CHEROKEES IN MACON COUNTY
History and Folklore

 

LESSON PLAN VIII

THE RETURN TO MACON COUNTY

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

 

The first settlers to venture into Macon County after the treaties of 1817 and 1819 found their way to Cartoogechaye Creek. According to the stories, two of the first to come (around 1821) were Jacob Siler and William Britain. They made friends with the Cherokees who helped them build a trading post there. Eventually, William moved on, but Jacob stayed to raise his family. His brother, Captain William Siler, moved his family to the same area in 1822.

 

 

Photograph of Captain William Siler
Courtesy of Fran Cargill
Franklin, NC
From her personal collection

 

It was a turbulent time for the Cherokees as their once great nation shrunk, and they were forced to move from village to village. One young Cherokee named Chuttahsotee, or Jim Woodpecker, decided to stay in Cartoogechaye with his wife Cunstagih, who was known as Sally. They became close friends with William Siler and his family.

When General Winfield Scott's soldiers rounded up Western North Carolina's remaining Cherokee residents at gunpoint, Jim and Sally were taken to Fort Aquone, and then led on the "Trail of Tears" to Oklahoma. Jim and Sally were among those who managed to escape, and returned on foot to their old homes. When the ragtag band of Cherokee arrived back in Cartoogechaye, William Siler proved his friendship. He deeded a 200 acre plot along Muskrat Creek to Jim, knowing that Cherokees who legally owned land could not be forced to move. As time went on, other Indians joined them, and the settlement on Muskrat Creek became known as Sand Town.

The government made a second attempt to remove the Cherokees in 1843. Major James Robinson was sent to Sand Town in 1843 to persuade them to leave their homes and join the other Cherokees in Oklahoma. Chief Chuttahsotee is reported to have said, "In sight of these mountains I was born. In sight of these mountains I will die. My talk is ended."

 

Photograph of Chief Chuttahsotee
(Jim Woodpecker)
circa 1875,
not long before his death.
Courtesy of Fran Cargill

Franklin, NC
From her personal collection

 

 

Jim Woodpecker served as chief of the Sand Town settlement for many years, and was a highly respected member of the community. He lost his property in 1871 when it was sold at auction on the courthouse steps for $43.20 to pay for an unknown judgment against him. However, he continued to live there until his death. When he was an old man, and facing his last days, Albert Siler, William's son, came to read the Bible and pray with him, as he often did. At this time, Jim is reported to have said, "Chuttahsotee going soon. Bury Chuttahsotee like a white man." The next day the old chief's son came to tell Albert that he was dead.

Chuttahsotee was buried in the Siler cemetery near the future site of St. John's Episcopal Church. The Reverend John Deal, an Episcopalian clergyman, preached the funeral. A large gathering of Indians and white friends crowded the cemetery. Following the burial, Albert Siler went to see Cunstagih, the old chief's widow. She was sitting in the doorway of the cabin, gazing at the sunset. "Chuttahsotee calls Cunstagih," she said. "Cunstagih must go." The next day her sons found her dead, still sitting in the doorway. She was buried beside her husband, and there they remain today.

 

Muskrat Creek in Cartoogechaye, site
of the Sand Town settlement where
Chief Chuttahsotee once lived.
Photograph by Mary Lynn Duncan
July 28, 2002

 

Introductory note:
Fran Cargill is the great-great-granddaughter of Captain William Siler and the great-granddaughter of Albert Siler. The Reverend Dr. A. Rufus Morgan was the brother of her mother, Anna Morgan Barr. She still resides in the Cartoogechaye Community in an old log cabin built in the early 1880's, and she is currently the historian of St. John's Episcopal Church.

Albert Siler married Joanna Chipman in 1856. The original St. John's Church was built at the urging of Joanna. Albert and Joanna deeded land for it in the late 1870's, and the church was built and consecrated in 1881. At that time, members of the Siler family were the first and, for a while, the only members. The Reverend John Archibald Deal served as pastor of the church until 1910. Over the years, the congregation of the church diminished, and the church was demolished in 1925. Most of the gravesites were removed, and the small clearing and remaining gravesites went back to wilderness.

 

Click on the picture to hear about Fran
Cargill's family history
and St. John's
Episcopal Church in Cartoogechaye.

