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Ocmulgee YTB-532 - History

Ocmulgee YTB-532 - History

Ocmulgee
(YTB-532: dp. 325 (f.); 1. 100'; b. 25'; dr. 11'6"; s. 12 k.; cpl. 8; GL Hisada.)

Ocmulgee (YTB-532) was laid down by the Consolidated Shipbuilding Corp., Morris Heights, N.J., 1 November 1944 aunched 30 December 1944; and placed in service 2 June 1945.

Ocmulgee served the 3rd Naval District until transferred to Green Cove Sprin~s, Fla., and placed out of service, in reserve, in March 1946. She remained berthed at Green Cove Sprinp until reactivated and assigned to the 6th Naval District m May 1947. Redesignated YTM-532 in February 1962, she has remained in service in that district into 1969.


Getting a National Park in Central Georgia

The Ocmulgee River runs through the heart of Georgia. The National Park Service is looking at ways to preserve and protect all of the history and life that it holds.


History

Ice Age hunters arrive in the Southeast, leaving one of their distinctive "Clovis" spear points on the Macon Plateau (in the 1930's this became the first such artifact found in situ in the southern U.S.).

8,000-9,000 BC Transitional Period

People adjust to gradually warming weather as the glaciers melt and many Ice Age mammals become extinct.

1,000-8,000 BC Archaic Period

Efficient hunting/gathering adaptation to a climate much like today use of the atlatl (spear thrower), woodworking tools, etc. white-tail deer becomes a staple extensive shell mounds along the coast and some inland rivers.

2,500 BC First pottery in this country appears along the Georgia/South Carolina coast and soon filters into what is now Middle Georgia it is tempered or strengthen with plant fibers which burn out during firing, giving a worm-hole appearance to the vessel surface.

1,000 BC-AD 900 Woodland Period

Pottery tempered with sand and grit, sometimes decorated with elaborate designs incised, punctated or stamped into its surface before firing cultivation of sunflowers, gourds, and several other plants construction of semi-permanent villages stone effigy mounds and earthen burial and platform mounds connections to the Adena/Hopewell Cultures farther North and to Weeden Island in Florida and South Georgia.

A.D. 900-1150 Early Mississippian Period

A new way of life, believed to have originated in the Mississippi River area appears on the Macon Plateau. These people, whose pottery is different from that made by the Woodland cultures in the area, construct a large ceremonial center with huge earthen temple / burial / domiciliary mounds and earthlodges, which serve as formal council chambers. Their economy is supported by agriculture, with corn, beans, squash and other crops planted in the rich river floodplain. Indigenous Woodland people in surrounding areas interact with these people, who possess early symbols and artifacts associated with the Southeastern Ceremonial Complex (Southern Cult).

1150-1350 Mature Mississippian Period

The great Macon Plateau town declines and the Lamar and Stubbs Mounds and Villages appear just downstream. These towns are a combination of the old Woodland culture and Mississippian ideas. The Southern Cult, distinguished by flamboyant artistic motifs and specialized artifacts, flourishes at places like Roods Landing and Etowah (GA), Moundville (AL), Hiwasee Island (TN), Cahokia (IL), and Spiro (OK).

1350-1650 Late Mississippian Period (Protohistoric)

The Lamar Culture, named for the Lamar Mounds and Village Unit of Ocmulgee National Monument, becomes widespread in the Southeast chiefdoms marked by smaller, more numerous, often stockaded villages with a ceremonial center marked by one or two mounds combination of the both Woodland and Mississippian elements.

1540 Chroniclers of Hernando DeSoto's expedition into the interior of North America write the first descriptions of the Lamar and related cultures, ancestors of the historic Creek (Muscogean), Cherokee (Iroquoian), Yuchi (Euchee), and other Southeastern people. Most of their main towns are situated near rich river bottomland fields of corn, beans and squash. Many towns feature open plazas and earthen temple mounds. Public buildings and homes are constructed of upright logs, interwoven with vines or cane and plastered with clay (wattle and daub). Some are elaborately decorated and contain large woodcarvings. DeSoto's expedition's 600 men and 300 horses devastate local food supplies epidemics of European diseases decimate many populations.

1565 The Spanish establish their first permanent settlement at St. Augustine, set up outposts at towns along the Atlantic coast to the North, and begin to missionize the Indians. Priests and soldiers travel up the river systems to other towns in the interior of the area which would become Georgia.

1670 The British establish Charles Town (Charleston, SC) on the Atlantic coast. Despite Spanish opposition, English explorers initiate contact and trade with towns in the interior.

1690 A British trading post is constructed on Ochese Creek (present Ocmulgee River at the site now protected within Ocmulgee National Monument). A number of Muscogee towns move from the Chattahoochee River to this vicinity to be near the English. At this time, the Ocmulgee river is called Ochese-hatchee or Ochisi-hatchi (various spellings). The towns are known as the Ochese Creek Nation. The British eventually refer to them simply as the "Creeks." They speak variations of the Muscogean language, but their confederacy incorporates other groups, such as the Yuchi, who speak different languages. The Creeks acquire horses from Spanish Florida and guns from the British. Their culture and dress is modified by use of trade goods such as iron pots, steel knives, and cotton cloth.

1704 Col. James Moore, with a band of some fifty men from Charles Town, leads 1,000 warriors from the Creek towns on the Ocmulgee River to Florida. They devastate the Spanish Apalachee Mission system and drive the Spaniards back to St. Augustine. After many of the inhabitants of northern Florida are exterminated, some of the Creeks move into the area and incorporate the survivors into their own group. These people are subsequently known as the Seminole and Miccosuki.

1715 The Yamassee War erupts in protest against British indignities related to the fur trade, including the taking of Indian shipped as slaves to work in Carribean sugar plantations. Many traders in Indian territory are killed. In retaliation, the British burn Ocmulgee Town on Ochese Creek. The Creek towns withdraw to the Chattahoochee River and the Yuchis move with them. The people are known as the Lower Creeks. The Upper Creeks are centered on the Coosa and Tallapoosa Rivers to the northeast.

1733 The Georgia Colony settles on lands along the banks of the Savannah River given to General James Oglethorpe by Chief Tomochichi of the Yamacraws, a group related to the Lower Creeks. The Colony serves as a buffer between South Carolina and Spanish Florida.

1739 General James Oglethorpe, founder of the Georgia Colony, travels the ancient trading path through the mounds and old planting fields at Ocmulgee enroute to Coweta (near what is now Columbus, GA) to meet with the Creeks. One of his Rangers writes a short description of the mounds at what is now Ocmulgee National Monument. A western boundary for the colony is defined along the Ogeechee River. The area extends along the coast to the present northern border of Florida.

