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Rebirth at Warm Springs . . . a July 4th Story

Rebirth at Warm Springs . . . a July 4th Story

Warm Springs (Okawaw-Choko) is an ancient Creek Indian sacred site at the foot of Pine Mountain in West Central Georgia.  For thousands of years, indigenous peoples came here to heal diseased and injured bodies.  After the ancestors of the Creek Indians arrived in the region, they also practiced their ritual of immersion here.  It cleansed their bodies of dirt and sweat, but also symbolized the cleansing from their souls of past sins and a renewal of the soul.

The region around Warm Springs contains hundreds of stone cairns and some stone walled agricultural terrace complexes.  In the period between around 200 BC and 900 AD, the bodies of deceased loved ones were placed on these cairns so that vultures could devoir their decaying flesh.  The bones were then cremated on the cairns or else buried inside special ceramic jars within mounds. There is a Creek Indian Community in the nearby Cove, where the Flint River passes through a gorge in Pine Mountain that never left the region. 

The springs have a temperature of 88-degrees (Fahrenheit) year round and flow at a rate of approximately 914 gallons per minute. The water, which originate as rainfall on the Blue Ridge Mountains about 150 miles to the north, is heated by rocks deep beneath the surface in an ancient fault that parallels Pine Mountain.  As they are pushed upward, they absorb several minerals, which are therapeutic to patients, who have suffered neuromuscular damage from diseases or accidents.

It was here in 1924 that a man from an aristocratic New York family experienced a rebirth of his soul, while soaking in the warm mineral waters to repair the damage done by polio.  Had he not been struck down by polio and then come to this ancient shrine for recovery, the United States would be a very different place today.  For it was at Warm Springs that his man first mingled with “regular folks” and began to understand their economic hardships and social deprivations.  The man’s name was Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Franklin Roosevelt was born in 1882 at Hyde Park, New York. His Dutch ancestors arrived in the New World during the early 1600s.  His father, James, had expanded the family’s old wealth by being involved in railroading and banking. Among several positions, James was president of the Southern Railway Security Company, which in the Recession of 1895 and the years that followed, bought up cash starved railroads in the Southeast and eventually assembled them into what became the nation’s largest rail system, the Southern Railway.

Franklin Roosevelt in 1914 when Under Secretary of the US Navy

Franklin Roosevelt in 1914 when Under Secretary of the US Navy

After graduating from Harvard, Franklin attended Columbia University’s law school long enough to pass the bar exam.  In 1908, he took a job with the prestigious Wall Street firm of Carter Ledyard & Milburn, dealing mainly with corporate law. He was first initiated in the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and was initiated into Freemasonry on October 11, 1911, at Holland Lodge No. 8, New York City.

Franklin soon was entering state politics as a Reform Democrat, opposed to the corruption of Tammany Hall.  He was known for his cocky behavior in public, sharp wit, glib conversation and arrogance toward the “common masses.”   From his perspective at that time, political leadership should be restricted to the aristocracy, who had been anointed to their wealth and leadership positions. His cousin and popular former president, Theodore Roosevelt, was far more a populist than Franklin.  Theodore had been essentially driven out of the Republican Party because of his desires to improve the lot of “everyday Americans.”

In 1914, at the age of 32, Franklin was appointed by President Woodrow Wilson as the youngest ever Undersecretary of the Navy.  He was one of the earliest proponents of naval aviation and while serving under Wilson began plans for the construction of the first aircraft carrier.

Woodrow Wilson took extraordinary steps to make sure that the voters forgot that he had grown up in Georgia and practiced law in Atlanta until age 28.  Instead, the President was known as the former President of Princeton University and Governor of New Jersey.

Franklin Roosevelt was not a saint.  Like many American politicians, it seems, Roosevelt had several extra-marital affairs throughout his marriage, the first being with Eleanor’s social secretary, Lucy Mercer.  That affair began soon after she was hired in early 1914.  In September 1918, Eleanor found letters revealing the affair in Roosevelt’s luggage, when he returned from World War I. Franklin had contemplated divorcing Eleanor, but Lucy would not agree to marry a divorced man with five children.  Franklin and Eleanor remained married, and FDR promised never to see Lucy again, but Lucy was with him in the Little White House in Georgia, when he died. Eleanor never truly forgave Franklin for the affair with Lucy.  Their marriage from that point on was a political partnership.

