Monday, April 13, 2009

Nancy Ward

Nancy Ward 1738 - 1822 My 6 g Grandmother (Tame Doe3Raven, Anaway2 Moytoy, Amatoya1Moytoy)

Nancy Ward from the Cherokee Registry First Light on Line

Nanyehi Nancy Ward "The Ghi Ga U"

She was a Full blood of the Wolf Clan, born in Chota, the City of Refuge and Capitol of the Cherokee Nation. Her Great grandfather was Moytoy of Tellico Supreme Chief 1730 --1760. Moytoy's second daughter, born about 1663 and her husband, The "Raven" of Chotawere Nancy's grandparents.

Nancy holds a position of great significancein Cherokee history.
In 1738, Tame Do (the sister of Attakullakulla) and her husband, thought to be a Delaware Indian brave or Chief ( who died early in her life) gave birth to a daughter named Nancy, who in time became the last true Ghi Ga U or Beloved Woman of the Cherokees, and in who, in her views regarding Cherokee and white relationships, was an ally of Little Carpenter (Attakullakulla).

In the early 1750's, she married the noted war leader, Kingfisher of the Deer Clan, and was at his side when in 1755 he was killed by Creek warriors at the battle of Taliwa. She immediately picked up his weapons and rallied the Cherokee warriors to overwhelming victory. Back at Chota, she was chosen to fill the vacant position of a Beloved Woman. It was believed that the Supreme Beings often spoke to the people through the beloved women, and they were given absolute power in the question of what to do with prisoners taken in war, a power exclusive to Ghi Ga U. Nancy did not hesitate to use the power. She was also head of the influential woman's council that consisted of a representative from each clan, and she sat as a voting member of the council of chiefs.

In the late 1750's, about 1759, she married an already wed white trader named Bryant Ward, who before 1760 left her and returned to his white wife and children in South Carolina. In 1772, an English diplomat named Robertson visited Nancy's home at Chota, which he described as being furnished in a barbaric splendor that befitted her high rank. She was then thirty - five years old and he pictured her as "queenly and commanding"(Mooney -Myths of the Cherokeepg. 204 )

In June 1776, Dragging Canoe, Abraham and Raven , Cherokee War Chiefs, with 250 warriors each, at the instigation of the British, planned to attack Western settlements. Ghi Ga u warned the settlers of the impending attacks, then on July 20, 1776, Abraham, marching to attack Watauga in East Tennessee, captured Mrs. William Bean, mother of the first white child born in Tennessee. When the war party returned to Cherokee Country, Mrs. Bean was condemned to be burned at the stake. She was conducted to the top of a mound that stood in the center of Tuskeegee, which was located just above the mouth of the Tellico or Little Tennessee River. Bound at the stake, faggots piled around, torch about to be applied, GhiGau appeared , cut the thongs and took the captive to her home, where Mrs. Bean taught her how to keep house and make butter. As soon as it was safe, Ghi Ga u sent her brother, Tuskeegeeteehee, or Longfellow of Chistatoa and her son Hiskyteehee, or Fivekiller sometimes called Littlefellow, to escort Mrs. Bean to her husband. Numerous settlements had been made on Cherokee land, in direct violation of royal decree from England.

When the Revolutionary War broke out, the Cherokees again sided with the English. In 1776, the Cherokees prepared to attack simultaneously the frontier settlements of Virginia, the Carolinas, andGeorgia. The responsibility assigned to 700 warriors from chota was to strike the settlers who lived in the Watuga area. As much for theCherokees' sake as for that of the settlers, Nancy Ward helped IsaacThomas, William Fawling and another white man to escape from Chota to warn the Watugans in time to build fortifications. This act established Nancy's reputation as a friend of the settlers. When in October 1776 Colonel William Christian led nearly 2,000 troops in a devastating raid,out of respect for Nancy Ward he spared Chota, while most of the other Cherokee towns were ravaged. In 1780, at a time when most of the Wataugamen were away from home and engaged in the King's Mountain campaign, at the same time, the frontier rear guards became short on rations and NancyWard agreed to supply beef and had some cattle driven in, the Cherokees again prepared to attack the settlements in the Watauga area. Nancy Ward warned the whites a second time, but when the soldiers returned from King's Mountain and learned of the threat, they were enraged, and set out to teach the Cherokees a lesson they would never forget. Despite NancyWard's pleas for mercy and friendship, Chota was destroyed along withother towns, and for a short time she and her family were placed in protective custody. When they were released, they returned to help rebuild the town, and on July 20, 1781, she was the featured speaker for the Cherokees when the reeling people reluctantly accepted a peace treaty with the Wataugans.

