The mystery of Tuckabatchee just got bigger
Forgotten Peoples of the Southeastern United States: Part Six
The second location of Tuckabatchee was much farther north than we assumed earlier this year. It was on Peachtree Creek in Atlanta!
In a previous news article, it was announced that the capital of the Upper Creeks, Tuckabatchee, was shown on late 18th century and early 19th century maps as being in Georgia. ALL books and academic papers assume that Tuckabatchee was on the Tallapoosa River in Alabama until the Muskogee Creeks were forcibly deported to the Indian Territory, now Oklahoma. High resolution maps from 1795 to 1825 show Tuckabatchee at the prior location of the large town of Chattahoochee, where Six Flags Over Georgia is now situated.
British military maps from the Revolutionary War period seem to show that Tuckabatchee was in present day Georgia after 1776, but they were at such a small scale and the geography was so inaccurate, it was impossible to determine exactly where Tuckabatchee was located. Its post 1776 location seemed to be somewhere in the Atlanta Area – the presumption was that the large town was at the Six Flags site.
A high resolution map of the Province/State of Georgia was recently discovered in the UK National Archives, which was made at the end of the American Revolution. It contained a big surprise. When the people of Tuckabatchee left the Tallapoosa River Valley, they first went to the confluence of Peachtree Creek and the Chattahoochee River. Several decades later, this would be the site of Fort Peachtree, from which Peachtree Street gets its name.
The new town site was connected by a major road to Ustanauli, which at that time was still a Creek-Chickasaw town. That route is now four lane US Hwy. 41. In 1735, Ustanauli had been the capital of the Kusa (Upper) Creeks. The principal chief of the Upper Creeks was named Usta. It is no accident that in 1825, the Cherokees chose the site of Ustanauli, the capital of their former enemies, as the site of their capital.
Later in 1785, after the map above was published, the Cherokees were invited separately to Hopewell Plantation in South Carolina. The agents working for the United States and the state of Georgia, secretly took away north-central and northwest Georgia from the Upper Creeks and gave the region to the Cherokees. They hoped that the land deal would end the Chickamauga War. It did not.
The leaders of the Creek Confederacy did not learn about the land theft until 1790. They threatened to declare war on the State of Georgia because of deception. General Marinus Willett was dispatched by George Washington to quell the anger of the Upper Creeks. At that time, there was still a string of villages with Creek names in the Etowah Valley. They were forced to move south.
Apparently, it was about 1791, when the leaders of Tuckabatchee decided to move farther south. By 1795, a Creek town was at or near Tuckabatchee’s second location. It was called Pakanahuili . . . Standing Peachtree. Where things get confusing though is that a village by that same name was at that same location in 1762.
Great Warrior, the mikko of Tuckabatchee and the Principal Chief of the Upper Creeks opposed the Red Stick War, but also opposed the cession of 23 million acres made by the William McIntosh Faction at the Treaty of Fort Jackson.
In 1821, the Creeks ceded all land north of Utoy Creek to Georgia. That put Tuckabatchee about 1/4th mile outside the Creek Nation’s boundaries. The name Tuckabatchee disappeared from the maps at that time.
The question remains . . . did botanist William Bartram visit the Tuckabatchee in Alabama or the one in Georgia? Actually, both sites were in Georgia in 1776. Bartram visited with the Cherokees before traveling to see the Creeks. The route that Bartram took would have passed right through the Georgia location of Tuckabatchee, but there is currently insufficient information to make an definitive call on this riddle.
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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.
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