Seeking the companionship and nurturing that was missing from his marriage, Franklin also had a close relationship with Marguerite Alice “Missy” LeHand, his personal secretary and companion, for 20 years.  There were other women in his life, from time to time, but the two main women really functioned as surrogate wives and were his constant companions.  Eleanor preferred the companionship of women.  Several of her closest friends were openly lesbian.  That probably was what drove Franklin into the arms of “other women.”

There is also significant evidence that Franklin had an affair with Crown Princess Märtha of Sweden and Norway, whose husband became the King Olav V of Norway.   She lived in the White House during part of World War II and was referred to by Secret Service as “the president’s girl friend.”   However, Lucy Mercer lived with Franklin when he would leave the White House on diplomatic trips or to rest at the Little White House in Georgia.

In 1920, Franklin Roosevelt became the youngest ever candidate for Vice President.  The Democratic candidate, and by far the most qualified man for the job, was newspaper mogul and brilliant intellectual, James M. Cox.  They lost anyway.  This loss did not dishearten his Wall Street cronies, who were his financial backers and “political” friends.  Their target was for him to be elected president in 1928.

In 1938, James Cox bought up all the newspapers and radio stations he could get in Atlanta,Georgia, just before the premier of “Gone With the Wind.”   The company made a fortune off the worldwide attention on Atlanta.  It eventually moved its headquarters to Atlanta.  James Cox’s daughter, Anne Cox Chambers of Atlanta, is individually now one of the richest women in North America.

Georgia Hall at the Roosevelt-Warm Springs Foundation

Georgia Hall at the Roosevelt-Warm Springs Foundation

The Master of Life works in mysterious ways

In late summer of 1921, while vacationing at the Roosevelt family’s summer retreat at Campobello Island, New Brunswick, Canada, Franklin Roosevelt was struck by a severe infliction of poliomyelitis . . . the dreaded killer and crippler of the first half of the 20th century.  Within a few days, Franklin was paralyzed from the waist down.

Polio was an insignificant virus that caused mild colds in the 1800s. Of course, being a virus the microbe could not be seen with the microscopes of the day, but scientists assumed that it was a very small bacterium.  It did not mutate into becoming Grim Reaper until the early 1900s, when most cities began chlorinating public water supplies.

Roosevelt’s political career seemed destroyed.  Since, during that era, almost all courthouses had long steps at their entrances and attorneys were expected to stand before the judge at several stages of a trial, his legal career did not seem that much more promising.   Once he felt strong enough to work, he would spend his life as a wheelchair bound attorney, working at a desk.

Almost immediately after 1827, when Creeks were force to cede their land in West Georgia, Okawaw-Choko evolved from being a religious shrine to being a popular resort, where affluent plantation families “took the waters” during the summer months to avoid malaria and yellow fever epidemics in the Coastal Plain.  They also bathed in the springs as a treatment for injuries, arthritis and gout.

Warm Springs Hotel

In 1893, Benjamin Bulloch, a member of one of Georgia’s most prominent Revolutionary Period families and the brother of Martha Ann Bulloch (mother of Theodore Roosevelt) founded the town of Bullochville next to the springs.  The planned community initially boomed, but by the early 1920s was fading rapidly.  Wealthy families were now going elsewhere.


A typical farm in near Warm Springs in the 1930s.

Many middle class families in the towns of West Georgia now had Model T’s that could take them to Warm Springs for the day, but they didn’t stay at the hotel or pamper themselves with personal services and luxury cuisine.

The vast majority of rural folks in West Georgia were suffering terribly because of the arrival of the boll weevil around 1917.   Their cash crop of cotton was being wiped out by the voracious insects. Without cash, they had been relegated back to the subsistence level of pioneer farmsteads.  Stores in towns that specialized in serving the needs of farmers were being closed.  Rural banks were headed toward bankruptcy at a massive scale.  The former buildings of banks that failed between 1924 and 1928 due to the Boll Weevil Depression can still be seen in many historic small towns around Georgia and Alabama.

In 1924, Franklin Roosevelt heard that a cousin of his from the Theodore Roosevelt side of the family, had contracted polio.  The man had traveled down to Georgia and spent several weeks at the warm water spa owned by their Bulloch cousins in Georgia.  The man had experienced a remarkable improvement in his ability to walk.

FDR-bathingFranklin took the Southern Railway train down to Atlanta and then Warm Springs . . . the railroad system that his father had assembled. He stayed at the quaint Warm Springs Hotel. Within a couple of days of bathing in the warm mineral waters, his health improved.  He wrote back three months later that his legs and energy level had improved more in three months at Warm Springs than the previous three years under the care of the finest New York doctors that money could buy.