When the Treaty of Hopewell was made in South Carolina in 1785, she offered another dramatic plea for continued peace between the Indians and the whites. Once the unhappy war years were ended she lived in Chota, where although it was no longer the capitol of the nation, it was still a city of refuge, and from all over the nation she took into her home orphaned and homeless waifs, including mixed breeds.

Nancy Ward died in 1822, a truly remarkable woman who learned a permanent place of honor in Cherokee and white history"( The CherokeePeople pp. 193 - 194) Ghi Ga u conducted an inn at the Womankiller ford of the Ocowee River for many years and became quite wealthy; her property consisted of livestock, slaves and money. Travelers called her "Granny Ward" because of her age and that she was the widow of Bryant Ward Nancy grew too old to meet with council and other chiefs, she sent her servant to take her walking stick, her badge of authority, to her appointed seat in the council building to assure that her spirit was there, most notably the council at Amoah, May 6, 1817, the renunciation of her delegated rights and in favor of the first Constitutional Enactment of the Cherokees. Nancy Ward died at her home at the Womankiller ford, in the spring of 1822. Her grave site, a designated state park, is located on a knoll next to U. S. Highway 411, just South of Benton, Tennessee. Buried beside her son, Fivekiller, a veteran of the War of 1812, and her brother Longfellow. Her grave site overlooks the site where Nancy ran her inn, where the old Unicoy Pikecrossed the Ocoee River.( the Pike was the main road from Knoxville intoNorthern Georgia and was a popular resting place for travelers)
Speech 1817
What follows was perhaps not a speech, but rather a written document which was not found in the Amovey Council memorandum. Dated May 2nd, 1817, it was found in the Andrew Jackson Papers, Book 29, No. 17, Volume 1, pages 6452-3:

The Cherokee ladys now being present at the meeting of the Chiefs and warriors in council have thought it their duty as mothers to address their beloved chiefs and warriors now assembled.
Our beloved children and head men of the Cherokee nation we address you warriors now assembled.

Our beloved children and head men of the Cherokee nation we address you warriors in council we have raised all of you on the land which we now have, which God gave us to inhabit and raise provisions we know that our country has once been extensive but by repeated sales has become circumscribed to a small tract and never have thought it our duty to interfere in the disposition of it till now, if a father or mother was to sell all their lands which they had to depend on which their children had to raise their living on which would be indeed bad and to be removed to another country we do not wish to go to an unknown country which we have understood would be like destroying your mothers. Your mothers your sisters ask and beg of you not to part with any more of our lands, we say ours you are descendants and take pity on our request, but keep it for our growing children for it was the good will of our creator to place us here and you know our father the great president will not allow his white children to take our country away only keep you hands off of paper talks for it is our own country for if it was not they would not ask you to put your hands to paper for it would be impossible to remove us all for as soon as one child is raised we have others in our arms for such is our situation and will consider our circumstance.

