The sad story is a lesser known facet of the city’s history. Native American Cherokees and European settlers lived together in peace here on the north side of the Chattahoochee River until gold was discovered in northern Georgia in 1828
Two years later, the Cherokees were stripped of their land by U.S. government officials intent on divvying it up to new white owners in land lotteries.
In 1838, around 12,000 Cherokees, including those in the Roswell area, were forced onto the “Trail of Tears” by the government to make their way 800 miles by foot to Oklahoma. Many died or became ill from disease, exposure and malnutrition. Only about 8,000 made it to their new Cherokee Nation
Cindi Crane wants more people to know the story. She first learned of it in researching her husband Steve’s genealogy to confirm Cherokee heritage.
In November 2011, she published “Roswell Redemption,” a book about the land lottery and the details of the Trail of Tears.
“I had become more and more aware of the number of people, like myself, that really didn’t understand the depth and breadth of what had happened to the Cherokee,” Crane said.
“Understanding more about what happened only 176 years ago on this beautiful land where we live, work and play was something I had to do and ultimately, had to share.”
Now Crane has taken another step toward that goal. With the help of the Roswell Historical Society, she has planned and gotten approval for a project in Riverside Park that will serve as a lasting memorial to the Cherokee.
“The memorial will consist of eight boulders with plaques telling different parts of the Cherokee history on each boulder. I wrote the stories and with the help of Jeff Bishop, president of the Trail of Tears Association, the wording has been vetted by the Cherokee Nation, the Trail of Tears Association and the National Park Service,” Crane said.
The goals are not only to teach the history of the Cherokee in Roswell and honor those who lost their lives and their homes, but also to promote Roswell as a town that embraces inclusion of the Cherokee in its history.
Johanna Harned, the society president, past president Judy Meer and many other members gave their support and many hours to the project. Additionally, Crane said, Joe Glover and Jeff Pruitt of Roswell Recreation and Parks with historian Michael Hitt were very instrumental in helping to find the perfect location for the memorial.
“We believe it’s critical for the message and spirit of the monument that we unveil it in 2014 at the 175th anniversary of the Cherokee Act of Union that followed shortly after the Trail of Tears commenced,” Crane said in a presentation to Roswell council committee members earlier in the month.
Crane and the historical society are raising the $15,000 for the project.
To donate, go to www.roswellhistoricalsociety.org/Cherokee-Memorial.html or contact Crane at email@example.com.