Academicians pack online references with false statements such as “the presence of early Spanish and Jewish colonists in southern Appalachians is an unsubstantiated speculation by amateur historians and pseudo-archaeologists.” Clearly, these academicians are intentionally concealing an important chapter in American History . . . but why?
Several families living near me in Habersham County, GA have asked that our studies of North Georgia’s forgotten history also address the Early Colonial Period. They knew that they had ancestors living in the mountains, prior to the Indian Removal Period and so, always assumed that they were Cherokee descendants. DNA testing told a different story. Most had no Native American DNA markers. Those who did, only had ancestors from southern Mexico like me . . . Creek, Soque or Chickasaw Indians. Most only had Portuguese, Sephardic Jewish, Asturian or Galician ancestry . . . . colonists from the Iberian Peninsula.
Illustration Above: The engraving of a bronze, 17th century Spanish crucible was included in both the official 1832 map of the Georgia Gold Belt and accompanying report, published by the United States Congress. It was found by miners, employed by South Carolina Senator John C. Calhoun, in 1828, as they excavated a well-preserved mining village on Dukes Creek in the Nacoochee Valley of Georgia. The miners also found many 16th or 17th century mining tools and domestic items. The report clearly labeled the mining village site as being Spanish and belonging to the Early Colonial Era. Below is an architectural rendering of that village’s probable appearance.
Concealed history at its worst
Asheville, North Carolina
Nowhere in my 12 years of public education and 8 years of university education, did any textbook or professor mention that European colonists settled in the Southern Appalachians during the late 1500s and 1600s. That revelation came like a brick on the head via Forster Sondley’s History of Asheville and Buncombe County, NC (1922). I was doing the research for producing the Asheville Downtown Revitalization Plan. Sondley’s book opens by matter-of-factly stating that hundreds of Spanish gem miners lived along the Toe River, north of the future city of Asheville, during the 1600s. Sondley then told of gem miners living south of Asheville, near present-day Franklin, NC and probable Spanish gold and silver mine sites elsewhere in extreme western North Carolina and Burke County in the Piedmont.
Mica mining operations in western North Carolina during the 1800s repeatedly found extensive evidence of “prehistoric” mining operations including many ancient crude iron implements. Also discovered were dozens of open cuts, shafts, tunnels and dumps. These sites were covered with trees that had been growing for several hundred years.
“The Discovery of Iron Implements in an Ancient Mines in North Carolina”
Author(s): Frederic W. Simonds
Source: The American Naturalist , Jan., 1881, Vol. 15, No. 1 (Jan., 1881), pp. 7-11
During the 1980s, geologists and forest scientists, based in Asheville, NC. analyzed the timbers in ancient mines near Mt. Mitchell, the Toe River Valley, NC, the Andrews Valley in North Carolina, Nantahala Gorge, NC and at the foot of Fort Mountain in Georgia. They used both tree ring analysis and radiocarbon dating. The scientists dated the the age of these timbers to be between 1585 and 1615.
Their two books on this study were in Western North Carolina public libraries until 2012, during the “Maya Myth-busting in the Mountains” campaign by the US Forest Service. If there were many Europeans working mines in western North Carolina, then obviously the Cherokees were not around in any great numbers, if around at all. Of course, then there is the problem at Chattahoochee is derived from the Itza Maya words – Cha’ta hawche. LOL
Virginia and Tennessee
Our farm in the Shenandoah Valley was designated a key property in the proposed Shenandoah Battlefields National Park. As such, it received considerable study by archaeologists and historians, based at the Harpers Ferry Center of the National Park Service. Their chief historian informed me that the builder of the house, Col. John Tipton, along with his former neighbor across Toms Brook, John Sevier, led several wagon trains from Shenandoah County to what is now northeastern Tennessee, during the last three years of the American Revolution.
Tipton and Sevier passed through several “ancient villages” in southwestern Virginia and northeastern Tennessee, which were occupied by Spanish-speaking Jews. In his autobiography, Sevier stated that these villages were at least 100 years old and contained architecture typical of “Old Europe” rather than the American frontier. There has been no effort by archaeologists in either Virginia or Tennessee to locate and excavate these ancient village sites.
Early Spanish treasure symbols
Cobb County, Georgia
Cobb County is in Northwest Metro Atlanta. While I was Principal Planner and Historic Preservation Director of Cobb County Government, two hikers contacted me concerning rock carvings on boulders next to Nickajack Creek in Smyrna, GA. The hikers thought they were proof that the “Vikings” had passed through that region, led by members of the Cherokee Turtle Clan.
