Path Killer I, Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation

St. Clair County, Alabama, United States

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Path Killer I, Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation

Also Known As: "Pathkiller", "The Path Killer"
Birthdate: (85)
Birthplace: Cherokee Nation East, Lower Towns
Death: January 08, 1827 (78-85)
probably Turkey Town, Cherokee, Alabama, United States
Place of Burial: Centre, Cherokee County, Alabama, United States
Immediate Family:

Husband of "Peggy" Chouwayoucah
Father of Path Killer II; Peggy "Chowayoucah" Ratliff; Nellie 'Leaf' Ugalogv Pathkiller and Jennie Pathkiller

Occupation: CHIEF OF CHEROKEE NATION, Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation from 1811 to 1827
Managed by: ronald flores
Last Updated:

About Path Killer I, Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation

Path Killer

There is some confusion about the identities of Cherokee men named The Path Killer or Pathkiller who lived in the early 1800s. It appears that there may have been three (or possibly more) men who were called by this name, and many sources have blended their identities together. We will try to disambiguate them.

There were likely two different generations of men named The Path Killer who lived in Turkey Town (Gun'-di'ga-duhun'yi, in the Lower Towns, on the Coosa River in what is now northeastern Alabama near Centre). The logical assumption is that they were father and son, although that is not definite. I will label them as Path Killer I and Path Killer II for now.

Chief Pathkiller (or The Path Killer I), born in the early 1740s, was a warrior in the late 1700s and then a statesman and Principal Chief, based in Turkeytown, from 1811-1827, when he was an elder. He was considered the last of the hereditary chiefs, a conservative full-blood who resisted Removal. Under his administration, the concepts of the Cherokee Nation were developed and put into place by such men as Charles R. Hicks and John Ross. Chief Pathkiller died in 1827 (reportedly January 8).

The elder man is probably the Path Killer buried in a wooded graveyard on the farm later owned by the Donald C. Garrett family (near the former location of Pathkiller Ferry, later known as Garrett's Ferry) along the Coosa River near the town of Centre, Alabama, in Cherokee County. It is not clear which of the two Pathkillers owned this ferry across the Coosa. The marker, which appears to date to the early 20th century, reads: It reads “Chief Pathkiller, 1764-1828, known as the last of the Cherokee Kings.” However, these dates do not match the 1740s-1827 dates, leaving a puzzle about who is actually buried there.

Less probable is that he was buried at New Echota near Calhoun, Georgia. There is a lot of conflicting information about the various burial places. The New Echota marker was likely erected in the 1920s by a local women's club, so it may be more of a memorial/monument instead of a literal grave marker.

Chief Path Killer I's probable son, known as Col. (as well as Chief) Pathkiller (or The Path Killer), seems to have been born in the early 1760s, c 1764. One of these men distinguished himself for his military role in the Creek Wars fighting alongside Andrew Jackson at Horseshoe Bend, and based upon their ages, and the infirmity of the elderly Path Killer, it is most likely to have been this younger man rather than the aged Chief Pathkiller. Col. Pathkiller (Path Killer II) fought in Col. Gideon Morgan's "Regiment of Cherokees" against the Red Stick Creek uprising during the Creek War in 1813-1814. (see Muster Rolls, attached).

The elder of these two Path Killers also had military service, however. He was most likely the one who, according to Wikipedia, "(with some backing by Britain) fought against the Overmountain Men and American Wataugan frontiersmen settled in the Washington District at the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War. Afterward, he joined with Dragging Canoe and the Chickamauga Cherokee faction fighting in the Chickamauga Wars, until the conclusion of hostilities in 1794" ( At some point he established a close relationship with General Andrew Jackson as fellow soldiers, and letters between them from 1813-1819 (see below) attest to the affection expressed by Path Killer I for Jackson and his treatment as a confidante and trusted friend and "Brother.."

In these letters, the Chief Path Killer mentions a son multiple times and particularly trusts him to be both a spy for the tribe and the messenger who delivers these missives to General Jackson. However, the elder man never calls this particular son by a name. In another letter, in February 1818, however, he mentions Major Ridge, who he is sending to Jackson: "Brother, you’ll receive my friend Chulioa, a warrior and my interpreter to the Creeks and Cherokees, consider him as myself being with you. Also a Major Ridge, who is my son and warrior who will join you, and receive them as myself." One question here is whether he means this literally or symbolically--was Major Ridge his genetic son or a young man he mentored and thought of as a son? A second question is that if Major Ridge, who apparently went by the name of Path Killer prior to being given the "Major Ridge" sobriquet by Andrew Jackson following his exemplary role as a warrior at Horseshoe Bend with Jackson in 1814, was so well-known to Andrew Jackson, why did Path Killer speak of him as if introducing him as an unknown to Andrew Jackson?

