Dicksie Bradley Bandy: Leader in the Transformation of a Cottage Tufting Industry to Carpet Manufacturing

By Susan Gilmore

In 1993, Dicksie Orline Bradley Bandy was honored, posthumously, by the Georgia Women of Achievement (GWA). The GWA goal is to “honor the many inspirational and courageous female trailblazers” in Geogia. Dicksie is, to this day, the only woman listed with the GWA as a businesswoman. Her impact in North Georgia improved living conditions for many and transformed the area from mainly small farm agriculture to manufacturing. 

Dicksie Bradley was born near Folsom, Bartow County, in 1890. Her father was Dr. Richard S. Bradley (Dr. Dick). Her mother, Ora Lewis Bradley, authored her and her husband’s biography, A Country Doctor’s Wife.  Dicksie was named for her father, Dr. Dick.  

Education was often not a priority for girls in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. However, Dicksie’s parents believed strongly that all their children should receive a good education.  Dicksie attended Reinhart College and Georgia State College for Women from which she earned a teaching degree.

She taught in Bartow County, marrying Burl (B.J.) Bandy in 1915. She also worked as a telegraph operator for the railroad during WW 1. This gave her an unlimited lifetime pass to ride on the train.  

In 1920, Dickie and her husband opened a country store in Sugar Valley, Georgia. The store was a success. They soon opened a second store in Hill City. But the post- WW1 agricultural recession in the mid 1920’s caused area farmers to be unable pay their debts. The stores owed $22,000 to suppliers. The Bandys refused bankruptcy and Dicksie sought other avenues of income.  

Dicksie visited a local tufted bedspread maker named Catherine Evans Whitener. Catherine had adapted the colonial method of “candle-wicking”, by cutting the stitches to create tufts.  She had a flourishing cottage industry with her brother selling spreads on the Dixie Highway. Catherine shared her knowledge and several patterns she had created with Dicksie so she could start her own bedspread business.

Dicksie began with the  “Spread House” system for her first tufting company, B.J. Bandy Company in Sugar Valley.  She operated her business using a network of local farm families to produce spreads.  

A “Spread House” was a small warehouse, home, or even chicken coop, where workers would stamp patterns on sheets of unbleached muslin. Men called “haulers” would deliver the stamped sheets and yarn to rural homes and women would tuft, using the patterns, the thread through the cloth. The children would cut the tufts. The hauler would collect the spreads and pay the “tufters” (or “turfers,” as they were sometimes called).  Most “tufters” earned 10 cents per spread. The haulers returned the products to the “’Spread Houses” for finishing. Finishing involved washing the spreads in hot water to shrink them and to lock in the yarn tufts. The tufted spreads could also be dyed in a variety of colors. The spreads were hung on clotheslines to dry and beaten with brooms to get the tufts to stand up. A finished spread typically sold for $2.50.

Dicksie had several advantages over other women in the tufting business.  She was well educated and was experienced with running a business. She knew the suppliers of the raw materials needed to produce a spread. Her husband had a line of credit with both the banks and suppliers. From her country stores’ customers, she knew who could tuft and which men needed work and could be haulers. She was willing to pay above the going rate per spread –  25 cent. Her total cost per spread was about $2.00. 

Dicksie did not wish to compete with the others selling spreads on “spread lines” along the new Dixie Highway. She decided to go to the markets, in the north.  Her husband, like the many others, did not believe her strategy would work and even told her she was “foolish for trying”. 

Dicksie was not deterred. She packed her suitcase, with a completed bedspread, and used her railroad pass. She traveled to Woodward and Lothrop in Washington DC and asked to see the buyer. They bought 400 spreads at $4.00 each a 100% profit for the Bandys. She then traveled to Hotchschild and Kohns in Baltimore and sold 200 more. She had planned to go on to New York but realized she had more orders than she could fill.  Dicksie returned to Georgia and hired dozens more tufters in Sugar Valley, Kingston, Calhoun, Adairsville, and Hill City and was able to fill all the orders.  

 Dickie then traveled to Macy’s in New York. She procured an order for 1,000 spreads. She knew she had to find a faster and more efficient way to produce spreads. She could no longer satisfy the market as a cottage industry. She went to Georgia Tech where she met with the Dean of Engineering. He assigned a graduate student to work with Dicksie. The young engineer modified a single needle (embroidery) commercial Singer machine so that it would tuft the thick yarn into unbleached muslin without tearing the fabric and added a knife to cut the loops. 

Dicksie bought several commercial Singer sewing machines from a bankrupt tailoring business and hired a mechanic to modify them.  She located a closed cotton mill in Dalton and invited the young engineer from Tech to come up and help lay out the new tufting mill.  The mill opened in 1931, as the first tufting factory. The sewing machines allowed for more intricate designs and stitches that were closer together. The tufted lines looked somewhat like a caterpillar, so the name of the product was changed to chenille.  The word Chenille is taken from the French word for “caterpillar”. 

The Bandy’s tufting mill brought greater productivity and control over the work process, and a steady income to the women and men who had formerly been paid for “piece work”.

Others saw the success of the Bandys and opened mills of their own. There were over 200 different tufting mills and spread houses in north Georgia during the 1930’s and 1940’s. The Bandys were successful because they invested in new machinery, new methods, and new technology. Tufting Machines quickly developed into four, then eight, then twenty-four needles. They were the earliest to use electric needle-punch guns. The needle-punch gun was later adapted for use in custom-designed area rugs. The carpet industry was founded on the manufacturing principles developed by Dicksie and her associates.  

This new technology allowed the Bandy mills to produce more elaborate patterns and greater color variations than others in the industry. The Bandy Mills were famous for their high quality work. One of their bedspreads graced Scarlett O’Hara’s bed in the movie “Gone With The Wind”. 

By the 1930’s, the Bandys had become the first millionaires in Dalton. Dicksie could afford to hire managers to run the mills and salesmen. The industry changed from women running the tufting business to men. 

In addition to the Dalton mill, the Bandys opened J & C Bedspreads Co. in Ellijay and Southern Craft in Rome. They opened Bartow Textiles in Cartersville in 1940. It was the largest tufting mill in the country. It produced several chenille products: robes, small rugs, spreads, dolls, swimming capes, bathroom toilet covers, and draperies. Unique at the time, they had their own laundry facilities for finishing. 

Dicksie and her husband would travel from Dalton every few weeks to check on the mill. While in Cartersville they stayed in the Hotel Braban which they co-owned with Dicksie’s brother. The name Braban comes from  Bradley and Bandy.

The spread businesses continued to prosper after World War II. People were eager for color and beauty in their new homes. 

In 1948, B.J., Dicksie’s husband, died. Their smaller companies were sold. The larger mills were divided between their children.  Dicksie’s daughter, also named Dicksie, and her husband David Tillman inherited Bartow Textiles. David worked with DuPont to develop a method to apply a backing to rugs to prevent skedding and sliding. He also experimented with producing broadloom large area rugs /carpeting. The Tillman’s managed the mill until 1954. Tufted bedspreads were becoming less popular, and the new tread was for large area rugs. The Tillman chose to move on to other businesses. 

Dicksie believed that carpet would be the next step in the tufting industry. The housing industry was taking off and many people were looking to cover their floors. In 1954, Dicksie convinced her youngest son, Jack Bandy, along with Bud Serelan and Guy Tenley, to invest in a Carpet mill. Coronet Carpet was created. The carpet mill opened using 12- and 15-foot-wide machines that used wool yarn instead of cotton. In 1960, the mill transitioned to use synthetic fibers – nylon and even larger machines.  Coronet Carpets was the first carpet manufacturer to be listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

As she grew older and her involvement in business decreased, Dicksie began working on a project to recognize the 150-year history of the state of Georgia’s mistreatment of the Cherokee in North Georgia. She initiated and led the campaign to restore a prominent monument of the Cherokee Nation, the home of Chief Joseph Vann. Her project was the first restoration project coordinated with the newly formed Georgia Historical Commission. Through her work, she was named by the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma, as their official Ambassador.  In 1958, the restored Vann House was dedicated and presented to the State as a monument to Cherokee culture. 

“My heart is filled with sadness when I think of the atrocities perpetrated on the Cherokees … I apologize to you, the Cherokee Nation, for what our gold-hungry, land-famished ancestors did.”
– Dicksie Bradley Bandy

Dicksie passed away in 1971 at the age of 81 years old. 

“For her energy and skill in initiating the industrial recovery of Northwest Georgia and for her social conscience in trying to atone for the sins of the fathers, we honor Dicksie Bradley Bandy as a Georgia Woman of Achievement.”  – Georgia Women of Achievement Dedication Ceremony

A Country Doctor’s Wife, 1940, Bradley, Ora  Lewis

What’s Shakin’ in Bartow County?

By Joel M. Sneed

It was a typically hot August night, Tuesday the 31st, in 1886. In the small town of Pine Log, Georgia, worshippers had been listening to the preaching of Rev. J.N. Sullivan at the Pine Log Methodist Church. The air was thick, everyone tired as the evening wore on, and the Rev. Sullivan was apparently disappointed in the lack of response to his sermons during this week of revival. In his frustration he fell to his knees and cried out to the Almighty, “Lord, if it takes it to move the hearts of these people, shake the grounds on which this old building stands.” 

As he was uttering his prayer, the grounds of the church were suddenly shaken. The building shook perceptively. People were understandably terrified and many rushed to the altar to pray. Some dashed out of the church to spread the word about what had just transpired. Many stayed in the church throughout the night, praying. Religious fervor like never before was evidenced among the populace, with both attendance and contributions increased.

In Cartersville a similar occurrence was reported in The Cartersville Courant (pg. 2, col. 2) of September 2nd: “A meeting was in progress at the colored Baptist church. The meeting of the colored folks had progressed some time and the preacher did not perceive any interest being felt by his hearers. He finally prayed to Almighty God to prevail and do something to show the derelict audience that there was some supreme power. He made a most earnest plea that a sign of some sort be made to convince them of that fact. The prayer had hardly left his lips before the windows of the building began to rattle and the house to roll. The preacher led the hosts out of the building instanter, some falling out of the windows. In the jam many persons were slightly hurt and one boy had an arm broken. One old colored woman jumped out of a window and succeeded in bruising herself up considerately and cutting a deep gash over her forehead.”

Center of the Shaking

Simultaneous with these events, a large earthquake, centered near Charleston, South Carolina, was triggered. Striking at 9:51 P.M., the earthquake caused tremendous damage and loss of life in Charleston and the surrounding area. The estimated strength of the quake has been calculated to have been 6.9 to 7.3 on the Richter scale, that measurement scale not known at the time. Some 100 deaths were recorded in Charleston alone from the quake, which was one of the most damaging ever in the East Coast of the U.S. and which had been felt over more than half of the country. About 2000 buildings in Charleston were either damaged or destroyed.

This, then, was the cause of the shaking at the Bartow County churches that happened concurrently with two preachers invoking the power of God. Even after the cause was realized, it is said that the people of the area remained in their “readjusted” faith in the Almighty, and demonstrated that by a more faithful church attendance and giving.

Shock Waves Felt Close to Home

Damage from the earthquake was noted in many cities and towns in the Southeast. In Georgia, reports were made of damage in Atlanta, Augusta, Macon, Covington, and Canton. In addition to the happenings at the two churches noted above, Bartow County had its share of stories related to the quake, with The Cartersville American (pg. 3, col.1) of September 8th reporting that “somebody claims to have felt an earthquake shock nearly every night during the past week.” The same issue of the paper related an incident with one person in Kingston: “Our quiet little burg was considerably shook up on Tuesday night the 31st. Squire Burrough had retired and was dozing. His house is near the colored Methodist church, and when his house began to shake and tremble he jumped up and run and opened the door and Rev. Watson quoted his text in a strong voice. ‘Awake thou that sleepest and arise from the dead.’ Squire said he began to feel alarmed, and for a while he could not take in the situation.”

Alice Butler “Topsi” Howard relates in her book, Sunsets, Dooryards, and Sprinkled Streets, about damage to one large home in the north of the County. “Thistledale”, also known as the Hamilton House, was built around 1850 by Charles H. Hamilton. Hamilton had fought in the Mexican War and at one point had been captured and retained in the home of Gen. Santa Anna. While there, Hamilton admired the home, made a plan of the house, and later reproduced the home for himself just north of Adairsville. The walls were 18” thick and made of brick, and Howard relates how the Charleston earthquake had caused large cracks to form in the walls.

Back in Cartersville and vicinity, “much consternation prevailed among the people, in many instances whole families, slightly clad, congregated in the middle of the streets. The darkies generally were uncontrollable and participated in considerable yelling and praying. For some time after the shock a great hullabaloo was kept up by the darkies and they all thought the world was coming to an end. In many instances their condition was indeed pitiable.

“Our people were never more horror-struck and men that were never known to pray fell to their knees and began invoking the blessing of the Lord. It certainly was an awful time and well calculated to bring a person to the consideration of the serious side of life.” (Cartersville Courant, ibid.)

Other Local Evidence of Quakes

While the Charleston quake of 1886 is by far the better known of quakes in the Southeast due to the damage wrought over such a large area, other tremors have been felt on occasion, both before and after, but little damage was noted and therefore little record is extant. One familiar to this writer, of an unknown date, produced destruction of a natural feature in the north of the County.

A tributary of Oothkalooga Creek, Trimble Branch is a small stream emanating from the base of a hill amidst a jumble of large rocks. Such was not always the case, as this jumble of rocks was once a large archway over a passage that led into the hill. Native Americans were familiar with this lovely sight, chert flakes and Middle Woodland points having been found adjacent to the branch. More recently, local residents were known to have canoed into the passage for a short distance, reporting two large rooms before the waterway “sumped”, the roof coming down to the water’s surface and preventing further traverse.

In an interview of April 10, 1986 by this writer, Mrs. Elizabeth Trimble Hartley related that her father, George Layton Trimble, grew watercress in the pond there in the 1920s and 1930s, selling it to “fine hotels” in the North. The watercress was packed in barrels and stored in his ice house. She stated that in the late 1800s her father, as a boy, would go into the opening in a small canoe, and as a little girl years later she would throw rocks into the entrance and listen to the echo as the water ripples hit the walls inside.

It is not known when the arch fell, but certainly it was after the 1930s when watercress was cultivated there. Mrs. Hartley had no knowledge of when that would have occurred. This writer would be pleased to receive any information that could shed light on this issue.

Marble Marker at Pine Log Methodist Church, August 31 1836
Hundreds Return Each Year During August to Pine Log Methodist Campgrounds, (ND) Dixie Co-Op News
Interview, Elizabeth Trimble Hartley, April 10, 1986

Getting Plastered: A Technological Analysis of Daub Recovered from a Mississippian Period House in the Etowah River Valley

by Joey Case
Practicum in Anthropology
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Terry G. Powis


During the Mississippian Period (1000-1500 CE) the Etowah River Valley experienced waves of population growth and decline with communities of people entering the valley from across the Southeast region of the U.S. leading to a unique intersection of ceramic, architectural, and lithic styles. One element of this intersection was daub, the name given to clay that has been plastered onto the surface of branches or river cane woven between pine posts called wattle. Even today, people use wattle and daub construction to build domestic structures for protection from the weather, insulation, and privacy. However, in the archaeological record daub is extremely under-emphasized due to the fragile nature of the clay if it has not been fired. Clay, both fired and unfired, is prone to disintegrating without the proper storage methods, meaning that that daub can be difficult to collect, store, and transport unless properly protected. It can also be difficult to differentiate between fired clay and daub. But, if daub is preserved, what questions can it answer about the people making it? How much energy and effort were put into its production? Is daub differently sourced from clay used to manufacture pottery? Was any temper added to daub to prevent it from cracking and shrinking once applied to the walls of the house? These questions along with others will be addressed in the paper regarding the excavation of a burned Wilbanks Phase (1200-1350 CE) house excavated by Kennesaw State University.


This study was originally conducted with the goal of establishing a connection between the composition of daub and pottery as well as the application of daub to the house’s wattle frame. However, over the course of my research as more questions began to rise, the direction changed to become more about understanding whether the daub from this site was prepared, as well as how it differs from non-daub burned clay (NDBC) and pottery clay (Figure 1). One of the leading factors driving this research was the lack of academic information I was able to find on daub in the Southeastern United States. When daub is mentioned in academic literature, it is typically noted to be a byproduct of an excavation as opposed to the focus, with more importance being placed on artifacts like lithics and ceramics (Hally 2008; Forget 2015; Harris 2020; Peacock 2011; Sherard 2009). This lack of information led me to attempt the creation of my own daub identification method as well as trying methods I haven’t seen used to study daub such as petrographic analysis and Portable X-Ray Fluorescence (pXRF). During the early stages of research, I had very little knowledge of daub beyond basic identification and compositional properties. I knew that it was a material used as insulation and protection, but didn’t know anything about its creation, social impacts, or differences from NDBC. As the project evolved, my aim changed from establishing a connection between pottery and daub to establishing an origin for the daub clay when compared to raw clay. Specifically, raw clay samples taken directly from the ground adjacent to the Middle Mississippian (Wilbanks period 1260-1300 CE) house, and then determining whether the daub clay was prepared at all or if it just consists of raw clay plastered onto the wattle frame. 

Figure 1: An example of NDBC; fired during a bonfire, this burned clay has no architectural context,

but could still be confused for daub. (Photo from Harris 2020, 33).

Background Information

 When examining the prehistory of the Etowah River Valley in Bartow County, there is evidence of populations moving in and out quickly, creating ephemeral settlements adjacent to the Etowah Indian Mounds. This relatively rapid change in population is partially attributed to warfare, where settled areas were abandoned to avoid the destruction of the sedentary and agricultural-based lifestyle of the people living there. Further proof of this is comprised of trace archaeological evidence that fortifications were found in the Etowah and Coosawattee Valleys (King 2003). Similarly, the assimilation of smaller communities into larger populations for protection against warfare might explain why there were such diverse habitation trends in the valley. Some evidence for this assimilation can be found through the analysis of ceramics, where we see Alabama-style limestone temper found in ceramics uncovered in the Etowah Valley (Little 1999). This intersection of culture is part of why the Etowah River Valley is such an important and intriguing part of the archaeological record that can further our knowledge of how   these groups interacted and moved throughout the area. 

Figure 2: A map of the Cummings Site in relation to the Etowah Indian Mounds, City of Cartersville, and the Etowah River.

The Cummings Site, where this daub was found, is a multicomponent site within the Etowah River Valley (Figure 2) comprised of Woodland, Mississippian, and historic components. The Mississippian Period already has a wealth of knowledge published about the lifestyle and subsistence patterns of the people living during that time. We know how they hunted, how they crafted tools, who they traded with, and more, but one area with a dearth of research is how they constructed their housing (Brown 1990, Cobb 1996, Emerson 2008, Milner 1986, Sherard 2009). We know that this group of people used a method called wattle and daub (Figure 3), but beyond the use of this method we know very little about how they sourced or prepared the materials. Wattle and daub construction is the architectural practice of plastering an earthen material, typically clay, onto a woven frame of branches or withies to form a solid barrier. Evidence of this construction method is found across the globe and throughout time from ancient Mesoamerica to modern Europe and South America (Lacquement 2004; Sunshine 2006). My focus, the “daub”, refers to the actual material that is plastered onto the woven sticks/cane comprising the wattle frame as opposed to the structure in its entirety. In Native American architecture, daub is understudied due to several restricting factors such as the fragility of clay, the amount of space needed to hold efficacious samples, and the lack of guidelines for daub identification. 

What we do know of wattle-and-daub structures is that they were used worldwide in prehistoric and historic architecture acting as insulation, privacy, and protection from the elements within a structure as well as partitions, fences, and palisades (Griffin 2022; Harris 2020). Even in the present day, wattle and daub structures are used for low-cost building materials in some parts of the world (Sunshine 2006). And before handmade bricks and metals were used to build structures, evidence that earthen building materials such as daub were commonly used can be found in the archaeological record through their proximity to excavated domestic structures. Yet somehow, even with the prevalence of this construction method across time, intensive academic literature has not yet been written (in English), pertaining to daub and its composition or preparation. Unlike other earthen building materials such as cob or adobe, the clay isn’t set into bricks that can maintain their structure independently, but rather is plastered onto a wall/surface while wet. Due to the fragile nature of clay-based materials such as daub, it can be difficult to excavate and retain daub samples when they are recovered on a site due to the necessary conditions required for them to remain “whole”. Daub can also be difficult to study due to the sheer amount of storage space required when a daub fall (the area in which daub may be scattered once a structure is destroyed)is found on a site while being excavated. My total sample had 2,004 pieces of daub (larger than 5mm) that weighed >8,000 grams, and even this sample is not enough to build a whole wall, let alone the amount needed to fulfill an entire four-sided structure. Beyond these factors, there are many post-depositional factors that can arise when excavating a daub fall. Most commonly in the Southeast, historic field plows can disturb large areas of daub falls, moving them from their original location, disintegrating them due to the fragile nature of daub, or destroying the context needed to discern the use of the daub, whether it was a partition wall from a garden/fortification, or house wall. In the past two decades, more journal articles have emerged about the different aspects of Southeastern US daub, including the recreation of Mississippian houses (Lacquement 2004), the energy expended while constructing with daub (Harris 2020), and the fracture patterns of daub falls (Kruger 2015). These are great resources for the furtherment of research in Mississippian architecture, and I feel that before long daub will reveal a lot about the preparation and construction of prehistoric Native American houses. 

Figure 3: A recreation of a wattle & daub house located at the Etowah Indian Mounds, Bartow County, Georgia. 


The analysis of recovered daub, proximate ceramics, and raw clay samples took place in the Anthropology Lab and the Ceramics Studio at Kennesaw State University. Due to the nature of this undergraduate research, the primary methods used for examination were low tech, save for six samples sent to Wagner Petrographic in Lindon, Utah for petrographic analysis, and one day with access to a pXRF scanner. The petrographic analysis provided glass slides containing a thin cross-section of a daub sample that can then be examined with more scrutiny under a microscope. The pXRF scanner uses X-Rays to illuminate different elements within the item being scanned, and then, based on the reflection, identifies the quantity of each element.

To begin my identification and classification of daub, a map of all the units at the Cummings Site was made. The units were then whittled down to only include those that were within the border of the Wilbanks Phase house being excavated. Although this may limit the daub samples, it also eliminates the issue of accidentally including brick from the nearby tenant farmer’s house (which may look like daub due to post-depositional alterations), or daub from another Mississippian home if there is one nearby that hasn’t already been found/excavated. Once the units that were to be examined had been separated, all artifacts that had been found within these units were washed in water and left to dry overnight if not for multiple days. Once I was able to clearly see the artifacts, I began separating all clay artifacts that had been recovered from below the 25 cm depth from non-clay artifacts in that same unit. Once the clay artifacts had been isolated, pottery was identified and removed. This was done primarily through shape, composition, and design, but also through the utilization of the “Earthen Building Fragments – Macroscopic Analysis” form created by Quiles (2022). After this step had been completed, only daub and some historic brick remained, so any brick that exhibited signs of machine manufacturing (such as unnatural uniformity), lacked wattle impressions, or had unnatural inclusions was removed, leaving only daub in the collection. To begin the actual analysis of the daub I had to establish a methodology I could use to examine it, this is because daub is an understudied artifact within the archaeological record, and there is no single defined method to identify and examine daub. As mentioned, one method I used was outlined by Quiles (2022), and another was Harris’ (2020), but with the lack of an all-encompassing method, I had to establish my own way to categorize and sort daub. 

