SENATE JOINT RESOLUTION 1171

Thomas' Legion
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GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF NORTH CAROLINA

SESSION 2005

RATIFIED BILL

RESOLUTION 2005-57

SENATE JOINT RESOLUTION 1171

A JOINT RESOLUTION honoring the life and memory of William Holland Thomas, former member of the general assembly, on the 200th anniversary of his birth.

Whereas, William Holland Thomas was born on February 5, 1805, in Haywood County; and

Whereas, William Holland Thomas was the son of Richard Thomas, a Revolutionary War veteran, who died before he was born, and Temperance Calvert Thomas; and

Whereas, as a young boy, William Holland Thomas befriended members of the local Oconaluftee Indians or Qualla Clan, which later became the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians; and

Whereas, as a teenager, William Holland Thomas began working at a local trading post near his home, during which time he learned the Cherokee language and customs; and

Whereas, William Holland Thomas developed a mutual friendship with Chief Yonaguska and was later adopted by the Chief as a member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians; and

Whereas, at the age of 15, William Holland Thomas became an attorney after studying from a set of law books that was given to him while he was working at the trading post; and

Whereas, as an adult, William Holland Thomas was an influential man in his community and the Western portion of the State; and

Whereas, in addition to practicing law, William Holland Thomas was also a businessman, building stores, turnpikes, and railroads; and

Whereas, during the 1830s, William Holland Thomas served as an agent for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, traveling to Washington, DC, to persuade the federal government to allow them to remain in North Carolina and to defend their claims for financial payments promised them; and

Whereas, William Holland Thomas was successful in helping the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians win the right to be treated as citizens of North Carolina, to govern themselves in their own communities, and to become landowners; and

Whereas, upon the death of Chief Yonaguska in 1839, William Holland Thomas was named Chief of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, a title he held for 28 years; and

Whereas, prior to his death, William Holland Thomas recounted his life with the Cherokees to a Smithsonian Institute ethnologist, James Mooney, which greatly contributed to the preservation of the history and culture of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians; and

Whereas, William Holland Thomas served as a State senator from 1848 to 1861; and

Whereas, during the Civil War, William Holland Thomas served as Colonel of a unit known as Thomas' Legion, which consisted of several regiments, including two composed of Cherokee Indians; and

Whereas, William Holland Thomas was married to Sarah Love and together they had three children, William H. Thomas, Jr., James Robert Thomas, and Sallie Love Thomas; and

Whereas, after a number of years of declining health and hospital confinement, William Holland Thomas died on May 10, 1893; and

Whereas, to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the birth of William Holland Thomas, the Cashiers Historical Society held a symposium, entitled "The Life and Times of William Holland Thomas" on May 5, 6, and 7, 2005; Now, therefore,

Be it resolved by the Senate, the House of Representatives concurring:

SECTION 1.  The General Assembly honors the life and memory of William Holland Thomas and acknowledges his service to the State and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.

SECTION 2.  The General Assembly encourages the citizens of this State to join the Cashiers Historical Society in celebrating the 200th anniversary of the birth of William Holland Thomas.

SECTION 3.  The Secretary of State shall transmit a certified copy of this resolution to the Cashiers Historical Society.

SECTION 4.  This resolution is effective upon ratification.

In the General Assembly read three times and ratified this the 24th day of August, 2005.

                                                                      _____________________________________

                                                                         Beverly E. Perdue

                                                                         President of the Senate

                                                                    _____________________________________

                                                                         James B. Black

                                                                         Speaker of the House of Representatives

Highly Recommended Reading: Storm in the Mountains: Thomas' Confederate Legion of Cherokee Indians and Mountaineers (Thomas' Legion: The Sixty-ninth North Carolina Regiment). Vernon H. Crow, Storm in the Mountains, spent 10 years conducting extensive Thomas Legion's research. Crow was granted access to rare manuscripts, special collections, and privately held diaries which add great depth to this rarely discussed Civil War legion. He explores and discusses the unit's formation, fighting history, and life of the legion's commander, Cherokee chief and Confederate colonel, William Holland Thomas. Continued below...

Numerous maps and photographs allow the reader to better understand and relate to the subjects discussed. It also contains rosters which is an added bonus for researchers and genealogists. Crow, furthermore, left no stone unturned while examining the many facets of the Thomas Legion and his research is conveyed on a level that scores with Civil War students and scholars alike.

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Recommended Reading: Western North Carolina: A History from 1730 to 1913 (Hardcover) (679 pages). Description: From the introduction to the appendix, this volume is filled with interesting information. Covering seventeen counties—Alleghany, Ashe, Avery, Buncombe, Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Haywood, Henderson, Jackson, Macon, Madison, Mitchell, Swain, Transylvania, Watauga, and Yancey—the author conducted about ten years searching and gathering materials. Continued below...

About the Author: John Preston Arthur was born in 1851 in Columbia, South Carolina. After relocating to Asheville, North Carolina, in 1887, he was appointed Secretary of the Street Railway Company, and subsequently the Manager and Superintendent until 1894. Later, after becoming a lawyer, he was encouraged by the Daughters of the American Revolution (D.A.R.) to write a history of western North Carolina.

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