On June 23 and 24, visitors at the Sequoyah Birthplace Museum in Vonore, Tenn., will experience the same sights, sounds, tastes and smells British Lt. Henry Timberlake experienced when he first discovered the region some 250 years ago. Dozens of craftsmen and demonstrators will be on hand recreating everything Timberlake documented on his first visit.
Little did Timberlake know but in this very area, events that would change the world were taking place. He stood in the middle of it all, serving as both active participant and unknowing historian.
In 1756 in what is now Vonore, Cherokee Indians captured British Fort Loudoun and eventually killed more than two dozen of its inhabitants. Less than two years later, Timberlake voluntarily walked into the middle of the very same Cherokee villages where the siege was planned and the warriors involved no doubt still resided, in hopes of establishing a lasting peace.
Following the siege of Fort Loudoun, there were two recorded campaigns against the Cherokee, creating more losses for both sides. Peace was negotiated. With neither side trusting the other, the Cherokee asked the British to send an officer to their villages on the Little Tennessee River, near present-day Vonore, to explain the treaty.
Lt. Henry Timberlake volunteered to go.
Timberlake took a huge leap of faith and risked his very life to ensure peace. In doing so, he also ensured his place in history. He kept detailed journals during his time with the Cherokee, which included information about Cherokee life in the Tennessee Overhills and even a map of the area. His accounts were published as his memoirs after his death and they became a basis for all subsequent anthropological and historical studies of 18th century Cherokees.
The Sequoyah Birthplace Museum installed a new exhibit called, “The Emissaries of Peace: The British and Cherokee Delegations of 1762.” The exhibit, coupled with living history demonstrations, will allow visitors to see, touch, smell, hear and even taste the things Timberlake experienced in the same area 250 years ago.
On June 23 and 24, The Sequoyah Birthplace Museum, The Museum of the Cherokee Indian and Fort Loudoun State Historic Area will host the 250th anniversary of Timberlake’s visit. The two sites in Vonore, The Sequoyah Birthplace Museum and Fort Loudoun State Historic Area, will have various programs and activities related to Timberlake.
At Sequoyah, living history demonstrations will include: a Cherokee stickball game; finger weaving; stamped pottery; river cane basket weaving; 18th century demonstrators in wardrobe; the Warriors of AniKituhwa, a Cherokee dance group; flute and storytelling; guns and diplomacy; moccasin making; a blowgun competition; and authentic Cherokee food.
Re-enactor Travis Henline will portray Timberlake; Bullet Standingdeer will portray the Cherokee Ostenaco; and Little Hawk will portray interpreter John McCormick.
At Fort Loudoun, there will be guided tours of the Little Tennessee Valley, lectures about Timberlake’s visit and demonstrations of 18th century map-making techniques.
Certified Cherokee guides provided by The Museum of the Cherokee Indian will lead the tours from Fort Loudoun to historic sites at Toqua, Ballplay, Tanasi and Chota, following the footsteps Timberlake himself described in his memoirs. Tours will leave six times a day each day at a cost of $5. The lectures and map-making demonstrations will also be both days at Fort Loudoun but they will be free.
For more information or to make a reservation for the tours, contact The Sequoyah Birthplace Museum at 423-884-6246 or visit the Web site, www.sequoyahmuseum.org. Contact Fort Loudoun at 423-884-6217 or visit the Web site, www.fortloudoun.com.
The Sequoyah Birthplace Museum and Fort Loudoun State Historic Area are located less than a mile apart on Highway 360 in Vonore, Tenn. This program was funded in part with a grant from the Cherokee Preservation Foundation.
The following lectures are scheduled at Fort Loudoun State Historic Area:
9 a.m. Dr. Daniel Tortora, “The Montgomery and Grant expeditions of 1761-1762.”
10:30 a.m. Dr. Barbara Duncan, “The memoirs of Lt. Henry Timberlake and their use in replicating 18th century material culture.”
Noon (Sunday ONLY) Dr. Duane King “Cherokee headmen and Timberlake: A visit to London”
1:30 p.m. Tom Belt, “A Cherokee perspective on Timberlake’s visit”
3 p.m. Dr. Gerald Schroedl, “The archeology of the Overhill towns”
– Sequoyah Birthplace Museum