Chief James Vann | Chatsworth, Georgia
Born in 1765, James Vann, son of a Scotch trader named Clement Vann and a full-blooded Cherokee mother, became one of the richest men in the southeast and one of the most influential of the young chiefs of the Cherokee Nation.
In 1804, he built Vann House near Spring Place, Georgia, where he owned 800 acres, 100 slaves, slave cabins, smokehouses, a trading post, orchards and a whiskey still. It was on the Federal Road and saw a lot of traffic. He also built a store, tavern and a ferry crossing across the Conasauga River. He owned several other ferries and trading posts across the region.
It is said that Chief Vann was loved by few and feared by many. He was considered both a rogue and a hero. He brought the Moravian missionaries to the Cherokee Nation to build schools, but on the other hand, he was notorious for killing his brother-in-law in a duel, firing a pistol at dinner guests through a hole in the floor of an upstairs bedroom, and even for shooting at his own mother!
Tartansauthority.com says, “Sober he was a pleasant man, even-tempered, generous with one and all. His down side was ‘drink’ which changed his character from daylight to dark. When drinking he was mean and vengeful. His ‘wives’ loved him but he gave them and his slaves much reason to fear him since he was quick to use the whip when drinking.”
He was killed at a local tavern in 1809, supposedly for killing his brother-in-law. No one saw who killed Chief Vann, but he had a lot of enemies, and to this day, no one knows.
Chief Vann’s son, Joseph, also known as "Rich Joe Vann," inherited all of Chief Vann’s wealth. In 1835, the Georgia Militia evicted him for unknowingly violating a new law that made it illegal for an Indian to hire a white man. Joseph had hired a white man to oversee his plantation and holdings. Joseph with his family was moved out of the area on the “Trail of Tears” and lived in the Cherokee Territory in Oklahoma until his death in 1844.
Chief James Vann is buried in Forsyth County, and his house, the Chief Van House Historic Site is administered by the Georgia State Parks. There are no known photographs of Chief Vann, but the above picture is believed to be an illustration of his likeness.