[The Heritage of Swain County North Carolina, 1988, Swain County Genealogical and Historical Society, Bryson City, NC, Hazel C.
Jenkins, Coordinator, pp. 33-36. The original manuscript of this letter is in the Museum of the Cherokee Indian, Cherokee, NC. Thanks to
Peggy Lambert for letting us know of the existence of this letter.]
LETTERS OF ANDREW JACKSON LAMBERT
The writer of this letter’s full name was, An¬drew Jackson Lambert. (Jack) He was 1/8 Cherokee Indian. His Father’s name was Hugh Lambert. His
Mother’s name was Nancy Raper Lambert. Andrew Jackson Lambert’s brothers were: Hugh Jr., who moved to Forney, Alabama in 1877 and never
visited his relatives here in North Carolina again, Albert Lambert, who was my Grand Father, Monroe Lambert, who lived on Toe String Creek, Sam
Lambert, who lived at the mouth of Shoal Creek, John Lambert, who lived across Soco Creek oppo¬site his brother, Sam. John Lambert’s wife was
Mary Cambell from Rowan County. They had no children. When Uncle John died, Aunt Mary sold the farm to the Eastern Band of Cherokees. Today,
the place is known as the Mary Lambert Farm.
Jack Lambert gave this letter to his brother, John, John Lambert’s wife, Mary was living with Charley Lambert, a nephew of John’s, when she died.
Any personal effects were left at Charley’s. On Charley’s death, the letter fell into the hands of Herbert Lambert, a son of Charley’s. On Saturday, the
25th day of January, 1975. Herbert Lambert came to my home on Lambert Branch and offered me the original, hand written copy, for $10.00. I
bought it with the understanding that I make him a copy.
The original letter is 20 legal-sized pages long.
Jack and his father and mother are buried in the cemetery above Qualla Hall on the campus of the Cherokee Indian School at Cherokee, North Carolina.
Jack Lambert had two sons, Hugh (Ode) Lambert, and Columbus (Lum) Lambert and one daughter, Cecelia. Some thirty odd years after Jack was
hanged, Willie Jones, on his death bed, confessed to the killing of Dick Wilson.
Carl G. Lambert Sr.
Grand Nephew of Jack Lambert
January 31, 1975
[Note: Spelling, punctuation, and capitalization are the same as in the quoted transcript. However, paragraph breaks have been added
to enhance readability.]
On the seventeenth of Dec. 1884, I left home early in the morning to go over into Macon County. I lived near Panther Knob in Jackson County at that
time. After traveling about five or six mites, I came to the state road near Mr. Wilsons, where I met Mr. Coin Webb and Bragg Jones and Clingman
Cope. I had been somewhat acquainted with Webb, the other two were strangers to me. After some conversation, Mr. Webb ask me to come down to
Mr. Jesse Jones about twelve oclock’ and that we would get some brandy, then we would go over to his house and stay all night, then he would show
me some mica prospects he knew of in his settlement. I agreed to go down to Mr. Jones as soon as I could go up to Capt. Isbels mine and back. We
parted with the understanding to meet at Mr. Jones.
I went up to Capt. Isbels mine. I did not remain there long before I and Capt. Isbel came down to his mica house. There I remained sometime. I left
there about eleven oclock on my way to Mr. Jones. I arrived there about half after twelve oclock, where I found Mr. Webb waiting for me. Soon after
arriving there I and Mr. Webb and Clingman Cope and Bragg Jones went over the creek to Bragg Jones house where I bought a quart of brandy from
Bragg Jones. I ask him to give me change for a twenty dollar bill, he said he could not. I put the bill back in my vest pocket. I then paid him for the
brandy. Mr. Webb also bought some brandy of Jones.
I and Webb left to go back over to Mr. Jesse Jonses. On our way, we stopped in a field in sight of Mr. Jones house. Mr. Jones called to Mr. Webb to
come over to the house, his brother, Lon Webb had come. We went over to the house. Soon after we went out to the stable where there was some
other parties. There we all commenced drinking freely. Soon we was joined by Mr. Bragg Allison & Geo McConnell. Being on intimate terms with Mr.
