Tag Archives: Native Americans in Georgia

Shaking Rock Park, Lexington

Shaking Rock Park is a fascinating natural area located within the city limits of Lexington is named for a 27-ton rock that could be shaken with one hand while remaining in place, before the elements shifted its balance [likely the 1886 Charleston earthquake]. It still maintains a precarious perch albeit aided today by some sort of mortar.
The random field of mostly egg-shaped granite boulders comes into view at the crest of a fairly low hill and defines the trail to come. It’s a fairly easy walk and other than the presence of large roots in places, has few obstacles.
Archaeological evidence suggests that before European habitation, the site was used by Cherokee and Creek peoples as a campground.

In 1968, Shaking Rock became a public park thanks to the efforts of the Lexington Women’s Club.

Judge Hamilton McWhorter was the last private owner, and three of his heirs, Mrs. Andrew Cobb Erwin, Mrs. Sallie McWhorter, and Thurmond McWhorter, made the public transfer possible.

Depending on where one stands, the namesake rock’s appearance can vary greatly. Unfortunately, there seems to be a problem with graffiti at the site.

Shaking Rock Park is an excellent natural resource and is free to explore.

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Filed under --OGLETHORPE COUNTY GA--, Lexington GA

Cave Entrance, 1930s, Cave Spring

This structure, built of local stone by the Works Progress Administration in the 1930s, marks the entrance to the limestone cave which gives the community its name. Two million gallons flow daily from the source, which has been a landmark since long before the establishment of the town in 1832.

In 1931 Dr. J. B. Rolater deeded the cave and 29 adjacent acres to the people of Cave Spring for use as a public park. In the early days local residents were allowed to tour the cave for free, while tourists were charged ten cents.

Rolater Park Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

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Filed under --FLOYD COUNTY GA--, Cave Spring GA

Avery Vann Cabin, 1810, Cave Spring

This hand-hewn cabin was built by Avery Vann, Jr., (1770-1845). Vann, a Scottish trader who married a Cherokee woman, was the brother of Cherokee Chief James Vann and his prominence in the area led to its designation as Vann’s Valley.

For many years, the structure was hidden within the walls of the old Webster-Green Hotel in downtown Cave Spring. When the hotel faced eminent demolition in 2009, the Cave Spring Historical Society led the effort to save the cabin and their work revealed this important aspect of Georgia history. After extensive research and careful restoration, the cabin was opened to the public in 2016. It is believed to be the second oldest extant Native American two-story residential structure.

Trail of Tears National Historic Trail

 

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Filed under --FLOYD COUNTY GA--, Cave Spring GA

William S. Simmons Plantation, 1840s, Cave Spring

The vernacular Greek Revival main house of the William S. Simmons Plantation, along with the adjacent Vann cookhouse, are two of the oldest extant brick structures in Floyd County. I was invited to photograph them earlier this year by owner Kristi Reed and am so glad I finally got to experience the charms of this important property, which continues to be a working farm. Kristi is very passionate about the Simmons Plantation and much of the following history is taken from her research. [PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS IS PRIVATE PROPERTY AND IT IS CLOSELY MONITORED FOR TRESPASSING]

Hidden in plain sight at the edge of downtown Cave Spring, the circa 1845-1847 landmark is built of handmade brick [18″ exterior walls/14″interior walls] and contains nine rooms, some of which retain hand-painted frescoes original to the house. It has also been known as the Montgomery Farm or Montgomery House, for subsequent owners.

As historically important as the main house, the double-pen brick cookhouse behind it was likely built no later than the mid-1820s by David Vann. Its initial use is not known, but considering that Vann was a wealthy planter who owned as many as 13 slaves, it is possible that it served as a slave dwelling before being relegated to use as a kitchen upon construction of the Simmons House. Vann, who was born at Cave Spring [Vann’s Valley] in 1800, was a member of one of the most prominent families of the Cherokee Nation and had a plantation house here preceding the Simmons house. [An interesting aside: Vann was the great-uncle of American humorist Will Rogers].

David Vann was a Cherokee sub-chief and after emigrating to the Indian Terriotry [present-day Oklahoma] in the mid-1830s, later served as Treasurer of the Cherokee Nation. He was murdered by a group of “Pin Indians” at Salina, Indian Territory, on 23 December 1863 and was buried at Haner Cemetery in Murphy. According to the Encylopedia of Oklahoma History & Culture, the derogatory term “Pin Indians” was applied by Treaty Party Cherokees to hostile, pro-Union Cherokee, Creek, and Seminole during the Civil War. The Pins were identified by cross pins worn on their coat lapels or calico shirts. They were disproportionately full bloods, wore turbans, adhered to the long-house culture, and were politically opposed to the frock-coated mixed-bloods who adhered to Southern white cultural norms and belonged to the Knights of the Golden Circle.