Both men, designated Pathkiller and Pathkiller, Jr., signed an 1817 treaty document, indicating that both were chiefs--but not necessarily Principal Chiefs, at that time.

CHEROKEE AGENCY, January 6, 1817.

We, the undersigned Chiefs of the Cherokee nation, do hereby grant unto Nicholas Byers, Arthur H. Henly, and David Russell, proprietors of the Unicoy road to Georgia, the liberty of cultivating all the ground contained in the bend on the north side of Tennessee river, opposite and below Chota Old Town, together with the liberty to erect a grist mill on Four Mile creek, for the use and benefit of said road, and the Cherokees in the neighbourhood thereof; for them, the said Byers, Henly, and Russell, to have and to hold the above privileges during the term of lease of the Unicoy road, also obtained from the Cherokees, and sanctioned by the President of the United States. /S/

In witness whereof, we hereunto affix our hands and seals, in presence of - -

  • John McIntosh, (L.S.)
  • Charles Hicks, (L.S.)
  • Path Killer, (L.S.)
  • Tuchalar, (L.S.)
  • The Gloss, (L.S.)
  • John Walker, (L.S.)
  • Path Killer, jr. (L.S.)
  • Going Snake. (L.S.)

Witness: Return J. Meigs, United States agent. The above instrument was executed in open Cherokee council, in my office, in January, 1817. Return J. Meigs.

The following description applies to the elder Path Killer I: "An interesting picture of Cherokee Council sessions was given by the missionary, Ard Hoyt, on the occasion of his visit to the seat of Cherokee government in October, 1818: "On entering, I observed the King [Path Killer] seated on a rug, at one end of the room, having his back supported by a roll of blankets. He is a venerable looking man, 73 years old; his hair nearly white. At his right hand, on one end of the same rug or mat, sat brother Hicks. The chiefs were seated in chairs, in a semicircle, each facing the king. Behind the chiefs a number of the common people were standing listening to a conversation, in which the king and chiefs were engaged."" (

Although no definitive evidence remains about Chief Pathkiller's marriage and family, a full-blood Cherokee woman named Peggy seems the most likely to have been his wife. The "Records of St. Clair County, Alabama" (page 18) include an entry stating that "Peggy Pathkiller's settlement of estate, Oct. 31, 1833 was paid to her heirs: $455 to daughter Nancy, $375 to Nelly, $450 to Crying Snake. To Quata and George Cammell, $1,200; to Eustace $300, to Jenny $1188.60; to Qualocoo and Beaver Tail $100 and to Charqahyooca and Richard Rarliff $300."

Kathryn Forbes writes: “Peggy's will names five daughters, no sons. Only first names for the daughters are given, so no way to trace them. The accounts for the will record a payment to daughter Chou a yu ka and Richard Ratliff. Their son Daniel lived long enough to file an Eastern Cherokee app, but he stated that he did not know who his mother's parents were, only that they were full-blood Cherokee. There is no way of knowing for certain if Peggy was the widow of Chief Pathkiller (although that seems likely given the amount of property - mostly enslaved people - that she left) and who was the father or fathers of the daughters named in the will. There is just no way to trace these people. Peggy left her house to her youngest daughter, Jenny, so it's possible that a valuation might be located. There were only a handful of whites living in Turkey Town in 1835; almost all the residents were full-bloods.”

Some possible offspring with Peggy ("woman of the Red Paint Clan of The Overhill Cherokee, NC".) include:

  1. Nunnaa hi-Diha Pathkiller B. abt 1764 (this would be Path Killer II)
  2. Nancy Ann "Polly"
  3. U’ga’lo’gv “Leaf” (Nellie)
  4. Crying Snake
  5. Quatee (Elizabeth) may have married George Cammell
  6. Eustace
  7. Jennie / Jenny
  8. Qualocoo may have married Beaver Tail
  9. Charwahvooca “Peggy” may have married Richard Ratliff
  10. You’choo’howee’yuh “Bear Meat” [source?]

1. Tradition is that Path Killer II (aka Nunna-tihi or Nunnaa hi-Diha) married a Susan "Sookey" Martin and had at least three children: daughter Ailsey, son Archilla or Archibald, and daughter Sarah. Ailsey reportedly married a William Gardenhire and Taylor Eldridge, while Sarah reportedly married a James T. Gardenhire. A legal case in East Tennessee in the county of Loudon surrounding the ownership of a 640-acre piece of property and a ferry known as Blair's Ferry involved either Path Killer II or his son Archilla Pathkiller as well as the Gardenhires. Some descendants report that Path Killer II, or Chief Nunnaa Hi-Diha Path Killer (Jr.), died in 1841 near Old Fort Wayne, Arkansas, located 27 miles west of Bentonville, Arkansas, in what is now in Delaware County, Oklahoma.

