Location of Major Ridge's Assassination
by Paul Ridenour
Saturday, April 19, 2008, Cherokee Nation Councilman-at-large Jack Baker took my wife Dottie, David Keith Hampton (Nancy Ward Association), and me to where Major Ridge was assassinated.
Dr. T. L. Ballenger's article "The Death and Burial of Major Ridge" from the Chronicles of Oklahoma, Volume 1, Number 1, Spring 1973, indicates that Major Ridge left his home in Honey Springs and stayed all night with his friend Ambrose Harnage at Cincinnati, Arkansas. On June 22, 1839, he was heading south towards Van Buren, Arkansas, to visit a sick slave. He was riding down the Old Line Rd about 10 AM and stopped at Graystone Creek for his horse to drink. This was a few feet off the current-day Hwy 59, two miles north of Dutch Mills, AR. His slave was working temporarily for John Latta at Latta's plantation called "The Lord's Vineyard" near Evansville, AR. Major Ridge was struck by five bullets.
In Thurman Wilkins' book Cherokee Tragedy, Wilkins states that Major Ridge was riding down the Line Road with a "colored boy in attendance" and stopped "where the road crossed White Rock Creek (now known as Little Branch), just a mile inside Arkansas and seven miles from Cane Hill." After he was shot, his body was taken to the nearby settlement of Dutchtown (now Dutch Mills). John Ridge's wife Sarah Ridge sent a runner to warn Major Ridge of the danger. The runner rode back to Honey Creek with the sad news of Major Ridge's death.
In my opinion, after he was going to visit his sick slave, I believe that his intention was to continue heading south to Van Buren to visit his daughter Sarah Ridge.
HWY 59 going south to Dutch Mills, Arkansas (assassination location on the east side/left)
This couple owns the land (private property) and they are on the east side of Hwy 59 right before the bridge heading north
Across the street from them you see the Old Line Rd (Military Rd) which is the driveway
The Little Branch sign on Hwy 59 heading north a few miles outside of Dutch Mills, AR (assassination site on the right)
The site from the bridge
Old Line Rd is the green grass in the middle of this picture [north (top) to south]
Looking south - Major Ridge's horse stopped here in the water facing south and that is where he was shot. The Old Line Road (green grass in the middle) continues heading south and then becomes the driveway to the home on the west side of the bridge. You can see the Hwy 59 bridge in this picture.
The small stone wall to the far left was only built 15-20 years ago
To the left of Jack Baker is the Old Line Road (north to south) and near where Dr. Ballinger stood for his article
To the left of Jack were bushes/shrubbery where the 10-12 assassins hid
Let's put it all together - The Old Line Rd in the middle of this picture and Major Ridge is heading south to the stream [A]. On the upper right of this picture is a green grassy area where the shooters were hiding behind bushes [B]. Their horses were either beyond the trees over the hill or around the far right corner of this picture. When Major Ridge was on the Old Line Rd [A] he would have been very close to the shooters. Jack thinks they hesitated because they did not shoot him until his horse reached the water [C]. Therefore, it appears he was shot in the back.
Photo above now hanging in the Chieftains Museum/Major Ridge Home in Rome, Georgia