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125. Local Legends Of Georgia

For more important legends localized in Georgia see the stories Yahula, The Nûñnë'hï, The Ustû'tlï, Âgan-uni'tsï's Search for the Uktena, and The Man who Married the Thunder's Sister. White's Historical Collections of Georgia is responsible for a number of pseudo-myths.

CHOPPED OAK: A noted tree, scarred with hundreds of hatchet marks, formerly in Habersham county, 6 miles east of Clarkesville, on the summit of Chattahoochee ridge, and on the north side of the road from. Clarkesville to Toccoa creek. The Cherokee name is Digälu'yätûñ'yï, "Where it is gashed with hatchets." It was a favorite assembly place for the Indians, as well as for the early settlers, according to whom the gashes were tally marks by means of which the Indians kept the record of scalps taken in their forays. The tradition is thus given by White (Historical Collections of Georgia, p. 489, 1855) on some earlier authority:

Among the curiosities of this country was the Chopped Oak, a tree famous in Indian history and in the traditions of the early settlers. This tree stood about 6 miles southeast of Clarkesville, and was noted as being the Law Ground, or place of holding company musters and magistrates' courts. According to tradition, the Chopped Oak was a celebrated rendezvous of the Indians in their predatory excursions, it being at a point where a number of trails met. Here their plans of warfare were laid; here the several parties separated; and here, on their return, they awaited each other; and then, in their brief language, the result of their enterprise was stated, and for every scalp taken a gash cut in the tree. If tradition tells the truth, and every sear on the blasted oak counts for a scalp, the success of their scouting parties must have been great. This tree was alive a few years since when a young man, possessing all the prejudices of his countrymen, and caring less for the traditions of the Indians than his own revenge, killed the tree by girdling it, that it might be no longer a living monument of the cruelties of the savages. The stump is still standing.

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DEAD MAN'S GAP: One mile below Tallulah falls, on the west side of the railroad, in Habersham county. So called from a former reputed Indian grave, now almost obliterated. According to the story, it was the grave of an Indian who was killed here while eloping with a white woman, whom he had stolen from her husband.

FROGTOWN: A creek at the head of Chestatee river, north of Dahlonega, in Lumpkin county. The Cherokee name is Walâsi'yï, "Frog place." The name was originally applied to a mountain to the northeast (Rock mountain ?), from a tradition that a hunter had once seen there a frog as large as a house. The Indian settlement along the creek bore the same name.

HIWASSEE: A river having its source in Towns county, of northern Georgia, and flowing northwestward to join the Tennessee. The correct Cherokee form, applied to two former settlements on the stream, is Ayuhwa'sï (meaning "A savanna"). Although there is no especial Cherokee story connected with the name, White (Historical Collections of Georgia, p. 660) makes it the subject of a long pseudo-myth, in which Hiwassee, rendered "The Pretty Fawn," is the beautiful daughter of a Catawba chief, and is wooed, and at last won, by a young Cherokee warrior named Notley, "The Daring Horseman," who finally becomes the head chief of the Cherokee and succeeds in making perpetual peace between the two tribes. The story sounds very pretty, but is a pure invention.

NACOOCHEE: A village on the site of a former Cherokee settlement, in a beautiful and fertile valley of the same name at the bead of Chattahoochee river, in White county. The Cherokee form is Nagu`tsï', but the word has no meaning in that language and seems to be of foreign, perhaps Creek, origin. About 2 miles above the village, on the east bank of the river, is a large mound. White (Historical Collections of Georgia, p. 486) quotes a fictitious legend, according to which Nacoochee, "The Evening Star," was a beautiful Indian princess, who unfortunately fell in love with a chieftain of a hostile tribe and was killed, together with her lover, while fleeing from the vengeance of an angry father. The two were buried in the same grave and the mound was raised over the spot. The only grain of truth in the story is that the name has a slight resemblance to näkwïsï', the Cherokee word for "star."

NOTTELY: A river rising in Union county and flowing northwestward into Hiwassee. The Cherokee form is Na'dû`lï', applied to a former settlement on the west side of the river, in Cherokee county, North Carolina, about a mile from the Georgia line. Although suggestive of na`tû`lï, "spicewood," it is a different word and has no meaning in the Cherokee language, being apparently of foreign, perhaps Creek, origin. For a pseudo-myth connected with the name, see the preceding note on Hiwassee.

