The History of Macon Co.
Excerpt from Louise Hays' Work
The First Inhabitants
Just when the first man set foot in Macon County is problematical. There are evidences that a prehistoric race was in possession before the Indians claimed it as their own. There are, along the banks of the Flint, the same form of mounds which are found in Northern Mexico, Illinois, Mississippi, Arizona, along the Ohio River, and at Macon, Ga., on the Savannah River opposite Silver Bluff, and in Bartow County, around Cartersville.
These mounds are considered by a learned antiquarian as the most ancient sepulchral monuments. They are called Tumuli or the Indian name Teocalli (Teo - God and Calli - house) meaning Great Temple, and were supposed to have been erected over the bodies of deceased heroes or persons of distinguished character.
The Euchee, the Cherokee, and the Muscogee Indians were ignorant as to when and by whom they were raised, and claim that they were here when their tribes came in the 16th Century.
Another form of mound or Tumulus, much larger than the burial mound, is found in the lowlands close to the rivers in many places in Georgia.
In 1778, Wm. Bartram was sent from England to this country to discover rare and useful productions of nature, chiefly in the vegetable kingdom, and he has left a most interesting record of his travels. He journeyed through Florida and Georgia and very probably his journey led through Macon County, but no one can state positively.
On reaching one of the mounds, Bartram thus describes it: "It is altogether unknown to us what could have induced the Indians to raise such a heap of of earth in this place, the ground for a great space around being subject to inundations, at least once a year, from which circumstances we may conclude they had no town or settled habitations here. Some imagine these tumuli were constructed for lookout towers. It is reasonable to suppose, however, that they were to serve some important purpose in those days, as they were public works, and would have required the united labour and attention of a whole nation, circumstances as they were, to have constructed one of them almost in an age. There are several lesser ones around about the great one, with some very large tetragon terraces on each side, near one hundred yards in length, and their surface four, six, eight and ten feet above the ground on which they stand.
"We may, however, hazard a conjecture: that as there is generally a narrow space or ridge in these lowlands, immediately bordering on the river's bank, which is eight or ten feet higher than the adjoining low grounds that lie betwixt the stream and the heights of the adjacent main land, which, when the river overflows its banks are many feet under water, when at the same time, the ridge on the river bank is above water and dry, and at such inundations appears as an island in the river; these people might have had a town on this ridge, and this mount raised for a retreat and refuge in case of inundations which are unforeseen and surprise them very suddenly, spring and autumn."
There is a mound on the farm of John Dykes about four miles below Montezuma which follows this description. It is on the left bank of the Flint, about a quarter of a mile from the stream, in the swampy lowlands. Covering about four acres, and rising to a height of twenty feet or more, it appears to have been the work of a vast army of workers and like the Tumulus described by Bartram it does not seem to be a burial mound but a refuge in times of river flood for not only the people, but for their cattle as well. No doubt is has lost much of its height and size in the years, and it is now covered with a growth of large swamp forest trees. Almost a mile from that mound, are two smaller mounds in a cultivated field and removed from the overflow of the river. These two eminences were no doubt burial places. On the top of these mounds were found arrow heads, although they have been in cultivation for many years.
On the Murph and Baldwin Place above Marshallville is another mound, in a lowland, which gives every appearance of being a burial mound, being too small for a refuge mound. Shaped like a crescent, it is about 100 yards from tip to tip and rises about thirty feet above ground. On the old Wilson Collins Place, now owned by the Witt Estate, several miles above Oglethorpe, there is a field called the Old Indian Field and in its center is a knoll. This seems to have been a great meeting place for the Indians, as old citizens say that more arrow heads have been found there than any other place known to them. On Buck Creek, on the Robinson Place and on the Helvingston Place adjoining it are six mounds and a couple of miles above this on the old Cloud Place is a spring. As far back as the oldest inhabitants knew, this walled up spring has been known as "The Indian Spring."
In the "Cut Off," there is an Indian mound near the river called "Potato Hill Mound."
On a very old map, marking a location on the East Bank of Flint River, is this sentence: "Indian Battle in 1708 - 1700 Indians Killed." It has been impossible to get any information about this battle, either as to location or participants. This reference to it is made merely because it might have been in Macon County, but more likely it was further south.
Historians can only conjecture as to this earlier race who inhabited these lands and left their history in mounds, but who knows but that it might have been the lost tribe of Judah, who, when captured by the King of Assyria, went into Asia, and crossed Bering Straight and came into North America!
With no written language, the Indians only knew their own origin by tradition and they had many versions. Tussekiah Mico, Chief of the Cowetas, claimed that they came from two mounds in the forks of the Red River, Wechote-Hatche. All their traditions agree, however, that the country west of Mississippi was their original habitat. This is confirmed by Drs. Protz, Bernard, Romans, Adair, Bartram and Hawkins.