Something else happened though.  Roosevelt was the only patrician in Bullochville. He had no choice, but socialize with the regular folks and even the very poor, rural folks.  It was the first time in his life that he ever had a real conversation with an African American or a rural white Southerner.  The African-Americans were the children and grand-children of slaves.  Some had been born as slaves. The whites were the children and grand-children of men in gray, who had fought in the Confederate Army.  These were people, who were his friends because they liked him, not because of the money he had or the patrician family that he was a member of.

Once Roosevelt was stronger, he paid for having a convertible sedan specially equipped so he could drive it around the country side of rural Georgia and Alabama.  He saw firsthand the extreme poverty that had gripped most of the Southeast since the Civil War, but was now turning into a holocaust. He saw hundreds of people in Georgia, who were dying because they could not afford medical or dental care.

Original Warm Springs treatment pools

Original Warm Springs treatment pools

Revitalized, Roosevelt went back to New York and was elected governor . . . one of the best governors that New York has even known.  However, he continued to return to the warm springs for therapy and rejuvenation.  He eventually spent 3/4th of his total wealth to buy most of Bullochville and all of the warm springs spa.  He re-named Bullochville, Warm Springs, and again, with his own money, created the Warm Springs Foundation.  The Roosevelt –Warm Springs Foundation is now one of the premier locations in the world for the treatment of neurological and spinal injuries.

Had Franklin Roosevelt had not been afflicted with polio in 1921, he probably would have been elected president in 1928.  Being backed by his Wall Street cronies in his march to the White House, he would have been blamed for the Wall Street Crash on October 24, 1929.  It is unlikely that with such political baggage he would have been able to do anything substantial to end the economic cataclysm that spread from the United States to the world.

When Roosevelt was ready to run for President in 1932, most of his old Wall Street cronies were broke. He was forced to run a broad based campaign that appealed to a wide range of voters.  America was desperate for change . . . any change.  Who knows in what direction the United States would have headed without Roosevelt as President . . . Communism?  Fascism?  . . . or the tribal wars that paralyze our feudal society today.

FDR-LittleWhiteHouseBecause he had seen in West Georgia first hand, how truly desperate most Americans were, Roosevelt implemented a broad range of government programs in an effort to revitalize the United States. At the time they seemed radical and he was seen as a dictator by conservatives.  However, Roosevelt knew that he had no choice.  Either he got the nation ship shape again or we would follow in the path of Nazi Germany or Soviet Russia.

Some of the programs worked.  Some didn’t.  Most of those that did work, we still have today.  To Mr. Roosevelt we can thank the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Social Security, the Soil and Water Conservation Service, the National Park Service, US Public Health Service, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Rural Electrification program, rural farm to market paved road systems, county health departments, the Tennessee Valley Authority, Oak Ridge National Laboratories in Tennessee and hundreds of state parks around the nation, built by the CCC.

It is especially ironic that Eastern Tennessee is now characterized by hyper-conservative politics.  Prior to the TVA, Oak Ridge and county health departments, it was one of the poorest and sickliest sections of North America.  Tuberculosis was endemic and a third of the people in the Tennessee Valley had active cases of malaria . . . yes, malaria.  The reason that the massive Centers for Disease Control complex is in Atlanta and not Washington ,DC is malaria.  The agency began as a Roosevelt Era program to fight malaria in Tennessee, North Alabama, Louisiana and Southern Florida.  Atlanta was at the geographical center of the program.

We fight for the Average Joe

FDR-1944Readers are probably puzzled as to why the first frame of an early World War II documentary film is at the top of the article.  This film was one of seven shown to all men and women, after they entered the armed services during World War II.  They are being told why many of them would be maimed or killed in foreign lands and seas, while fighting for their country.   Yes, these were propaganda films, but they were brutally honest in both their portrayal of our enemies and the causes of the Great Depression in the United States.

For me personally, one of the most interesting scenes in these films showed US Forest Service Rangers bringing food and firewood to homeless persons living in National Forests.  In 2010, I personally observed the US Forest Service in North Carolina going out of its way to make life miserable for homeless campers.

The films are clearly anti-fascist, but soft peddle the evils of Communism, since the Soviet Union was a principal ally.  Nevertheless, the films also clearly stated that most Americans did not want to our nation to become Communist.

These films today would be bitterly attacked by a significant percentage of political leaders as being anti-American. You see . . . the Great Depression was explained as being the result of unbridled greed and corruption, combined with cronyism among elected officials, who consistly allowed financiers to commit illegal acts to the detriment of the Middle Class.   The film states that America has learned the hard way that it is the “Average Joe” who is really important in maintaining the health of the economy, not a tiny minority of super-wealthy families.  It closes the opening chapter by saying that it is the welfare of the Average Joe of America, is who we are fighting for.

