Father wee goe tow greate Hontaoase lodgement ther king shew moche mercye ~ Eleanor Dare 1591.
Father looke vp this river to great Salvage lodgement. Wee pvtt moche clew bye wage Father wee ben heyr 5 yeeres in primaeval splendovr ~ Eleanor Dare 1592.
Father wee dweelde in greate rocke uppon river neere heyr ~ Eleanor Dare 1598.
Father some amange vs pvtt manye message fo yov Bye Trale. – Eleanor Dare 1598
Father I hab moche svddiane sickenes. Father hab salvage shew yov greate rocke bye trale ~ EWD 1599.
September 27, 2014 is a date that could well change American history books and bring an additional flock of tourists to Georgia’s historic Nacoochee Valley. Using the Elizabethan words of only those “Dare Stones” that the host of “America Unearthed,” Scott Wolter, determined to be authentic, the journey of the Roanoke Colony survivors was tracked along an ancient Native American trade route up the Chattahoochee River to the northwestern corner of Habersham County, GA then hit a dead end.
On a busy Saturday afternoon during the autumn tourist season, the co-owner of a Southwestern Native American art shop took time out from waiting on two customers, looking at a $340 Navajo pendant. Her answer to a question from a stranger solved a mystery that began in 1587. What happened to the Roanoke colonists?
The final piece of a long debated jigsaw puzzle was answered by Jodi Tinsley, who along with her husband, Fred, owns Prairie Trails in Sautee, GA. She was asked, “Do you know of a massive rock rising up from the banks of the Chattahoochee River that had a Native American village next to it? It would be a landmark that could be seen a long distance by someone coming up the Chattahoochee River Trail.”
Without hesitation, she answered, “Yes, it’s right up the road. There is an historical marker on the highway that says, Early Trading Post. The Indians used to hold dances on top of the rock, when it didn’t have big trees growing on it. There was a big Indian village next to it and the valley’s first trading post. Many tourists think that it is an Indian mound, but it is really just a huge rock. Some folks built a house on top of it a few years ago so you can’t climb up on it anymore.”
According to Eleanor Dare’s last message, the manmade burial cave where she expected to be buried was near this big rock. Apalache nobility were mummified and buried in cave-like tombs. Like the Itza Mayas, Apalache commoners were typically buried under or near their houses in sepulchers lined with flat stones. Hundreds of “stone box graves” have been found in the Nacoochee Valley.
After returning to the cabin Saturday night, I examined LIDAR and infrared imagery that had been provided to me by the White County, GA GIS Department. The footprints of probable Native American structures were visible on one side of the Chattahoochee River, north of the massive rock. On the other side was a much smaller cluster of rectangular footprints that appeared to be either a palisaded fort or a cluster of European style buildings. With the help of Jodi Tinsley, the location of Hontaoase had been found. That was the name of the Native American town where Eleanor Dare spent the last decade of her life.
Conversations while filming a television premier
In between filming scenes of the premier of “America Unearthed” at my cabin near Amicalola Falls, Scott Wolter and I were able to have several fascinating conversations. He mentioned that while in North Georgia, the crew was also filming scenes of a program on the Roanoke Colony. The day before, he had visited Brenau University in Gainesville and examined the “Eleanor Dare Stones.” Scott was convinced that those stones found in a cave in the Nacoochee Valley and just downstream on the Chattahoochee River were authentic. The Elizabethan words engraved on the stones were heavily oxidized from centuries of exposure to the elements.
Scott mentioned that the crew was going to the Nacoochee Valley the next day to shoot some film. I offered to come along. I told him that I had been going to the Nacoochee all my life and that over the past two years had found absolute proof that one of the oldest European colonies in North America had been located there.
It made perfect sense. England was at war with the Spanish Empire. The English Protestants traversed several hundred miles to a valley where Sephardic gold miners had settled. Being Jewish, they would protect the Protestants from the Spanish Inquisition.
Scott received a scowl from a film crew supervisor. At that point I had little credibility with the crew because I was obviously not affluent and had just moved into a hovel. They didn’t understand how horrific the Recession had been on design professionals in Georgia. The state’s per capita income has dropped from 15th to 44th among states since 2006.
Scott got the silent message from the producer. He told me that if I could find some more information on the Roanoke colonists in Georgia, they would come back another time and do a follow-up program.
The Kingdom of Apalache explains it all
A detailed description of the events surrounding the three attempts to colonize Roanoke Island, NC and the Dare Stones controversy in the late 1930s can be found in a two part Examiner series in February 2013 that are in the link that follows this article.
To be succinct, four situations can explain why, after receiving extensive national publicity, a group of stone tablets that described the journey of the Roanoke Colony survivors across the Carolinas to the Georgia Mountains were all labeled as frauds. (1) North Carolina officials were furious that (then) Brenau College had started its own outdoor drama about the Roanoke Colony that would compete with their own drama, The Lost Colony. (2) Many, or all, of the last group of engraved stones were obviously fraudulent. (3) Both North Carolina and Georgia historians in the mid-20th century were grossly ignorant of North Georgia’s true history. (4) Unlike academicians in all other parts of the world, archaeologists and historians in the Southeast have refused to learn the languages and cultural histories of its Native American peoples. Their explanations of the past have primarily relied on classifications of whatever artifacts they found in the soil.
