Dedication ceremonies for three new markers installed at the Nancy Ward Grave Site State Park will be held at 10:30 a.m. Saturday on the park grounds. The park is located off of U.S. Highway 411 between Benton and Ocoee. From U.S. Highway 64, go north on Highway 411 to a right on Old Highway 411 and take that road about a quarter mile to the park. Traveling south on Highway 411, after passing through Benton, take the next right onto Old Highway 411 and go about a quarter mile to the park.
New markers at the Nancy Ward Gravesite State Park in Benton, Tenn., will be dedicated Saturday in a ceremony attended by descendants of the famous Cherokee "Beloved Woman."
"We have a good crowd coming already, and it'd be nice to have even more," said Pauline Moore, landscaping project chairwoman for the Daughters of the American Revolution Cherokee District.
The DAR, chapters of the Sons of the American Revolution and the Cherokee joined forces for the event. Four flags will be raised by SAR members for the event representing the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians, the Cherokee Nation, the United States and Tennessee, Moore said.
"There will be a wreath-laying [for] three new markers up there," she said. Moore said seven of Ward's great-grandchildren plan to be present for Saturday's dedication activities, as well as nearly a dozen Ward family relatives from Oklahoma, DAR and SAR representatives.
A teardrop marker, purchased by Ward's granddaughter, is installed near the walkway at the parking lot where it memorializes Ward and her son, Fivekiller, Moore said, calling it "stunning."
A little further up the walkway leading to the gravesite are a pair of matching granite benches installed in a pair of alcoves along the path, she said.
The inscription on one reads: "Our cry is all for peace!" and "Nancy Ward AKA 'Nanyehi' 1781 — Long Island of the Holston." And the inscription on the other granite bench reads: "Beloved Mother, we love you. Until we meet again, your grandchildren."
The third marker is a pyramid-shaped "arrowhead marker" that honors Ward and lists the names of all 14 of the Cherokee District chapters of the Daughters of the American Revolution in the Chattanooga region. Moore is a member of the Nancy Ward Chapter.
Moore said Chattanooga Monument Co. did the stonework on the markers and benches.
Chattanooga Monument Co. owner Jim Holcomb said he got involved in the project for obvious reasons, but there was a personal reason, too.
"I'm not only in the monument business I'm deep into history," Holcomb said, noting he has some loose familial ties to Ward himself.
Moore came to him with drawings and wanted an arrowhead-shaped marker that he created from stone sourced from Elberton, Ga., Holcomb said.
Some time later, Debra Yates, a Ward descendant, selected the benches and the teardrop-shaped piece. The black stone came from either India or China, Holcomb said, noting that his grandson Jason Holcomb "did most of the work."
"We went up Thursday of last week to install the markers," Holcomb said. The dedication will be at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday.
Contact staff writer Ben Benton at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6569. Follow him on Twitter @BenBenton or at www.facebook.com/benbenton1.
Nancy Ward is not only remembered as an important figure to the Cherokee people but is also considered an early pioneer for women in American politics, as she advocated for a woman's voice during a turbulent period in her tribe's history.
In her last years, Nancy Ward operated an inn at the Womankiller Ford of the Ocoee River in present-day Polk County, Tenn., near Benton. It was there that she died, in spring of 1824 according to Emmet Starr, but other sources list the year as 1822. She was buried on a small hill nearby, and rests between her brother, Longfellow, and her son, Fivekiller. It is likely that the location was preserved by Jack Hilderbrand, who lived in the area after the Cherokee removal. Her grave was marked by the Nancy Ward Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution in 1924 and is preserved today by the State of Tennessee.
On the day she died, witnesses saw a white light rise from her body, taking the form of a wolf and then a swan that swirled around the room and then flew off in the direction of her beloved town of Chota.
Source: Tennessee River Valley Geotourism's website and Ward's descendants' nancyward.org website