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1828 Georgia map tells a very different story on the gold rush and Cherokee removal than seen in “official history books” today

1828 Georgia map tells a very different story on the gold rush and Cherokee removal than seen in “official history books” today


Above is the 1828 Official Map of the State of Georgia.  The boundaries stayed the same until 1838.  The Native American martyr, Tsali, was actually a Uchee, living in the State of Georgia, on an allotment granted under the Treaty of 1817.  He was illegally abducted by Federal troops and executed by a Cherokee firing squad, inside the Cherokee Nation’s boundaries.

It has been my complaint for over 30 years that official state textbooks in the Southeastern United States tend to spoon-feed students fabricated history that was originally the speculations of academicians, who relied on folklore . . . at best.  That complaint first came as a historic preservation architect, when over and over again, I found that the real history of buildings, towns and regions didn’t jive with “official histories.”  Sixteen years ago I began focusing on the Native American history fairy tales in state history textbooks.   This is a classic case.  My research into the Batesville and Alec Mountain Archaeological zones involved a survey of historic maps.   It is obvious from looking at these maps that the current crop of “historians” who write Tennessee’s, Georgia’s and North Carolina’s state history texts don’t fact check anything, when they include long repeated accounts of the Georgia Gold Rush, original locations of towns and “Cherokee” history.   They obviously didn’t look at the official colonial, state and county maps . . . or maybe . . . their PhD curricula didn’t include a requirement for “historic map comprehension?”

It is really tough to get this fake history removed . . . and often dangerous.  In 2013,  “Nanyehi . . . Beloved Woman of the Cherokees,” was spawned in Tennessee and then began touring the the country.  The plot of the play was drawn from a dime novel about Nancy Ward, written by a distant white cousin in 1828, 4-6 years after her death, depending on what date you use.  However, the play exaggerated her life even further than the dime novel.  It portrayed her as a full-blooded Cherokee heroine, when in fact, she was at most, 1/8th to 1/4th Cherokee.   The play and now her mythical Wikipedia bio said that she was the sister of the GREAT Cherokee chief Attakullakulla and was born in 1738.  Her obituary said that she was 72 years old when she died in 1824 . . .  the daughter of Indian trader John Ward, and wife of her first cousin, Bryant Ward. That would make Nancy Ward two years old, when she led the charge at the non-existent Battle of Talliwa in 1754. Other obituaries would have made her either a fetus or a newborn babe during the battle that never happened.  Using the logic that we often see in Cherokee history, the current bio started with an age of 16 at the battle that never happened then subtracted 16 years. 

Oh, there was another problem . . . Attakullakulla was a Mishawaka Indian, who traveled south to join the Cherokees in his mid-20s, after the Iroquois decimated his people.  He was born around 1708 . . . thirty years before the mythical date of Nancy Ward’s birth.  There is no mention of Nancy Ward being the sister of Attakullakulla during the period, when she was alive.  The myth was made popular by white Tennesseeans on genealogical websites, trying to prove that they were descended from Cherokee “royalty.”

There are several other BIG problems.  You will read in the dime novel, Wikipedia and see in the Nanehiye musical that Nancy Ward’s first husband, Kingfisher, died in the Battle of Talliwa on the Etowah River in 1754.   Well, check out the Wikipedia article on the Battle of Hightower (Etowah Cliffs) on the Etowah River in 1793.   You will learn that Kingfisher actually died in 1793.   There was only ONE Cherokee chief named Kingfisher.   Possibly,  the Cherokee name for their catastrophic defeat was “Taliwa.”   

Museum exhibits in Cherokee, NC and at two Georgia State Historic Sites, plus a state historical marker tell you that the Cherokees conquered ALL of North Georgia in 1754 or 1755 at the “Battle of Taliwa.”  There is no record of any Creek town, anywhere, named Taliwa.   The Cherokees were decisively defeated by an army, solely from Coweta, in the fall of 1754.  They signed a surrender treaty in December 1754.  They gave up all territories conquered from the Creeks since 1715, including the lands south of the Hiwassee River in North Carolina. 

