Women's History Trail Franklin NC


WHT Sculpture Community Celebration Day

On Saturday, March 23, 2024, the Folk Heritage Association of Macon County and Women's History Trail held a Community Celebration Day for the dedication of the "Sowing the Seeds of the Future" sculpture and Women's History Park. The new pocket park is located at 592 East Main Street in Franklin, North Carolina.

"Sowing the Seeds of the Future" sculpture was created by Academy Award and Emmy winning artist Wesley Wofford. Wofford, a world-renowned sculptor, was on hand for the event with his wife Odyssey.

The day began at 10:30 a.m. with live music from Blue Jazz with the ceremony beginning at 11:00 a.m. The ceremony featured many momentous events including: the unveiling of the sculpture, dedication by Franklin Mayor Jack Horton, donation of the sculpture to the Town of Franklin and designating Women's History Park as the trailhead for the Women's History Trail.

Continue reading below for additional details and see photos from the event.


The Women's History Trail is a project of the Folk Heritage Association of the Macon County.


Barbara McRae Women's History Trail

WHT Sculpture Community Celebration Day
March 23, 2024 • Women's History Park

Presented with Support from the Town of Franklin, TDA, TDC, Arts Council of Macon County, Cowee School Arts & Heritage Center & Individual Donors.

In the beginning…both the Women’s History Trail concept and the “Sowing the Seeds of the Future” sculpture project began as thoughts in the fertile mind of Barbara McRae. Barbara was a journalist, a historian, a naturalist, a visionary, and a trailblazer. She had particular interest in researching the lives of significant Macon County women whose accomplishments and influences had been unknown or forgotten. In 2017, Barbara met the sculptor, Wesley Wofford, a chance encounter that sparked the creation of “Sowing the Seeds of the Future.” Barbara had been thinking about the interconnected lives of Na-Ka Rebecca Morris, (a Cherokee woman), Harriet Timoxena Siler Sloan (a pioneer woman), and Salley, (an enslaved woman), all linked by a specific piece of property on the river. Barbara was trying to imagine what their everyday lives might have been like in early-19th century Franklin. Wesley immediately embraced the challenge of bringing them to life in a work of art. In May 2018, he presented the maquette – the miniature prototype – of “Sowing the Seeds of the Future” to the Folk Heritage Association of Macon County and he was enthusiastically commissioned to go ahead with the sculpture. Fast forward five and a half years later… Saturday, March 23 at 11 am at the Town of Franklin’s newest park, the Women’s History Park located at 592 E. Main Street, this historic sculpture created by nationally renowned sculptor Wesley Wofford, was unveiled! After years of work and much appreciated support from the community, “Sowing the Seeds of the Future,” the late Barbara McRae’s vision, has come to fruition.

The Women’s History Trail and sculpture (created by Wesley Wofford) are projects of the Folk Heritage Association of Macon County (a local non-profit) that officially donated this historic piece of public art to the Town of Franklin and designated it as the trailhead for the WHT.


Deep appreciation to the following for helping make the Women’s History Park and our celebration of this momentous event possible:


Richard Clark and everyone at Clark & Company
Joe Sanders
Franklin Town Council
Franklin Town Employees/Staff

Tony Angel Media

Dedicated Volunteers
East Franklin Elementary School
FHAMC Board of Directors
Franklin/Nantahala Chamber of Commerce
Franklin NC Police Department
Friends of the Greenway
Jerri Fifer
Lazy Hiker Brewery
LBJ Job Corps SGA
Macon County Transit
Mainspring Conservation Trust
New Century Scholars
On the Veranda Restaurant
Outdoor 76
Winding Stair Farm Nursery


Women's History Trail Franklin NC
Women's History Trail Community Celebration Franklin NC

Hundreds gather for the Women's History Trail Community Celebration in Franklin, NC.

FHAMC Board Members Cutting Ribbon For Sculpture Unveiling

Members of the FHAMC Board prepare to cut the ribbon.

Sowing the Seeds of the Future Sculpture Unveiling Franklin NC

The unveiling of the "Sowing the Seeds of the Future Sculpture" in Franklin, NC.

Sowing the Seeds of the Future Sculpture Franklin NC

The sculpture is located in the new Women's History Park in Franklin, NC.

Women's History Park Sculpture Franklin NC

This over 5 year project comes to fruition.

Town of Franklin NC Mayor Jack Horton Dedicates Sculpture and Women's History Park

Town of Franklin Mayor Jack Horton dedicates the sculpture.

Women's History Park Sculpture Wesley and Odyssey Wofford

Sculptor Wesley Wofford and wife Odyssey address the audience.

Sam McRae Speaks During WHT Community Celebration

Sam McRae addresses those in attendance.

Interpretive Dance Closes WHT Community Celebration

An interpretive dance closes the WHT Community Celebration Ceremony.

Blue Jazz Franklin NC

Blue Jazz performed before and during the Community Celebration.

Ubuntu Chorus Franklin NC

The Ubuntu Chorus performs following the ceremony in Franklin, NC.


The following was published in The Franklin Press on March 27, 2024


Sowing the Seeds of the Future

Thomas Sherrill

After six years of planning, fundraising and construction, the Women’s History Trail of Franklin has its centerpiece, as Sowing the Seeds of the Future was unveiled and dedicated on Saturday, March 23 in front of hundreds.

The crowd filled the new pocket park sandwiched between both sides of Main Street, Big Bear Lane and the Little Tennessee River, taking up every available chair and many stood around the speaking platform for the hour-plus ceremony.

The statue at the center of the park depicts three women, Na-Ka Rebecca Morris, Salley and Harriet Timoxena Siler Sloan, some of the most influential women in the early history of Macon County.


