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John Ross Letters

Identifier: MS-1006

  • Staff Only

This collection consists of a letter from John Ross to Edward Gunter and a warrant to pay Mr. Mawry from the school fund. The letter is dated November 1, 1834 and was sent from the Red Clay Cherokee Nation. It authorizes Gunter to hire James W. McClung to defend the rights of the Nation, even to the U.S. Supreme Court. On the bottom of the back page, McClung agreed to the terms and signed his name. The warrant was written by Lewis Ross, treasurer for the Cherokee Nation, and signed by John Ross.


  • 1834 November 1, 1856 November 13

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 the Special Collections Library.


0.1 Linear Feet (1 folder)


This collection consists of a letter from John Ross to Edward Gunter and a warrant to pay Mr. Mawry from the school fund.

Biographical/Historical Note

John Ross (Tsan-Usdi, or Kooweskoowa) was born on October 3, 1790 to Daniel and Mary (McDonald) Ross in Turkeytown, Alabama. He was raised near Lookout Mountain and educated at Kingston Academy in Tennessee. His mother was one-quarter Cherokee Indian, and he was a part of that community throughout his life. He was elected chief of the Cherokee in 1828, after being instrumental in organizing them as a nation for legal purposes and participating in their constitutional convention. As chief, he resisted removal, and filed several lawsuits, but was forced to organize and lead the eviction to Oklahoma that is commonly referred to as the Trail of Tears. His first wife, Quatie, died on the march and he married Mary Stapler in 1841. Ross continued to serve as chief until his death on August 1, 1866 in Washington, DC.

Lewis Ross, brother of John Ross, was born on February 26, 1796 to Daniel and Mary (McDonald) Ross. He married Fannie Holt on March 15, 1817 and they had six children in addition to his other four. Ross served as National Treasurer for the Cherokee Nation from 1855 to 1859, and died on February 15, 1870.

Edward Gunter was born to John and Ghe-go-he-li (renamed Katherine by her husband) Gunter in Alabama in 1803. He was a chief of the Eastern Cherokees, and as such signed the Act of Union between the Eastern and Western Cherokees in July of 1839 and then participated in drawing up their new constitution. He ran a ferry across the Tennessee River, owned many acres of land and several enslaved peoples, and served as a Methodist minister. He married Elsie McCoy and then Letitia Keys, and had seven children at the time he wrote his will in 1842. The family migrated to Oklahoma during the Trail of Tears in 1838. Gunter died in the Tahlequah District of the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma in 1843.

James White McClung was born on June 6, 1798 in Knoxville, Tennessee to Charles and Margaret (White) McClung. He attended Blount College and then the University of North Carolina. McClung began practicing law just before moving to Huntsville, Alabama. By 1822 he was active in Alabama state politics, serving in the House of Representatives and later in the Senate. McClung was married three times: first to Sarah Elizabeth Mitchell (with whom he had six children) in 1823, second to Elizabeth F. Spottswood (with whom he had two children) in 1834, and finally to Margaret Patrick (with whom he had five children) in 1839. McClung died on May 31, 1848 in Huntsville, Alabama.


This collection cosists of a single folder.

Related Archival Materials

Interested researchers may also wish to consult MS.1042 Edward Gunter Agreement with James W. McClung, signed on December 12, 1834.

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