National Register of Historic Places

 

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Filed under --FLOYD COUNTY GA--, Cave Spring GA

Chattahoochee River at Acorn Bluff, Carroll County

Though this beautiful bluff on the Chattahoochee isn’t actually named on maps, it’s located within the site of Chief William McIntosh’s plantation known as Acorn Bluff [Lochau Talofau].

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Filed under --CARROLL COUNTY GA--

McIntosh Stone, 1810s-1820s, Carroll County

This mounting block is perhaps the most important surviving contemporary relic of Acorn Bluff [Lockchau Talofau], Chief McIntosh’s property along the Chattahoochee. A tablet near the stone notes: Hewn from West Georgia Limestone, the McIntosh Stone represents a significant time in the state’s history, as well as that of Carroll County. Chief William H. McIntosh of the Lower Creek tribe had the stone carved to help guests mount horses and board carriages here at Lockchau Talofau- or Acorn Bluff- his home on the Chattahoochee River.

The stone remained on this site from the time of McIntosh’s death in 1825 until 1916, when Carroll County Times editor J. J. Thomasson conceived the idea of relocating it to the campus of the Fourth District Agricultural and Mechanical School- today the University of West Georgia.

Seeing the stone’s historical significance as a local and Native American artifact, Thomasson lobbied Preston S. Arkwright, president of Georgia Railway and Power Company [now known as Georgia Power], which owned the land at the time, for permission to move it. Arkwright agreed.

In the summer of 1916, Thomasson enlisted the help of J. H. Melson, president of the Fourth District A. & M. The two men, along with several others, retrieved the stone in a horse-drawn wagon. According to the book From A & M to State University: A History of the State University of West Georgia, the stone became the cornerstone of Adamson Hall, a new women’s dormitory. It later was moved to a prominent area along Front Campus Drive from where it inspired West Georgia College’s logo that was used in the 1970s and 1980s.

In 2017, the University agreed to loan the stone to the county for display here at McIntosh Reserve.

A circa 1839 dogtrot house originally built in Centre, Alabama, is located here for illustrative purposes. It is said to be very similar to Chief McIntosh’s home.

It was moved to this site and reconstructed between 1987-1994.

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Filed under --CARROLL COUNTY GA--

Grave of Chief William McIntosh (Tustunnuggee Hutkee), Carroll County

William H. McIntosh, Jr., was born circa 1778 in Coweta, a Lower Creek town in present-day Alabama, to Captain William McIntosh, a Scotsman of Savannah, and Senoya, a Creek of the Wind Clan. He spoke the languages of both his parents and was also known as Tustunnuggee Hutkee (“White Warrior”). The McIntosh family was prominent in early Georgia, and William, Jr., was a first cousin of Governor George Troup. Such connections helped ensure his rise to prominence within tribal and state politics. His loyalty was to the United States above all, at the expense of his own Native American relations. McIntosh married three women: Susannah Coe, a Creek; Peggy, a Cherokee; and Eliza Grierson, a mixed-race Cherokee.

M’Intosh, a Creek Chief by Charles Bird King in History of the Indian Tribes of North America…McKenney & Hall, Philadelphia, 1838, Public domain.

Chief McIntosh’s support of General Andrew Jackson in the Red Stick War and the First Seminole War began a long period of tension between McIntosh and tribal leaders. His signing of the second Treaty of Indian Springs in 1825, which called for the removal of virtually all Creeks from their ancestral lands, precipitated his assassination by a group of Upper Creek Law Menders. On 30 April 1825 Chief Menawa and 200 warriors led a surprise early morning attack on Lockchau Talofau, setting fires around the dwellings and subsequently shooting and stabbing to death McIntosh and Coweta Chief Etomme Tustunnuggee. Ironically, McIntosh had himself supported a provision to the Code of 1818 in which the National Creek Council imposed a sentence of death to those who took ancestral lands without full tribal consent.

His burial stone, placed in 1921 by the Daughters of the American Revolution on the grounds of his plantation, Lochau Talofau, is now accompanied by a standard military-issued headstone, denoting his position and military service. Chief McIntosh achieved the rank of Brigadier General during the Red Stick War, a component of the War of 1812. The birth date of 1775 listed on the headstone is an estimate.

