Petroglyphs: Eleanor Dare’s Grave Marker at the Apalachete Royal Cemetery in the Nacoochee Valley

White County, Georgia
34°40’32.1″N 83°42’09.8″W

by Richard L. Thornton, Architect and City Planner

This intriguing stone slab was found in 1939 by archaeologist Robert Wauchope, but not published in a book till 1966!

The tablet above is one of the few examples we have of the Apalache-Creek writing system. It is a mixture of ancient Bronze Age symbols, mixed with symbols from the Olmec and Maya civilizations. The symbols on the right, mixed with Roman letters state that Eleanor Dare and her daughter are buried in one tomb, while (probably) Joyce Archard is buried in the adjacent tomb.

The location of the tomb and Eleanor Dare’s hilltop home

In 1939, Robert Wauchope was hired by the WPA to carry out a comprehensive survey of the northern half of the State of Georgia. He was astonished to find that the entire length of the Chattahoochee River from the Nacoochee Valley southward to the southwestern suburbs of Atlanta was filled with village and town sites . . . some of them being occupied from around 1000 BC until at least 1700 AD or even 1825 near Atlanta. As a result, much of that year was spent in a seven mile long, densely settled archaeological zone in the Nacoochee Valley. The Nacoochee Valley is located between Helen, Cleveland and Clarkesville, GA. Most of the rest of that year was spent along the Chattahoochee River or the upper part of the Etowah River.

When Wauchope entered the Nacoochee Valley, his first step was to visit the homes of families, who had been living in there since the early 1800s. All of these families had many boxes of both Native American artifacts AND European artifacts from the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. At that time, American academicians had forgotten that many Europeans, in particular French Huguenots and Spanish Sephardic Jews, had settled in the Georgia Mountains prior to the arrival of the Cherokees in the late 1700s.

The Williams family, one of the earliest families to arrive in the valley, showed Wauchope a group of tombs carved into the side of the ravine. During the late 1800s, in one they had found eight stone tablets, carved with strange words. They thought it was Cherokee, but Wauchope instantly recognized the words to be Elizabethan English. One of the tablets stated in Elizabethan English that the tomb was the burial place of Eleanor Dare and her daughter. The other tablets were basically signs to tell Eleanor’s father, where she was living.

Wauchope entered the supposed Eleanor Dare tomb and found more Elizabethan writing, telling Eleanor’s father that these human remains were his daughter and grand-daughter. Wauchope returned another day and dug test holes near the tombs. About 30 feet (10 meters) from the mouth of the tomb, he found the tablet above.

Over the previous century, the families in the Nacoochee Valley had found 26 stone tablets, written in Elizabethan English, which were connected with Eleanor Dare. At the time there was national excitement about the discovery of the “Dare Stone” near the location of the Lost Colony. It ended up at Brenau College, where it was being studied by its professors. Then several more tablets turned up in North Carolina and South Carolina. They formed a line leading from the Lost Colony to Northeast Georgia. Because of this publicity. Farmers, up and down the Chattahoochee River brought Wauchope 26 more tablets, which had been found during the previous century . . . long before the “Dare Stone” was found in northeastern .

Wauchope soon found a tablet a couple of feet underground at the base of a conical hill, which stated that this was the location where Eleanor lived with her second husband, the chief of the town of Hontaoase. This convinced him that all of the tablets from the Nacoochee Valley were legitimate. He urged the local residents to take their tablets to Brenau College. Wauchope, a recent graduate of Harvard also arranged for some of his former professors to travel down to Gainesville to examine the “Dare Stone” from North Carolina, plus the 26 Dare stones from local residents. Wauchope kept in possession the tablet above, plus the one at the base of the hill. These stones were examined by the professors and found to be authentic. Several of the stones later taken to Brenau were obviously fake and were declared so by both the Harvard and Georgia Tech scientists.

At this time, there were two outdoor dramas about the Roanoke Colony . . . one on Roanoke Island and the other near Brenau. The State of North Carolina feared that the Brenau play would draw tourists away from their play. Its economic leaders also quickly learned that Wauchope was the key person for maintaining the credibility of the 28 tablets found along the Upper Chattahoochee River. He was offered a job at double the salary of his position at the University of Georgia . . . if he agreed to immediately leave Georgia and not come back.

When World War II broke out, Wauchope was recruited by the OSS (forerunner of the CIA). After the war, he became a professor at Tulane University and eventually donated all the artifacts, excavated in Georgia to Tulane. Presumably, the tablet above is in storage at Tulane. Wauchope did not finish his contract with the WPA and it would be 26 years before he would publish his report on the discoveries made in the Nacoochee Valley. Even today North Carolina academicians are zealous in their suppression about any information on Wauchope’s work in the Nacoochee Valley getting into the public media. Such information would radically change the history books concerning the Roanoke Colony.

Another Americas Revealed article will go into more detail about the conical hill where Eleanor Dare spent the last 10 years of her life. Below are two videos on Youtube, which will explain the Eleanor Dare story in more detail, plus show readers what was carved onto the tablets.

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