What actually happened was that in late 1783,  Colonel Andrew Pickens and Major Elijah Clarke signed an illicit treaty with Sourmush, a renegade leader of a band of about 50 Cherokees, who had been kicked out of the Cherokee Nation in 1778.  They were squatting on Upper Creek lands in what is now Pickens County, GA.  After surrendering to Pickens, Sourmush gave Pickens all Creek lands in North Georgia.  This treaty had no validity since Sourmush couldn’t even represent the Cherokee Nation and two militia officers could certainly not represent either Congress or the Revolutionary War government in Georgia.   Pickens then invited leaders of the Cherokee and Elate (an independent confederacy of 12 Creek villages in the Georgia Mountains) to his Hopewell Plantation where they signed the First Treaty of Hopewell.  This treaty set the NC-GA line as the boundary between the Cherokees and the Elate . . . except that the Elate were on land assigned to the Creek Confederacy by Great Britain.  The Cherokee were given all of NW Georgia, north of the Etowah as “hunting lands.”  The first Hopewell Treaty was also declared illegal by Congress, but both Georgia and the Cherokees ignored Congress.   Georgia began giving tracts of land to Revolutionary War veterans in the Creek lands of Northeast Georgia.  Cherokees began moving into NW Georgia to escape the fighting between Cherokee Hostiles and white militia in Tennessee.  The Upper Creeks considered the Chickamauga Cherokees to be allies, so initially did not protest the population movements. 

The first official map of the State of Georgia in 1785, showed almost all of North Georgia to be in Creek territory.

Read the Wikipedia article.  It is quite inaccurate.  What it describes is the formal approval of the 1785 Treaty of Augusta, which was made by the Cherokees at Hopewell Plantation,  which was the Second Treaty of Hopewell.   The treaty soon signed by the Creeks at Galvinton, GA did not mention the vast transfers of land to the Cherokees.  The Georgia General Assembly did not find out about the boundary change until late 1785.  Therefore, the first official map of Georgia in 1785 shows almost all of North Georgia to be territory of the Creek Confederacy and Chickasaw Tribe.    The Creeks did not find out about this deception until 1790 then declared war on Georgia, while professing loyalty to the United States.  Very confusing, isn’t it?

What none of the Wikipedia articles tell you is that a string of treaties between the United States and Cherokee Tribe between 1784 and 1795 gave the Cherokees the lands and homes of many peoples, who had lived almost anonymously in North Georgia for many generations.  Only a few local history books touch on this fact . . . such as The Early History of Jackson County, Georgia.   They were Uchee, Itsate Creek, Upper Creek, Sephardic Jewish, Chickasaw, Asturian, Portuguese, Spanish, Bohuron*, Kansa, Panoan (South American) and Arawak.  The British government had established a colony of people from Majorca near the headwaters of the Savannah River.  We think that most remained, but now as tenants of the Cherokees, since the Tennessee Cherokees were not particularly interested in mountainous land.  How else can you explain the presence of substantial Portuguese DNA in many “old time” families in the mountainous section of Habersham County, GA.   *The Bohurons were mixed Creek, Jewish, Moorish, English, Dutch & French. 

By the way,  I received several email threats from Tennessee and North Georgia, after I published the article on the real Nancy Ward in my National Architecture Column in the Examiner.   The article include photocopies of newspaper obituaries from the 1820s and the first page of the dime novel on her life.  The article pointed out that Nancy Ward had been made a “Cherokee saint” in Tennessee because (1) she was mostly white. (2) her offspring assimilated into the surrounding white population. (2) She had warned white settlers on several occasions of pending Cherokee attacks. (4) She was one of the first “Cherokees” to own African slaves, plus promoted the evil institution of slavery among other Cherokees.

The actual route of the Unicoi Trail interconnects several archaeological zones that we are currently studying.

Unicoi Trail connects ancient Native towns

The map, produced by the Unicoi Trail Association is inaccurate.  The staff at the Clarkesville Branch of the Habersham County Library found me very old county maps, which showed the real routes of the famous trail.  According to French ethnologist, Charles de Rochefort [1658] and the author of The Early History of Jackson County, GA, the road was built by an Apalache-Creek queen to connect the Savannah River with the Tennessee River. The word is NOT “an ancient Cherokee word, whose meaning have been forgotten,” but the Anglicization of the Creek words Ue-nene-koi, which means “Trail connecting rivers.”  The original route bypassed the current location of Clarkesville, but interconnect all of the major archaeological zones that we are studying . . . including Alec Mountain, Mauldin Mill Creek, Batesville and the original location of Clarkesville (see below). After the location of Clarkesville was moved southward 15 miles in 1830,  the route of the Unicoi Turnpike was shifted to that of GA Hwy. 17 between Clarkesville and Unicoi Gap, north of Helen, GA.

William Bartram

William Bartram  and the Tallulah River Line

Read William Bartram’s description of his two week journey through the extreme southern edge of the Cherokee Nation in 1776.  It also has been made into a play and a one hour public television documentary, plus an entire section of the Museum of the Cherokee Indian on the Qualla Reservation.  He was in Creek-Seminole country for almost two years.  LOL  The chief of the Wataree (Watauga) Indian village in present day Franklin, NC warned Bartram that a band of hostile Cherokees were headed that way to kill him.  Bartram stated that “the safety of the Creek Nation was only 20 miles to the south on the other side of the (Tallulah) River.   Cherokee territory only extended 15 miles into Georgia in 1776?  Surely some academician, somewhere, put their figure up into their lips and muttered, “Foresooth, methinks there is something terribly wrong in our official state history textbook!”  Alas, there is no evidence that any history or anthropology professor ever had this moment of enlightenment.