When Hernando Cortez, with his Spanish troops, landed at Vera Cruz in 1519, he found the Aztecs, with Montezuma, as their King, living in a luxurious though idolatrous and barbaric splendor. The Muscogee Indians, who later were the Creek Indians of Georgia, were living in Northwest Mexico and they rallied to the assistance of the Aztecs to repel the Spanish Invader, and to defend the greatest of the aboriginal cities. Cortez was successful; Montezuma, and thousands of the red warriors perished. The discouraged Muscogees determined to seek other lands and directed their course northeastward to the Red River where they remained until 1527 when they moved on to the Wabash.
There is a prehistoric cliff dwelling called Montezuma Casete on the right bank of Beaver Creek, a tributary of Rio Verde, three miles from Old Camp Verde in Central Arizona, popularly supposed to have been once occupied by the Aztecs, and there visible a large depression in the form of a tank or well in the summit of a low messa on Beaver Creek, about nine miles north of old Camp Verde, called Montezuma Well.
Montezuma on Beaver Creek sounds so familiar that one is obliged to feel that there must be some connection; perhaps the association remained and the names in Macon County of Montezuma and Beaver Creek come in this way.
From the Wabash they moved to the Ohio where Pickett in his History of Alabama states that DeSoto found them in 1540 and declared they were like the Indians seen by him in Mexico. Coming eastward they conquered the maritime tribes, including the Alabamas, the Toockabatches, the Shawnees and Yamasees and incorporated them into their Confederacy. Crossing the Alabama, Coosa and Tallapoosa, they settled below the falls of the Chattahoochee, then moved on to the Ocmulgee, the Oconee and the Ogeechee. On reaching the Savannah River, they encountered the Euchee Indians, who claimed to be the most ancient inhabitants of the country. They were superior in intelligence but not in numbers and soon fell before the war-like Muscogees.
When the English came to explore this country, they gave all the inhabitants collectively the name "Creeks" on account of the beautiful rivers and streams which flowed through their domain. In 1786 the whole number of Creeks amounted 17,280 of whom 5,860 were fighting men. We are particularly interested in the Euchee Indians because Macon County was inhabited by that tribe. It would seem that they came from the west long before the Muscogees and settled in the Appalachian Mountains and from there they came down to the Savannah River where they and established their homes: Pon pon, Saltkechers, Silver Bluff, Ogechee, Parachoala and Mount Pleasant. Few of them stayed in the towns, as they dispersed to live on the lands from "Ebenezer to the River Briers" which they claimed for their own. It appears certain at the beginning of the 18th century they were, at least in part, settled on western banks of the Savannah. In 1725 the Yamasees were defeated in South Carolina and it is possible that the Uchees in helping them, were weakened and began to move westward to greater distance from English Settlement, toward Flint River. Lossing, in his Field Book of the Revolution, says there were twenty-eight Indian nations in South Carolina when the first Europeans made settlement on the Ashley River and they could muster 50,000 warriors and he speaks of the Euchees among other tribes on the Savannah River. Their language was altogether different from the Creeks, the most guttural, uncouth and difficult to express with our alphabet and orthography, of any of the Indian languages, according to the learned Gallatin. Although the Euchees readily learned the Creek language, the other tribes could never master the Euchee. Subservient to the Creeks, they clung to their own customs and language and did not allow their individuality as a tribe to be assimilated by their conquerors.
The Creeks held the Euchees more or less in bondage and would not allow them to encamp, in traveling, on the northern side of the Indian Path which was the main Indian Highway from Ft. Hawkins to Montgomery. Col. Hawkins and Gen. Mitchell had difficulty in preventing the Creeks from taking the presents the American Government sent the Euchees.
When South Carolinians began to push westward, the Euchees constantly complained of the Carolinians' cattle ranging on their fields. Complaints were made to Oglethorpe soon after the Georgia Colony was formed that the Saltzburgers' cattle were eating their corn, and Oglethorpe had to give special orders for their protection. The Euchees were friendly to Oglethorpe and when Oglethorpe went to St. Augustine to fight the Spaniards in defense of the colony the King of the Uchee Indians arrived in a large periagua with a great many warriors to help him.
Although other Historians record the Euchee as a superior tribe, Rev. John Wesley, in his diary of 1737, said they had only one small town left about 200 miles up the Savannah River, with about forty fighting men and he gave them a very bad name, saying, "They are indeed hated by most and despised by all the other nations as well for their cowardice as their superlative diligence in thieving and for out-lying all the other Indians on the Continent."
But then we must remember that Mr. Wesley had very critical ideas of many people and customs, and that some people had things to say of him.
