Native American History of Laurens County, Georgia
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Laurens County is in one of several regions of Georgia that contained advanced indigenous cultures that have received only cursory attention from the archaeology profession. Future discoveries along the Lower Oconee River may radically change the understanding of the Southeast’s Pre-European history.
Although this large county is composed of lands ceded by the Muskogee-Creek Confederacy to the United States in the late 1700s and early 1800s, true Muskogee-Creeks probably did not enter the region until the mid-to-late 18th century. Even then, occupation was shared with other ethnic groups, who became political allies of the Muskogees in order to survive multiple threats their existence.
Prior to the late 1700s, what is now the State of Georgia was a patchwork quilt of indigenous ethnic groups, speaking several languages and many dialects. The town names recorded by the de Soto Expedition in the Oconee-Ocmulgee River Basin during the spring of 1540, suggests that several languages were spoken in the region, including Itsati (Hitchiti,) Mvskoke (Muskogee) and Taino-Arawak. Toa, a town on the Oconee or Ocmulgee River, is a common Taino word, while an Arawak-speaking province of the Creek Confederacy, named Taosi (Tawasee in English) existed into the mid-1700s.
Location and geography
Laurens County is located in upper southeast Georgia. Its county seat is Dublin. To the northwest of Laurens is Wilkinson and Twiggs Counties. It is bounded on the northeast by Johnson and Emanuel Counties. Bleckley and Dodge Counties form its western boundary, while Wheeler County defines the southern boundary.
The entire county is in Georgia’s Atlantic Coastal Plain. This region is underlain by relatively young sedimentary and metamorphic rocks. Most of Laurens County drains into the Oconee River. Its terrain is characterized by low rolling clay hills, sandy loam along river or creek bottomlands, and many riverine swamps in association with the Oconee River and its major tributaries.
Native American Cultural Periods
Archaeologists believe that humans have lived in Laurens County for at least 12,000 years, perhaps much longer. Clovis and Folsom points, associated with Late Ice age big game hunters have been found in the Oconee, Ocmulgee and Altamaha River Basins. During the Ice Age, herds of giant mammals roamed the river bottom lands. The mastodons, saber tooth tigers, giant sloths and other massive mammals died out about 8,000 years ago.
Archaic Period: 8,000 BC – 1000 BC
After the climate warmed, animals and plants typical of today soon predominated in this region. Humans adapted to the changes and gradually became more sophisticated. They adopted seasonal migratory patterns that maximized access to food resources. Archaic hunters probably moved to locations along major rivers during the winter, where they could eat fish and fresh water mussels, if game was not plentiful.
During the late Archaic Period, a major trade route developed along the Altamaha-Oconee-Ocmulgee River System that connected the South Atlantic Coast with the Appalachian Mountains, via the Upper Chattahoochee River. At this time, Native Americans began traveling long distances to trade and socialize.
During the Early Archaic Period, bands of indigenous peoples, who survived by hunting, fishing, gathering edible nuts, fruits & roots, plus harvesting fresh water mussels, established seasonal villages and camps. The habitation sites were concentrated along the Oconee River and major streams. Villagers seasonally migrated between locations within fixed territorial boundaries to take advantage of maximum food availability from natural sources.
Beginning around 3,500 BC, Southeastern Native Americans began to intentionally cultivate wild plants near village sites. Over the centuries, selective cultivation resulted in domestic plants that were genetically different than their wild cousins. As the productivity of indigenous crops increased, the indigenous people were able to remain longer at village sites, and therefore had fewer habitation locations.
By the Late Archaic Period, c. 2500 BC, the knowledge of making pottery appeared in the Savannah River and Altamaha Rivers Basins. This Stallings Island pottery composes the oldest known ceramics in the Western Hemisphere. Large mounds of freshwater mussel shells developed along the Oconee at locations where villagers camped for generation after generation. More sedentary lifestyles made possible the development of pottery and carving of soapstone bowls. These items were impractical as long as people were migratory.
Woodland Period (1000 BC – 900 AD)
Beginning in the Woodland Period Native population began concentrating along the Fall Line of the Oconee River. A sedentary lifestyle was made possible by abundant natural food sources such as game, freshwater mussels and chestnuts and the cultivation of gardens. Initially, the cultivated plants were of indigenous origin and included a native squash, native sweet potato, sunflowers, Jerusalem artichoke, amaranth, sump weed, and chenopodium. Tobacco, maize, Mesoamerican types of squash, and finally several varieties of beans arrived later.
