Native Americans Were County’s First Residents
For more then 100 years after the Native Americans were gone, area farmers would find arrowheads, pottery and other artifacts as they plowed their fields.
If I asked you what comes to mind the minute I say the word Douglasville I really doubt you would mention anything having to do with Native Americans, but if you want to be serious about our history we cannot leave them out.
They were here first, right?
You can still see their footprints if you know where to look.
If you search back into the recesses of your memory from middle school you might recall this area was home to both the Cherokee and Creek Nations. You might also remember they didn’t always get along so well. In fact, in 1821, the United States grew weary of the constant fighting between the two nations here in Georgia, so they established a buffer zone 10-miles across that would separate the two groups.
Fanny Mae Davis’ history of Douglas County advises however, both nations had liberty to hunt and fish in the neutral zone. The line and the old trail touched the north side of today’s United Methodist Midway Church property and crossed the future Southern railway track approximately one mile east of mid-town Douglasville. She further advises the site where Douglasville would eventually be located close to the skint chestnut tree was in the neutral zone. The skint chestnut was used as a direction marker and was a significant meeting place for both tribes. It stood at the highest point on the ridge close to where the old courthouse sits today. The picture with this post is one I took looking North from Strickland and Warren Streets indicating the elevation of the ridge where the old courthouse and the old skint chestnut tree is.
The Heritage of Douglas County, Georgia published by the Douglas County Genealogy Society advises a legendary Cherokee Chief, AmaKanasta, is associated with the eastern part of Douglas County and Lithia Springs where lithium laded waters of a spring were used as a cure for aches and pains and lifted the spirits of partakers. It was recorded the chief’s wigwam was located at Salt Springs (Bowden Springs/Lithia Springs). Other area historians advise you can find shallow hallowed rocks near the springs that were used as soaking tubs.
When Interstate 20 was under construction there are several stories regarding various Native American artifacts being unearthed. Some were taken home by construction workers while others were covered with tons of concrete and asphalt. The realization really makes one wonder what might be under the superhighway cutting through the county.
Both the Creeks and Cherokees used the land along the Chattahoochee to grow corn. Even today stones with handmade depressions in them used for grinding corn can be found along the river if you know what you are looking for.
Native Americans also left behind “bent” trees they used as pointers to identify important places or simply as directional markers. Fanny Mae Davis advises a young tree was trained to grow parallel to the ground, the new upward growth forming a right angle which ‘pointed in the direction to a village or spring’. Native carvers favored Beech trees for markers since the wood was easier to sink into. Trees bearing pictograms can be found along many local creeks and the Chattahoochee River.
Once the Indians were removed and the city of Douglasville and Douglas County were established the prime source of income for the area was agriculture. For more then one hundred years after the Native Americans were gone area farmers would find arrowheads, pottery and other artifacts as they plowed their fields. Often these items were simply plowed under and over because they just didn’t understand how important or significant the items might be to future generations. Davis writes about one Chapel Hill farmer who found a large stone weapon of some sort on his property, but at the time it was found it could not be removed without tremendous effort. Later on in the 1950s technology existed to finally remove the object the family had been plowing around. She also writes about an old Indian burial ground that was unearthed by a farmer in the 1930s along the Dog River.
Then there is the Princess Anneewakee Mound located on the west bank of the Chattahoochee River near what used to be Cambellton. Yes, the mound existed. See an aerial view from the 1950s here. The caption with the image advises the mound can be seen about dead center of the photo.
Is it really the burial mound for an Indian princess?
It might be the resting place of the daughter of a Creek chief, but a princess?
The Cherokees and Creeks did hold certain women in high regard, and would have respected the daughter of the chief, but a daughter would not have carried the title princess as we think of a princess today.
One thing we can be certain of is the mound did exist.
George White, a preacher as well as an amateur historian and archaeologist travelled the state in the early 1800s and wrote Historical Collections of Georgia: Containing the Most Interesting Facts, Traditions, Biographical Sketches, Etc., Relating to Its History and Antiquities, from Its First Settlement to the Present Time. The publication was what we would think of today as a travel guide.
White advised, [The tomb was] opposite the village of Campbellton, on the western bank of the Chattahoochee, in a tuft of trees, on one of those mounds so common in Georgia; rests the remains of Anawaqua, and Indian Princess, the former proprietor of the soil. It is situated in a meadow, in a bend of the Chattahoochee, and near the foot of a considerable hill. Ancient fortification are [White’s exact words] traced all around the plain, extending from the river to the hill.
Legend tells us the chief chose that section of the river for his daughter’s resting place because he thought it was the most beautiful, and he loved his daughter so much he named Anneewakee Creek after her. The road would come much later.
Fanny Mae Davis advises in her history that anthropologist had known of the mound from the county’s early days but it wasn’t until after World War II when Dr. Robert Wauchope, and authority regarding Georgia’s platform mounds, gave the Princess Anneewakee mound an examination. He concluded the mound had been built over an earth lodge or log tomb due to the charred wood and pottery fragments found on the site.
Later on after the land exchanged hands the new owner needed some fill dirt and began chipping away at the mound. He had no idea what the mound was or might be. Once he was told about the significance regarding the mound he stopped, but by then there was only about a foot to eighteen inches left. Students from the University of Georgia visited the site and found several artifacts. Mrs. Davis’ book advises among the mound periphery there were tapering lenses, deposits from periods of surface erosions and outwash, fragments of pottery or shards from several ancient periods to early 1800 European ceramics. Shards were radio-carbon dated from A.D. 605 to A.D. 725.
Mary Walker’s article found in the Genealogy Society’s publication states according to “Ray Henderson’s Self Guided Driving Tour of Douglas County”, a 400 pound carved stela [or stele] was found on Jacks Hill and was purported to be the headstone of Princess Anneewakee. It was possibly exposed when the timber for railroad ties was cut for the new line to Birmingham. It was given to the state for display.
A stele is usually stone or a wooden slab with some sort of inscription carved on it. They were used to mark territory but were generally used to mark graves.
Our Native American history is every bit just as important as our history regarding the founding families of Douglasville, the impact or the Civil War, or how Bankhead Highway came to be. Legends along with documented stories and locations of events and found artifacts need to be gathered and documented. I plan to do a little more research regarding the items found in the Anneewakee Mound and some of the history regarding discoveries along I-20.