2. Nancy Ann "Polly" reportedly married a Robert or Alec Moore and they were the parents of (from

  • Andrew Moore, 1804 - 1890, Lawrenceburg, Missouri
  • Alec (Jack) Moore
  • Lucinda Moore
  • Samuel A. Moore, 1805 - 1856, Knox County, Tennessee
  • Nancy Moore
  • Rachel Tabith Moore, b. March 4,1814 TN. d. March 10,1887 Camden County, Missouri Cemetery / Decaturville Cemetery. Her husband was John Calvin McGuire, 1812-1885
  • Polly Moore (Hollngsworth)
  • Martha Moore
  • William (Bill) Moore, White County, TN

3. U’ga’lo’gv “Leaf” “Nellie” is believed by many to be a wife of Dragging Canoe.


References from Wikipedia:

  • Frank Owsley; "Struggle for the Gulf Borderlands: The Creek War and the Battle of New Orleans, 1812–1815"; Gainesville, FL; University Presses of Florida; 1981; pp. 64-67.
  • Arrell Morgan Gibson, Oklahoma, A History of Five Centuries, University of Oklahoma Press, 1981, p. 65
  • History of Hamilton Co. TN", Vol. 1, by Zella Armstrong (in the records of St. Clair, AL, page 30)
  • Pathkiller's Two Burial Sites
  • Mrs. Frank Ross Stewart; "Cherokee County History 1836-1956", Volume 1; Centre, Alabama; 1958; p 206.

Path Killer II

Cherokee Muster Roll from the Battle of Horseshoe Bend, March 27,1814

Muster Roll of the field and Staff of a Regiment of Cherokees Commanded by Col. Gideon Morgan in the division Commanded by Major General Cocke & Jackson in the Service of the United States against the Hostile Creeks.

REGIMENTAL STAFF No. Name Rank Joined Discharged

1 Gideon Morgan Colonel 7 Oct. 1813 11 Apr. 1814 Gideon Morgan Wounded

2 Path Killer Colonel 7 Oct. 1813 11 Apr. 1814 Path Killer Mustered

Transcription of Power of attorney document from National Archives (attached in Media Tab). This is likely from the younger Pathkiller since he refers to himself as Colonel and not as Chief, written in 1816:

I the Path Killer, late Col of the Cherokee Regiment, appointed… Richard Taylor of the Cherokee Nation my true and lawful attorney, for me and in my name to ask, demand and receive of Col. Return J. Meigs payments to the Cherokees, such sum or sums of money as is due me for my services from the United States, also what may be due me for my subsistence and for my forage. I also empower my said attorney to sign all receipts necessary for the receiving of my money and to act and to do all things in and about the premises in as full a manner as I could do were I personally present. In witness whereof I hereunto set my hand at Turkey Town this 5th day of October 1816.

Path X Killer (his mark and seal)

Witness: Wm Payne


Letters in the Library of Congress to and from Path Killer (transcribed by Pam Wilson, Geni Curator)

Path Killer to Andrew Jackson, October 22, 1813

Friend and brother, I have now to communicate to you the substance of a talk I had yesterday with two of the hostile Creeks who were sent as messengers from the Alabama warrior who says he had raised a large army with the Seminoles to attack the Coweatas, that they were forced to do sorely the Coweatas by killing their people and stealing their horses and that they were determined to take satisfaction for the injury his people had received. He informs me also that he had ordered out another army to be raised to take a revenge for the lives of his people who had been killed some or not far from Elk River and the Weokee warrior were ordered to head them. They messengers said that it was three nights since this last army had crossed the Coosa River and they would take the Muscle Shoal path, that they cross the river above the Ten Islands and on the return of the army they intended to attack old Chember and I am advised to be cause over how I acted.

They say they will act candid and give me this information to show they were sincere. And peaceable policy has been pursued with them as my situation required me to do so. About 15 or 16 of my people have arrived to join your army. More will arrive today until they all come, and some others of my people will join Gen. White’s army, who I understand arrived at the point of Lookout Mountain at Ross’s five nights ago—and I expect he is on his way. I have spys out constantly and send out two for twenty four hours tour and the day before yesterday an spys returned and they only discovered eleven fires about 15 miles from this place. My son was one of the spys and from this account I concluded they were not warring because women seen about the fires. I have sent two other spys this morning and they are directed to view those camps again.

I am your friend and brother,

Path X Killer

CR Hicks

Turkey Town

October 22, 1813

To General Andrew Jackson, Commander in Chief of the Tennessee Troops

P.S. I should be very glad to hear from you. This [xxx] I might expect you and army here, as you [xxxx]. Path Killer

Path Killer to Andrew Jackson

Turkey Town October 23, 1813

Friend and brother

I wrote you yesterday substance of the Talk I had received from the hostile Creeks - -the first part of the substance of that letter is confirmed by the express alick and sent by Kelly to inform me of their situation at their fort thirty miles from this place, and the hostelle Creeks were randeazvouzing about ten miles from Kelly’s fort, and by secret information from the hostille party, they intended to attack Kelly’s fort today. My friend Chembers sends ten men with the express alick to act rather as spys than as assistants, an informants says the hostelle party are composed of nine towns and are fully informed of the approaching white army.