What Is Daub?

During the early stages of research, one question that kept arising was “what exactly can we consider daub?”. Several authors have tried to answer this question, and each answer is slightly different from the others. Kruger (2015) defined daub as “a mixture of naturally plastic, stable, and organic fibrous materials that are applied to the set wattle structure to create a solid wall…”, and in Sherard (2009) it is defined as “a construction material of tempered clay commonly associated with the walls and ceilings of Mississippian buildings”. And in Harris (2020) a good point is made that we must distinguish daub from NDBC that is found in an architectural context. I found that combining these definitions encompasses most aspects of daub. I would define it as “a clay-based construction material comprised of a mixture of naturally plastic yet stable, organic material that is then plastered onto a wattle frame to form a solid barrier.”


This lack of a standardized identification method like we see used to identify pottery and lithics can lead to confusion when organizing samples. With a lithic flake, even if it only measures several millimeters, it will typically retain its bulb of percussion and striking platform, two indicators that it was indeed a flake. Similarly, pottery fragments are often self-evident due to the flatness of both sides, possible decoration, and tempering agents being noticeable even at a microscopic scale. It’s because of identification methods such as these that we can identify grog (crushed and recycled pottery sherds) within other materials such as a different vessel or possibly daub. This is why, during the first week of my research, my goal was to establish a method of daub categorization based on the shape, color, wattle impressions, and noticeable surface inclusions that I could use moving forward. While this form-based method of categorization created several issues later in the research, it also provided a useful starting point for the compositional examinations I proceeded to experiment with. The five groups I established in this first week were designated a number and named as follows: Group 1: Cylindrical, Group 2: Rough Burned, Group 3: Rough Red, Group 4: Flat, and Group 5: Amorphous. A sixth group Group 6: Non-Daub Pottery, consisted of vicinal pottery found on the house floor (Figure 4). After I had established the five groups, my immediate goal was to figure out which daub fragments I thought would be best to send off to Wagner Petrographic for the creation of petrographic slides that would showcase the cross-section of each group. These cross-sections were meant to provide insight into the possible preparation of daub clay when compared with the cross-section slide of the Group 6 pottery clay. This selection of samples was done early in the timeline of the project due to the long turnaround time needed for the samples to be processed and shipped back. After establishing the groups and sending off the samples to be turned into slides, I began to weigh, count, and establish an average Munsell Color categorization for each group. The Munsell Soil Color categorization method uses chroma and hue values to designate a standardized description of soil color, and while I had no comparative Munsell results for daub from other sites, the color designation provided a useful starting point for examining the relationship between color and composition. In ceramics, the darker the color the more likely it is that there are high amounts of organic matter still in the clay. As a part of my research, I wanted to find out if this was true with daub as well. 

Once I had finished weighing and counting the daub, I began examining the composition of randomly selected daub samples under a 10-40x microscope. My goal with this method was to establish a major temper (if one could be found), what inclusions could be seen, what the grain size and shape of inclusions were, what the voids within the daub could tell us about additions to the clay, but also to look for minor inclusions such as mica, hematite, and magnetite that had previously been found in ceramics from the Cummings Site. Another goal of the microscopy work was to discern a shape of the temper based on the Wentworth scale of grain size to see if that had any correlation between groups. During this phase of investigation, muriatic acid was used on randomly selected daub samples (N=40) to look for calcium carbonates such as shell that may have been used as a temper, since freshwater shellfish are seen in the Etowah River to this day. This muriatic acid test was also performed on (N=6) ceramic samples excavated from the Cummings house floor. 

 Figure 4: An example of each of the 5 groups of daub (From left to right: cylindrical, rough burned, rough red, flat, amorphous).


To better understand the conflagration of the house, four samples from each group of daub were selected to be refired in a kiln and reexamined for a change in color. This experiment was an attempt at figuring out the temperature range of the fire that caused the destruction of the house. Using a 115-volt Skutt Automatic Kiln, the twenty samples were candled overnight at 180°F to allow all the remaining moisture in the clay to evaporate and avoid explosions in the kiln. Once candled properly, the temperature was ramped up by 75°F until the kiln hit 750°F. After finding no changes in the daub at this temperature, the kiln was set to 1,200°F which is when quartz inversion occurs, changing the stable α-quartz to the more unstable β-quartz until it is cooled, offering information about the probability of cracking or sintering occurring in the daub during its firing as the house burned down. I was unable to find other examples of this experiment to compare my results with, but several changes did occur, especially in Group 2 (Rough Burned). Professor Keith Smith, one of the Kennesaw State University ceramics professors, mentioned that one should be mindful when using this method to evaluate previous firing temperatures due to the way a kiln extracts oxygen from the clay versus the way an open fire does. It was explained to me that in a kiln, there is no ambient oxygen for the fire to fuel itself with, and therefore it will extract oxygen from the clay instead. This may result in an inaccurate coloration of the clay since it was originally fired in an open-air fire where there is plenty of oxygen to be pulled out of the air around the fire. 


Another method I used to examine the daub recovered from the Cummings Site was a pXRF scan. Two raw clay samples were taken from a meter away from the house floor and at the same depth, and then fired in a kiln up to 1,200°F. One of these sample tiles was levigated, separating the clay particles from other debris by suspending them in water and then screening out the larger particles such as stones, but the other sample was not levigated to allow for the most information to be extracted from the raw clay samples. The raw clay samples were then compared under a microscope for compositional purposes, but also scanned by a pXRF reader to get a precise breakdown of its elemental composition as opposed to the broader macroscopic composition that was based on visible inclusions. The tiles were scanned alongside several clay samples taken previously from nearby sites and bodies of water, allowing us to examine the chemical composition of secondary and primary raw clays in the area. While I had access to the pXRF reader I also scanned the remaining daub fragments of the samples sent to Wagner since we had the petrographic slides of those pieces to look at in comparison to the pXRF results. 


In another attempt to determine the source of the clay used as daub on the house, three petrographic slides (two daub fragments and one pottery sherd) were sent to Dr. Trevor Duke, a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Criminal Justice at Clemson University for further compositional analysis. These samples were chosen since they represented the three most distinguished physical differences among the groups of clay debitage found within the daub fall; as seen in Figure 4, Group 1 has a noticeably smoother texture and fewer inclusions in it than Group 3, meanwhile, the pottery sample of Group 6 was used as a control for comparing daub to a known prepared clay. While in his care, Duke examined the samples under the lens of a Leica DM LSP polarizing microscope fitted with a mechanical stage at 5x and 10x magnification. He also used the Glagolev-Chayes point-counting method to determine the composition of each sample. This specific point-counting method consists of creating a hypothetical grid consisting of 1x1mm squares to allow the observer a manageable way of recording the size and composition of paste constituents such as daub and pottery. Using the protocol recommended by Stoltman (1989, 2015), a minimum of 200 point-counts (excluding voids in the daub) was achieved for each of the three petrographic slides (Duke 2023). 



Within the 40 samples that were set aside for compositional examination, I found that the major temper/inclusion within the daub was poorly sorted quartz, meaning that the particle sizes of the quartz found within the daub were irregular. This result suggests that the clay preparation method for daub differed from that of pottery due to the well-sorted nature of inclusions seen in pottery. However, some of the samples (N=4) deviated from this trend by having primarily mica or magnetite within the clay as opposed to quartz. When compared to the pottery sherds found on the house floor, the pottery was exclusively comprised of quartz as the major temper, with magnetite and mica only found as minor tempers, if at all. The muriatic acid test only had a positive reaction on two of the 40 randomly selected samples which implies that no calcium carbonates i.e., shell, were used to temper daub which parallels what we have seen in pottery from this area. 

Looking at the raw clay tiles under the microscope provided some useful information as well. There was a noticeable difference in inclusions between the two, where the inclusions in the non-levigated sample were much larger but also were poorly sorted. Meanwhile, the levigated raw clay tile had much smaller inclusions, but they were also poorly sorted. Aside from their differences, the non-levigated raw clay tile showed inclusions akin to those seen at a macroscopic level in Groups 2 and 3 where the levigated tile did not seem to match any of the samples beyond containing quartz as the major inclusion.

Figure 5: A comparison of the color change in daub from Group 2 after refiring at a higher temperature in the kiln.

Kiln Work

Refiring the daub samples did provide some useful information about the original fire that destroyed the house: Group 2, the darker porous group, began to change at the lowest temperature, somewhere between 950°F and 1,000°F (Figure 5). Meanwhile, Groups 1,3,4, and 5 had several samples change color only at the highest temperature (~1,200°F). The reddest samples never changed color (presumably because all organic materials had been burned out of them in the original fire), and the grey colored samples turned red as the heat went above 1,100 degrees and finished burning out any remaining organics. 

Petrography Results

Using the data from his point-count method, Duke was able to discern three separate categories that the samples fell into based on the visible components and the texture/size of these components. The pottery sample (6K) contains feldspar and mica schist (which were not seen in either of the two daub samples), has more angular inclusions, and has a larger average grain size than the daub. These factors indicate that the clay used for the pottery was prepared, possibly with levigation to remove the unwanted silts, but also with human-crushed materials. Meanwhile, both daub samples (1A & 3E) contain many more very fine-to-medium particles, and both are largely comprised of sub-rounded quartz and quartzite. This can be explained by the natural weathering of the rock over time whereas the more angular additives seen in the pottery sample were crushed by a human to be used as temper, never being weathered and smoothed. Duke states in his report that sample 1A seems almost entirely temperless and contains very fine-to-fine silt particles that were largely absent from the clay used in pottery which was often levigated. The report also declares that sample 3E occupies a place somewhere between these two other samples, with a larger average grain size than 1A, but more angular components akin to the grit used as temper in sample 6K. However, when examined through each of these individual factors, the daub samples are much more similar to each other than either of them are to the pottery sample.

pXRF Results

  The pXRF scan provided some very interesting results in relation to the origin of the clay being used as daub (Figure 6). The composition of every piece of daub scanned was nearly identical to the raw clay samples taken from the Cummings Site, but slightly different from composition of the surrounding waterways. With this information I can conclude with relative certainty that the clay being used for daub was non-prepared primary clay from within the proximity of the site. If the clay being used were secondary clay from the riverbed, the composition would be noticeably different due to all organics and most inclusions being washed away over time. Each of the samples was scanned using the pXRF at different power levels in an attempt to penetrate beyond the surface of the samples. 

Figure 6: A map showing the results of the pXRF scan. Each different dot is a raw clay sample. The table provides a comparison of the most similar compositions.


Groups 2 and 3

While executing the microscopy phase of this research, one recurring question I had was whether Groups 2 and 3 were truly daub or if they were NDFC that was burned during conflagration. This question originally arose when I was first categorizing the samples and noticed how much organic material was still in Group 2, causing it to be so dark. The second factor was the texture of the groups, they are much rougher on the surface than Groups 1, 4, and 5, leading me to question their validity as daub that had been plastered onto a wattle frame. Furthering this, 483g of Group 2’s total 1218g of weight (29%) was excavated from around the post holes in the NW quadrant of the house. So, is it possible that this group was clay that had been packed around posts and incidentally fired when the house was burned down as opposed to a plastered substance? Groups 2 and 3 also had the largest inclusions of any group, with several pieces of daub having stone inclusions over one centimeter in length. One explanation I encountered early on was in Lacquement (2004), where it is mentioned that some Mississippian homes were constructed with shallow trenches dug along postholes and plugged with wood for added stability. We currently don’t see evidence of this at the Cummings Site, but if this ends up being the case for this site, it could explain some of the differences we see in composition and burning patterns between these groups and the other daub groups. 

Evidence countering this argument consists of several Group 2 and 3 samples that did exhibit wattle impressions. These impressions matched the width of impressions in Groups 1, 3, and 5, but differed in frequency, with fewer samples from Groups 2 and 3 exhibiting impressions than the other groups. One of the most interesting pieces of Group 2 is a fragment that has a 3-hole mud dauber’s nest as well as a wattle impression. This caused me some confusion, since almost 30% of Group 2 daub originated from around a posthole and mud daubers build their nests in elevated places. The mud dauber’s nest had been recovered in the NW quadrant of the house floor after surviving the conflagration, bioturbation, and excavation of the house. But it shared several key characteristics with Group 2 daub, including the dark coloration and rough texture. These factors would be interesting leads for further research on the appearance and texture of Groups 2 and 3, but one hypothesis is that sections of the wall were built at different times and may have contained different water levels during the burning process. Alternately, if these pieces of daub were lower on the house wall around pine posts, the moisture from the burning posts may have caused steam to burst from the clay, causing their rough appearance and introducing organic matter in the form of sap. 

Another way to explain this group’s odd form is if we examine both Kruger (2015) and Lacquement (2004) and how they describe the destruction of a daub structure and a wattle frame respectively. If it’s the roof that initially caught fire, Dr. Kruger’s model below could explain how the mud dauber’s nest near the top of the structure was fired but fell to the house floor as the fire progressed (Figure 7). This idea could complement the outcome of Lacquement’s (2004:107) house frame fire, where the base of the posts burned away before the length of the post, creating a series of fallen posts as opposed to fully burned ones. Meanwhile the thatch used as roofing “began sliding down the walls and accumulated on the ground around the exterior side of the wall poles, where it continued to smolder and burn”. This combination of events could help explain why Groups 2 and 3 seem to hold more organic matter within their clay but are also a rougher texture than the daub of Groups 1,4, and 5.

Figure 7: An example of sintering patterns and the resulting daub fall courtesy of Kruger (2015). The darker color indicates where the daub is sintered (coalesced into a solid or porous mass through heat and compression).

Daub Tempers

One of the more consequential outcomes of the pXRF results is that they indicate a lack of organic temper such as dry grass or thatch in the daub. Looking at Kruger’s (2015) definition of daub, he includes the phrase “plastic, stable, and organic fibrous materials” when defining the material. If the daub from the Cummings Site doesn’t have any organic fibrous material and is entirely earthen, that would indicate a deviation from the belief that daub needs a binding agent and this style is instead plastic enough but also rigid enough on its own to withstand the natural elements such as rain. A daub fall with little to no evidence of grass fibers could be evidence of an opening, where the daub is instead prepared with a sand temper around a door frame or other opening (Kruger 2015:902). One possible counter to this total lack of noticeable organics is that sections of walls may have at one time been mixed with grasses or thatch to keep them stable while other areas of a wall were left raw, perhaps due to patching of the wall where it had begun to degrade. 

Several hundred miles away from the Cummings Site (~250 miles) in Mississippi another site with large quantities of daub was found with sparse grass impressions, Lyon’s Bluff. Excavated as part of a Mississippi State University field school in 2003 with a focus on plant impressions in daub, the site is a great resource for beginning to understand the seasonal variations of daub production as well as what the different plant impressions could reveal about preferences or substance availability.

Total Daub Count

As mentioned earlier, 2,004 pieces of daub were used for my research, totaling 8,376.8g of daub. This number seems quite large until the amount of clay needed to build a structure is considered. The best comparison I could find for the Cummings Site was the Long Swamp study conducted by Adam King in Ball Ground, Georgia. This site is interesting because it consists of the excavation of several structures, and all of them have produced daub, even if it’s only several pieces. Of all the excavations at the Long Swamp Site, the largest amount of daub recovered was from “Area 2” and totaled 8,407.8g, only 100g more than my total assemblage from the Cummings Site. However, unlike the Cummings Site, this amount of daub was being excavated from multiple structures, not a single home, making the high efficacious daub count an interesting factor moving forward.  

The Lyon’s Bluff Site, excavated by Seltzer and Peacock in 2003, is also a good corollary site when examining daub quantities. The goal of the excavation at this site was to produce a large enough amount of daub so that they may begin analysis of plant impressions and attempt to determine the season of manufacture for the daub. This field school excavated “several garbage bags worth of daub” (Peacock 2011), but I was unable to find the weight or count of the daub recovered. In the study, it’s mentioned that radiocarbon dating from nutshell in the feature provided a date range of 1420-1490 CE, making this site slightly later in time than the house being excavated at the Cummings Site, and also several hundred miles away. 

Daub Falls 

A trend I noticed in the Cummings Site daub collection throughout my research was that almost half of the total artifact bags selected for use came from the NW quadrant of the house (14 of 30 bags). However, when looking at origin location by weight, a much more disproportionate correlation appears between the quadrants of the house. 82% of the daub’s weight originates in the NW quadrant, 5% in the NE and SE quadrants, and 8% in the SW quadrant. This seems odd if the house collapsed in a manner similar to the one outlined in Kruger’s 2015 paper (Figure 7) where the daub fall is more evenly distributed around the perimeter of the house as opposed to a dense distribution of daub inside the house walls. No efficacious daub was recovered from the suspected entryway on the southern side of the house, leading to even more questions about the outcome of this specific daub fall. 

pXRF Results

If the pXRF results indicate the true composition of the daub, it would point to the idea that the clay being used for this house was dug out of the ground out of/immediately adjacent to the house floor and was then plastered onto the wall with little to no preparation. This would be unusual for a site in this period where we typically see grass inclusions within the recovered daub to help with plasticity and stability (Seltzer and Peacock 2011). It is possible that the one millimeter voids we see in many pieces of the daub such as the ones in Figure 8, are completely carbonized grass pieces that weren’t picked up by the pXRF reader.

Figure 8: Examples of Group 1 (cylindrical) daub with 1-2mm impressions and organic residue.

Future Research

Future pXRF Studies

Becoming more knowledgeable and skillful in the use of an pXRF scanner would be a good step to continue that line of research. It could provide an interesting lens into the methodology of sourcing clay for daub versus pottery, and when data are cross-referenced from site to site, may help reveal the bigger picture of Southeastern Mississippian wattle-and-daub architecture. As pXRF technology advances, we will be able to learn more about the properties that were sought after when determining which clay sources to use, which were to be avoided, and which were preferred when making pottery as opposed to daub or other clay artifacts. If possible, I would like to, at some point, return to this sample of daub and raw clay to better understand the results of the reading and try those same pieces again to see if the elemental composition remains the same or changes with the honing of pXRF usage. 

Daub Collection 

The biggest change for the future I’d like to see is the collection and storage of daub for further examination instead of the current trend of weighing it and disposing of it due to its unwieldy, cumbersome, and fragile nature. We see from authors such as Seltzer and Peacock (2011), Kruger (2015), Quiles (2022), and Sherard (2009) the large amount of knowledge we can procure from a well-preserved daub fall that hasn’t been disintegrated by modern plows or post-depositional degradation. We can better understand certain aspects of life such as seasonal construction patterns, the layout of architectural/domestic structures, or even habitation patterns, all from daub. We can manage this through organic imprints and debitage found in daub, differences in composition between samples from the same site, or with experimental archaeology and the recreation and destruction of structures. If daub is looked at as a primary area of study, like it is at the Cummings Site or Lyon’s Bluff, as opposed to a byproduct of an excavation, I believe it will begin to reveal more information about the people living in the Southeast. 

Another reason I believe daub collection should be more highly prioritized at sites is because I was unable to find any evidence of daub with human finger or handprints, but there was at least one piece of daub from the Cummings Site collection that has a chert inclusion. While there is currently no evidence to support this, this chert may be evidence of tool usage similar to a modern tiling trowel. However, there are several possible reasons we don’t see handprints in daub collections; since daub is applied when wet, finger and handprints may simply be obscured as the runny clay substance dries (Harris 2020), another possibility is that as the outside of the structure is weathered and patched, evidence of handprints may be destroyed naturally. There is also the matter of post-depositional degradation to the outside of daub fragments. Due to the fragile nature of clay, any disturbances (such as plowing, erosion, or other bioturbation) once the daub falls may remove evidence of handprints that were at one point noticeable. 

Daub collection is where I believe the largest changes should be made in its study. The larger sample size we have to study across multiple cultures and communities, the more in-depth information we can extract from a previously inconsequential artifact. Having more and diverse fragments will allow researchers to research topics such as whether grass and thatch inclusions were common in all daub, patch daub, or only the preliminary layers to add plasticity; was daub mixed with water at the river source, or was it mixed and applied on-site; were tools used to smooth the plastered walls? These questions and more can only truly be answered if a larger pool of daub samples are collected and examined through a standardized lens. 

Clay Sampling

One other future area of research could pertain to the architectural properties of clays with different compositions. Understanding how specific elements or inclusions in a clay deposit affect the plasticity and rigidity of the clay once removed from the ground could help further research into sourcing and production of clay for daub. It could also assist in determining whether daub production was executed by a specialist, similar to pottery construction, or by whomever was going to live in the house as suggested by Sherard (2009). If Sherard’s hypothesis about houses built further from the center of a village being primarily constructed by the inhabitants and not a community group is true, clay sourcing may not be as important as I believe it to be, and they were instead using whatever materials were at their disposal. 

House Burnings

Because I don’t know whether the conflagration of the house was purposeful or due to a natural weather event, there is no way to know if the daub fall occurred naturally or was assisted in some way. Using Kruger’s 2015 paper as a base, we know that modern populations move across their land as time passes. The modern wattle-and-daub structure studied by Kruger was supposedly built and destroyed by a local farmer and their family who were possibly moving to a new area. Lacquement (2004) also provides valuable information about the destruction patterns of wattle framed structures, and a continuation of their research could be useful when examining the layout or destruction of houses from the Mississippian period. 


This study has several interesting outcomes regarding the sourcing and preparation of daub at this one site. The pXRF scans reveal that the composition of raw clay from the Cummings Site and surrounding creeks is almost identical to the daub found in the daub fall of the house. It also provided insight as to why the texture and shape of daub can vary from group to group despite having the same composition and origin. This research also allowed me to attempt to create a classification method that I hadn’t seen before that could be used to organize large quantities of daub into more manageable groups based on form. Although the pXRF scan showed no difference between the raw clay and the daub with grass impressions, it may become evident that not all daub was mixed with grasses, especially if part of a maintenance regime. 

More research is definitely needed since daub has been in the background of archaeological research for the past several decades, but as I’ve found through my own research, more people each year feel the same way and are actively uncovering more of what daub has to tell us about prehistoric life and habitation in the Southeast. While there isn’t currently a large amount of published information on the characteristics of daub, the number of individuals and organizations looking into daub and raw clay preparation is actively growing. Authors such as Harris (2020) and Seltzer (2011) have taken steps towards somewhat niche aspects of daub production already, including energy consumption, production waste, and seasonality. Each of these papers provides a unique look at daub since they were the first to examine daub in those contexts. I wish I had been able to establish more concrete evidence of the findings within this paper, but further research, funding, and time would be needed to fully understand this collection of daub. 


