The Settlement at Thomas Divide, how did we land up with this name? The short answer would be that we have settled, nestled right up against the great Smoky Mountains National Park, often only feet away from the Thomas Divide trail, which runs on the edge of the Park up behind our property, to Thomas Ridge (Divide) and on to end at Rt. 441.
But Thomas, where does this name come from? William Holland Thomas was born in 1805 in what is now Waynesville. Aged 15 he was apprenticed to US Congressman Felix Walker to help run a trading post in the heart of the Cherokee nation. He quickly became part of the family of the Cherokee Chief Yonaguska, and upon his death became chief. Thomas remained a devoted advocate for the Cherokee nation his entire life, straddling both the worlds of the Cherokee and of an American citizen when he served in the state congress, helping to protect the Cherokee people from the relocation movement. Using both his own funds, and monies from the Cherokee people he bought up large parcels of land, which today make up most of the land included in the the Qualla Boundary within the Cherokee Indian reservation.