William Holland Thomas Memorial, Indian Hills
The memorial to William Holland Thomas is in the form of a tabletstone with a flat arch top standing on a single base. The granite marker, being on a hillside, has low stone retaining walls at the front and rear with the area around the monument covered in stone pavers. A stone walkway with metal handrails leads to the marker.
Images: Far-off view | Rear inscription
Front: WILLIAM HOLLAND / THOMAS / ᎾᏢᎤᎧᏗ / 1805-1893 / BUSINESSMAN, PLANTER, AUTHOR / AGENT AND ATTORNEY FOR THE EASTERN CHEROKEES / MEMBER OF NORTH CAROLINA STATE SENATE AND / CHAIRMAN OF ITS COMMITTEE ON INTERNAL / IMPROVEMENTS / EARLY RAILROAD BUILDER IN WESTERN NORTH / CAROLINA / BUILDER OF THE FIRST WAGON ROAD ACROSS THE / GREAT SMOKIES / COLONEL OF THE 69TH N.C. REGIMENT / COMMANDER OF THE THOMAS LEGION C.S.A. / FRIEND AND BENEFACTOR OF THE CHEROKEE PEOPLE
Rear: THIS MONUMENT COMMEMORATES WM. H. THOMAS / WHO DONATED THIS PROPERTY APPROX. 5 ACRES / FOR A CAMPGROUND CEMETERY IN 1858 / COLONEL THOMAS IS BURIED IN GREENHILL CEMETERY IN / WAYNESVILLE, N.C. / ERECTED 1982 BY THE HEIRS OF COLONEL THOMAS / JOSEPHINE BIRD. TRUSTEE
35.445090 , -83.313980 View in Geobrowse
Haire, Stephanie M. “Memorialization of Forgotten Steps: Native American Participation In the American Civil War,” Masters Thesis, Middle Tennessee State University, December 2019 Link
Mckinney, Gordon B. “Thomas, William Holland,” NCPedia.org, (accessed August 6, 2021) Link
“William Holland Thomas,” The Historical Marker Database, HMdb.org, (accessed August 6, 2021) Link
“William Howard Thomas,” Find A Grave, findagrave.com, (accessed August 6, 2021) Link
Heirs of William Holland Thomas
The father of William Howard Thomas (1805-1893) died shortly before he was born and by the age 13, he was working in a store in the Cherokee territory. William's ability to speak Cherokee enabled him to prosper and he eventually owned three stores. During these early years, Thomas developed a friendship with Yonaguska, principal chief of the Cherokee, who adopted him into the Cherokee tribe with Thomas eventually becoming the only white chief of the Eastern Band of the Cherokee. Thomas also read law and acted as the attorney for the North Carolina Cherokee and aided them in their resistance against relocation to the West. Thomas also served in the NC Senate and worked to improve the transportation system in Western North Carolina.
In 1857, at age fifty-two, he married Sarah Jane Burney Love, the daughter of a wealthy Haywood County man.
At the beginning of the Civil War he convinced the Cherokee to support the Confederacy and he eventually led a force called
the Thomas Legion that included several companies of Cherokees.
Demands of the war period took their toll and he suffered periods of mental instability for the remainder of his life. He died in the state mental hospital in Morganton in 1893.
[Additional information from NCpedia editors at the State Library of North Carolina: This person enslaved and owned other people. Many Black and African people, their descendants, and some others were enslaved in the United States until the Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery in 1865. It was common for wealthy landowners, entrepreneurs, politicians, institutions, and others to enslave people and use enslaved labor during this period. To read more about the enslavement and transportation of African people to North Carolina, visit https://aahc.nc.gov/programs/africa-carolina-0. To read more about slavery and its history in North Carolina, visit https://www.ncpedia.org/slavery. - Government and Heritage Library, 2023.]
The marker is located at the Campground Cemetery on US Highway 441 between Gateway and Indian Hills in Jackson County, North Carolina.
The marker stands near the top of a low, partially wooded hillside. A scattering of tombstones can be seen behind the marker.