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Youtube . . . The Secret History of Fort Caroline

Youtube . . . The Secret History of Fort Caroline


In the height of the Great Depression, a committee composed of Jacksonville city officials and Chamber of Commerce members, chose an undeveloped spot on the St. Johns River to place a painted wooden sign, stating that this was the location of Fort Caroline. Even though 84 years of archaeological studies have yet to find a shred of evidence that either French or Spanish colonists lived in the Jacksonville Area during the 1500s,  that modest wooden sign has grown into a 72 square MILE tract of federally-owned landscape, managed by the National Park Service.

Many, many documented facts are not being told to tourists, who visit the Fort Caroline National Memorial.  The Fort Caroline they visit is a poorly executed 1/12th – 1/18th scale model (oriented in the wrong direction) that was constructed in 1962 as a reward for most of the Florida Congressional delegation supporting the Civil Rights Act.  No boats of any size could enter the mouth of the St. Johns River until some dredging had occurred, after Florida became part of the United States in 1821.  No transoceanic vessels or ships with keels and sails could reach the port of Jacksonville until after 1858,  when the US Corps of Engineers radically changed the channel of the St. Johns River. Until after 1721, all Spanish, French, English and Dutch maps showed Fort Caroline to be on the South Channel of the Altamaha River Delta in Georgia.  However, NO MAP ever showed Fort Caroline being in Florida, until one was created by a New York transplant real estate speculator in the mid-1800s.

Interesting facts, but what does that have to do with the study of Native American history?  During the brouhaha of the “Mayas In Georgia Thang” in 2012 and 2013,  I closely analyzed the bizarre behavior and statements of archaeologists and professors, located in northeastern Georgia and northern Florida.  Surely they knew that the wild statements they made in public would come to haunt them.  The Uchee, Creek and Seminole Peoples are consummate warriors.  Well . . . no . . . they know very little about the people, who made their play potsherds. 

I was still curious as to what was driving the irrationality of so many anthropology professors and students at the University of Georgia, University of North Georgia, Florida State University and University of Florida.  In fact, most of the internet activity was by Florida academicians and students.  I couldn’t discern the difference, because I could only determine the locations of their server computers and cellular towers.  Nevertheless, such behavior can only be explained by fear.  Yet . . . what fear would unite academicians, who were located 300 to 500 miles apart?

Then it dawned on me.  Sixteenth century chroniclers and geographers in France, Spain and England had described an advanced indigenous civilization in the Highlands of Northeast Georgia, which built stone structures.  This civilization was centered at the headwaters of the tributaries of the Altamaha River.  Colonial period maps placed Fort Caroline at the mouth of the Altamaha River.   Twentieth century archaeologists had built a mythological stack of cards by ignoring the existence of the stone ruins and unanimously supporting a Jacksonville location for Fort Caroline.  In fact, if you read Floridian anthropological papers, they are almost universally bench-marked by that bogus location for Fort Caroline.  Move Fort Caroline northward to the Altamaha River and many generations of books and professional papers about the Southeast’s indigenous peoples would come tumbling down.


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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.

1 Comment


    Well done. You have laid out every fact so clearly they cannot be denied.


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