1774 William Bartram, reknown naturalist and botanist, follows the Lower Creek Trading Path from Augusta through the area. In his journal, he records this account of the Ocmulgee Old Fields:

"On the heights of these low grounds are yet visible

monuments, or traces, of an ancient town, such as artificial

mounts or terraces, squares and banks, encircling considerable

areas. Their old fields and planting land extend up and down

the river, fifteen or twenty miles from this site. If we are to

give credit to the account the Creeks give of themselves, this

place is remarkable for being the first town or settlement, when

they sat down (as they term it) or established themselves, after

their emigration from the west. "

1778 During the Revolutionary War, many Creeks want to remain neutral, but Alexander McGillivray (of Creek-Scottish descent,educated in South Carolina, Principal Chief of both the Upper and Lower Creeks) leads them into an alliance with England.

1793 Invention of the cotton gin greatly accelerates the desire for rich river bottomland. Creek Indians, most of them excellent farmers, quickly adapt to a cotton-based economy.

1805 The first Treaty of Washington cedes the remainder of the land between the Oconee and Ocmulgee Rivers, excluding a 3x5-mile strip known as the Old Ocmulgee Fields Reserve at present Macon, which the Muscogee (Creek) people refuse to give up. The treaty allows the United states to construct a road across the Creek Nation to the Alabama River and facilities for public accomodations along this road. Much of this "Federal Road" follows the ancient Lower Creek Trading Path and eventually stretches from Washington, D.C. to New Orleans. The treaty also provides for a United States military fort on the Reserve to guard the frontier along the Ocmulgee River. This outpost is called Fort Hawkins in honor of Benjamin Hawkins, U.S. Indian Agent to the Creeks and friend of George Washington.

1806 FortHawkins is built a short distance from the mounds. It serves as a frontier outpost, trading and center and location for treaty payments to the Creeks until the United States boundary is later extended to Alabama Territory. For the entirety of its existence as a U.S. military fort, it sat on land owned by the Muscogee (Creek) Confederacy.

1811 Shawnee Chief Tecumseh, working with his brother the Prophet, travels up and down the frontier exhorting the Indians to discard their plows, whiskey and the white man's ways. Some of the Creeks join his movement and nearly every town has a so-called "Red Stick" faction. The leaders are as divided as their people. William McIntosh emerges as leader of the faction loyal to the U.S. government. William Weatherford (Red Eagle) becomes the most important leader of the Red Sticks.

1812 General Andrew Jackson (later President) stops at Fort Hawkins during the War of 1812. The fort is an important port of rendezvous for dispatching troops. This war with Great Britain concerns the issues of neutral maritime rights and British involvement in Indian problems along the frontier. Hostilities between Creek loyalists and traditionalist Red Sticks increases. Red Sticks attack and destroy Tuckabatchee and several other Upper Creek towns in northern Alabama.

1819 The ancient Lower Creek Trading Path, now called the Federal Road , is the major artery from North to Southwest for many years (State Highway 49 follows much of this route through Central Georgia). It serves as the postal route from New York to New Orleans. A ferry is built near the mounds on the Old Ocmulgee Fields Reserve, and the first white child, later Mrs. Isaac Winship, is born in the area.

1821 The Creeks give up the lands between the Ocmulgee River and the Flint River.

1823 The Creek Council passes a law providing the death penalty for anyone ceding land without the authority of the Council. Pressures for Indian removal continue to increase. Some Creeks, including William McIntosh, believe removal is inevitable.

The City of Macon is laid out across the river from Fort Hawkins. The first newspaper in Middle Georgia, the Georgia Messenger, is published at Fort Hawkins, and a post office is established.

1825 The Treaty of Indian Springs ceding the last Creek lands in Georgia is signed by Chief William McIntosh. His cousin is the governor of Georgia. He sells the Creek lands and is consequently assassinated by his own people. The treaty is declared illegal by the federal government, but Georgia authorities disagree. They press harder for removal.

1826 The second Treaty of Washington officially surrenders the last Creek lands in Georgia. Some of the Creeks join the Seminole in Florida, others move into Alabama. About 1,300, mostly members of the McIntosh faction, resettle to the valley of the Arkansas River in "Indian Territory," now the state of Oklahoma, on lands given to them under the government's voluntary removal program

1828 The Old Ocmulgee Fields Reserve, including Fort Hawkins and the mounds, is surveyed and laid off into land lots incorporated into the city of Macon. Roger and Eliazar McCall purchase a portion of the Old Fields and establish a successful flatboat manufacturing enterprise. Of the mound area, the local newspaper reported:

"The site is romantic in the extreme that, with the burial

mounds adjacent, have long been favorite haunts of our

village beaux and belles, and objects of curiosity to strangers.

We should regret to see these monuments of antiquity and of

our history levelled by the sordid plow - - we could wish that

they might always remain as present, sacred to solitude, to

reflection and inspiration."

1836 The Creek War of 1836 ends when about 2,500 people, including several hundred warriors in chains, are marched on foot to Montgomery, AL, and crowded onto barges during the extreme heat of July. They are carried by steamboats down the Alabama River, beginning their forced removal to Indian Territory. During the summer and winter of 1836-early 1837, over 14,000 Creeks make the three-month journey to Oklahoma, a trip of over 800 land miles and another 400 by water. Most leave with only what they can carry.

1839 The Cherokee begin their "Trail of Tears." A few escape and remain in the mountains of East Tennessee and North Carolina where most of their descendants now live on the Qualla Reserve around Cherokee, NC.

1843 The Central Railroad constructs a railroad line into Macon through the Ocmulgee Old Fields destroying a portion of the Lesser Temple Mound and the great prehistoric town. A locomotive "roundhouse" is located near the Funeral Mound.

1840 The huge oak trees on the mounds are cut for timber. Until this time, the Old Ocmulgee Fields and Brown's Mount (another scenic prehistoric town about 6 miles down river) had been favorite resorts for picnics and parties, first by the officers at Fort Hawkins then by the residents of Macon.

Much of the Macon Plateau site becomes part of the Dunlap Plantation. Clay for brick manufacturing is mined near the Great Temple Mound and a fertilizer factor is constructed nearby.

1864 Union General George Stoneman nears the city of Macon in July. Governor Brown, who is in Macon, calls for every able-bodied Man to defend the city. A battery is stationed near the site of Fort Hawkins. Big guns are loaded on flatcars at the railroad bridge

over the Ocmulgee River inside the boundary of what is now the Ocmulgee National Monument. Gen. Stoneman destroys Griswoldville, continues to Macon and burns the railroad bridge over Walnut Creek on the Dunlap property. He uses the Dunlap's farm house as his headquarters during the ensuing battle. Failing to take the city, Stoneman and his troops are pursued

into nearby Jones County, where they are defeated at Sunshine Church. General Stoneman and his officers are incarcerated at Camp Oglethorpe in Macon and his enlisted men are sent to the infamous prisoner of war camp at Andersonville. Stoneman is the highest ranking Union officer taken prisoner during the Civil War.