Our spys returned this morning and went to Fifteen Mile creek to where our first spys had been on the 19th of this instant and they report 28 fires, 17 more than the first spys had discovered.

Brother, this information is to be depended on but the first Talk I had suspected their sincerity, but concerned you ought to be informed of all the news I could discover relative to the situation of myself and the friend Creeks. Brother, when you receive this letter I hope you will hasten on with your army and I shall also dispatch a runner to Gen. White with a copy of this letter. Should you deem it not prudent to hasten on, I should be glad our own people will come on that is with your respective armies. Some more of my people arrived who gos with your army. I am your friend and brother.

Path Killer X

CR Hicks

General Andrew Jackson, Commander in Chief of the Tennessee Army

Path Killer to Andrew Jackson October 29 1813

Turkey Town, October 29 1813


I have heard that you had guns for those who go with the army, also pistols and swords, there will be numbers of my people will stand in need of guns and some probably will want pistols and swords if you have any to spare. I shall expect to get some of these articles mentioned above, and I hope you will inform me of these articles and whether they can be got or not.

The spys returned yesterday and they inform that the encampment contained 35 fires, and two others was sent out this morning and will return tomorrow.

I expect Genl White will be here in the course of four or five days. He is on the way and I expect he say about 40 miles from this place and about 90 of my people come yesterday and I send my son and the crawler with this letter. I want to know how many of my people Richard Brown has with him as I would be glad to hear the number he has with the army

I am brother yours, Path X killer

CR Hicks

Maj General Andrew Jackson

On reverse side, there is a sketch of a four sided fortress.

Path Killer to Andrew Jackson

Turkey Town, October 30, 1813

Brother, I have understood by Mr. Morgan that he had upon a letter to Genl White this morning and I expect him here with about fourteen hundred men. I’m very anxious for them coming; it would relieve my mind although my own people are here upwards of 140 and I expect some more will arrive today or tomorrow.

Our spys has just returned from the Fifteen creek, and they did not view the encampments of the hostile Creeks, as they were discovered by the enemy who would place the centinels nearby miles from the camp and the enemy has other centinels betwixt the place and where the encampment. The spys heard a number of bells some distance below the encampment and several guns were heard by the spys towards where the bells were heard. Probably they are collecting towards the Ten Island. This only my conjecture.

I am your friend and brother, Path X Killer


Major General Andrew Jackson, Commander of the Troops

By Cherokee Sons

Andrew Jackson to Path Killer

Camp Pleasant, November 2, 1813

Brother, I have received your two letters of the 29th and 30th of last month. I have no guns nor swords or pistols to share. I have with me some men not armed.

Richard Brown and 17 others of your people are with me; he still wants the men he petitioned you for he and myself want much to see them with us; he calculates on your assisting him on this expedition with 400 men. I am now within four miles of the Ten Island, and am starting for that place and shall make my encampment there this evening.

I am brother you to,

Andrew Jackson

Path Killer to Andrew Jackson

Fort Strother, Dec 28 1813

The Path Killer (a principal king of the Cherokee Nation) complains to Major Genl Jackson that a party of the East Tennessee troops on their return home from this place went to John Ratliff, a half breed Cherokee, and took Ratliff and a parcel of his negroes, perhaps twenty, and some horses, the number not known—they also took from a Cherokee by the name of the Whooping boy eight horses; from one elder, a half breed, they took two horses, and a mare Scott from an Indian called the Duck. The Whooping boy is one of Dick Brown’s party who attached himself to Major General Jackson’s army and was in the battles of Tallyhatchee and Talladegee; at the latter place he got wounded and was then down with his wounds.

The men who committed the above outrages were said to be of Colonel Wear’s regiment of Genl White’s brigade. The Cherokees have taken a parcel of negroes from a friendly half breed Creek by the name of Brooner. General Jackson has demanded of the Path Killer that he has those negroes taken from Brooner returned to him again without delay, which the Path Killer has promised to do.