Therefore children don't part with any more of our lands but continue on it and enlarge your farms and cultivate and raise corn and cotton and we your mothers and sisters will make clothing for you which our father the president has recommended to us all we don't charge anybody for selling any lands, but we have heard such intentions of our children but your talks become true at least and it was our desire to forewarn you all not to part with our lands.
Nancy Wart to her children Warriors take pity and listen to the talks of your sisters, although I am very old yet cannot but pity the situation in which you will hear of their minds, I have great many grand children which I wish them to do well on our land.
Newspaper Article

The Cherokee Beloved Woman; Wild Rose of the Cherokee; Pocahontas of the West; War Woman; Prophetess; Granny Ward, these are a few of the names and titles given to Nancy Ward, the most powerful and influential woman in the Cherokee Nation during recorded history. She ruled over the powerful Council of Women and had a voting seat in the Council of Chiefs. During her lifetime the Cherokee moved from a matriarchal, clan-type of government to a republic much like our own.

She was born in 1738 at Chota and was loved and respected by the settlers as well as the Cherokees. She had absolute power over prisoners and on numerous occasions saved the lives of white people. On at least two occasions during the Revolutionary War period she sent warnings to John Sevier at the Watauga settlements of planned Indian attacks, thus giving them time to prepare a defense or counter-offensive.

She participated in the Treaty of July 20, 1781, and the Treaty at Hopewell, November 28, 1785, as a principal speaker. She alluded to her never ending desire to seek peace for her people and to hold on to as much of their land as possible. After the Hiwassee Purchase of 1819, she left Chota and settled on the Ocoee River near Benton, Tennessee. She operated an inn at Woman Killer Ford on the Federal Road until her death in 1822. She is buried on a hill nearby. In 1923 a monument was placed on her grave by a Chattanooga Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution.


  1. you forgot about cheif doubleheads dad cheif grey eagle.

  2. From my research regarding Nanyehi (Nancy Ward), there is some dispute about whether her mother's name was Tame Doe,although that is the name used in most of the stories. I suppose that while ACTUAL history is objective, the records--and our readings--have a degree of subjectivity. I know that there are some things I accept, others I don't...and perhaps not for any good reason.

    I REALLY appreciate this blog. I have saved it to my favorites and thank you for the efforts in putting these things together!

  3. I have a question about the descendants of Nanyehi (Nancy Ward). My family's genealogy has an ancestor John "Jack" Ward as a son of Bryant Ward and Nancy Ward, but his date and place of birth is in Ireland? I have also heard he was adopted by the Cherokee, and the blood quantum of my ancestors indicate he was Cherokee. Do you have any insights on this?

    1. There is an Association of the Descendants of Nancy Ward and I believe they have done more research about Nancy that has been done. Their website is

      This is what they say about Jack Ward in Nancy's bio.

      A few years after Kingfisher's death, Nancy married again to the trader, Bryan Ward. Dr. Starr says that he came from Ireland, had been married previously and was the father of a son John "Jack" Ward who came into the Cherokee country and became the ancestor of a large family. Dr. Starr also indicated that Bryan died within a few years of his marriage to Nancy. Current research calls these beliefs into question. It appears probable that this is the same Bryan Ward who died about 1815 in Franklin County, Georgia. Other research is also calling into question whether Bryan was born in Ireland, but rather may have come from a family of Wards who had been in Virginia for many generations. Nancy and Bryan were the parents of one daughter, Betsy, who was the Cherokee wife of General Joseph Martin of Virginia while he lived with the tribe.

    2. You may also find some links to John Martin, arriving on the first English ship to Jamestown Colony (VA) in 1607. He was banished into the wilderness by the colonials and he joined the Indians, Pohatans. Also see the Temple of Martand of India, the Temple of the Sun, which has turned to dust.

  4. Looks like we have some common ancestors. Look forward to your future posts.

  5. After years of intense research (Detailed) I have found that Nancy Ward is my 5th great grandmother. I have found so much information on her but would like to have a authorized certificate of ancestry. How do I go about getting this document?


    1. Kimberly, are you related to the Pack family of Eastern Kentucky? If you are please leave a contact and I'll reach out. I'm trying to fill in genealogy a bit.

  6. There was a website which I can't find now but David Hampton, a major Cherokee researcher and author is the president of the group. Contact him at