1874 A second huge cut for a railroad (still in use) is excavated through the mound area and destroys a large portion of the Funeral Mound. According to Charles C. Jones, in his book, Antiquities of the Southern Indians, many relics and human burials are removed during this work.

1933 A large portion of McDougal Mound is removed to use as fill dirt for Main Street. Motorcycle hill-climbing leaves scars on the slopes and summit of the Great Temple Mound. A group of local citizens are convinced that the mounds are of great historical significance and should be preserved. Led by General Walter A.Harris, Dr. Charles C. Harrold, and Linton Solomon, they seek assistance from the Smithsonian Institution, which sends Dr. Arthur Kelly to organize and conduct archeological excavations on the Macon Plateau.

1934 Archeological treasures are unearthed. As the work progresses, a bill is passed by Congress to authorize establishment of a 2,000-acre Ocmulgee National Park. The archeological effort is largest excavation ever, until this time, undertaken in the country. Labor is provided by hundreds of workers employed under several Great Depression-era public works programs.

1936 President Franklin D. Roosevelt on December 12th signs the Proclamation establishing Ocmulgee National Monument and directing the National Park Service to preserve and protect 2,000 acres of "lands commonly known as the Old Ocmulgee Fields. " Due to economic constraints, only 678.48 are acquired, including 40 acres at the detached Lamar Mounds and Village. Later, an additional 5 acres are added to the Lamar Mounds and Village Unit and the parcel known as Drakes Field is donated to the nation for inclusion in Ocmulgee National Monument by the City of Macon. The park presently encompasses 702 acres.

1940 Great Depression Relief-era crewmen, including members of Civilian Conservation Corps Company 1426 stationed at Ocmulgee National Monument, are drafted into military service as the United States enters World War II. Man are sent to nearby Camp Wheeler which becomes the largest infantry training camp in the nation.

1960's An interstate highway (I-16), constructed through the Macon Plateau Unit, cuts the primary visitor use area off from the park's mile-long river boundary and causes significant hydrological changes to lands located in the river floodplain. During archeological excavation within the highway corridor inside the park, evidence of Muscogee (Creek) and earlier settlement, along with three human burials, are discovered. A number of important prehistoric and historic sites outside the park are destroyed or heavily damaged, including the nearby Gledhill I, II and III (where an Ice Age Clovis spearpoint is found by an artifact collector during removal of fill dirt for road construction), along with the New Pond site, Adkins mound, and Shellrock Cave. Archaic, Woodland, Mississippian and historic Creek villages and campsites across the river, such as Mile Track, Napier, Mossy Oak and Horseshoe Bend, are already damaged by levee construction in the 1940's.

1970's The Swift Creek Mounds and Village, type-site for a widespread Woodland Period culture, is destroyed for construction of a Bibb County Sheriff's Department firing range. Dr. Kelly's early archeological collections, still under the care of the National Park Service, are all that remain of this large site, which was located on the Ocmulgee Old Fields near the Lamar Village Unit of Ocmulgee National Monument.

1992 Descendants of Roger and Eliazar McCall donate almost 300 acres, adjoining the park's Walnut Creek boundary, to the National Park Service. The Archeological Conservancy accepts ownership pending legislation to incorporate it into Ocmulgee National Monument. The land, owned by this family for almost 175 years, has been designated the Scott-McCall Archeological Preserve.

1997 The Old Ocmulgee Fields are determined eligible to become the first National Register of Historic Places listing for a Traditional Cultural Property, or District, east of the Mississippi River. This distinction recognizes the area's great significance to the Muscogee (Creek) people.

Present The park's staff, the OcmulgeeNational Monument Association, the Friends of Ocmulgee Old Fields, and the park's many volunteers remain dedicated to the mission of protecting and preserving this very special place for the enjoyment of today's citizens and future generations.

Corkran, David H. The Creek Frontier, 1540-1783. Norman: University of Oklahoma, Press, 1967.

Cotterill, Robert S. The Southern Indians, The Story of the Five Civilized Tribes Before Removal.

Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1954.

Debo, Angie. The Road to Disappearance: A History of the Creek Indians. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1941.

Eggleston, George Cary. Red Eagle and the Wars With the Creek Indians of Alabama. New York: Dodd, Mead, 1878.

Foreman, Grant. The Five Civilized Tribes. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1934.

Foreman, Grant. Indian Removal. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1932.

Foreman, Grant. Indians and Pioneers. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1932.

Green, Donald. The Creek People. Indian Tribal Series. Phoenix, 1973.

Griffith, Benjamin W., Jr. McIntosh and Weatherford, Creek Indian Leaders. University of Alabama Press. 1988.

Hudson, Charles M. The Southeastern Indians. Knoxville: The University of Tennessee Press, 1976.

Swanton, John R. Early History of the Creek Indians and Their Neighbors.

Bureau of American Ethnology, 73rd Bulletin, Washington, D.C., U. S. Gov't Printing Office, 1922.

White, George. Historical Collections of Georgia. New York: Rodney & Russell, 1854


Ocmulgee YTB-532 - History


Council meeting in Master Farmer winter temple. Museum diorama.


Temple Mounds and Agriculture

We now come to the period in Ocmulgee history which is the most plentifully supplied with facts resulting from the excavations. The Master Farmers, which is the name chosen for these people in the Museum exhibits, were newcomers to Ocmulgee. It may be that their arrival was strongly resisted by the Early Farmers who had claimed title to these lands for the past thousand years. About A. D. 900, they moved into this area, probably from a northwesterly direction, and started to build villages with some very novel features.

We do not know where this migration had its start students of the subject believe that it may have begun in the Mississippi Valley near the mouth of the Missouri River. We do know, however, that some of their closest relatives settled in northeastern Tennessee and perhaps, as the ancestral group journeyed up the Tennessee River it split apart at the point of that river's abrupt northward bend in northern Alabama. Then a succeeding generation, which took central Georgia for its home, settled in two places near the Ocmulgee River. The smaller village was about 5 miles below the present city of Macon on a limestone remnant known as Brown's Mount the larger, with which we are here concerned, was the "Ocmulgee Old Fields" of the early settlers, across the river from the modern city and adjoining its eastern limit.

The most important feature distinguishing these people from their predecessors, however, was not their town but their very way of life. They were farmers besides tobacco, pumpkins, and beans, they cultivated the New World staff of life, corn. This way of life enabled them to settle in one place long enough and in sufficient numbers to create a large village, and to develop the religious and ceremonial complex which was expressed in its numerous distinctive structures. They built it on the rolling high ground above the river, where their square, thatched houses were scattered among the many buildings connected with their form of worship. These latter consisted of rectangular wooden structures which we call temples, and a circular chamber with a wooden framework covered with clay which was a form of earth lodge. From our knowledge of the later Indian pattern in this area, we believe that these represented the summer and winter temples, respectively, of the tribe. Here the grown men took part in religious ceremonies and held their tribal councils and here the chief could render decisions in individual disputes, or in matters of importance to the tribe as a whole.


