Column: The area’s streams go back to Native American history
Creek Nation Road runs between Ga. 124 and Ga. 332 in Jackson County. The name may be curious to some, but elders and history buffs know why it appeared.
The Creek Indians once roamed the county in large numbers. They coexisted with the Cherokees, although at times the tribes fought each other and were seen as rivals.
Beth Laughinghouse of the Jackson County Historical Society said her uncle, Freddie Phillips, lived on Creek Nation Road and found Indian artifacts on her property all the time.
A historical account from Frary Elrod, former Jackson County Schools Superintendent, tells a story where the Creeks and Cherokees settled a border dispute with a game of stickball. The two tribes had lived peacefully in the same territory, but each had its own hunting grounds. The Cherokees would have won the ball game, thus the disputed territory. Native Americans in other places had settled their disputes with stickball games, which are similar to lacrosse today.
It hasn’t always been peaceful between the Cherokees and the Creeks, as a battle between them took place in eastern Jackson County, near Hurricane Shoals, between the Mulberry River and the Locoda Trail.
The popular Hurricane Shoals creek and campground were favorite spots for Native Americans. The Indian name was Yamtacoochee. The Jackson County Tumbling Waters Society said the Hurricane Shoals settlement was the site of the county’s first church and that it also contained a fort, foundry, school and flour mill.
In 1818, a member of the Legislature proposed to dig a canal from the Chattahoochee River south to the North Oconee River in Jackson County. Locals objected because their beloved Hurricane Shoals and surrounding areas would be flooded, they said.
In a speech that reached the height of hype, John Stebbins ridiculed the idea, according to JGN Wilson’s “The Early History of Jackson County”: wide, a thousand feet deep, and 10 miles higher than the sea is unleashed. at a speed of 40 miles per minute over lower Georgia? Well, sir, he’ll take each of us, and if we don’t drown, we’ll wake up one morning and find ourselves straddling logs floating in the Atlantic Ocean. Yes sir, the mountains of North Georgia will crumble here and hit our state house in a cocked hat, and people will be looking out their upper windows to see if old Father Noah is sailing his big ship again. On top of all this, if we divert the vast volume of water that is in the Chattahoochee from the channel where God made it flow, the Gulf of Mexico would dry up and the fish, whales, alligators and snakes. will stink so badly that no one could live 10,000 miles from its shore.
The proposal fell through, although it is not clear how closely Stebbins’ speech was linked to it. The controversy, however, has inspired some residents of Jackson County to seek unsuccessfully to form a new county named for Unicoy, an Indian princess.
Native Americans built a sacred land on the North Oconee River near Hurricane Shoals. A statue would have been erected there on a mound. Another holy place was established on Barber’s Creek near Winder. Called Nodoroc, it was a swamp of boiling mud that the Indians believed produced evil spirits. They erected a temple on the site.
Jackson Trail is a road marking where General Andrew Jackson traveled across the county. Jackson fled the Creek Indians along the Georgia-Alabama border. Incidentally, the county is named after James Jackson, a veteran of the War of Independence, and not Andrew Jackson.
We consider the Cherokees to be the Native Americans of North Georgia because they occupied the mountains and much of the area north of the Chattahoochee River. But the Creeks had a significant presence in the region, particularly in Jackson County. The Cherokees and Creeks were both part of the Trail of Tears in which they were forced to leave Georgia into Oklahoma Territory in the mid-1830s.
Johnny Vardeman is the retired editor of The Times. He can be reached at 2183 Pine Tree Circle NE, Gainesville, GA 30501; 770-532-2326; or [email protected] His column is published every week.