“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Near Murphy in Cherokee County, North Carolina — The American South (South Atlantic)

Trail of Tears

The Valley Towns Baptist Mission

Trail of Tears Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Tom Bosse, April 5, 2018
1. Trail of Tears Marker
Inscription.  In 1838, the United States government deported more than 16,000 Cherokee Indian people from their homeland in Tennessee, Alabama, North Carolina, and Georgia, and sent them to Indian Territory (now Oklahoma). Thousands of Cherokee perished during the forced relocation, which has become known as the Trail of Tears. This tragic episode of our history was a result of the 1832 Indian Removal Act, an official government policy to purge native nations from the eastern United States.

Immediately northwest of this marker is the site of the Valley Towns Baptist Mission (1820–1836), a boarding school that became a center for Cherokee scholarship and political activism. The mission, with its model farm, gristmill, and blacksmith shop, provided Cherokee students vocational as well as academic training. After initial failures with English-only instruction, mission teachers adopted the Cherokee language for classroom use, and Valley Towns became the most popular and successful Protestant mission in the Cherokee Nation. Valley Towns housed as many as 50 students at once, and hundreds of Cherokee scholars attended the mission school during
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its 16-year tenure. The mission trained future Cherokee leaders such as Peter Oganaya, John Wickliff, and James Wafford, men who led political resistance to the New Echota Treaty, the agreement that eventually resulted in the Cherokee removal along the Trail of Tears.

An 1837 appraisal of the mission property includes a “Hew’d log house part framed 18-60 ft. 2 stories” as well as the old mission building, a “Hew’d log house 22-50 2 stories high all the floors of plank two brick chimneys.”

The 1819 plans for the mission hall were much more ambitious than the 22 feet by 40 feet “hew’d log house” actually constructed in 1820.

Evan B. Jones (1788-1873), Baptist missionary and Cherokee advocate, was the teacher and pastor at Valley Towns Mission (1821-1836). Jones, along with Cherokee preachers such as Jesse Bushyhead, Peter Oganaya, and John Wickliff, established the Baptist church as the primary denomination among Chirstianized Cherokees. In 1836, the U.S. Army expelled him from Valley Towns for aiding Cherokee efforts against removal. Jones traveled the Trail of Tears as assistant conductor in Situwakee’s detachment. In Oklahoma, he helped reestablish and expand the Baptist churches that had moved from the old Nation.
Erected by North Carolina
Trail of Tears Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Tom Bosse, April 5, 2018
2. Trail of Tears Marker
Chapter of the Trail of Tears Association.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Churches & ReligionNative Americans. In addition, it is included in the Trail of Tears series list. A significant historical year for this entry is 1838.
Location. 35° 3.677′ N, 83° 56.795′ W. Marker is near Murphy, North Carolina, in Cherokee County. Marker is at the intersection of U.S. 64 and County Highway 1544, on the right when traveling west on U.S. 64. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Murphy NC 28906, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 6 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. A different marker also named Trail of Tears (approx. 1.1 miles away); John C. Campbell Folk School (approx. 1.8 miles away); a different marker also named John C. Campbell Folk School (approx. 1.8 miles away); Prison Cell Door (approx. 5.2 miles away); Cherokee Heritage Trails (approx. 5.2 miles away); Harshaw Chapel and Cemetery (approx. 5.2 miles away); Nuya Saligugi (approx. 5.2 miles away); Unicoi Turnpike Trail (approx. 5.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Murphy.
Also see . . .  Valley Town Baptist Mission. (Submitted on July 18, 2018, by Tom Bosse of Jefferson City, Tennessee.)
Credits. This page was last revised on July 19, 2018. It was originally submitted on July 18, 2018, by Tom Bosse of Jefferson City, Tennessee. This page has been viewed 393 times since then and 14 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on July 18, 2018, by Tom Bosse of Jefferson City, Tennessee. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page.

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Mar. 2, 2024