The photo in the original handbook pictured human remains. Out of respect to the descendants of the people who lived at Ocmulgee, the depiction of human remains and funerary objects will not be displayed in the online edition.
A log tomb and its central location may indicate the principal burial in the first stage of the Funeral Mound. The face-down position could result from the reassembled bones being wrapped in a skin or mat for burial.


The photo in the original handbook pictured human remains. Out of respect to the descendants of the people who lived at Ocmulgee, the depiction of human remains and funerary objects will not be displayed in the online edition.
Masses of shell beads must have been valued possessions of many of the earlier temple mound dignitaries.

Perhaps the single outstanding archeological feature to be disclosed by the excavations at Ocmulgee is the preserved floor and lower portions of one of these winter temples. The remains consist of a low section of clay wall outlining a circular area some 42 feet in diameter. At the foot of the wall, a low clay bench about 6 inches high encircles the room and is divided into 47 seats, separated by a low ramp of clay. Each seat has a shallow basin formed in its forward edge, and three such basins mark seats on the rear portion of a clay platform which interrupts the circuit of the bench opposite the long entrance passage.

This platform, on the west side of the lodge and extending from the wall almost to the sunken central fire pit, is the most remarkable feature of all. Slightly higher than the bench, it forms an eagle effigy strongly reminiscent of a number of such effigies embossed on copper plates which are a part of the paraphernalia of the Southern Cult religion, to be described in a later section. Surface modeling of the tapering body section may once have been present, but is now so much obliterated that only a sort of scalloped effect across the shoulders can be made out. Nevertheless this feature is present on at least two of the plates mentioned, one from the Etowah site in north Georgia and the other from central Illinois. Moreover both of these figures, which represent the spotted eagle, are distinguished by the same, almost square, shape of the body and wings with only a slight taper from their base toward the shoulder. Finally, the head of the platform eagle is almost entirely filled with a clear representation of the "forked eye," which is presented also, though in smaller scale, on the two figures in question, and is a distinctive symbol of the Southern Cult. The entire ceremonial chamber has been reconstructed on the basis of burned portions of the original which were uncovered by excavation. It forms one of the principal exhibits of the monument, and represents a unique archeological treasure.


Fourteen clay steps, buried under later mound construction, led up the west slope of the earliest funeral mound to its summit.

Other structures uncovered included a small circular hut framed with poles and containing a large fireplace, out of all proportion to the size of the building. This was evidently a sweathouse where steam was produced by throwing water on heated stones but it is not known whether this common form of purification was related to their religion or merely a sanitary feature of the village life. At the west edge of the village the tribal chiefs and religious leaders were buried in great log tombs where from one to seven bodies, possibly those of wives and retainers, were deposited with masses of shell beads and other ornaments befitting their rank. Over the whole was raised a low flat-topped mound with 14 clay steps leading to the summit.


Pottery for everyday use was plain but well made and came in a large variety of pleasing shapes. Diameter of jar on right, 14 inches.

Beside their large and thriving religious center, we can reconstruct many aspects of their daily lives in which the Master Farmers were different from their predecessors. This difference is noted in their tools, weapons, and household utensils. These have survived because they were made of such durable material as stone and pottery. The many smaller projectile points now making their appearance suggest that the bow and arrow were in general use at this time. Greater range and accuracy have been advanced as possible reasons for adopting this weapon in place of the spear thrower and dart, which preceded the bow in most parts of the world. Perhaps equally important was an increase in tribal unrest and strife which made a larger quantity of relatively small and light missiles more effective in the brief skirmishes of Indian warfare than two or three of the bulkier darts. With regard to their other equipment, surprisingly few bone tools have been preserved but this may be due to their greater use of cane, which was very effective for knives, awls, and other implements but did not last as well as bone. Evidence has also been found to show that they manufactured and used basketry and a simple twined weave type of cloth fabric.

The pottery obtained in excavation has already been studied in considerable detail because of the recognized importance of this time marker to the archeologist. It is here that we find one of the most noticeable differences between these people from the Mississippi Valley and the native Georgia tribes whose pottery had developed along very different lines for some thousand years or more. Now) in place of the many forms of surface roughening which marked the history of the latter, plain surfaces become the rule. Jar forms have rounded bottoms, are often as broad as they are tall, or broader, and show a tendency toward constricted openings. One common form has a straight sloping shoulder which turns in from the rounded body contour of the pot rather suddenly. Its slope may continue without change to the rim, but more often it will turn upward again to form a slight lip or even a short neck. These contrast with the deep jars of the preceding period in which the mouth, regardless of neck or rim treatment, tends almost to equal the largest diameter, and in which the base is conoidal, i. e., rounded to at least the suggestion of a point.


The clay figures which often adorned the rims of open bowls represented all manner of creatures both real and imaginary. About one-third actual size.

Of course the Master Farmers made other types of pottery, too. Some were open bowls, and others had an incurving rim which gracefully repeated the curve of the lower portion just below the belly. There were also deep, straight-sided jars with extremely thick walls, and big shallow bowls several feet in diameter which have been called salt pans from the belief that the type was sometimes used in the making of that substance. Actually they were probably the large family food bowl in common use also in later times. Impressions of a twined cloth fabric on the outer surfaces of the latter, some cord marking, and crude scoring or other treatment of the sides of the former were exceptions to the general rule of smooth surfaces during this period.


Effigy bottles were usually a finer grade of pottery and generally accompanied burials. The hole in the human figure is in the hack of the head the face is painted while, the body red, and the hair the natural brown of clay. Diameter of bottle, 5-5/16 inches.

In place of surface decoration, however, we find another form of elaboration which is somewhat less common but equally distinctive. This is the attempt to depict some form, either natural or supernatural, in the body of the vessel or attached to it in some way as an independent figure. Small heads suggesting a fox or an owl or some night creature with big staring eyes grow out of the rim of a bowl and peer into it. The small handles which are fairly common on the straight-shouldered jars often have two little earlike knobs at the top and knobs and bosses with more or less modeling of the body of the pot are frequently used to represent gourds or squashes or some other vegetable which is not easy to identify. One curious style of jar has a neck which is closed at the top, something like a gourd, but has an opening about an inch in diameter below this on the side. Modeling at the top suggests ears, a style of hair arrangement, or some other human or animal feature that gives rise to the name, "blank-faced effigy bottle."

In time, other changes began to mark the village of the Master Farmers. The temples, built originally at ground level, were rebuilt occasionally and with the leveling of the old building to make way for the new the surrounding ground surface was raised at first into a small platform. Gradually this platform was increased in height and size until the mound at the south side of the village was some 300 feet broad at the base and almost 50 feet high. The other temple mounds grew in a similar fashion but were either started later or were less important and so never achieved as great a size. The earthlodges, too, were sometimes rebuilt and often on the same site but no attempt was made to increase their elevation. The funeral mound, however, followed the pattern of the others and in each new layer of the seven there were fresh burials of the village leaders, and on top of each a new wooden structure which may have been connected with the preparation of the dead for their final rites. In the later stages, too, the flat summit area was surrounded by an enclosure of wooden posts.


