Nodoroc . . . Dutch traders and Boers on the 17th century Appalachian Frontier

Nodoroc is a dormant mud volcano in Northeast Metro Atlanta. Its methane gas fueled flames went out after the 1813 New Madrid Earthquake. Until that time, this visage of hell was used by North Georgia Creeks to execute its most heinous criminals . . . like a mother, who killed and ate her children. Today, the site is essentially a peat bog that may be visited near the Winder, GA airport.

If mentioned at all, Georgia academicians will tell you that the word, Nodoroc, is a Creek or Cherokee word, whose meaning has been lost. That is not true. It is Late Medieval Duets, the language spoken in the Netherlands, Belgium and extreme northwestern Germany during the 1500s and 1600s. It means, “Swamp – smoking.” What is an archaic Dutch word doing in the Peach State? The answer has profound implications for North America’s history and that of the Nacoochee Valley in Northeast Georgia.

At the same time that Dutch traders and Boers (farmers) were colonizing the southern tip of Africa, they were also coming to the Americas . . . and for the same reasons . . . religious persecution and a shortage of land in the Low Countries. Their descendants abound in the Southeastern United States, but their history has been erased.

Helen, GA is now Georgia’s Number 3 tourist attraction, since it was “made over” in the 1960s into an Alpine village. Virtually nobody in Helen is aware that it is one of the oldest continuously occupied towns in North America. In 1939, Archaeologist Robert Wauchope, excavated two mounds and a village there, which probable dated back to around 1200-1000 BC ( or older). Cho’i-te Mayas arrived there around 1250 AD and built more mounds. In 1822, it transcended from being a mixed-blood village to being a village, occupied by white families. There will be more about Chote and Helen in the next article in this series.

There was never any mention of Jewish and Spanish colonists in the Appalachian Mountains within the history textbooks that I was issued in high school. Actually, the first mention of an alternate history for the United States came from my former wife. She said that their family was descended from Dutch Jews, who in the 1700s, migrated to northwest Alabama from somewhere in the mountains of eastern Tennessee or western North Carolina. Unlike most old time families in that part of Alabama, there was no claim of being Cherokee. In fact, many of her relatives looked very Semitic. Her family tradition didn’t make any sense, because our textbooks told us that that region had been the home of the Cherokees for hundreds or thousands of years. However, I had more pressing concerns . . . like getting my architectural career going.

Netherlands History 101

After Queen Isabela and King Ferdinand instituted the Spanish Inquisition in 1492, many affluent Spanish Jews and Muslims left Spain rather than being forcibly converted. Muslims and some Jews fled to North Africa. Other Jews went to Portugal, France, western Switzerland, Scotland and in the late 1500s to the “Low Countries.” Calvinist Protestants in France, Scotland and the Low Countries welcomed the Jews while Lutherans in Germany tended to be anti-Semitic.

During the reign of Isabela and Ferdinand, control of the region had changed from Burgundy to Castile . . . and ultimately, a united Spain. Although an official was appointed by the Spanish king to prosecute heresy, there was no Office of the Inquisition in the 17 provinces of the Low Countries. The region went from being predominantly Catholic to being predominantly Calvinistic and Anabaptist Protestants. Rebellion broke out in 1568 in the southern provinces then spread northward. The Dutch War for Independence lasted for eighty years. The southern provinces, where the rebellion began, were quickly conquered by Spanish and French Catholic armies, but remarkably, the northern provinces not only held off the Spanish, but with influx of many Sephardic Jews, became a dominant world commercial power. The English colony at Jamestown became dependent on Dutch ships for its survival.

In 1610, the Inquisition was established in Portugal and in such Jewish enclaves as Cartagena, Colombia. Many thousand Jews became refugees, looking for a home. The Netherlands, Scotland, France and Ulster in Ireland were favorite locations for resettlement. A Dutch trading post was established on Manhattan Island about the same time as Jamestown was founded. A permanent colony on Manhattan Island was established in 1610. North American history textbooks are silent on this matter, but Dutch history books tell us that almost immediately, Dutch traders began traveling down the Great Appalachian Valley to trade with Indians and provide European goods to Europeans living in the Southern Appalachians.

Many of those refugees’ descendants became the explorers, Indian traders, professional musicians and . . . pirates of North America. It is no accident that Samuel de Champlain had a Jewish first name in a nation, in which most Catholics were give a saint’s first name. He was born in either La Rochelle or Brouage . . . early centers of both Sephardic refugees and French Protestantism. His ancestors were probably Sephardim, who at least nominally became French Protestants. Jean Lafitte the Pirate was a Sephardic Jew. James Adair, Daniel Boone and David Crockett came from Sephardic families . . . so did Tennessee Ernie Ford, Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley!

Ancient ruins of a European style house at a terrace complex on the side of Sal Mountain in the Nacoochee Valley. Almost everyone of the terrace complexes that I have identified in northern Georgia contain at least one ruin of an European house. I have never seen a chimney in an Indigenous American house anywhere in North America, built before the late 1700s. The Creek towns and terrace complexes in the Nacoochee Valley were abandoned at some time between 1696 and 1715.

The key role of the High King of Apalache

Lt. LaRoche Ferrièr (from Fort Caroline) spent six months during 1564 and 1565, exploring present-day Georgia and the Southern Highlands. Most of that time was spent in the Kingdom of the Apalache. A treaty was prepared in which the French would build a town at the head of canoe navigation of the May River, two days walk from the mountains. The Apalache and French would jointly exploit the mineral wealth of the Appalachians, while the Apalache would also be furnished with firearms. Presumably, Ferrièr did not tell the Apalachete that this town would be the capital of French Florida! Its proposed location is now the campus of the University of Georgia. Obviously, Fort Caroline was at the mouth of the Altamaha River in Georgia, not in Florida.