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Filed under --CARROLL COUNTY GA--

Nacoochee Mound, White County

This gazebo-topped mound at the edge of the Nacoochee Valley near Helen is one of the most iconic and most-photographed locations in Georgia. But much of what you know about it may not be true. For starters, it isn’t the original mound, but a reconstruction completed after an archaeological excavation. There were at least a dozen such mounds in the Nacoochee Valley at one time, but as the land was converted to agricultural use, all but this one were destroyed. Traditionally, it was believed that this was a relic of the Cherokee, and a Georgia historical marker at the site still makes this case, but research now invalidates this. The confusion can likely be attributed to the long held myth of star-crossed lovers Sautee, a Chickasaw warrior, and Nacoochee, a Cherokee chieftain’s daughter. Supposedly, they fell in love after a chance meeting and sought refuge on adjacent Mt. Yonah. When Nacoochee’s father became aware of the relationship, he ordered Sautee thrown from the mountaintop while his terrified daughter was forced to watch. She then jumped to her death and locked hands with the dying Sautee at the bottom of the mountain. The legend maintained that they were buried together in the mound.  Great story, but almost certainly a myth. Instead it is believed to have been used by a South Appalachian Mississippian tribe, between 800-1600 AD/CE.

If you’ve seen the mound, you might be surprised to learn that it’s nearly 40 feet in height. The average visitor sees it from the roadside and because it sits in the valley, it doesn’t seem that tall. The beautiful gazebo was placed atop the mound by James Hall Nichols after he purchased the property, probably circa 1870. And while a gazebo doesn’t belong on a burial site of this nature, Nichols’s interest in its proximity to the house he was building and the view it afforded likely saved it from the fate of the other mounds in the Nacoochee Valley. A 1915 excavation revealed that there were 75 burials in the mound, confirming the connection to the Mississippian culture. It’s also referred to at the Sautee-Nacoochee Mound.

Nacoochee Valley Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

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Filed under --WHITE COUNTY GA--, Helen GA, Sautee-Nacoochee GA

Rock Hawk Effigy, Putnam County

From the Rock Hawk website: It is not known who built the Rock Eagle or Rock Hawk Effigies, nor exactly when or why. The effigies were located on land occupied by Native Americans before early settlers took ownership via treaties and land grants shortly after 1800.

In 1805 Robert White acquired the property where the Rock Hawk Effigy is located through a land lottery but sold it in 1818 to Kinchen Little, who would become one of Putnam County’s most prominent citizens. (Rock Hawk was often known as the “Sparta Road Eagle” or “Little Eagle,” which generally referred to the Little family, but many interpreted this to mean an eagle smaller than Rock Eagle.)

The Rock Eagle Effigy is located at the University of Georgia 4-H Center on US Highway 441 in Putnam County. Dr. A.R. Kelly of the University of Georgia, after at least a couple of years of interest in the local mounds, became involved with the WPA (Works Progress Administration) in 1936 to conduct numerous excavations and surveys at Rock Eagle. They recovered small amounts of aboriginal pottery, chipped stone, and daub, which were not considered significant and suggested to many archaeologists and others that the В“cleanВ” mound was used for religious purposes. During that time, the effigy was reconstructed to the 1877 measurements of C.C. Jones. By 1938 the fence, walkway, and tower were added to finish off the preservation of the mound, as it appears today.

At the time that Dr. A. R. Kelly of the University of Georgia and the WPA (Works Progress Administration) were excavating at the Rock Eagle Effigy, a letter dated March 23, 1936 was sent from George A. Turner of the Rural Resettlement Administration to Richard W. Smith, Secretary Treasurer of the Society of Georgia Archaeology concerning a third bird effigy. The letter referred to a map of Putnam County prepared by Turner, which showed the locations of important archaeological sites. In addition to Rock Eagle (“Scott Eagle Mound”) and Rock Hawk (“Sparta Road Eagle”) he identified the following mound, which became known as the Pressley (Presley) Mound: “No.3, Northwest of Eatonton on the Eatonton-Godfrey road is known as the old Pressley place. There is, at this time a large pile of rock, and someone stated that this pile of rock was once in the same shape of the Scott Eagle Mound but was destroyed by moving part of the rock. Indian relics have been found near this location.

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Filed under --PUTNAM COUNTY GA--

Rock Formations, Fort Mountain

As you make your way up the short but vigorous trail to the top of Fort Mountain you will encounter scattered rocks of varying sizes. It helps you aunderstand the availability of material that lead to the construction of the rock wall the mountain is known for.

It has an otherworldly feel and I found it as fascinating on a recent trip as I did when I visited as a child.

National Register of Historic Places

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Filed under --MURRAY COUNTY GA--