Why people have assumed that the Calhoun Spanish Village Site was in the Nacoochee Valley
This addendum has been inserted into the article on the Bronze Flagon, found in the Nacoochee Valley. However, since most POOF subscribers have already read it, we are also publishing it as a separate article.
In 1821, the Native Americans living in the Nacoochee Valley sold most of the valley to a group of families from Burke County, NC. Most of these Native Americans moved to thinly populated sections of the Creek Nation in Alabama, but in a few years had to move again. The same phenomenon was occurring in what is now the Downtown, Midtown, Buckhead and Peachtree Hills areas of Atlanta. Hitchiti and Apalache Creek villages, who were not Muskogee Creeks, individually sold their lands and moved on prior to these lands being formerly ceded to the State of Georgia.
The North Carolinians’ land was somewhat in legal limbo until 1828, but was considered part of Habersham County. After 1828, the land between the Nacoochee Valley and the Chestatee River, plus the Calhoun Mining Operation was added to Habersham County until December 1832, when Lumpkin County was created. Thus, when the Spanish villages and artifacts were discovered by gold miners, these sites were all in Habersham County.
When pioneer archaeologist, Charles C. Jones, Jr., briefly visited the Nacoochee Valley in 1858, it just had been cut off of Habersham County and placed in a new county (White), which didn’t have a courthouse yet. There was still confusion about the boundaries between the counties in that area. Keep in mind that at the time, this was a very remote mountainous region that few people ever visited.
Jones found a newspaper article from 1828, which said that the employees of John C. Calhoun had found the ruins of a Spanish mining village on the western end of Habersham County. Jones had a pre-1828 map that showed the Habersham County line to be at the western end of the Nacoochee Valley, so in his book that he wrote in 1873 he placed the Calhoun Mining Operation immediately south of Helen, GA at the western end of the Nacoochee Valley.
In the 1970s, considerable research was done of the Georgia Gold Rush by professional historians. Among other things, it resulted in the designation of the Calhoun Mining Operation as a National Historic District and a National Historic Landmark. However, no standard history texts even mention the substantial presence of Sephardic Jewish colonists in the Southern Appalachians, so these historians were not aware of 16th and 17th century European village sites in the Georgia Gold Belt. Meanwhile, local history lovers have been vainly looking for the Calhoun Mining Operation in what is now White County, GA.
There are Spanish village sites in the Nacoochee Valley Area. Several were discovered by gold miners in the 1820s and 1830s. Infrared imagery shows what appears to be the footprint of a triangular fort with bastions in the flood plain of the Chattahoochee River, south of Sautee, GA. However, the one discovered by John C. Calhoun’s employees was definitely on the Chestatee River in Lumpkin County, GA.
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