Why would that be un-American?   In reality, both Republican and Democratic Administrations since 1980 have been operating under the “filter down” theory, which states that what is good for the upper 1% will eventually “filter down” and be good for everyone else.   A wealthy Yankee patrician, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, learned first hand the consequences of this perversion, after his life was seemingly destroyed by polio and he was born again in the warm waters of an ancient Creek Indian shrine.

Of course, this author is poor, mixed heritage trash, and in some quarters has been labeled an ignorant peon, delusional, self-styled historian, part time blogger and pseudo-archaeologist.  So let’s hear what the most respected man in North America (next to the Rev. Billy Graham) has to say about the subject.  Please note that the criticisms are directed toward both political parties. My essay is not partisan political propaganda. This gentleman has been shunned by both presidents during the past 16 years, although VP Joe Biden stays friendly with him.  Please click the link below to read the Huffington Post article and see a video of his interview.


Interview with a very famous child of the Great Depression


The treachery against the 80% majority of Americans has been going on at least since 1980.  In a March 5, 2013 interview published in the Christian Science Monitor, former Iranian President,  Abolhassan Bani-Sadr,  very clearly stated that in the summer of 1980,  former CIA Director and future President, George H. Bush, met with leaders of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards in Paris.  He promised them massive quantities of weapons to fight the Iraqi Army, if they would delay releasing the US Embassy hostages until after the November 3, 1980 elections.  At the time, Carter was far ahead of Ronald Reagan in the polls.  Then the Reagan Campaign began portraying Carter as weak and inept because he could not force the Iranians to release the hostages.  That strategy won Reagan the election, who immediately began implementing programs to expand the gap between haves and have nots.   Bani-Sadr stated in the article that “The vast majority of Iranians wanted the hostages released immediately.  That would happened when I took office, but for the treason committed by Mr. Bush and Iran’s Revolutionary Guards.”   Do Native Americans want to continue being serfs standing on the side line or speak out against corruption that is diametrically opposed to our Spiritual Paths?


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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.



    How can I verify my Creek Indian Heritage?

    • If you are my cousin, Ray Burden, just say that you are my cousin. LOL Most Creeks have a large, bony knob on the back of their skull, just above where the neck joins the skull. The Mayas also have this. We inherited it from the Mayas. Here it is called the Creek Knot. If you have one, you are probably either Creek or Maya, but all Creeks do not have Creek Knots.

      All those families in Elbert County, Burden, Bone, Wansley, Barnard, Cornell, etc. were originally listed as Creeks or American Indians in the census. There was a large Creek village in the eastern part of Elbert County until the late 20th century. Most of moved a way now because of all the drug problems and poor economic opportunities now. Several Burdens were forcibly evicted by sheriff’s posse’s in 1855 because they were Creek and then marched to Oklahoma. Their descendants are now citizens of the Muscogee-Creek Nation.


        Yes, I am your cousin. I have lost contact with most of family over the years… that is another story.
        I would like to have a formal recognition of our heritage but not sure how to go about doing it.
        Also, I had no idea that the my Burden-side had links to the Creek nation.
        Any help would be appreciated in making formal contact/recognition/citizenship.
        Over the past several years, I have worked with several of the tribal nations in emergency preparedness. Just finished delivering a two-day course for the EBCI in Cherokee 2 weeks ago.
        Any info you can pass my way would be much appreciated.
        (My wife and I will be moving to the Island of Hawaii (Big Island) after the first of the year. )
        Ray (aka – Little Ray or Ray Jr. Haven’t used those names in years. Don’t really care to.)


    Hey Richard,
    The Roosevelt Institute is a wonderful place that helped a guy I worked with several years ago. What happened to him left him with serious physical and brain injuries. He always said the people there gave him back his life. One day I had to go there to service the icecream machine and all the workers aked about him. It had been 7 years since he was there but he was rememberd by the staff.
    There were a lot of springs in west georgia that had hotels. My grand father lived next to Lifsey Springs for many years. The old pool was still there under the brush inhabited by snakes and turtles. At one time there was a large hotel across Hwy 109 that burned down and was not rebuilt.
    My father was in the CCC planting trees in Utah, good work for a SouthGa farm boy that was tiredof looking at the north end of a south bound mule.
    Keep up the great articles

    • Thank you sir.

      The first time that my grandfather had seen money in over a year, was when he was hired by the WPA.


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