Col. William Holland Thomas (February 5, 1805-May 10, 1893) is among the Confederate officers and soldiers buried here in Greenhill Cemetery. His grave is located about thirty yards in front of you on the right.
Thomas, who began trading with the Cherokee when he was sixteen, was the first and only white man to serve as a Cherokee chief and an influential figure in antebellum western North Carolina. He represented the Cherokee in the state capital and in Washington, D.C., to help establish the Qualla Boundary (the reservation for the Eastern Band of Cherokee). He organized Thomas Legion of Cherokee Indians and Mountaineers in Knoxville, Tennessee, for the Confederacy on September 27, 1862. The people of this area were sometimes referred to as highlanders, and local residents called Thomas unit the "Highland Rangers." Thomas eventually recruited more than 2,000 officers and men, including two companies composed of 400 Cherokee. The unit fought in Tennessee, Kentucky, and Virginia and largely prevented the Federal occupation of western North Carolina. Part of the Legion served in the final engagement of the war in North Carolina at Waynesville on May 6-7. Thomas surrendered the Legion to Union Col. William C. Bartlett on May 9.
The officers in Thomas Legion from this area included Col. William Stringfield, Col. James Robert Love II, Lt. Col. William C. Walker, and Capt. John T. Levi. Stringfield is buried here in Greenhill Cemetery.
Capt. Alden Howell (February 18, 1841-March 19, 1947), a Haywood County native, is buried in Greenhill Cemetery. At the time of his death, there were 110 living Confederate veterans, but Howell was the last remaining Confederate officer. He enlisted in 1861 and served four years in the 16th North Carolina Infantry, Company B, rising to the rank of captain. After the war, Howell became a prominent Waynesville banker and landowner. Time
magazine published his obituary on March 31, 1947; "Died, Captain Alden G. Howell, 106, who rode to war 86 years ago, saw Stonewall Jackson shot, lived to be the last surviving Confederate officer, oldest Mason in the U.S; in Los Angeles."
(lower left) Cherokee veterans of Thomas Legion at the 1903 Confederate Reunion in New Orleans. Courtesy
(upper center) William H. Thomas Courtesy North Carolina Office of Archives and History
(upper right) Alden Howell Courtesy Mary E. Underwood
, Faith of Our Fathers-Living Still