I would like to thank my faculty sponsor for this research, Dr. Terry G. Powis of Kennesaw State University and his lab assistant, Isabella Rosinko. Without their guidance and help, this project would never have been started. Thank you to Robert Kruger, who responded to my request for access to his research with enthusiasm, leading me down a rabbit hole of Native American architecture I hadn’t expected to enjoy so much. The Cummings Site is owned by Ann Cummings, who was gracious enough to let Dr. Powis use the site as his field school for Kennesaw State and continues to let us dig on her property while occasionally bringing us snacks. I am also very appreciative of the KSU ceramics studio staff, Keith Smith and Jeff Campana, whose kiln and knowledge of ceramics helped give me direction when I was clueless as to how to proceed with firing raw clay tiles and refiring daub samples.

References Cited

Cobb, Charles R., and Patrick H. Garrow.1996. “Woodstock Culture and the Question of Mississippian Emergence.” American Antiquity 61(1): 21-37. 

Brown, James A., Richard A. Kerber, and Howard D. Winters. 1990. “Trade and the Evolution of Exchange Relations at the Beginning of the Mississippian Period” In The Mississippian Emergence, edited by Bruce D. Smith, pp.251-274. Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press. 

Emerson, Thomas E., and Timothy R. Pauketat. 2008. “Historical-Processual archaeology and Culture Making: Unpacking the Southern Cult and Mississippian Religion.” In Belief in the Past: Theoretical Approaches to the Archaeology of Religion, edited by Kelley Hays-Gilpin and David S. Whitley, pp.167-188. New York: Routledge.

Griffin, Tristen. 2022. “Clay in the Homestead: A Ceramic Analysis of a Middle Mississippian House.” Symposium of Student Scholars, Kennesaw State University, Kennesaw, GA. July 18.  

Haley, B.S. 2014. The Big Picture at Hollywood: Geophysical and Archaeological Investigations at a Mississippian Mound Centre. Archaeological Prospection 21(1): 39-47. https://doi.org/10.1002/arp.1477.

Harris, William David. 2020. “Mississippian Period (1000–1700A.D.) Wattle and Daub Construction in the Yazoo Basin: Comparing Energy Expenditure Using Context and Construction Methods.” Master’s thesis, Department of Anthropology, Mississippi State University, Starkville. 

Kruger, Robert P. 2015. “A Burning Question or, Some Half-Baked Ideas: Patterns of Sintered Daub Creation and Dispersal in a Modern Wattle and Daub Structure and Their Implications for Archaeological Interpretation.” Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory 22 (3): 883–912. doi:10.1007/s10816-014-9210-2. 

Lacquement, Cameron Hawkins. 2004. “How to Build a Mississippian House: Study of Domestic Architecture in West-Central Alabama.” Master’s thesis, Department of Anthropology, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa.

O’Brien, Michael J., James W. Cogswell, Robert C. Mainfort, Hector Neff, and Michael D. Glascock. 1995. “Neutron-Activation Analysis of Campbell Appliquéd Pottery from Southeastern Missouri and Western Tennessee: Implications for Late Mississippian Intersite Relations.” Southeastern Archaeology 14(2): 181–94. http://www.jstor.org/stable/40713620.

Pluckhahn, Thomas J. 2010. “Household Archaeology in the Southeastern United States: History, Trends, and Challenges.” Journal of Archaeological Research 18(4): 331–85. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10814-010-9040-z.

Sherard, Jeffrey L. 2009. “Analysis of Daub from Mound V, Moundville: Its Role as an Architectural Indicator.” Bulletin of the Alabama Museum of Natural History 27: 29-42.

Shippee, J. Mett. 1960. “A Mississippian House from Western Missouri.” American Antiquity 26(2): 281-283. doi:10.2307/276211.

Seltzer, Jennifer L., and Evan Peacock. 2011. “Determining the Season of Mississippian House Construction from Plant Impressions in Daub.” Southeastern Archaeology 30(1): 123-133.

Sunshine, P. (2006). Wattle and Daub. Oxford: Shire Publications.

The National Road, Interstate 75, and Bartow County

                   The role of Visionary Leadership and the Art of Collaboration

By Dr. Lance Barry

Since the founding of the United States, our leaders have recognized the connection between the ease of travel and the incremental improvement of commerce, wealth, and security.  The first federally funded road, the National Road, was conceived by George Washington and Thomas Jefferson to reach the western settlements.  As president, Jefferson signed the National Road Act into law on March 29th, 1806. This act allowed federal funds to be applied to the construction costs of the National Road.  He believed that connecting the country from east to west starting in Cumberland, Maryland and ending in Vandalia, Illinois would allow ease of travel and delivery of goods, and thereby elevate this country’s economy.  The 620 miles of “National Road” became a linchpin in the growth of the United States and the touchstone for collaboration for future road projects. The National Road incorporated and supplemented the highest standards of road design at that time. Large scale bridge building and a broken stone upper layer to prevent wagon wheel ruts are two examples of major advancements in the road construction techniques utilized.  The construction process was completed by 1839.  Later known as Route 40, the first federally funded highway quickly became the “Mainstreet of America” as travel and commerce along its route expanded. It was the topic of song, paintings, and poetry.  The towns and villages distant from the National Road suffered as new towns and businesses sprang up along the route, but the utilization of the National Road diminished when travel patterns shifted to trains in the mid 1850’s.  However, the 1900’s saw the rise of the automobile and the National Road was popular again.  Soon, many wealthy residents desired to locate their homes along the National Road. Its winding path is credited with the creation of many “Millionaire Rows” across America. 

Shortly after the end of World War II, the Federal Interstate Highway System was conceived. In the early 1950’s, construction began on a massive project spanning 1,575 miles of highway from Sault Ste. Marie in Northern Michigan to Tampa Bay. Roughly 25 years later, Interstate 75 was completed at a cost of more than 3 billion dollars. I-75 became a vital portion of the 42,500 miles of Interstate Highway in the United States at that time. 

The Georgia portion of I-75 is 355.1 miles in length.  At a public hearing in the auditorium of Cartersville High School on June 11th, 1965, the Georgia Highway Department shared possible routes of I-75 through Bartow County with a crowd of nearly 1,000 people.   Atlanta Journal-Constitution staff reporter Richard B. Matthews wrote, “Of course, the ‘Bird watchers’ and ‘outdoor nuts’ were there, too, talking about how the road would ruin the environment, but no one paid much attention to them”.  Everything changed when Dr. Phillip Greear stepped in. He was the head of Biology and Earth Sciences at Shorter College from 1962-1985 and served on the Board of Directors of the Georgia Nature Conservancy. Dr. Greear was a World War II veteran who was passionate about conservation after witnessing the devastation of war. He took the reins to lead the fight against the proposed lake route. He proposed to stop the progress of I-75 over Lake Allatoona, noting that the Etowah Darter Fish was only found in the Etowah River and two of its tributaries.

He hypothesized that the construction of I-75 near Lake Allatoona could, and eventually would, destroy this endangered species’ habitat.  Following the hearing, the proposed lake route never gained traction. 

Other routes through Bartow County were considered at the time with respect to cost and environmental impact.   Several obstacles were considered and solved in the effort to expedite the completion of I-75 in Georgia. 

Key challenges included environmental disruption to Lake Allatoona, land rights issues, project funding, and the endangered species impacted by road construction.  The previous Georgia DOT Commissioner, Bert Lance, removed the environmental concerns by placing the final route decision in the hands of Dr. Eugene Odum who was a nationally known environmentalist at the University of Georgia.  The final route chosen for Bartow County was termed “Line T” and was heavily influenced by the efforts of the immediate past president of the Cartersville Chamber of Commerce, Herschel Wisebram and Former Georgia DOT Commissioner Bert Lance.

In 1973, in the case of ‘Finish Allatoona’s Interstate Right v. Volpe’, the court’s determination was in favor of progressing with the “Line T” route.

Financing concerns contributed to the delay in completion of I-75 in Georgia.  Governor Busbee won budget approval by getting congress and the general assembly to approve pre-financing of the remaining general obligation bonds and repaying the principal with funds from the Federal Highway Trust Fund as they became available. 

The final segment of this momentous undertaking was completed on December 21st, 1977, near Lake Allatoona in Emerson, Georgia. The son of Rev. O.L. and Julia Stiles, recently retired U.S. Army Col. Fred O. Stiles was the first motorist to use the left lane of the northbound section of I-75.  He was driving a Toyota. The history of roads traversing Georgia from north to south included the western routing of the Dixie Highway, Highway 41, and then finally Interstate 75. The “Ballad of Interstate 75” was written in 1977 by Jon P. Shulenberger and recorded by Terry Dearmore to commemorate the opening of the highway. As with the National Road, commerce and wealth grew along the route of I-75.

The leadership of Governor George Busbee, Chairman of the Committee for Interstate 75, Harold S. Willingham, Former Georgia DOT Commissioner Bert Lance, and the Georgia Director of the DOT Thomas Moreland were invaluable to the completion of the project.  These men were supplemented by strong leadership in Bartow County that recognized the importance of I-75 and sought to provide maximum benefit to citizens.  Chief among the many forces that shaped the Bartow County section of I-75 was Georgia Representative Joe Frank Harris, Chairman of the Georgia House Appropriations Committee, who would later become the 78th Governor of Georgia from 1983-1991.  He and other local leaders recognized that a Cartersville I-75 access connector was the key to the future of Bartow County’s prosperity.   His ability to collaborate with local, state, and federal leaders for Bartow County resulted in growth and prosperity for all the citizens of Bartow County, which we continue to enjoy today.

Rep. Harris worked closely with Cartersville Mayor John Dent, Bartow County Commissioner Olin Tatum, past Bartow County Commissioner Wayne Self, Georgia State Senator Nathan Dean, Cartersville Chamber of Commerce President Herschel Wisebram, as well as Future Georgia Supreme Court Justice Robert Benham.   The completion of I-75 moved Georgia from the 37th best highway system in America to the 14th best spot in 3 years.  The population of Bartow County in 1977 was 39,074 and in 2023 it has grown to 112,800. The official listing of all property owners, the assessed value of the property they own, and the taxes levied (Tax Digest) was just shy of 500 million dollars in 1978.  In 2023 the Bartow County Tax Digest has surpassed 15 billion dollars.  This represents a 30-fold increase in the tax digest since the completion of I-75.    

Bartow County is now attracting billion-dollar projects that are under construction in 2023, and these are anticipated to further elevate the prosperity of our county, and our state.

Rev. Don Harp of Sam Jones Memorial First United Methodist Church gave the invocation at the I-75 opening day ceremonies.  Rep. Joe Frank Harris was the keynote speaker.  The musical entertainment was provided by the Cass and Cartersville high school bands.  Other persons of note on the stage that day included Mayor John Dent, Bartow County Commissioner Olin Tatum, Georgia Senator Nathan Dean, and Georgia Representative Ernest Raulston. 

Today, citizens continue to benefit from the leadership of so many who carried Bartow County in their hearts and helped I-75 become a thriving reality.

New Cave of Historical Importance in Bartow County, Georgia – Joel M. Sneed

New Cave of Historical Importance in Bartow County, Georgia

Joel M. Sneed

Joel Sneed at Tate Cave entrance

Etowah Valley Historical Society member Sam Graham, with an interest in anything pertaining to the history of the county, became aware of another possible name for Jolley Cave, the name used by cave explorers and as listed in the files of the Georgia Speleological Survey. In Civil War-era records a cave in Bartow County was referred to as Ravenel Cave, yet there is some uncertainty as to whether Jolley Cave and Ravenel Cave is actually the same cave. To help unravel this mystery Sam contacted Joel M. Sneed, author of Bartow County Caves: History Underground in North Georgia.

Sneed, a caver and also a member of the EVHS, had himself sought to learn more about the cave in 1981 in a visit to the holdings in the Georgia Archives. Here were located the John Riley Hopkins Family Papers, 1840-1915. Hopkins (1835-1909), a citizen of Gwinnett County at the time, was a miner who worked at several saltpeter caves. Among these was a Ravenel Cave, Bartow County, Georgia where he worked during June, July, and early August of 1862 and kept a journal of the mining activity there.

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John Riley Hopkins

Caver and historian, the late Marion O. Smith, in an article in The Journal of Spelean History (Smith, 1988), relates possible saltpeter mining activity at Jolley Cave but makes the statement, “why the Nitre Bureau used the name Ravenel for today’s Jolley (sometimes Murchison’s) Cave has never been determined.”  He continues by stating that “no one of that name before the Civil War had a direct tie to Cass or Bartow County.” Graham has located proof that such was not the case.

Graham, in searching property records for the county, learned that a Trust established for one Harriett Horry Ravenel of Charleston, South Carolina, had purchased the land lot wherein Jolley Cave is located, along with several other properties, from G. W. Glenn on December 17, 1852.  The Trust owned this property until it was sold to Duncan Murchison in 1881. So, if Jolley Cave was, in fact, the cave that was mined by the Confederates for saltpeter, referring to it as Ravenel Cave would have been appropriate. However, the Confederate Nitre Bureau generally shied away from using a property owner’s name and this was likely the reason that Smith hadn’t searched property records for a Ravenel. But, was this actually the cave?

In his article on the Ravenel Cave Confederate Nitre Works, Smith makes reference to a Union map that shows a “Potash Works” that he states “matches almost exactly” with the location of Jolley Cave, and then follows with the proclamation that “it is concluded that Jolley is the Confederates’ Ravenel Cave.” Another, more detailed map that Graham has located, this one a Rebel map, shows more accurately the location of the potash works, even delineating six kettles in use there. Jolley Cave is over a half-mile from the location shown for the potash works. Both of these maps are from 1864.The cave was mined in 1862 and the potash works may not have even been in use at that time. But there is a bigger problem with using the site of a potash works as justification for Jolley Cave being Ravenel Cave.

While potash is required in the saltpeter process it has other uses and the location on a map of a potash works does not mean that there is a location of nitre dirt there, cave or otherwise. In fact, no known cave that was mined for saltpeter has been denoted as a “potash works.” Ralph W. Donnelly, in “The Bartow County Confederate Saltpeter Works,” states that “the production of the potash became a special and separate operation of its own, and the potash in the Confederacy was usually produced at one point and shipped to the saltpeter caves for processing the cave dirt.” He further states that the locations of the caves did not necessarily coincide with the locations of the most suitable wood for the production of potash.” (Donnelly, 1970)

If the mining did, in fact, take place in Jolley Cave its location on a very steep slope above the Etowah River would have created a tremendous amount of work for the laborers at the cave. Excavated dirt would have to be transported by wheelbarrow a rather long distance to a point that was flat enough to facilitate the processing and to be near the river for the requisite water. The use of a chute to move the earth down to the base of the slope, as was done at Trout Cave, West Virginia, for example, would not have been practical here as the slope ends right at water’s edge with no space there for processing. Besides this fact, Jolley Cave has none of the usual earmarkings of a nitre cave, such as dig marks, as noted by various speleohistorians who have visited the cave.

Smith offers up some other reasons that Jolley Cave could be the elusive Ravenel, but all of them could equally pertain to another nearby cave that has not been known to the caving community until recently, Tate Cave.

At the request of Sneed when he was studying caves in Bartow County, cavers Dave Hamrick and Richard Blackburn mapped a cave on September 6, 1985. The mappers were supposedly following directions to a cave known as Ned’s Cooler but they inadvertently came to a different cave yet didn’t know it. The map for that cave became labeled as Ned’s Cooler, and appeared in Sneed’s book with that name.

In 2007, J.B. Tate took Joel and Sharon Sneed to a cave, which Joel thought was Ned’s Cooler, and he entered it briefly. This was the cave that had been mapped in 1985 but has recently been shown to not be Ned’s Cooler. This cave has now been given the name Tate Cave and reported to the Georgia Speleological Survey. The cave is presently on property owned by Barnsley Gardens, and at the time of the Civil War it was owned by one Oliver H. Prince, apparently an absentee landowner, on the land lot adjoining the Spring Bank property on the north.

The home known as Spring Bank was built in the late 1830s by Charles Wallace Howard (1811-1876) who had come to northwest Georgia on a geological survey. In 1850 Howard discovered a natural, high-quality “cement rock” on his property.  The rock was analyzed by the chemist Dr. St. Julien Ravenel (1819-1882) of Charleston, South Carolina, and deemed to be of a very high quality. Howard had likely first come to know St. Julien Ravenel, who was of Huguenot ancestry, when he was called to Charleston to reorganize the old Huguenot church in 1845. Howard served there as rector until 1850. In 1851 manufacturing of the material was begun under the name Howard Hydraulic Cement by Howard and his son. One of the first uses made of it was in 1852 on the exterior of the home of St. Julien Ravenel in Charleston, the high quality of this material being extolled in the Savannah Morning News of July 9, 1875. Ravenel was himself involved in the lime industry, co-founding a lime works in Charleston and supplying most of the lime used by the South during the Civil War. A close relationship formed between Ravenel and Howard linking Ravenel with Cass (later Bartow) County.

Julien Ravenel

St. Julien Ravenel

 Shortly after the beginning of the Civil War on April 12, 1861, Howard wrote a letter on May 15 to the editors of the Southern Confederacy about the saltpeter operation in a cave south of Kingston perhaps being a good location for the mining of saltpeter by the Confederacy.  That cave, which today is known as Kingston Saltpeter Cave, was seized by the government on June 14, 1862, renamed from Hardin’s Cave to Bartow Cave, and the works expanded, the cave becoming very important to the Confederacy. With Howard’s interest in the making of gunpowder, and the mining of nitrates to facilitate that as shown by this letter in 1861, it makes sense that he would be looking for possibilities of mining in other caves. How natural, then, that he would examine a cave near his own property.

According to Cunyus (1933), at the beginning of the Civil War in 1861 Howard immediately entered service as a Captain in the Confederate army, and remained in its service until he was paroled in May, 1865. However, the unit in which he served, the 63d Georgia Volunteer Infantry Regiment, wasn’t formed until October of 1862, so it is assumed that he didn’t go on active duty until then and was likely around Spring Bank at the time the mining would have taken place.

As at many nitrate mining caves, at the start of the Civil War as well as other wars, the caves were already providing nitrates for gunpowder on a small scale, for use by the property owner and perhaps for sale. By 1862 the price for saltpeter had gone from eighty-three cents per pound to three dollars per pound. The Nitre Bureau of the Confederacy was created in April, 1862, and when the government made a plea for identification of sources of nitre, the small cave just north of Spring Bank, whether nitrates were already being mined there or not, may have answered to that plea. A test of the material would likely have been required, and what better person to do this than the chemist St. Julien Ravenel. The cave referred to by the Confederate miners as Ravenel Cave was operational in June through early August of that year, per surviving payrolls and the diary of Hopkins, so the timeline would support Tate Cave possibly being that cave.

As stated by Smith (1988), the journal of miner John Riley Hopkins, which gives the name Ravenel Cave, is invaluable for providing information relative to the operation there. He states names of miners, activities in which he was involved day-by-day, and daily amounts of nitre produced. But overlooked by both Smith and Sneed was a sketch on the upper left corner of his first journal entry for Ravenel Cave (page 146). When rotated for a proper, north-upward perspective, this sketch matches with incredible accuracy the surveyed map of the cave produced in 1985 by Blackburn and Hamrick. Smith had never been to Tate Cave and would not have recognized the sketch as being that cave.

Tate Cave is situated quite well for a mining operation, albeit a small one. The land around the cave is quite flat, which would provide a good area for the vats, kettles and housing required. Water for the operation would have been obtained from Connesena Creek, some one hundred yards distant. The facilities could have been located next to the cave or anywhere between that point and the creek to best accommodate the retrieval of water. Since Hopkins had specifically noted that on some days he was working at “the water works”, it can be assumed that the main part of the operation was not located right at the creek. The cave was worked only for a few weeks, probably due to the limited amount of sediment in it, producing 310 pounds of nitre.

It is this writer’s feeling that the evidence provided shows that the cave known to the Confederate miners as Ravenel Cave was, indeed, the one known today as Tate Cave. As for the name of the cave, there are several reasons why it came to be known by the Confederate miners as Ravenel Cave. First, if St. Julien Ravenel was the one who had tested the deposit there, his name was certainly associated with the cave; his name may have been the only one on his report to the Nitre Bureau. Secondly, Ravenel had become quite established in the community. His relationship with Charles Wallace Howard has already been shown. He was involved with the mining activity at Cement, adjacent to Spring Bank. A trust established for his wife owned property not too far away, purchased from a local resident and farmer, Duncan Murchison. Some materials for the mining operation, and even some labor, were acquired through Murchison. And a friendship evidently developed there such that Murchison’s son would name his first-born son after St. Julien Ravenel in 1895. Additionally, Ravenel had an interest in nitre production, establishing in 1862 the Cooper River Works in Charleston for the production of that material (Yorkville Enquirer, 11/19/1862).

I want to thank Sam Graham for being the impetus for this current work which has caused this writer to untangle the identifications of two caves. He has worked tirelessly in searching old records for this article, including much about the connection of Ravenel to the county. Sam is an incredible researcher. I wish as well to acknowledge the assistance of EVHS member Gary Boston as well as Larry O. Blair, caver and historian. Additionally, we are thankful to J.B. Tate, for whom a historically-important cave in Bartow County is now named.


Cunyus, Lucy Josephine, 1933. The History of Bartow County, Georgia: Formerly Cass. Southern Historical Press, Easley, S.C.

Donnelly, Ralph W., 1970. The Bartow County Confederate Saltpeter Works. The Georgia Historical Quarterly, 54(3): 305-319.

Smith, Marion O., 1988, Ravenel Cave Confederate Nitre Works and its Laborers. The Journal of Spelean History, 22(4): 14-25.

Sneed, Joel M., 2007, Bartow County Caves: History Underground in North Georgia. Flowery Branch, Georgia.

Figure 1. Location of the Cummings site in relation to the Long Swamp and Etowah sites (Map courtesy of Bryan Moss).

Clay in the Homestead: A Ceramic Analysis of a Middle Mississippian House – Tristen Griffin

Clay in the Homestead: A Ceramic Analysis of a Middle Mississippian House

Tristen Griffin

Student Anthropology Practicum Paper

Department of Geography and Anthropology

Kennesaw State University, Kennesaw, Georgia


Very few precontact Native American houses have been fully excavated from the Middle Mississippian period (AD 1200-1375), and even fewer excavations used modern archaeological techniques to uncover them. Recent excavations at a small village named the Cummings site, located two miles (3.2 kilometers) northwest of the preeminent center of Etowah in Bartow County, have unearthed a burned wattle-and-daub house. During the excavation 21 ceramic artifacts were exposed on the house floor including 15 sherds, four partial vessels, one pipe bowl, and one jar stopper. This research examines the ceramic assemblage of this house not only for classification purposes but also for analyzing the possible functions the ceramics had. Houses of this period were single family units containing various activities including food preparation, storage, and rituals that utilized ceramics. The ceramic assemblage at Cummings helps paint a picture of what domestic life was like for the occupants of this Middle Mississippian house and, by extension, the village itself. A comparative analysis of the Cummings ceramics to other Middle Mississippian assemblages provides insight on the similarities and differences in the lives of those living in and around Etowah during the Middle Mississippian period.