Women's History Trail Macon NC Sculputure Unveiling The Franklin Press

Former Chief Joyce Dugan, the first female chief of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians from 1995-1999, spoke on Na-Ka Rebecca, a Cherokee born in the Qualla Boundary who lived in Nikwasi. 

Na-Ka Rebecca married Baptist minister Gideon Morris and in the Treaty of 1819, obtained 640 acres near the Nikwasi Village in what is now East Franklin. Dugan said Rebecca had at least nine children, with some reports claiming up to 16.

After being burned out by white settlers, the couple won a lawsuit and got new land across the river in the new town of Franklin. In 1852, the couple moved to Valley River in Cherokee County, and then 20 years afterward they moved to Oklahoma with roughly 70 relatives, where they lived out their days.

“Through oral history, it’s been reported that Rebecca Na-Ka worked to preserve her homeland. We are thankful today that others picked up the charge to preserve it, to preserve the mound,” Dugan said. “To include Na-Ka in the monument is a testament to the Cherokee history and influence in Macon County. Her efforts to protect her homeland have not gone unnoticed and it’s fitting the monument is located close to the mound she loved.”

Salley was a Black slave owned by the Morris family and later sold to the Siler family. Salley is the link between the other two women, working for Rebecca Na-Ka and later helping raise Timoxena. There isn’t a lot known about Salley other than that she lived and worked in the Nikwasi Village and likely spoke both Cherokee and English.

Ann Miller Woodford, a friend of the late Barbara McRae who wrote a book and helped write the plaques for the park, spoke on Salley’s history.

“Since Salley was born into slavery in 1799, we’ll never know for sure whether she was…a free woman,” Woodford said. “But it is in her far-off gaze that she may have hoped for freedom.”

Woodford spoke on how Salley couldn’t live where she wanted or do what she wanted but maintained that hope through stories through her ancestors of the motherland. Woodford said the depicted version of Salley creates a portal to the past and shows the power of art to transcend the time and moment of a person. It also shows the suffering of Black people in America going back to 1619.

A direct descendant of Harriet Timoxena Siler Sloan, Kate Jones, spoke on her ancestor’s history.

Timoxena, born in 1835, was raised along the Little Tennessee River and had seven children. After being widowed, Timoxena and Salley, took care of the household. Timoxena is portrayed twice in the statue, once as a little girl receiving corn from Na-Ka and the other as a pregnant woman walking into the future.

Jones described Timoxena as “bold” in every aspect of her life and spoke about the challenges many people face in blooming in their own lives.

“In today’s world where ecological, social and political challenges loom, we must remember the importance of tending to our collective garden. We must learn from the mistakes of our past and acknowledge our shared history and the injustices perpetrated by my ancestors and work tirelessly to create a more equitable future for all.”

Delphine Kirkland, the main model for Salley, sang before the ceremony. Janet Jacobs Greene, who gave the invocation, also gave a Timoxena Sloan monologue at a donors reception on Friday night. Rebecca Stacey, a descendent of Na-Ka Rebecca, was in attendance, along with several Silers and Cherokee.

Mary Polanski of the Women’s History Trail leadership team noted Franklin had the first Women’s History Trail in North Carolina. This was the vision of the late Barbara McRae, whose portrait was on the podium.

“When you look at them, you’re going to be mesmerized and it will change your life, I absolutely believe that and I hope it touches you in that way,” said Women’s History Trail leadership team member Marty Greeble.

Anne Hyder, Women’s History Trail leadership member and chair of the Folk Heritage Association of Macon County, recounted meeting with McRae six years ago over lunch, which is where the trail idea sprouted. The Folk Heritage Association raised money for the sculpture and has gifted it to the Town of Franklin.

Drew Christy, director of Governor Roy Cooper’s Western Office, spoke in place of N.C. First Lady Kristen Cooper, who could not attend. After Christy, the Women’s History Trail Leadership Team, sculptor Wesley Wofford, studio director Odyssey Wofford, Rebecca Stacey and children cut the ribbon and unveiled the statue for the crowd to see.

After the unveiling, the Women’s History Trail team presented Franklin Mayor Jack Horton with a miniature bronze replica of the statue as a measure of thanks for his efforts to make the day a reality.

Horton thanked the town for supporting the project all the way through and talked about the first time he saw the sculpture in Wofford’s studio in Cashiers.

“As I looked at that sculpture, it had an effect on me and I tell you it’ll have an effect on you,” Horton said. “It touched me, it touched my heart and my emotions. When you see these characters and this sculpture, and what they represent, you’ll be moved by it as well.”

Wesley Wofford called it the honor of his life to work with so many different groups on this statue and cited the nurturing influence of all the women in his life.

“As the token male of the project, all those women’s voices are just passed through me into that, and I’m honored to be that megaphone,” Wesley Wofford said of the sculpture.

Women’s History Trail’s Theresa Ramsey said along with the statue, they were dedicating two more sites to the Women’s History Trail; plaques for the late McRae and Margaret Ramsey, who had family members present.

Margaret Setser Ramsey founded the Folk Heritage Association of Macon County in 2004, with Theresa Ramsey calling her an active volunteer with a heart for social justice.

Barbara McRae’s son Sam teared up as he talked about her, reading letters he recently found among her personal belongings.

Throughout the day and the weekend, people stopped by the statue, gazing at the bronze finish, reading the plaques, and becoming the centerpiece envisioned some six years ago.

“The Sowing the Seeds of the Future is going to forever stand on this site and it’s going to be a living tribute to women and it’s going to help us keep our heritage alive,” Ramsey said.