The Tallulah River now divides Rabun (north) and Habersham (south) today.   Since the Batesville Archaeological Zone is close to that river, I obtained several high resolution maps to study what the region looked like 200 years ago.  I was in for a shock.  Habersham once included what is now Rabun and Stevens Counties, plus Rabun County was originally in an entirely different location.  This would explain strange statements about this region, which appear from time to time. 

  • Habersham County public school students are told that Clarkesville originally developed around a fort an trading post, which was located along the boundary line between the Creeks and the Cherokees that ran through the center of the county.   Not so.  Around 1785, Major Elijah Clarke of the Georgia Militia, constructed a fort and trading post at a ford in the Tallulah River.  The natural gorge separated the Cherokee Tribe and the Soque Tribe, which spoke a Creek language.  That site was chose for the courthouse for Habersham County in 1818.  The community, grew up around the courthouse was called Clarkesville, until 1830, when the boundaries of Habersham County were revised and a new courthouse site was chosen at the center of the new boundaries.

Location of the first Rabun County Courthouse

  • The location of the first Rabun County Courthouse was at the confluence of the Chattahoochee River and Dukes Creek, next to a large hill that many people think is an Indian mound.   The Wikipedia article on Rabun County is misleading.  Yes, there was a Rabun County created in 1819,  but it was on land SOLD to private investors by non-Cherokees, living within the official boundaries of the Creek Confederacy and Cherokee tribe at that time . . . and did not include any of the land within Rabun County today.  Rabun County originally was former Chickasaw, Bohuron and Creek lands in present day Hall, White and Banks Counties. In 1821 and 1822,  lands with the Cherokee portion was sold to families from Burke County, NC . . . which is the primary gold mining region today in North Carolina.  The courthouse moved to what is now Clayton, GA after the boundaries of Rabun and Habersham Counties were changed around 1830.

Fake beginning of the Georgia Gold Rush

For almost two centuries school children have been taught that the Georgia Gold Rush began when “someone” found gold at the mouth of Dukes Creek in the Nacoochee Valley in 1828.   A state highway marker located on GA Hwy.  75, where it crosses Dukes Creek confirms this “fact” of history.   Oh really?

I became suspicious when I read the South Carolina archives.  It stated that in 1693, South Carolina Governor James Moore had observed the smoke of many gold smelters in the Nacoochee Valley.  I became really suspicious when I learned that the initial settlers of the Nacoochee Valley in 1822 came from Burke County, NC, where gold is mined by amateurs to this day.   Furthermore,  Creek Mikko, William McIntosh, operated four gold mines in Carroll County, GA at least as early as 1817 . . . the same year that he signed a treaty giving away the Creek gold lands between Yonah Mountain and what is now southwest Atlanta. 

The clincher about labeling the official date of the Georgia Gold Rush a scam came when I gazed upon these early maps of Georgia.  The original courthouse for Rabun County was on the land of the Williams Family from North Carolina.   The mystical discovery of gold was on Williams Family land just across the Chattahoochee River from this courthouse.  It was a perfect location to process the sales of mineral rights and real estate deeds, which would result from a gold rush on Williams Family land.  Georgia waited until Congress had approved the cession of all Creek lands in Georgia to announce the presence of gold.  All of the early gold mining activities was either done by Creeks on Creek land or occurred outside the Cherokee Nation.   Virtually all references and documentaries state that the Cherokees were removed from Georgia after gold was discovered on Cherokee land. 

The murder of Tsali

While Unto These Hills, the outdoor drama on the North Carolina Cherokee reservation shows a Cherokee Tsali being shot and bayoneted by federal soldiers near the current reservation,  more correctly state that these events occurred near Dillard, Georgia in the Cherokee Nation.  In 2018, I revealed a thoroughly researched paper, written in 1979 by Dr. John R. Finger, a University of Tennessee history professor.   Finger stated that Tsali was the leader of a band of Cherokees on Marys Creek near Dillard, GA, who refused to relocate to the Indian Territory.  He added that a band of Cherokees under Junaluska on the Oconaluftee River, 45 miles east of the boundary of the Cherokee Nation had also refused to relocate because they had taken allotments in 1819 and been declared United States and North Carolina citizens.  They became the core of the Qualla Reservation.  You are not told this in “Unto These Hills” or in the Museum of the Cherokee Indian. 

