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Major Ridge Home

Major Ridge was a leading figure of the Cherokee Nation during the time of Cherokee removal. In 1835, Major Ridge and the Treaty Party signed the Treaty of New Echota, which resulted in Cherokee removal. The historic home of Major Ridge, although greatly altered from the time Major Ridge and his family occupied the house, survived and is managed by the Chieftains Museum Inc. in Rome, Georgia as a museum. In 1973 it became a National Historic Landmark, and in 2002 it became a certified partner on the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail. A year later, a NPS project was funded to complete both a historic structure and a cultural landscape report. Together they are meant to document the history of the house and farm and to provide for the property’s preservation and treatment. The project was initiated by a consulting company and completed by NPS personnel.


John Ridge Home

At the time of the Cherokee Removal in 1838, John Ridge was one of the most influential leaders in the Cherokee Nation. Ridge, the son of Major Ridge, lived in a two-story home in Rome, Floyd County, Georgia, less than five miles northeast of his father’s estate. In 2005, the NPS worked on an agreement with the Chieftains Museum to document the history of Running Waters (the John Ridge Home) and to provide a context for the house to aid in its future interpretation. Carey Tilley served as the project’s original historian; in mid-2006, William J. (Jeff) Bishop succeeded Tilley and completed the report.


The Chieftains Excavations

From 1969 through 1971, Patrick H. Garrow headed a team of archeologists who worked on the Chieftains Museum property in Rome, Georgia. In a project funded by Rome’s Junior Service League, this team excavated many areas located immediately north of the Major Ridge Home — an area that was alleged to be both Ridge’s side yard and George Lavender’s Trading Post. Garrow partially curated the excavated materials in 1974 but did not complete them. In the 1990s, the collections and their supporting documentation were severely damaged. In 2008, however, the NPS and the Trail of Tears Association worked with the Chieftains Museum staff to fund the completion of both the curation process and a report explaining the results of the excavations. During 2008-9, Dave Davis and Sharon McCormick played an important role in fulfilling these tasks. The result of the investigations revealed important new information about Lavender’s trading posts and provided new insights into the material culture associated with Major Ridge’s lifestyle.

  • Report: The Chieftains Excavations, 1969-1971, November 2009.

Ground-Penetrating Radar of Selected Grids, Chieftains National Historic Landmark

In 2005, Chieftains Museum site manager Carey Tilley and the Chieftains Museum Board commissioned a ground-penetrating radar (GPR) study of selected grids on the property of Chieftains Museum (the Major Ridge Home). The goal of this study, which was funded by the NPS, was to locate buried historic features on the property. Initial GPR testing was undertaken by two U.S. Forest Service archeologists. In November, Dr. Kent A. Schneider and a crew of University of Georgia geology students assumed additional testing that continued through early 2007. The results of this work are highly technical in nature and not intended to be conclusive. The report notes, however, that "for the archeologist, many of these [surveyed] areas are likely to be cultural in origin and should guide where excavation or site testing should begin."

  • Report: Ground Penetrating Radar of Selected Grids, Chieftains National Historic Landmark; A Report to the Chieftains Museum, June 2007.

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John Ross House

At the time of the Cherokee Removal in 1838, John Ross was the Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation. Ross lived in a two-story home in present-day Rossville, Walker County, Georgia (five miles south of downtown Chattanooga, Tennessee). In 2005, the NPS had an agreement with the John Ross Association, Inc. to document the history of the John Ross House and to provide for its future interpretation. Carey Tilley served as the project’s original historian; in mid-2006, Jeff Bishop succeeded Tilley and completed the report.


Cherokee Removal from Georgia

When Congress designated Trail of Tears National Historic Trail in 1987, it asked the National Park Service to help administer the trail. Agency professionals who had prepared the feasibility study (that preceded this designation) recognized that many key aspects of the trail's history were not well known. One of the major elements of history that had not been researched dealt with the many "round-up camps" where the Cherokee were forcibly held during the spring and summer months of 1838. In Georgia, historians had identified 16 of these forts and camps, but little was known about either the location or history of these military facilities. In order to fill that information void, the NPS issued a contract in 2002 to the Georgia Historic Preservation Division, part of the state's Department of Natural Resources. That state agency asked Sarah H. Hill to prepare a report on the topic. Dr. Hill completed this study, called Cherokee Removal from Georgia, in December 2005, which provides exhaustive historical information-much of it from the National Archives-to pinpoint the history and geography of these important (if short-lived) forts.

The body of this report, which contains general historical information about the removal process and both historical and geographical details about the various forts, is available via the link below.


Last updated: January 27, 2020

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National Trails
Trail of Tears National Historic Trail
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