First, of all, no Cherokees lived in Cobb County until 1795 and the southern half of the county was Creek until 1818. Some symbols did resemble Scandinavian runes, but the arrangement of the symbols obviously was not runic writing. The symbols turned out to 16th or 17th century Spanish gold mine claim symbols. This discovery got national media attention, but had no impact on the history books . . . even Georgia’s official history textbook.
I was also responsible for the Cobb County Archaeological Lab, but it no longer had any employees. In their records, I found descriptions of 16th or 17th century artifacts being unearthed at a site next to the confluence of Nickajack Creek and the Chattahoochee River. The artifacts included most of a trader’s scale. The archaeologist stated that these artifacts most closely resembled those of the Spanish and suggested that this was a Spanish trading post. All of the artifacts were missing from the lab.
Dr. Brent Kennedy
Brent Kennedy of Wise County, VA was somewhat of a national celebrity after 1996, when he published The Melungeons . . . Resurrection of a Proud People. Brent first contacted me in 1995, when he read about the rock carvings on Nickajack Creek, just as he was polishing up the book. Our intermittent contacts grew into a friendship, after internet email service became readily available in 1998. He had a violent stroke December 17, 2005. Not knowing why he suddenly didn’t respond to emails, I did not hear about the stroke for several months. I never talked to him again. Amazingly, although expected to die from the stroke, he lived on till 2020.
- Brent provided me with many facts from the South Carolina Archives that have been left out of contemporary history books. I have listed those little known facts then will continue on with more historical facts as I learned them through the years, since then.
- By 1700, most of the bands and tribes in the North Carolina and Georgia Mountains were actually mixed-bloods . . . the result of several generations of European & Semitic men marrying Native American wives. Some may have joined with the Cherokees in the 1700s, but they were not ethnic Cherokees.
- At least two tribes in western North Carolina spoke Hebrew and practiced Jewish religious customs.
- There were several Creek tribes in North Georgia, who spoke a language that mixed Creek with Spanish, French and English words . . . such as the Bohurons.
- In 1690. Governor James Moore of Carolina led a troop of British Army horsemen and Indian guides into Northeast Georgia to investigate reports of Spaniards living there. As they arrived at the edge of the Nacoochee Valley, they observed several plumes of smoke rising from the valley. The Indian guides told Moore that the smoke was from Spaniards smelting gold ore and the houses of their Apalachete-Creek allies. Realizing that they were greatly outnumbered, Moore ordered a hasty retreat back to Charleston.
- In 1693, a hunting party of ethnic Cherokees ventured into the Andrews Valley between present day Andrews and Murphy, NC. They encountered white miners with dark hair and long beards, who spoke Spanish. The Cherokees reported to Charleston officials that killed them all.
- In 1745, a Cherokee exploration party reached the Upper Tuckasegee River in Jackson County, NC (Silva). They encountered Spanish-speaking villages containing men with long, dark hair and long beards. Their complexions were darker than most of the Cherokees. Their log houses had arched windows. The Cherokees also stated that these people worshipped a book. The Cherokees told Charleston officials that they killed or drove off these Spaniards. At the time, Great Britain was in a war with Spain, called “The War of Jenkins Ear.”
A Spanish Sephardic marriage in the Smoky Mountains
In April 2010, while I was temporarily “camping out” at a vacation home on Fontana Lake, a Snowbird Cherokee friend told me about an inscription made “by De Soto” on the top of Hooper’s Bald Mountain. I looked a the Graham County, NC Historical Society website. There was a page on the inscription, written by Dr. David Anderson, Director of the University of Tennessee’s Department of Anthropology. He said that the date on the inscription, 1615, made impossible for one of De Soto’s men to have written it. Some later, forgotten expedition was responsible. The words were Latin and meant, “Land we will hold”. He said that it was legal procedure for Spain to claim all lands in sight of the mountaintop.
My three herd dogs and I drove up to Hooper’s Bald. I looked at the inscription. Remember from the previous article that my first love was a pretty, brilliant Sephardic senorita, living in Mexico? The words are Ladino Spanish, the dialect spoken by Sephardim. Pre is the Ladino word for prayer. Spanish-speaking Catholics use oración, súplica or súplicación for prayer. The words mean, “Prayer we will give, married September 15, 1615.” In Jewish tradition, if a rabbi was not available, the couple could announce their marriage on a “high place” then record the marriage permanently for all to know.