Finger is one of the few intellectually honest academicians to tell the truth about James Mooney’s Myths of the Cherokee Indians.  The primary source of Cherokee history in the book was George Thomas, an elderly white man, who was mentally ill at the time that Mooney interviewed him.  Thomas through Mooney was the source of most of exaggerated Cherokee claims today such as once controlling a seven state area of the Southeast and that the stone ruins at Track Rock were the graves of thousands of Creek warriors killed by the Cherokees.  Nevertheless, academicians continue to quote Mooney as if his writings were thoroughly researched facts of history.  No one seems to know that Tsali was a typical Creek-Uchee first name, not Cherokee.

I did some sleuthing in Rabun County local history.  Their authors were not a aware that the location of their county had changed, but they did mention that Uchee Mary had founded a community of Uchee families Marys Creek, which had withdrawn from association with Cherokees in 1819 and become citizens of the United States.  The authors seemed to think though that the western half of Rabun County was within the boundaries of the Cherokee Nation until 1830.  Well, no that was a different Rabun County.   From at least 1817 onward,  Tsali was living 37 miles east of the Cherokee Nation.  He was a citizen of the United States and the State of Georgia.   US Army soldiers abducted all of Uchee Mary’s community anyway and marched them back toward Fort Butler.  They also arrested Cherokees in what is now Clay, Haywood, Macon and Cherokee Counties, North Carolina, who were US citizens . . . unless their husbands were white.  

There are two glaring errors in Dr. Finger’s paper.  He placed Fort Butler in Tennessee, when it actually was on the Hiwassee River in present day Murphy, NC.  Secondly, he said that Tsali’s band was captured in the Tuckasegee River Basin of North Carolina, but all the mountains and creeks that he mentions are in Georgia between the Little Tennessee and Hiwassee Rivers.

Both “Unto These Hills” and virtually all Cherokee TV documentaries and history books state that the founders of the Qualla Reservation were Cherokees, “who hid out in the mountains and lived in caves for years.” That is a fairy tale.  The details vary, but either the Army soldiers stabbed some of the Uchee captives under their guard or else raped one or more of the Uchee women.   Whatever the case, Tsali and the other men went into a rage and killed two of the soldiers then escaped.  The US Army used Junaluska’s men as scouts to capture most of the fugitives.  General Winfield Scott told Junaluska that his band could stay in North Carolina (which they legally were citizens of) if they provided a firing squad to execute the captured men and teenage boys in Tsali’s band.   Thus, 12 Uchee citizens of the United States were murdered to avenge the death of two US Army soldiers.  That is the real reason that the Qualla Cherokee Reservation exists today.  Now you know! 


Bombshell! Cherokee hero, Tsali, was actually executed by a Qualla Cherokee firing squad





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Richard Thornton is a professional architect, city planner, author and museum exhibit designer-builder. He is today considered one of the nation’s leading experts on the Southeastern Indians. However, that was not always the case. While at Georgia Tech Richard was the first winner of the Barrett Fellowship, which enabled him to study Mesoamerican architecture and culture in Mexico under the auspices of the Institutio Nacional de Antropoligia e Historia. Dr. Roman Piňa-Chan, the famous archaeologist and director of the Museo Nacional de Antropologia, was his fellowship coordinator. For decades afterward, he lectured at universities and professional societies around the Southeast on Mesoamerican architecture, while knowing very little about his own Creek heritage. Then he was hired to carry out projects for the Muscogee-Creek Nation in Oklahoma. The rest is history. Richard is the Tribal Historic Preservation Officer for the KVWETV (Coweta) Creek Tribe and a member of the Perdido Bay Creek Tribe. In 2009 he was the architect for Oklahoma’s Trail of Tears Memorial at Council Oak Park in Tulsa. He is the president of the Apalache Foundation, which is sponsoring research into the advanced indigenous societies of the Lower Southeast.



    Thank you again for correcting the twists and bends of our history.

    • You are quite welcome. It’s a misinformation jungle out there!


        Yes that was a nice article. It is obvious to some of us but I will say it anyway… The old saying that ANY information intended for mass distribution to the public should instantly be regarded as manipulative/coercive propaganda. PERIOD!

        When I read your results from back-testing on “Nanyehi”? Without even looking for myself, I knew you were right… Classic horse manure. Selling tickets and fantasy tourism/gambling. Give it a generation or two and she will have saved the universe also.

        Look, one day you may stumble onto a provable truth you need to hold off, at least until you can get to safety. Let it out and you will be finished. At stake is federal money, casino money, oil, natural gas, and mineral rights too…


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