Key Words

Etowah Valley Archaeological District, Etowah River Valley, Bartow County, Middle Mississippian period, Ceramics


The goal of this research is to help fill the gap present in the current archaeological records pertaining to Middle Mississippian period house structures and their artifact assemblages, specifically their ceramics, in North Georgia. Very few houses from the Middle Mississippian period have been excavated in this part of the Southeast and fewer have been excavated using modern archaeological methods that preserve cultural data and artifact stratigraphy. Artifact assemblages from houses are important as they provide a slice in time for what life was like not only for the inhabitants of the house, but for the community they are a part of. For these reasons an analysis of the ceramic assemblage from a recently excavated Middle Mississippian house located at the Cummings site in Carterville, Bartow County, Georgia has been conducted. It focused on identifying the ceramics’ construction and use and compared this data to other Middle Mississippian house ceramics elsewhere in the Etowah River Valley.


For contextual purposes this section will provide background information for the three archaeological sites in this paper and the Middle Mississippian period that these sites date to. The Mississippian period dates from AD 1000-1550 and is broken into three subperiods: Early Mississippian (AD 1000-1200); Middle Mississippian (AD 1200-1375); and Late Mississippian (AD 1375-1550) (King 2003b, 29). This time period is important because it saw “the development of some of the most complex societies that ever existed in North America” (King 2002).  During this period community life in the Etowah River Valley of Bartow County was organized into kin-based chiefdoms, with important civic and ceremonial sites containing earthen mounds with clusters of villages in its surroundings (Hally 1996, 91-92). Village life during this time was ranked with people having limited status mobility while a single group of elites inherited high status (Fried 1967, 109). People subsisted mostly on maize supplemented by local fauna and flora which led to the occupation of floodplains along major rivers for optimal agricultural conditions (Lewis et al. 2012, 24). Their homes were built using a single-set post-wall construction which utilized wattle and daub plastered walls built in a square shape with rounded corners. They were often built in pairs, one for the summer months and one for the winter months (Lewis et al. 2012, 486). During the Mississippian period, especially the Wilbanks subperiod (AD 1250-1325), warfare was common as population densities rose and competition for resources increased along with fissioning rival groups of elites that caused instability in various chiefdoms (Blitz and Lorenz 2006, 140-141). Chiefdoms in North Georgia were very unstable and rarely survived any more than 100 years before they collapsed (Hally 1996, 92).

The Cummings site is located on private property and is used as an archaeological field school by Dr. Terry G. Powis of the Department of Geography and Anthropology at Kennesaw State University, Kennesaw. Georgia. This site, located within the Etowah Valley Archaeological District in Bartow County, is situated above Pettit Creek which drains into the Etowah River. The site sits just two miles (3.2 kms) northwest of the Etowah Indian Mounds (Powis et al. 2021) (Figure 1). The Cummings site is stratified, with an early 20th century house partially overlaying the precontact occupation (Powis et al. 2021).

To get a reliable date for the Cummings house a sample of wood charcoal from one of the burned posts (hewn from pine) was sent to the Center for Applied Isotope Studies (CAIS) at the University of Georgia to be radiocarbon dated. It produced a date range of AD 1260-1300 (Farkas 2021). This date puts the house within the Wilbanks Phase of the Middle Mississippian period. This time frame puts the occupation of the Cummings site at the height of Etowah’s socio-political and economic dominance (King 2002). Both ceramic and lithic artifacts were collected from the burned house floor, yet no organic material was present, as acidic soil from pine trees and the moist conditions of the clay soil has led to poor preservation (Terry Powis, personal communication, 2022). 

Figure 1. Location of the Cummings site in relation to the Long Swamp and Etowah sites (Map courtesy of Bryan Moss).
Figure 1. Location of the Cummings site in relation to the Long Swamp and Etowah sites
(Map courtesy of Bryan Moss).

From the house floor both ceramic and lithic artifacts were recovered (Figures 2 and 3). A total of 2,547 lithic artifacts were collected mostly containing debitage flakes created in tool production (Tomko 2022). Fifty-one of these lithics represent diagnostic tools like hammerstones and projectile points (McElrone 2022). Of these 51 artifacts, 14 have a possible art function (James 2022). Other than the lithics, 21 ceramics were recovered from the house floor. Though there is no conclusion on how the house burned down, there are several possibilities. Houses during this time were burned down when the occupants of the house died, when bugs became overly infested in the home, a consequence of warfare, an accident resulting from embers coming from the central hearth, or a lightning strike.

Figure 2. Excavation of burned 13th century house at the Cummings site (Photo courtesy of Terry G. Powis).
Figure 2. Excavation of burned 13th century house at the Cummings site (Photo courtesy
of Terry G. Powis)
Figure 3. Pottery vessel (V1) on burned floor of 13th century house at the Cummings site. Image courtesy of Terry G. Powis
Figure 3. Pottery vessel (V1) on burned floor of 13th century house at the Cummings site.
Image courtesy of Terry G. Powis

Only two other houses from the Middle Mississippian period in the Etowah River Valley have been fully excavated. One of these houses is located at the Etowah Indian Mounds. The Etowah site is one of the most intact mound building sites in the Southeast and contains six earthen mounds, a palisade, a plaza, and village (King 2001b, 1). During the Middle Mississippian period, Etowah was a preeminent village with political, economic, and religious power (King 2003b, 140-141). Given the proximity, the two villages would have had continued interaction and Etowah would have had political control over Cummings (Terry Powis, personal communication, 2022). Despite more than one hundred years of investigation at Etowah, only one house has been fully excavated, which was conducted in the 1950s (King 2001a, 1). This house (labeled Structure 1 at Etowah) is a single-set post house like the house at Cummings and has a similar size of around 5 meters in diameter (King 2001b, 26). Excavations during this time were not like they are today as documentation of the stratigraphy associated with artifacts and the collection of small artifacts like sherds were generally overlooked (King 2003a, 282). General interest and focus were associated with burial features and items such as copper plates (King 2003a, 282). However, recent research has provided relative percentages of the types of ceramics found with the house (King 2001b, 47).

The other excavated Middle Mississippian house in the Etowah River Valley is at the Long Swamp site located in Ball Ground, Georgia and was excavated in 2007 and 2008. This site is a well-known precontact and protohistoric site located on the Etowah River that has been under periodic excavations since the late 1930s (Lewis et al. 2012, i). The site contains an earthen mound, palisade, and village (Lewis et al. 2012, i). Similar to Etowah, people at the Long Swamp Site subsisted mainly on maize supplemented by wild plants and animals (Lewis et al. 2013, ii). The house itself (labeled Structure 3) is larger and dates slightly later (AD 1260-1400) than the Cummings house and contains several midden features not present at Cummings, though the Long Swamp house had burned down similarly to the house at Cummings (Lewis et al. 2012, 271-272). A considerable number of artifacts, both lithic and ceramic, were recovered from the Long Swamp house (6,535 artifacts) and were compiled into a detailed catalog (Lewis et al. 2012, 300).


The analysis of the Cummings site ceramic assemblage took place in the Anthropology Lab in the Department of Geography and Anthropology at Kennesaw State University. The ceramics were catalogued and then mends were made to ensure as much vessel completeness as possible prior to attribute, typological, and technological analyses. Identifying whether the ceramic was a rim, neck, shoulder, body, or a base sherd was determined as well as the presence of any appendages (e.g., handle) they possessed were noted. Measurements using a digital caliper were then taken of the length and width of each artifact. This digital caliper was then used to measure the thickness of each, whether that be the rim, body, or base. The rim and lip shape of each sherd/vessel was categorized (Willey and Sabloff 1975). Rim diameter was also determined. Each sherd/vessel was described as having interior or exterior blemishes and where possible its location was identified (Shepard 1956). Using Shepard’s ceramics guide each vessel was also given a luster rating (1956).

An in-depth temper analysis was conducted on each vessel using a stereo microscope. The primary temper as well as any minor inclusions to the clay body were identified. To verify if any of the sherds/vessels had calcium temper muriatic acid, a cheaper and more available hydrochloric acid of less purity, was dropped onto each artifact with a needle nose bottle while being observed through the microscope. If calcium (calcium carbonate) was present it would react with the muriatic acid. Using the W.F. McCollough’s sand-gauge, the primary temper shape and size of each vessel was also identified. A permeability test, as described by Shepard (1956), was an important attribute examined in determining vessel function. The permeability of the ceramic artifacts was determined through observation as half a teaspoon of water was placed onto the interior surface of each artifact and was timed to see how long it took for the water to be completely absorbed. The length of time it took for the water to seep into the body informed on whether a vessel was used to hold liquids in antiquity.

An identifying marker and important attribute for pottery is the ceramic type. The typing or classifying of each artifact was determined using Lloyd Schroder’s (2015) “A Field Guide to Southeastern Indian Pottery,” and the University of Georgia’s (n.d.) “Ceramic Type Collection”. Referencing Schroder’s type list in conjunction with Shepherd’s (1956) guide, the vessel form of each artifact was identified. The last step in the ceramic analysis was to determine the possible function of each vessel. Using Henrickson and McDonald’s (1983) “Ceramic Form and Function: An Ethnographic Search and an Archaeological Application” and Hally’s (1986) “The Identification of Vessel Function: A Case Study from Northwest Georgia” the functions of the ceramic material were determined.

For the purposes of this research each artifact was photographed using a digital camera and scale. For these same reasons photogrammetry was conducted with polycam to create textured three-dimensional models of 15 artifacts, as the remaining six were too small to develop reliable models. Using the photos and analysis of the Cummings site ceramic assemblage a comparative analysis was conducted between the Etowah site house (Structure 1), the Long Swamp site house (Structure 3), and the Cummings site house ceramics (King 2001b; Lewis et al. 2012). As the data from Etowah and Long Swamp is expressed in individual sherds, not vessels, the Cummings site ceramics were accounted for by their original sherd value and not by pieced together vessel numbers when comparing them to the other two sites. As for the Etowah data, King (2001b, 46) had compiled the house ceramics into charts based on a relative sample pulled from the midden present in the house floor and not from the entirety of the house ceramics as this was unavailable.


 The Cummings ceramic assemblage consisted of three partial vessels (V2, V3, and V4), six body sherds (V1, V5, V8, V9, V11, and V13), two rim sherds (V17 and V19), two rim/shoulder sherds (V10 and V12), one rim/neck/shoulder sherd (V6), one rim/shoulder/body sherd (V7), three sherds too small to identify (V14, V15, and V18), one pipe bowl (Artifact #5), and one jar stopper (Artifact #40) (Appendix 1). Four of these artifacts possess appendages including two handles (V3 and V6) and two zoomorphic effigies (V2 and V4) (Appendix 1). Most of the pottery rims are everted (flare away from the body) except for one necked rim (V10) and one folded rim (V17) (Appendix 1). All of the vessel lips have a rounded shape (Appendix 1). Eight of the artifacts have blemishes, four of them interior and four of them interior/exterior (Appendix 1). Four of these blemishes can be attributed to cooking (V1, V9, V11, and V12), one during the firing process (V4), and one from burning a substance (possibly tobacco) to smoke (Artifact #5) (Appendix 1; Figures 4-6). The exterior luster of the ceramics are as follows: 14% polished (V2, V16, Artifact #40); 29% burnished (V3, V4, V6, V12, V17, and Artifact #5); and 57% smooth (V1, V5, V7-11, V13, V14, V16, V18, and V19) (Appendix 1). The interior lusters are as follows: 24% polished (V2, V6, V9, V11, and V12); 29% burnished (V4, V4, V8, V10, V16, V18); and 38% smooth (V1, V5, V7, V13, V14, V15, V17, and V19) (Appendix 1).

All of the vessels had a primary temper of grit/sand while the jar stopper and pipe bowl had a primary temper of magnetite (Appendix 1). The minor temper percentages include 23.8% magnetite/mica, 23.8% magnetite, 9.5% quartz, 14.3% mica, and 4.7% magnetite/hematite (Appendix 1). Overall, the ceramics exhibit poor temper sorting as well as an angular temper shape (Appendix 1). Most of the vessels had poor permeability times as 57.9% let water seep through in 0-31 minutes (V6, V7, V10, V11, V12, V13, V14, V15, V17, V18, and V19), 15.8% in 31-90 minutes (V1, V5, and V9), and 21% in 90 minutes to 4 hours (V2, V3, V4, V8, and V16) (Appendix 1). The four vessels that exhibited four hours of impermeability were un-observed from the 4-hour mark to the 9-hour mark by which time all the water had evaporated. Though not true in every case, vessels that had a polished and/or burnished interior and exterior held water for longer periods of time (Appendix 1).

Figure 4. interior cooking blemish (V1). Image courtesy of Terry G. Powis
Figure 4. interior cooking blemish (V1). Image courtesy of Terry G. Powis
Figure 5. Interior cooking blemish (V11). Image courtesy of Terry G. Powis
Figure 5. Interior cooking blemish (V11). Image courtesy of Terry G. Powis
Figure 6. Soot blemish (Artifact #5). Image courtesy of Terry G. Powis
Figure 6. Soot blemish (Artifact #5). Image courtesy of Terry G. Powis

The highest percentage of ceramic types found in the Cumming house are Etowah Complicated Stamped at 26.3% (V5, V8, V9, V11, and V19) (Appendix 1; Figure 7). Other ceramic types included 21.1% Wilbanks Complicated Stamped (V1, V10, V13, and V15), 21.1% Etowah Plain (V3, V7, V17, and V18), 10.5% Etowah Burnished Plain (V2 and V12), 10.5% Etowah Plain Smoothed (V4 and V6), and 10.5% Savannah Cord Marked (V14 and V16) (Appendix 1; Figures 8-9). The Cummings house ceramic assemblage consists of six medium/large globular jars (V1, V5, V8, V11, V13, V19), four small globular jars (V3, V6, V10, and V15), five bowls (V2, V4, V7, V12, and V17), one medium/large conoidal jar (V9), three uncategorized sherds as they were too small (V14, V16, and V18) and the pipe bowl and jar stopper (Appendix 1). The possible uses of the artifacts are broken down into five categories: Dry Storage, Liquid Storage, Cooking and Preparation, Serving, and Rituals (Appendix 4). The category that fits with the most artifacts is cooking and preparing food as six vessels fit this role (V1, V3, V7, V9, V11, and V12) (Appendix 4). Three of the six cooking and preparation vessels are also capable of being used in a food serving role (V3, V9 and V12) (Appendix 4). The category with the least amount of the assemblage is liquid storage with only two viable artifacts (V8 and Artifact #40) (Appendix 4). Due to a lack of available attributes and the sherds being too small to accurately contribute to a usage category four artifacts were labeled as unidentified (V14, V15, V16, and V18) (Appendix 4).

Figure 7. Etowah Complicated Stamped (V9). Image courtesy of Terry G. Powis.
Figure 7. Etowah Complicated Stamped (V9). Image courtesy of Terry G. Powis.
Figure 8. Wilbanks Complicated Stamped (V1). Image courtesy of Terry G. Powis
Figure 8. Wilbanks Complicated Stamped (V1). Image courtesy of Terry G. Powis
Figure 9. Etowah Burnished Plain (V2). Image courtesy of Terry G. Powis.
Figure 9. Etowah Burnished Plain (V2). Image courtesy of Terry G. Powis.

A comparative analysis between the house ceramics at Cummings, Etowah, and Long Swamp focused on type and temper (by sherd count not vessel count). Besides the percentage of Etowah Complicated Stamped sherds from Cummings and Long Swamp there are few similarities between the percentage of identified sherds at these sites (Appendix 2). The majority of both the Etowah and Long Swamp sites’ sherds are unidentified, with almost the same percent of unidentified complicated stamped (Appendix 2). There is also a greater number of ceramic types associated with the Etowah and Long Swamp sites compared to Cummings (Appendix 2). At all three sites grit/sand temper is the overwhelming majority at over 95% though limestone and shell tempers are present at Etowah in quantities under 2% and limestone is under 5% at Long Swamp (Appendix 3). There were no artifacts at the Etowah or Long Swamp site identified as a jar stopper, yet the Long Swamp site did contain some smoking pipes including one made of soapstone, one with a polished and incised surface, and several plain ones like that of the one at Cummings. The plain pipes are made of a similar composition of fine sand tempered clay (Lewis et al. 2012, 420).


            The forms, types, and tempers all support the Middle Mississippian Wilbanks Phase time period for the Cummings house. It should be stated that the complicated stamped motifs from this time period, such as Etowah Complicated Stamped, have different categorized variations, such as Filfot Cross and Two Bar Circle, and these distinctions are not made with the Cummings site ceramics (King 2001b, 58). This is due to uncertainty with the specific variations present. It should also be stated that though the tempers attributed to the artifacts were prescribed confidently through the use of the stereo microscope and acid test, more certainty and other inclusions could be obtained using a scanning electron microscope.

The results for the uses of the pottery are standard for the period, as ceramics were most often used in food preparation and storage (Hally 1986, 268-272; Henrickson and McDonald 1983, 631-633). This could be attributed to both the benefits ceramics could give for heat transfer, impermeability, and rigid strength as well as the drawbacks the material has such as its heavy weight. As boiling was the most important technique for preparing foods which could take up to 12 hours (e.g., acorns, beans, whole kernel corn), and most foods were served in a soup or stew, vessels that were highly permeable had a restricted role in the household (Hally 1986, 268-271). To further restrict permeable vessels, most food preparation required items like corn husks and dried foods to be soaked in water for several hours (Hally 1986, 270). These cooked stews and soups, such as corn soup, were sometimes stored for days and allowed to turn sour as food was always readily available for consumption in irregular intervals both day and night (Hally 1986, 269-270). For the vessels that could not hold liquid for a substantial time the storage and serving of dry goods such as dried shellfish and corn kernels could be utilized (Hally 1986, 270). Dry storage vessels had large easily accessible orifices while the liquid storage jars could have restricted orifices to help facilitate pouring (Henrickson and McDonald 1983, 633). The jar stopper (Artifact #40) would likely have been used to plug a small jar, but unsure if that was to seal dry goods or liquids. The jar stopper does not seem to have been used often or at all as there are no use marks on the artifact such as abrasion lines you would expect to find as a result of it scraping against the inside of a vessel. Vessels with permeability times between 31-90 minutes could have been used for shorter food preparation times and/or the preparation of thicker substances such as bear and nut oil. The special vessels which have zoomorphic effigy appendages (V2 and V4) and the pipe bowl (Artifact #5) would not have been used in normal everyday life, but instead during ritual ceremonies.

The difference in sherd frequencies between the houses at the three sites is considerable, as the Cummings house only has 47 sherds while Etowah has 694 and Long Swamp has 2,914. Both Long Swamp and Etowah had features in the floor of the house, some of which were middens whereas Cummings does not. This could explain why so many more artifacts were recovered. Though this could also be explained by the size difference between Long Swamp’s house and Cummings, as the Long Swamp house is larger than Cummings by more than double the square footage. The Etowah house is almost the same size as Cummings. The Long Swamp site has identified a section within the house as a pot making area, which could also explain the high frequency of sherds recovered.

Both the Etowah site and Long Swamp site contain more ceramic types than Cummings. This could be based in part by the higher frequency of ceramics both of these sites had. Another reason could be due to trade, especially at Etowah which would have seen trade from as far as the Midwest. This can be seen with non-local sherds such as the Hiwassee Island Complicated Stamped (King 2001b, 47). Therefore, the Cummings site may have had access to less material goods than the houses at the two other sites. Etowah would have had a higher population than Cummings as well, which could explain lower type variation at Cummings. The Long Swamp site also contains types from the earlier phases of Woodstock and Napier (Early Mississippian) (Lewis et al. 2012, 300). It is possible that the Long Swamp house was built on top of a previous, older structure. Most of the ceramics at Etowah and Long Swamp are unidentified, this could be due to time constraints dealing with the large frequency of sherds they recovered or not enough certainty to type them. Though smoking pipes were found at the Long Swamp house, no effigy vessels were recovered from either the Long Swamp or Etowah house. As the Cummings house had two effigy vessels and a smoking pipe, perhaps the house had more of a ritual use than the other two. The Cummings house may not have been not occupied for as long an extent of time as the Etowah and Long Swamp houses, as no features are present in the house and comparatively there are very few artifacts (Griffin 2022).

More houses from this time period in North Georgia need to be excavated in order to better understand what domestic life was like in the Etowah River Valley. Investigations at the Cummings site provide much needed data that augments our understanding of life at Etowah and Long Swamp during the 13th century.


            The Cummings house allows us to look back almost 800 years to get an intimate look at the lives of Native Americans living in the Etowah River Valley during the Middle Mississippian period. It allows us to envision the life that took place in a family’s living space, where they slept, cooked, ate, and cultivated their spiritual connection. The ceramics themselves give great insight into their daily life, similar to the information gathered from the houses excavated at both Etowah and Long Swamp. How long the family lived in the house is unknown but at some point it burned down providing a wealth of information for archaeologists. The house may have been purposely destroyed by a raiding party or burned as a result of a lightning strike or embers from the hearth located in the house. While the ceramic material provides insight into the daily life of the occupants the presence of effigy vessels may also inform on their ritual life. In conclusion, the excavation of the Cummings house provides a rare glimpse into life in the Etowah River Valley during the 13th century and allows for a more detailed picture of a family living in this small village located on the outskirts of Etowah.


I would like to thank my three peers Devlin McElrone, Riley James, and John Tomko for their support in the lab during this research. I would also like to thank my practicum mentor Dr. Terry Powis for his guidance and knowledge during this research as well as the passionate introduction to the field of archaeology he has given me.


Blitz, John H., and Karl G. Lorenz 2006. The Chattahoochee Chiefdoms. The University of Alabama Press, Tuscaloosa

Farkas, Jordan. 2021. “Home Sweet Home: An Architectural Analysis of Native American Houses During the Middle Mississippian Period in the Etowah River Valley.” The Etowah Valley Historical Society of Bartow County, Georgia. November 19. https://evhsonline.org/archives/50560.

Fried, Morton H. 1967. The Evolution of Political Society. Random House, New York.

Griffin, Tristen. 2022. “Clay in the Homestead: A Ceramic Analysis of a Middle Mississippian House”. PowerPoint presented at the annual Symposium of Student Scholars, Center for Teaching and Excellence, Kennesaw State University, April 19.

Hally, David J. 1986. “The Identification of Vessel Function: A Case Study from Northwest Georgia.” American Antiquity 51 (2): 267–95. doi:10.2307/279940.

Hally, David J. 1996. Platform Mound Construction and the Instability of Mississippian Chiefdoms. In Political Structure and Change in the Prehistoric Southeastern United States, edited by J.F. Scarry, pp. 92-127. The Ripley P. Bullen Series, Florida Museum of Natural History, University of Florida, Gainesville.

