On November 1, 1838, the Cherokee Indian known as Tsali was captured. Tsali, also known as Charley, was among those who refused to leave North Carolina after a group of Cherokee leaders signed a treat ceding their tribal lands to the United States. Tsali, his family, and a few friends had gone into hiding in the spring. From here the story diverges into what is in the oral histories and what is in the written records. Cherokee oral tradition tells of Tsali’s group being captured and harassed by the federal troops. By this account, Tsali decided to try to fake an injury and ambush the soldiers to escape. In the ensuing skirmish, one soldier was killed and two others wounded, one mortally. The Cherokee escaped and hid until learning that if the men responsible were to give themselves up, all of the other Indians in hiding could remain in North Carolina. The legend maintains that Tsali agreed to be executed so that the others could stay. Among the Cherokee Tsali has become a legendary hero, depicted in the outdoor drama Unto These Hills.
At the time the legend flourished, few of the government records related to the Tsali event had been available for research. What those documents reveal is different from oral tradition. On November 1, 1838, U. S. soldiers and Thomas found and captured Tsali’s group. While being marched to the command base, some of the Cherokee attacked the soldiers and escaped. Oconaluftee Citizen Indians, who were exempt from the removal, and a few other fugitive Cherokees offered help with the understanding that anyone who helped to find Tsali’s band would be allowed to stay in North Carolina.
A former neighbor of Tsali’s known as Euchella (Utsala) led about sixty men in search of Tsali. On November 24, Colonel William S. Foster, who was ordered to find Tsali, wrote to his commander, General Winfield Scott that the mission was a success—that, of the twelve Indians that had been in the original group, all but Tsali had been recaptured and the three men most culpable in the attack “were punished yesterday by the Cherokees themselves in the presence of the 4th Regt. of Infantry.” Foster had made clear in other communications that he did not believe that Tsali was one of the murderers. His conviction is explicit in his dismissal of the search party and leaving the area. However, the next day Euchella and another Indian caught Tsali and executed him. Foster issued a proclamation in support of Euchella and his men and sent Scott a petition signed by residents in favor of the Indians’ wishes to stay.
Euchella and his men were given permission to remain in North Carolina with the Oconaluftee Citizen Indians. Eventually these groups would be recognized as the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. Tsali’s story began to take shape with its embellished twist in 1849 and he has since become a folk legend. The significant difference in the two stories, of course, is that documents indicate that Tsali never surrendered. Thus he never made the noble sacrifice for which he is idolized. Regardless, the events were tragic and the outcome heartbreaking, and the saga is now immortalized in Cherokee lore.
On November 1, 1945, the Lake Lure Rest and Rehabilitation Center in Rutherford County closed.
The facility was created by the Army Air Force two years earlier to reduce the effects of wartime fatigue, especially flying fatigue. Combat pilots and other servicemen in high demand positions were able to spend between 10 and 20 days at the mountain retreat to unwind and prepare for additional missions or continued service. The Air Force leased the Lake Lure Inn, where officers were housed, and the Rocky Broad Inn, which served as quarters for enlisted men.
While stationed at the center, the aviators were examined by staff physicians and psychiatrists to determine their suitability for additional combat flights. During their stay, the men were offered a full slate of recreational opportunities from outdoor activities to reading and crafts. Religious services were held to nurture the servicemen’s spiritual well-being.
The Rutherford County Red Cross and the local library were very supportive of the center and the men it served. During its two-year existence, more than 5,000 servicemen were assigned there. Following the closure of the Lake Lure Rest and Rehabilitation Center, the property reverted to the previous owners.
Other related resources:
- Military history resource guide from the State Library
- Wildcats Never Quit, a resource on World War I from the State Archives, State Library and N.C. Museum of History
- World War I on NCpedia
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