Tag Archives: Native Americans in North Georgia

Indian Spring Hotel, 1823, Butts County

The first section of the Indian Spring Hotel was built as an inn by William McIntosh, who operated it with his cousin Joel Bailey. McIntosh, a half-Scot half-Native American and the cousin of Governor George M. Troup, was Chief of the Coweta band of Creek Indians; he was also the owner of over 70 slaves. The two-story addition which gave the hotel its present appearance was completed in 1825, the year McIntosh signed the Treaty of Indian Springs, ceding much of the historically Creek lands to white settlers. His role in this treaty, viewed unfavorably by a majority of Creeks, lead to McIntosh’s subsequent execution. The addition included a tavern known as the Treaty Room and a large ballroom. Significantly, the McIntosh Inn is  the only known antebellum mineral springs hotel still standing in Georgia. Mineral springs resorts were as popular in Georgia in the 19th century as coastal resorts are in the modern era. In 1850, the property was purchased by the Varner family, who owned and operated it as the Varner House, a nationally famous resort. The Varner descendants sold it to J. H. Elliot in 1953. Today, the Indian Spring Hotel/Museum is open on weekends between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

National Register of Historic Places

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Filed under --BUTTS COUNTY GA--, Flovilla GA, Indian Springs GA

New Echota, Gordon County

In 1819, the Cherokee began meeting at Newtown, Georgia, where the Coosawattee and Conasauga Rivers meet to form the Oostanaula, They changed the name to New Echota in honor of Chota, Tennessee, and established it as the national capital of the Cherokee Nation in 1825. It was the only national capital ever located within the boundaries of present-day Georgia. The capital was moved to Red Clay, Tennessee, in 1832 after Georgia began passing laws to abolish the Cherokee government, against previously established treaties. In 1835, Major Ridge, John Ridge, and Elias Boudinot signed the Treaty of New Echota without the support of Principal Chief John Ross, surrendering Cherokee lands for a territory in the west. The Cherokee government protested this decision until 1838, when President Martin Van Buren ordered the army into the Cherokee lands. Thus began the infamous Trail of Tears. Once they were in the Indian Territory, the Ridges and Elias Boudinot were killed by a group of men who had been opposed to removal. Beginning in the 1950s, the state of Georgia began reconstructing the capital as the New Echota State Historic Site. It is also a National Historic Landmark.

Cherokee Nation Council House

The Council House was the center of power in New Echota, essentially the capitol building of the Cherokee Nation. A bicameral legislature was adopted. The National Council (Lower House) met on the first floor of the Council House, with four representatives from the eight districts of the Cherokee Nation. These representatives elected the National Committee (Upper House), which met on the second floor. The National Committee elected the Principal Chief, Vice-Principal Chief, and Treasurer. While the Cherokee were in Georgia John Ross served as Principal Chief.

Cherokee Nation Supreme Courthouse

Beginning in 1823, the three judges of the Cherokee Supreme Court met annually in October to hear cases that had been appealed in the lower courts.

In 1960, this structure, based on a description by Dr. Benjamin Gold, was built to replicate the original court house built in 1829. It also served as the community schoolhouse when court wasn’t in session.

Cherokee Phoenix Print Shop

Sequoyah developed the Cherokee syllabary between 1809-1824. With the help of Samuel Worcester and the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, Elias Boudinot obtained a printing press and created a typeface in Sequoyah’s syllabary. On 21 February 1828, the first issue of the Cherokee Phoenix [ᏣᎳᎩ ᏧᎴᎯᏌᏅᎯ] was published at New Echota, with Boudinot as its first editor. It was the first newspaper published in the United States in a Native American language. The Cherokee Phoenix has been revived and is now published electronically.

Georgia realized the power of the newspaper among the Cherokee. As a result, they made new laws against whites working with the Cherokee. The Georgia Guard later attacked the office and destroyed the press.

Samuel Worcester House, 1827

The only structure original to the property at New Echota is the home of Samuel Worcester (19 January 1798-20 April 1859), the missionary who came to the capital with his wife Ann in 1827. The Worcesters established a mission and school and Samuel also served as postmaster and worked with Elias Boudinot on the Cherokee Phoenix. He was a tireless advocated for the Cherokee. His arrest by the state of Georgia in 1831 for failing to obtaining a work permit to work among the Cherokee lead to the historic Worcester v. Georgia (1832) case in the United States Supreme Court, which was decided in his favor, though President Andrew Jackson and Governor George Gilmer ignored the ruling. He was pardoned by Governor Wilson Lumpkin but by 1836 was living in the Indian Territory. Worcester later translated the Bible into Cherokee.

Vann Tavern

Relocated from present-day Forsyth County to New Echota in 1955, this was built on Chief James Vann’s   Chattahoochee Plantation in 1805. Its original location is now under the waters of Lake Lanier. Vann (1765-1809), the son of a Scottish father and Cherokee mother, was granted the right to operate a ferry on the Chattahoochee as part of the Treaty of Tellico and his tavern was the first stop for travelers heading west of the river. It was but one of many of his enterprises; he was among the wealthiest men of the Cherokee Nation who had great influence on the culture in his short lifetime. He was a leader of his people, as well, forming a triumvirate with Major Hicks and Charles R. Hicks.

Cherokee Middle Class Farmstead

Unlike Western tribes, who lived in tipis, the Cherokee originally lived in log roundhouses. Later, as they began to assimilate to the colonists who were encroaching upon their homeland, they employed the common vernacular styles of the era. This re-creation of a middle class Cherokee farmstead looks much like that of the early settlers of North Georgia.

This authentic rough-hewn farmhouse was relocated from elsewhere in Gordon County.

Corn was of great importance to the Cherokee; corn cribs were found on nearly every farm.

