Traveler’s Rest: A History in Asides

Coming Soon: Traveler’s Rest and the Tugaloo Crossroads by Robert Eldridge Bouwman

Courtesy of
Courtesy of

Bouwman tells Traveler’s Rest’s story through the lives of its residents and their neighbors. The focus of the history mainly rests on the white early American settlers. A compelling story lives in the margins of the history, however, that reveals the lives and conditions of early Native Americans.

Cherokee Native Americans settled in the Tugaloo area in the 14th century, approximately 500 years before Traveler’s Rest was built. The Cherokees experienced a great upheaval when Europeans began to arrive, and spent years quarreling with both the settlers and other local Indian tribes.

By the early 18th century, the Cherokees held the majority of power in the southeastern U.S., and European settlers began courting alliances with the tribe in hopes of gaining favor and power. European emissaries — English, French, and Spanish — began arriving in the tribal villages surrounding Tugaloo, which is when Bouwman’s reports begin. He describes many different parts of Native American culture, including government, entertainment, dress, and relationships with early American settlers.

For example, the Cherokees placed high importance on the women in their villages, so much so that the tribes were considered to be operating under “petticoat governments.” Each village had women council members, and the leader of the women’s council, the “Beloved Woman,” was supposedly the mouthpiece of the Great Spirit. Nancy Ward, one such Beloved Woman, played a major role in promoting peace between her people and the settlers. She did everything in her power to prevent conflict between the two parties, and when her efforts failed, she saved both Cherokee and settler lives when she warned the settlers of an impending Cherokee attack.

Bouwman also emphasizes the importance of games in the Native American culture. Their favorite was chungke, which is similar to modern day lacrosse. Each tribe, even those at war with one another, had a team dedicated to playing the game. Frequently, when a new town or village was founded, clearing a field for chungke was the first activity completed.

Traveler's Rest front coverThough Bouwman’s history is primarily about the settlers and frontiersmen, he supplies an informative narrative on Native Americans during the settling and colonization of America. He follows their trials as they skirmished with one another and the settlers, though their stories come to an unhappy conclusion with the Trail of Tears. To learn more about Traveler’s Rest and all of its residents, check out Bouwman’s Traveler’s Rest and the Tugaloo Crossroads, coming soon from the University Press of North Georgia.