The early villages were relatively small and dispersed. There was probably much socialization between these villages because of the need to find spouses that were not closely related. Houses were round and built out of saplings, river cane and thatch.
The Woodland Period peoples of the region built some mounds. Apparently, most mounds were primarily for landmarks, stages for ceremonies or burials, but may have also supported simple structures that were used for rituals or meetings. They were constructed accretionally. This means that the mounds grew in size over the generations by piling soil and detritus from the village over recent burials.
Muskogeans (ancestors of the Alabama Creek, Seminole, Chickasaw and Choctaw Indians) probably arrived in present day Georgia around 400-300 BC. Few Woodland Period archaeological sites have been professionally studied in the Lower Oconee Basin. It is not clear when the ethnicity of the Oconee Basin changed to being directly ancestral to contemporary Muskogeans. Studies show general similarity of Early Woodland cord marked artifacts to those of the Carolina Coastal Plain, which is thought to have been Siouan.
Swift Creek villages apparently were concentrated along the Fall Line of the Ocmulgee, Oconee and Chattahoochee Rivers. Swift Creek Culture villages are clearly identified by sophisticated pottery, stamped with ornate designs. In Laurens County, the Middle Woodland village sites are probably located at the edge of the flood plain of Oconee River and major creeks.
Late Woodland Period 600 AD – 900 AD
Around 600 AD, many villages south of the Fall Line in the Ocmulgee-Oconee-Altamaha Basin were apparently abandoned. No Late Woodland village sites have been indentified in Laurens County. However, the Swift Culture continued for some time in northern Georgia. Swift Creek Style ceramics can be found near the headwaters of the Oconee and Savannah Rivers in northeast Georgia that date as late as 1000 AD. This is possible evidence that invaders arrived from the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic in canoes that could not pass the shoals of the Fall Line. The invaders were possibly Mesoamerican or Caribbean slave raiders, but to date there is definitive evidence to verify this speculation.
Coinciding with the disappearance of Swift Creek villages is the wide spread use of the bow and arrow. Arrow points are easily distinguishable from atlatl (javelin) and spear points by their smaller size. It is not clear if the scarcity of known Late Woodland settlement equates to a drop in total population, or an adaptation to hunting and fighting with a bow.
The sudden appearance of a people with advanced cultural traditions on the Macon Plateau around 900 AD strongly suggests that these newcomers earlier had established villages down stream on the Ocmulgee and Altamaha Rivers. No such sites have been identified, but there has been no search for them either. They may have been located on islands within riverine swamps.
Early Southeastern Ceremonial Complex (900 AD – 1150 AD)
Stark cultural changes began appearing on the Middle Ocmulgee and Lower Chattahoochee Rivers around 900 AD. The earliest mounds of this new cultural tradition have been radiocarbon dated around 900 AD, but the initial cultural influences apparently came a little earlier on the Lower Chattahoochee.
In 1947, prior to the professional study of many Southeastern Native American sites, a congress of archaeologists, meeting at Harvard University, decided that the first mounds were built in Ohio and the first advance, agricultural society occurred at Cahokia Mounds, Illinois. The advanced culture was labeled the Mississippian Culture, because Cahokia was near the Mississippi River. It is now know that large ceremonial mounds were being constructed in the Southeast as early as 3500 BC (Watson Brake, LA) and that “Mississippian cultural traits” first appeared in southern Florida, then spread to the Oconee and Ocmulgee River Basins at least as early as 900 AD . . . 150 years before they appeared in full bloom at Cahokia. Therefore, the term, “Southeastern Ceremonial Complex” is a more accurate description of cultural history in eastern Georgia.
In the vicinity of the Fall Line along the Oconee River, there were some large villages that seemed culturally related to the early phase of development at Etalwa (Etowah Mounds) in northwestern Georgia. One significant town site, known to archaeologists as Cold Springs, contained two mounds that were constructed during the Middle Woodland Period, and then probably used as building platforms during the 900s AD.