The structure atop the funeral mound may have been for preparing corpses for burial. From Museum exhibit.

At the northwest corner of the village lay a cultivated field which surrounded the site of one of the earlier temples. This was no ordinary field since most of these must have lain in the bottom land below the village. From its position, then, could we infer some sacred purpose, possibly to create an offering to the spirits, or by the power in its seed absorbed from the surroundings to increase the yield of the villagers' crops? In any case, the mounds for succeeding structures were gradually raised above it and by this act the rows were buried and thus preserved as conclusive proof of the advanced state of culture which the Master Farmers had achieved.


This series of cultivated rows buried beneath the fill of later mound construction confirms our belief that the temple mound builders lived mainly by farming.

The construction of all these mounds and earthlodges required a large amount of material as well as innumerable man-hours of labor. Two series of great linked pits, averaging about 7 feet deep and 18 by 40 feet in area, seem to indicate that the earth was obtained immediately outside the main village limits, for they have been traced around considerable portions of its north and south borders. They do not enclose the entire area occupied by the temple mounds, though, because at least three of these mounds lie outside their confines today others were destroyed in the construction of Fort Hawkins and the adjacent portions of East Macon a little farther to the north. It is not unlikely that the irregular ditches formed by these pits served also as a protection against raids on the village for otherwise, why would their course have outlined the village area so closely?

All the evidence, then, points to the existence here at Ocmulgee of a town of Indians who lived in a state of culture as advanced in some respects as any to be found north of Mexico. We see a prosperous community devoted chiefly to the yearly round of activities designed to cement its relationship with the powerful unseen forces on which its well-being depended. Not too much work was required with the abundant rainfall on this fertile soil to raise the principal food supply for an entire family. The men, like all later Indians, hunted to supply the meat for their diet but they had plenty of free time to devote to the construction and repair of the town's several temple buildings. Here they gathered at stated intervals to go through the time-honored ritual first taught to their fathers by the very spirits themselves, those spirits which gave man the fish and the game and finally the wonderful gift of the corn plant. All of these gifts and many more must be accepted with reverence and treated according to the rules established for their proper use otherwise the spirits would be offended, the game would disappear, and the fields would wither and die.


General view of excavations northeast of ceremonial earthlodge, showing portion of trench surrounding the village.

Of all the annual round of ceremonies the most important was that in honor of the deity whose gift of corn had the miraculous power to renew itself every year. The summer temple, then, was the scene of the year's biggest festival when the new crop was ripe. All the fires of the village were put out and after the men had fasted and purified themselves with the sacred drink, the new fire was lit and offered with the first of the new corn to the Master of Breath. With this act the sins of the past year were forgiven, and the town entered upon a new year with rejoicing. But ever so often the temple needed to be rebuilt, perhaps at the death of the chief priest, who may at the same time have been the chief of the town as well. This called for a mound to be built or the old one to be enlarged and raised higher as a mark of extra devotion and every man must have given his allotment of working days to complete the project, even if several years were required before it was finished. For the new mound was proof to the divine forces of how much their gifts had been appreciated, and a plea that their favor might continue and the town prosper. Also it was proof to all the surrounding tribes of the wealth and strength of the village which was able to erect and maintain these large structures and at the same time to live in plenty and defend itself from its enemies.


Ungrooved ax, or celt, of the temple mound builders

Much of this reconstruction depends heavily on our knowledge of the later tribes of the Southeast and on broader analogies as well. Archeological proof does not exist for much that we have inferred. Yet we know that what we find here could not have been built by villagers living at the level of bare subsistence. Economic surplus was essential, and we know the Indians had the corn with which to create it. Strong leadership was needed to carry such large projects to completion and with it there must have been a social and religious class system to organize the economic and priestly functions of such a community. The temple priests and their assistants and retainers would have formed a rather numerous class with high status in a society so clearly impressed with the importance of the physical expression of its religious ideas. Wealth and power may likewise have rested with a specialized warrior class which controlled the governing function of the group, or it may be that these were combined with the religious duties of the priestly class. Whatever the system employed, several hundred unusually important individuals given special burial in the Funeral Mound attest to the distinctions which existed. Class differences of this sort are the most common basis for a high degree of social and political control and Ocmulgee is a good example of the real attainments of some American Indians along these lines.

In spite of the relatively large amount of information we have about them, however, we know surprisingly little of the ultimate fate of the Master Farmers. We do know that these first bearers of an alien culture from the Mississippi Valley did not persist very long in the area in terms of its previous history. Within 200 years the busy village was deserted, only to be visited by an occasional traveling band descended from the Early Farmers who had lived on in nearby sections. We do not know even whether the last occupants left here in a body to settle elsewhere, whether they gradually died off, whether they were absorbed into the surrounding population, or whether they were finally exterminated by neighbors who had themselves developed large settled communities capable of effective military action. Other ideas came to Georgia from the Mississippi Valley, but Ocmulgee lay silent and was passed by. Only in the last chapter of Indian history in this State was the site again reoccupied for a brief time. Here at the end, to be described in our final chapter, we find the Creek Indians once more living among the haunts of their ancestors.


Ocmulgee River Corridor SRS

The National Park Service (NPS) is conducting a Special Resource Study of the Ocmulgee River Corridor between Macon and Hawkinsville, Georgia. The John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act of 2019 (Dingell Act) directed the Secretary of the Interior to complete the study, the purpose of which is to identify whether the Ocmulgee River Corridor meets specific criteria to be recommended for potential inclusion as a unit of the national park system.

The study area incorporates a corridor of approximately 50 river miles touching the Georgia counties of Bibb, Twiggs, Houston, Bleckley, and Pulaski. Major public land holdings in the area include Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park the Bond Swamp National Wildlife Refuge Robins Air Force Base and the Echeconnee Creek, Oaky Woods, and Ocmulgee State Wildlife Management Areas. There are also several public river landings. Much of the property in the study area is undeveloped, whether it is in private or public ownership.

The river corridor includes a rich human history, with archaeological resources dating from the Paleoindian Period through World War II. Particularly significant are extensive American Indian resources including Mississippian mound sites, and sites associated with Muscogee (Creek) heritage and history. The river corridor is comprised mostly of bottomland hardwood forest and swamp, with some upland forest in the terraces above the floodplain. Diverse wildlife in the area include black bears, white-tailed deer, wood ducks, alligators, wild turkey, and many species of waterfowl.

The 1998 National Parks Omnibus Management Act (54 United States Code 100507) established the process for identifying and authorizing studies of new national park units. A study area must meet four criteria to be recommended as an addition to the national park system. These criteria include: 1) national significance, 2) suitability, 3) feasibility, and 4) need for NPS management. The study process is linear, and each of the four criteria are evaluated sequentially. If the study finds that the river corridor does not meet one of the criteria, the study will not evaluate the subsequent criteria.