Allison, he soon ask me if I had anything to drink. I answered in the affirmative. I gave him a drink and all others that were present. In a very short
time, Mr. Wilson rode up and stopped. Mr. Bragg Allison introduced me to Mr. Wilson. I ask Mr. Wilson to take a drink with me. He said he did not
care much about it. When Mr. Allison said to him, Dick, take a drink with him, he is alright”, Mr. Wilson taken a drink. I then ask Mr. Wilson if he
remembered seeing me before. He said he did. He said he had met me down near old man Haileys not far from Qualla town. I said to Mr. Wilson,
“there has been a lie told on me.” He said he did not know about that. I ask him if he remembered seeing a young man with me. He said he did. I told
him that this young man had went up to the mica mine where I was living at this time and told Capt. Gregory that he had left me in Webster on
Saturday, drunk. Mr. Wilson said it was a lie to his knowing, and he would tell Capt. Gregory so the first time he seen him. So I and Wilson began
joking rather in a vulgar way. We taken another drink and joked for sometime.
When Mr. Wilson rode off, he was laughing very hard. He was laughing as far up the road as we could hear him. Mr. Allison ask me to sing a song for
him, the old ship of zion. I sung a few words and stopped, telling him I was too drunk to sing. I sat down on a log and leaned back against the fence
and went to sleep there. I slept some little time.
On awakening up, I was very chilly. I went out to Mr. Jones gate where I found Mr. Jones preparing wood to make a fire to heat water to scaled a
hog. I ask him to let me stay all night. He said l could stay. I told him I was drinking and if I should get down drunk, for him to have me cared for until
morning and I would settle with him. He told me to go into the house. I went in the house where I found Mrs. Jones & Mrs. Webb and a young lady
by the name of Lakey. I did not remain in the house long before I turned sick. I went out of the house to vomit. I went out side of the gate and sat
down on a waggon bed near the gate. I fell over in the waggon bed and lay there for some little time, when I heard the footsteps of persons close by.
They came up to the waggon bed and one of them said, “he is asleep’’. The other replied, ‘‘yes, he is asleep”. Two of them, one on each side of the
waggon, began feeling in my pocket. When I moved, one of them said, “we ‘will take his money and pistol and keep them for him until he gets sober,
then we will give it back to him”. One of them taken a twenty dollar bill out of my vest pocket, the other one taken my pistol out of my overcoat
pocket. They stept away a few steps and stopped and began talking about dividing the money. I raised up my head and looked at them. Bragg Jones
had the twenty dollar bill in his hand, Will Jones had the pistol. Will Jones was to keep the pistol and have five dollars, Coin Webb and Bragg Jones was
to divide the remainder. One of them said, ‘‘suppose he gets up and accuses us of taking his pistol and money”? Coin Webb said, “let him raise a fuss
over it if he wants to. We can soon settle it, for I dont like him anyway”. They then went towards the stable.
Mr. Jones or someone at the house called Will Jones to come there. He came on by where I was lying and went into the house. He did not remain long
before he came out to the wood pile close by where I was lying. I spoke to him and ask him who had my money and pistol. He said he did not know. I
said to him, “your boys taken my money and pistol to keep for me until I get sober, then you will give it to me, won’t you?” He replied, “Dam you and
your money. I know nothing about it.” I said, very well, we will see in the morning.” He said if I accused them of taking any money they would kill
me. I laughed at him and told him I did not suppose they were very dangerous. He said, “there is some here dont like you, and if you are here tonight,
you will be killed.” I ask him where Bragg Allison was. He said he was gone home.
He left and went into the house. After thinking a few moments, I got up out of the waggon bed and started down the road towards Webster, where I
expected to find Mr. Bragg Allison and get him to go back with me and try to get my money back, thinking that they would give it back as soon as they
got sober for we was all drunk. After traveling down the road about one mile and a half or two miles, down opposite Mr. John Lewis’ still place, I
remembered Mr. B. Allison had told me he was going to stay at his fathers that night. I then turned back to go to Mr. Jack Allisons and see Bragg
Allison in regard to the matter above mentioned. By the time I returned back to Mr. Jones, it was after dark. Perhaps one hour in the night. I was
aiming to pass Mr. Joneses and not stop. I aimed to go out to Mr. Allisons, a short distance from Mr. Jones, where I would find his son Bragg Allison.