Little is known for certain about the indigenous occupation of the Lower Oconee Basin prior to European Contact. Local histories of several counties along the channel of the Oconee mention numerous mounds, but they are rarely listed in contemporary archaeological reports. For example the History of Wilkinson County states, “There are large mounds to be found near Black Lake, below the old Oconee Town, south of Milledgeville, near Lord’s Lake, several miles farther down the river, one near Wriley, one on Cedar Creek near Burke’s Old Mill Site, one farther down the creek not far from the Dublin and Irwinton Road.” However, reports on the archaeology of the Coastal Plain, produced by the University of Georgia in the late 20th century, stated that there were no documented mounds or village sites in Wilkinson County. Wilkinson is immediately north of Laurens County.
During the 1980s a cursory survey was carried out of the nearby Ocmulgee Big Bend area of Telfair County. The archaeologist, Frankie Snow, could not find any large “Mississippian Culture” towns. However, multiple 16th and early 17th century expeditions by the Spaniards describe visits to both large, powerful towns and many subordinate villages. What the archaeologists find especially confusing is a style of pottery decorated by pressing cords against the wet clay that is typical of the Deptford style ceramics of the Early Woodland cultures.
In 1994 an archaeological team from the University of Georgia carried out a survey of the Sawyer Mounds Site in Laurens County (9LS1.) It is one of the largest archaeological sites on the Oconee River. The town was located roughly 60 km (37 miles) south of the Shinholser Mounds and about the same distance north of a mound complex near the confluence of the Oconee and Ocmulgee Rivers. The investigation concentrated on the Mississippian component of the town site, but determined that an Early Woodland town had once occupied the location. The mounds appeared to have been first constructed during the Woodland Period, while the roughly 75 year long Mississippian occupation occurred some time between 1250 AD and 1350 AD.
Archaeologists are not certain of the mounds’ construction dates because the site has not been fully studied. Several web sites now state that the mounds were originally constructed around 1000 BC and that the Sawyer Mounds are the site of the town of Ocute, visited by Hernando de Soto in the spring of 1540. The archaeologists did not find any evidence to justify these statements.
The architecture of both mounds do resemble mounds at the Leake Site in Cartersville, GA. which were begun around 100 AD. The round shape of the town and the location of the mounds within the town plan resemble the Six Flags Village site (9FU14) on the Chattahoochee River near Atlanta. That village was probably begun around 200 BC.
The Hernando de Soto Expedition probably passed through the general region of Laurens County. Several town names were mentioned by the expedition’s chronicles. They also stated that there were many villages along the rivers in between major towns. Until a major town site can be identified in Laurens County, which was definitely occupied in 1540, the Oconee River corridor can only be considered a possible route for the Spaniards. There may be major town sites in the county concealed by swamps, or so covered with flood sediment that no mounds are visible. It is also quite possible that the bluff on which Dublin was built, was originally a major Native town site.
Two ethnic labels are mentioned by the archives of Spanish expeditions through the Oconee River region. They are Ocute (or Oconi) and Tama (or Altamaha.) Both ethnic groups still occupied the Oconee River Basin when the Colony of South Carolina was settled. Both ethnic names have been grossly mistranslated through the years by “authoritative” non-Native American sources. Scholars often do not understand that the majority of Muskogeans in present day Georgia were NOT Muskogee Creeks, but Itsati (Hitchiti). Until the 1700s these two ethnic groups were often enemies.
“Oconee” is the Anglicized form of the Itsati (Hitchiti-Creek) word Okvni, which means “born from water” or “living on water.” This branch of the Muskogeans is better known for the name given them by the chroniclers of the Hernando de Soto Expedition in 1540, Ocute – which is the Spanish version of the Itsati word Okvte. Okvte means “Water People.”
According to Oconee tradition, their original homeland was in the Okefenokee Swamp of southeastern Georgia. In fact, a branch of the Oconee still lived in this vast expanse of water during the 1600s, when it was under the domain of Spain. The Oconee Creeks also once occupied towns in present-day northeastern Georgia, northwestern South Carolina and in the Great Smoky Mountains. Their presence in the Great Smoky Mountains is remembered by the name of the Oconaluftee River, which in the Itsati-Creek language means “separated Oconee people.”
At the time of the de Soto Expedition, the Oconee and Tama Provinces apparently were allies. They spoke dialects of the Itsati (Hitchiti) language, but Tama-tli language probably contained more Mesoamerican words. The Oconee towns were concentrated on the middle section of the river in the region between Sparta, GA and Athens, GA, whereas the Tama-tli towns were along the Lower Oconee and Upper Altamaha Rivers.
