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Newly Analyzed – Migration Legend of the Creek Indians

In 2007, Architect Richard L. Thornton, a Creek scholar and member of the People of One Fire research alliance began sporadically looking online for the Migration Legend.1 He had no success for the next seven years. On December 21, 2012, Thornton was a key cast member on the premier of the hit History Channel Series, “America Unearthed.”2 The program was about the evidence of Maya refugees settling in Georgia and becoming some of the ancestors of the Creek Indians. After the program was broadcast in the United Kingdom in early 2013, Thornton received a brief, congratulatory email from Clarence House, the official residence of HRH Prince Charles that wished him the best of success in future research. A few days later, Thornton mailed a formal letter directly to Prince Charles and the Clarence House Staff asking for their assistance in finding the lost Migration Legend of the Creek People. About a month later, he received an email from Dr. Grahame Davies, the famous Welsh poet, who had recently been hired as Assistant Private Secretary for Public Relations at Clarence House. Davies offered his assistance and asked for more details about the disappearance of the documents. Those were provided by Thornton. About six months later, Thornton received an email from Davies stating that the Migration Legend documents had been forwarded by King George II to the Archbishop of Canterbury, William Wake. Their last known whereabouts were somewhere in the archives or warehouses of the Church of England. At that time, there was no online record of the Church of England’s archives. Thornton sent a letter by conventional mail to the...

Thornton’s Translation of the Migration Legend of the Creek People

In 2015, after many years of searching, Richard Thornton found the impossible, the original Migration Legend of the Creek People. Gatschet in his famed manuscript which greatly covered this legend stated emphatically “The chances of rediscovering the original English translation of the Migration Legend of the Creek People are therefore almost as slim as recovering the lost books of Livy’s History.” That original English translation still remains lost as Gatschet predicted. But why settle for the English translation when you can find the original? The following is Thornton’s transcription from the original velum of the Migration Legend. Thornton indicates in our introduction that when “the original document, written by Thomas Christie, was finally discovered in 2015, the translation of the German text was found to be not so accurate or complete as Gatschet had presumed. Although the texts of the two documents follow the same general pattern, there were changes made in some of the passages that completely changed the meanings of certain phrases and sentences. Also, some sentences were presented in reverse order.”

Here we present, Richard Thornton’s modern translation:

Gatschet’s Translation of the Migration Legend of the Creek People

In 1884, Albert Samuel Gatschet published a translation of the Creek Migration Legend in his infamous “A Migration Legend of the Creek Indians.” The Creek and Hitchiti text that came with the same manuscript were then translated from Gatschet’s translation back into Hitchiti and Creek, his translation did not emanate from those. Where then did he get his translation from? A translation from the English had been preserved in a German book of the period, and the style of this piece showed it to be an “authentic and comparatively accurate rendering of the original”. The German book referred to is a collection of pamphlets treating of colonial affairs, and published from 1735 to 1741; its first volume bears the title: Ausfuehrliche Nachricht von den Saltzburg-ischen Emigranten, die sick in America niedergelassen haben. Worin, etc. etc., Herausgegeben von Samuel Urlsperger, Halle, MDCCXXXV, The legend occupies pp. 869 to 876 of this first volume, and forms chapter six of the “Journal” of von Reck, the title of which is as follows: Herrn Philipp Georg Friederichs von Reck Diarium von Seiner Reise nach Georgien im Jahr 1735. F. von Reck was the commissary of those German-Protestant emigrants whom religious persecution had expelled from Salzburg, in Styria, their native city.

So what follows is an English translation from the German translation of the presumed English translation of the original “Migration Legend of the Creek People.”

Washington Irving at Fort Gibson, 1832

The McIntosh Creeks had been located along Arkansas River near the Verdigris on fertile timbered land which they began at once to clear, cultivate, and transform into productive farms. The treaty of 1828 with the Cherokee gave the latter a great tract of land on both sides of Arkansas River embracing that on which the Creeks were located. This was accomplished by a blunder of the Government officials, in the language of the Secretary of War,1 “when we had not a correct knowledge of the location of the Creek Indians nor of the features of the country.” This situation produced much unhappiness and contention between the people of the two tribes. The Indians had other grievances, and the Creeks took the lead in calling the attention of the officials to their needs by the preparation of a memorial in which they complained of frequent attacks upon them by bands of wild Indians from the south and west of their location. They asked the Government to appoint a commission to meet with them for the redress of their wrongs, and to call a council of the different tribes for the adoption of measures to establish peace and security in their new home. The Creek memorial and a long report by the Secretary of War on February 16, 1832, were transmitted to Congress by President Jackson,2 who recommended that three commissioners be appointed as requested in the memorial, and recommended by the Secretary. It appeared from the report of the Secretary of War that there were then west of the Mississippi twenty-five hundred Creeks, six thousand Choctaw, thirty-five hundred Cherokee and...

Early Western Travels, 1748-1846

Early Western Travels, 1748-1846 comprises thirty-one volumes which contain accurate reprints of rare manuscripts. They were carefully chosen from the mass of material descriptive of travels in the North American interior which this century of continental expansion (1748-1846) provided, and no manuscript has been included unless it possessed permanent historical value. The result is a series which the casual reader will find interesting, and the historian, teacher and scholar, will find invaluable, as it makes available sources of information without which the development of the West, its history and its people cannot be fully understood. The editor has provided numerous footnotes and an introduction to each volume which contains a biographical sketch of the author, an evaluation of the book reprinted and bibliographical data concerning it. The closing volumes are devoted to a complete and exhaustive analytical index to the entire series.

The Natural Environment of Ocmulgee Bottoms

Beginning in the late 1500s and continuing through the late 1600s, European maps showed a large lake in central Georgia that received both the Ocmulgee and Oconee River. Its outlet was the Altamaha River, which the French called the May River. The memoirs of the commander of Fort Caroline, René de Laudonnière, wrote in his memoir that several expeditions which he dispatched in a northwestward direction from the fort, encountered a large shallow lake at the headwaters of the May. These expeditions continued northward across the lake in their canoes and then traveled up the Oconee River to the Kingdom of Apalache and then the Appalachian Mountains. No mention is made of the Ocmulgee River by Laudonnière, but it also appeared on later maps of the region, flowing into Lake Tama. Apparently someone, either French or Spanish did canoe northwestward across the shallow lake and travel up the Ocmulgee.

The Natural History of Ocmulgee Bottoms

Ocmulgee Bottoms is a corridor of the Ocmulgee River Flood Plain in the central region of the State of Georgia that begins at the Fall Line in Macon, GA and continues 38 miles southward to near Hawkinsville, GA. This region is located in Bibb, Twiggs, Houston, Bleckley and Pulaski Counties. The Ocmulgee River’s velocity slows dramatically upon entering the Bottoms and has a serpentine channel. Over the eons, the river here has meandered frequently across the breath of the flood plain, leaving hundreds of ponds and swamps, plus a deep layer of rich, alluvial soil. On top of the alluvial soil is from one to ten feet or red clay that was deposited during the period when cotton was cultivated in the Piedmont, upstream.

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