Although considered absurd by many mid-20th century historians, the Dare Stones marked a journey across the Carolinas that followed well-documented Native American trade paths. Once reaching a huge proto-Creek Indian town at the confluence of the Savannah and Broad Rivers in present day Elbert County, GA, the stones say that the colonists turned west toward what is now Jackson County, GA. Archeologists scoffed at this route. They said that there was nothing there.
During the past year, discovery of a long forgotten book by 17th century French ethnographer, Charles de Rochefort, has led to the discovery of the town sites of what was probably the most advanced Native American civilization, north of Mexico. It was the Kingdom of Apalache. De Rochefort’s book is translated and explained in the 2013 book, The Apalache Chronicles. It describes in detail the Apalache People, their religion and their architecture. The core province of Apalache is now occupied by Gwinnett, Barrow, Jackson, Clarke, Banks, Dawson, Lumpkin, Habersham, White and Union Counties, GA. The most important religious shrines are in Gwininett and Jackson Counties, but the last capital of the Apalache was in the Nacoochee Valley on the Chattahoochee River. It is shown on late 17th century maps.
A century before De Rochefort wrote his book, the commander of Fort Caroline, Captain René de Laudonnière, described the Apalache as the most advanced people in La Florida. (now the Southeastern United States.) He announced his intention to paddle northwestward up the May River (Altamaha River) to its source near the Appalachian Mountains and establish the capital New France among the Apalache. The Spanish intervened, but these statements proved conclusively that Fort Caroline was on the Altamaha River.
De Rochefort stated that the King of Apalache gave sanctuary to the survivors of Fort Caroline in 1566. They became close advisors of the king and eventually he converted to Protestant Christianity. The Frenchmen married Apalache women. Presumably, their offspring joined the Apalache nobility. From that point on, the kings of Apalache allowed European refugees, primarily Sephardic Jews and Protestants, to settle in the mountains north of the core province. With that information, the presence of the Roanoke Colony survivors in a valley of the Georgia Mountains is quite logical.
The last two pieces of the puzzle
It is apparent that the Roanoke survivors first went to have an audience with the Parakusti (High King) of Apalache in what is now Jackson or Gwinnett Counties. He then instructed them to travel up the Chattahoochee River to the Nacoochee Valley were there were already some Sephardic gold miners. While traveling safely up the river valley, they were able to leave many engraved stones as guides for Englishmen trying to rescue them. The locations where these stones were found were marked on a GIS map. They stop near Aleck Mountain. On top of this mountain is a small stone shrine where Apalache medical doctors were trained. Alek was the Apalache and later, Creek word for a priest-physician.
One of the most damning criticisms leveled by University of North Carolina academicians at the Dare Stones found in the Georgia Mountains was that Hontaoase was not a Cherokee word or ever listed as a Cherokee village. The North Carolina scholars stated that some Georgia Mountaineer, who faked the stones, had made up the word. At the time, all whites believed that the Cherokees had lived in the Georgia Mountains forever. The few remaining Creek Indians in Georgia knew better, but no one listened to them. The Apalache branch of the Creeks had occupied the Georgia Mountains at least until 1715.
Being Creek, I instantly recognized Itstate Creek meaning of Hontaoase. It means, “Offspring of those who make things grow with water.” In other words, these people irrigated their crops. They were probably the same folks, who built the irrigated terrace complexes in Northeast Georgia.
There was a problem, though. I could find no Creek town in the 1800s named Hontaosee or Hontawasee. This was a Creek word, but I had no proof that it ever existed.
Historic preservationist, Eddie Lanham of Mountain Stewards came to the rescue. He was trying to find the route of a horse trail that Colonel Marinus Willett took in 1790 from Andrew Pickens plantation in South Carolina to meet with the Creek Principal Chief in northeastern Alabama. Willett traveled along the southern edge of territory that had been ceded to the United States by the Creeks in 1785 then given to the Cherokees as hunting territory.
In 1790, several Creek towns still occupied the Etowah River Valley, because it was then the tribal boundary. Willett passed through the town of Hontawekee, which was on the Upper Etowah River, very close to where I live at the present time. Hontawekee is the Muskogee Creek way of saying Hontaoase or Hontawese. Willett’s memoir mentioned that the town was less than a year old. It had moved from land recently given to the Cherokees. It would have to move south again in 1793, when the United States gave the Cherokees land between the Etowah River and Kennesaw Mountain.
Lanham could find not find a Cherokee village named Hontawekee. David Gomez, Site Manager of New Echota State Historic Site could not find a Cherokee town named Hontawekee. Bingo! We had proof that Hontaoase was a real Creek town in the Georgia Mountains.
The last piece of the jigsaw puzzle was finding a massive rock next to the Chattahoochee River and a Native American town site. Jodi Tinsley provided the missing piece.
The big rock and small village site is immediately east of a large town associated with the Nacoochee Mound. This again made perfect sense. Charles de Rochefort stated that the Apalache nobility lived in separate villages from the commoner’s towns, but both were scattered along fast moving rivers.
The members of the Hernando de Soto Expedition had noticed the same custom in northwest Georgia among the Kusate (Coça in Castililan.) Both the elite and commoner towns of Kusa faced the face-moving Coosawattee River, but they were separated by Talking Rock Creek.
She (w) (J) oh (n White) eleanor (Dare) dye februa(ry) dowter name Agnes heyr. GJ 1599
Eleanor Dare, may you now rest in eternal peace.
*A concise account of the surprising history of the Georgia Mountains, from 1200 BC to 1972 AD, may be found in the newly published book, The Forgotten History of North Georgia.