Photograph by Mary Lynn Duncan
June 20, 2002

 

About 1940, a great-grandson of William Siler, the Reverend Dr. A. Rufus Morgan, returned to Cartoogechaye. He long dreamed of rebuilding the church, and started collecting donations and gifts to do so. Gravestones left scattered in the underbrush were used as a foundation for the new church. Joanna Chipman Siler's gravestone was placed in front, and other members of the Siler family can be found around the rest of the foundation.

 

Gravestone of Captain William Siler
(1790-1864)

Gravestone of Joanna Chapman Siler
(1822- 1884)

These are used as foundation stones
for St. John's Episcopal Church
Photographs by
Mary Lynn Duncan
July 28, 2002

 

Logs were donated by the Forestry Service. The Bell and Belfry, Baptismal Font, and Bishop's Chair of the original church were found. Parishioners of a church in Spartanburg, South Carolina, donated a tiny organ and pews for 40 worshipers. Many other donations completed the church, landscaping was completed, and at long last Dr. Morgan conducted the first services in the church. Since then, services have continued to be held on Sundays, and it still has a small but loyal congregation. Visitors often travel to Cartoogechaye to see the tiny mountain church and the graves of Chuttahsotee and Cunstagih.

 

 

Drawing of St. James Church as it is today
By Ted Will, 1978

 

Fran Cargill has a wealth of knowledge about the history of the Cartoogechaye area, Sand Town, and the Siler family.

This is a picture of Fran Cargill at the grave of Chief Chuttahsotee (Jim Woodpecker) and his wife Cunstagih (Sally). The grave is located at St. John's Episcopal Church, in the Cartoogechaye area of Macon County.

 

 

Click on the picture to learn more
about Chief Chuttahsotee and hear a
song in the Cherokee language sung
by Fran Cargill.

Photograph by Mary Lynn Duncan
June 20, 2002

 

The Sand Town Indians were somewhat isolated from the other Cherokees in western North Carolina who had avoided removal. As time passed, several other of the late arrivals also became property owners. Most of the Sand Town Indians made a living by farming, hiring out as laborers, or they manufactured goods such as "Indian relics." One resident of the period wrote about discovering one of Jim Woodpecker's sons in the act of carving a spoon for a gullible collector. Chief Chuttahsotee himself was renowned for his ability to raise sweet potatoes and keep them through the winter. By 1850, more than 100 Cherokees lived in the small village. Despite their best efforts, however, the Sand Town community was not large enough to cope with the pressures of the growing world or to offer enough opportunities to its residents. Gradually, the Sand Town residents either merged with the Cherokees of the Qualla Boundary or voluntarily joined relatives in Indian Territory.

 

 

View from Wayah Bald, overlooking area
near the Sand Town site
Cherokee Prayer Initiative
Photographer unknown

 

At least one of the residents of Sand Town became somewhat famous. When John Lanman traveled through the area in 1848, he wrote about Hogbite, a man "upwards of 100," who lived in a small hut with a door so low, you had to enter by crawling on your hands and knees. In 1886, F. H. Nolem visited the area and also wrote about Hogbite, whose age was then estimated at 120 years old. He said that Hogbite had a great deal of pride, and would show off his hunting shirts of many colors by wearing them all at the same time. He also had an assortment of colored handkerchiefs, which he would wear around his neck, one above the other, until his head was almost as large as a half bushel.

 

 

Whiteside Mountain in Macon County
Cherokee Prayer Initiative
Photographer unknown

To learn more about these topics, visit these sites:

 

Macon County, NC Census Records
http://www.genealogybookstore.com/
publishing/
macon/genweb/census.htm

Macon County, NC History and Genealogy
http://www.teresita.com/html/history.html

Heritage of the Franklin, NC Area
http://www.franklin-chamber.com/
heritage.html

GRADE LEVEL AND OBJECTIVES

COMPUTER/TECHNOLOGY SKILLS CURRICULUM

Grade Level 3 - Competency Goal 1.1: Identify uses of technology in the community and how it has changed people's lives.
Grade Level 3 - Competency Goal 1.2: Recognize that the Copyright Law protects what a person, group, or company has created.
Grade Level 3 - Competency Goal 2.1: Identify the technology tools used to collect, analyze, and display data.
Grade Level 3 - Competency Goal 3.4: Evaluate the usefulness of information obtained using telecommunication technologies.
Grade Level 4 - Competency Goal 1.1: Identify the ways in which technology has changed the lives of people in North Carolina.