Barns and smokehouses were also typical of the common rural architecture of Georgia at the time.

Flower gardens were also a common feature of middle class farms, for their beauty and the abundance of pollinators they supported.

Cherokee Subsistence Farmstead

In the countryside beyond New Echota, large numbers of subsistence farms made up the bulk of the Cherokee Nation. The houses were usually utilitarian and quite small.

A corn crib was nearly always present, but smaller than the one seen on the middle-class farmstead.

This is a recreation of a stable common on subsistence farms.

National Historic Landmark

 

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Filed under --GORDON COUNTY GA--, Calhoun GA

Ocmulgee National Monument, Macon

Entrance to Earth Lodge

Archaeologists have determined that human habitation at this Mississippian site, formerly known as the Ocmulgee Old Fields and now the Ocmulgee National Monument, dates back at least 17,000 years.

Interior of Earth Lodge, with Eagle Platform

The Earth Lodge was uncovered by Dr. A. R. Kelley in 1934. It was reconstructed between 1933 and 1938. It served as a Mississippian Council House. The original clay floor, with the raised eagle platform, was exposed by employees of the Civil Works Administration and Work Projects Administration under the direction of James A. Ford. The Mississippians had burned the lodge, perhaps as an act of ritual cleansing or something entirely different. The charred remains of the construction, dated to 1015 AD, were arrayed in a spoke pattern and protected the original floor. The roof was not originally covered with sod, but it has been employed today to preserved the site.

Rear View of Earth Lodge

One should keep in mind that during the Mississippian Period, these mounds were not covered in grass but rather in the natural clay of the landscape.

Great Temple Mound

This is Early Mississippian flat-topped temple mound, 300 feet wide by 270 feet long by 40 feet high, is one of several in widely scattered locations across Georgia. It dates to circa 900-1100 AD. It was the principal religious structure at the Ocmulgee site till at least 1200 AD.  A lesser mound (not pictured) stands adjacent to this one.

Cornfield Mound

Excavations on this site uncovered parallel rows of charred corn cobs dating to circa 900AD-1200AD, indicating an early agricultural use. At some point, the field was transformed into a mound. The mound is 90 feet wide by 160 feet long by 6 feet high.

Prehistoric Trenches

These trenches can be found in several locations around Ocmulgee National Monument. These, near the Cornfield Mound, are 18 feet wide by 7 feet deep. It is unclear as to whether they were defensive in nature or if they were borrow pits for the mounds.

Ocmulgee National Monument Visitors Center

Constructed between 1938-1951, the Streamline Moderne visitors center is a landmark in its own right. It houses a wonderful collection of artifacts collected on the site.

 

 

 

 

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Filed under --BIBB COUNTY GA--, --CARROLL COUNTY GA--, Macon GA

Gordon-Lee Mansion, 1847, Chickamauga

James Gordon and his two brothers came to Chickamauga, then known as Crawfish Springs, from Gwinnett County in 1836.  In 1840, James began construction of this home (employing slave labor and using bricks made on site) to serve as the centerpiece of his 2500-acre plantation. The site was of local importance, as the Cherokee Courthouse was located on the grounds prior to displacement. [It was originally executed in the Greek Revival style; the addition of the massive portico and entablature in a 1900 remodel gave it its present Neoclassical appearance].

Gordon’s son Clark was elected commanding officer of Company D, First Georgia Volunteer Infantry, organized in 1862. During the Battle of Chickamauga the home served as temporary headquarters of Union Major General William Rosecrans, Army of the Cumberland (16-19 September 1863). It also served as a field hospital (18-20 September 1863) under the command of Medical Surgeon R. G. Bogue, treating both Union and Confederate casualties. In 1889, 14,000 veterans of the battle held a reunion on the grounds known as the Blue-Gray Barbeque. The idea to establish the Chickamauga-Chattanooga National Military Park had its origins at the barbeque, significantly the first Civil War park in the United States to be protected through preservation.

Upon the death of James and Sarah Gordon, the home passed to their daughter, Elizabeth, and her husband, James Lee. The next owner was their son, Gordon Lee, a United States Congressman (1904-1927), and his wife, Olive. Lee stipulated in his will that if no family member took on the property for twenty years that it would become the property of the City of Chickamauga and this happened in 1947.  It was sold to Dr. Frank Green in 1974. Dr. Green restored the house and grounds with great attention to historical accuracy. In 2007 it was purchased by the City of Chickamauga, which now operates a museum on the site.

This saddlebag house is the last surviving of six slave dwellings on the property.

Even if you don’t have the time to visit all the Civil War sites in the area, take the time to walk the wonderful grounds of the Gordon-Lee Mansion. Operated by the Friends of the Gordon-Lee Mansion in conjunction with the City of Chickamauga, it’s a wonderful green space and historic site.

National Register of Historic Places

 

 

 

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Filed under --WALKER COUNTY GA--, Chickamauga GA

Castille House, Circa 1880, Tallapoosa

This house originally faced Chestnut Street but was turned to face Bowdon Street around 1902. It was built on a site known as Seven Chestnuts, where Creek Indians held council meetings before 1827. Most of the trees have been lost to disease over the years.

North Tallapoosa Residential Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

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Filed under --HARALSON COUNTY GA--, Tallapoosa GA

Cedartown, Georgia

Cedartown GA Clock Old Stores Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing North Georgia USA 2014

Cedartown is the county seat of Polk County and derives its name for Fort Cedar Town (after nearby Cedar Creek), a stockade built during the 1830s as an internment camp for Native Americans on the Trail of Tears. Much of its historic downtown remains today and there are four National Register Historic Districts throughout the city.

Cedartown Commercial Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

http://www.cedartowngeorgia.gov/

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Filed under --POLK COUNTY GA--, Cedartown GA