Henrickson, Elizabeth F., and Mary M. McDonald. 1983. “Ceramic Form and Function: An Ethnographic Search and an Archeological Application.” American Anthropologist 85 (3): 630–43. doi:10.1525/aa.1983.85.3.02a00070.

James, Riley. 2022. “Who Were Mississippian Period Artists and What Was in Their Toolkit?” Poster presented at the annual Symposium of Student Scholars, Center for Teaching and Excellence, Kennesaw State University, April 19.

King, Adam. 2001a. “Long-Term Histories of Mississippian Centers: The Developmental Sequence of Etowah and Its Comparison to Moundville and Cahokia” Southeastern Archaeology 20 (1). www.jstor.org/stable/40713197.

King, Adam. 2001b. “Excavations A Mound B, Etowah: 1954-1958.” University of Georgia Laboratory of Archeology Series (37).

King, Adam. 2002. “Mississippian Period – New Georgia Encyclopedia.” New Georgia Encyclopedia. https://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/articles/history-archaeology/mississippian-period-overview/.

King, Adam. 2003a. “Over a Century of Explorations at Etowah.” Journal of Archaeological Research 11 (4). 279–306. http://www.jstor.org/stable/41053201.

King, Adam. 2003b. “Etowah: The Political History of a Chiefdom Capital.” University of

Alabama Press.

Lewis, C.T., Thompson, L. C., & Quirk, P. W. (2012). “Data Recovery at 9CK1, the Long Swamp Site, Cherokee County, Georgia.” Retrieved May 1, 2022.

McElrone, Devlin. 2022. “House of Rock: An Analysis of a Lithic Assemblage from a Middle

Mississippian House”. Poster presented at the annual Symposium of Student Scholars,

Center for Teaching and Excellence, Kennesaw State University, April 19.

Peterson, Susan. 1997. “Pottery by American Indian Women.” Purdue University. https://cla.purdue.edu/academic/rueffschool/waaw/peterson/petersonessay2.html.

Powis, Terry G., Jordan Farkas, Carl Etheridge, Kong Cheong, and Adam King. 2021. The Cummings Site; Life on the Outskirts of Etowah. Paper presented at the 77th annual meeting of the Southeastern Archaeological Conference, Durham, NC, Oct. 26.

Shepard, Anna O. 1956. Ceramics for the Archaeologist. Washington, DC: Carnegie Institution of Washington.

Schroder, L.E. (2015). A Field Guide to Southeastern Indian Pottery (revised & expanded). United States of America: Lulu Press.

Tomko, John. 2022. “Mississippian Lithics: Identifying Workshops in the Etowah River Valley”.

Poster presented at the annual Symposium of Student Scholars, Center for Teaching and

Excellence, Kennesaw State University, April 19.

University of Georgia. n.d. “Ceramic Type Collection.” Ceramic Type Collection | UGA Archaeology. https://archaeology.uga.edu/ceramic-type-collection.

University of South Carolina. 2015. “Guide to Native American Pottery of South Carolina.” Analysis | Guide to Native American Pottery of South Carolina. http://www.scpottery.com/analysis.

Willey, Gordon R., and Jeremy A. Sabloff. 1975. Excavations at Seibal, Department of Peten, Guatemala. Cambridge, MA: Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard University.

Appendix 1

Appendix 2

Percentage of Sherds from Houses by Type





Long Swamp

Etowah Complicated Stamped




Wilbanks Complicated Stamped




Etowah Burnished Plain




Etowah Plain Smoothed




Etowah Plain




Etowah Incised




Etowah Polished Black




Etowah Red Filmed




Savannah Cord Marked




Grit Tempered Plain




Shell/Limestone Tempered Plain




Burnished Plain




Polished Black




Hiwassee Island Complicated Stamped




Corn-Cob Impressed




Unidentified Check Stamped




Unidentified Incised




Unidentified Stamped




Unidentified Complicated Stamped




Unidentified Surface Treatment




Unidentified Burnished




Unidentified Cord Marked




Unidentified Decorated




Unidentified Fabric Impressed




Unidentified Undecorated




Unidentified Scraped




Unidentified Simple Stamped








Woodstock Complicated Stamped




Napier Complicated Stamped




Lamar Incised




Total Sherds




Appendix 3

Percentage of Sherds from Houses by Temper





Long Swamp













Total Sherds




Appendix 4

Cummings Vessel Usage


Cooking/Food Preparation


Dry Storage

Liquid Storage



V1, V3, V7, V9, V11, V12

V3, V9, V12, V17

V5, V6, V10, V13, V19

Artifact #40, V8

Artifact #5, V2, V4

V14, V15, V16, V18

In The Valley

Cherokee Period Cabin and Former Home of Author Corra Harris
659 Mt. Pleasant Road, Rydal Georgia 30171

Corra Harris event space

In the Valley is a limited-event venue site for the purposes of lectures, small parties, conferences, tours, reunions, and field trips. In July 2021, the Etowah Valley Historical Society (EVHS) acquired the historic Cherokee Period cabin with approximately fifty seven (57) acres of property in Rydal, Georgia. The Society is a private 501 c3 non-profit and is consistently working to preserve the campus and its history.

In 1997, portions of the property were listed on the National Registry of Historic Places (main cabin, library, chapel). The listing can be found by clicking the following link.     https://catalog.archives.gov/id/93206950

Questions about the property, visitation or its use should be directed to:

The Etowah Valley Historical Society
PO Box 1886
Cartersville, GA 30120

In 1913, the single cabin and 200 acres were purchased by novelist Corra Mae White Harris. Following the purchase of the single cabin, she began an improvement of the cabin adding a stone foundation, two wings, kitchen, paneling the interior, and adding separate upstairs bedrooms, including indoor plumbing. The campus includes approximately ten buildings, a pond, a walking trail, a rock nursery garden and a windmill pump.

Ownership or resident occupation leading up to the time when purchased by Harris has not been located, likely due to Cass County documents being destroyed during the Civil War.

Brief History of Author Corra Harris

Corra Harris
Corra Harris Circa 1920

Oral history strongly suggests the cabin was originally built in 1821 by a Cherokee Chief named Chief Pine Log. The cabin was a one-room dwelling with a dirt floor, sleeping loft, fireplace and rough log interior walls. It is not clear, nor has documentation been discovered about Chief Pine Log and his fate regarding the Trail of Tears in 1837-38.

Original Cherokee Cabin purchase by Corra Harris

Native American specialists have determined the original one room cabin to be of Cherokee period construction. This determination is a result of the type of corner log “V notching” that was used by the Cherokee of that period as opposed to European square notching.

Cherokee Log V Notching

Corra Mae (White) Harris was born in Elbert County Georgia and became one of Georgia’s 12 most distinguished women according to the Atlanta Journal.  She was born on March 17,1869 to Elizabeth and Tinsley Rucker White on her family’s plantation “Farmhill.” Corra had a modest “home school” education but, eventually attended a nearby county “field school.” Sometime later Corra transferred to the Elberton Female Academy.

She received personal instruction from her uncle, Albert Mathews, who was the principal of a school in Banks County. During her time in Banks County Corra met  Lundy Howard Harris who she would later marry. Lundy H. Harris was born in 1858 in McDonough, Georgia

She completed her education in 1886 at the Female Academy. Corra and Lundy married on February 8,1887 at her parent’s Farmhill home. Lundy studied to become a Methodist Circuit Rider preacher and Corra followed Lundy on the Redwine Church Circuit in Hart County, Georgia.

These early circuit rider experiences began to build a backdrop for what would later become her literary material.

Corra returned to her childhood home to give birth to their first child, Faith, on December 24. Faith was the oldest of three children of Lundy and Corra; however, she would be the only child to live past infancy. Unfortunately, Faith died in her thirties, but did have a family that survived her.

Lundy accepted a position at a church in Decatur, Georgia and relocated his family once again. He was a talented academic teaching Greek. A few months following his move to Decatur, he was offered a faculty position at Emory College by President Warren Candler. (Prior to Emory being relocated to Atlanta)

Lundy was often viewed as a hard or stern minister lacking the ability to preach the love of God, being more prone to deliver sermons with hell-fire and damnation. Lundy became depressed with conditions of the mountain people, malnourishment, isolation, and his low salary.  He had long suffered from a mental imbalance and in June of 1898 he was temporarily set back with an emotional breakdown. He abandoned Corra and their children to search for deeper faith, spiritual meaning and sorting out his theological doubts. Corra and the children went to live with Lundy’s brother in Rockmart, Georgia where she taught at a county school. Lundy was found living in Texas and experiencing some spiritual fantasies and was diagnosed with aphasia (lacking abilities to understand conversation). He returned to Georgia and joined Corra in Rockmart where he gained a faculty position at the Rockmart Institute.

While living and teaching in Rockmart, Corra began her writing career working on her first book, The Jessica Letters, and followed Lundy to several other positions including Young Harris College, supply preaching in Augusta, College Park and other locations.

In 1899, she was stirred by a series of articles that appeared in the New York Independent Magazine about condemning the lynching of a black man (Sam Hose) in Newnan, Georgia for murdering a white farmer. In response, Corra wrote a controversial piece addressing the letters and articles that were published in the Independent. Her approach defending southern women caught the attention of the public. As a result, the Independent invited more of her work which launched her national career. This was the moment her career took a national stage.

Eventually, the Methodist Church appointed Lundy to Assistant Secretary of the Church’s Board of Education in Nashville, Tennessee. By this time Corra had begun to publish scores of articles, conducting book reviews and in 1902 published her first book, The Jessica’s Letters.  Her second book was her most successful book, entitled, A Circuit Rider’s Wife published in 1910 and became a Hollywood movie retitled, I’d Climb the Highest Mountain. During her career among other works she published over 20 books, 400 articles and conducted 1000 book reviews.

Unexpectedly, while Corra enjoyed literary success, Lundy visited friends in Pine Log/Rydal, Georgia and while at the Anthony farm took his life with an overdose of morphine. Corra visited the site of his death and while on a near by walk discovered the Cherokee cabin that would become her home. Reflecting on her life with an itinerate minister, living in various rentals, dormitories and temporary jobs, she realized what she wanted was a stable home and property of her own. Feeling a certain closeness to her beloved Lundy’s last days, she bought the cabin and approximately 200 acres in 1913 naming it, In the Valley. She expanded the property renovating the small cabin to approximately 17 rooms, built a library/study, mule barn, spring house, caretaker home and several other structures. On May 3,1919 in the middle of her accomplishments Corra lost her daughter Faith.  

Corra had the property worked raising crops, flower gardens and livestock. She employed several field hands and had the Raines sisters as her house keepers and companions. Additionally, their brother, Bill Raines became her chauffeur. She entertained frequently and often had visitors stay overnight.

Corra’s career was punctuated with several impressive accomplishments. She wrote for Good Housekeeping, Ladies Home Journal, Harpers and was contracted by the Saturday Evening Post as America’s first female war correspondent covering WW I in Europe, particularly France and Great Britain. She visited the battlefields, hospitals, interviewed soldiers and noted how hard the war was on the home front regarding suffering families, homelessness, hunger, jobless masses and how wives and mothers were embedded second class populations.

She received frequent recognition by newspapers and other media. Her works attracted the attention of academia and she received three honorary doctorates from: The University of Georgia, Oglethorpe University and Rollins College. She made many lectures and taught a unique course at Rollins College on the topic of Evil and was nick named, “The Professor of Evil.”

Corra developed a strong interest in advocating for women regarding self- esteem, role, legal rights, winning the vote, recognized as head of household, and other equal treatment. She struggled with many issues regarding moral qualities, character and fulfillment for women. She frequently visited with women of note including; Martha Berry, Rebecca Felton and is said to have entertained Margaret Mitchell at her home.

Corra Harris died on February 7,1935 and was buried at her “In the Valley” home. A chapel, designed by the architectural firm Cram and Ferguson, was built the next year in 1936 over her grave.  The estate was distributed between Corra’s three nephews, William Albinius (“Al”) Harris, John Duncan Harris, and Frederick Mixon Harris, in accordance with her will.

According to her will, the property remained the home for Betty and Trannie Raines sisters as long as they were not married. Eventually both sisters married and the property was offered to The United Daughters of the Confederacy and The Daughters of the American Revolution, but both refused the offer. By 1949, the trust for the property was exhausted.

Descendants of the Harris family and Corra’s two remaining nephews, John and Fred, sold the land to Trannie Raines Smith. While the land was owned by the Smith family, portions were sold leaving approximately 50+ plus acres directly attached to the cabin. Over the next few decades the property changed hands multiple times.

In the mid 1990’s the property was sought by a local farmer to raze the buildings and construct a poultry farm. Mr. Jodie Hill, a native of Cartersville and Marietta insurance executive, saw the historic value and purchased the site in 1996.

He began restorations to repair the buildings and recover the grounds. In 2000 Mr. Hill began the Corra Harris Garden Club with the leadership of Marilee Henson, in memory of the author, which helped with the up-keep of the property. He hosted various lectures and holiday open houses supported by the Garden Club. Upon reaching his 90’s, Hill sought a relationship with area colleges to take the property under a Trust arrangement to preserve the estate and history. In December of 2008 Mr. Hill, working with his nephew Joe Head who served as power of attorney for the property transfer (also a Cartersville native and former Dean of Enrollment Services at KSU) eventually, donated the property to Kennesaw State University.

Soon after the property was donated, it became clear to KSU that the distance from the campus and limited opportunities to utilize the site made it  wise to find a path to return the property to Bartow County. An arrangement was constructed between KSU, the Bartow County Government and EVHS to transfer the property in 2020.

As part of this agreement, EVHS and KSU maintain a cooperative educational relationship. Documents and artifacts are now retained in the KSU Archives Department and are available to the public for research. 

Compiled by Joe F. Head


History of Bartow County (formerly Cass County) 1932, Lucy Cunyus

Divided Mind, Catherine Oglesby

 Kennesaw State Corra Harris Collection, https://archivesspace.kennesaw.edu/repositories/4/resources/221

Corra Harris Papers ,UGA, https://sclfind.libs.uga.edu/sclfind/view?docId=ead/ms734.xml%3Bbrand=default

ITV Cabin Article, 07 Feb 1915, Page 7 – The Atlanta Constitution at Newspapers.com_files

Georgia Women of Achievement, https://www.georgiawomen.org/corra-mae-white-harris

Nathan Teasdale, Kennesaw State University Archives

Gary Owenby, https://georgiahistory.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/Corra-Harris-Gary-Owenby.pdf Kennesaw State University, Student project

Joe F. Head, KSU Retired, Personal files and Interview, Nephew of Jodie Hill



National Registry of Historical Places


Atlanta Journal Sunday Magazine – Jan 1, 1939 -Georgia’s 12 Greatest Women


Stand Watie

Cherokee General Hails from old Cass County


By Terry Sloope


Stand Watie: The Hard Life of a Cherokee Survivor


Many Americans have heard of the horrors of the “Trail of Tears” – the inhumane removal of the most of the Cherokee tribe from its homeland in the southeastern United States in the late 1830s.[1]  Thousands of Cherokees died on the forced march to the new Cherokee territory west of the Mississippi, most of which was located in what is now northeast Oklahoma. Modern sensibilities view with contempt the policies and actions of the federal government, as well as those of the state of Georgia, that led to this tragedy. Many people do not realize, however, that the question of the tribe’s removal to the west led to a dramatic split within the Cherokee tribe itself in the years leading up their relocation; that split ultimately led to an internal civil war punctuated with acts of despicable violence that would plague the Cherokee nation for years after their relocation to the west. Stand Watie, along with several close family members, played a critical role in these events; and put his life in grave danger, not from the white population seeking to push the Cherokees out of northwest Georgia, but from members of his own tribe who blamed him and other members of his family for the loss of their homeland. Watie was lucky; he survived the internecine violence that plagued the Cherokee Nation in the 1830s and 1840s. Many of his relatives did not. Watie would become a venerated leader of the Cherokees who supported his actions during these troubled times, and he would distinguish himself further as a skilled military tactician in his role as a commander of Cherokee troops in the Southern army during the Civil War.

Stand Watie was born on December 12, 1806[2] in the small Cherokee Nation village of Oothcalooga, in what would later be the northern extremes of the original footprint of Cass County,[3] Georgia. His father was Oo-wa-tie (“the ancient one”) while his mother, Susanna Reese, was a half-blooded Cherokee. Stand was originally given the tribal name Degadoga[4] (“he stands”). He had one older brother, Kilakeena (“Buck”), three younger brothers and four younger sisters. Stand’s brother Buck, their uncle Major Ridge and their cousin, John Ridge, would become influential leaders of a segment of the Cherokee population that later stood in opposition to the tribe’s principal Chief John Ross.[5]

When Degadoga was a young child, his parents joined the Moravian Church at Springplace, an area about 60 miles north of Oothcalooga and just south of the Tennesee state line. They adopted Christianity as a result of this experience; Stand’s father took the name David. He also dropped the “Oo” from his tribal name and combined the other two parts into “Watie,” adopting that surname for himself and his children. Although Degadoga was given the name Isaac, at some early point he took the name “Stand,” derived from the interpretation of his tribal name.

Stand and Buck were both educated at the Moravian Mission School in Springplace. The school emphasized traditional subjects such as writing and arithmetic along with a healthy dose of instruction in matters of spiritual and moral values. Among members of the Cherokee tribe, Stand was considered to be well educated. His brother Buck would further his education at the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions School in Cornwall, Connecticut. While there, he adopted the name of his sponsor, Elias Boudinot, as his own. Upon his return the Cherokee Nation, Elias would become the publisher/editor of the Cherokee Phoenix newspaper.

Meanwhile, Stand Watie’s reputation among his tribe was growing as the 1820s progressed. He helped out on his father’s farm and other business ventures while quietly pursuing other opportunities of his own as well. His rising reputation among his tribe allowed to secure an appointment as Clerk of the Cherokee Supreme Court in 1828, and his experience in that post eventually allowed him to receive a license to practice law in the Cherokee Nation.

By the late 1820s, however, the living conditions in the Cherokee Nation were becoming more bleak for many Cherokees. The most serious threat to their well-being was the increasing encroachment upon their lands by white settlers moving into the region. White Georgians looked at the development of the Cherokee culture in in north Georgia over the years and believed “…(those) efforts to establish a government and constitution on par with the American federal government and recognized by federal authorities signaled the permanent presence of the Cherokee Nation in Georgia and its attempts to entrench itself legally within the state…”[6] which was quite unacceptable to Georgia’s white leaders and citizens. The invaders often used threatening tactics to scare the Cherokee population and dispossess them of their land and businesses, often with the explicit approval of Georgia state officials. The Watie family was not immune from these violations. Beginning in 1825, David Watie operated a very lucrative ferry on the Hightower River under an exclusive license granted by the Cherokee Nation. In 1831, however, the state of Georgia issued a permit to a white Georgian, John Miller, to operate a ferry across this same river, despite objections from the Watie family and the Cherokee Nation that the state had no authority to issue a license for such an operation within their territory. Miller established his ferry just upriver from the Watie ferry and made improvements to the roads connecting to the main travel arteries between southeast Tennessee, northwest Georgia and northeast Alabama, thus drawing business away from the Watie operation and eventually putting it out of business.

There was little hope for an end to these types of violations; in 1829 the Jackson administration announced its intention to relocate members of the numerous Native American tribes in the southeast United States to other unsettled lands west of the Mississippi. It was only a matter of time before the Cherokees would lose all control over their tribal homelands. Most Cherokees continued to resent and resist such a fate. Around this time, Watie’s brother Elias Boudinot wrote to his wife’s sister and her husband “…Trouble upon trouble, vexation upon vexation. I allude to the Georgia affair. The war is becoming hotter and hotter every day….Why do our friends at the north appear to be so careless? Do they not know that a piece of great wickedness is in a course of perpetration? The last right and some respects, the most important right of the Cherokees, is to be fought and contended for – their right to the land. It is true we have been abused persecuted and oppressed beyond measure – our rights have been outrageously wrested from us, yet we are on our lands – we have possession. Our enemies cannot complete their designs until they get the land – they intend to get it by force….Now will the people of the U. States permit such an outrage upon the property of the defenceless?…the Georgians propose in the next Legislature to survey and draw for our lands….One thing is for certain there is a crisis approaching both in the history of the Cherokees & the United States.”[7]

 The Cherokees held a number of public meetings in 1831, with Stand Watie serving as secretary, the result of which was a petition to be the submitted the Jackson administration protesting the treatment of the Cherokees. The resolution noted that previous treaties with the U.S., certain legislative acts and Supreme Court decisions had created an understanding that the Cherokee Nation was to be treated as a separate, sovereign entity with the right of self-government, just like Georgia or any other state in the Union. They asked the Jackson administration to protect the sovereignty of the Cherokee Nation from violations by the state of Georgia and the renegade white settlers. Jackson summarily refused to accept the claims contained in the resolution and took no action. Soon afterwards, in the fall of 1832, the Georgia Land Lottery was held to formally distribute Cherokee lands among white Georgia citizens desiring to relocate to the area. Later compensation claims associated with the removal of the Cherokees indicated that Stand Watie lost an extensive homestead located near the confluence of the Coosawatie and Conausauga Rivers[8] to four different white settlers.

By this time, a significant schism was occurring within the Cherokee tribe. A faction of the Cherokees (often referred to as the “treaty party”) led by Stand’s brother Elias Boudinot, their uncle, Major Ridge and cousin John Ridge had come to the conclusion that removal of the Cherokees was inevitable, a view which Stand Watie shared. They knew the government had already begun relocating the Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek and Seminole tribes to new homes in the west. The treaty party leaders rejected any remaining hope that the Cherokees could somehow co-exist peacefully in their homeland with the invading whites and still preserve Cherokee sovereignty and culture. In their opinion, relocation to a new homeland in the west was the only way to accomplish these goals. Their beliefs put them in direct opposition to Chief John Ross and a sizeable majority of the Cherokee Nation. The schism between the two sides would become increasingly bitter as the federal government began the process of trying to reach a formal agreement with the Cherokees for their relocation. The ill feelings between the two groups would smolder for more than a decade and ultimately lead to a wave of violence that cost many of the treaty party leaders their lives.

Major Ridge and Elias Boudinot issued a call for a meeting of the Cherokees at Running Waters in November 1834, which was attended by a relatively small group of treaty sympathizers. Chief Ross’s loyalists refused to participate in the meeting. The result of the meeting was another petition outlining the poor treatment of the Cherokees and concluding that the only course of action that would preserve their culture was to accede to the relocation of the tribe to the west. Presenting a false claim that a majority of Cherokees favored relocation, the petition asked for an agreement that would recognized Cherokee sovereignty in their new lands; annual annuity payments to the tribe (similar to those being paid to other tribes that had been relocated); payments to individual Cherokees for properties, including capital improvements, that had been wrongfully confiscated and distributed to white settlers; and payments to individual Cherokees for expenses related to relocation to the west. Stand Watie was among the leaders who signed the petition;  Elias Boudinot and John Ridge led a delegation to Washington to present their desires to the government.