Path X Killer

Test: John Strother

Reverse side: Path Killer’s complaint, December 28, 1813

Andrew Jackson to John Cocke, December 28, 1813

Headquarters Fort Strother, December 28, 1813

Major General John Cocke

Sir, you will receive herewith enclosed a complaint lodged by the Path Killer against part of your division on their return march from this place. If the statement should be correct, it is a reflection on this state, as well as on the regiment, brigade or division to whom they belong, in ought to meet with speedy and ample punishment. If anything could have been proved against old Ratcliff, of any trees and, or hostility against the United States, then and in that case he was amenable to the laws of the United States, and ought to have been arrested and tried by such tribunal as had competent jurisdiction of the offense. But that a lott of men should without any authority rob a man who was claimed as a member of the Cherokee nation, who is now friendly an engaged with us in a war against the hostile creeks, is such an outrage to the rules of war, the laws of nations and of civil society, and well calculated to scewer the minds of the whole nation against the United States –and is such ought to meet with the frowns of every good citizen, and the agents be promptly prosecuted and punished as robbers. I have to request on the receipt of this you will cause old Ratcliff to be liberated, his property returned, and the offenders arrested and punished. I have wrote to Governor Blount upon this subject and Colonel Jonathan J. Meigs, whose duty it is as well as ours, to have justice done in all such cases, and the offenders punished for the credit of the troops, from your division, it is that the guilty should be apprehended and punished, that the reputation of the honest part of your division may not be tarnished by the acts of the dishonest. Is it not cruel that the Whooping boy, who fought bravely at Tallyhatchee and got wounded at the battle of Talladega should be plundered by the East Tennessee troops whilst confined with his wounds – What will the general government think of the state, if such things is permitted to go unpunished. It is as much theft as though the property was stolen from one of our own citizens, and the laws of the United States provide amply for the punishment. Strict inquiry ought to be made whether any commissioned officers were present, or had any knowledge of this atrocious acts, and if so they ought to be immediately arrested, and tried by a court martial, and afterwards transferred to the civil authority. I have just learned by Dr. VanDyke that it was Colonel Wear’s regiment that has committed the above felonies and I have the full confidence in your exertion to have this business will prosecuted and by that means have this stain that it has inflicted on the reputation of our state thereby washed out and blotted forever, for I hope and trust it is the last of the kind that will ever be recorded, and I have to repeat again, that it is just, that all officers should be arrested and tried by a court martial. It is stated that Colonel Wear was privy to it; if so, have him arrested. If he is innocent, it is due to him that an investigation should be had, that his character may not lie under the stigma that it now labors under. May it be done away.

Before I close this letter I must name again to you, that we have not the one pound of bread stuff, and information from Fort Armstrong states there is none at that place. Hoping that there is some enchantment wrought by the Indian prophets on our contractors that will lead to our starvation but to counteract this physic. As I advised you in mine of yesterday, I have, at the request of the commander in chief of this army, General Pinckney, appointed Major James Baxter [xxx] quartermaster and sent him to overlook the contractors, with full powers to buy in case he has not adequate supplies agreeable to your and General Pinckney’s requisitions. I now know in a few days we will have ample supplies. I wish you on the receipt of this forthwith to inform me by express in what forwardness the 1500 troops, under the requisition of the President, is in and at what time they will be in the field. Working circumstances requires promptness in execution. The Indians are on our front and a British Force just arrived at Pensacola.

I have the honor to be very respectfully your obedient servant,

Andrew Jackson, Major

Path Killer to Andrew Jackson, February 17, 1818

Major Ridge house, Feby 17, 1818

Brother, you’ll receive my friend Chulioa, a warrior and my interpreter to the Creeks and Cherokees, consider him as myself being with you. Also a Major Ridge, who is my son and warrior who will join you, and receive them as myself. But I cannot tell you the number of people they will have with them, but if there is only 20 of them, you will treat kindly for my sake, or the talks which you have had was just a hearsay -- that you wanted my people to assist you. And have only heard today, in a letter addressed to James Foster from Colonel Meigs, whatever number of my people that comes to your assistance that is foot men. I hope you will have them well paid.

This business which you work on is only a part of what we did not finish when I was with you, and was I well now, I should cheerfully have joined you to finish that which we had left - and when you have done with upon the object of the your campaign, I shall be glad to hear from you, by the return of my warriors.


Numbers of my young warriors complains that served in the former campaign with you, that they did not get pay for their service, but now there that will join you must be paid in person themselves, no power of attorney may be made a plea that they were paid. I salute you and your officers and wish you success.

Path X Killer

CR Hicks

Majr Genl Andrew Jackson

Reverse side: Fort Mitchell. The warriors herein alluded are yet at their homes where they will remain until called for. D. Hughes

