Historic Vonore sites celebrate 250th anniversary of Timberlake visit

Historic Vonore sites celebrate 250th anniversary of Timberlake visit

June 22nd, 2012 by Paul Leach in Life Entertainment


• What: "1762: Emissaries of Peace, Timberlake in the Cherokee Overhill."

• When: Saturday and Sunday.

• Where: Sequoyah Birthplace Museum and Fort Loudoun State Historic Area, Vonore, Tenn.

• Directions: Take I-75 to Highway 72 (Loudon Exit). Drive east 20 miles and turn on Highway 411 North. Turn right onto Highway 360 in Vonore and follow to Sequoyah Birthplace Museum and Fort Loudoun. The sites are less than a mile apart.

• Websites: http://fortloudoun.com, www.sequoyahmuseum.org.


Guided tours leave from Fort Loudoun six times a day on Saturday and Sunday. Certified Cherokee guides will lead travelers to the historical sites of Toqua, Ballplay, Tanasi and Chota. Tour cost is $5.

For reservations, call the Sequoyah Birthplace Museum at 423-884-6246 or Fort Loudoun at 423-884-6217.


Lectures will be offered Saturday and Sunday unless noted otherwise. Fort Loudoun also will offer ongoing mapmaking demonstrations throughout the day.

• 9 a.m. "The Montgomery and Grant Expeditions of 1761-1762"

• 10:30 a.m. "The Memoirs of Lt. Henry Timberlake and Their Use in Replicating 18th-Century Material Culture"

• Noon (Sunday only). "Cherokee Headmen and Timberlake: A Visit to London"

• 1:30 p.m. "A Cherokee Perspective on Timberlake's Visit"

• 3 p.m. "The Archeology of the Overhill Towns"

VONORE, Tenn. -- This weekend, Sequoyah Birthplace Museum and the Fort Loudoun State Historic Area offer visitors a chance to see the Cherokee world of 250 years ago, as experienced by 18th-century British emissary and explorer Lt. Henry Timberlake.

In conjunction with the Museum of the Cherokee, the three historical institutions will offer a variety of activities intended to immerse the public in the sights, sounds and tastes of Vonore when it was inhabited by enclaves of Overhill Cherokee in the 1760s.

"Timberlake's memoirs serve as the impetus of the resurrection of 18th-century Cherokee life and culture, and we have used them to reclaim the past," said Jeff Wells, director of interpretive programs and education for Tennessee State Parks.

It was a natural step to build upon the existing "Emissaries of Peace" exhibit, showcased at the Museum of the Cherokee, and adapt the 1762 Timberlake/Cherokee peace mission for a multivenue experience at the Vonore sites, said Wells.

Weekend programming includes guided tours of the Little Tennessee Valley, lectures and a host of demonstrations of Cherokee culture, including dancing, weaving, stamped pottery, cooking and stickball games. Living historians will be on hand in period clothing to conduct exhibitions and to transport visitors to the East Tennessee of the mid-18th century.

Living-history events and discussions begin at 10 a.m. at the Sequoyah Birthplace Museum on Saturday and Sunday. Fort Loudoun will offer free lectures beginning at 9 a.m., provide mapmaking demonstrations throughout the day and serve as the launching point for $5 guided tours into the Little Tennessee Valley.

Program organizers said the event commemorates the documented travels of Timberlake and re-creates the world he encountered as a diplomat, cartographer and unknowing historian when he journeyed through the region in the waning days of England's war with the French in North America.

The British officer was hardly the first colonial to visit the region. However, Timberlake's mapping of the Overhill Cherokee region would prove invaluable to later explorers of East Tennessee. In recent decades, modern archaeologists have successfully relied upon the officer's maps to help them recover Overhill communal sites. Copies of his 18th-century map are posted in many park areas within the Cherokee National Forest.

Timberlake arrived as a part of a delegation in the aftermath of an intermittent and sometimes bloody conflict between the British and the Cherokee. Locally, the climax of that struggle resulted in the surrender and subsequent destruction of colonial Fort Loudoun in 1860.

Paul Leach is based in Cleveland. Email him at paul.leach.press@gmail.com.