These efforts were vehemently opposed by Chief Ross and his followers; at this point, Chief Ross became concerned about the opposition faction entering into talks with representatives of the Jackson administration. Chief Ross made his own proposal to the government – which he may have known would be a non-starter – in which he said he would accept 20 million dollars for the Cherokee homeland and removal to suitable lands in the West. The administration rejected Ross’s proposal and let it be known that they would pay no more than $4.5 million dollars for the Cherokee’s land. While the Boudinot-Ridge delegation was in Washington during the winter of 1835 outlining their proposal, and at Elias Boudinot’s urging, Stand Watie was able to take possession of the printing press (which had been seized by Chief Ross’s sympathizers) used to print the Cherokee Phoenix and printed flyers encouraging the Cherokees to reject Chief Ross’s proposal and support the proposal of the treaty party.

The pro-treaty delegation returned home in the spring of 1835, and the Jackson administration appointed Commissioners who were authorized to travel to the Cherokee Nation to negotiate a formal treaty. Back home, the Ridge-Boudinot faction attempted to hold more meetings in order to explain the differences between the two proposals, but few people attended these meetings. The acrimony between the two sides was becoming more pronounced, and the pro-treaty party became quite fearful of violent reactions from the Ross faction.

The two sides finally agreed to a meeting at Running Waters in August 1835. Some 4,000 tribal members attended the meeting. Discussions outlining the positions of the two sides were held; ultimately Chief Ross’s loyalists easily carried the day, winning a formal vote in favor of defying removal by an overwhelming margin. No formal action was taken as a result of the meeting, however.

The leaders of the treaty party engaged in discussions with the federal commissioner, but Chief Ross refused to recognize his authority to enter into treaty negotiations. Instead, the Chief called for another meeting of the tribe to be held at Red Clay, Tennessee in October 1835. Chief Ross pushed through a resolution rejecting the Jackson administration’s proposals for relocation and appointed a delegation to travel to Washington to negotiate a new deal directly with members of the Jackson administration. Eliot Boudinot and John Ridge were included as members of the delegation; Boudinot, wanting to keep an eye on further developments at home, bowed out and Stand Watie was appointed to take his place. This move thrust Watie into the upper echelons of the pro-treaty leadership.

As Watie and the Red Clay delegation travelled to Washington in late December 1835, the federal Commissioner, John Schermerhorn, was determined to complete the job he had been sent to do. The fact that the pro-treaty party enjoyed the support of a relatively small minority of Cherokees was probably irrelevant to him at this point. Schermerhorn encouraged Boudinot and other pro-treaty leaders to call for another meeting. They agreed to do so; that meeting was held at New Echota, the Cherokee capital, on December 21, just after the Red Clay delegation left for Washington. The meeting was boycotted by the Ross faction; the small crowd that assembled there was overwhelmingly pro-treaty. Terms of a treaty were quickly agreed to and ratified by a vote of the attendees at the meeting. A delegation was then appointed to travel to Washington and obtain the support of the members of the Red Clay delegation and conclude the treaty negotiations with the Jackson administration and Congress.

Meanwhile, the Red Clay delegation met with Secretary of State Lewis Cass in early January 1836. They were informed that the federal government would pay them no more than $5 million for their lands; individual Cherokees would not be allowed to take personal ownership of plots of land in the new territories, and all monies would be paid to individual members of the tribe and not to the general tribal treasury.

The Red Clay delegation had no idea of what had transpired at New Echota shortly after they left home for Washington until just a few days before the New Echota delegation arrived. In their confused state, members of the Red Clay delegation registered their disapproval of the new treaty proposal without full knowledge of its contents. Once the New Echota delegation arrived, however, and explained what had happened and what the treaty included, the pro-treaty members of the Red Clay delegation, including Watie, fell in line in support of the new proposals. The New Echota delegation, including Watie and Ridge, immediately set out to paint Chief Ross as an ineffective leader who only had his own interests in mind. He had done nothing to prevent the encroachment of whites settlers into Cherokee lands, and they argued that should the federal government deposit payments associated with the treaty directly into the Cherokee treasury, Chief Ross would use those funds to his own benefit and reward his most loyal supporters at the expense of most members of the tribe, and certainly he would use those funds as a weapon against the treaty party.

There arguments were effective enough to secure ratification of the treaty by the U.S. Senate by just one vote on May 23, 1836, over the strong objections of Chief Ross, who protested to Congress “…an instrument purporting to be a treaty with the Cherokee people, recently made public by the President of the United States, is fraudulent and false, and made by unauthorized individuals, against the wishes of a great body of the Cherokee people.”[9]


Among other things, the treaty provided that the Cherokees would surrender their lands for a payment of 5 million dollars; they would be relocated to an area west of the Mississippi covering some 7 million acres west of the states of Arkansas and Missouri; individual members of the tribe would be able to submit claims for individual compensation for properties lost as a result of the removal, pending Senate approval. If the Senate refused to provide for such claims, a lump sum of $350,000 would be set aside for apportionment among the population based on those claims. Most importantly to the Cherokees, the new lands provided for them would not fall under the future jurisdictions of any state or territory, seemingly promising them the sovereignty they had been longing for. The U.S. government pledged to protect the Cherokees from attack by foreign entities, and would ensure domestic tranquility (a pledge that was almost immediately ignored.)  The U.S. would provide transportation to their new homeland and compensate individuals for relocation expenses. In addition, the federal government would provide subsistence for the Cherokees during the first year of their habitation in their new lands. Finally, the Cherokees were given two years to move to their new homes.


Upon his return the Cherokee Nation, Watie learned that his wife, Elizabeth,[10] had died during childbirth in late April and, sadly, the child died as well. Meanwhile, the members of the pro-treaty party were vociferously attacked by Ross supporters as traitors, just as they knew they would be. They had warned federal officials that they would be the targets of violent retribution by Chief Ross’s followers. These fears led them to begin preparations to relocate that summer. Word went out among pro-treaty supporters to begin disposing of any property they had. Records indicate that Watie received slightly over $5,000 in payments arising out of various provisions in the treaty, and his other family members, including his new wife Isabella, received considerable sums as well. Meanwhile, Chief Ross instructed his followers to ignore the provisions of the treaty and to remain in their homelands. The vast majority of his followers did just that.

The relocation of the treaty party and their followers began on March 3, 1837. Most of the journey was by boat, although high water during heavy rains required a brief jaunt by train early in their travels. The boats were overcrowded and most of the travelers were exposed to the elements while on the boats. There were periods of cold wind and heavy rain; severe colds and congestion were quite common among the Cherokees, including Stand Watie. There was an outbreak of measles along the way as well, among other maladies. They traveled down the Tennessee to the Ohio River near Paducah, then down the Mississippi past Memphis and then up the Arkansas River. They proceeded up the Arkansas River until they reached Fort Smith, on Arkansas’ western border with the new Cherokee Territory, on March 27. Watie and his family proceeded northward to the area of Honey Creek on the east bank of the Grand River in the northeast corner of the territory (the northeast corner of the state of Oklahoma today), just west of the joint border with Arkansas and Missouri. He was joined in that area by the families of Elias Boudinot and John Ridge.

By the spring of 1838, federal authorities were losing their patience with the far larger contingent of Cherokees loyal to Chief John Ross who remained in lands of the Cherokee Nation in the southeast U.S.[11]  The 1836 Treaty of New Echota required all of the Cherokees – including those who opposed the treaty from the beginning – to leave the area within two years. By the spring of 1938, the Cherokees under the domain of Chief Ross had made little, if any effort, to prepare for their relocation to the Cherokee Territory in the west. Federal troops began detaining the members of Ross’s faction throughout the spring and summer of that year until they could organize their relocation. Finally, in the fall of 1838 federal troops began the forced march of their Cherokee detainees to the west. The conditions on this march were horrendous and cruel. It is estimated that some 4,000 Cherokees died along the way[12]. Over time, the forced diaspora became more commonly known as the infamous “Trail of Tears.”  Ross’s followers blamed the members of the treaty party who, they felt, had sold out the tribal homelands to their oppressors. The arrival of Chief Ross and his followers in the Cherokee Territory in the spring of 1939 exacerbated the ill feelings between the factions and would lead to years of bloody violence.

The members of the Treaty party were not the first Cherokees to settle in the new western homelands. Twice in the twenty years prior to the Treat of New Echota, smaller groups of Cherokees from other parts of the Cherokee Nation had migrated to the territory west of the Mississippi. These earlier Cherokees became known as the “Old Settlers” and they adopted their own leadership structure that encouraged inclusiveness in their governance. The treaty party arrivals readily accepted the Old Settlers form of government upon their arrival in the territory. When Chief Ross arrived in 1939, however, he moved to replace the Old Settlers governing structure with the same system that existed in the original Cherokee Nation, a system that he and his supporters were able to dominate. The factions quickly clashed over the Chief’s plans. A meeting was called in June 1839 to try to unify the various factions, but the threats towards the treaty party faction from the Ross followers were so intense that the treaty party attendees had to flee the meeting for their own safety. Chief Ross called for another meeting to be held in July, but events before then made that proposition moot.

After the failed meeting in June, a group of Ross’s followers met in secret, supposedly without the knowledge of Chief Ross, and swore vengeance on the treaty party leaders. On June 22, Major Ridge, his son John, and Elias Boudinot were all murdered by Ross’s followers. A witness to Boudinot’s murder warned Watie about what had happened to his relatives, and he was able to escape. The killings set off a civil war in the new Cherokee territory.

Watie and a band of his followers fled to Fort Gibson (near present-day Muskogee in the southern part of the Cherokee Territory) and sought the intervention of federal authorities to assure the safety of the remaining treaty party settlers and serve justice against the killers of the Ridges and Boudinot. The military authorities at Fort Gibson spent the rest of 1839 trying to convince the two factions to meet and work out their differences to prevent further bloodshed;  neither party would agree to the other party’s conditions for those meetings. Ross and his followers held their own convention at which they took control of the Cherokee General Council and refused to recognize the legitimacy of the Old Settlers’ government. Watie and other members of his party travelled to Washington to confer with federal authorities and to try and convince them that Chief Ross was intent on destroying the members of their faction, pleading for federal protection. Later that fall, federal authorities made it known that they would not allow the Ross faction to run roughshod over members of the treaty party. Ross, anxious to keep the federal authorities out of tribal matters, led his own delegation to Washington and told the authorities that the conflict was an issue of internal governance among tribal members and thus was not subject to federal intervention. Late in the year, another meeting of the tribe was called by Chief Ross; the Old Settlers and the treaty party faction did not participate in the meeting an any meaningful way. The pro-Ross attendees re-affirmed the actions of the previous meeting adopting their preferred from of government, and federal authorities now recognized this new leadership structure as the legitimate governing body of the Cherokees.

These developments only heightened the fears of Watie and his followers. They now focused on trying to convince the federal authorities that because Ross would never treat their faction fairly and their lives would be in constant danger, the new Cherokee territory should be divided among the factions, with each faction having the right to govern themselves within their own areas. Apparently, the authorities gave this idea some degree of serious thought; Chief Ross feared the loss of control over a significant portion of the territory that would result from such an action and ultimately made some concessions that would allow for the participation of the opposing faction in the governance of the tribe and provide for the security of all members of the tribe. The factions signed an Act of Union on January 26, 1840. The agreement did not go very far in relieving the tensions between the two sides.

Over the course of the next few years, the violence and killings continued, if at a somewhat diminished level. Stand Watie became directly involved in the inter-faction violence in May 1842. While travelling in Arkansas, Stand was involved in an altercation with one James Foreman, a Ross follower who was believed to have been involved in the murder of Major Ridge. Foreman confronted Watie in a store where Watie was having a drink (evidently general stores served several purposes back then); words were exchanged and a fight broke out. The fight continued outside and Watie stabbed Foreman. When Foreman moved on Watie again after being stabbed, Watie pulled a pistol and shot him. Foreman staggered away but died a few minutes later. Watie fled to Van Buren, Arkansas to hide from a posse of Ross’s followers who were looking for him. Watie did not want to be arrested by Cherokee authorities because he feared for his own life. Besides, the killing had occurred in Arkansas, so that state had jurisdiction over the crime. He turned himself in to Arkansas authorities a week later. His trial was delayed until the spring of 1843, and Watie was released pending trial. In the interim, he married Sarah Bell on September 18, 1842. They would have five children together. Later that year, Watie’s father, David, died.

Watie’s trial began on May 15, 1843. The defense argued that Watie had lived in a state of extreme fear for his life during the three years that had elapsed since his family members were killed. His defense did a credible job of painting Foreman as the aggressor in the fight, and established the fact that Foreman was part of a posse that was actively looking for Watie. Watie was acquitted of the murder on the basis of self-defense.

Watie travelled to Washington again in late 1843 as part of a treaty party delegation to present more claims against Chief Ross. They protested Chief Ross’s autocratic control over Cherokee affairs and accused him of misappropriating the annuity monies being paid to the tribe by the federal government. Again they asked the federal authorities to consider a partition of the Cheorkee territory. The government took took no direct action on this request, although it did send investigators to the Cherokee territory to investigate the charges of misappropriation. Chief Ross once again was able to deflect any attempts to partition the territory, however. Meanwhile, the killings continued. Watie’s brother, Thomas was killed by Ross’ men on November 14, 1845, just one of several treaty party members murdered around that time.

Stand Watie was in Washington again in the spring of 1846 when the Mexican War broke out. He offered to raise a regiment of Cherokee calvary, but his offer was declined. Some headway was being made that spring, however, in the efforts to bring the waring factions together. The result was the Cherokee Treaty of 1846, signed on August 17 by President Polk.. A number of treaty party’s concerns were addressed; most importantly, the federal authorities would provide payments directly to individual Cherokees, including Watie’s supporters who were suffering under the biased governance under Chief Ross. A level of peace came to the Cherokees that had not been seen for many years. Watie was appointed to the pro-treaty commission that was to decide on the claims made by his followers. That work was finished by February 1847.

Watie returned to his home at Honey Creek after the Treaty of 1846. After serving on the claims commission, he served as an interpreter for federal authorities who had ordered a census of the Cherokees in the territory. He began to withdraw from the forefront of Cherokee politics and focused instead on his businesses and homelife. The period between 1847-1861 was one of the few extended tranquil periods of his entire adult life. He continued to serve as Clerk of the Cherokee Supreme Court and he eventually received a license to practice law in the Cherokee courts, a profession in which he prospered. He also continued to operate a general store in Millwood, and had significant farming interests. He entered into a partnership to purchase a sawmill in the mid-1850s, and by 1860 had become sole owner of that operation. By 1860 he had amassed significant wealth from these various activities.

He did not completely remove himself from tribal politics, however. He was elected to the Cherokee National Council in 1853, and was re-elected in 1855, serving as Speaker. He continued in that office until the outbreak of the Civil War, although his duties took up only a small amount of his time. While in office, the most critical issue Watie and the Cherokees had to address was the movement to bring an end to slavery. Political, economic, and cultural issues coming to the forefront at that time were leading to a growing sense of sectionalism across the United States. The country was moving inextricably towards civil war, and the issue of abolition was becoming an increasingly divisive, hot-button topic. The Cherokees, including Stand Watie, were slaveholders. The National Council issued a strongly worded resolution condemning the abolitionist movement; abolitionist sympathizers were banned from teaching in Cherokee schools, and anyone encouraging slaves in the Cherokee territory to take actions detrimental to their owners were subject to fines and expulsion from the territory.

The Cherokees were not united as a group on the practical issues surrounding abolition and the impending Civil War. Although the Cherokees shared several common values with white southerners, particularly their reliance on an agricultural economic base and slave ownership[13], Chief Ross and most of his followers preferred to take a neutral stance on the issue of abolition and the impending war. Ross was approached by representatives of the Confederate government early in 1861 in an attempt to bring the Cherokees into the Southern fold. Ross refused their advances at that time, however. Stand Watie and his followers were ardent anti-abolitionists, however, and were more receptive to approaches from the government in Richmond asking for their help. On July 12, 1861, Watie was commissioned as Colonel in the Confederate army and was authorized to raise a force to protect the Indian Territory from federal encroachment. He put together a force of approximately 300 calvary to help in this endeavor. Meanwhile, the Choctaw, Creek, Chickasaw and Seminole tribes reached agreements that summer to support the Confederacy. Confederate victories at First Bull Run in August and, closer to home, at Wilson’s Creek near Springfield, Missouri encouraged more Cherokees to align with the Southern cause. Some of Watie’s sympathizers had fought at Wilson’s Creek, and even though he wasn’t present at the battle, Watie received much praise from the southern press, significantly boosting his reputation among the Cherokees. Chief Ross, alarmed at Watie’s growing influence, reached an agreement with the Southern government on October 17 to provide armed support in the Cherokee territory. The Cherokees would provide ten companies of mounted calvary, while the Confederate government was given permission to construct military establishments on Cherokee lands. Slavery was protected; Cherokee troops would not be used outside of the Cherokee territory without permission; and monetary awards were to be provided to Watie’s supporters. Chief Ross raised an army of 1,200 calvary and placed them under the command of John Drew. These troops became the 1st Regiment of Cherokee Mounted Rifles. Watie’s forces were named the Cherokee Mounted Volunteers.

During the course of the war, troops under Watie engaged in a number of smaller engagements designed to stop federal troops, and Cherokee Indians that remained loyal to the north, from encroaching into Cherokee territory. These efforts met with varying levels of success, although Watie’s troops and his leadership received generally high marks for their performance. His forces engaged a somewhat larger force of federal Indians near the Kansas border in December 1861 and routed their opponents without incurring any casualties. Watie’s forces faced several impediments these endeavors, however. One of which was the often confused and ineffective leadership of Confederate officers serving in the west; Watie’s troops often engaged the enemy with little or no support from the main Confederate armies in the region. Another problem was the growing defection of Cherokee forces under John Drew to the northern side. Many of Chief Ross’s followers were never fully committed to the Southern cause; individual members from Drew’s command started defecting to the other side almost as soon as they entered the war. These defections continued and increased over time, making it hard for Watie’s troops to secure their areas of operation. Luckily, the Confederacy and Watie’s troops benefited from the fact that the federal armies operating in the region early in the war often failed to take advantage of the Cherokee’s weakened condition and limited resources.

Watie’s troops did participate in the Battle of Pea Ridge (Elkhorn Tavern), in northwest Arkansas, in early March 1862. Watie’s troops joined Southern troops under the command of Major General Earl Van Dorn and halted the advance of northern troops under Brigadier General Samuel Curtis on March 7,  capturing several northern artillery pieces. Curtis counterattacked the next day, and the southern armies were forced to retreat, partly due to a lack of supplies. Watie took his troops back into the Cherokee Territory, where they engaged in more skirmishes with federal troops over the next several months. In early June 1862, federal troops began a campaign into Cherokee territory from Kansas and surprised Watie’s troops south of the Grand River. Watie escaped and moved his troops south to Fort Smith. Instead of advancing, the federals retreated back into Kansas, and then staged another campaign, led by Colonel William Weer, into the territory in late June. Watie’s troops attacked the advance units of the federal army at Spavinaw Creek but were forced to retreat. A contingent of southern troops, under the command of Colonel James Clarkson, were encamped at Locust Grove, north of Tahlequah. Clarkson was surprised by Weer’s troops on July 3 and forced to retreat to Tahlequah.

At this point, many of the remaining Cherokees under John Drew defected to the north. Chief Ross was given the opportunity to switch allegiances, but he declined for unknown reasons. Ross was soon detained by northern troops, and moved north with them when they retreated back into Kansas in late July. Ross then travelled to Washington, stopping over to confer with President Lincoln and his advisors, and then continued on to Philadelphia, where he lived for the rest of the war. His defection only exacerbated the split between the remaining forces under John Drew and Watie’s troops. As a result of the defections of Ross’s supporters, the Cherokee troops were reorganized under Watie and renamed the First Cherokee Regiment.

With Chief Ross gone, southern Cherokees met at Tahlequah on August 21, 1862 and elected Stand Watie as Principal Chief. With the retreat of the northern troops and their sympathetic Cherokees back into Kansas, pro-Watie Cherokees who had fled the hostilities early in the war were encouraged to move back into the Cherokee territory and reclaim their homes. This effort was short-lived, however, as federal troops moved to attack their southern counterparts near Old Fort Wayne on October 22. Watie’s calvary was covering the southern troops’ flank, and were the first to encounter the federal invaders. Discovering that they were greatly outnumbered, Watie and the southern troops retreated south and were attacked repeatedly along the way. The result was a significant northern victory; the southern troops were forced south of the Arkansas River, leaving most of the Cherokee territory to northern forces and their Cherokee allies. Watie would move his troops east to Fort Smith where they spent the rest of the year engaging in minor skirmishes and raids on supply trains in northwestern Arkansas. In late December, Watie withdrew his troops back to Webber Falls, south of the Arkansas River, some forty miles west of Fort Smith.

Watie and the Confederate forces were unable to launch any major offensive activity as 1863 unfolded. The weather that winter was harsh, and Watie’s troops suffered severe shortages of basic supplies including food, clothing and military necessities. There was some dissatisfaction among the troops, but they remained loyal to their leader. Watie’s troops were not the only ones suffering from a lack of supplies; a broader catastrophe was unfolding as pro-Southern Cherokee non-combatants fled the tribal territories and relocated to the southern part of the Indian territory and northern Texas. There was little food, housing and clothing available for the refugees; starvation and exposure to the elements became everyday concerns. Watie’s own family -with the exception of his oldest son Saladin, who was serving as an aide to his father while still a teenager – moved to the southern border and then to Burk, Texas where they lived with Sarah’s sister. This didn’t mean they lived in luxury; Sarah’s sister was very sick and there was little money available to provide basic necessities. To make matters worse, Watie’s third son, Cumisky, died that spring. The family’s hardships were a constant theme in the many letters Sarah would send Stand over the next two years.

Meanwhile in February 1863 the northern Cherokees who had repopulated most of the Cherokee territory formally renounced their affiliation with the Confederacy and abolished slavery in the territory.

Watie moved his forces back to Fort Smith in April and then to Webber Falls. On the morning of April 25, northern forces surprised Watie’s troops and forced them to withdraw south. In early June, Watie led a sortie near Tahlequah and Grand River. Federal forces soon took up the pursuit. The two sides met at Greenleaf Prairie on June 16. A series of attacks and counterattacks proved of little benefit to either side; the federals could claim at least a nominal victory as Watie left the field that evening and retreated southward back across the Arkansas River. Returning to northern part of the Cherokee territory later that summer, Watie’s forces attempted to intercept a federal wagon train being sent to resupply Union troops at Fort Gibson. In a two-day engagement at Cabin Creek July 1-2, Watie’s forces were forced to flee after federal artillery came to the support of the northern troops on the second day, resulting in a chaotic retreat by the southern Cherokees. In the biggest engagement of the war in Indian territory, federal troops under Major General James Blunt decisively defeated southern troops at Honey Springs on July 17. While some of Watie’s troops were engaged in that battle, Stand himself was not present, being away on a scouting assignment at the time.