As I neared the house, I heard some parties out near the stable talking rather loud. I came to a halt. Before I got still, some one near the gate, on the
inside, spoke and said, “who is that?” Just as I was going to say, it is Lambert—someone else spoke and said, it is Mr. Then the first speaker said,
“dam you, did I not tell you if you was here tonight, you would be killed?” As he spoke, a pistol fired. Then the man that said, it is me, spoke again and
said, “boys catch my mule and I will go home.” By this time the pistol fired again. The man leaned up against the fence. At this moment, someone out
near the stable said, “What are you doing?” The man that done the shooting had ran up on the piazza. He turned and came down the steps and pass out
to the right of the gate and crossed the fence out into the road and said to Coin Webb and others, “I have shot that mining man or Mr. Wilson.” Some
one of the crowd said, “keep your mouth shut.” In a few minutes, some one of the crowd came to the gate where Wilson was standing and said, “who
is this?” Wilson replied, “it is me.” He turned and went back to the rest of the crowd and told them it was Wilson. In a short time, Bragg Jones & Coin
Webb & Willie Jones & Lon Webb and Sebe Lakey came to where Wilson had lay down and ask him if he was shot. He answered and said, “I do not
know.” They ask him if he was sick. He said he was. They ask him if he was drunk. He answered them, yes. One of them, Coin Webb, ask him if
Lambert did not shoot him. He said he did not know. Webb said, “Lambert shot you, where did he go?’’ Wilson said the man that done the shooting
went into the house. Webb replied again, “Mr. Wilson, Lambert shot you. We seen him do it.” Wilson said, “what did he shoot me for? We never had
anything against each other in our lives.” Webb said he did not know, but it was him that done it.
I then spoke to Webb. He came down in the road where I had been standing, listening to all they said. I said to him, “Coin, you know I did not shoot
Wilson.” He said, “well who did it?” I said, “you know who shot him.” He ask me then if I knew who shot him. I told him I did. He ask me who done
it. I told him, Willie Jones. The rest of the crowd came down to the road where I and Webb was and Lon Webb said, “boys, the least said about this
matter the better it will be for all parties.” Coin Webb then told that I said Will Jones shot Wilson. Will Jones drew a pistol and told me if I accused him
of shooting Mr. Wilson, he would shoot me. I told him he did shoot him. Lon Webb and Bragg Jones told him to put his pistol up and shut his mouth,
for we all would be arrested, and if we all would keep our mouths shut, that we all would come out of it. I said too them, I would go back home. They
then wanted me to swear to them I would not tell who shot Wilson. I told them not to lay it on me and I would have nothing to do with it. They said
they would kill me if I ever did reveal who did shoot him.
I started out towards Mr. Allisons, when two of them followed me and laid hold of me to make me swear I would not tell on Will Jones. I promised
them if they would let me go on, I would say nothing about it. So I started on when all four of them came up with me and said they would go with me
a part of the way and show me where to turn off to go home. They told me not to speak as I past Mr. Allisons. I thought I would hollow and get some
of Mr. Allisons family to come out so I could get rid of them. As we was passing the house, I called Bragg Allison. One of them struck me on the
shoulder and Will Jones snapped a pistol at me. They hurried me past the house. Just after we passed the mill, they jerked me down and kicked me
several hard licks. They let me up and ask me where my pistol was. I told them they knew who had my pistol. They then tried to make me drink with
them. I pretended to drink when one of them struck a match and looked at the bottle and said I had not drunk a drop. They then jerked me down again.
Two of them held my hands and one of them held my head while the other one poured about a half pint of brandy into my mouth, swearing if I did not
drink it he would shoot my brains out. After holding me some little time, they let me up and one of them gave me a kick. Will Jones said, “there is your
pistol. I knew you had it.” They then told me to get away from there an if I ever told who shot Wilson, they would kill me if they had to follow me to
the end of the earth.
I started away after taking one of the most horrible oath or vows that I would not reveal who shot Mr. Wilson. Being frightened, and full of brandy, I
became insenable. The first thing I remembered, I was calling my wife by her name. I ask her where I was at and what had happened to me. I was
sitting down in the road when my senses returned to me. I rose up and went staggering up the road to Mrs. Wilsons where I called to stay all night.
