People Born in Calhoun
Calhoun in People's Lives
John Ridge: I was born here in 1802, the son of Cherokee chief Major Ridge and his wife Sehoya, of the Wild Potato Clan of Cherokee Indians. I grew up here, on what was at the time Cherokee land. As a child, I was sickly and often ill, but intelligent and a good student. I studied at a mission school nearby. In 1819, at the age of 17, I was sent by my father to a more advanced and prestigious mission school in Cornwall, Connecticut. I returned in 1824, now a 22 year old young man married to a white woman and already turning heads in the world of Native American politics. I became a member of the leading council of the Cherokee Nation, and was highly respected and viewed as a rising star. Though I frequently traveled or was away from home on business, this remained my home base for most of my life, until I decided to move with my family to Muskogee, Oklahoma in 1835. The reason for my move was that I had recently signed the Treaty of New Echota, which supported and agreed to a removal act of the Cherokee people from the southeast. Though hardly ideal, I believed that it was the only way for my people to survive, as I had learned that existing peacefully alongside the white man would never be achieved. To show my support for removal, I made the move myself, among some of the first Cherokee to do so. Unfortunately, my removal treaty would eventually become the tragic Cherokee Trail of Tears, as well as my death sentence.