Col. Benjamin Cleveland Chapter — SAR
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Dietrich shares ‘Murder Trial: Native Americans, Andrew Jackson and Supreme Court’
THREE MEMBERS and a junior member were sworn in during a recent meeting of the Sons of the American Revolution, Col. Benjamin Cleveland Chapter. They include, from left, junior member Matt Dixon and regular members Derik Dixon, Joseph White and Ed Lay.
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On April 10, the Col. Benjamin Cleveland Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution held its monthly meeting at the Elks Club.

The meeting as called to order, the Rev. Sam Melton gave the Invocation, Dr. Clyde A. Kyle Jr. led the pledge to the U.S. flag, Jim Edgemon led the pledge to the Tennessee flag and Wendell Dixon led the SAR flag pledge.

The guests included Harry Edgemon, son of Jim; Dan Howell; Richard Jackson, nephew of Howell; Andy Lay, son of Ed Lay; Jerry Shannon; John Clines Jr.; Joe White and wife, Penny, who are parents of the new inductee Joseph White, Whitney and Macenzie, daughters of Joseph and Andrea White, and Ken and Linda Moffett. Three new members, Derik Steven Dixon, Edward Franklin Lay and Joseph Albert White, and one junior member, Matthew Lynn Dixon, were all sworn in and their membership certificates presented by Stan Evans.

President Dave Whaley gave the history of the Society rosette, and presented each a rosette as a new member.

Under officer reports, Treasurer Bill Hamilton stated both the general and statue accounts were in good shape. He reported that RSVP no-shows were getting much better.

JROTC committee chairman Van Deacon reported he would cover two events, one at Rhea County High School and one at Bradley Central High School. It was requested that color guardsmen in Continental uniform be present at these award events.

Chris Carter whose Revolutionary Patriot was Andrew Carnahan participated in the Pin the Patriot program. He was a private who served from 1781-83 in the Guilford County, N.C., militia commanded by Capt. Smith Moon. He was only 19 when he enlisted in the militia, saw service by guarding Tory prisoners in Salisbury, N.C., by later transporting prisoners to Augusta, Ga., for a prisoner exchange, and by marching swampy areas of central North Carolina searching for Tories.

After leaving military service Carnhan returned to Baltimore County, Md., and married Elizabeth Billingsley in January 1783. They moved back to North Carolina, then two years later to Davidson County, Tenn., and then to Logan Co., Ky., in 1793. Two years later he moved back to Davidson County with his wife and now five children. It appears he got a large land grant there where he raised and bred prize race horses. Andrew, who died in 1839, is buried in a private cemetery in Rutherford County.

The chapter president made several reports. First he had Evans report on the passing of member Alfred L. Lawson, and briefly on Alfred’s life and later sufferings that finally released him from these earthly binds to return home to our Heavenly Father. He was a native of Bradley County and his wife, Betty Lou, was a sister of chapter member Jim May.

Whaley reported on a “living history program he and Evans had given to several fourth-grade classes at Blythe-Bower Elementary March 15. The fourth-grade teacher, Jesse Wood, expressed a desire to join the chapter.

The Tennessee Society State Convention meeting at Franklin, held March 28-29, was the next reported. Chapter members attending were Claude Hardison, Dave Whaley, David Hicks, James Stone, Clines, Jerry Venable and Dave Davis.

Hardison was installed as state president of the Tennessee Society, the first state president from the Col. Benjamin Cleveland Chapter. Chapter member Davis was appointed as the editor of the state magazine, The Tennessee Patriot.

It was announced a state resolution honoring the Tennessee Societys SAR’s 125th anniversary was presented at the meeting.

Whaley also reported on two Revolutionary War grave dedications coming up which the chapter is sponsoring; one is in Bradley County and one in Meigs County. He also spoke of a proposed marble marker honoring Revolutionary War soldiers in Bradley County.

The guest speaker, local attorney Paul Dietrich, was announced by Second Vice President Bill McClure. His talk was titled, “Murder Trial: Native Americans, Andrew Jackson and the U.S. Supreme Court.”

McClure’s talk centered primarily on the killing of Jack Walker Jr., and the trial of James Foreman and Anderson Springston for this murder. It showed the Cherokees at that time were divided into two factions, those who were pro-treaty (to be sent to Oklahoma), and those who were anti-treaty. Walker was reportedly pro-treaty and his killers were anti-treaty.