While the NPS is conducting the study, the designation of national park units is ultimately the purview of Congress and the President. The purpose of the study is solely to evaluate the area and report to Congress.

Currently, the NPS is synthesizing public comment on the study. More can be learned about the study process and the resources of the study by visiting the study's informational website (see the "Ocmulgee River Corridor Storymap" under the Links tab to the left).

The Dingell Act provides for a three-year time frame to complete the study. Once the report is received by Congress, it will be made available to the public.


Great Temple Mound

Built between 900 - 1100 AD, The Great Temple Mound originally had a dirt ramp that led to a prominent structure built on the top of the mound. Today, travel to the top of the Great Temple Mound for a great view of Downtown Macon.


National Park Getaway: Ocmulgee National Monument

The Earth Lodge is one of seven surviving earthen mounds originally built by the Mississippian culture more than 1,000 years ago.

In the heart of Georgia lies a place that has been settled for 17,000 years. Ocmulgee National Monument’s human history dates to the Paleo-Indian Period, and the area was occupied until the Muscogee (Creek) removal in 1826. Upon arrival at the Visitor Center, you will see over 2,000 artifacts on display, including a Clovis Point spear head dating to 10,000 BCE, earthen pottery made around 3,500 BCE, and European dishware from the 1700s CE.

Ocmulgee is home to the largest archeological dig in American history, with more than 3 million artifacts found by 800 Works Progress Administration (WPA) workers in the 1930s. Four different prehistoric cultures inhabited this area before European settlement in the late 1500s. One such group was the Mississippians, who constructed earth mounds for their elite members of society beginning around 900 CE. Their structures survive to this day, attracting visitors worldwide to the park.

Objects in the museum collection, including a Clovis point (left) and shell gorget (right), provide clues to ways of life representing 17,000 years of human history.

As you explore the park and cross the bridge leading toward the Earth Lodge, you will step back in time. The Earth Lodge floor is 1,000 years old and served as the council chamber used by the Mississippians for meetings and ceremonies. Try to imagine yourself sitting in one of the 50 seats discussing important issues of your day 1,000 years ago.

When you leave the Earth Lodge, you will walk toward the Great Temple Mound and across a railroad bridge to a large field. This area served as an ancient ball field where games like stickball and chunkey were played. Walk past the site of the British Trading Post that was occupied from 1690 to 1715, where the Muscogee (Creek) Indians traded animal skins for European goods such as bells, glass beads, and muskets.

The annual Ocmulgee Indian Celebration brings together craftsmen, dancers, storytellers, and living history demonstrators to celebrate and share their heritage with thousands of visitors.

When you arrive on top of the Great Temple Mound, you will see downtown Macon, Georgia, toward the southwest and hear the roar of cars from the interstate. However, imagine being on top of the mound 1000 years ago. What would you have seen? What would you have heard? A bustling village along the Ocmulgee River with a population of 2,000 people busily going about their day. The men would have been fishing, hunting, and building mounds while the women were making baskets, pottery, and growing crops. You would hear people talking, singing, and laughing as they went about their daily activities. Today only 7 mounds remain for visitors to experience the culture that once thrived here.

The park is self-guided, so visitors can walk or drive to the Great Temple Mound and explore 6 miles of nature trails. Many visitors prefer to visit in the spring and autumn when the humidity is low. During the third weekend in September the park hosts its annual Indian Celebration. During this most popular event of the year, over 200 American Indians share their history and culture with visitors.


Ocmulgee Bottoms in Recorded History

On March 3, 1540, the Hernando de Soto Expedition departed a Native town in the Florida Panhandle. 1 Contemporary scholars labeled the indigenous people in this region, the Apalachee. Actually, according to 17 th century ethnologist, Charles de Rochefort, they called themselves the Tula-halwase (Tallahassee) which means, “Offspring from Highland Towns.” 2 The real Apalache lived in northern Georgia. The Florida Apalachee began as a colony. One of their towns was named Apalache, so the Spanish gave that name to the whole province. This was a common practice by the Spanish. The coastal province of Guale named after a village of the same name on St. Catherines Island, GA. 3

When the expedition reached a river, De Soto ordered that they build a crude boat, which ferried the conquistadors, their horses and their swine to the other side. From there the expedition marched into the Chickasawhatchee Swamp, which was in the Province of Capachequi (Spanish) or Kvpeceke (Muskogee-Creek.) The word means “Wood Ash Lye People” and is still a Creek clan in Oklahoma. 4

From Capachequi, the Spaniards headed northward until they reached a major river, which is now presumed to be the Ocmulgee. 1 This was in the Province of Toasi (Offspring of Toa) With great difficulty, they ferried their men and animals across this river and entered the capital town of Toa. De Soto’s chroniclers described the town as being much better planned that Florida indigenous communities and also having more substantial architecture.

The expedition traveled northwestward along the Ocmulgee, passing through several small villages, until it arrived at a town, whose occupants had fled. 5 Meat was still cooking on a barbecoa. Continuing northward along the river they came to a large town on an island, which was the capital of the Province of Ichesi (Spanish), In Itsate Creek this could be interpreted as either Icesi or Itsesi . Depending on the interpretation of the Europeanized word, the word could mean either “Children of Corn” or “Offspring of the Itza.” 6 The people in this town were friendly so De Soto ordered a cross hewn from wood and placed on the top of a mound in the center of the town.

French Huguenot Expeditions

In 1564 and 1565, Captain René de Laudonnière, commander of Fort Caroline, dispatched at least six expeditions to explore the interior Florida Française (Georgia). 7 Several went northwestward up the May River in search of mountains that were described by coastal natives as containing gold and silver. Several Frenchmen were in northern or central Georgia when Fort Caroline was massacred by the Spanish in September of 1565.

The indigenous people living immediately south of Lake Tama were described as the Onithea-koa or Onithea People. “Koa” is an Arawak and northern South American suffix for “people.” 8 Those living north of Lake Tama were described as the Maya-koa, or Maya People.

The reader should understand, however, the Maya Indians as a whole, never called themselves Maya. This ethnic name was derived from the name of a province on the northwest tip of the Yucatan Peninsula, named Maiam. The Castilian letter “y” is pronounced like an English “ē.” It is significant, however, that the Province of Maiam was established by initially illiterate Itza Maya invaders around 1000 AD. The original capital was Chichen Itza, but later became Maiapan. 9 Maiapan was still the capital in 1500.