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TALKING ROCK: A creek in upper Georgia flowing northward to join Coosawatee river. The Indian settlements upon it were considered as belonging to Sanderstown, on the lower part of the creek, the townhouse being located about a mile above the present Talking Rock station on the west side of the railroad. The name is a translation of the Cherokee Nûñyû'-gûñwani'skï, "Rock that talks," and refers, according to one informant, to an echo rock somewhere upon the stream below the present railroad station. An old-time trader among the Cherokee in Georgia says that the name was applied to a rock at which the Indians formerly held their councils, but the etymology of the word is against this derivation.

TALLULAH: A river in Rabun county, northeastern Georgia, which flows into the Tugaloo, and has a beautiful fall about 2 miles above its, mouth. The Cherokee form is Tälulü' (Tärurï' in the lower Cherokee dialect), the name of an ancient settlement some distance above the falls, as also of a creek and district at the head of Cheowa river, in Graham county, North Carolina. The name can not be translated. A magazine writer has rendered it "The Terrible," for which there is no authority. Schoolcraft, on the authority of a Cherokee lady, renders it "There lies your child," derived from a story of a child having been carried over the falls. The name, however, was not applied to the falls, but to a district on the stream above, as well as to another in North Carolina. The error arises from the fact that a word of somewhat similar sound denotes "having children" or "being pregnant," used in speaking of a woman. One informant derives it from tälulü', the cry of a certain species of frog known as dulusï, which is found in that neighborhood, but not upon the reservation, and which was formerly eaten as food. A possible derivation is from a'tälulû', "unfinished, premature, unsuccessful." The fall was called Ugûñ'yï, a name of which the meaning is lost, and which was applied also to a locality on Little Tennessee river near Franklin, North Carolina. For a myth localized at Tallulah falls, see number 84, "The Man who Married the Thunder's Sister."

In this connection Lanman gives the following story, which, notwithstanding its white man's dress, appears to be based upon a genuine Cherokee tradition of the Nûñnë'hï:

During my stay at the Falls of Tallulah I made every effort to obtain an Indian legend or two connected with them, and it was my good fortune to hear one which has never yet been printed. It was originally obtained by the white man who first discovered the falls from the Cherokees, who lived in the region at the time. It is in substance as follows: Many generations ago it so happened that several famous hunters, who had wandered from the West toward what is now the Savannah river, in search of game, never returned to their camping grounds. In process of time the curiosity as well as the fear of the nation were excited, and an effort was made to ascertain the cause of their singular disappearance, whereupon a party of medicine men were deputed to make a pilgrimage toward the great river. They were absent a whole moon, and, on returning to their friends, they reported that they had discovered

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a dreadful fissure in an unknown part of the country, through which a mountain torrent took its way with a deafening noise. They said that it was an exceedingly wild place, and that its inhabitants were a species of little men and women, who dwelt in the crevices of the rocks and in grottoes under the waterfalls. They had attempted by every artifice in their power to hold a council with the little people, but all in vain; and, from the shrieks they frequently uttered, the medicine men knew that they were the enemies of the Indian race, and, therefore, it was concluded in the nation at large that the long-lost hunters had been decoyed to their death in the dreadful gorge, which they called Tallulah. In view of this little legend, it is worthy of remark that the Cherokee nation, previous to their departure for the distant West, always avoided the Falls of Tallulah, and were seldom found hunting or fishing in their vicinity.[1]

TOCCOA: (1) A creek flowing into Tugaloo river, in Habersham county, with a fall upon its upper course, near the village of the same name. (2) A river in tipper Georgia, flowing northwestward into Hiwassee. The correct Cherokee form applied to the former settlement on both streams is Tagwâ'hï, "Catawba place," implying the former presence of Indians of that tribe. The lands about Toccoa falls were sold by the Cherokee in 1783 and were owned at one time by Wafford's grandfather. According to Wafford, there was a tradition that when the whites first visited the place they saw, as they thought, an Indian woman walking beneath the surface of the water under the falls, and on looking again a moment after they saw her sitting upon an over-hanging rock 200 feet in the air, with her feet dangling over. Said Wafford, "She must have been one of the Nûñnë'hï."

