Cabin fever must be getting to Ted also. We were drinking coffee the other morning, and out of the blue he said, “Let’s call Sally and Ed and see if they want to go to Albany today.”
Now Ted and I go to Albany all the time – for doctor/dentist/eye appointments, haircut/hair dye (me only on the hair dye), working/grooming Bear, to shop (groceries/clothes/books, etc). In other words, we basically do everything in Albany except live there. So I wasn’t really rushing to say, “OK! Let’s go to Albany!”
But Ted had read something online about a memorial marker at a place called Chehaw Village and was curious to check it out. Its location on New York Road, which we travel all the time, was really what got his attention – and mine too after he told me. Neither of us had noticed any such memorial marker in all the years we’ve been going back and forth on that road – not unusual for me, but my history buff husband is another story. “Let no historical marker go unread!” is one of his mottoes.
Sally and Ed said “yes” when Ted threw in a few more interesting stops + lunch – and by the middle of the morning, we were on our way.
Once in the car and on New York Road, we decided to stop at another spot we were all curious about – a rather large shrine-looking monument built a few years ago in the middle of a large cleared area off the highway. We’d all passed it a million times, but had never stopped because there was a chain across the driveway to the monument. This time we didn’t let something like a little chain stop us!
Curiosity satisfied on that site, we clambered back in the car and drove on.
We almost missed the Chehaw Village sign because it was tucked under beautiful trees filled with smoke-colored moss. A broken-down chain-link fence surrounded the designated area.
The history of the site is extremely sad. In March of 1818, a group of General Andrew Jackson’s weary soldiers had stopped in the Chehaw Indian village at this location while traveling from Tennessee to Florida. The local chief, known as “Major Howard” among the whites, fed and provisioned the men, and subsequently, many Chehaw warriors joined Jackson’s troops to help pursue the Seminole Indians.
A month later Captain Obed Wright of the Georgia militia, on learning of a skirmish between white settlers and two Creek tribes—the Hopaunees and the Philemmees—“immediately sent or went to the Governor and obtained orders” to destroy their towns. Instead of attacking the marauding Hopaunees and Philemmees, however, on April 23 Wright’s men attacked the Chehaw village that was in no way responsible for the reported violence against the settlers. There is no definitive account the massacre, but historians agree that Wright and his 230 militiamen burned the village and viciously murdered innocent men, women, and children.
When Andrew Jackson learned of the attack, he was both shocked and angered and viewed the incident as shamefully disloyal and extremely dangerous, with the potential to turn the friendly Chehaws, who were described as “at a loss to know the cause of this displeasure of the white People,” into enemies. Soon after he received the account of the massacre, Jackson wrote to William Rabun, the then governor of Georgia, calling Wright a “cowardly monster in human shape” and demanding that “Capt. Wright must be prosecuted and punished for this outrageous murder.” Secretary of State John Quincy Adams followed up with another letter to Governor Rabun, telling him that “The President of the United States has directed that Captain Obed Wright should be prosecuted for the murder of friendly Indians.”
Wright was eventually arrested by one of Jackson’s agents but broke parole and escaped to Spanish Florida before he could be tried. Wright was never heard from again, and no one was ever held responsible for the massacre of the Chehaws.
I’ll be back on Friday with Part II of this road trip, which will include a visit to Radium Springs, the Ray Charles memorial on the Flint River, and Chehaw Wild Animal Park. Come on along!