Saturday, January 3, 2009

Who Built the Wall of Rock on Top of Stone Mountain?

As I blog about different historical and strange mysteries around Georgia, my readers send me emails full of information and materials about things they have heard over the years. Not too long ago, a local historian here in McDonough that I have befriended sent me an email with an attachment in it that included a news article from a Henry County newspaper that went out of business in 2002. The article was about a strange ring of rocks that once sat atop Stone Mountain.

Apparently, noone knows how the ring of rocks got there, and even Native American guides for white travelers in the early 1800s were unable to explain how the rocks got there. According to the article, the rocks were about four feet high, and at the base of one was a small gap that only person at a time could fit through.

It was speculated that the ring of large rocks could have been put there by Native Americans long ago, although an Indian guide for the Rev. Francis R. Goulding, a visitor to the area in 1822, commented that these rocks had been there since his people first came to the area and that men and women in his tribe knew no more about the rocks than whites did. The Indian guide speculated that it could have been used as a fort by some ancient tribe. However, other writers through the ages have disagreed with this assessment. It was pointed out by one person interviewed that the top of Stone Mountain would have been the worst place one could locate a fort since there was no water or access to food. Those that disagreed with the fort theory assume the ring of large rocks were used as a religious or ceremonial site. In 1951, one writer asserted that the ring was reminiscent of places Druids built for worship in Great Britain.

In 1830, The Macon Telegraph writers hypothesized that the ring of rocks could have been built by the Spanish as they explored the area under Hernando de Soto. Others disagree saying that the Spanish came through Georgia looking for gold, not building forts in the interiors of Georgia. Indeed there were Spanish missions and fortifications built in Georgia, but these were placed on the barrier islands, and by the early 1700s, they were gone and the Spanish no longer had much of a presence in Georgia. The Spanish would return to Georgia and aggressively pursue it once the English arrived under Oglethorpe and posed a direct threat to Spanish dominance in the region.

The article closes by saying that the rock wall was completely destroyed by sculptor Gutzon Borglum in 1923. I have been on top of Stone Mountain a few times in the last ten years, and I cannot remember any remnants of a wall visible at all. Borglum did a thorough job removing it. But what he did not remove was the questions of what the rock wall was and who put it there. Was it used as a fort, or was it a religious site? Could this have been Georgia's Native American version of Stonehenge?


Brandie said...

Hi, this is a very interesting story, but why did Gutzon Borglum take it down?

I was als reading you blog about the train wreck in McDonough, my friends and I are highly interested in haunted and unexplained things. two of us actually live in haunted houses and all of us have had experiences in each house.

Recently we heard about the train wreck story and went to the bridge. It was amazing, I was wondering if you ever went there, also if you know how to get under the bridge.

Because you seem to be interested in the things we are and you already know so much about the history of Georgia, do you know any places you could recommend or even give us a tour of, or know where we need to go to get permission to go to different places.

Thank you,

The Professor said...

I am not sure why Borglum removed it. Perhaps it caused some interference with his work on the large carving that is there now. I have never seen an explanation for it.

The train track is a very interesting place. I live nearby and I have been there a few times. The path directly to the creek is through the gate near the cell phone tower. You have to follow that path down to the river, but be very careful because it is near some woods.

I would recommend the McDonough Haunted History Tour that is given by the owner of Bell, Book, and Candle in McDonough and another local guy. They give it every other Saturday right now, and the next one is scheduled for Saturday, February 21st. This Saturday, the 14th, we are actually doing an historical tour of the McDonough Memorial Cemetery, which also highlights some of the people on the tour. It will be on the Saturdays where there is no Haunted History Tour. Both tours cost $10.00 each. The haunted history tour lasts about two hours and covers a good bit of downtown McDonough. They go to the Dickson House, The Season's Bistro, inside Clay Plaza, the front of the Hazlehurst House, and in Bell, Book, and Candle where som interesting things have happened. There are other places covered as well.

I would be glad to offer any help I could. There are some neat places in the area and let me know if you would like me to help you find them.

Wren said...

It sounds like something the Ani-Kutani (Cherokee-Ah-ni-yv-wi-ya pronounced "Ah-nee-koo-tah-nee" would have done. They were an ancient priesthood connected to the Cherokee (not related mind you) but for some reason for a time protected by the Cherokee's.

They predate the Cherokee's and the Creeks and are being investigated now by archeologist. The Cherokee wiped them out prior to De soto coming to the New world, fore their lusting of material goods and the fact they held to a belief on marriage they had the right to take the new wife and sample her first.

This sat not well at all with the Cherokee and after so long of being kept in fear of their supposed closeness with the spirit realm and God, in one fell swoop the Cherokee's removed all traces of them.

