Brief Historical Timeline of the “Prison Farm” land P1

Muscogee land-

By Lily Ponitz. For further information watch her presentation “Deep Dive: Atlanta City Prison Farm From the Archaic to Now”

8,000 BC – 1,000 BC

  • The property is on naturally resource-rich land in the South River watershed, a headwaters of the Ocmulgee/Altamaha river system, one of the three largest river basins on the Atlantic Seaboard.
  • Archeologists have collected evidence of an unbroken chain of civilization in the Ocmulgee River Basin dating back to the Ice Age migration of humans across North America.
  • The South River is the northernmost boundary of Soapstone Ridge. Soapstone Ridge is the largest intrusion of mafic-ultramafic rock1, a type of igneous rock formed through the cooling and solidification of magma or lava, present in North Georgia. This geological phenomena has educational importance, both in understanding the creation of Earth’s current land surface and the existence of this region’s earliest human settlements.
  • Extensive archeological surveys conducted by GSU in the 1980’s found habitation sites dating back tens of thousands of years. At these sites, people lived, harvested soapstone, and worked the stone into bowls and tools.2
  • Evidence of quarrying and bowl making exists today on sides of boulders. Production of soapstone bowls, mostly for cooking, was likely a focus of economic activity.3
  • Some unique plants still exist on Soapstone Ridge today, which only grow on soils derived from mafic rocks. The forests of the ridge support rare species such as the barn owl and bobcat, and creeks deriving from the natural springs support mollusks.4

1,000 BC – 1825 AD

  • The Muscogee (Creek) people are descendants of peoples that spanned the entire region known today as the Southeastern United States.5
  • The historic Muscogee, known as Mound builders, built expansive towns within the broad river valleys in the present states of Alabama, Georgia, Florida and South Carolina.6
  • The Muscogee were a union of several tribes that evolved into a dynamic confederacy which grew in town-units through population growth, conquering, and taking in tribes and fragments devastated by the European imperial powers.7
  • In the 1600’s, the English began trading in Muscogee territory, and in 1733 they established the Georgia Colony along the banks of the Savannah River.8
  • The English called the Muscogee peoples Creeks, designating the peoples occupying the towns on the Coosa and the Tallapoosa rivers, Upper Creeks, and those to the southeast, on the Chattahoochee and Flint rivers, the Lower Creeks.9
  • During the Revolutionary War, despite conflict with the English and many Muscogees wanting to remain neutral, the Muscogee Nation formed an alliance with England.10
  • In 1783, after losing the Revolutionary War, the English ceded Muscogee territory to the new country. New waves of American settlers poured in, many coveting the rich river bottomlands possessed by the Muscogee.
  • In 1783, the state of Georgia negotiated an illegal treaty at Augusta taking Muscogee lands from the Ogeechee to the Oconee River.11
  • In 1805, in the first Treaty of Washington, the Muscogee allowed the government to widen one of the confederacy’s successful trading trails into a Federal Road. This road became a major thoroughfare for the migration of settlers.12
  • Under pressure from the government and hostility from settler neighbors, internal conflict arose among the Muscogees, as well as nearby Choctaws and Cherokees. Some sided with more northern Shawnee leaders in resisting assimilating and giving up more land.13
  • In 1813, war broke out between this coalition of resistors and the loyalists, backed by General Andrew Jackson, and lasted until a Georgia militia, together with federal troops, destroyed a stronghold at Horseshoe Bend on the Tallapoosa River in Alabama. This violent attack killed many in the resistance and convinced Muscogee towns to side with Jackson.14
  • As punishment for their resistance, in 1814, America took a significant portion of land from the Muscogee territory, 23-million acres, including southern Georgia bordering Florida.15
  • In 1821, in the First Treaty of Indian Springs, William McIntosh ceded Muscogee lands between the Ocmulgee River and the Flint River to America without having recognized authority by the Muscogee nation to do so. This treaty, which was later nullified, turned over the land Dekalb County was founded on in 1822.16
  • William McIntosh went on to sign the 1825 Treaties of Indian Springs that ceded all land east of the Chattahoochee River to Georgia and Alabama and agreed to the confederacy’s relocation west of the Mississippi River. As a result of his actions signing these illegal treaties, McIntosh became the first Creek to be executed for crimes against the nation.17

Footnotes:

  1. Dickens, R. S. and Carneg, L. R., Preliminary Site Investigations at Soapstone Ridge, DeKalb County, Georgia. Georgia State University.
  2. Dickens, R. S. and Carneg, L. R., Preliminary Site Investigations at Soapstone Ridge, DeKalb County, Georgia. Georgia State University.
  3. Dickens, R. S. and Carneg, L. R., Preliminary Site Investigations at Soapstone Ridge, DeKalb County, Georgia. Georgia State University.
  4. Dickens, R. S. and Carneg, L. R., Preliminary Site Investigations at Soapstone Ridge, DeKalb County, Georgia. Georgia State University.
  5. Dickens, R. S. and Carneg, L. R., Preliminary Site Investigations at Soapstone Ridge, DeKalb County, Georgia. Georgia State University.
  6. Dickens, R. S. and Carneg, L. R., Preliminary Site Investigations at Soapstone Ridge, DeKalb County, Georgia. Georgia State University.
  7. Dickens, R. S. and Carneg, L. R., Preliminary Site Investigations at Soapstone Ridge, DeKalb County, Georgia. Georgia State University.
  8. Ocmulgee National Monument. The Muscogee (Creek) Nation: A Brief Chronology.
  9. Dickens, R. S. and Carneg, L. R., Preliminary Site Investigations at Soapstone Ridge, DeKalb County, Georgia. Georgia State University.
  10. Ocmulgee National Monument. The Muscogee (Creek) Nation: A Brief Chronology.
  11. Ocmulgee National Monument. The Muscogee (Creek) Nation: A Brief Chronology.
  12. Ocmulgee National Monument. The Muscogee (Creek) Nation: A Brief Chronology.
  13. Ocmulgee National Monument. The Muscogee (Creek) Nation: A Brief Chronology.
  14. Ocmulgee National Monument. The Muscogee (Creek) Nation: A Brief Chronology.
  15. Ocmulgee National Monument. The Muscogee (Creek) Nation: A Brief Chronology.
  16. Ocmulgee National Monument. The Muscogee (Creek) Nation: A Brief Chronology.
  17. Ocmulgee National Monument. The Muscogee (Creek) Nation: A Brief Chronology.

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