Tamau-tli or Tamau-li are ethnic names from the northern Chontal Maya trade language spoken on the coast of Tamauli-pas and northern Vera Cruz States in Mexico until around 1250 AD. At that time, the region was over-run by Chichimec barbarians from the desert regions. Both words mean “Merchant or Trader-People.” The Altamaha River probably also gets its name from that language. Al-tama-ahau means “Territory of the Tamau Lord.”
Branches of the Tama-tli also occupied colonies in the Southern Highlands. The South Carolina town of Tamasee was originally a Tamatli colony. Evidence of a Tamatli presence in Alabama, North Carolina & Tennessee can be seen in the town named Tamasee, Tamatly, Tomatly and Tomatla.
The archives from the earliest European expeditions and colonization efforts in Georgia describe a very different ethnic landscape that observed by the waves of settlers in entered Georgia in the early 1800s. Creek scholars can identify the ethnic identities of the aboriginal peoples by the indigenous words recorded by Europeans.
The Native Americans in east central and southeast Georgia were not originally members of the Muskogee-Creek Confederacy, but members of the older Yamasee Alliance. Some of the Yamassee members were not even Muskogeans. For example, it is now known that the Siouan-speaking Biloxi Indians of Biloxi, Mississippi were just a small branch of the main body of Biloxi, who lived in southeastern Georgia between the Ogechee and Savannah Rivers.
Yama is the Creek word for the Mobilian Trade Jargon, which was a hybrid language that originated around Mobile Bay. Yamasee means “offspring of Yama.” This suggests that the indigenous peoples of southeast Georgia originated on the Gulf Coast.
The word, “yama” means “clearing” in the Totonac language. It is applied to the practice of some farmers to clear swaths in the forest, burn the vegetation; then farm the land for a few years. It is known that the majority of both Okvte and Tamatli commoners lived in dispersed family farmsteads. Perhaps they found that sandy soils of southeast Georgia lost their fertility after about two to three years of cultivation. The clearings were then abandoned for many years.
The Tamatli used many other Mesoamerican words in their dialect of Itsati. Both in the Totonac language of northeastern Mexico and in Itsati, the word for house is “chiki.” The word for a high king in both Itza Maya and Tamatli was hene-mako (Sun-Great.) The word in both these languages for the relatives of the Great Sun, who functioned as traveling judges was hene-ahau. The chronicles of the Juan Pardo expedition mention on several occasions meetings between Pardo and heneha. Today, heneha is the title of the Second Chief of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation.
There is archival and archaeological evidence that European diseases began to sweep through the Southeast as early as 1500 AD. A smallpox plague in the Yucatan spread across the Caribbean and then was carried to the Gulf Coast by Native American merchants. In the early 1540s, when the Hernando de Soto Expedition bullied its way through the Southeast, the Native provinces were still thriving in the interior. Most seem to have not been affected by the diseases that were ravaging communities on the Gulf Coast. However, de Soto’s army left a path of feral pigs and human pathogens wherever it went.
Various European diseases continued to periodically sweep through the Southeastern Indian settlements for the next 250 years. It has been estimated that by 1800, the Native American population of Georgia was somewhere between 10% and 2% of its level in 1492. Most of the ancestral Georgia (tribe) population was apparently wiped out by 1600 AD.
English colonial maps contained very little detailed information about the landscape west of the Ocmulgee River or north/west of the Blue Ridge Mountains. However, after the founding of Charlestowne (SC) in 1674, the English developed a brisk trade with the ancestors of the Creeks living in South Carolina, Georgia and eastern Georgia. The Creeks quickly began using iron pots instead of pottery.
The Yamasee War (1715-1717) exploded in the Colony of South Carolina and spread throughout the Southeast as the majority of tribes joined a war against the Colony of South Carolina. All but a few of the British traders operating in the region were killed at the war’s onset. Grievances included fraudulent weights and the Native American slave trade. The Tamatli and Oconee were members of the Yamasee Alliance. The Creek Confederacy also joined, but withdrew from the combat after all of its leaders were murdered in their sleep at a diplomatic conference in the Cherokee town of Tugaloo.
At the close of the Yamasee War (1715-1717) many towns that had been clustered around the Fall Line of the Ocmulgee and Oconee Rivers in central Georgia relocated to the Fall Line area of the Chattahoochee River. Individual Creek towns eventually moved eastward into the former lands of the Yamasee as relations improved. They were joined by Creeks from North Carolina, pushed out of the North Carolina Mountains by the Cherokees and Creeks from South Carolina pushed out of that colony by rapid European immigration. Many Yuchi’s from southeastern Tennessee and North Carolina were also pushed southward by Cherokee expansion. After saving the South Carolina from disaster in the Yamassee War, the Cherokees enjoyed the protection of the British Crown and expanded their territories dramatically because of this support.