Path Killer to Andrew Jackson, December 13, 1818

Fortville, Cherokee nation, December 13, 1818

Friend and brother, I am now on a return home from the Cherokee Agency after having remained at that place several weeks in council with his Excellency, Governor McMinn. Brother, you will recollect the state of my health, when yourself and other commissioners made the late treaty with the chiefs and warriors of my nation at the Cherokee Agency. By that state of health I was deprived of the pleasure which shall always make my heart rejoice, of taking by the hands a friend and brother soldier –my health is much impaired, and infirmities increased, though with difficulty I can get up and walk by the help of a staff, under such a laborious circumstances I forced myself to the Cherokee Agency at the call of Governor McMinn, to assemble the chiefs and warriors of my nation, in council - -Brother, you have no doubt been informed that the late treaty which was entered into by my nation, with yourself and others, in behalf of the United States, have not yet been carried into full effect agreeably to its stipulations for taking the census, the frequent solicitations on our part notwithstanding - -I had flattered a hope that the object of the late council would have been to make arrangements to bring that treaty to a close, agreeable to all our mutual understanding and agreement, which is so clearly expressed in the stipulations of that treaty, but it is with compassion and sorrow, I have to say, I was mistaken, nothing consistent with the stipulations of that agreement was suggested to close it - -that to the contrary, and new propositions for an entire extinguishment of all our claims to lands in this country were laid before us, to take place in two or three years, and also to absolve the gov’t from any farther trouble and expense in removing the emigrants, as so amply provided for, in our late treaty by offering a sum of money in lieu thereof, quite incompetent for the purpose, all such propositions were rejected, through motives of honesty, for the best interest of the Cherokee people - -and solicitations for carrying into effect the late treaty were repeatedly renewed upon the part of the Nation - -but at length the Council adjourned without the results of any arrangement - -the chiefs of the Council met his Excellency the Governor as friends and brothers, and parted with him as such - -compatible with the sentiments of the Cherokees towards the United States. Brother, when I reflect on the situation of the late treaty, and after its ratification by the highest authorities and after arrangements were made for its fair execution, and now to see that it has not been carried into full effect conformably to arrangements, it makes my heart bleed with sympathy - - certainly there is some strange and unknown cause for the neglect of that business, which must hereafter be developed. Nothing was better calculated to demonstrate the true sentiments of the Cherokees than that arrangement of the treaty, which provided for the taking of the census, by which the prevailing erroneous opinion entertained by some of your people; that this nation was wont to be retained in its present situation only by a few designing characters, whose sole object was that of self consequence and interest, would have been carefully confuted by demonstration - -had that treaty been fully carried into effect, at the time agreed upon, all those who were disposed to emigrate to the Arkansas would have been known and their proportionable part of lands would have been surrendered up to the U S by this Nation, before now? - -whilst in council with the Governor, he informed us that a few militia troops who were there at the agency had been ordered out by you to remove the intruders off our lands, and that they would take up the line of march for that purpose soon after the council should adjourn. But at the expiration of that period, we were told by his Excellency that the troops would be sent home to await further instructions from the President, and that he himself was determined not to do anything for us, and neither would he do anything against us, that would refer everything to the President. However, a few moments afterward and, he countermanded these remarks, and informed us that the troops would only be furloughed home to obtain tents and winter clothing for the expedition of the service in which they had been ordered out. Under such circumstances, the council adjourned, and the chiefs took his Excellency by the hand, and at my request, he promised to represent everything to the President in their true colors. After I had taken the Governor by the hand, but a few days have elapsed when the most strange news reached my ears, of his Excellency’s intentions, of which he has never notified me. The enclosed is a true copy of a letter written by himself to Dick Justice; it clearly shows how far he disposed to observe the obligations of the late treaty, which is now a supreme law of the land, by its ratifications.

Brother, I am at a loss to understand the Governor’s sentiments, because I conceive his acts does not corroborate with my sense of his own words to me. I am informed that the Governor has already made sales of part of the improvements left by emigrants, to citizens of the United States for three years and for the benefit of the United States. This act I cannot view in any other light than a violation of the late treaty. Brother, I hope you will concur in opinion with me on that point and that you will instruct your troops to remove all intruders as well as those who have seated themselves down on leases; contrary to the approbation of the national councils.

Brother, as a friend to your Government and to my Nation, I pledge to you my unalterable attachment, and ever will preserve with good faith all the obligations of my Nation. I have communicated to you the sentiments of my heart, with frankness, from the impulse of the strongest ties of a brother soldier’s attachment. And it gives me the utmost pleasure of having it in my power to rekindle to you that fire which has been struck from our hearts, in the Creek Campaign.

Your friend and brother,

Path X Killer, Principal Chief of the Cherokees

Witness John Ross

P. S. A few lines from you would console my feelings and hope you will trouble yourself to gratify my wishes and direct a letter to Rossville Post Office, Cherokee Nation. I shall look with anticipation.

