Days Gone By - stories from the past

Amazing Grace sung in Cherokee Language -beautiful!

Cherokee County, Alabama – Religion and the Law


 Part IV

Mr. Hugh Cardon wrote the following history of Cherokee County on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the county in 1936. This history was published in the COOSA RIVER NEWS on Friday, August 7, 1936. Mr. Cardon was a much-respected historian of the county and a collector of antiques and Indian artifacts. He died February 11, 1953. The Historical Society collected a number of his articles written for the public, published them from time to time. The following article was preserved by Mr. J. Robert Embry of the Blanche, Lookout Mountain Valley, Little River Area and loaned it to the Historical Society.

Cherokees became preachers

Native Cherokees were not only converted to the Christian faith but became preachers and exhorters. Notable among the Christian preachers were John Arch and Thomas J. Meigs, the first being affiliated with the Moravian church and the latter with the Methodist church. As a matter of fact, when the whites started settling Cherokee County in the 1830s, they found that most of the Indians had been converted and were members of the Methodist, Baptist Presbyterian, and Moravian churches.

Learn about the religious difficulties our ancestors faced in the 17th century with the historical fiction series, Tapestry of Love  – inspired by true events and an actual colonial family who settled on the Eastern Shore of Virginia in 1638 and migrated to Alabama in the 1800s

Amazing Grace Cherokee version by Walela – Click to purchase this song at

Thomas J. Meigs, full-blooded Cherokee preacher

Rev. J. D. Anthony, a son of Rev. Whitfield Anthony, one of the first immigrants to Cherokee County, in an article which appeared in the GADSDEN TIMES, in Nov. 1875, mentions especially the work of the Indian Methodist, Thomas J. Meigs was a full-blooded Cherokee and, according to Rev. Anthony, spoke English fluently for a red man. However, he positively refused to preach, pray, sign, or ask a blessing in any language except the Cherokee.

Rev. Whitfield Anthony inquired of him as to why he did not preach or use the English language when with white people and Rev. Meigs replied, “De Postle Paul says, No preach, no pray, in unknown languages; ‘dat’s it, why I no do it.”

john ross cherokee

Chief John Ross

No history of Cherokee County would be complete without paying a tribute to John Ross, the greatest of all Indian statesmen. As a preface to the remarks concerning John Ross, It is appropriate that we reflect for a moment on the Cherokee system of government.

Cherokees established a mounted police system

As early as 1807, the Cherokees had written laws. At a council held in Broomtown Valley in 1807, a Light Horse Guard, or system of mounted police was established. The proceedings of the meeting at Broomtown in 1807 were reduced to writing and so far as is known this rule establishing a mounted police system was the first written law of the Cherokee nation.

In 1820, the Cherokee people met in council and agreed that instead of the nation being ruled as a kingdom, that a republican government should be established. In view of this resolution, their territory was divided into eight well-defined districts which corresponded to our present system of counties. Each district elected a certain number of representatives to the council and the council in turn elected the chief.

William P. Ross succeeded his Uncle John Ross


William P. Ross

The young man who was principally responsible for this organization of the republican form of government was John Ross, who succeeded Path Killer as the Chief of the Cherokee Nation. John Ross was born at Tahoovayah on the Coosa.

After his death in 1836, his nephew, William P. Ross, who succeeded him as principal chief, visited the old Cherokee nation east of the Mississippi, and on being asked where his uncle, John Ross, was born, said, “Somewhere down on the Coosa River in Alabama.” Inasmuch as all the Cherokee Nation in Alabama was at one time in Cherokee County, there can be no doubt but that John Ross was born in what is now, or has been, Cherokee County.

Treaty to cede Cherokee lands fought by John Ross

In 1835, a missionary by the name of J. F. Schermerhorn, who was also the agent of the United States Government, entered into negotiations with John Ridge, Major Ridge, Elias Boudinot, and a few other Cherokees, for the purpose of drawing up a treaty ceding all of the Cherokee lands lying east of the Mississippi River. This treaty was consummated and ratified by the United States Senate, although it was rejected by ninety-five percent of the people.

John Ross valiantly fought this treaty and made numerous attempts to have it nullified, carrying his case finally to the United States Supreme Court. The Supreme Court in a famous decision written by John Marshall, in the case of the Cherokee Indians vs. Georgia, ruled with the Indians in practically all their contentions. However, Ross’ efforts were of no avail as the Indians were removed by force, west of the Mississippi in 1837 and 1838.

Cherokees had an organized system of democratic government

Prior to their removal, they had perfected a well organized system of democratic government, they were seekers after knowledge, they were economical and prosperous, and as a result, their lands, slaves, and looms were not only coveted, but actually seized by some of our white forebearers. The Treaty by which the Indian lands were seized constitutes one of the darkest page of our whole existence, and we cannot well condemn other people, or other nations for wrongs for which we have been equally as guilty!

