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In Their Own Words

June 03, 1838

Diary Entry on Cherokee Removal

Missionary Daniel Buttrick witnessed the roundup of Cherokee Indians for removal to the West. On the day, Buttrick recorded in his diary:

“Most of our [Cherokee] neighbors are now with us, going this evening or tomorrow to the [Army holding] camps, choosing to go in by themselves rather than be driven in by soldiers… .

“During this week I visited the camps in company with Dr. Vail and found our dear brother Epenetus Aihaia and his wife and children among the prisoners. They had been at Brainerd to attend a sacramental meeting. On hearing that the soldiers were taking all the people prisoners in Georgia, they set out to return back to us. The wife and children were riding one horse and Epenetus was walking. They had not proceeded far, however, before they were taken by a company of soldiers and driven to a fort near Lafayette courthouse. There they were kept with about 500 others for ten days and then driven in the usual manner to the camps. His wife had been so overcome by the scenes as to be now unable to do anything… . While at the post, the whole company of 500 had resolved to have nothing to do with the treaty money and chose Epenetus to be their speaker and make their purpose known to the commissioners who were waiting with the money to pay them. Epenetus … told the commissioners that they did not come to that place voluntarily but as prisoners, that the treaty was not made by the authorities of the Nation and they should have nothing to do with it. As prisoners, they must receive their food, but they would take no money nor clothes offered on account of the treaty. It is said that the Cherokees told the commissioners that they did not wish any of their cloths, since they had clothing enough of their own which they had not been allowed to take!”

Source: Mills Lane (ed.), Georgia: History written by Those who lived It (Savannah: Beehive Press, 1995), p. 81.