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Native Americans in our area

Native Americans in our area
By Steven P. Starling

When we pass by the “Welcome to Grayson” signs traveling in and out of town, the phrase “chartered in 1901" is a bit confusing. When I give tours or talks on the history of Grayson our new citizens usually ask, “so there was nothing here before J. P. McConnell founded Grayson?”.

I usually explain that J. P. McConnell bought land and planned the town with other civic leaders in about 1878 to 1880. The first name of oUr town was Trip (Trippe), then Berckley, and finally in 1901 the City if Grayson was chartered. Some area families, still associated with Grayson, settled here even before the 1820 United States Census. Edward Jackson, a Revolutionary War veteran had a large farm near the intersection of Cooper and Rosebud Rd. The Billue and McConnell families arrived in our area about 1836. Still other families and settlers arrived earlier in the 19th century. But, the Native Americans had already been caretakers of these lands and had deep roots in the red mud and white sand.

The many sources, manuscripts, and other older references use the term “Indian”. We now know them to be correctly referred to as “Native Americans”. I felt to keep the integrity of my sources, I think I must use the term “Indian” where it was found and used in my research by the original source. Long before the formation of Gwinnett County in 1818 , an amalgamated society of many different and varied tribes occupied the area.. These tribes spoke many different languages, but most with a common dialect traced back to an older version of “Maskokaki” (muscogee). “Maskokaki” is thought to be from an Algonquin meaning wet lands or rivers. Most of the names that are still used in our region of North Georgia and greater Atlanta thru many years are from this old language. Early traders and most of the first settlers in our part of Georgia referred to most Indians as “creeks”. This was because they lived along the rivers and streams, as the Algonquin word indicates. Most tribes names were not of their language.

They were given by the neighboring tribe or tribes that earlier and later had used the land. By 1818 settlers, trappers, and traders, witnessed the influx of the Cherokees. With this happening, the ground work was lain for future heartbreak. They were forced into North Georgia because the Cherokees had been driven south by fights with the norther Iroquois. Native American names that are of the oldest in our county and greater Atlanta predate Cherokee settlement. Shadrack Bogan moved to the area of Hog Mountain in 1816 and left by 1835. He settled a trading post where Indian trails met from all directions. Family tradition was finally recorded in print in Gwinnett Historical Societies, Gwinnett County, Georgia Families 1818-1968, edited by Alice Smythe McCabe. It was confirmed by Margaret Bogan Bay and Carolyn Pirkle.

I heard this story many times in my youth. Bogan and Gilmore were buyers of and traders in furs. Mr Gilmore was “open hand”to Indians and Mr.Bogan was “santalanks”, which meant trader in the local Indian language. Bogan traded whiskey for furs One day fur trading was very brisk. The Indians returned and returned with fur many times. They traded with Bogan until he was out of whiskey. Investigating the fur inventory for the day, there were only 3 furs. A hole was cut in the wall, a tell tale sign he had been buying the same furs over and over. Many sources were used as well as information from citizens no longer with us. A credit to all who helped. They will be listed when article is continued in the June edition.