Reverse side: Rossville, Cherokee Nation, December 16, 1818 Paid 75

Major Genl Andrew Jackson, Commanding So’rn Division, Nashville, Tennessee


Return Jonathan Meigs to Path Killer, August 7, 1819

Cherokee Agency, 7th August 1819

Friend and Brother,

I have received your message by Chulio. I will do what I can for him relating to his pay. I will state his claim to the Secretary of War. The ploughs, hoes and axes will be ready for your people in September say in 44 nights from this time. I was glad to hear that you are well and hope that you will yet live and do a great deal of good to the Cherokees who all love you and respect you and your friend and colleague Mr. Hicks. I hope the young people will now be industrious and that by this and the advantage of the schools, the Cherokee will become a well informed and happy people. We had heard that Tolontiskee [?] was dead, but it is not confirmed. John Miller will return from Arkansas in the fall and we shall then hear everything about the Cherokees there. There was a report that they were likely to go to war from the Osages, but I think they will not. The Government will stop it.

Please present my respects to your friends. I hope the great spirit will guide and keep you. I hope to see you when I can find time to ride through the Nation.

Sincerely your friend, Return Meigs


Further information on the controversy surrounding the 640-acre "reservation," which included a ferry called Blair's Ferry, claimed by one of the younger Pathkillers in Loudon County, Tennessee following the Washington Treaty of 1819, which allowed signers to each claim a 640 reservation for himself. Strangely, however, the treaty itself mentioned Blair's Ferry being allotted to a signer named Cabbin Smith.

Special Collections Online: The University of Tennessee;hit.num=1;brand=default;query=path%20killer

Series V: Cherokee Claims - Path Killer, 1830-1847

  • Box 1 Folder 198 Path Killer's Children - He took his Reservation under, undated
  • Box 1 Folder 199 Original letter written in Cherokee from Path KillerCase, 1830
  • Box 1 Folder 200 Cherokee Nation...To any lawful officer, 1830 April 20
  • Box 1 Folder 201 Shnoah deposith and saith that the, 1830 April 21
  • Box 1 Folder 202 Martin McIntosh deposith and saith, 1830 May 26
  • Box 1 Folder 203 Witness Great Sky? deposith and saith, 1830 May 27
  • Box 1 Folder 204 Plaintiffs witness Siki kee deposith and says, 1830 May 27
  • Box 1 Folder 205 State of Tennessee Supreme Court of Errors, 1834 November 23
  • Box 1 Folder 206 Georgia Floyd County - I Robert L. Johnston, 1836 December 3
  • Box 1 Folder 207 Path Killer's Brief - Path Killer would represent that, 1837
  • Box 1 Folder 208 Jane and Willie Blair vs the Path Killer, 1838 March 27
  • Box 1 Folder 209 State of Tenn., John Blair...John Harrison, 1838 July 2
  • Box 1 Folder 210 State of Tenn., Roane County...James Johnston, 1838 November 12
  • Box 1 Folder 211 Roane County...John Blair 1838 December 31
  • Box 1 Folder 212 State of Tenn., Monroe County - This day I personally, 1839 January 1
  • Box 1 Folder 213 Washington City and Washington County - This day, 1843 November 6
  • Box 1 Folder 214 District of Columbia - Washington County, 1844 July 3
  • Box 1 Folder 215 60 Fourth Commisstion Path Killer's Children, 1846 December 24

Series XVII: Penelope Allen Documents, 1820-1982, undated

  • Box 2 Folder 31 Path Killer Information, 1934-1965, undated

Evidence Regarding Pathkiller's Land and Ferry (from and

  • Deposition of David Taylor, November 6, 1843 is available at the Special Collections Library, Penelope Johnson Allen Collection. Box: MS-2033, Document: pa0325; Hoskins Library, University of Tennessee, 1401 Cumberland Avenue, Knoxville, TN 37996. (865) 974-4480.
  • Deposition of John Carmichal, December 6, 1844 is available at the Special Collections Library, Penelope Johnson Allen Collection. Box: MS-2033, Document: pa0327; Hoskins Library, University of Tennessee, 1401 Cumberland Avenue, Knoxville, TN 37996. (865) 974-4480.
  • Deposition of Margaret Carmichal, December 31, 1838 is available at the Special Collections Library, Penelope Johnson Allen Collection. Box: MS-2033, Document: pa0323; Hoskins Library, University of Tennessee, 1401 Cumberland Avenue, Knoxville, TN 37996. (865) 974-4480.
  • Depositions of John Rogers and James Cary of the Cherokee Nation West, July 3, 1844 is available at the Special Collections Library, Penelope Johnson Allen Collection. Box: MS-2033, Document: pa0326; Hoskins Library, University of Tennessee, 1401 Cumberland Avenue, Knoxville, TN 37996. (865) 974-4480.
  • Legal Document of Jane and Willie Blair Vs The Pathkiller and Gardenhire, March 27, 1838 is available at the Special Collections Library, Penelope Johnson Allen Collection. Box: MS-2033, Document: na; Hoskins Library, University of Tennessee, 1401 Cumberland Avenue, Knoxville, TN 37996. (865) 974-4480.
  • Affidavit of James Johnston; Chief of Turkey Town, November 12, 1837 is available at the Special Collections Library, Penelope Johnson Allen Collection. Box: MS-2033, Document: pa0322; Hoskins Library, University of Tennessee, 1401 Cumberland Avenue, Knoxville, TN 37996. (865) 974-4480.

