My days of writing fiction feel like history, yet I’ve got a story floating around still. My short story “Into the Forest” has been included in The Copperfield Review‘s first anthology. Books are now available to order! And if you’re on Goodreads, go visit our page there.
“Into the Forest” is based on one of my husband’s ancestors. According to family legend, Mourning Medley was a Cherokee woman who, along with her children, was rounded up and taken to the holding pen at Fort Butler. That was one of the places where the United States soldiers took the captive Cherokee people to await the long journey that would later come to be known as the Trail of Tears.
She was later rescued from the staging area by a man named Samuel Medley, but no one has been able to discover any records to find out who he was or why he did it. I had so much fun looking and talking to family in other parts of the country, but we all reached a dead end.
Fort Butler is now a small park in Murphy, North Carolina.
A few years ago, I decided to find it. I asked around town to find the park, but few people there knew what I was looking for. Eventually I found some women outside at a yard sale who were able to point me in the right direction. The park is up on a hill overlooking the town and surrounded by littered woods and poverty. At some point, it seems that someone cared enough to create a monument and set aside this space, but the neglect left me feeling sad and angry. Has history been kind to the Cherokee people?