And one Cherokee Indian. Her name was Quatie. She was the wife of Chief John Ross. Both were of mixed Cherokee and Scottish ancestry, and both had Cherokee mothers. Quatie's English name was Elizabeth. Chief John Ross' Cherokee name was Guwisguwi.
How Quatie died has been the subject of rumor and speculation, with the most popular story being that she became ill with pneumonia after giving a child her blanket. When and where she died is undisputed, and is documented in a 6 Feb 1839 article in the Arkansas Gazette. How she came to be near Little Rock at the time of her death is part of the story of the forced removal of the Cherokee and other American Indian tribes from their ancestral homelands by white settlers for whom no amount of wealth and power was ever enough. The Cherokee called their forced march The Trail of Tears.
Quatie and her husband were the owners of several hundred acres of rich farmland in Georgia and Tennessee. When gold was discovered in Georgia in 1829 on Cherokee lands, the rush was on.
And the Indians had to go. The white settlers who had squatted on Cherokee land illegally, and the gold miners dreaming of fortune didn't care how or where the Indians went.
The Cherokee held out against President Andrew Jackson's 1830 Removal Act for eight years, continuing to live and work as they had always done. Across the Cherokee Nation in the spring of 1838, Cherokee farmers continued to till the soil for planting corn and beans. The deadline for their leaving passed. Military troops descended, rounding up nearly 16,000 Cherokee men, women and children. Many were taken away wearing only the clothes on their backs, carrying whatever they could grab.
The captives were imprisoned in military stockades while the government organized the marches. Chief Guwisguwi and Quatie, escorting 231 Cherokee elders and children, began their journey west on 5 Dec 1838, aboard Chief Guwisguwi's steamship, the Victoria. The Arkansas Gazette reported that on 1 Feb 1839, Quatie had died of smallpox, shortly before the Victoria's arrival in Little Rock.
Originally, Quatie was buried in the Little Rock city cemetery, located on the site of of the present-day Federal Building at Capitol Avenue and Gaines Street. In 1843, a group of Little Rock businessmen, including Albert Pike, successfully dedicated a new cemetery, Mount Holly, on land deeded by two leading citizens, Chester Ashley and Roswell Beebe, to the city of Little Rock.
Quatie's remains were reinterred in Mount Holly, on Albert Pike's lot. By the 1930s, her original grave marker was thought to be lost. However, in recent conversation with Mount Holly's sexton, we learned that a broken portion of her original marker had been found partially buried in a corner of Mount Holly several years ago, and a replica created.
Note the simulated crack in the reproduction. It was the right half of the marker that was found.
In any event, one can hope.