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The Twin Poplars

  The "Twin Poplar" site in Caldwell County is the legendary location of a peace treaty entered upon by the Cherokee and Catawba Indians. Caldwell County historian Nancy Alexander recalls the events of Spring, 1737:

As the Cherokee were pushed farther toward the mountain by the coming of the white man, they decided to retreat no farther than the foothills of the Blue Ridge. They had once claimed all this area and reluctantly, relinquished  the lower portion of this region. In the southern part of the county lived the Catawbas, a friendly peaceable tribe, who, contentedly, hunted the forests and fished along the banks of the Catawba with the early traders and trappers who penetrated this wilderness. The warlike, bitter Cherokees  resented the intrusion on what they considered their lands and the attitudes of the two tribes brought serious strife and conflict between them. The Catawbas, when it was necessary, were as valiant and courageous as their enemies and, tradition has it, that a number of battles ensued.

One account handed down through the years reportedly  occurred in the Spring of 1737. The Cherokees had become more and more incensed and indignant that the Catawba Indians were openly welcoming the white [men] into this area. The wrath grew so great that they sent word to the Catawbas that they were associating with "pale-faces" so much that they were beginning to resemble them in appearance. The indignant Catawbas held a council. It was decided that the tribe would send one of its most fearless warriors to declare war on the Cherokees.

The braves skillfully followed the trail through the mountains to the home of their enemies and there they demanded an audience with the chief. Solemnly, they entered his presence and gravely, without  a word being uttered, threw a glove before his feet. This gesture meant war at once. The runners hurried homeward and announced their errand complete. Both tribes made ready with clubs, some of which were very enormous, weighing from four to six pounds each; and, of course, there were spears, bows, arrows, and tomahawks.

Dressed in breech cloth and scalp belt, they proceeded in single file, each warrior walking in the track of the preceding one, the last in line covering the tracks, so there would be no indication that the trail had been recently traveled and the number of warriors could not be estimated. Tradition says that a great many warriors met in combat about four miles north of Lenoir at the aptly named Warriors Gap. The combatants fought until death. The onslaught was so furious that six times the Cherokees were driven back, each time rallying to advance again. The battle raged for almost a week, until both sides were too worn with exhaustion to continue.

The few able warriors who remained attempted to bury some of the dead, and a pact was made declaring that hereafter there would be peace between the tribes.

As a token of their decision they erected a mound of stones, which may be seen to this day, and tied two young poplar trees together (which are now forest giants), that have remained locked since that battle of long ago. The trees are actually Siamese Poplars, commonly referred to as "Mountain Tulips." The site may be seen just off Highway 321. At the base they are separated by about twelve feet of earth and about twenty feet above the grown they unite to form the unique arch.

-
Nancy Alexander
   excerpted from her classic book,
   Here Will I Dwell.

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112 Vaiden St. SW 
Lenoir, NC 28645

email:  caldheritmus@aol.com
(828) 758-4004

 www.caldwellheritagemuseum.org/
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Page updated 07/01/2010


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