Harvey Moore's notes on the documents listed above (from :

Legal Document of Jane and Willie Blair Vs The Pathkiller and Gardenhire, March 27, 1838

"...Blair sent for PathKiller & he came there & moved into the house with Cavas & lived there a short time this was in the spring of 1819. Carmichal quit the premises because his case said he was not have it if any Indian resided in it. PathKiller after remaining with Cavas his Tenant for some time built a little camp & then cabin on the reserve & lived there & continued there until removed by the sheriff after the land sales- he had a little old boat he ferried some his wife some & Nicholas his son some- PathKiller like other Indians..."

There is no mention anywhere else about a son named Nicholas.

Depositions of John Rogers and James Cary of the Cherokee Nation West, July 3, 1844

"...This day personally appeared before me John D. Clark, a Justice of the Peace of said County John Rodgers and James Cary, Big Drawn, Cherokee Citizens of the Cherokee Nation West, and being duly Sworn say they were well acquainted with PathKiller a Cherokee and his family at the dates of the Cherokee treaties of 1817 & 1819- He was then the head of a Cherokee family having a wife and children by her- He then and for many years afterwards resided on the south side of Tennessee river at a place since called Blairs Ferry in the state of Tennessee and on the Territory ceded by the Cherokee Treaties of ,17 and, 19 and then had a ferry at that place - He departed this life in 1841, leaving Arch, or Archilaws, or Archibald PathKiller and Alsy Eldridge his only Children, by his said wife long since deceased, and his heirs at law..."

"...said PathKiller resided on at the date of the treaty. At that time as well as at the time his reservation was surveyed he was the head of a family consisting of his wife by the name of Susan. They had but one child a small girl by the name of Sarah or Sally who is at present the wife of James T Gardenhire and resides in the state of Tennessee having with their family become citizens of that state. The said Susan wife of PathKiller died at Thomas Foremans to whom she had applied for medical aid in the year (1833) eighteen thirty three..."


A series of letters between Path Killer and Gen Andrew Jackson are filed with the Library of Congress and available by searching both "pathkiller" and "path killer" at

Vicki Rozema, Footsteps of the Cherokees: a guide to the Eastern Homelands of the Cherokee Nation (John F. Blair: Winston-Salem NC 1995)

"During the Creek War, Pathkiller was chief of Turkeytown and principal chief of the Cherokee Nation. In October 1813, Turkeytown was in danger of being attacked by the Red Sticks, a hostile faction of the Creek Indians. Pathkiller sent runners to Andrew Jackson's army in the north with a plea for help. Jackson responded by ordering a detachment led by General James White, which included many Cherokee soldiers, to relieve the town.

By December 12 of that year, General John Cocke and the combined Cherokee and Tennessee forces had built Fort Armstrong on the Coosa River near the site of the Turkeytown settlement.

At first, the fort was garrisoned by Cherokees, but the new commander, Colonel Gideon Morgan, had to decommission the Indians because theirs terms of service as Tennessee volunteers had expired." p 353 [the Battle of Horseshoe Bend occurred on 27 March 27 1814.]

"The Turkeytown Ceremonial Grounds are located north of Gadsden [NE Alabama], at the site of the original Cherokee settlement of Turkeytown. Located at the site is a well dating from 1810 or 1811, when Turkeytown was the largest of all Cherokee settlements. At that time, the village stretched for twenty to thirty miles along both banks of the Coosa River.

Pathkiller was chief of Turkeytown and a principal chief of the Cherokee Nation. When Pathkiller died in 1827, John Ridge, son of Major Ridge, served as executor of Pathkiller's estate, which included a ferry on the Alabama Road at the Coosa River in Turkeytown. Ridge bought the ferry from the Pathkiller heirs, as well as property on either side of the river. The property included one hundred acres of cleared land, most of which was bottom land, a peach and apple orchard, a large house, and several outbuildings including slave quarters.

Much of Turkeytown and Pathkiller's estate are now underwater. Pathkiller's grave is reportedly located at the Garrett Cemetery on a high bluff overlooking the Coosa River. However, a headstone with Pathkiller's name on it has also been placed at the cemetery at New Echota, Georgia. The Turkeytown Ceremonial Grounds opened August 1993. ..." p 354-355 -


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Path Killer I, Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation's Timeline

Cherokee Nation East
Cherokee Nation East, Lower Towns
Age 22
Cherokee Nation East, Lower Towns, Turkey Town on Coosa River
Age 62
Cherokee, Alabama, USA
January 8, 1827
Age 85
Cherokee, Alabama, United States
January 8, 1827
Age 85
Centre, Cherokee County, Alabama, United States