It is believed that is why New Etowah was abandoned as hastily as it was and never again returned to.

As I said until archeologist find out more all we can do it speculate, but I can just about guarantee you this was one of many of the Ani-Kutani's sacred places of prayer and worship.

Sorry to go all know it all, but is a subject I have been heavily studying and the structure bears all the markings of one of their sacred places.

scooter said...

interesting article on Stone Mountain prof! I just wen there this past weekend and it was pretty much closed down.

A web search yeilded the following, possibly explaining that Woodland Indians built the wall:

"Atop the lofty peak prehistoric Woodland Indians (Additional information:Woodland Indians) built a rock wall, encircling the top of the mountain. It was similar to the wall of rock on Georgia's Fort Mountain State Park. By the time work started on the Confederate Memorial, the rocks comprising the wall were gone, taken by visitors who climbed the mile-long path to the top. Woodland Indians also inhabited villages at the base of the mountain. Two Moundbuilder villages have been found near the base of the mountain."


Here's the link:

scooter said...

"But what he did not remove was the questions of what the rock wall was and who put it there. Was it used as a fort, or was it a religious site? Could this have been Georgia's Native American version of Stonehenge?"

Maybe the info I cited could help explain the quesitons on whether or not the wall served as a fort as well?

If in fact the Woodland Indians lived at the base of SM....

"Woodland Indians also inhabited villages at the base of the mountain. Two Moundbuilder villages have been found near the base of the mountain."

then maybe they lived or existed at the bottom and used the top as a lookout and place to retreat when danger approached?

Just a SWAG on my part, or as my friend likes to state, an assumption. :)


Wren said...

Woodland and Mound builder Indian's were not a tribe or clan but a stage in Indian development.

Both preceded the Archaic period of Indians. The Archeologist give you reference names for the time not the tribe and or clans.

In Georgia at that time the only two tribes or clans in the area were Creek and Cherokee. Both held Mound Builder traits and Woodland traits as they were both coming out of the Archaic period and become less nomadic and more settled.

As I have said, the Cherokee gave actual names to those that built the mounds and why they were built. They were for religious reasons, they brought the clans together from all along the east coast and more inland to one central location.

The Ani-Kutani predated both the Creek and the Cherokee, were highly religious. They would build of stone small temples in which one by one they would go into and pray till an answer was received. These places where always built on the highest location they could find, so they could be closer to the Great Spirit.

As I said archeologist are still uncovering new discoveries on them as they were wiped out in one fell swoop leaving hardly anything behind to tell their story.

Needless to say they lived at the peek of the Woodland and Mound Builder period and had a name. They were not just a period but a people and human.

scooter said...

so when the writer said Woodland, that's just a typology basically? Not tribal as you said? Creek and Cherokee are the only tribes known to have been in GA? Good info, I didn't know that. What about pre-historic? Is there much known there?

Since you seem studied on Indian heritage, when did the concept of tribes come into being? Do you put any stock in the sorta revisionist historian account on the American Indian migrating from Asia?

TIA for the info.


scooter said...

One other question Wren.

These Ani-Kutani you similar are they to the other American Indian peoples in Central and South America? Did they exist in the same eras? The way you describe then they sound similar to Mayans and the like.


Wren said...

Cherokee History


Should have known you would respond to me, and should have known you would start off snide.

First off I am Cherokee, if you would like I can lay out my genealogical Cherokee lineage so you can see for yourself and not have to take my word.

I do not study something that from birth is known about my people.

The area in and around Stone Mountain was settled and lived in by Creeks and Cherokee's. Nowhere did I say Georgia was only inhabited by those two.

The Yamasee and Guale Indians, were coastal living tribes. They never traveled far from the coast inland, they lived along the lower southern coastline of Georgia.

Then there was the boarder between Georgia and Florida Timucua Indians and Apalachee Indians. Of course they spilled over from Florida and into Georgia and stopped trying to go further when they encountered the Hitchiti, Oconee and Miccosukee Indians.

These tribes inhabited the lower to middle area of Georgia. After that you had the Creek and Cherokee, these two had a line they did not cross that was the end of one's area and the beginning of the other's. They both lived in and around Stone Mountain.

All the other tribes did not. This is not theory or assumption but fact. I am not trying to trump you, one up you, what have you. I had stated before in this thread (before you came along mind you) that the most likely tribe or clan was the Ani-Kutani.

Mound builders were named this because at the time not much was known about them. You will find Moundbuilder "Indians" all over North America and Canada during the same time as the "Mound Builders" of Georgia.