The Euchees moved westward in waves or migrations toward the Chattahoochee in the period when Georgia was settled, 1732-50. Typical of the Agricultural hunting tribes of the Southeast Atlantic and Gulf Coasts, they lived in permanent villages on river banks where they could find an abundance of fish. They grouped their houses about squares which were used for religious ceremonial purposes. Their huts were built of mats or bark and some were plastered with clay making them more or less permanent. The art of basketry was highly developed among them, their baskets being made of cane and splints. They were also good potters and it is recorded that most of their pottery resembled the gourd in shape.
It is not surprising that the Euchees should have fallen prey to the war-like Creeks who Bartram says, "construct their royal standard of the tail feather of a specie of vulture called the 'vultur facra.' This they carry with them to battle but then it is painted with a zone of red within the brown tips; and in peaceable negotiations it is displayed new, clean and white. This standard is held most sacred by them on all occasions, and is constructed and ornamented with great ingenuity." The towns on Flint River were Snola-nocha, Cufcovilla or Allachua, Talahasochte, Caloosahatche, Great Island, Great Hannock, Capon, St. Marks, and Forks.
The largest Euchee town was on the banks of the Chattahoochee and is thus described by Bartram in 1798; "We arrived at the Banks of the Chata Uchee River opposite the Uchee Town; where, after unloading our horses, the Indians came over to us in large canoes, by means of which, with the cheerful and liberal assistance of the Indians, ferried over the merchandise, and afterwards driving our horses altogether into the river swam them over; the river here is about three or four hundred yards wide, carries fifteen or twenty feet water, and lows down with an active current; the water is clear, cool and salubrious.
"The Uchee town is situated in a vast plain, on the gradual ascent as we arrive from a narrow strip of low ground immediately bordering on the river; it is the largest, most compact, and best situated Indian town I ever saw; the habitations are large and neatly built; the walls of the houses are constructed of a wooden frame, then lathed and plastered inside and out with a reddish well tempered clay or mortar, which gives them the appearance of red brick walls; and these houses are neatly covered or roofed with Cypress bark or shingles of that tree. The town appeared to be populous and thriving, full of youth and young children, might amount to one thousand or fifteen hundred, as it is said they are able to muster five hundred gun men or warriors. Their own national language is altogether or radically different from the Creek or Muscogulge tongue, and is called the Savanna or Savanuca tongue; I was told by the traders it was the same with, or a dialect of, the Shawanese, They are in confederacy with the Creeks, but do not mix with them; and on account of their numbers and strength, are of importance enough to excite and draw upon them the jealousy of the whole Muscogulge confederacy, and are usually at variance, yet are wise enough to unite against a common enemy, to support the interest and glory of the general Creek confederacy."
They also had a town called Intuchcu`gua (In-tuch-ko, meaning a dam across water and Ulgua, all, as applied to beaver dams) which was a Euchee Indian town on the Poilthlucco Creek (from Pohil-lo-wan, a swamp; and thlucco, big) and was a meeting place for Euchee Indians. In 1798 Benjamin Hawkins states that it consisted of a public square, which served for their town house and there were fourteen families living the the village. A map compiled by J. R. Swanton, Department of Ethnology, Washington, of the Tribes and towns of the Creek confederacy shows this town. It was situated in the northwest corner of Macon County, on Buck Creek (Opilthlucco) on the old Turner Place, now owned by Wyatt Brooks Wyatt Brooks and W. H. Gardner, Clerk of the Court, state that the place has always been known as an Indian town and that until recent years there remained a graveyard of about one hundred Indian graves.
The old Indian Path went close by this town. The number of Euchee Indian families on the creeks in Macon County are given on the map of 1818 thus:
Itlopuomulgua (Sweetwater) fifteen families; Hatchee Hoome (Camp), twenty; Poilthlucco (Buck), thirty; Ikehutkee (Whitewater), fifty; Barnard's, twenty; Tote Over, twenty; Horse, twenty; Juniper, twenty; Thonoto (Hog Crawl), twenty; Beaver Dams (Beaver), twenty-five.
Many citizens of Macon County own the original "Plats and Grants" with their Great Seal of State which were first issued as deeds to the lands in Macon County; on these the lots are described as part of the"Creek Indian Nation" while in reality the lands belonged to the Euchee tribe of the Creek confederacy.
One of the meeting places of the Euchee Indians was Miona Springs whose healing waters were known and held sacred by them. Even to this day arrow heads and pieces of Indian pottery ware are found in the open field above these springs. C. J. Toler, part Indian himself, states that twelve years ago he talked to an old Indian squaw, "Aunt Polly Parker, " who was then 137 years old. She claimed to have lived at Miona Springs and when driven off, went to Tom's Bluff on the Altamaha and from there to the Everglades. She told him of the old Indian Fort at Miona, which is still plainly defined and also revealed to him where he might find the Chief's hidden tomahawk, scalping knife and skinning knife. He has these now in his possession. Some years ago a piece of brass with initials, thought to be the piece from the cap of an English soldier was found in this old field. It may have been and English or a Spanish soldier, or it might have belonged to a Confederate soldier or possibly more likely, it was from the cap of a Union Soldier, as stragglers from Wilson's branch of Sherman's army camped at Miona Springs.