Richard Brigstock Expedition

In 1653, Royalist Barbados was under siege by a fleet dispatched by the English Commonwealth. 29 Royalist Richard Brigstock led a small party to visit the European colony in the Kingdom of Apalache in Northern Georgia. 30 English Catholic, Edward Bland, had visited the same region in 1646, but no chronicles of his visit have yet been discovered. 31

Brigstock did not provide Charles de Rochefort with any eyewitness descriptions of the Ocmulgee Bottoms, but did relate what the High King of Apalache said about its history. The Paracusa of Apalache said that the original homeland of the Apalache was in the region around Lake Tama, i.e. Ocmulgee Bottoms. 32 He said that his people were attacked by the Kofitachete and they had to temporarily abandon the region. This might explain the sudden abandonment of the acropolis at Ocmulgee around 1150 AD. The Apalache called the Ocmulgee Bottoms, the Province of Amana. The Kofitachete had eventually agreed to settle east of Amana. This is probably the province of Cofita, mentioned in the De Soto Chronicles. Amana was re-settled by a different people, probably the Ichisi, but they recognized the Paracusa of Apalache as their High King.

Late 17 th century Carolina traders

Within a relatively short period after Carolina was colonized in 1670, traders made contact with the Native People living on the Ocmulgee River. Those living in the Ocmulgee Bottoms were called Ochesee (the Ichisi of De Soto.) Those living north of the Fall Line were called the Ocmulgee (Oka-mole-ke = Water Swirling People.) 33 The corridor south of Ocmulgee Bottoms, including the Forks of the Altamaha (confluence of the Ocmulgee and Oconee River) was the Province of Tama, occupied by a people called either the Tamate, Tamatli or the Tamale. These words are the various ways of saying Merchant People in Itza Maya, Nahuatl and Huastec. South of Tama was the lands of the Yamasee Confederacy.

In the late 17 th century, the Ocmulgee River was called by the Muskogee-Creek name, Auchesi-hachi, which means Ochesee River in English. 34 At that time, “creek” meant a slow moving river in English. It still does in England. So Carolinians began calling the Native villages on the Middle Ocmulgee, the Ochesee Creeks, eventually shortening the name to Creek Indians. However, that word did not appear until around 1738.

In 1690 a fortified trading post was built by the Carolinians on the former Great Plaza of the Ocmulgee acropolis. 35 This became a focal point for trading activities between the Ochesee Creeks and Carolina. The Native American slave trade was in its heyday. Muskogeans would bring captured Indians, who were allies of France or Spain to the fort, along with furs and deerskins. These would be traded for European manufactured goods, such as muskets, lead balls, cloth and cast iron cooking pots.

Smallpox Plague of 1696

A horrific smallpox plague swept through the Piedmont and mountains of Carolina in 1696. 36 During this era, all of present day northern Georgia and the portion of Georgia north of the Altamaha River were considered part of Carolina. North and South Carolina had not been created either. Death rates of 90% to almost 100% were experienced among some Carolina Piedmont tribes. It can be presumed that similar population losses were experience in northeastern and eastern Georgia. This bacteriological holocaust came on the heels of 30 years of Native American slave raids. The impact was to virtually depopulate the countryside. The Kingdom of Apalache in Northeast Georgia completely disappeared from the maps after 1701. Some Apalachee remained in what is now Gwinnett County. The Apalachee River, a tributary of the Oconee River, is named after them.

Queen Anne’s War (1701-1707)

Great Britain became involved in a war on the mainland of Europe, which spilled over into North America. Spain attempted to strike the first blow by sending a force of 800 Spanish soldiers and Native American mercenaries through Southwest Georgia. 37 The Spanish intended to destroy the trading post fort at Ochesee and then strike Charleston from its back door. The Apalachicola Creeks and Chickasaws in southwest Georgia hated the Spaniards. They set up a camp on the Flint River, making it look like they were asleep then hid out. The Spaniards were lured into attacking the empty camp. Most of the Spanish force was killed when the Apalachicola Creeks and Chickasaws came out of hiding and surrounded the Spaniards.

In 1704, Colonel James Moore traveled from Charleston to Fort Ochesee with 50 men and gathered together 1,000 Muskogean warriors for an invasion of northern Florida. 38 The force virtually exterminated the Apalachee Mission system. Some Apalache immediately joined the Creek-British force and helped fight the Spanish. However, at least 3,000 pro-Spanish Apalache were taken back in chains to Charleston and sold into slavery. Most of the Florida Apalachee slaves lived short brutal lives on Caribbean sugar plantations.

John Beresford Map (1715)

When tensions were increasing on the Southeast, a Carolina militia officer, John Beresford, prepared a sketch map of the Native American tribes and French forts in the Southeast. 39 It included an estimate of the number of men of military age in each tribe – or in the case of the proto-Creeks, each town. The population of Ocmulgee Bottoms was miniscule, compared to what it had been in earlier times. His estimate was as follows: Westo-15, Taskeke-60, Coweta-30, Sawake-20 and Attate-20. There is no mention on the map of either the Ochesee or the Ocmulgee bands. The region apparently was devastated by repeated plagues. This is the first map to mention a word similar to Cherokee. It showed 200 Charakey warriors in extreme NW South Carolina and 800 Charakey warriors in extreme northeast Tennessee. It is obvious that the Cherokees had nothing like the population of 30,000 now claimed by contemporary Cherokee tourist literature.

Yamasee War (1715-1717)

On the evening of April 24, 1715 four Carolina colonial representatives were tortured to death by their hosts at the Yamasee town of Pocotaligo. 40 Soon thereafter Yamasee armies swept through the Carolina Low Country, killing hundreds of men, women and children. Almost simultaneous the Ochesee Creeks attack to the trading post fort on the Macon Plateau, killed its occupants and burned the fort. Soon after that, a combined force of Catawba and Cherokee warriors massacred two South Carolina militia units sent to suppress them. However, the Ochesee Creeks hesitated to attack South Carolina until they were certain of the direction that the war was taking. Meanwhile, about 90 out of the 100 South Carolina Indian traders in the Southeast were killed.

In December of 1715, a delegation of “Creek” leaders was invited to the neutral Yuchi town of Tugaloo for a diplomatic conference. 41 All historical markers and Cherokee histories call Tugaloo a Cherokee town, but ALL maps of the early 1700s label it a Hogeloge (Yuchi) town. 42 It is not clear, who these “Creek” leaders were, because neither the word Creek Indian, nor the Creek Confederacy existed in 1715. In fact, 1715 is the first year that even the word Charakey is seen in a British document.

The version of events at Tugaloo most commonly seen in online media is that 12 “Creek” leaders were killed in an argument. 43 The Cherokees then switched from being enemies of South Carolina to allies. The Creek version of events was that 32 “Creek” leaders were killed in their sleep then the Cherokees swept through northeast Georgia capturing Creek lands. History does verify that 40 years later the Koweta Creeks executed 32 Cherokee chiefs then declared the Creek-Cherokee War over. 44

Because of the lost of leaders and the Cherokee switch to the British side, the Muskogeans in Georgia did not play a major role in the Yamasee War, and soon sued for peace again with South Carolina. 45 During the war, most of the Muskogean towns and village in eastern and central Georgia relocated to the Chattahoochee River. Those in western North Carolina relocated to southwest Georgia. By then the Cherokees had achieved “most favored” status and the Creeks would have secondary priority for access to munitions until Georgia was founded in 1733.