The woman came to the door and ask who it was. I told her my name. She told me to come in. Upon entering the house and sitting down near the fire,
I became sick. I went out of the house an vomited. In a short time, I went back into the house. Mrs. Wilson gave me a glass of wine and told me to
drink, it would do me good. I drunk the wine.
After this time, I do not remember all the past during my stay at her house. Being crazy from drunkeness, and fear, in trying to tell Mrs. Wilson what
had occurred down at Mr. Jones, I perhaps told her in a way that she mistook me for Wilsons murderer. I did not have my right mind for several days
at all times. Everything seems like a dream from the time I was left in the road above Mr. J. Allisons house. For a week afterwards, after I studyed the
matter over, I concluded to tell Capt. Wm. Enloe all about it. I ask the guard to tell Mr. Enloe I wished to see him. The guard on his return, said Capt.
Enloe was a very strange man and would not come.
In a few days, I was moved from Webster jail to Asheville jail. I was arrested at Mrs. Wilsons house on the night of the 17th of Dec., 1884, by Hiram
Lakey & Bragg Allison & Geo. McConnell and put in jail at Webster on the 18th of Dec., 1884. On the 8th of January, I was taken to Asheville jail.
Soon after arriving there, I told the jailer, Daniel Henderson, who shot Wilson. Owing to be so close confined and away from my people and friends, I
had no chance to communicate those facts to my council or friends. Only through the mails which I did not deem it safe to do, as I had had several
letters broken open before I came to Asheville. Those letters being broken open contrary to law. While others were misplaced.
I remained in Asheville jail until about the 20th of April, 1885. Sheriff Rich carried me to Webster. There I remained about one week. During my stay at
Webster, I was guarded by the witnesses that was against me. Still threatened with death if I revealed anything about the killing of Mr. Wilson; but
promised if I would not say anything about it, that they would clear me when I had my trial there. I seen my council and had a very brief consultation
with him concerning moving my trial. I was carried into court and upon moving my trial to Charleston, Swain County, I was remanded back to
Asheville jail by his honor, Judge Gilmer, until the first week in June. I was brought back to Asheville.
During my stay in jail at Asheville, Col. A.T. Davidson came to see me, as I had written him to come. He ask me several questions about the case. I
told him Willie Jones shot Wilson. After stating the case to him, he agreed to appear for me with Col. Elias. Col. Davidson was to meet me at Webster
where I was to secure his fees for him. But from some unknown cause to me, he did not meet me at Webster. I still thought he would appear for me at
Charleston, as he had told me I might depend on him. But when I arrived at Charleston, to my utter astonishment, I learned Col. Davidson was
employed against me. Then I had to employ other council. When Sheriff Rich carried me to Charleston, I refused to go into the dungeon until his
honor, Judge Gilmer, ordered me in. During the time of getting an order from the judge, we were upstairs in the jail. Mr. Bragg Allison ask me in the
presence of Sheriff Rich, what I shot Wilson for. I told him that I did not shoot Wilson and that he would see on trial that I did not shoot him. Soon
after, I went into the cell.
On the next morning, Mr. Coin Webb came to the cell an ask if I had said to Bragg Allison that I was going to tell who shot Wilson. I told him I did
not, but I had told Allison that I would show on trial that I did not shoot him. I said to Webb, ‘you know that it would be nothing but right for me to
tell who did shoot him.” He said, “I know you did not shoot him, but if you tell who did shoot him, you will be burned up in this jail, for I heard a man
say if you ever told it he would kill you if he had to shoot you in jail, and then be hung for it. There is several here from Jackson watching you and
listening for you to tell who done it and I would advise you not divulge who did it. If you will keep your mouth shut, you will come out yet.” I told him
I was going to tell Bragg Allison that he had threatened me if I told who did shoot Wilson. He said, “if you tell him, we will tell Bragg Allison and Andy
Allison and Capt Enloe that we heard your brothers & father laying a plan to break you out of jail. Then they will have you taken out and killed, for they
have said that if they had any idea that your people would break you out, they would never get the chance for they would take you out and kill you.
They said if you get away, they will kill every one of the breed they can find.”
