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Exploration and Settlement
of North Georgia
About North Georgia

DeSoto in Georgia
In 1540, Hernando deSoto led 600 Spanish soldiers, businessmen, entrepreneurs, and priests on a journey through Georgia and the Southeast. The group was searching for gold and other wealth which they could claim for themselves and fellow Spaniards. Along the journey
de Soto often took shelter with American Indians. At the area of present-day Carter's Lake deSoto visited a capital city of the Georiga Moundbuilders.

The visit ended in a violent clash with the Indians. In Cartersville (History of Cartersville, Ga.), de Soto visited the former settlement along the Etowah River, Etowah Indian Mounds. From there the Spaniard traveled down river to Ulibahali(some sources say Chiaha), an Indian village at the site of present day Rome, Georgia. Here deSoto arrested the town leaders, took hostages and slaves, and ransacked the granaries in August or September leaving nothing for his victims during the approaching winter.

He left the state traveling west along the Coosa river. Franciscan priests established missions under Spanish control at Jekyll and St. Simon's islands in 1566.


Around 1670, as South Carolina became more populated the Franciscan settlement in Georgia posed a threat. English settlers in Charleston saw these missions as intrusions and petitioned the crown for relief. By 1686 the Spanish retreated to south of St. Mary's river which forms the eastern border of present-day Georgia and Florida. Over the next 35 years Spain, France and England all laid claim to Georgia.


James Oglethorpe, Sir John Perceval, Earl of Egmont and 19 associates petitioned George II for a royal charter to establish a colony southwest of Carolina on July_30, 1730. The purpose of the colony was to:
  • Establish a buffer zone between Spanish Florida and South Carolina;
  • Provide economic opportunities for the English poor and;
  • Provide a refuge for European Protestants.

Oglethorpe founded Savannah on February 1, 1733 with 116 colonists.

The idea of a new colony was inspired by Oglethorpe's work as Chairman of a parliamentary committee investigating English jails but the response was so great that it was necessary to screen applicants and released debtors were eliminated.

Georgia did not prosper under Oglethorpe and the Trustees. The Trustees decided to surrender the charter in 1751 when Parliament rejected their annual request for a subsidy and signed the deed of surrender on June_23, 1752. They continued as a defacto government until relieved by a royal governor on October_31, 1754.


Map of the Cherokee Indians in 1765
The Cherokee Indians is a Numerous & Warlike Nation & as they are in Unity & Alliance with the Subjects of the King of Great Britain, they serve as a powerful Barrier to Carolina & Georgia in the present War against France & Spain, The Emperor of the Cherokees & the King of the Catawagas renew'd their League of Friendship with Gov. Glenn at Charles Town in South Carolina in May, 1745.


American Indians in Georgia

By 1650, The Cherokee had successfully migrated into the Southeast United States, occupying more than 40,000 square miles in the southern Appalachian Mountains from north of the Ohio River to the Mississippi in the West. After initial encounters the Cherokee and Creek somewhat peacefully as neighbors until the 1715 Yemassee War when the Cherokee massacred an unsuspecting group of Creek chiefs waiting to sign a peace treaty with South Carolina.

In the late 1740's the Cherokee once again began to encroach on Creek land in Georgia, pushed west and south by competition with British settlers for land and food. This culminated in a confrontation in present-day Cherokee County known as the battle of Taliwa (Ballground) in 1755. After the encounter the Creek Nation retreated to land south of the Chattahoochee River. About this time the Cherokee began calling today's north Georgia the "Enchanted Land,"

British hunters began to encroach on the traditional Cherokee Hunting Grounds and "countrymen," settlers who lived with their Cherokee spouses, were widely accepted. There were very few settlers north or west of the present Wilkes County line. Some of the places that did have settlers in North Georgia before the American Revolution were in the area south Chattanooga, Tennessee, in the northwest corner of the state, Talking Rock, and Hog Mountain, (present-day northern Gwinnett County). Slaves who escaped were accepted into Cherokee culture as equals.

Other Links of interest:
deSoto Falls Trail
Supposedly, one of Hernando deSoto's men left a breastplate in the area, discovered in the 1880's
Colonial Georgia
Lt. Col. Samuel Taylor's in-depth look at the entire state before the Revolution.
Georgia and the American Revolution
Randy Golden's updated and expanded series on the Revolutionary War in Georgia


Georgia History
Articles about North Georgia history and the state in general. This section is currently being developed. For more information on Georgia History, please see The Civil War in Georgia

Article Links
American Indians
American Revolution
Chattahoochee River
Chattanooga, Tennessee
Cherokee County
Creek Nation
Etowah Indian Mounds
Georiga Moundbuilders
The Cherokee
deSoto Falls Trail

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