Walker’s parents were Jack Walker Sr. and Elizabeth Lowery, both half-Cherokee, making Jack Jr. one-fourth Cherokee. Nancy Ward was his paternal great-grandmother. His father served with Andrew Jackson at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend (in present-day Alabama) during the War of 1812, and was promoted to the rank of major. He was granted a large tract of land in the Treaty of 1819 north of the Hiwassee River, where he organized the town of Calhoun.

Walker was born about 1800 and was described as very large, extremely handsome, and very well dressed. He was educated in New Jersey and in 1824 married Emily Meigs, grandmother of Return Jonathan Meigs. His second wife, Nancy Bushyhead, was sister of the Rev. Jesse Bushyhead. His home was located about where the Northside Presbyterian Church now stands, near the busy corner of Highway 11 and Stuart Road. Nancy Bushyhead lived with her brother Jesse where present-day Cleveland High School is now.

While he was serving as a civil officer in December 1825, Walker, along with John Sheppard, had a confrontation with James Foreman (a Cherokee) and two white men. They were caught with a boatload of “ardent spirits” (whiskey) on the Conasauga River — and without the necessary license. In an ensuring struggle, Walker ended up striking Foreman with his pistol, and confiscating the entire load of contraband valued at $1,000.

Walker, being of the pro-treaty faction, visited Washington, D.C., several times from 1832-34 to meet with President Andrew Jackson on treaty issues, although he had no official capacity in these meetings. John Ross had been elected the principle chief of the Cherokee Nation in 1828 and as an avid anti-treaty advocate chose to use the courts to strengthen the Cherokee’s position against the government and also made several trips to Washington.

He had a dispute with Jack Walker Sr. in 1819 during one of these visits. Walker attacked Ross with a knife, and cut his shoulder. This encounter was never mentioned again in public — but was it forgotten?

Chief John Ross hired the best attorneys of the day to support his position in the following court actions: State v. Tassels (1830), Cherokee Nations v. Georgia (1831) and Worcester v. Georgia (1832). Various Cherokee Nation Councils were held during 1832-1834 in New Echota, Ga., and at Red Clay here in Bradley County.

During a council meeting held Aug. 18-24, 1834, at Red Clay. During the meeting, Thomas Foreman (anti-treaty) made several embittered speeches threatening the pro-treaty faction. Jack Walker and Dick Jackson of Athens left the council meeting early. One mile west of Muskrat Springs (now Cedar Springs) Walker was shot. Dick Jackson saw James Foreman and Anderson Springston leave the scene of the crime. Walker managed to ride 10-12 miles home, but died 19 days later. He left two widows and seven children. There were two funerals for him, one Masonic and one Cherokee. He was buried behind his house.

Circuit Court Judge Charles Fleming Keith presided over the trial. The following happened during the trial: It was determined that unconstitutional application of state law was used on the Indian Nation, an indictment came on Oct. 31, 1834, on Nov. 4-7 there was a trial and/or argument of motion to dismiss, and the case was dismissed by a Judge Keith. The defendants were “let out of jail with a silver key,” which implies bribery. (They both departed to Arkansas where they were each killed in Burton County, Ark., in 1842).

Tennessee Supreme Court Judge John Catron reversed Judge Keith in July 1835, when Catron wrote a 55-page majority opinion. He later was appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court by President Andrew Jackson on the last day of his presidency in 1837, which is believed to be his reward for ruling in accordance with Jackson’s wishes. Cherokee “Blood Law” and the overwhelming sentiment of the Cherokee people by Cherokee Law, Jackson did not want — hence the reversal of Judge Keith’s decision by the Tennessee Supreme Court.

A pro-treaty advocate named Major Ridge, himself a Cherokee, signed the Treaty of New Echota on Dec. 29, 1835. The action started the removal in May 1838 of 16,000 Cherokees to the Indian Territory west of the Mississippi River.

Ridge stated, “I have signed my death warrant, but an intelligent majority has a moral right and duty to save a blind and ignorant majority from inevitable ruin.”

The Cherokee “Blood Law” would be in full rigor between the pro-treaty and the anti-treaty factions for another 32 years following the death of Jack Walker Jr. His death was the first manifestation of the darkest days in the history of the Cherokee Nation.

With no further business, President Whaley closed the meeting. He then led the Recessional. The Rev. Sam Melton delivered the Benediction. The closing gavel was struck and the meeting was adjourned.