Civil War lectures planned for March

Civil War lectures planned for March

March 5, 2012
Contact: Chloe Kennedy, News and New Media Writer

The Maryville College Civil War Sesquicentennial Series continues this month with two presentations.

The series, which was created last semester, includes programming that explores how the Civil War affected multiple populations in East Tennessee, addresses traditional narratives and myths of the war, and examines the war’s lasting legacy in the region.

Freeman Owle, Cherokee storyteller and historian, will give a presentation at Maryville College on Tues., March 13. The event is free and open to the public.

During his presentation, which will begin at 7 p.m. in the Clayton Center for the Arts’ Harold and Jean Lambert Recital Hall, Owle will talk about William H. Thomas, leader of the Thomas Legion. Composed of 400 Cherokees and six companies of white North Carolinians and Tennesseans, the Thomas Legion operated as an independent command under the Confederate Army.

Owle will also tell Cherokee stories about the legion and discuss the importance of Cherokee storytelling in general.

Owle was born on the Qualla Indian Boundary, home of the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Nation. He attended Gardner Webb College before earning a bachelor’s degree in social work and a master’s degree in education from Western Carolina University. For 12 years, he worked as an elementary school teacher in the Cherokee School System.

Since 1990, he has earned national acclaim as a historian and storyteller. He has received numerous awards, including the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ Teacher of the Year Award, and has spoken to many different groups all over the United States. He has contributed to books on the Cherokee heritage, and in 2004, he was invited to the White House to receive the Preserve America Presidential Award for his part in writing the Cherokee Heritage Trails Guidebook.

“Freeman Owle is a nationally renowned Cherokee storyteller and will present the experience of the famed Cherokee Confederate Thomas Legion, an integral contributor to the Civil War in the Great Smoky Mountains,” said Dr. Aaron Astor, assistant professor of history at Maryville College.

For more information about Owle, please visit

Astor will present a lecture titled “Blount County’s Inner Civil War – Family, Community and Divided Loyalties” at 7 p.m., Thurs., March 15 in the Blount County Public Library’s Sharon Lawson Room.

The event, which is hosted by the Blount County Genealogical & Historical Society, is free and open to the public.

The lecture is a continuation of a presentation Astor gave in January on divided Civil War loyalties in Blount County. During the March 15 event, Astor will discuss how Blount County’s social order influenced the decisions made by ordinary people in the face of a guerrilla war.

Maryville College is ideally situated in Maryville, Tenn., between the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Knoxville, the state's third largest city. Founded in 1819, it is the 12th oldest institution of higher learning in the South and maintains an affiliation with the Presbyterian Church (USA). Known for offering its students a rigorous and highly personal experience that includes an undergraduate research requirement, Maryville College is a nationally ranked institution of higher learning that successfully joins the liberal arts and professional preparation. Total enrollment for the fall 2016 semester is 1,197.