TRACK ROCK GAP: A gap about 5 miles east of Blairsville, in Union county, on the ridge separating Brasstown creek from the waters of Nottely river. The micaceous soapstone, rocks on both sides of the trail are covered with petroglyphs, from which the gap takes its name. The Cherokee call the place Datsu'nalâsgûñ'yï, "Where there are tracks," or Degayelûñ'hä, "Printed i.e. Branded place." The carvings are of many and various patterns, some of them resembling human or animal footprints, while others are squares, crosses, circles, "bird tracks," etc., disposed without any apparent order. On the authority of a Doctor Stevenson, writing in 1834, White (Historical Collections of Georgia, p. 658, 1855), and after him Jones (Antiquities of the Southern Indians, 1873), give a misleading and greatly exaggerated account of these carvings, without having taken the trouble to investigate for themselves, although the spot is easily accessible. No effort, either state or local, is made to preserve the pictographs from destruction, and many of the finest have been cut out from the rock and carried off by vandals, Stevenson himself being among the number, by his own confession. The illustration (plate xx) is from a rough sketch made by the author in 1890.

The Cherokee have various theories to account for the origin of the carvings, the more sensible Indians saying that they were made by

[1. Letters from the Alleghany Mountains, pages 41-42.]

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hunters for their own amusement while resting in the gap. Another tradition is that they were made while the surface of the newly created earth was still soft by a great army of birds and animals fleeing through the gap to escape some pursuing danger from the west--some say a great "drive hunt" of the Indians. Haywood confounds them with other petroglyphs in North Carolina connected with the story of the giant Tsul`kälû' (see number 81).

The following florid account of the carvings and ostensible Indian tradition of their origin is from White, on the authority of Stevenson:

The number visible or defined is 136, some of them quite natural and perfect, and others rather rude imitations, and most of them from the effects of time have become more or less obliterated. They comprise human feet from those 4 inches in length to those of great warriors which measure 17 inches in length and 7 in breadth across the toes. What is a little curious, all the human feet are natural except this, which has 6 toes, proving him to have been a descendant of Titan. There are 26 of these impressions, all bare except one, which has the appearance of having worn moccasins. A fine turned hand, rather delicate, occupied a place near the great warrior, and probably the impression of his wife's hand, who no doubt accompanied her husband in all his excursions, sharing his toils and soothing his cares away. Many horse tracks are to be seen. One seems to have been shod, some are very small, and one measures 12 inches by 9 inches. This the Cherokee say was the footprint of the great war horse which their chieftain rode. The tracks of a great many turkeys, turtles, terrapins, a large bear's paw, a snake's trail, and the footprints of two deer are to be seen. The tradition respecting these impressions varies. One asserts that the world was once deluged with water, and men with all animated beings we e destroyed, except one family, together with various animals necessary to replenish the earth; that the Great Spirit before the floods came commanded. them to embark in a big canoe, which after long sailing was drawn to this spot by a bevy of swans and rested there, and here the whole troop of animals was disembarked, leaving the impressions as they passed over the rock, which being softened by reason of long submersion kindly received and preserved them.

WAR WOMAN'S CREEK: Enters Chattooga river in Rabun county, northeastern Georgia, in the heart of the old Lower Cherokee country. The name seems to be of Indian origin, although the Cherokee name is lost and the story has perished. A writer quoted by White (Historical Collections of Georgia, p. 444) attempts to show its origin from the exploit of a certain Revolutionary amazon, in capturing a party of Tories, but the name occurs in Adair (note, p. 185) as early as 1775. There is some reason for believing that it refers to a former female dignitary among the Cherokee, described by Haywood under the title of the "Pretty Woman" as having authority to decide the fate of prisoners of war. Wafford once knew an old woman whose name was Da`nä-gâ'stä, an abbreviated form for, Da`näwä-gâsta'yä "Sharp war," understood to mean "Sharp (i., e., Fierce) warrior." Several cases of women acting the part of warriors are on record among the Cherokee.

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