ROSE – In 1883, the Cherokee National Council approved funding to build courthouses in each of the tribe’s nine districts.
Of those nine courthouses, Saline Courthouse is the only one that still stands. The courthouse was built in 1884, and court was held there for the Saline District of the Cherokee Nation until 1902.
“Although many cases were probably tried here and many things settled here, one of the things that this site is specifically know for is what some people refer to as the ‘Saline Massacre,’” Krystan Moser, Cherokee Nation Cultural Tourism cultural collections and exhibits manager, said.
The “Saline Massacre” took place in September 1897. Thomas Baggett, who was a storeowner near the courthouse was closing up his shop on the night of Sept. 20, 1897, when Dave Ridge, a sheriff-elect, showed up. Baggett opened an upstairs window to speak with Ridge when he was suddenly shot and killed. Ridge chased after the shooter on foot but was also killed by blunt force trauma to the head. The next day CN Sheriff Jess Sunday deputized Leonard Bolin and went to a home close to where Baggett was shot to investigate. After speaking with John Colvard and Mark Rowe, Sunday and Bolin mounted their horses and Sunday was shot and died a day later.