Colonel John Barnwell Map (1722)

1721 Barnwell Map of Southeast America. Used with permission of Yale University and People of One Fire.

This map was prepared after the King George I revoked the charter of the Carolina Proprietors and made South Carolina and North Carolina separate Crown colonies. On the map Barnwell renamed the May River, the Altamaha or King George River, to assert British claims to what is now southern Georgia. [See Barnwell map as part of this article.]

On his map Barnwell wrote that “The Ochesee Creeks deserted the Ocmulgee River and now live on the Chattahoochee River.” Still living in the Ocmulgee Bottoms were the Taskeke, Colima, Attate and Coweta Indians. Obviously, they were not considered Ochesee Creeks in 1722.

Founding of the Colony of Georgia (1733)

Relations between the British colonists and the Creek Indians were excellent from the start. While the Creeks always distrusted the South Carolinians, they considered the Georgians to be their closest allies and best friends. 46 Many of the conferences between the leaders of the young colony occurred either at Indian Springs, north of the Ocmulgee Bottoms or in the vicinity of the mounds of the ancient town site on the Macon Plateau.

The Ochesee Creeks on the Chattahoochee River no longer were dominant in what was now a full-fledged Creek Confederacy, except that it was called the Coweta Confederacy and Coweta was the word typically used for Creek Indian by both the British and the French. Oglethorpe founded the town of Augusta within Creek territory in order to dominate the Indian trade in the Southeast. It was considered an “Indian town” in which members of all tribes were free to walk around and socialize with the locals.

Visit by General James Edward Oglethorpe (1739)

Governor Oglethorpe traveled the trading path through the mounds and old cultivated fields at Ocmulgee on his way to Coweta which was then near present day Carrollton. Here he met Creek leaders. One of his Rangers wrote a short description of what is now Ocmulgee National Monument. 47

Map by Emmanuel Bowen (1747)

This was the first British produced map to show all of the territory that would eventually become the State of Georgia after the founding of the Colony of Georgia. [See map attached to this article.] It showed Ocmulgee Bottoms occupied by the Kaonita, Kowetas, Taskeke, Echete (Itsate), Colima and Attasees. The Echete (Itsate) were shown on the 1715 Beredford Map as occupying the northeast corner of Georgie. Apparently, most did not want to be part of the Cherokee Alliance. All but one of the Echete villages in NE Georgia disappeared from subsequent maps. The Cowetas were originally from Northeast Georgia and the section of the North Carolina Mountains, east of Franklin, NC. Perhaps these were some of the tribes invited to the conference at Tugaloo.

John Mitchell Map (1755)

This famous map only shows the Koweta and Echete still living in Ocmulgee Bottoms, but there may have been other villages that Mitchell was not aware of. He lived in England. 48

William Bartram (1774)

The famous map of North America published by John Mitchell in 1755 precisely notes the locations of Creek and Alabama villages on the Alabama and Chattahoochee River systems.

Bartram traveled on the Lower Creek Trading Path from Augusta through Ocmulgee Bottoms on his way to visit Tuckabatchee. 49 He recorded his visit in his journal, which later in his life, became his famous book.

“On the heights of these low grounds are yet visible monuments, or traces, of an ancient town, such as artificial mounts or terraces, squares and banks, encircling considerable areas. Their old fields and planting land extend up and down the river, fifteen or twenty miles from this site. If we are to give credit to the account the Creeks give of themselves, this place is remarkable for being the first town or settlement, when they sat down (as they term it) or established themselves, after their emigration from the west.”

First Treaty of Washington (1805)

After much pressure from Georgia officials and Thomas Jefferson, the Creek Confederacy ceded the remainder of their land between the Oconee and Ocmulgee Rivers. 50 The Creeks refused to give up the ruins of the ancient town in Ocmulgee Bottoms that the Creeks called Waka-te. The treaty excluded a 3 by 5 mile strip known as the Old Ocmulgee Fields Reserve.

The treaty allowed the United States to construct a road across the Creek Nation to the Alabama River now known as the Alabama Road. It also allowed both Creeks and white men to build facilities for public accommodations along this road. Much of this “Federal Road” follows the ancient Lower Creek Trading Path and eventually stretches from Washington, D.C. to New Orleans. The treaty also provided for a US Army fort to be built on the Reserve to guard the frontier along the Ocmulgee River. Almost immediately after the treaty was announced, real estate speculators and squatters occupied most of the Ocmulgee Reserve. 51 Most of the Ocmulgee Reserve was quickly and illegally subdivided.

Fort Hawkins (1806)

Fort Hawkins was constructed on a hill immediately north of some mounds in 1806. 52 It is now known that that this location was the site of a satellite village of the Ocmulgee Acropolis. Fort Hawkins was never assaulted, because most Georgia Creeks developed cultural ties with their white neighbors. Instead, it served as an administrative center for Federal activities in the lower Southeast. Fort Hawkins was used as a staging site for army units destined to combat the Red Stick Creeks in Alabama, during the War of 1812. For the entirety of its existence as a federal facility, it sat on land technically owned by the Creek Confederacy. The land was not offered back to the Creeks, when the fort was closed.

Treaty of Indian Springs (1825)

Mixed-heritage Creek leader, William McIntosh, along with a few close friends, who included two mixed-heritage sons of Federal Indian agent, Benjamin Hawkins, arranged to make a treaty with the State of Georgia that ceded all Creek lands in Georgia, including the Ocmulgee Reserve. 53 The Creek signers of the treaty put in provisions that gave them one square mile reserves, which they planned to subdivide. In addition they paid themselves for signing the treaty. The small group of signers did not have authority to sign any treaty and ironically broke a law that McIntosh had earlier voted for, which proscribed the death penalty for those illegally giving away Creek land.

Congress considered the treaty fraudulent and refused to ratify it. In the mean time there was chaos in Georgia as the state had gone ahead and surveyed out land lots. Squatters moved in while Creek families still lived on their farms. Many mixed-blood Creeks had opted to keep their lands and become citizens of the State of Georgia. Christian Creeks were banned from most Creek towns.

Treaty of Washington City (1827)

Members of the Creek National Council signed this legitimate treaty in Washington, DC, which ceded all Creek lands in Georgia. 54 It did not specifically mention the Ocmulgee Reserve, whose original legal description stated that it would be owned in perpetuity regardless of other future land cessions by the Creek Confederacy. However, the signers of the document, representing the United States and State of Georgia, assumed that the reserve no longer existed. Fort Hawkins had been abandoned in 1824, so the federal government had no need of the land.


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Watch the video: Learning Opportunities Abound in Macons Ocmulgee National Monument (January 2022).