Happy Birthday, Funk Heritage Center

From the FHC:

Osiyo.

Waleska was the name of a man who lived in Cherokee County in the early 19th century and was quite a noted person in his settlement. He was distinguished for always wearing feathers from eagles that he shot himself. He had six children, including “quite a handsome daughter.” Lewis Reinhardt moved to this area in 1834, one of the early settlers in this area, and he lived very near this man, Waleska, and his family. It was said that Mr. Reinhardt was very kind in his dealings with Waleska, the Four Killers, and other local Cherokees, and that they respected him in turn. Reinhardt was a Christian and often spoke of Jesus Christ’s teachings to the Cherokees. He spoke to them of what was “displeasing in the sight of the Lord,” which included working on holy days, and most especially the Sabbath.

One day, however, Mr. Reinhardt went down to his farm tend a burning log heap. In one heap he found that the chunks needed to be pushed closer together, and so he climbed over the fence to do so. As he was in the act of climbing, a group of his Cherokee neighbors came along and caught him tending to the fire. Instantly they began to upbraid him for his hypocrisy, shaking their heads dubiously. Waleska and Four Killer said they did not care much for the religion of a man who would work on Sunday clearing land, but did not want the Cherokees to do so. 

To his dying day, Lewis Reinhardt said he never forgot the rebuke.

Today is a special day for the Funk Heritage Center, as we mark the 20th anniversary of this place. In doing so, we welcome the descendants of the Four Killer family that was forcibly removed on the Trail of Tears. Today is a kind of holiday, at least for us. So take a lesson from our local history, and stop working, at least for a short while, and come help us welcome these friends back to their ancestral homeland this afternoon.

According to the 19th century newspaper report of Belle Kendrick Abbott in the Atlanta Constitution, as well as Nathaniel Reinhardt’s diary entries from the time, it was Mr. Reinhardt who stood up for the Four Killer family when Old Four Killer was “cruelly abused” by the soldiers.

The Four Killers and other area Cherokees, “headed by Mr. Reinhardt, struck out for the fort,” it was reported. As they neared Fort Buffington “suddenly they all halted and refused to go further. By persuasion they soon made known to Mr. Reinhardt that they had heard the drum beating in the fort, and they were afraid. Mr. Reinhardt reassured them, but before moving a step, they began to unpack a bundle of stuff they had with them, from which they took about two pounds of gunpowder and gave it to Mr. Reinhardt to keep. Four Killer asked for four days of grace, in which to dispose of his belongings as he chose, and he obtained it from the soldiers through the act of Mr. Reinhardt standing as his security for his appearance.

He did return, and with his family, along with the Waleska family and thousands of others, journeyed on the long Trail of Tears to Oklahoma.

Today at 2 p.m. they come home again, at the Reinhardt University campus. Please join us as we at last tell their story, with our newest exhibit, “Resistance & Resilience: The Cherokee Trail of Tears.”

Please also enjoy a slide show with us, looking back on our two decades as a museum family. Meet staff members past and present, as well as our volunteers. Help us recognize some of our family with some special presentations. Have some cake with us. We will see you soon.

(Please forgive us if you have to stand … we’re already out of chairs! But that doesn’t mean we don’t want to see you.)

Wado.

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