Webbers Falls - Old Settlers, New Homeland

Log cabin Cherokee home
Cherokee homes in Indian Territory like the Foreman cabin looked very similar to those in their old homeland.
Cherokee moved west of the Mississippi River decades before what is now known as the Trail of Tears. Early Cherokee settlers recognized the reality of white demand for land in the southeastern United States and moved west to Arkansas, only to relocate again following a coerced treaty in 1828. By the time of Cherokee removal, Indian Territory (today’s eastern Oklahoma) was a complex quilt of land patents for diverse American Indian groups removed from their homelands.
Portrait on John Jolly
Chief John Jolly (left) relocated Old Settlers from Arkansas to Indian Territory in 1828.
Old Settlers

Those that moved west early became known as Old Settlers. By 1828, the Old Settlers established their own government and communities and Chief Walter Webber established a trading post. Many Cherokee had already faced persecution in Arkansas. Some moved several times across multiple states before settling in Indian Territory at Webbers Falls.
Historic photograph of John Drew
Photo of John Drew, leader of the final Cherokee detachment to land in Indian Territory.
A Different Arrival

Tahlonteeskee, the capital for the Old Settlers, stood on the banks of Deep Branch very near the mouth of the Illinois River. When the last detachment landed here in 1839, a frontier commercial center stood on the opposite bank less than a mile upstream. John Drew, who led the last detachment west in 1838, was also an Old Settler. Proximity of these facilities might have allowed for rest or supplies, but the final disbandment site was to the north near Tahlequah.
Illustration of the Vann House being built in Indian Territory with slave labor.
Joseph “Rich Joe” Vann rebuilt his plantation house here. It wasa replica of the one that still stands in Chattsworth, Georgia (below). The new home was finished in 1839.

Georgia Department of Natural Resources

Rebuilding with a Replica

The Cherokee Nation had been economically successful and in the Southeast and some displayed their wealth in a manner that matched white settlement. In Indian Territory, some wealthy Cherokee rebuilt with a replica. Cherokee Joseph “Rich Joe” Vann rebuilt his plantation house in Indian Territory. It was a replica of the one that still stands in Chattsworth, Georgia (below). The new home was finished in 1839. Vann's slaves moved with the Cherokee detachments as well.

You can visit Vann's home in Chattsworth, Georgia - Chief Vann House State Historic Site.

Trail Of Tears National Historic Trail

Last updated: June 11, 2020