Grade Level 4 - Competency Goal 1.2: Identify and understand the differences between non-networked and networked computers.
Grade Level 4 - Competency Goal 1.4: Recognize the correct use of copyrighted materials in multimedia projects.
Grade Level 4 - Competency Goal 2.1: Use technology tools to collect, analyze, and display data.
Grade Level 4 - Competency Goal 2.10: Use search strategies to locate information electronically.

Grade Level 5 - Competency Goal 1.1: Recognize the influence of technology on life in the United States.
Grade Level 5 - Competency Goal 2.1: Use technology tools to collect, analyze, and display data.
Grade Level 5 - Competency Goal 3.3 Select search strategies to obtain information.

ENGLISH LANGUAGE ARTS CURRICULUM

Grade Level 3 - Competency Goal 3.03: Use text and own experiences to verify facts, concepts, and ideas.
Grade Level 3 - Competency Goal 3.06: Conduct research for assigned and self-selected projects (with assistance) from a variety of sources.
Grade Level 3 - Competency Goal 4.02: Use oral and written language to: present information in a sequenced, logical manner; discuss; sustain conversation on a topic; share conversation and ideas; recount or narrate, answer open-ended questions.

Grade Level 4 - Competency Goal 2.07:Determine usefulness of information and ideas consistent with purpose.
Grade Level 4 - Competency Goal 3.05: Integrate information from two or more sources to expand understanding of text.
Grade Level 4 - Competency Goal 3.06: Conduct research for assigned and self-selected
projects (with assistance) from a variety of sources through the use of technological and informal tools.
Grade Level 4 - Competency Goal 4.10: Use technology as a tool to gather, organize, and present information.
Grade Level 5 - Competency Goal 3.06: Conduct research (with assistance) from a variety of sources for assigned or self-selected projects
.
Grade Level 5 - Competency Goal 4.10: Use technology as a tool to enhance and/or publish a product.

SOCIAL STUDIES CURRICULUM

Grade Level 3 - Competency Goal 2.3: Assess similarities and differences among communities in different times and places.
Grade Level 3 - Competency Goal 7.2: Distinguish between secular and religious symbols and explain why secular and religious holidays are celebrated as they are.
Grade Level 4 - Competency Goal 1.3: Analyze similarities and differences among North Carolina's people, past and present.
Grade Level 4 - Competency Goal 2.2: Identify religious and ethical beliefs that have influenced life in North Carolina and assess the importance of this influence on North Carolina society.
Grade Level 4 - Competency Goal 5.1: Explain how North Carolinians in the past used, modified, or adapted to the physical environment.
Grade Level 5 - Competency Goal 2.2: Evaluate the influence of beliefs, individuals, and practices associated with major religions in the United States, Canada, and the United States.
Grade Level 5 - Competency Goal 11.2: Identify examples of cultural transmission and interaction within and among the regions of the Western Hemisphere.

 

 

TEACHER PREPARATION

TIME ALLOTMENT:
2 HOURS CLASS TIME, PLUS 2 HOURS FOR FIELD TRIP

MATERIALS:
1. Access to computers with Internet connection
2. Make travel arrangements for a field trip.
3. Arrange for a guest speaker.
4. Provide art materials for the follow-up lesson.

INSTRUCTION:
1. Provide instruction or review on Computer/Technology Skills Curriculum Goals as indicated for grade level.
2. Provide students with the background information on this unit in one of four ways:
Print out the lesson from the web site and present to class orally.
Present the lesson to students as a group on computers at computer lab.
Have students go through the lesson individually on class computers
.
Use a multimedia projector to present the lesson to the total group
.

STUDENT ACTIVITIES

ALL GRADE LEVELS:
1. Take a field trip around the Macon County area to see Nikwasi Mound, the site of the Nikwasi settlement, the site of the Sand Town settlement, St. John's Church, and the grave sites of Chief Chuttahsotee and his wife Cunstagih.
2. Have a member of the Macon County Historical Society as a guest speaker.
3. As a follow-up to the field trip, have students work in groups to make a model of Macon County as it might have looked before the Trail of Tears and/or after the Trail of Tears.
4. Find the Journal of the House of Representatives for January 18, 1842 in the Library of Congress Digital Library. What service was authorized for Macon County on that date?

OPTIONAL ASSIGNMENTS:
1. Search the existing links for additional information on this unit.
2. Add an additional link to this unit through an Internet search.
3. Use the Internet to make an in-depth report on any aspect of this unit.

EVALUATION

Return to Outline for Lesson Plans

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Page created by: Mary Lynn Duncan

Last update on: 11/17/02