Molly’s Take on the Watauga Association: April Muster

 Foremost among the Cherokee diplomats in the eighteenth century was Attakullakulla (c.1712- c.1782), known to the English as the Little Carpenter (depicted far right). Intelligent and eloquent, he dominated Cherokee dealings with the Carolinas for nearly fifty years. He was also equally adroit in negotiations with the French and other Native Americans. Attakullakulla was the youngest of a seven-man Cherokee delegation to visit London in 1730. Lionized by British society, this group was received by King George II, a fact frequently mentioned by Attakullakulla in later years.

The April muster is coming up in two weeks and some of the Regiment will be away at Fort Dobbs with the British fighting for empire, the others will be at the Fort. I could look for nice links to aide in a refresher on the Watauga Association, which is the theme of our muster, but instead, I’ll give you my revisionist take on the situation. After all, this is a blog, right and anyway, if you decide to sell me, I guess I’ll give you a good reason. You can look for your own links :o)   BUT this book is soooo good!!!

Who thinks that history doesn’t repeat itself is a fool. In 1620 ,when the Pilgrims , in their leaky, stinky boat, figured out that they made a wrong turn and ended up way north of  New York City where they were supposed to be (damn Yankees, they never get anything straight!) , they signed the Mayflower Compact in order to establish some system of law for themselves. This was as a result of them being so far out in the boonies  that they were beyond the pale of British law and order. William Bradford, a strong and moral man,  did a good job of enforcing justice and there were no rough and tumble Puritans. Matter of fact, we got Harvard and Martha’sVineyard out of the deal !!!

In the mid 1700’s, several families, coming down from Pennsylvania or up though the Unaka Mountains,  made permanent homes in the wilderness of what they thought was Virginia. They didn’t have a whole lot to lose. Some of them had money and wanted more, some were adrenaline junkies,  most of them were not doing too well where they were and the grass always seems  greener…. One thing about it is that they weren’t too good with maps and compasses. Either that or they didn’t give much of a darn because somehow  they got turned around in the woods and ended up in the back of the beyond, past where they were supposed  to be.  I know that William Bean, Robinson, Carter, Sevier  and the others were upright men with an uncommon amount of guts,  but you can’t tell me that they weren’t rough around the edges and not above a bit of fight if they had the notion. How else could they have survived in this wilderness? They might as well have tried to settle the Arctic Circle for all the hardiness it took.   How about the wives?? Geez, it wasn’t like Walmart was around the corner! But to get on with it; Surprise! They inhabitated what amounts to a no man’s land, past what was claimed by Virginia. North Carolina claimed the area, but it was so far up and back that there was no practical way to get to it. Government was more theory than fact and anyway, what was there to govern? Black bears, deer and some natives? Just think, NO GOVERNMENT INTRUSION! Of course, besides good people, the sheer idea that nobody was going to bother this patch of land  attracted the original redneck, the Colonial thug, the deadbeats who felt safe in the mountains, beyond the reach of the law. Just like now, the criminal element you always will have with you. The land of the Watauga was a Cherokee reserve and the British government couldn’t be bothered with the white scragglers there, except to say GET YE GONE! because they were on Indian territory, more or less, and the Brits made a deal with the Cherokees to stop whites from stomping around in their happy hunting grounds. Nothing worse than a pissed off native!  When the British told   the  families settling in the Boone’s Creek, Nolichucky, Carter’s Valley and the North Holston areas to head back to them thar hills in the north and get out , they said nothin’ doin’! Instead, a contingent of settlers  asked  the Cherokee, to lease the land they were on for 10 years. the settlers figured that this might be a way to actually own the land, kind of like rent with the option to own. WELL, this put a different light on the matter. The natives wanted “stuff” and they weren’t stupid. For $6000 worth of stuff, the natives said “sure, you just go right ahead and squat away”. This bunch was a lot smarter than the Manhattens who sold out for $24 worth of bead ballast. The ones who didn’t get enough stuff , however, weren’t too happy with  leasing but this was before casinos and you can’t please everyone.

That solved the problem of the families having to pack up and move but there was no organization and these people needed some kind of protection. We got it tough with all the criminal element; just think how much worse it was to live in the woods, all dark and lonely, smelling horse to get to a neighbor miles away and robbers, drunks, thugs behind every tree, noot to mention a pissed off  Native or two. Besides , who’se going to record marriages, hold a court, settle boundary disputes, even if they were squatters to start with? In1772,  folks   met and formed an Association. Five administrators were appointed and they took care of the legal business of the area . That solved the problem for North Carolina, to the point where the area administered by the Association was recognized  as the Watauga District  and peace reigned in the  valley- for a while. Then we have the May Seige…..


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