Tag Archives: North Georgia Pioneers

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

Kiokee Baptist Church, 1808, Appling

When Daniel Marshall established the oldest continuing* Baptist congregation in Georgia in 1772, it was a violation of the established laws of St. Paul’s Parish, contrary to the tenets of the Church of England, and he was soon arrested. Upon his release he continued the mission of the church and built the first meeting house at the site of present-day Appling. A new church known as Marshall’s Meeting House was built in 1789 near the banks of Kiokee Creek. By 1806 Marshall’s Meeting House was in bad disrepair and the congregation raised nearly $4000 for the construction of the present church, known as Kiokee Baptist Church, which was completed in 1808. A Mr. Danielly was the brick mason and brothers John and Hezekiah Bond did the carpentry. The congregation only used this church until 1827, when they again built a new church in Appling proper, likely to accommodate a growing membership. It served until it was destroyed by a tornado in 1875 with the congregation meeting in the courthouse until another church was built. A modern facility in Appling serves the church today, while the historic church is used for special events.

Daniel Marshall was a native of Connecticut and established Baptist churches in Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina and served as a missionary to the Native Americans. The Marshall family preached the gospel at Kiokee for sixty years. After Daniel’s service (1772-84), his son Abraham (1784-1819) succeeded him, followed by his grandson Jabez (1819-1832).

*-The first Baptist church established in Georgia was the Tuckaseeking Baptist Church in Effingham County. They were a Seventh Day Baptist congregation and were active from 1759 until about 1763, when persecution forced them out of Georgia. Never a common sect in Georgia, the Seventh Day Baptists claim just one congregation and one mission in the state today.

National Register of Historic Places

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Filed under --COLUMBIA COUNTY GA--, Appling GA

Blalock-Wright House, Circa 1792, Lincoln County

Built in 1792 by David Blalock, the house was originally a dogtrot. Rem Remsen acquired the house, which had already been expanded to two stories and used as a stagecoach inn, before 1840. Miss Gladys Wright, a retired Lincoln County teacher, lived here until her death at the age of 103 in 1999. Her grandfather purchased the property in 1852 and it remained in the family for 147 years.

One of few surviving 18th-century houses in Georgia, the historic Blalock-Wright House was saved from destruction by the Mildred Estes Fortson Heritage Foundation in 1999 but still faces an uncertain future.

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Filed under --LINCOLN COUNTY GA--

Lamar-Blanchard House, 1823, Lincolnton

Peter Lamar (1789-1847), the first owner of this house, was one of the pioneer settlers of Lincolnton. He served as a State Representative for the terms of 1811 and 1812 and was the commissioner of Lincolnton when it was established in 1817. From 1816-1834 he was Clerk of the Superior Court of Lincoln County and was a State Senator from 1834-1838. He also served as a justice of the Inferior Court from 1837-1844, and as a captain of the local militia.

National Register of Historic Places

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Filed under --LINCOLN COUNTY GA--, Lincolnton GA

Marsh House, Circa 1836, LaFayette

Designed by Spencer Stewart Marsh (1799-1875) around the time of LaFayette’s founding, this was home to his family and their descendants until 1989. It’s also known as the Marsh-Warthen House. Spencer Marsh was born in Chatham County, North Carolina, and married Ruth (Rutha) Terrell Brantley in 1824. They first migrated to Covington, Georgia, around 1833, and then to Walker County. He was a justice of the Inferior Court and a state senator and Walker County’s wealthiest and most prominent citizen with farming and real estate interests all over the area. He was also, along with Andrew P. Allgood and and William K. Briers, a founder of the Trion Factory (in Chattooga County), said to be the first cotton mill in Northwest Georgia, in 1845. It was later known as Marsh & Allgood. During the Civil War, the Marshes sought refuge in Cassville and upon their return after the war, found bloodstains and hoof marks from a Union pillaging.

Marsh’s daughter, Sarah Adaline, married Nathaniel Greene Warthen in 1859. Due to the heavy Union presence in Northwest Georgia, the young couple relocated to the relatively safer Warthen homeplace in Warthen, Washington County at the height of the war.  Afterwards they returned to LaFayette and also resided here with Sarah’s family.

It’s a near certainty that Spencer Marsh’s slaves were responsible for the construction of the house. He owned 12 in 1850. One of them, 16-year-old Wiley Marsh, was Spencer’s son according to widely accepted oral history. [Interestingly, Wiley Marsh is mentioned on a Department of the Interior marker honoring the African-American presence on the property but it doesn’t note that he was Marsh’s son]. Built in the Greek Revival style popular by 1840, the house was expanded between 1895-10 by Marsh’s grandson, Spencer Marsh Warthen, who also added minimal Colonial Revival features, including the balustrade, around 1935. Almost every architectural element and update of the house has been extensively catalogued. Addie Augusta Wert, great-granddaughter of Spencer Marsh, was the last family member to reside here, removing to a nursing home in 1989. Patrick and Donna Clements bought the house from the estate in 1992 and sold it to the Walker County Historical Society in 2003. The Marsh House of LaFayette is now operated as a museum, with limited hours.

This is an abridged version of Dan H. Latham, Jr., and Beverly Foster’s excellent history of this house viewable on the National Register nomination form. It’s a fascinating read, especially in regards to some of the Civil War associations of the house and family, as well as the background on Wiley Marsh, Spencer’s “mulatto” son.

To enhanceme the interpretation of the African-American experience at the Marsh House, a log cabin has been moved here and reconstructed to replicate what a slave cabin would have looked like before the Civil War. This cabin is actually about a hundred years old and was an outbuilding located on another property. It was donated to the Marsh House by Breck Parker.

National Register of Historic Places

 

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Filed under --WALKER COUNTY GA--, LaFayette GA

Vernacular Greek Revival House, Pike County

Asymmetrical windows on the front of the house suggest that the left side likely began as a much smaller house, perhaps a log cabin. The vernacular octagonal Doric columns also suggest an early origin, likely 1830s or early 1840s.

Adjacent to this property is a small graveyard known as Thompson Cemetery. It’s possible that this was the family cemetery of the builder of this house. John C. Thompson (1814-1889) could very well have been the builder.

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Filed under --PIKE COUNTY GA--

Ragan-Harris-Downs House, 1832 & 1910, Greenville

Built by pioneer Abraham Ragan in the Plantation Plain style, this house originally sat on the adjacent hill before being rolled to its present location in 1910 to accommodate the construction of Roswell J. Atkinson’s ‘The Terrace’. During the Civil War, it was open to wounded soldiers, serving as an impromptu convalescent hospital. The Ragans sold the home to Henry Harris. I’m unsure when the columns were added, but it was likely at the time of the move.

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Filed under --MERIWETHER COUNTY GA--, Greenville GA