Webb would come everyday and threaten me with being burned up. When I was on trial, he told me, if I swore who shot Wilson, I would not live to
see the sun rise again. I told him I knew that they would swear against me to save Will Jones. He said, “yes, they are afraid of you. They think if you
get out, you will tell on Will, and besides that, they are afraid you will kill all of them.” I said to Webb, “if they will give me justice, I will come clear
and I will not bother them.” He said, “they fear you.” They threatened me so much, that I became cowed and afraid to say anything about who killed
Wilson to my council or any one else. For I knew from the way They treated me on the night Wilson was shot that they would burn me up in jail or do
anything else they could to get me out of their way. Coin Webb told me that his brother, Lon, had killed one man and would get up a crowd and take
me out of jail and kill me if I told who done the shooting, for he did not care anymore for killing a man than he did a dog. Which I believed to be the
truth. And believing they would kill me or burn me up, I concluded to say nothing about it, from the simple fact, that there was the Jones family and
two of Joneses son-in-laws and one of Bragg Jones brother-in-laws all to swear against me. Therefore, I could not prove that Will Jones shot him. He
(Webb) told me how to swear so they would not kill me. I ask him if he did not think God would punish men for swearing false. He said that was
nothing, a man could get forgiveness for it. Webb said it was better for one man to hang, than for one man to hang and four men to go to the
penitentiary. I then ask Webb if he did not think it wrong for me to suffer for what they had done. Webb said he did. He went away, after a little while
he came back and said to me in a low tone. “they have already brought kerosene oil to throw on the jail and set a fire, if you open your mouth to tell
anything against them.” I did not say anymore to him. I had made up my mind that I would rather risk the chance to being hung than to be burned up,
so I gave way to them, thinking that I would perhaps get a new hearing and I would inform my friends all about the matter before coming into court.
Again, being carried back to Asheville, one of my brothers came to see me, and I told him I was going to make a full statement of the case at the next
term of court at Charleston. So time passed on, until, the 9th of June, 1886, I was carried back to Charleston. I was taken into court on the same day,
and resentensed to hang. I had no time to consult my council on the matter. Anyway, on the 10th of June, 1886, I was brought back to Asheville.
Then I began to write out my statement of the murder of Wilson, which is a true statement of the case. I have made an omission of my hearing before
justices, Barnes & Cannon. I will add it here. At Jr. J. Allisons on the 18th of Dec., 1884, before day, I being scared, I told Capt. Enloe and others, if I
shot Wilson, I had no recollection of it. I told this because I feared they would kill me. About daylight, Mr. Henry Cannon, him and Capt. Enloe, was
talking about Wilsons being shot. Cannon said, “he (Lambert) knew nothing about who shot him (Wilson) for he was drunk himself.” Capt. Enloe
replied. “yes, you (Lambert) was lying in the door when I got here, with Wilsons wife.” Cannon said, “he (Lambert) knew nothing about it until about
the day after.”
The day, the witnesses all come in, they ask me if I was ready for trial. I was afraid to tell him I would go to jail until I could get council, so we went
into trial. After the evidence was given in, I said to Esqr. Cannon, “you have not proof sufficient to bind me.” He answered me, “we know the sun
rises in the East and sets in the West.” So they told me to get ready to go to jail. Henry Cannon, Esqr. said he knew me the moment he seen me, for he
had cut me up with a knife 13 years before, in Buncombe county. He ask me if it was not so. I was afraid to tell him he was mistaken, so I admitted it
was so. (There is but one scar on my body under my clothes, made with a knife; and that one I cut myself, with a knife when I was a little boy.) The
parties that I was afraid of was: Wilsons murderer, Will Jones, & his brother and the Webbs, for they had told me if I ever told it, they would kill me.
This statement being the only true statement I could have made known. Knowing that I shall soon stand before God, there to answer for my sins in
full, I believe it nothing but a duty I owe myself, my friends, and the friends of R.M. Wilson, and more to God, to tell to the people who did kill Wilson.
Which I have done in my statement. Which I want published to the world. I am as clear of killing Wilson as a babe. Therefore, I feel that my
conscience is clear. God’s will be done, not mine. Thank God I can say that all is well with me and my maker. All is peace and joy and love. I would
say to all men to quit their drinking and seek the Lord while he may be found. Oh, what a dear Savior I have found. With my last words on earth, I will
according to Gods command, seal this statement with the sacred truth before God in heaven and man on earth. One of Gods commands is that, thou
shalt not lie. God forbid I should advise.
-- A.J. Lambert