What’s wrong with this Wikipedia version of Kennesaw Mountain’s history?

by Richard L. Thornton, Architect and City Planner

This section of the Kennesaw Mountain’s history below is typical of the drivel one sees in online references these days within articles on the early history of the Southeastern United States. One wonders who in the heck was the anonymous author, who produced this nonsense. Good grief! It’s a National Battlefield Park, operated by the National Park Service. Was a high school intern from Racine, Wisconsin, working in the NPS regional office in Atlanta one summer, assigned the task of writing the article? Or . . . was it someone from a community near Kennesaw Mountain, who wanted to support their favorite football team, the Cherokee Braves! Whoever it was, they didn’t know diddlysquat about the subject, but it is impossible to edit it or redact it. The Purple Gatekeepers of Wikipedia stands out there in digital space ready to defend their sacred knowledge.

Below is what Wikipedia tells us about the pre-Civil War history of Kennesaw Mountain and the etymology of the word Kennesaw. As usual, one author has copied another author with the wrong meaning. Kennesaw was written as Kanosa and later Kanosaw on maps of the Cherokee Nation, when it was in Georgia. Afterward, is what will appear in the book on the Native American place names in the Southeastern United States.


“Kennesaw Mountain was originally a home to the mound builders in the years 900 to 1700 AD. Their descendants, the Creek people, were pushed out of Georgia by the Cherokee in 1700, who were then exiled by the United States and the state of Georgia on the Trail of Tears to the Oklahoma Territory during the Georgia Gold Rush.”

“Meaning of Kennesaw:  The name “Kennesaw” is derived from the Cherokee word gah-nee-sah, meaning cemetery or burial ground.”

*Oh really?  The official Cherokee Dictionary, published by the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma says that the word for a cemetery or burial ground is “didanisohdii.”  Their word for a single burial is usually “didanisodi,” but in some dialects is “ganisahvi.” By the way, where the Cherokees went was the Indian Territory! The Oklahoma Territory did not exist until 1890.

Tourists visiting Kennesaw Mountain before the Civil War (1861-1865) imagined that the stone structures on top were the ruins of a castle built by a Welsh prince, named Maddoc. Most of those stones were crushed in the 1920s and 1930s to make gravel for state highway construction projects.

The Native American Words of Georgia

Native American history: Stone circles and numerous stone cairns from the Late Archaic Period (3500 BC – 1000 BC) on and around Kennesaw Mountain are evidence that mankind, from an early date, considered the environs of Kennesaw Mountain to be sacred.  Stone shrines, cairns and circular walls on the top of the mountain existed until 1864, when the stones were used to build Confederate Army fortifications during the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain.  One of the best-preserved stone circles and stone cairn cemeteries in the United States is carefully protected by the National Park Service on the north side of the mountain.

The Uchee built permanent villages with some mounds in nearby stream valleys as early as 1000 BC.  The rivers and creek valleys of Cobb and adjacent counties were populated by some of the earliest or earliest permanent agricultural villages, north of Mexico beginning around 400 BC. 

Beginning around 900 AD, large areas of bottom lands were cleared and cultivated. The people of the Woodstock Culture were large scale agriculturalists, but not mound builders.  Large mounds were constructed along the Etowah and Chattahoochee Rivers in the period between 1000 AD and 1600 AD. 

Minimal mound construction occurred after 1600 but there continued to be significant occupation of the region by ancestors of the Creek Indians until 1818. A famous Creek town, Pakanahuere or “Standing Peachtree” was located on the Fulton County and Cobb County side of the Chattahoochee River.  Its extensive cemetery is now the Cobb County Water works.

During the early 1990’s, the hundreds of skeletons at this Creek Cemetery near Kennesaw Mountain were secretly removed at night by a contractor, employing Mexican-American immigrants without legal immigration credentials, so that the Cobb County government would not have to comply with the Native American Graves and Repatriation Act. The skeletons were cremated at the county’s new garbage incinerator. The Creek skulls were stored at a former daycare center near the City of Powder Springs in Cobb County. They were kept in paper grocery bags in the kitchen of the building then awarded to political donors until 1996. 

In 1785, the Cherokee were secretly given the lands of the Chickasaw and Creeks in present-day northeast Alabama and northwest Georgia as far south as the Etowah River. Then in 1795 the boundary line was moved south to Kennesaw Mountain.  Later treaties moved the boundary to the mouth of Peachtree Creek at Standing Peachtree and then from 1828 to 1838, the boundary was relocated southward again to the mouth of Utoy Creek, roughly where Six Flags Over Georgia is now located.  The fieldstone and clay mortar warehouse of an early 19th century trading post still stands on Old Highway 41, immediately east of Kennesaw Mountain and the main entrance to the national park.

Records made by surveyors, who carried out a land survey of Cobb County in 1828, suggest that very few ethnic Cherokees, if any, were living around Kennesaw Mountain during the early 1800s.  The region was then thinly populated and most of the recorded names were English names. As a result, the region around Kennesaw Mountain was cut off from the Cherokee Nation in 1832 and made a county of Georgia.  This was six years before the Trail of Tears in which Cherokees to the north were forced to relocate to the Indian Territory.

  • Etymology – Kennesaw is the Anglicization of the Muskogee-Creek word Kanosv (Kanosaw) which means the same as the Itsate-Creek word, Kanosi.  The mother province of the Kanosi People was originally located along the Canoochee River near the Georgia Coast.  Both its capital Canos and the ethnic name, Canosi are mentioned several times in the chronicles of the Juan Pardo Expedition (1567-1569). The word Canosi or Canosee appears at the approximate location of Midway, GA on most maps of the late 1500s and early 1600s.  The Canosi also had a colony near present-day Brevard, NC, which was called the Canoste.  That has become the geographical place name, Connestee.  It is quite possible that the Canosi also had a colony near Kennesaw Mountain or they may have relocated there to escape European plagues and English slave raiders.  During the middle 1700s the “Kanosee” Creeks moved farther south on the Chattahoochee River.


  1. Richard, “Kan” sound is a direct connection to the city of the Yucatec people according to the Wikipedia folks. The Zokee/Olmecs started the Serpent artwork first. They may have had some connection to the Sea fairing “Kan-ani” of the Near East.

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