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New Echota Walking Tour
About North Georgia

Introduction

From 1825 until the end of the Cherokee Nation New Echota served as its only capitol. The town was much larger in land than it is today. Most of the rest of the city, including the ferry and a general store, were on land now occupied by a golf course across the street from the State Park.

Cherokee Indian Memorial

Cherokee Indian Memorial
This memorial was added to the site of New Echota by the federal government in 1931, which the memorial calls the "last capital of the Cherokee Indians." New Echota was the only capital of the Cherokee Indians east of the Mississippi. Before the Cherokee Nation was formed, individual towns had council meetings to make decisions. Each of the seven clans were represented at the council and had the right to speak. A single chief was given the role of leader and a shaman served as the tribes spiritual leader.

When a National Council was formed in 1805 their first act was to create a national police force, the Lighthorse Patrol. By 1817 they had a single elected leader (John Ross) and a single National Council. As an attempt to ward off settler encroachments, the Cherokee formed a bicameral council, with the lower council electing the higher council. The higher council then selected the Principle Chief.

The monument was originally constructed near the town center by the War Department in 1931. In 1988, during the 150th anniversary of the Trail of Tears, the monument was moved from its original location to the current location in front of the museum.

Cherokee Middle Class Farmhouse

Cherokee Home
Native Cherokee never lived in tee pees, a Western Indian custom. The Cherokee lived in round log cabins and later, farmhouses like this and the common farmhouse later in the tour were built of rough-hewn lumber. In addition to the farmhouse, the homestead includes a barn, corn-crib, and smokehouse. Cherokee made almost all of their buildings out of wood and are considered to be excellent craftsmen. Archeologists have determined that a building, probably a farmhouse, occupied this area of the town of New Echota. At the time of the Cherokee Trail of Tears, it is estimated that there were between 4,000 and 6,000 Cherokee homes in North Georgia. The homes became the property of the winners of the land in Sixth Land Lottery.

The farmhouse on this site, which came from elsewhere in Gordon County, would have been similar to the home of Elijah Hicks, who lived across Georgia 225 on what is now a golf course. Hicks was a landholder who owned slaves, and the second publisher of the Cherokee Phoenix. Also living on the golf course was Alexander McCoy, who ran the ferry across the Oostanaula River, a ferry house (normally a farmhouse and tavern in a single building) and a dry goods store near the crossing.

Council House

"Council House at New Echota
In Cherokee villages the Council House was the center of political life. It was in the council house that decisions affecting the community as a whole were made. When the Cherokee first began national meetings in 1805 they were known as councils, and the districts in the nation would take turns hosting the councils. This created a problem because travel from one end of the Cherokee Nation to the other could take a week or more. In 1817 the Cherokee held their first Council at centrally-located Newtown (later New Echota to eliminate this problem.

At New Echota a bicameral legislature called the reconstructed Council House. The National Council met on the first floor of the Council House and had 4 Representatives for each of the 8 districts in the Cherokee Nation. The 32 Representatives then elected the National Committee (or upper House), which sat on the upper floor. The members of the National Committee would then select the Principle Chief, the Vice-Principle Chief and the Treasurer. For the entire time the Cherokee were in Georgia the position of Principle Chief was held by John Ross.

Supreme Courthouse

Supreme Courthouse
The Cherokee established a Supreme Court in 1823 to handle appeals of district court rulings. The first courthouse was erected at New Echota in 1829 and the current Courthouse was reconstructed in 1960 based on a written description of the building by physician Benjamin Gold, father of Harriet Gold Boudinot. Three judges would hear cases argued. During the duration of the institution 248 cases were heard.

The building also served as a schoolhouse when court was not in session, led by a Presbyterian missionary.

Common Cherokee Farmhouse

The common Cherokee farmhouse would have been a subsistence farm normally found in outlying areas. On these farms a Cherokee, his wife and children would work the fields, growing enough food for the family and a little extra to sell or barter at a local general store.

Newtown Trail

This mile-long trail begins by exploring low-lying areas near Town Creek. Since the area is so low, seasonal rains may cause flooding. The trail then climbs to an overlook above Town Creek that was a popular site when the Council was in session. Archeologists found hundreds of artifacts in the area. From the overlook the descends through a hardwood and pine forest common throughout North Georgia until the large trees stop and are replaced by smaller trees. This was farmland until the 1940's. Continue on the trail to the Worcestor House.

Worcestor House

Inside the Worcestor House
The only original building from New Echota, the home of Samuel Worcestor was occupied until 1952. The house originally had two floors, but an 1889 photograph show it with a single floor. Structural damage had forced the occupants to remove the second floor. When the house was turned over to the state it was badly weathered and in poor shape. By the time restoration began in 1958, a hole had developed in the roof.

From 1825 until 1827 Samuel Worcestor served the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions at Brainerd. When his house was completed in November, 1827 at New Echota he moved to the Cherokee capital with his wife Ann, where they established a mission, a school and Worcestor served as town postmaster. Worcestor was known as the Messenger by the Cherokee, not only for his missionary work but because of his involvement with the Cherokee Phoenix. His arrest at New Echota in 1831 for his failure to obey a state law requiring him to get a permit to work in the Cherokee Nation gave rise the Worcestor v. Georgia, a U. S. Supreme Court case.


Vann Tavern

Inside Vann Tavern
Vann Tavern is the oldest structure on the site, built in 1805 by James Vann at his Chattahoochee Plantation, now Forsyth County. Vann was awarded the right to run the ferry across the Chattahoochee River in the Treaty of Tellico Blockhouse, which also gave the United States the right to build a federal road from Flowery Point, Georgia to Nashville, Tennessee. The tavern was the first stop west of the river and offered travelers the chance to spend the night undercover or have a drink.

In 1955 the tavern was removed from its site, which was scheduled to be covered by Lake Lanier and brought to New Echota. A small window on the back of the tavern allowed the innkeeper to serve guests that did not want to or couldn't come inside.

Cherokee Phoenix

Print shop for the Cherokee Phoenix
This is a recreation of the original print shop that produced the Cherokee Phoenix, the first American Indian newspaper published in America. With the help of Samuel Worcestor and the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions Elias Boudinot obtain a printing press and specially-designed type was cast in the new Cherokee syllabary. On February 21, 1828 the first edition rolled off the press to an international audience. Boudinot was the first editor of the newspaper.

Georgia realized the importance of the printing press and repeatedly tried to shut it down with laws requiring permits to work in the Cherokee Nation aimed at Worcestor and the two white printers, and later with an attack on the building by the Georgia Guard. The Guard destroyed the press because the state had gotten wind of a plan by John Ross to move the printing press outside the state.

Elias Boudinot Home

Elias Boudinot home siter
Built for Elias Boudinot in 1827, only the foundation exists. The four corners of the house are marked by stones and the well near the home is original. The original cellar for the home's kitchen is near the home site. The Boudinot home was similar in style to the Worcestor home, with a front porch on the first floor and a covered porch on the second floor. The well sat between the home and the kitchen, which was an outbuilding. Also on the site were a smoke house, a stable, corn crib, garden, peach orchard, and apple orchard.

Contact Information

New Echota State Historic Site (Park)
1211 Chatsworth Hwy 225 N,
Calhoun, GA
(706) 624-1321

Map


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County: Gordon County

Cherokee Indians
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Chattahoochee River
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