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Colonel Return J. Meigs Biographical Sketches

Identifier: MS-0263

  • Staff Only

This collection consists of two papers written by William H. Thomas on Colonel Return Jonathon Meigs and the Eastern Cherokee Claims. The paper on Meigs details his life from growing up in Middletown, Connecticut, to his service in the Revolutionary War and his death as an Indian Agent. The second paper describes Timothy S.M. Hawk's relation to Colonel Return J. Meigs and the Eastern Cherokee Claims.


  • undated


The material in this collection is in English.

Conditions Governing Access

Collections are stored offsite, and a minimum of 2 business days are needed to retrieve these items for use. Researchers interested in consulting any of the collections are advised to contact Special Collections.

Conditions Governing Use

The copyright interests in this collection remain with the creator. For more information, contact Special Collections.


0.1 Linear Feet (1 folder)


This collection consists of two papers written by William H. Thomas on Colonel Return Jonathon Meigs and the Eastern Cherokee Claims.

Biographical/Historical Note

Return Jonathon Meigs was born on December 28, 1740 in Middletown, Connecticut to Return Meigs and Elizabeth (Hamlin) Meigs. He served in the local militia and was named a captain in 1774. One year later, he was appointed a major in the 2nd Connecticut Regiment and continued his service until the end of the war. After the war, he became a surveyor in Ohio. Meigs participated in the finding of Marietta, Ohio and helped establish the code of regulation, which eventually became the Northwest Territory. He moved to Tennessee in 1801 to persue a combined position of agent to the Cherokee Nation and military agent for the United States War Department. As a Cherokee agent, he defended the rights during treaty negotiations and encouraged the Cherokee to form a republican government. He served as a Cherokee agent until 1813.

Return J. Meigs married Joanna Winborn in 1765, and the couple had four children. After her death in 1773, he married Grace Starr the following year. Return and Grace had three children together. Grace died in 1807. Meigs died on January 28, 1823 at the Hiwassee Garrison, Cherokee Agency in Tennessee.

Timothy S. M. Hawk was born June 5, 1837 to Madison C. Hawk (half-blooded Cherokee) and Betsey Meigs (daughter of Col. Return J. Meigs). Hawk's father was a minister and interpreter to the Cherokees. After his father's death, Betsey decided to remain in the east and not go with the others out west. Timothy was raised around his relatives in eastern Tennessee. He married Rosana J. Wilson in 1857, and the couple produced six children. Hawk died on August 20, 1912.


This collection is in one folder.

Acquisition Note

This collection was donated to Special Collections by William Lowe.

Related Archival Materials

Interested researchers may wish to consult: MS.0573: Return Jonathon Meigs Manuscripts Abstracts MS.2039: Return J. Meigs Letter

Repository Details

Part of the Betsey B. Creekmore Special Collections and University Archives, University of Tennessee, Knoxville Repository

University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Knoxville TN 37996 USA