I did so more research for an article in the National Examiner. Cartagena, Colombia was one of three cities in the Spanish Empire in which slavery and slave markets were legal. The slaves were used for mining gold in the Colombian Mountains or smuggled into Mexico to work on sugar cane plantations. Cartagena had a large, wealthy Jewish population of over 3,000, which was allowed to practice their religion in private under the “don’t ask, don’t tell” rules . . . plus generous donations to the local churches. They owned most of the gold mines and slave markets.
Word reached Cartagena that a ship had departed Habana, Cuba that was headed to Cartagena with Inquisition priests, torturers and soldiers on board. The majority of the Jewish population of Cartagena quickly disappeared. Those that didn’t, were burned at the stake at a grand “auto de fe‘” – “Act of Faith.”
I suspect that Cartagena’s Jews were in cahoots with Jewish and French Huguenot pirates operating out of Jamaica and the Bahamas. These refugees were transported to North America. A few years later, a prominent Jewish leader in Amsterdam, Menasseh ben Israel, began writing about a “New Jerusalem” located where Georgia is today. Macon, GA has approximately the same latitude as Jerusalem, Israel.
1939 – Archaeologist Robert Wauchope in the Nacoochee Valley
Robert Wauchope worked in the Nacoochee Valley for almost a year. He never found a single, definite Cherokee artifact or a Cherokee village site. The Native American artifacts were quite similar to those found in Creek heritage sites such as Etowah Mounds and Ocmulgee National Historic Park. What he was surprised to find were dozens of late 16th, 17th and 18th century European artifacts, while digging through alluvial soil to get down to Native American villages and towns. He stated that local farmers also showed him hundreds of such items that their families had plowed up throughout the previous hundred years of Anglo-American occupation.
Spanish trading post and mission
In his ten chapters on what is now Georgia within Histoire naturelle et morale des îles Antilles de l’Amérique, Charles de Rochefort wrote that English explorer Richard Brigstock had spent much of the year 1653 in what is now northern Georgia and the area around Franklin, NC. He mentioned that there was a Spanish trading post and mission near the Capital of Apalache. The Apalachete elite had been converted Protestant Christianity by survivors of Fort Caroline, but got along well with the Spanish at the trading post and mission, because the Apalachete were profiting from the Spanish gold and gem miners.
The Florida State History textbook tells us that in 1646, Governor Benito Ruíz de Salazar Vallecilla ordered construction of a road between St. Augustine and the headwaters of the Chattahoochee River, where a fortified trading post was built. The purpose was to stimulate trade with the Apalachen Confederacy, whose capital was located there. The trading post functioned until the Queen Anne’s War (1702) when the fort was destroyed by Carolina Militia and their Indian allies.
The Virginia Commonwealth History textbook tells us that after operating a wine exporting business in Spain for five years Edward Blount and his wife migrated to Virginia in 1646. Upon arriving in Jamestown, Blount met privately with Governor William Berkeley (a fellow Royalist) then immediately departed for the southern tip of the Appalachian Mountains to look after a business investment. Hint: The Nacoochee Valley is at the southern tip of the Appalachians and Richard Brigstock was a cousin of Edward Blount.
The North Carolina State History textbook tells us that shortly after immigrating to Virginia in 1746, Edward Blount was anxious to learn more about the Cherokees and so traveled southward to western North Carolina to meet with several Great Cherokee chiefs. Hint: French and Dutch maps show the Cherokees living in New France until after 1649. The first map to show the Cherokees living in the Southeast was drawn in 1715. Earlier maps showed western North Carolina occupied by Creek, Shawnee and Uchee towns.
The Georgia State History textbook jumps from the De Soto Expedition in 1540 to a brief mention of the Spanish missions on the coast of Georgia to the construction of Fort King George at the mouth of the Altamaha River in 1721. There were actually more missions and more mission Indians in Georgia than there ever were in California! The book then explains that according to Professor Charles Hudson, who taught anthropology at the University of Georgia in the late 20th century, virtually nothing is known about the peoples and events within the interior of the Southeast between 1567 and the early 1700s.
Near Visible Light Infrared Analysis
Whether or not a Spanish fort and trading post were constructed at a former bend in the river on the road leading to the capital (upper section of photo) can only be determined by an archaeological excavation. However, the concentration of dark, carbon-bearing materials at this location suggest that there would be many man-made materials here.