Sunday, May 8, 2016


Nest and her immediate family are purely fictional characters set smack dab down in the middle of Tennessee history.  However Nest's "husband"  John Walker and his grandmother Nancy Ward were important persons among the Cherokee. He actually married Elizabeth Lowery, daughter of a Scottish trader and Cherokee mother.  She had also been previously married to Joseph Sevier.  Most of the other characters are taken directly from the pages of history with a lot of imagination in between. 

The noted painter Catlin lived with the Mandan for a year 
and fully accepted that there were the Welsh Indians among them

Welsh Indian Fortress
Governor Sevier's letter documenting Oconostota's oral history of the Welsh Indians is one piece  of  evidence that they had indeed been there before they moved on and joined the Mandan tribe.  It was generally believed in the early days of our nation's history that the Welsh Indians were the descendants of Madog.  It has only been in the last century when it fell out of common knowledge and acceptance.    I first read of the Welsh Indians in my great grandfather Julius Cezar Meredith's writings of our Welsh ancestry. This was the inspiration for this story. 

It was after I researched and wrote Nest that I studied my ancestry and was surprised to find so many who came to Tennessee in the late 1700's.  They made their own treaties, wrote their own constitution before 1776 and were Indian fighters.  Some were massacred, like my 3 X great grandfather Jesse Adkins was scalped at age two, but lived though many of his family were killed. 

These were the Overmountain frontiersmen who also fought against the British in the Revolutionary War at the pivotal Kings Mountain Battle and won. The Fulkersons, Vance, and Sharp men were there.   I also found that I am a shirt-tail relative of Gov. Sevier  by way of his brother Valentine.  (The sister of  Valentine Sevier's wife was my 4 X great grandmother who was massacred, Agnes Goad Adkins. Valentine's suffered greatly by the lost of many family members at the hand of Indians)  I knew none of this when I wrote this book.

Sadly, Nancy Ward's prophetic dreams came true, the Trail of Tears.  Fortunately, she did not live to see this, one of the saddest chapters in American history.  President Jefferson sought a plan and President Andrew Jackson, Indian fighter, implemented a plan which President Harrison saw to completion to take the Cherokee's land.  When gold was discovered in Georgia, there was now no doubt in most minds that the land had to be taken. Even though the Supreme Court upheld some Indian rights, Andrew Jackson ignored it.  The soldiers came.  The Cherokees were rounded up from their villages, from their farms and log homes and plantations (Some Cherokee were wealthy in land and slaves), their goods plundered, some sold by lottery.  Many were not even left with the moccasins on their feet or with blankets to ward off the cold of winter.  The blankets that were issued were used ones from hospitals where the small pox had ravished and brought the sickness with them.  Even though more Cherokee knew how to read than their white neighbors, their printing press was confiscated.  They were put into crowded detention camps.  The main location was near John Walker's prosperous home and ferry business in the town he had marked out and planned, Calhoun.  The main body of Cherokee was made to walk the Trail of Tears in the dead of winter: one fourth of them died from exposure, hunger, or sickness before reaching Oklahoma. 

As far as the tragedy of Ywahoo Falls Massacre, the reports are conflicting whether this really happened  But it is said that Rev. Blackburn was a broken man after this tragedy.  It amazed me also how early the Moravians, Methodists, Presbyterians, and Baptists braved the frontier, including Asbury, how they combined in the great awakenings, camp meetings which included the Cherokee.


As I delved into the history, it was hard to imagine, that some of those who were "Indian haters" married Indian women as Joseph Sevier did.  What did Gov. Sevier think of his "half-breed" grandchildren?  I wonder if his grandchildren were forced on the Trail of Tears.  These are some of my unanswered questions.  For example among our relatives, Owen Adkins was massacred along with his wife and several children whereas another Adkins relative was married to a chief's daughter.


There were deep divisions in the Cherokee leadership over the cessation of the land, and John Walker's son, his namesake, was murdered, shot in the back after one of these council meetings.  These bitter divisions followed them to the Oklahoma Indian Territory and even into the Civil War as they took opposite sides.  History sometimes has no easy answers.

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