Unless this tribe/clan was the largest in known Native American Indians (and Canada) history at one time they were simply named and lumped into a group for what they left behind in their wake, large and small mounds of rock formations that gave no reasons or whys for being.

Woodland Indians, who were thrived during the "Woodland era" were so called because they lived nomadic, off small animals from the woods, used wooden tools and weapons and had as yet to settle.

Your Woodland Indians were the Hitchiti and Miccosukee and so forth and even Creek and Cherokee.

As each clan settled their language settled and took root with their location. While they remained nomadic though archeologist tend not to give them clan/tribe names as they do period names.

Cherokee's for instance are the only tribe that bear any markings of South American Indians. In their basket making and other means of skinning and tool making.

The theory that all natives crossed the Bering Strait is across the board a iffy subject.

Going by tools crafted in the America's that date back further than those found in Europe to Asia, it is said by some that the Natives of North America found the Bering Striat and went over to Asia to settle there.

Some tribes of the southern regions of the Americas are and were known for being oceanic traveling. Like the Creeks and Cherokees.

So depending on which side of the scientific spectrum you want to stand on, one can say the Native Indians crossed the Bering Straits into America, or they were already here crossing from South America up and then over the Bering Strait.

As for pre-historic Indians, they had names as much as Indians of today, some of their names have been lost over time or adopted into the tribes/clans of today.

In Georgia and Alabama archeologist are being hindered by developers who want to plow through prehistoric remains of Native Indian grounds. We did not just spring up out of nowhere one day with bow and arrow and start hunting.

As I have said the Inca's and Mayans moved well into the Americas as far as the Grand Canyon area.

The weaker of the tribes/clans in Georgia mainly got taken in or over by the stronger tribes till all that mainly ruled in Georgia near the end when the White man came was Creek and Cherokee and then those tribes that fled to Georgia. Those being Shawnee and the Yuchi.

Now the Ani-Kutani were a highly religious clan and were suppose to be an ancient priesthood lets say among the Cherokees. Some are supposed to have survived the massacre and to this day there is a secret society of Ani-Kutani that still carry on the old ways.

The Ani-Kutani were known for living in rock enclosures high above the people. But their down fall was their lust for possessions and then people. Namely claiming rights to bed a husbands wife before he did (sound like something that went on in another country by white men?). This in the end was their down fall and made the mere mention of their name punishable.

The fact that they are ancient and the ways they worshiped and built their mounds akin to the Mayan’s and Inca’s does suggest that yes they and the Cherokee come from South America and not the Bering Straits as most would have people believe. They did not make human sacrifices, they went on spirit journeys on their stone temples that where built for only one person to enter at a time. It was basically a small stone sweat lodge then.

Again I am not doing all this to come across a know it all, I am simply telling you what is well known among the Creek’s, Cherokee’s, Hitchiti, Timucua, Apalachee, Oconee, Miccosukee and other Georgia dwelling tribes/clans. Being born a Cherokee having lived on a reservation one learns first their heritage and history, even if it is in the confines of one’s home where the White man cannot stop or change the story.

Nothing I have said is false or wrong. It is merely things at the time the archeologist either were not aware of. Or by choice wanted to keep the people of that time as distant as possible, so they could not form an attachment and then have to see a bigger picture. Native American Indians have always been seen and treated as the “heathen race” why change that now?

scooter said...

LOL Wren,

I have to defend myself just a little. I really was not being snide at all. You need to not take me personally or defensively. I asked the questions because I really wanted to know and I knew from your ost earlier that you had done much more study on the subject than I. I really didn't know that being a woodland Indian meant that was a type or living style until you said so. I was hoping you'd elaborate and you did. Thanks.
Like I said earlier, I just finished my degree. That doesn't make me special in any way really, but one thing I learned in school was to be sure to ask questions; since there are no stupid questions really and asking is one very good way to learn.

For instance what you said about women being slept with by men in power is true, even in Mesopotamian history. I read the Epic of Gilgamesh and that is one of things that caused Gilgameshes' people to resent him as a ruler. So the fact you mentioned it is interesting.

I also had never thought of the Bering Strait in reverse and that is a very interesting concept....that is that the peoples of Asia could actually be descendants of native Americans.

I didn't accuse you of falsehoods BTW.

I know you won't want to hear this but my great grandmother was also Cherokee :D , but I don't really know much about her.

Thanks again for the info!


Wren said...


You I do not take personal. But my heritage I do for the reason no matter how much proof is laid out, we are still not seen as humans with our own history before the Europeans came along and made it up for us.

Archeologist theorizes on how my ancestors lived, they have never taken time to ask us. We do have people in each tribe/clan that it is incumbent on to remember the past verbatim and pass them along to each new generation. The very people that are being looked into and dug up and still live are the very people that are being muted because they are seen as a lesser species of man, like African Americans once were.