The federals attacked Watie’s forces at Perryville in the Choctaw Nation, pushing the southern Cherokees out of that area. The federal troops then moved on to capture Scullyville before taking Fort Smith on September 1.

Watie led raids near Tahlequah again in October 1863. During those raids, Watie troops went to Park Hill, just south of Tahlequah, and burned Rose Hill, the abandoned home of their nemesis Chief John Ross. Later in the year, Watie’s troops participated in a coordinated movement on Fort Smith but that effort was abandoned after they ran into early resistance. They then tried to attack Fort Gibson in mid-December, but again were forced to retreat without inflicting any meaningful damage. A few days later, Watie was attacked by the North Indian Home Guard under the command of Captain Alexander Spilman. The southern troops were routed and forced to retreat. Watie’s last action in 1863 took place on December 20 when he attacked federal forces at Cane Hill, Arkansas. The attack was repelled.

By late 1863, Watie was becoming disillusioned at the apparent lack of commitment on the part of the Confederate government to driving federal troops and the northern Cherokees out of the Cherokee territory, believing the south could rid the territory of the federals if the southern government would make a good-faith effort along those lines. He also expressed his frustration at the failure of the Richmond government to adequately supply not only his own troops but the Cherokee civilian refugees spread out across the southern territories and Texas. In response, the Confederate government tried to help, but several practical problems exacerbated the supply problems. One problem had plagued Watie’s army throughout the war: many of the supplies earmarked for Watie’s troops never made it to his army; they were pinched by other Southern commanders for their own use before making it to the Cherokees. More immediately, with the fall of Vicksburg and Port Hudson in July 1863 the North took complete control of the Mississippi River, effectively splitting the South into two separate regions. Moving supplies from the eastern theater to the trans-Mississippi theater became next to impossible. Finally, the financial assistance proffered by the Confederate Congress was virtually worthless due to the astronomically high levels of inflation that had hit the southern states over the course of the war. Watie concluded that the South would never provide the military force necessary to drive their opponents out. Watie called on members of each of the Five Nations to band together and organize a sizeable army of their own to drive the federals out. Although efforts were made to recruit more troops from within the Five Nations in the upcoming year, the outcome was insufficient to meet Watie’s needs.

Although there was some talk by southern commanders about launching larger coordinated attacks in the Cherokee territory in 1864, few efforts were made to bring such attacks to fruition. Watie was, for all practical purposes, left on his own to deal with his enemies in the territory. The supply shortages that had been plaguing Watie’s troops all throughout the war were particularly troublesome in the winter of 1863-1864. He would not be able to take any actions until late spring of 1864. On May 10, 1864 the Confederate Congress ratified Watie’s promotion to Brigadier General; he thus became the only Native American in the southern army to attain the rank of general, and one of only three Confederate Generals from Bartow County.[14]  The southern Cherokee troops were reorganized and Watie was given the command of the First Indian Brigades, which now included several units organized by other tribes. The rigors of four years of war were wearing on Watie’s health, and as the year went by he was deluged by increasingly despondent letters from his wife describing the family’s hardships and begging him to leave the army and return to her and his children.

Watie’s activities in 1964 included a number of small raids into Cherokee territory, but the year was highlighted by two significant engagements that illustrated Watie’s impressive tactical skills. On June 15, Watie’s troops ambushed a federal supply boat on the Arkansas River near Webber Falls. Bound for Fort Gibson from Fort Smith, the boat was carrying a vast quantity of supplies. Watie’s artillery was able to disable the vessel, which was a feat in and of itself. They confiscated the badly needed supplies, but from that point on Watie was unable to capitalize on his victory. Watie did not have sufficient wagons on hand to carry the supplies away. A number of his troops helped themselves to whatever they could carry and then scattered into the countryside. The rest of the supplies were stacked on the bank of the river while Watie waited for the arrival of the needed transportation. Before the wagons arrived, however, high waters carried most of the supplies downriver, and Watie could only burn what supplies were left and skedaddle before federal forces arrived from Fort Smith.

Later that summer, Watie engaged in an operation with troops under Brigadier General Richard Gano in the northern reaches of the Cherokee territory. Once again he engaged federal forces near Cabin Creek in an effort to intercept another federal supply train. Launching a night attack on September 15 that carried over into the next day, the southern forces were able to scatter the northern armies and capture the wagon train and a huge store of supplies. One of his biggest victories, Watie was widely hailed among his own people and across the south. Even his enemies in the north had to admit that he was a most worthy opponent.

While 1864 was generally a good year for Watie’s forces, the overall impact of their efforts was minimal at best. At the end of the year, the federals still occupied virtually all of the Cherokee territory, and there was no hope that the situation would change. It was becoming more and more obvious that the southern cause was collapsing.

On February 14, 1865, Stand Watie was appointed Commander of the Indian Division of Indian Territory. Although the appointment represented the extremely high level of respect Watie enjoyed among southern officials, it had no meaningful impact on military activities in the territories. Watie was in no position to launch any offensives due to the continued lack of supplies. That March, he was told to prepare for a federal attack that seemed to be imminent; that attack never came, presumably as a result of events unfolding in the eastern theater. In May, members of the Five Nations met to discuss plans for normalizing relations with the United States. On May 26, General Kirby Smith, Commander of the Trans-Mississippi Department for the southern government, surrendered his command to northern authorities. Finally, on June 25, 1865 near Doaksville in the Indian Territory, almost three months after Lee surrendered at Appommatox, Stand Watie surrendered his troops. He was the last southern general in the war to do so.

Immediately upon their surrender, the southern Cherokees were told they could return to their homes. Both factions still harbored great hostilities toward each other, however. The northern Cherokees who controlled the territory offered amnesty to those who had fought against them, although Watie and other southern Cherokee leaders evidently were not included in that offer. The federal government convened a meeting at Fort Smith in mid-September where an outline of the terms of reunification was provided to delegates from each of the Five Nations. A unified governmental structure encompassing all of the tribes would be created; slavery was abolished; and the tribes would have to cede some of their lands to the federal government. Delegates from all of the tribes had their misgivings, but eventually signed the document.

In early 1866, Watie travelled to Washington as a Cherokee delegate in negotiations to work out specific details of the new treaty agreement. Many of the same old issues were discussed; the southern Cherokees were still worried about their safety in the territory; they quibbled over the nature of future annuity payments, again displaying great distrust of the pro-Ross faction, and made a last attempt to convince the federal government that the Cherokee territory should be divided between the two groups so that the Watie faction would feel safe. Watie left for home in May before the treaty was finalized later that August. He was returning home to concentrate on his family and restore his wealth, which had been completely destroyed as a result of the war.

Waite’s family moved first to Brushy Depot on the Red River in the Choctaw Nation (near present day town of Atoka). In late 1867 they would move back to the area of Webber Falls on the Arkansas River. Sometime later, Watie would return to the area of Honey Creek on the Grand River and begin building a new home on the land where he and his family first settled in 1837.

Waite became involved in a number of business ventures after the war and was able to restore some level of economic security, although there were setbacks. He started with a farming operation, and in 1868 he and his nephew, Elias C. Boudinot, established the Boudinot and Watie Tobacco Company near Webber Falls. That venture prospered in a relatively short period of time and provided some income, although after Boudinot took over the company a couple of years later it was confiscated by the government because of unpaid taxes. Watie bought a barge operation on the Arkansas River which was profitable, and apparently he was able to take possession of his old sawmill near his old homestead, although it was eventually shut down when he couldn’t find a competent manager. He also entered into a partnership in a flour mill in early 1870. He also farmed cotton, which was another decent source of income.

Watie’s family life after the war was initially quite happy, although great tragedy struck before long. Sarah Watie’s health improved significantly after the war, although Stand was beginning to show the effects of a trying life. He concentrated on providing his younger children a good education, sending them to boarding schools, which ate into his savings. Sadly, their oldest son, Saladin, who had served as an aide-de-camp for his father during the war while still a teenager, died unexpectedly in February 1868. Saladin had provided great assistance and support to his parents after the war, and his death was a severe blow. Their hopes for the future then turned to their lone surviving son, Watica, who was still in school and eager to help his parents once his education was completed. He tragically died from pneumonia in April 1869, however, leaving the Watie’s with only their two youngest daughters to care for them.

Stand Watie’s health continued to deteriorate as the decade closed. He died on September 8, 1871 at Honey Creek. He was buried in the Old Ridge Cemetery[15] in Delaware County near his original homestead in Honey Creek. His family never got to relocate to the new home he was working on at the time of his death. Both of his daughters died in 1875; daughter Ninnie may have had a child who died in infancy around the same time in 1875 as Ninnie. Thus, Stand Watie was left with no known direct descendants.[16] Sarah Watie died in 1883.

Fifty years after his death, the United Daughters of the Confederacy unveiled monuments dedicated to Stand Watie in the Cherokee capital of Tahlequah and at his gravesite, and the Oklahoma Historical Society erected a larger marker to the Cherokee leader at the entrance to Polson Cemetery in 1971. Prior to the ceremonies in 1921, James Keys, who served under Watie during the Civil War, paid homage to his former commander:  “Stand Watie was one of the most remarkable men I have ever known….He was well educated, a lawyer of ability, a man of strong will, undaunted courage, and a born leader of men.”[17]


[1] Many people associate the Trail of Tears with the removal of the Cherokees to the west, but the Creek, Choctaw, Chicasaw and Seminole tribes had all been removed from their homes in the southeast under similarly harsh conditions prior to the Cherokees. The removal of the Cherokees should be thought of as the denouement of the Trail of Tears.

[2] “Interesting History of General Stand Watie,” Democratic Leader, Tahlequah, OK., June 2, 1921, p1.

[3] Cass County’s northern border would eventually move farther south in order to create Gordon County. Cass County’s name was changed to Bartow County in 1861.

[4] Sources differ on the spelling of his first name. Kenny Franks’ Stand Watie and the Agony of the Cherokee Nation presents his name as “Degadoga,” while Frank Cunningham in General Stand Watie’s Cherokee Indians uses “De-gata-ga.” Other variations have been seen as well. Variations on this father’s name are common as well, most notable “Oo-wa-tee”.

[5] Much of the discussion of Watie’s early life is adapted from Frank Cunningham’s Stand Watie’s Confederate Indians and Kenny Franks’  Stand Watie and the Agony of the Cherokee Nation.

[6] Fay Yarbrough, Race and the Cherokee Nation, pp15-17.

[7] Theresa Gaul, et.al., To Marry an Indian: The Marriage of Harriet Gold and Elias Boudinot in Letters, 1823-1839, pp175-176  Letter dated July 1, 1831. Spelling and punctation reflect that in the original document.

[8] This location is southeast of present-day Resaca, Georgia, in the general vicinity of the current day New Echota State Historic site.

[9] Weekly Chronicle and Farmers’ Register, Salem NC, Sept. 10, 1836 p2.


[10] Franks (1979) claims that Watie married three times while living in the eastern Cherokee Nation. According to him, in addition to Elizabeth (Fields), Watie was married at some point to one Elanor Looney and, at the time of his departure for the west, one Isabel Hicks, who had a son of her own at the time of the marriage. Cunningham (1959) does not acknowledge a marriage to Looney, and claims that Watie and Isabell separated shortly after their relocation west. Whether he was married two or three times while living in the east, he apparently had no surviving children with any of these women.

[11] Estimates of the number of Cherokees included in the two factions varies depending on the source. The best estimate is that approximately 2,000 Cherokees relocated to the west prior to the forced march in the fall of 1938. Somewhere between 15,000 – 20,000 Cherokees were removed to the west during the forced march.

[12] Russell Thornton places the death toll at more than 10,00 when taking into account the long-term consequences of the forced march and the difficult living conditions in the new territory immediately after the relocation.

[13] See Fay Yarbrough’s Race and the Cherokee Nation: Sovereignty in the Nineteenth Century, p23.

[14] William H. Wofford and Pierce Young were the other two; Young was not born in Cass/Bartow County, however; his family moved to Cass County when he was a very young child.

[15] Later renamed the Polson Cemetery, which is located near Grove, Oklahoma. See Feen “Stand Watie Was Man of Courage and Action: Not Everyone Agrees on Final Resting Place,” Miami Daily News-Record, Miami (OK), June 3, 1956, p24.

[16] Individuals posting to a Facebook page belonging to ‘Stand Watie Descendants” claim to be directly descended from Stand Watie through a relationship he had with a slave. While this is not at all implausible, at least one of these people claims that DNA evidence has proved she is a great-great granddaughter of Watie. It is unclear how DNA testing could determine this when his acknowledged children had no surviving descendants of their own; thus there could be no DNA samples available for a comparison test. No specific evidence is offered, and no one has posted on this page in several years.

[17] “Interesting History of General Stand Watie,” Democratic Leader, Tahlequah, OK., June 2, 1921, p1

Home Sweet Home

An Architectural Analysis of Native American Houses
During the Middle Mississippian Period in the Etowah River Valley

By Jordan Farkas

ANTH 3397
Practicum in Anthropology
Department of Geography and Anthropology
Kennesaw State University
Kennesaw, Georgia

May 12, 2021


The Mississippian period lasted from AD 1000-1550. It is divided into three different subperiods: Early (AD 1000-1200), Middle (AD 1200-1375), and Late (AD 1375-1550). Mississippian life, in general, is characterized by a chiefdom form of political organization, large villages located on floodplains near major rivers, single-set post and wall trenched houses, and a subsistence base centered on corn or maize agriculture. Material culture included plain and decorated pottery and triangular-shaped projectile points.

The Middle Mississippian is distinct from the Early Mississippian and Late Mississippian subperiods due mainly to changes in pottery (temper, thickness, form, and decorative motifs) as well as house design, shape, and construction practices. This research focuses on houses during the Middle Mississippian subperiod and how they compare and contrast with those found at both large and small sites. The research focuses on how they were constructed, where they were constructed, perceived differences in summer and winter houses, and what features were found associated with them. It will examine a single house that has been recently excavated at a small village known as the Cummings site located to the west of the City of Cartersville in Bartow County, Georgia. The Cummings house is compared to those found at Etowah dated to the same time period. Etowah was a large regional center located only three kilometers (two miles) to the southeast of Cummings. Both sites have a well-documented Middle Mississippian component which will allow for a fine-grained analysis of house types situated in the Etowah River Valley.


This research looks at changes in houses in the Etowah River Valley during the Middle Mississippian subperiod. Specifically, it examines a single prehistoric Native American house that has recently been excavated at the Cummings site (named after the current landowner). The Cummings house is located on a high terrace above Pettit Creek approximately two miles (three kilometers) northwest of the Etowah Indian Mounds in Cartersville, Bartow County, Georgia (Figure 1).

Figure 1. A map showing the location of the Cummings Site and the Etowah Indian
     Mounds. Map courtesy of Bryan Moss.

Cummings is the site used for an annual archaeology field school directed by Dr. Terry Powis of the Department of Geography and Anthropology at Kennesaw State University (KSU), Kennesaw, Georgia (Figure 2). For the past four years, investigations at Cummings have included Phase I Shovel Testing and Phase II Testing. It was through Phase II test excavations that the house was located. The house was completely excavated in the winter of 2021 as part of an anthropology practicum course. Less of a focus was placed on the material remains derived from the house floor than on the house shape, design, length of occupation, and construction methods used during the Middle Mississippian subperiod. The analysis of the house, located in a small village like Cummings, is compared to structures at Etowah, the largest site in the region. The intent is to use the comparative data to expose the relationship between large preeminent regional centers like Etowah and smaller sites like Cummings during the height of the Mississippian period.

Figure 2. A photo of the Cummings site, looking west. Photo courtesy of Terry G. Powis.


The Mississippian occupation of the Etowah River Valley spans from AD 1000-1550, when European contact was made between Spanish explorer Hernando DeSoto and the indigenous people living at Etowah. The Mississippian period is divided into three subperiods, Early (AD 1000-1200), Middle (AD 1200-1375), and Late (AD 1375-1550), with the height occurring during the middle subperiod. Mississippian life, in general, is characterized by a chiefdom form of political organization. In these systems, chiefs and their capitals hold religious and economic importance as well as political influence (King 2003). Chiefdom capitals are identifiable during this time by the presence of mounded architecture. Chiefly residences, temples, and other important civic and ceremonial structures were placed on top of these mounds. Large villages are characteristic during the Middle Mississippian, with a mixed subsistence strategy centered around maize agriculture. Other plants and terrestrial herbivores were also utilized. The Etowah River also provided abundant access to aquatic wildlife such as fish, shellfish, and waterfowl. Villages were located on floodplains along major rivers. This settlement pattern is significant as it provided nutrient-rich soil (due to periodic flooding) and therefore served as prime agricultural land to grow maize. The Etowah River Valley, in particular, is the most productive agricultural area in the Ridge and Valley Province, containing soils that are composed of weathered sandstone, shale, and limestone (Hally and Langford 1995).

The Middle Mississippian is distinct from the Early Mississippian and Late Mississippian subperiods due mainly to changes in pottery and architectural practices. Decorative characteristics of pottery in the Etowah River Valley during this subperiod include thick-walled vessels with bold, curvilinear decorative motifs. Vessel forms include bowls, jars, dishes, and bottles. Wooden paddles with carved designs on them were used to create the decorative motifs found on the vessels. This was done by stamping the carved wooden designs on the pottery before they were completely dried. Houses, made using the wattle-and-daub technique, is the most common dwelling style used during this subperiod (Figure 3). Construction methods at this time shifted away from the wall-trench construction pattern used during the Early Mississippian period to a single-set post-wall construction. Therefore, after AD 1200 single-set post buildings became the dominant architectural form (King 2013). This construction method used large wooden posts pounded into the ground or set in pre-dug holes to form the framework of the house. Then smaller wooden limbs (such as rivercane) were used as wattle. The wattle is woven back and forth horizontally in between the upright posts to construct the house walls. These walls would then have been covered/packed in clay to provide insulation. Houses during the middle subperiod would have also been constructed using interior support posts. These interior support posts would have allowed and supported a hip roof design made out of thatch (e.g., long, thick grass). This differs from the early subperiod, whose houses lacked interior support posts and, as a result, had a bent-pole roof design. The Middle Mississippian period also saw a shift in house shape from rectangular, used during the Early and Late Mississippian subperiods, to a square shape with rounded corners.

Figure 3. A reconstruction of a wattle-and-daub structure located at the Etowah Indian
Mounds. Photo courtesy of Terry G. Powis.


The data collection for this research included a combination of both field and lab work. The fieldwork consisted of Phase III feature excavation. In order to fully expose the floor of the house, a total of 40 units were excavated. Each unit varied in size, with some measuring 1 x 1 meters, 1 x 2 meters, and 1 x 0.5 meters. All units were excavated using a square flat-bladed shovel, pointed round shovel, and a trowel. Each unit was dug in arbitrary levels of 10 cm. During the excavation of units, depth was maintained and controlled using a line level in reference to a master site datum. Soil excavated from each unit was screened through a ¼ inch mesh screen, where diagnostic artifacts such as pottery sherds, chert and quartz flakes, daub, FCR (fire-cracked rock), and projectile points/knives were collected. Artifacts recovered from each unit level were placed into a clear, plastic unit level bag, with the provenience information written on the front using a sharpie. The provenience information included the site name, quadrant number, unit number, feature number, date, and depth below unit datum.

Upon completion of each quadrant and unit, the north, south, east, and west wall profiles were recorded on graph paper to show the stratigraphy of the soil. Soil texture was recorded, along with the soil color, according to the Munsell Color system. Features were mapped along with any artifacts that were found on and around the house floor. Some of the items included pottery sherds, celts and burnt posts found in situ, fallen burnt posts, large concentrations of daub (clay applied to the walls of a house), lithic tools, and other artifacts of interest. The depth at which these mapped features and artifacts was recorded. After the entire house floor was exposed, it was also mapped. All artifacts were packaged in aluminum foil to be analyzed in the lab at a later date. Charcoal samples were collected in aluminum foil, taken from both the exterior and interior burnt posts found in situ. The charcoal samples were sent to the Center for Applied Isotope Studies (CAIS) at UGA for radiocarbon dating. Charred wood samples were also sent to archaeobotanist Leslie Raymer to determine the species of wood used in the house construction. Once the house was fully excavated, a trowel was used to scrape the floor. This was done to make sure the house floor was uniform across all quadrants and was the same depth. Photographs using a digital camera, video camera, and drone were taken. Photographs were taken of all of the in situ artifacts found on the house floor. General excavation photos were periodically taken to document the excavation process.

While the emphasis of the research was excavating the house floor, a limited ceramic analysis was performed in order to date the construction of the house. The analysis was conducted in the Anthropology Lab in the Department of Geography and Anthropology at KSU. It should be noted that a historic site dated to 1925, called the Adams Family House, is located adjacent to the Cummings site. As such, historic artifacts were occasionally found with prehistoric material in the excavation units. In the lab, the first priority was to separate the historic artifacts from the prehistoric. There were approximately 50 two-gallon Ziploc bags that needed to be sorted. The contents of each bag were placed on a tray, with diagnostic prehistoric artifacts, such as pottery sherds and projectile points/knives with an intact base, separated from the historic artifacts. Prehistoric pottery sherds were placed into one bag and any projectile points/knives into a separate bag, with both bags placed into a “parent” bag with provenience information written on the front. The same procedure was followed for the historic artifacts.

To accurately identify and type the pottery sherds and projectile points/knives, they first needed to be cleaned. Using a soft fiber toothbrush and a tub of water, all of the artifacts were cleaned and left to dry for at least a week. Once all of the artifacts were dry, decorated stamped pieces of pottery were separated from the plain ones, transferring the provenience information to the new bag. Decorated pottery sherds were typed using a flashlight and a high-powered microscope. Using Lloyd Schroder’s “A Field Guide To Southeastern Indian Pottery,” a total of 491 pottery sherds were placed into four different groups: Etowah, Savannah, Wilbanks, and Unanalyzable. Etowah was composed of three subgroups: Etowah Complicated Stamped, Etowah Brushed, and Etowah Simple Stamped. Savannah was composed of two subgroups: Savannah Check Stamped and Savannah Cord Marked. Wilbanks was only composed of Wilbanks Complicated Stamped. The Unanalyzable pottery group was composed of plain pottery, Lamar, Dunlap Fabric Impressed, Deptford Complicated Stamped, and Deptford Simple Stamped pottery sherds too small to comfortably type. Unfortunately, time ran out before an analysis of the 20 projectile points could be made.


The results of the field and lab work indicate that the Cummings house dated to the Middle Mississippian subperiod. The size of the house measured 4.9 m (16 ft) east-west by 4.65 m (15.25 ft) north-south, or approximately 23 square meters (75 ft) (Figure 4).

Figure 4. An aerial image showing the dark stain of the Cummings house, including burned posts circled in black. Image courtesy of Stan Tan.

