Early Settlers of Union
Descendants...Their Stories...Their Achievements
Mists of History on Their Way of Life
By: Ethelene Dyer Jones
To the right of
US Highway 129/19 going south, rising above Lake Trahlyta and Vogel State
Park, is majestic Blood Mountain with
an altitude of 4,458 feet.
I have seen Blood Mountain
shrouded in mists and fogs so dense that the mountain seemed to have
disappeared completely from sight. When fall's splendor of color climbs
the hills, Blood Mountain
stands as a mural of Nature, like a carpet of gold, red and russet,
spread as a feast of beauty for the eyes. In winter, I've seen it with
snow and ice on its summit. With sunlight
reflected on its frozen crest, it becomes a giant protruding diamond of
come to visit the mountains in the fall, surely many have taken time to
read the historical and official sign that marks Blood Mountain and
to wonder about the myths that surround it and the history that gave it
directly from the sign:
"Blood Mountain -
Elevation 4458 ft. - Chattahoochee National
"In Cherokee mythology the mountain was one of the homes of the Nunnehi
or Immortals, the "People Who Live Anywhere," a race of Spirit People
who lived in great townhouses in the highlands of Old Cherokee County.
One of these mythical townhouses stood near Lake Trahlyta. As
people, they often brought lost hunters and wanderers to their
townhouses for rest and care before guiding them back to their homes.
Before the coming of white settlers, the Creeks and Cherokees fought a
disastrous and bloody battle in Slaughter Gap between Slaughter and Blood Mountain." (Georgia
First, the myth
of the Nunnehi was common to
other places, not just to Blood Mountain.
From Mooney's "Myths of the Cherokee," we learn that the spirit people
often assisted those in trouble on their hunts and travels. They were
caregivers for those in distress and provided places of rest and
Who are we to
find fault with the myths of the Nunnehi? Most of us
believe in guardian angels who protect and
minister. Maybe we express our stories in a different way from the
Cherokee-held beliefs of the "People Who Live Anywhere." But basic to
most cultures is the faith of ministering spirits that come when needed
to bind up wounds and provide sustenance.
name came in a more caustic and confronting manner. Not even the Nunnehi
could prevent the confrontation between the Creeks and the Cherokees
that occurred many years ago. When the Cherokee came south, they
discovered the Creek Nation already entrenched in the mountains.
Desiring the land for their habitation, the Cherokee waged a great
battle against the Creeks at Slaughter Gap. It is said that the streams
ran red with blood from those killed as these two Native American
tribes fought for dominance of the land. Thence came the name for the
highest peak where this battle occurred, and Blood Mountain
stands as a sentinel to this historic fray.
built villages throughout Union County. One
was in the shadow of Blood Mountain.
Then the white
men began to come to the mountains to settle. At first the whites and
Cherokees lived in peace. Known as one of the five "civilized" tribes
(the others were Creeks, Choctaws, Chickasaws and Seminoles), the
Cherokee taught the white man how to till the rugged mountain land and
what herbs and plants were beneficial for eating and for medicinal
us of the treaties signed and the efforts made to separate the Cherokee
from their lands. Some of them are cited here. The Treaty of 1819 ceded
Cherokee lands to the whites in other southeastern states except in
north Georgia and
With the discovery of gold in 1828, prospectors became land-hungry and
excessively greedy. It was that year that Georgia
passed legislation extending Georgia
ownership to North Georgia Cherokee lands.
to the contrary, in 1830 the Indian Removal Bill passed the U. S.
Congress. That was the beginning of the end of Cherokee occupation of North
Georgia. Before 1832, when Union County was
formed from the large Cherokee County
which covered much of North
Georgia, numerous white settlers had
secured land through land lot grants and gold lot grants.
Andrew Jackson wanted Indians removed to lands west of the mighty Mississippi
River where land had been set aside
as Reservations. Both Governors Gilmer and Lumpkin of Georgia wanted
the Indians sent west. Despite Chief John Ross and the Cherokee
Council's pleas in Washington in
1835, about five hundred Indians had signed for removal, going against
their Chief who was trying to keep the mountain land for the Cherokees.
We know the sad
story of The Trail of Tears and the forced removal of 1838.
Cherokee who hid out in caves to escape the soldiers or those married
to white settlers remained in their mountain home.
were left on mountains and in the valleys, on hamlets and rivers.
Abbott wrote on October
27, 1889 in her "The
Indians of Georgia" (University, Alabama, Confederate Publishing Co.,
reprinted 1980, p. 7): "Visiting among the mountains of North
Georgia, I have often been possessed
with the feeling that an impalpable presence moves about the hills and
wanders through the sweet, green valleys. There is a whisper in the
corn, and a sighing in the leaves, a pathos
in the moonlight, and a ghostly grouping in the clouds. What is it? Do
the spirits of the departed Cherokees linger yet about their beloved
hunting grounds? And do they whisper to the sympathetic heart of today,
'O pale faces, write of us; give us a
little page in history of the land that denied us a home.'"
I've felt that
'impalpable presence" on the top of Blood Mountain and
other places bearing names given by those long-departed inhabitants.
c2006 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published Nov. 2, 2006 in The
Sentinel, Blairsville, GA. Reprinted by permission. All rights
Dyer Jones is a retired educator, freelance writer, poet, and historian.
She may be reached at e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org;
phone 478-453-8751; or mail 1708
Updated January 21, 2009
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