The surviving Tamatli left the Oconee Basin. Some went to Florida and remained enemies of the Muskogee-Creeks. Most Tamatli joined the Cherokee Alliance. Until after the American Revolution, the Cherokee Tamatli continued to speak Itsati among themselves, and lived in well-planned Muskogean towns, while most Cherokees lived in random settlements. The main body of Tamatli journeyed to French Louisiana. They remain in Louisiana today and are a separate state-recognized tribe.
Colony of Georgia
The most favored status of the Cherokee Alliance began to decline after the founding of Georgia in 1732. General James Edward Oglethorpe soon traveled to the Creek Capital of Koweta and signed a treaty with the Creeks. Georgia established a trading post at Augusta on land claimed by South Carolina; then quickly gobbled up most of the Southeastern Indian trade.
In the treaties between the Creek Confederacy and Great Britain in 1763 and 1773, the Creek Confederacy ceded all of its lands that were formerly occupied by members of the Yamasee Alliance before 1717. These tracts were east of the Ogeechee Rive. Vast territories had opened up for the Confederacy in present day Alabama, so the lost was not significantly opposed by member towns.
By the eve of the American Revolution, traders based in Augusta, GA were ranging throughout most of the Southeast. British traders often married Creek women in order to gain the trust of Creek leaders. Some traders established farmsteads and trading posts on the Oconee River. Their mixed heritage children generally became leaders because they were able to understand the ways of the Creeks and the ways of the Europeans.
The Creek Confederacy as a whole stayed neutral in the Revolution. However, Creeks in South Carolina and eastern Georgia tended to be Patriot allies; the Middle Creeks of the Chattahoochee River Valley remained neutral, while the Upper Creeks in northern Alabama tended to be British allies. The same political division would appear again in the Red Stick War of 1813-1814.
After the American Revolution
In the Treaty of Paris ending the Revolution, Spain re-acquired West Florida, which included the Florida Panhandle and all lands of present-day southern Alabama, north to the 31st parallel. The zenith of power for the Creek Indian Confederacy was the period between 1783 and 1812. The Creeks controlled the largest territory of any Indian tribe in the United States. During these decades, Creek leaders successfully played the United States, the Spanish in West Florida and the English in East Florida against each other.
As part of the diplomatic game, Creek leaders ceded off strips of land in eastern Georgia to the United States, while continuing to expand the Confederacy’s territory in Alabama. In 1790 all lands east of the Oconee and Altamaha Rivers were ceded. Some Yuchi and Itsati (Hitchiti) villages did not recognize the authority of the Muskogee-dominated Confederacy to give away their ancestral lands.
The Oconee River proved to be an insufficient barrier between increasingly hostile elements of the Native and European populations. Cattle and horse-thieving raids by Yuchi youth across the Oconee were constant irritation. There were also some atrocities committed on both sides of the river against individual households. In 1802, the Creek Confederacy ceded all lands between the Ocmulgee and Oconee Rivers to the United States, except the six square miles of the Ocmulgee Old Fields. These were to be held in perpetuity by the Creek Nation as the sacred location where Muskogean culture first blossomed.
There was increasingly serious internal friction among the factions of the Creeks, while they superficially appeared powerful. Large numbers of Shawnee immigrants had joined the Confederacy in northern Alabama, who brought with them vestiges of their traditions. Many Upper Creeks fought with, or at least sympathized with the Chickamauga Cherokees, whose atrocities caused undying hatred among Tennesseans.
Meanwhile, the Muskogee and Itsati Creeks in Georgia were growing prosperous from selling produce and livestock to towns and plantations. These Creeks were intentionally intermarrying with middle class white families to insure good relations with their neighbors.
Indian Removal Period
Two residents of Laurens County played a prominent role in the last phase of Georgia’s relations with semi-sovereign indigenous nations. David Blackshear of Laurens County was appointed a general of the 2nd Brigade of the 5th U. S. Army division during the Red Stick War. This volunteer brigade was mainly stationed in Telfair and Pulaski County to guard access to plantations in eastern Georgia. However, practically all Georgia Creeks were allies of the United States. Native Americans formed approximately half of Andy Jacksons’s army. Creeks living east of the territory of the Creek Nation formed a regular army regiment that fought British rangers on the coast of Georgia and in northern Florida.