Ferrièr also stated that the Apalachete fabricated gold that they panned and mined into gold foil and gold chains then exported them. Their most important exports, however, were mica, a natural brass from a deposit east of Dahlonega, GA, plus greenstone wedges and axes, which were exported throughout North America. An especially hard and strong type of greenstone was found in the region around Dahlonega and the Nacoochee Valley. Thus, the Apalachete would have been very familiar with the concept of mining minerals, and probably demanded a cut of the acion, when Europeans wanted o consturct mines.

Apalachete elite on the Oconee River at Hurricane Shoals in Jackson County, GA

[From the Apalache Chronicles by Richard Thornton and Marilyn Rae] In 1653, the Parakusati* (High King) of Apalache told British explorer, Richard Brigstock, that he had allowed survivors of the Fort Caroline Massacre in the autumn of 1565 to settle among the Apalachete, with the conditions (1) They marry a Creek wife and (2) they help the Apalachete acquire iron weapons and tools. The Frenchmen founded the town of Melilot for European immigrants, which appeared on European maps until around 1703. The location of Melilot is probably Little Mulberry River Park near Auburn, GA. The distance between Little Mulberry River Park and the Nodaroc mud volcano is 6.7 miles (10.8 km). Obviously, Dutch colonists later settled at Melilot.

*Parakusati is the name given by Itza Maya-speaking peoples in Georgia to the tall, egghead people of the Paracus Plain, Peru.

Soon, the Apalache were allowing traders from the Spanish colony of Santa Elena on Parris Island, SC to trade at specific locations within the kingdom. The journey was hazardous for the Spanish traders, because many tribes, closer to the coast were hostile to Spaniards. Santa Elena was temporarily abandoned in 1576 then permanently abandoned in 1587. It was always a relatively small village.

In the meantime, the High King began allowing European Protestants and Jews to settle in his realm. Unmarried men and women were required to marry Native American spouses. The High King stated to Brigstock that most of these immigrants were placed in the northern portions of Apalache to serve as a barrier to raids by unspecified “Northern Indians.” The territory of the Apalache Kingdom then extended into what is now Southwest Virginia and Northeastern Tennessee. Others might have served as traders, who built European houses at the terrace complexes in Northern Georgia.

What happened to the offspring Dutch Jewish colonists?

The short answer is that some intermarried with later European colonists and soon viewed themselves as white British subjects . . . later as “Americans.” In most regions, several generations of multi-cultural intermarriage have erased their distinct identity.

Many Sephardic Jews apparently migrated en masse from SW Virginia and NE Tennessee, when large numbers of Germanic and Scots Irish settlers began moving into their lands. The Sephardim would hot have held titles to their land because their presence preceded any form of regional government.

Others stayed in the Appalachians and intermarried enough with peoples, not from the British Isles, to maintain an “ethnic” appearance. In SW Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee, they were were called Melungeons. Tennessee Ernie Ford was considered a Melungeon, but obviously, he was mostly of Semitic ancestry. He could have passed as a full-blooded Israeli, Palestinian, Lebanese or Arab.

I don’t know why academicians struggle with the origin of the word, Melungeon. It is obviously a slightly Anglicized version of the French word, Melangeon, which means a “multiple mixed race” person. In other parts of the Southeast, they called themselves, Black Dutch.

Others chose to live as Native Americans. The father-in-law of Cherokee Principal Chief Charles Hicks was one of them. “Chief Dutch Tassel” was NOT Cherokee* as all Cherokee history articles tell you, but a Dutch Jew, who set himself up as leader of an Itsate Creek village on the upper Hiwassee River near the Nacoochee Valley.

When the Creek-Cherokee War broke out in late 1715, Dutch Tassel led his people to southwest Georgia . . . deep into Creek territory . . . where they stayed until the war ended 40 years later. Charles and David Hicks opted to live with the Cherokees, but their younger siblings moved the territory of the Creek Confederacy along the Oconee River. Their descendants live in the region around Dublin and Washington, GA today, or else are citizens of the Muscogee-Creek Nation in Oklahoma.

Dutch Tassel’s wife was Itsate Creek or possibly mixed Sephardic Jewish – Itsate Creek. In other words, Charles Hicks was not an ethnic Cherokee. Neither was his wife, who was from an Itsate Creek town of Chote in the Nacoochee Valley. Much of the official Cherokee biography of Hicks . . . made up by white Tennesseans . . . is mythology, because of their confusion between the original town of Chote and the offshoot village of Chote, later named Chota by whites, in Tennessee.

Most whites . . . even the Muskogee-Creeks in Oklahoma . . . don’t understand that the Itstate Creeks were quite different than the Muskogee Creeks and originally their arch enemies. Many never joined the Creek confederacy. They opted to either partially asimilate with with their white neighbors or move to Florida and become Seminoles.

I didn’t even realize that the Muskogees were real Creeks until in my mid-20s, because in our family lore, the Muskogees were a people, who invaded Georgia from the north and burned many towns. Indeed, there is a concentration of Muskogee place names in the region around Brevard, Hendersonville, Sapphire Valley and Asheville, NC.

Cherokee Chief Charles Hicks considered Coweta Creek Chief William McIntosh a close friend. They were really two peas from the same pod. Both had maternal grandfathers, who were Dutch Jewish traders. McIntosh’s mother’s name . . . Senoia . . . is the feminine form of the Jewish angel, Senoy . . . who watched over babies and toddlers. It was a Sephardic tradition to carve Senoy’s name on the ends of baby craddles.

That’s right, Senoia . . . the center of Georgia’s film industry . . . is named after a Sephardic Jewish angel.

Now you know!

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