The height of the house is unknown but may have stood 2-3 meters (6.5-9.8 ft) high based on ethnohistoric accounts. The doorway or entrance into the house at Cummings is also unknown but there is a large enough gap between posts in the southwest area of the house to preliminarily state this was the original access point. Further work is needed to confirm this notion. Evidence on the excavated floor indicates that the house had burned down, which is demonstrated by the large concentrations of daub and the burned posts found in situ (Figure 5).

The shape of the house is square with rounded corners. It was constructed using a single-set post wall construction, with at least four interior support posts. The interior support posts supported a hip roof design. The house is oriented between 8°-18° east of north. An oval hearth is centrally located in the house and recessed in the floor. It measured about 50 cm in diameter, and has a depth of about 15-20 cm.

Figure 5. A photo showing a burned post inside House 1 at Cummings. Photo
                    courtesy of Terry G. Powis.

Analysis of charred post samples from our archaeobotanist indicated the building material of both the exterior and interior posts was pine, most likely sourced locally. The radiocarbon date provided by the Center for Applied Isotope Studies (CAIS) at UGA gave a very narrow date range of AD 1260-1300 for the construction date of the house. This indicates that the house was built at the height of Etowah during the Middle Mississippian subperiod.

As was mentioned earlier, a total of 491 pottery sherds were examined. Eighty-six of these were successfully typed: seven were typed as Etowah Plain; five were typed as Etowah Complicated Stamped; one was typed as Etowah Brushed; and one was typed as Etowah Simple stamped. Thirty-nine pottery sherds were typed as Savannah. Thirty-eight sherds were typed as Savannah Check Stamped, and one was typed as Savannah Cord Marked. Forty sherds were typed as Wilbanks Complicated Stamped (Figure 6). The remaining 405 pottery sherds were typed as Unknown.

Figure 6. (A) shows an example of a Savannah check stamped piece of pottery; (B) shows an example of a Etowah brushed stamped piece of pottery; (C) shows an example of a Wilbanks complicated stamped piece. Photos courtesy of Terry G. Powis.

Other interesting artifacts excavated from the floor include two partial effigy pots, both of which seem to depict a bird/dog/deer on them. The base of a spittoon-style tobacco smoking pipe was excavated from around the hearth. A small broken ground stone spatula, possibly used for mixing food(s), and two greenstone celts were excavated from the northeast corner of the house (Figure 7).


Figure 7. (A) shows an undecorated tobacco smoking pipe; (B) shows a broken
                          cooking spatula; (C.) shows one of the effigy pottery vessels possibly depicting a
                          bird’s face on it. Photos courtesy of Terry G. Powis.

 Archaeological evidence such as the burned floor and posts, along with large concentrations of daub, indicates that the Cummings house had burned down. It is not clearly understood how this event unfolded, but there are possible cultural and natural phenomena that could explain it. The most likely natural cause is that the house was struck by lightning, causing the house to burn down. Culturally speaking, there are several possible explanations for the house’s destruction. One idea revolves around the notion that one of the occupants living in the house died and, as a result, the house might have been burned intentionally as part of a burial ceremony. Alternatively, a cooking accident at the hearth may have caused the house to burn down.

Another explanation is that the house might have been burned as a result of conflict or warfare. With villages in the valley reaching peak density during the Middle Mississippian subperiod conflict may have been inevitable given increased competition for land and resources. This may be tied to the political leaders at Etowah who may have had the occupants of this house, among others at Cummings, to vacate the area and move further away. This removal may have been an attempt by the leaders at Etowah to control the ever-growing population in the Etowah River Valley (Adam King, personal communication, 2021). If this was indeed the case, then perhaps the occupants living in the house at Cummings would have burned the house upon their departure from the area. The presence of artifacts on the burned floor of the house suggests that the occupants did not have much time to retrieve them once the fire consumed the house. It should be pointed out that the artifacts might have been purposefully left in situ as they were no longer needed wherever a new house was to be constructed. 

The length of occupation for those living in the house at Cummings is currently unknown. Due to this research being preliminary and limited to only one excavated house, it is unclear whether this was a long-term or short-term occupation. During the Middle Mississippian subperiod, permanent occupation is associated with “paired winter and summer houses” (Lewis 2013). Both houses would have been situated very close to one another so that a single family could move easily between them when the seasons changed. Given that it took 4-5 months to excavate the floor, the seasonality of the house was the only thing not determined relating to the length of occupation. The presence of a hearth is used as one of the indicators of a winter house, and the absence of a hearth is used as one of the indicators of a summer house. A winter house is typically defined as having a central hearth used as the heating source during the cold months but also served as the cooking area. The number of walls is also another indicator of seasonality during this period, with winter houses being fully enclosed (with four walls) and being utilized during the colder months. The type of houses utilized during the warmer months would have been an “open-walled shelter suggesting (with only three walls) that it is a summer house or outdoor activity area” (Lewis 2013). Due to the presence of a central hearth, it is believed that the Cummings house was occupied during the winter months.

Due to the distribution and location of artifacts recovered from the floor, there does not appear to be any discernible activity areas or partitioning of space within the house. Of interest, most of the artifacts were found around the interior perimeter of the house, with very few found in close proximity to the hearth. However, a few artifacts have been recovered that give a general idea of some of the activities the occupants may have been engaged in. The stone celts, effigy vessels, and the broken tobacco smoking pipe suggest rituals may have occurred inside the house. The spatula and pottery vessels found on the floor may point to food preparation and storage. Cooking food inside a house at this time may have been fraught with problems – the main one being that embers could cause a fire inside the structure. Two styluses, or drawing implements, made from ground slate or andesite, along with pieces of galena and carved mica may indicate that the occupants were engaged in art-related activities. In areas where there were no artifacts may reflect where sleeping occurred. We have found no posts located near the house interior walls to indicate that benches were used for sleeping.

In terms of dating the house, there are two lines of evidence that securely date it to the middle subperiod. A single radiocarbon date of AD 1260-1300 provided by the Center for Applied Isotope Studies at UGA, as well as the typing of 86 sherds combine to provide an accurate temporal assessment of when the house was occupied. For the dating of the ceramics, a reliance on changes over time in decorative motifs, was utilized. However, it should be pointed out that while analyzing sherds identified as Etowah, Savannah, and Wilbanks Complicated Stamped types it became evident that there are no real recognized decorative differences between the three types. Today, archaeologists who work with the Middle Mississippian subperiod do not recognize differences between Etowah, Savannah, and Wilbanks ceramic types. This is because when they were initially identified in the 1950s there were personal relationship issues between the principal investigators conducting research in north Georgia, which resulted in the same decorative stamp being labelled as three different types. Therefore, everything that has a curvilinear stamped design is now typed as Wilbanks Complicated Stamped.

Archaeobotanist Leslie Raymer indicated that the building material used for the exterior and interior posts was pine wood. However, the horizontal building material used for the woven material (wattle) in between the exterior posts is still unknown. None of this building material was excavated, and it is likely that none of it survived when the house was burned down. It is believed that this material most likely would have been river cane. This would have been very easily sourced from along the banks of Pettit Creek and/or the Etowah River. The clay walls of the house would have been smoothed with a maximum thickness of about 15 cm. The material used for the roof is also unknown at this time but most likely would have been constructed using thatch. This type of roofing material would have needed constant upkeep as any holes or leaks in the roof appeared. It may have also needed to be periodically replaced as it was also common for these roofs to become infested with bugs and other insects.


In sum, the Cummings house is a square, single-set post construction with rounded corners that measures 4.9 m east-west by 4.65 m north-south, covering 23 square meters (75 sq ft). Our investigations indicate that, based on the house excavated at Etowah, the house at Cummings appears to be domestic in nature. Importantly, the size and shape of the Cummings house mirrors that at Etowah, which King (2001) labelled as a “square, single-set post building with rounded corners that measured 15 feet on a side”. The inhabitants living in the house that Adam King refers to is perceived as high status due to “their location adjacent to Mound B” and that the “inhabitants may have been of elevated status” (King 2001). Were the inhabitants of the house at Cummings of similar high status to those at Etowah or is the size and shape of the house at Cummings standard at all village sites within a certain distance from Etowah? Exactly what this means in terms of the relationship between the two sites is not known. Etowah is the largest site in the area and Cummings is in close proximity and therefore believed to have been under its social, political, economic, and religious authority/influence. Given that both sites share a similar house architecture/construction may signify some kind of close relationship; however, more research in other areas (e.g., village layout, diet and subsistence practices, material culture) related to these houses is needed to determine the exact nature of this relationship. Our fieldwork has demonstrated that the Cummings house was occupied during the winter months but we do not yet know if the village was occupied year-round like Etowah. Therefore, the length of occupation of the Cummings house (and village site) is still considered preliminary.

Future directions for this study could include further excavations around the site. The use of dowsing at Cummings by Carl Etheridge (of Bartow County) has indicated the presence of another dozen or so houses located at this village site. The excavations of these potential houses could help answer questions about whether there is a summer house that is paired with the excavated winter house. Beyond intra-site information about the village layout is the level of interaction with Etowah and other nearby sites. Another area of interest is a complete and thorough analysis of all of the artifacts found in situ on the floor of the house at Cummings. This analysis will help us to understand what kind of activities were taking place inside the house. As of yet, we do know the answer to that.


This research would not have been possible without the help and support from a number of people, including Dr. Terry Powis, Carl Etheridge, Kong Cheong, Devlin McElrone, Bryan Moss, Stan Tan, and Leslie Raymer. The Center for Applied Isotope Analysis at UGA is thanked for providing the radiocarbon date of the house post. Lastly, and most importantly, the landowners of Walnut Grove deserve a special acknowledgement for allowing Kennesaw State University to conduct archaeological research on their property.


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Historic Newspapers of Bartow County

By Joe F. Head

Historic Newspapers of Bartow County

An Annotated List of Historic Newspapers Published in Bartow County

Recently Tom Hanks starred in a 2021 movie entitled, News of the World. It was the story of a well-educated, former Civil War soldier who earned his living as an itinerant reader of the news at public gatherings. For the admission price of 10 cents, he read sensational excerpts from various state, regional and national tabloids to news hungry audiences.

News of Bartow County

While the practice of reading news to Bartow citizens by an itinerant reporter likely did not occur in our communities, a plethora of newspapers were available and there was a market demand for them as well. The golden age of tabloids thrived in Bartow County, and as a result our history has been well preserved. One only need to do a little research using modern research tools such as Newspapers.com to find rich returns for his/her efforts.

Few people realize that Bartow County has been home to over three dozen newspapers that have printed our history for almost 200 years. Even today these tabloid pages live in the form of brittle hardcopies, microfilm and digital files that serve as a window to our past. Here we can find creditable first and secondhand documentation in the pages of dozens of papers that validate our history. These pages are the historic archives of our past.

We have come a long way from the days of Horace Greeley, paper boys and itinerant readers to a communications explosion of an on demand, 24/7, digital news culture. Today the public gets its news instantaneously via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, text, internet, cable and satellite platforms. Now newspapers take a back seat to mobile options. However, the news of Bartow’s yesteryears still speak from vintage paper and ink that ruled those days.

Sam P. Jones was the son of Rev Sam P. Jones

It is no secret that newspapers are suffering from these technological advancements as the public prefers instant and interactive social media options. Even our local community newspaper curbed its editions from 6 issues per week to three in September 2020, reduced page size and opted to deliver the paper by the U.S. Postal Service. Gone are the days when one could enjoy their cup of morning coffee while reading hot off the press news.

The following research mustered an impressive list of forgotten or faded newspapers that once operated in Bartow County. Some of these papers only survived for a year or two while others merged with competitors, spun off sister papers or went out of business only to surface again under the same or similar name. Research often uncovered early newspapers aligned and deliberately sided with a political party or candidate to gain readership.

A quick survey of other surrounding counties reveal that Bartow County has a vastly greater history and number of newspapers than any other surrounding county with the exception of Clark County with 47. According to the Digital Library of Georgia archive most counties averaged less than ten historic newspapers with Bartow exceeding three dozen. Tabloids thrived in Bartow suggesting that Bartow may have been a hotspot for political, religious, industrial, and commercial activity.

Newspaper                                                                                                   Established

1. Cassville Gazette                                                                                  1835

Established in the 1830’s as a weekly publication, advocated for the preservation of the Union and published in Cassville, Georgia. Publisher/owner possibly John B. Hood


2. The Georgia Pioneer and retrenchment banner                           1835

Established in 1835 by S. M. Hood & Co. (Title shortened in 1840’s to Georgia Pioneer) Publisher/owner S. M. Hood,

Source: https://gahistoricnewspapers.galileo.usg.edu/regions/north/

3. The Cassville Pioneer                                                                          1849

Established 1849 by John B. Hood, but removed to Rome, GA.

Source: The Historical News, July 2021, pages 20-21

4. The Cassville Standard                                                                       1849

Established in the 1840’s as a weekly publication. It was burned during the Civil War.

Publisher/owner Thomas Burke,

Source: https://gahistoricnewspapers.galileo.usg.edu/regions/north/

5. The Standard                                                                                          1849

Established in 1849 as a weekly and operated until 1864 as a democratic newspaper. It printed primarily democratic news and was not in favor of secession from the Union. Multiple proprietors: John Burke, Leeke & Benjamín Bennet, William Wofford, Sam Smith, and John Rice. (John Rice founded the Cherokee Baptist College in Cassville)

Source: https://gahistoricnewspapers.galileo.usg.edu/regions/north/

6. Cassville Pioneer                                                                                  1849

Established 1849, Published by Hood

Source: Historical News, July 2021

7. Etowah Valley Star                                                                                1853

Established in 1854 as a politically neutral newspaper and published weekly. Publisher/owner Henry D. Wray, Source: Augusta Chronicle, March 10, 1854

8. The Cartersville Express                                                                     1858

Established in the 1850’s as a democratic publication and favored secession. Publisher/owner W. T. Goldsmith (Not to be confused with the 1875 Express)

Source: https://gahistoricnewspapers.galileo.usg.edu/regions/north/

9. The Cartersville Weekly Express                                                      1865

Established 1870 as a weekly (aka The Cartersville Weekly Express) Publisher/owner

Samuel Smith

Source: https://gahistoricnewspapers.galileo.usg.edu/regions/north/

10. The Cartersville Standard                                                                 1870

Established in 1870 under the proprietorship of Wikle and Word.

Source: https://gahistoricnewspapers.galileo.usg.edu/regions/north/

11. The Cartersville Semi Weekly                                                          1871

Established in 1871 as a Democratic publication. Publisher/owner S. H. Smith

Source: https://gahistoricnewspapers.galileo.usg.edu/regions/north

12. The Standard and Express                                                               1871

Established in 1871 when the Cartersville Express and Cartersville Standard consolidated. Publisher/owner Samuel H. Smith

Source: https://gahistoricnewspapers.galileo.usg.edu/regions/north/

13. The Semi Weekly Standard and Express                                     1871

Established 1871, printed semi weekly, The Cartersville Standard eventually consolidated with the Standard and Express. Publisher/owner Smith & Wikle

Source: https://gahistoricnewspapers.galileo.usg.edu/regions/north/

14. The Weekly Standard & Express                                                    1871

Established 1871, printed weekly, Publisher/owner Smith & Wikle.

Source: https://gahistoricnewspapers.galileo.usg.edu/regions/north/

15. The (Cartersville) Sentinel                                                                1874

Established 1874 as a weekly Democratic paper often supporting Dr. William Felton. The paper fell into conflict with another local paper and it struggled to survive.

Source: https://gahistoricnewspapers.galileo.usg.edu/regions/north/

16. The Cartersville Express                                                                  1875

Established 1875 as a weekly. The Cartersville Express and Cartersville Standard would consolidate as the Standard and Express (See Cunyus) Publisher/owner C. H. C Willingham (Not to be confused with the 1858 Express)

Source: https://gahistoricnewspapers.galileo.usg.edu/regions/north/

17. The Planters Advocate                                                                      1875

Established in 1875 by W. A. and A. Marschalk

Source: Hawkinsville Dispatch November 4, 1875, Fighting a Cotton Ring https://gahistoricnewspapers.galileo.usg.edu/regions/north/

18. The Free Express                                                                                1878

Established 1878 as a weekly and became a fierce supporter of Dr. William Felton and opposed conservative bourbon Democrats. Other papers rallied against the Free Express and its political position. Publisher/owner C. H. C. Willingham (& sons)

Source: https://gahistoricnewspapers.galileo.usg.edu/regions/north/

19. The Cartersville- American                                                               1882

Established 1882 as a weekly but consolidated with the Courant American in 1887. Publisher/owner Douglas Wikle

Source: https://gahistoricnewspapers.galileo.usg.edu/regions/north/

20. The Cartersville Courant                                                                   1885

Established 1885 as a weekly, no other information

Source: https://gahistoricnewspapers.galileo.usg.edu/regions/north/

21. The Courant American                                                                      1887

Established 1889 as a weekly and eventually merged with the Cartersville News. Publisher/owner Freeman and Willingham

Source: https://gahistoricnewspapers.galileo.usg.edu/regions/north/

22. The Adairsville Ledger                                                                      1890

Established 1890 as a weekly and supported the Democratic Reform candidate Dr. William Felton. It ceased operations in 1891 as a result of stronger newspapers in Cartersville.

Source: https://gahistoricnewspapers.galileo.usg.edu/regions/north/

23. North Georgia News

Established 1890, Represented by Charles Johnson, fiercely against Dr. William Felton, lasted four weeks

Source: Courant-American November 20, 1890, Turned its Toes to the Daisies

24. The Voice of the People                                                                    1892

Established in 1892 as a weekly and supported the Peoples Party. It ceased publication after one month of operation. Publisher/owner Robert Goodman.

Source: https://gahistoricnewspapers.galileo.usg.edu/regions/north/

25. The Signal                                                                                             1894

Established 1894, as a weekly and published by I. W. and J. M. Neaton

Source: Savannah Morning News, September 29, 1894, Signal

26. The Cartersville News (and Courant)                                            1896

Established Courant in 1887 and merged with Cartersville Courant, then becoming the Cartersville News in 1896, Publisher/owner Wikle and Smith

Source: https://gahistoricnewspapers.galileo.usg.edu/regions/north/

27. The Emerson News                                                                            1897

Established in the 1890’s as a weekly edition. The publication was intended to promote and attract people to the Emerson community. Publisher/owner Emerson Publishing Co,

Source: https://gahistoricnewspapers.galileo.usg.edu/regions/north/

28. The Adairsville Banner                                                                      1898

Established 1898 as a Saturday weekly. It struggled because of the stronger papers in Cartersville. Publisher/owner Thomas Johnson

Source: https://gahistoricnewspapers.galileo.usg.edu/regions/north/

29. The News and Courant                                                                      1901

Established 1901 as a weekly. In 1904 it became the Cartersville News and then merged with the Bartow Tribune in 1917. Publisher/owner D. B. Freeman & H. A. Chapman

Source: https://gahistoricnewspapers.galileo.usg.edu/regions/north/

30. The News                                                                                               1901

Established in 1901 as a weekly and became the Cartersville News and then merging with the Cartersville Courant. Publisher/owner NA

Source: https://gahistoricnewspapers.galileo.usg.edu/regions/north/

31. The Georgian                                                                                       1907

Established 1907. Published in Atlanta for distribution in Bartow County. Owner Sam P. Jones (son of Rev. Sam Jones)

Source: Atlanta Georgian and News, Apr. 06, 1907 — page 7, Paper carriers

32. The Kingston Times                                                                           1908

Established 1908 by a group of local citizens. It never declared a political party and discontinued operations in 1912. Publisher/owner W. H. Griffin

Source: https://gahistoricnewspapers.galileo.usg.edu/regions/north/

33. The Bartow Tribune                                                                            1910

Established 1910 as a weekly and sold in 1917. It was supported by the Democratic party and merged later with the Cartersville Courant. Publisher/owner Perry & Callahan

Source: https://gahistoricnewspapers.galileo.usg.edu/regions/north/

34. The Cartersville News (aka Tribune)                                               1917

Established 1904 as a weekly and operated until 1917 when it merged with the Bartow Tribune. Publisher/owner Jim A. Hall

Source: https://gahistoricnewspapers.galileo.usg.edu/regions/north/

35. The Tribune News                                                                               1918

Established 1918, in 1920 M. L. Fleetwood became sole owner of the Tribune News becoming the Daily Tribune News in 1946.

Source: Google, Library of Congress

36. The Bartow Herald                                                                              1929

Established 1929 under W. R. Frier (also established WBHF radio in the 1940’s )

Source: Google, Library of Congress, The Historical News, July 2021, pages 20, 21

37. The Daily Tribune News                                                                    1946

Established 1946, Fleetwood, Currently operating. Publisher/owner Cartersville Newspapers

Source: Google, Library of Congress

38. The Herald Tribune                                                                             1969

Established 1969, Currently operating. Publisher/owner Tribune Publications

Source: Google, Library of Congress


It became apparent that the lineage, ownership, mergers, name changes and consolidations were confusing and entangled as proprietors angled to survive in a highly competitive field. A number of entrepreneurs appeared multiple times in a variety of newspapers and by sheer frequency surfaced as local giants in the tabloid industry.

A scattering of other tabloids existed in the history of Bartow County papers such as the Methodist Way of Life first published in 1832. It was not uncommon for existing newspapers to criticize new upstart papers and declare the field too crowded. One such article appeared in the December 4, 1890 North Georgia Citizen located in Dalton, Georgia. It condemned Cartersville’s North Georgia News as being “one horse journalism.” Not all such papers are reported in this research. Currently there are specialty papers in operation such as the Cartersville Patch, North Bartow News, Bartow Trader and Bartow Neighbor.

To learn more history about newspaper owners, publishers and mergers listed in this article visit the Georgia Digital Library web site printed below.


A tip of the hat to Mr. Sam Graham for his keen research skills to ferret out miniscule details and uncover remote information that escapes most individuals.


History of Bartow County, Cunyus, Lucy, 1933, pp 155 – 159

Digital Library of Georgia, Historic Newspapers

Georgia Historic Newspapers

Library of Congress

Roadside Thoughts, Newspapers Published in Bartow County

The Way of Life, 1882, W. A. Dodge publisher, Cartersville,  Methodist Episcopal Conference

The Historical News, July 2021, Newspapers of Bartow County

The Atlanta Georgian & News, April 6, 1907, Cartersville Carriers are Young Hustlers

The Georgia Constitutionalist, Cassville Gazette, May 13, 1834

Augusta Chronical, March 10, 1854, Etowah Valley Star

The Standard and Express, April 1, 1874, Sentinel  

Savannah Morning News, September 29 1894, Signal

The Free Press, August 22, 1878, The Free Press

The Hawkinsville Dispatch, November 4, 1875, Fighting a Cotton Ring

North Georgia Citizen, December 4, 1890, Too Many Newspapers

The News and Courant, July 25, 1901, Some Things Said About the Press

The Daily Tribune News, August 23, 2020, DTN to Reduce Print Frequency