity of the mouth of Stevens
Creek, and proceeding thence northwardly along the Savannah.
On the borders of Virginia and North Carolina the ancient limits of
the Cherokees seem to be also shrouded in more or less doubt and
con-fusion. In general terms, however, it may be said that after
following the Catawba River to its source in the Blue Ridge the
course of those mountains was pursued until their intersection with
the continuation of the Great Iron Mountain range, near Floyd
Court-House, Va., and thence to the waters of the Kanawha or New
River, whence their claim continued down that stream to the Ohio. At
a later date they also set up a claim to the country extending from
the mouth of the Kanawha down the Ohio to the ridge dividing the
waters of the Cumberland from those of the Tennessee at the mouths
of those streams, and thence following that ridge to a point
northeast of the mouth of Duck River; thence to the mouth of Duck
River on the Tennessee, and continuing up with the course of the
latter river to Bear Creek; up the latter to a point called Flat
Rock, and thence to the Ten Islands in Coosa River, &c.
That portion of the country thus covered, comprising a large part of
the present States of West Virginia and Kentucky, was also claimed
by the Six Nations by right of former conquest, as well as by the
Shawnees and Delaware.
Adair, a trader for forty years among the Cherokees, who traveled
extensively through their country about the middle of the eighteenth
century, thus specifically outlines the boundaries of their country
at that period "The country lies in about 34 degrees north latitude
at the distance of 340 computed miles to the northwest of
Charlestown, 140 miles west-southwest from the Katahba Nation, and
almost 200 miles to the north of the Muskohge or Creek country. They
are settled nearly in an east and west course about 140 miles in
length from the lower towns, where Fort-Prince-George stands, to the
late unfortunate Fort-London. The natives make two divisions of
their country, which they term 'Ayrate' and 'Otarre,'
the one signifying ' low' and the other mountainous."'
In point of numbers the Cherokee population now considerably
exceeds that first enumerated by the early colonial authorities. As
early as 1715 the proprietors of the South Carolina Plantation
instructed Governor Robert Johnson to cause a census to be taken of
all the Indian tribes within that jurisdiction, and from his report
it appears that the Cherokee Nation at that time contained thirty
towns and an aggregate population of 11,210, of whom 4,000 were
warriors. Adair alleges that in 1735, or thereabouts, according to
the computation of the traders, their warriors numbered 6,000, but
that in 1738 the ravages of the small-pox reduced their population
one-half within one year. Indeed, this disaster, coupled with the
losses sustained in their conflicts with the whites and with
neighboring tribes, had se far wasted their ranks that a half
century after the census taken by Governor Johnson they were
estimated by the traders to have but 2,300 warriors.6 By the last
report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs the total population is
estimated to number 22,000.7 It is true that considerable of this
increase is attributable to the fact that several other small tribes
or bands, within a few years past, have merged their tribal
existence in that of the Cherokees. In-dependent of this fact,
however, they have maintained a slow but steady increase in numbers
for many years, with the exception of the severe losses sustained
during the disastrous period of the late southern rebellion.
It is perhaps impossible to give a complete list of the old
Cherokee towns and their location; but in 1755 the authorities of
South Carolina, in remodeling the old and prescribing new
regulations for the government of the Indian trade, divided the
whole Cherokee country into six hunting districts, viz:
1. Over Hill Towns.-Great Tellico, Chatugee, Tennessee, Chote,
Toqua, Sittiquo, and Talassee.
2. Valley Towns: Euforsee, Conastee, Little Telliquo, Cotocanahut,
Nayowee, Tomatly, and Chewohe.
3. Middle Towns.-Joree, Watoge, Nuckasee.
4. Keowee Towns.-Keowee, Tricentee, Echoee, Torsee, Cowee, Torsalla,
Coweeshee, and Elejoy.
5. Out Towns.-Tucharechee, Kittowa, Conontoroy, Steecoy, Oustanale,
6. Lower Towns.-Tomassee, Oustestee, Cheowie, Estatoie, Tosawa,
Keowee, and Oustanalle.
About twenty years later, Bartram8, who traversed the
country, gives the names of forty-three Cherokee towns and villages
then existing and inhabited as follows:
||On the Tanase east of Jore
||Inland, on the branches of
||On the Tanase over the Jore
||Inland towns on the branches
of the Tanase and other waters over the Jore Mountains
||Overhill towns on the
Tanase or Cherokee River
||- - Big Island
||Lower towns east of the
mountains on the Savanna or Keowe River
||Lower towns east of the
mountains on Tugilo River
||Lower towns on Flint River
||Towns on the waters of other
Moizon's map of 1771 gives the names of several Lower Cherokee
towns not already mentioned. Among these may be enumerated, on the
Tugalco River and its branches, Turruraw, Nayowee, Tetohe, Chagee,
Tussee, Chicherohe, Echay, and Takwashnaw; on the Keowee, New
Keowee, and Quacoretche; and on the Seneca, Acoanee.
In subsequent years, through frequent and long continued conflicts
with the ever advancing white settlements and the successive
treaties whereby the Cherokees gradually yielded portions of their
domain, the location and names of their towns were continually
changing until the final removal of the nation west of the
Expulsion of Shawnees by Cherokees
In the latter portion of the seventeenth century the
Shawnees, or a portion of them, had their villages on the
Cumberland, and to some extent, perhaps, on the Tennessee also. They
were still occupying that region as late as 1714, when they were
visited by M. Charleville, a French trader, bat having about this
time incurred the hostility of the Cherokees and Chickasaws they
were driven from the country. Many years later in, the adjustment of
a territorial dispute between the Cherokees and Chickasaws, each
nation claimed the sole honor of driving out the Shawnees, and
hence, by right of conquest, the title to the territory formerly
inhabited by the latter. The Chickasaws evidently had the best of
the controversy, though some concessions were made to the Cherokees
in the matter when the United States came to negotiate for the
purchase of the controverted territory.
1 Campbell's Virginia, p. 268.
2 Logan's South Carolina, Vol. I, p. 168.
3 Martin's North Carolina, Vol. I, p. 194.
4 Logan's South Carolina, Vol. I, p. 141.
5 Logan's South Carolina, Vol. I, p. 182.
6 Adair's American Indians.
7 Report Commissioner Indian Affairs for 1883, p.272.
8 Bartram's Travels in North America from 1773 to
1778, p. 371.
9. From a distribution roll of Cherokee annuities
paid in the year 1799 it appears that there were then 51 Cherokee
towns, designated as follows: Oostinawley, Creek Path, Aumoia,
Nicojack, Running Water, Ellijay, Cabben, High Tower, Pine Log, High
Tower Forks, Tocoah, Coosawaytee, Crowtown, Shoemeck, Aumuchee,
Tnlloolab, Willstown, Acohee, Cnclon, Duck-town, Ailigulsha,
Highwassee, Tennessee, Lookout Mountain, Noyohee, Tusquittee, Coosa,
Nantiyallee, Saukee, Keyukee, Red Bank, Nukeza, Co ens, Telassee,
Buffalo Town, Little Tellico, Rabbit Trap, Notley, Turnip Mountain,
Sallicoah, Kautika, Tansitu, Watoga, Cowee, Chilthoway, Chestuee,
Turkey Town, Toquah, Chota, Big Tellico, and Tusskegee.
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Bureau of Ethnology, Volume 5, Cherokee Nation of Indians,
Nation of Indians