From so many sources has come a tradition of an old Indian cave, that it cannot be overlooked. On the old Davis Place, in the lime lands of Houston County are two entrances to an enormous cave. At the openings, are huge boulders, on which are carved forms of Indians and many hieroglyphic looking markings. On the Shannon Place about three miles distant is another opening. These subterrean channels have been followed in recent years and undoubtedly connect, and the story goes that when the Indians were hard pressed they entered these caves, disappeared and emerged at an opening close to Montezuma on the Flint. From an entirely different source comes a story from an old Indian woman, Cilla Kirkley, who moved to Quitman, when the Indians were removed, where she died in 1916 at the age of 115 years. She told Grace Gillam Davidson of Quitman of a cave on the Flint near Montezuma, saying she lived about the distance of four city blocks below the long trestle going to Oglethorpe and the cave was back of that. She told the same story, of the Indians using this cave as an escape, and coming out many miles above.
In 1739, the Trustees of the Colony of Georgia received advice from General Oglethorpe that he had frequent intelligence of the Spaniards endeavoring to bribe the Indians and particularly the Creeks into a rupture with England and that the French at Mobile were equally as unfriendly, and found it necessary to go into the Indian nation to their main town, Coweta, on the Chattahoochee 500 miles from Frederika, where the Indians ordered a General Assembly of all the nations to meet him. The Indians had 20,000 fighting men and he thought best to make terms with them. He informed them he would have to buy horses for the expedition and presents for the Indians for which he drew 200 pounds.
Oglethorpe set out upon this important expedition, accompanied by Lieut. Dunbar, Ensign Lemon and Cadet Eyre. Attended by servants he proceeded in a cutter up the Savannah, landing at Uchee town twenty-five miles above Ebenezer, where he had employed Indian traders to meet him with saddle and horses, and thus he entered upon a 400 mile ride through a trackless wilderness. Not in military pomp, but simply witha few pack horses and servants for his personal accommodations and to carry the presents for his Red friends, without a guide or a house to lodge him, on solitary pathways, exposed to summer suns, dewey nights, the treachery of any single Indian who knew a rich reward awaited his capture from the Spaniards at St. Augustine or the French at Mobile. For 200 miles, he saw no human habitation nor met a living soul. His diary states that he crossed many wide rivers and that forty miles from Coweta the Indians met him where they had provisions hidden for him in the woods. The Chiefs received him with the warmest friendship and devotion, and Oglethorpe states it was impossible to describe their joy at his arrival. Present at this council were Gen. James Oglethorpe, Commissioner and Representative of King Geo. II, Chickeley Nenia, Chief King of Coweta Town, Malatche, Mico, Son of Brim, late Emperor of the Creek Nation; chiefs and warriors of Coweta Town; King of the Cussetas, Schisheligo; Second Mico of the Cussetas, Iskegio; Third Chief of the Cussetas, and other men and warriors; Ochaohopko, one of the chief men of the town of Palachuckolas; Killotee, Chief War Captain, and other chief men and warriors; Townawyne, Mico of the Ufowles, and their chief men and warriors; Matalcheko, Captain of the Echeetees, with other chief men and warriors of that people; Neathoklo, chief man of the Owichees with several other chief men and warriors; Occullaviche, chief man of the Chehows with other chief men and warriors; Hewanange Thaleekeo, chief man of Ockmulgees with several chief men and warriors; King of the Oconees with several chief men and warriors; Neachuckelo, Second Chief of the Swagles with several chief men and warriors.
General Oglethorpe smoked the Calumet, the hallowed pipe of peace, drank the Foskey, the black medicine drink, a decoction made from the leaves of the cassena, and was initiated by the red men into their mysteries. This meeting confirmed the treaties, the Indians only reserving a small territory between Pipe Marker's Creek and the Savannah so they might sleep on their own ground while visiting the Whites; also reserved Islands Ossabaw, St. Catherine, and Sapelo to fish and bath in their own waters. But even more than that, by this personal interview Oglethorpe secured the good will and loyalty of all the Creeks, the Causees, the Tallapouchees, the Cowetas, the Chactows, and the Chickesas, thus thwarting the machinations of the Spanish and the French and relieving the colony from apprehensions of the most serious character.
Since Oglethorpe's journey was over a trackless wilderness, it has been impossible for historians to trace his exact route, but if a line is drawn from twenty miles above Ebenezer straight across the State of Georgia as he states his route went, to Coweta Town on the Chatta hoochee, he could not have missed Macon County and it can be concluded further that he was met at Flint River by the Indians on his way to Coweta Town and if so, Macon County has a part in one of the most important expeditions of Georgia's earliest history.