George M. Troup’s official residence was in Laurens County, when he became the first popularly elected governor in 1825. An avid pro-slavery and anti-Native American politician, he quickly utilized his familial connections with his first cousin, William McIntosh, the Creek brigadier general in Andrew Jackson’s army during the Red Stick War (1813-1814) to push through a treaty at Indian Springs, GA which ceded all Creek tribal lands in Georgia, including the Ocmulgee Old Fields Reserve.
McIntosh and his colleagues were not legally able to sign such a treaty. Most of the signatories were not even elected officials of the Creek Nation. The 1825 Treaty of Indian Springs was the equivalent of six U. S. senators and several members of their neighbors, signing a treaty that gave California, Oregon and Washington State to the Peoples Republic of China. At the heart of the treaty was a real estate speculation scheme including Troup, McIntosh and a few other speculators, vast tracts of territory to subdivide and sell to the public.
The federal government declared the treaty null and void. However, Troup threatened to go to war against the federal government, if the U. S. Army sent troops to protect the property rights of Creek farmers. President Adams backed away from the situation long enough for thousands of squatters to settle on Creek lands. McIntosh and two of his sons were executed for treason by the Creek government. Two years later, the legitimate leaders of the Creek Nation signed another treaty with more favorable terms. That treaty honored earlier treaties which continued Creek ownership of the six square mile Ocmulgee Old Fields Reserve, plus allowed any Creek, who wished to take state citizenship to remain in Georgia.
Modern Creek descendants
In the basins of the Oconee and Ocmulgee Rivers are thousands of Georgians of legitimate Creek ancestry. For example, there are so many citizens of Creek ancestry in Hancock County, that the county has even sponsored Green Corn Festivals for the populace. The presence of so many people of mixed ancestry can be explained by the history of Georgia’s relationship with the Creek People.
Prior to the Red Stick War, no major faction of the Creek Nation had never been at war with the United States. There were hostilities on the Oconee River frontier in the late 1700s, but these were the actions of individuals, who did not have the backing of either the federal government or the Creek National Council. In general, the relations between middle class Creek farmers and middle class Caucasian farmers were excellent. There was much intermarriage before the Red Stick War. Individual Creek families often opted to become state citizens when tribal lands were sold. Some even became wealthy planters. Through the generations that followed, mixed-heritage Creek families tended to intermarry with other mixed-heritage families. The steady trend, though, was a gradual reduction in the percentage of indigenous DNA. Contemporary mixed-heritage families maintain some Creek or Yuchi features, but their skin pigments have generally lightened, while blue or gray eyes, perhaps blonde or red hair are common.
Native American ancestry is quite common among the nominally African-American “old families of the Oconee Basin. This can be easily explained. The enslavement of Native Americans began before the importation of Africans. In 1710, 20% of the population of Charleston was Native American slaves! King George issued a proclamation in 1752, but South Carolina was one of those colonies that interpreted any person with 1.64th or greater African blood to be still an African slave. When hundreds of plantations and farms were established in the Creek cession lands of the 1790 and 1802 treaties, the majority of slaves were probably imported from South Carolina.
In Hancock County, GA, the mother of heiress Amelia America Dickson looked like a full blooded Muskogee Creek woman, but to authorities, she was a black slave. The famous bridge engineer, Horace King, was born a slave in Chesterfield, SC. In appearance he looked like a man who was perhaps ½ Pee Dee Creek and ½ British. He was classified as a mulatto black, but was eventually freed by his master via a special act of the Alabama legislature.
There was another type of Creek or Yuchi ancestor, whose offspring grew up in the Oconee, Ocmulgee and Altamaha River Basins. These people were often full-bloods or near full bloods. Their families lived on islands and bluffs within swamps along the South Georgia rivers. No one wanted the isolated spits of lands on which they survived. They lived at the margins of society by chopping wood for steamboats, hunting game for planters, or perhaps working as sharecroppers for plantations. Their descendants often remained in the region until paper companies bought up vast tracts after World War II and evicted the tenants.
Laurens County’s Native American history remains an unfinished story. Until more archaeological teams can find and study the locations of ancient villages, many details remain in the realm of speculation.