RIBBON OF LOVE: 2nd edition – A Novel Of Colonial America: Book one in the Tapestry of Love Series 

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About Donna R Causey

Donna R. Causey, resident of Alabama, was a teacher in the public school system for twenty years. When she retired, Donna found time to focus on her lifetime passion for historical writing. She developed the websites www.alabamapioneers and All her books can be purchased at and Barnes & Noble. She has authored numerous genealogy books. RIBBON OF LOVE: A Novel Of Colonial America (TAPESTRY OF LOVE) is her first novel in the Tapestry of Love about her family where she uses actual characters, facts, dates and places to create a story about life as it might have happened in colonial Virginia. Faith and Courage: Tapestry of Love (Volume 2) is the second book and the third FreeHearts: A Novel of Colonial America (Book 3 in the Tapestry of Love Series) Discordance: The Cottinghams (Volume 1) is the continuation of the story. . For a complete list of books, visit Donna R Causey

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  1. The video of Amazing Grace in Cherokee was the most beautiful thing I’ve heard in a long time. How do I get a copy???

    1. Click on the youtube link on the video to find the source.

    2. You can purchase a copy by clicking this link below —

      Walela – Amazing Grace

  2. […] See this page to see video  and hear Amazing Grace sung in the Cherokee Language… […]

  3. I learned this in Philadelphia Mississippi and the UMC on the reservation. No I don’t remember all the words but it was nice to here

  4. Beautifully done, moving

  5. This was sung in Cherokee at my first husband’s funeral. His funerals had several native traditions, and some old southern traditions.

  6. I am offended by the use of Southwestern pictographs use to illustrate this title.. not because I am a Christian but because this has nothing to do with being Cherokee…. so culturally out of kilter snd unthoughtful.
    And shame on us for the subugation involved in this whole concept..

  7. Thank you for all the great posts. I have been sharing with our fourth grade Alabama history students.

    1. Thank you Rhonda. I love finding the stories. It’s like treasure hunt.

  8. I have this groups cd and the whole thing is wonderful… 3 Cherokee women…

  9. Catherine Borden Sloan !! 🙂

  10. I am wondering about the photo used in the post – the tree that is bent. I have a tree in my yard that is just like this and on Cherokee Road in Birmingham.

    1. I have a very unique tree(s) as well. It looks like two tall trees growing near one another. It’s actually one tree that curves at the base and then grows upward. Looks similar to a “U” the back trunk grows from the roots, the front trunk curves upward an inch from the ground.

  11. Awesome video. Love Amazing Grace. Jean Holmes

  12. I love reading your posts. I love learning more about the state I was born & raised in.

  13. My ancestors were all Cherokee! I love this amazing song in their language!

  14. Angela Faith Hockenberry Carnes

  15. William Alford, many of these tree seats when Chuck and I lived at Canyon Lake. Fascinating, and probably the CD in the Cherokee language ain’t bad either. I miss the Pow Wows once held on the big quad.

  16. See 378 in the United Methodist Hymnal, 1989.

  17. John Newton…ex slave trader caught in a storm called out to His to save him. Years later her became a preacher and wrote “Amazing Grace”.

    For me it is one of the most beautiful songs…sang in Cherokee… It is awesome. Aho!

  18. These trees were “bent” by the Cherokee as directional markers. I will post the title of a book written on the subject. There is a planned community here in Pickens county Ga named “Bent Tree”

  19. check out this C D. click on the topic in light blue and listen to that song.

  20. This is beautiful , watch it ! You will be blessed!

  21. That’s amazing and beautiful

  22. Gorgeous and beautifully sang.

  23. Jean Dean Kerri Gallaspy Jeannie Anne Steele

  24. Maxey Cox show this to Susan

    1. She said thank-you beautiful!!!!

  25. Rita Coolidge, her sister, and her niece are the group Walela. I have the CD and it’s beautiful.

  26. Why were trees grown this way ? Have heard in the past ,but forgot .

  27. I found a big thing tree in Huntland Tennessee

  28. That’s a pointer tree, a marker that pointed towards water sources!

  29. Thanks for sharing. It is Beautiful!

  30. Glenn Simmons interesting info.

    1. Beautiful. If you get time look for ” Cherokee Morning song” by Robbie Robertson

  31. Renee Daniels King

  32. Beautiful!! Than3ks for sharing. <3

  33. I can show you some of those bent trees.

    1. Wyner Slay Phillips please share. I have seen one but not sure if it is old enough or victim of storm

    2. I can show you dozens. None of them likely formed deliberately by a Native American or any other human being.

      Trees like this form naturally as a reaction and adaptation to wind or logging damage and continually doing so.

  34. And that’s what they are a bent tree and nothing else

  35. I have you in the woods behind my house.

  36. You can see these along the Trail of Tears route to the “Nations”.

  37. signal tree …want to know what a signal tree is look it up

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