Source:Burns, Annie Walker. Nancy Ward

Source Nancy Ward
Military and Genealogical Records of the Famous Indian Woman of Tennessee
Author Burns, Annie Walker
Surname Ward
Subject History
Publication information
Type Book
Publisher Park Bench Publishing
Date issued 2009
Place issued Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Burns, Annie Walker. Nancy Ward: Military and Genealogical Records of the Famous Indian Woman of Tennessee. (Murfreesboro, Tennessee: Park Bench Publishing, 2009).
Repositories website


About this book

Nancy Ward (Nan’ye hi) c. 1738-1824, was titled the Ghighua or Beloved Woman of the Cherokee. As such, she had the right to sit on council meetings and to commute sentences of death. One story tells of her saving a white woman named Mrs. Bean who had been captured and about to be burned at the stake. Nancy Ward kicked the tender aside and declared, “No woman shall be tortured to death while she was Beloved Woman!” How Mrs. Bean repaid her savior by teaching the Cherokee both how to weave and how to make dairy products had a significant and lasting effect on the Cherokee civilization. Nancy Ward also saved the white settlement of Watauga by warning them of an impending Cherokee raid. The whites thereafter considered her also “beloved.” Some of her own however consider her a traitor by this act, but her intentions were to save her own race from the inevitable retribution the unending number of whites back in the East would have exacted for any massacre.

Nancy Ward’s surname is said to have come from her “marriage” to a white trader by the name of Bryant Ward. Others claim her Ward name was actually from her father, purported to be an Englishman who had a union with her mother. This book attempts to separate fact from fiction.

This third edition of Annie Walker Burns’ book, originally titled Military and Genealogical Records of the Famous Indian Woman of Tennessee: Nancy Ward, was undertaken in an effort to make the book (now out of print and out of copyright) more accessible by making it available both in printed and digital form. At the same time, the hope was to make it more readable. The original text was self-published, and no doubt lacked the benefit of editor or proof-reader because it contains many typographical errors plus other factors making it hard to read.

Annie Walker Burns was a prolific researcher and writer/compiler of genealogical data. Those of us interested in the history and genealogical records of the subjects of her research are deeply indebted to her for her work. While research was her forte, typing was not. Her text is hard to read because of frequent punctuation errors, run-on sentences, typographical errors and (evidently) a typewriter that wrote only in capital letters. It was reproduced in mimeograph and probably only had about 100 copies printed. The second edition was really just an appendix containing a few pages of additional genealogical data on a couple of the descendants.

The editor of this third edition, Henry Matthew Ward, has completely rewritten the book so that it is more readable and included many footnotes to explain statements in the original text. These annotations explain the location of many of the geographical references such as forts, Cherokee towns, rivers that have since been renamed. The notes also explain the significance of many of the individuals mentioned by the author but whose importance went unnoted in the original version. The new edition also has an extensive index listing all the individuals in the book and the pages on which they can be found for quick reference.

Editorial Review

Nancy Ward: Military and Genealogical Records of the Famous Indian Woman of Tennessee Nancy Ward (Nanye-hi...[One Who Goes About] c. 1738-1824) was the most famous of Cherokee women. She held the title of Ghigau or Beloved Woman. This entitled her to sit on council meetings with the chiefs and to commute the sentence of any prisoner. She married a white trader named Bryant Ward with whom she had a daughter, Elizabeth, who later married the British General Joseph Martin. Many descendants in the Cherokee nation spring from this union. Bryant Ward had a son from his previous union with a white wife. This son, John (Jack), came looking for his father among the Cherokee and ended up living with them and marrying another Cherokee woman who bore him children who also became prominent in the Cherokee Nation. This book, written in 1957 by Annie Walker Burns, originally was done in mimeograph with only about 100 copies ever printed. The book documents many of the legends of Nancy Ward and also corrects some misconceptions about her. Her descendants are traced in some detail. Stories are quoted from other sources contemporary with the individuals mentioned. The new edition, edited by Henry Matthew Ward, was retyped to correct many typographical errors and difficult to read syntax. At the same time, he added many footnotes to explain where places mentioned in the book were actually located and the significance of certain individuals appearing in the original book. It was also done to make the book more widely accessible. The new edition is 6 x 9 soft cover with 294 pages and contains an index of all names mentioned in the book (approximately 1750).[1]

User information

  • Author: Annie Walker Burns.
  • Editor: Henry Matthew Ward.
  • Nancy Ward, 296 pages
  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Park Bench Publishing; 3rd edition (2009)
  • ISBN-10: 0981491324
  • ISBN-13: 978-0981491325

Book is available for purchase from the publisher, Park Bench Publishing, and also at Amazon.


  1. book review

Link to the Cherokee Heritage Project Page