Built before the start of the 19th century by John McDonald, a Scottish trader of wandering loyalty, the Ross House is the oldest remaining structure in Northwest Georgia. McDonald was one of a group of Scot traders that mingled easily with the Cherokee. At various times he claimed loyalty to France, Spain, England and the United States.
He moved to Cherokee country from Charleston, South Carolina by way of Fort Loudon, near Knoxville, where he met his wife, a mixed blood Cherokee named Anne Shorey. They had one daughter, Mollie. McDonald saved a young man, Daniel Ross, from certain death at the hands of Bloody Fellow, a Chickamauga Cherokee. Within a year Ross married Mollie and moved to Turkeytown where John Ross was born.
McDonald began to build a home on the Cherokee Trading Path near Poplar Spring, probably in 1797. When Mollie Ross died in 1808, her 18 year-old son John Ross moved to the home with his grandfather John McDonald. Ross had received much of his formal education in the home, along with the sons of other Cherokee and countrymen, whites who had been accepted into the Cherokee Nation.
The home served as post office, country store, schoolhouse, and council room during the period that Ross lived in it. Starting in the early 1820's Ross began to spend more time at Head of Coosa, the Cherokee town at the confluence of the Etowah and Oostanaula Rivers, where Ross owned a ferry and additional property (now Rome, Georgia). In 1827 he sold the home to a relative.
During the battle of Chickamauga the home was headquarters for Gordon Grainger. Designated as reserves, Grainger and his men held a position near the house for most of the day, observing the battle. When he saw Major General George Thomas holding a thin line around Snodgrass Hill, Grainger, on his own initiative, ordered General Steedman's division to advance, resupplying the desperate Union Army.
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Location: Spring St, just west of U. S. 27
Directions: Take I75 to exit 350 (Battlefield Parkway). Go west on Battlefield Parkway to Fort Oglethorpe. Turn right on U.S. Highway 27. In Rossville, turn left at the post office (Spring St.)
Open June-September, 1 to 5 pm. Please call for exact dates.
Date added: November 16, 2003
Last update: December 6, 2003
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