In 1814, young Nancy, her brother John, and their cousin, Buck Watie, had been students of the school established by the Moravian Brethern. However, Major Ridge wanted them to be more thoroughly educated in American ways.
In June, 1814, Lt. Sam Houston met with Major Ridge at Oothcaloga and asked Ridge to accompany Houston's expedition to Washington, knowing that if he did go, he would lose his credibility among his people. He instead asked Houston to take his children and his nephew and find a good American school for them. Houston, realizing that doing so would curry favor with Major Ridge, agreed.
The group arrived in Washing just prior to the British attack on the city. Initially, Houston and Ross wanted to have the Ridge children taken to a safe location, but all protested strongly enough that the group stayed together.