Do you know that up till the early 70’s books were being published showing parental animals and in the picture books it shows a mother and baby Native Indian? Do you know how dehumanizing that is to Native Americans? To be classed as animals? I do, I have been on the receiving end of many of White man’s snide remarks on what I “claim” to know (insert rolling eyes and tongue in check, while the lady speaks her babble and myths).

So that is where I am defensive Scooter, not for myself but for a whole race of people that to this day are still seen as a lesser group. Who’s thoughts and knowledge of where and how they came about are discredited because they are not Christian, not White and lived in this country long before without the help or need of the White man or his religion.

I could care less what someone thinks about me, really. I do not like anyone who makes assumptions, for it shows a lack of thinking or ability to think on their own. I have no time for people who cannot think on their own and just makes an assumption because it is easier than taking a few moments to ask questions to get to the truth.

As for this subject I will always be glad to talk to people even those that will call me a heathen nigger for the blood that rolls through my veins (by the way that is the nickname given Native Indians, nice huh?) This is one area that because of birth is my starting point and arena. I do not beat my chest in triumph like someone who has found all the answers. I only tell what I know that is the truth and what has yet to be found out of the truth.

You should look into your great-grandmother and find the link and clan she was with. You would be surprised at what you would find the truths your ancestors suffered to give you freedoms you have now.

I am sure you never knew that the Cherokee had what the White man call an “Ark” where all our most sacred and holy artifacts were kept. This was lost some 200 years prior to de Soto landing. It was carried on two long poles always accompanied by two medicine men and the finest warriors (both male and female) from all seven clans.

There are many things the clans have just let the White man assume seeing as he will not take the truth for what it is from the Native Indians. You can lead an idiot to a hill of books but you cannot make them read after all. White men have never wanted to know the real truth behind our race, if they knew the truth it would blow apart their ideals and views and maybe foundations of the world and maybe even their religion.

Whatever the reasons Native American Indians are a very old race of man, they have inhabited this land longer than prior thought. They have lived with animals (prehistoric) and over come them to survive into a stronger people and still they maintained their connection with all around them and never once imposed that on another tribe/clan. They at least had that much respect, and that is one of the first and foremost-taught rules and beliefs among all tribes/clans “respect”.

So anytime you want to talk about this I do not mind, but this is something I know a lot about and am very versed in.

You are Welcome


scooter said...

Hi Wren!

Sorry that native Americans have been treated so poorly. I agree that they were but can't totally relate to someone's feelings that has been through it. That doesn't mean I can't try to be empathetic.

There's not much I could do as an individual to ease your pain on the issue, but you should know - if you don't already - that modern history has been revised a great deal; and I mean within the past 30years or so. I can remember as a young boy being taught European perspective history in the schools, but once I took history in college, things had changed and a more 'corporate' view of history is now being taught. Of course this doesn't change the past and I'm not sure that much can be done to change it other than teaching new people to be tolerant and to try to view things from other's perspectives.

I do admit it is easy to denegrate others in our daily walks. Often when people don't understand something about a group, they socially reject it in an inhumane way. I'm sure that's certainly been the case with Native Americans and the injustice they've endured.

That's really interesting what you cited about the Cherokee's owning an 'ark' in which relics were kept. It seems that many peoples did that very same thing.

I'm not being disrespectful to you or your people, but I have to say that in the end, we (all people) come from the same gene pool and we will all share responsibility for how we've behaved. I truly believe that and speak to that because one of my concerns as a human is the amount of violence we practice on one another. Europeans and Americans are experts of violence, but even the native Americans weren't immune from it. Maybe it's a subject better left for another post or time, but I thought of it when I read the Prof's post on the disputes between the Cherokee and Creek or the fact that the Ani-Kutani were wiped out.
I'm actually considering furthering my education in the area of non-violence or the prevention of violence and am one person who feels that mankind had better get its act together.

Sorry for the soapbox, I'll put it away. :)


jamesrtweedell said...

I worked at the park in 1984, I was the last person to run the grist mill there.That mountain has a powerful energy as strong as any in Sedona, Arizona. Roy Faulkner used to visit me at the mill. He wanted to open a museum in the park, but epected to open on Memorial Drive. The place did not last long.

jamesrtweedell said...

I was the last person to run the grist mill at Stone Mountain in 1984. It was quite an experience to say the least. Stone mountian is a mystical place. I beleive it has an energy as powerful as any in Sedona, Arizona.People used to roll the rocks off the mountin and eventually the remaining wall was removed. The devils crossroads rock was destroyed as well. That is a real shame this was done.