Chapter 6: From Bunker Hill to Bucket Hill

By the early 1700’s, the Indians who had settled thirty miles to the north in Morganton had abandoned the territory. (See my post on Joara from March 2013 The First Lost Colony.) And in the early 1800’s most of the Cherokees lived in small communities in the Blue Ridge Mountains. With the discovery of gold in this area on Cherokee Indian lands, the government under President Andrew Jackson of TN relocated to Oklahoma about 100,000 native people from east of the Mississippi River.

Smoky Mtns southwest of Mt. Mitchell

Smoky Mtns southwest of Mt. Mitchell

A few Cherokees, now the Eastern Band, refused to move and hid out in the Great Smoky Mountains. In 1889 they reclaimed some of their lands, 56,000 acres now called the Qualla Reservation, home to 11,000 descendants. The name Qualla comes from Polly, the wife of William Holland Thomas, the only white man to ever serve as a Cherokee Indian Chief. He purchased land for the Indians in his own name and served as Chief of Quallatown from 1839 until his death in 1893. (

So this area was mainly white settlers, pedigrees from Ireland, Scotland, and now Wales. In 1798, Shadrack Nanney from Virginia acquired a large tract of land in the northern edge of Rutherford County, NC, and brought from Virginia his wife and six children. Mary Cobb Wright Nanney died soon after the family arrived. Shadrack then married Polly (Mary) Wheeler in 1804 and they had twelve children.

In the little Bucket Hill Cemetery off Nanneytown Road, the only graves with regular stones are those of Shadrack and his two wives. There are many marked only with plain upright stones. Neighbor Wade Nanney said, “When some of us visited the cemetery following our reunion in 1987, an elderly relative told us that these were “Christianized Indians.”

Shadrack’s granddaughter, Tabitha Nanney, married one of Elisha Blankenship’s great-grandsons, Archibald II (Archer). Since Elisha himself had married Jane Nanney, the families were replicating the interwoven Nanney-Vaughan connection in Wales. And the saga continues.

Wade wrote in a biography, “Possibly all Nanneys in this area stem from this double-sided family group. No doubt there would be more descendants, except that so many able-bodied men of the family were wiped out serving in the Confederate Army at the time of the Civil War.”

I cannot leave the Nanney story in Wales without mentioning a blow out party held at Nannau in 1824, celebrating the 21st birthday of Robert Williams Vaughan, 3rd Baronet. His father was Merioneth County’s biggest resident landholder of the Nannau estate, in Dogellau. Sir Robert Williams Vaughan took pride in maintaining old Welsh customs and kept an open house where “neighbors came to dinner daily without special invitation.”

His great great grandfather was Col. Hugh Nanney, member of Parliament 1695-1701, and the last Nanney to hold the estate because he had four daughters. His daughter Janet married Robert Vaughan of Hengwrt in 1719, great great grandson to the antiquary who himself had married a granddaughter of the great HUW Nannau, the Elder. Janet’s son Hugh almost sunk the family fortunes with his “ill-regulated life and utter incapacity for estate management.” He was bailed out with help from the lawyer and the housekeeper. Then he died in 1783 and left his brother Robert to handle the litigation. It turned out well and Robert was made a baronet. He also made a good marriage and their son Robert, 2nd Baronet, possessed four estates including Nannau and Hengwrt and built a new mansion at Nannau. He was popular and re-elected to the Parliament thirteen times, and the “Vaughan Scholarship” was created as a tribute to him.

This was the golden age of Nannau. At the end of the 18th century, Robert Hywel Vaughan and Sir Richard Williams Vaughan, spent lots of money fixing up the place. Speculation in this article on “Nannau” at  suggests that some of the construction of miles of paths and drives was undertaken to alleviate the problems of local unemployment.

This 21st birthday party was the highpoint of the family’s influence. A wood, canvas, and thatch building was built in front of the manor, and the tables bent under the amount of food provided. Two hundred guests sat down to an extravagant banquet that included a huge 166 pound joint or “baron”of beef “from the white ox of Nannau.” A candelabrum made of the horns and hooves of this ox are now part of a valuable collection, somewhere. Sir Robert commissioned a Chester artist Daniel Clowes to commit this event to history.  shows his work: The White Ox of Nannau.

Six local towns also celebrated the birthday with fireworks, balloon ascents, and cannon fire, and much eating and drinking. The poor especially enjoyed the rare occasion to eat beef (roasted oxen), and who would turn down as much beer as you could drink? But then the wealthy drank wine and still had a good time.

Sir Robert had special toasting cups made for the occasion from the wood of the Demon Oak. (See Chapter 3 Nanney Saga) His toast to his son: “May he fear God and Honour the King, show reverence to his superiors and respect to his inferiors.”

Eleven years later the region also marked the wedding of Robert Willliams Vaughan, still before the words of reform, and American civil war. But this Robert never enjoyed his father’s prestige and died childless in 1859.

Meanwhile, Robert’s cousins in America were busy filling the family tree with Nanney branches.


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6 Responses to Chapter 6: From Bunker Hill to Bucket Hill

  1. Gretchen says:

    Hi Georgia, You uncover the most interesting stories! I enjoyed reading this.

  2. Hello! My name is Curtis Nanney and I love reading your stories about the Nanney’s. I descend from one of Shadrack’s daughters, Morning Nanney. She had a son out of wedlock, Andrew Jackson Nanney who apparently never knew who his father was as on his birth certificate, his father is listed as “unknown”. Anyways, just wanted to drop you a note to thank you for your blog! Take care!

  3. Sharon NANNEY Wells says:

    Hi Georgia Ruth, My name is Sharon NANNEY Wells. I’m not for sure exact which one I am from… I have been told it was Shadrack….Wish I was for sure…Thanks ..Sharon NANNEY Wells

    • georgia ruth says:

      Hi Sharon, maybe somebody else reading here will be able to help you out. What state do you live in, and what is your fathers’ name? Thanks for signing on. I appreciate your support.

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