Thursday, November 12, 2015

Visit Cheaha State Park in Alabama!

Check out the brand new video Cheaha State Park courtesy of!

Friday, October 16, 2015

Buried Alive: True story of a woman who came back from the grave.

Here is a bizarre story from Washington County, FL about a woman who was accidentally buried alive only to be exhumed by grave robbers!  She then went on to live 35 more years and have 3 children.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Ghost of Sketoe's Hole (Newton, AL)

Alabama's Ghost of Sketoe's Hole (the "Hole that will not stay filled") is the focus of the latest mini-documentary from Two Egg TV!

Friday, January 9, 2015

Creek chief gives account of the Battle of New Orleans

Fanciful drawing of the capture of the Prophet Francis in 1818
Louisiana is commemorating the 200th anniversary of the Battle of New Orleans this weekend (1/8-1/11), with yesterday marking the bicentennial of Andrew Jackson's stunning victory. 

Over the next couple of days I will share some little known bits of history associated with the battle that I think you might fight to be of interest. Be sure to watch for them on the main page at

While much has been written about the significance of the monumental battle, few historians have done more than note that a delegation of Seminole and Red Stick Creek chiefs and warriors were among those that observed the fighting from behind the British lines.

Lt. Col. Edward Nicolls, Royal Marines
He accompanied the chiefs and warriors at New Orleans.
The Royal Navy had transported the American Indians to New Orleans from the Apalachicola River in Florida, believing that it would impress upon them the might of the King's forces if they could view firsthand the expected destruction of Jackson's army and the capture of the city. Things did not go as anticipated, with the British suffering more than 3,200 casualties compared to only 19 by Jackson's army (yes, that's 19). Please click here to learn more.

Among the Florida chiefs and warriors watching the battle were the Seminole leaders Cappachimico and Hopoi Micco of Miccasukee and the Red Stick Creek prophet, Josiah Francis. Several other chiefs and warriors were also there.  While he never specified which of these individuals spoke with him about the battle, U.S. Agent for Indian Affairs Benjamin Hawkins described a conversation with one of them in a letter to Governor Peter Early of Georgia:

Living history demonstrators Christopher Kimbell (L) and
Lionel Young (R) represent the Prophet Francis and Col.
Bennjamin Hawins at a recent marker unveiling.
An Indian I know a “Red Stick” chief sent me word he was with the British in their battles against Jackson. “They were beaten in every battle by night and by day. Their large Vessels could not come near the land, they sent their troops in barges who were attacked as they were landing, and at night after landing. He saw the decisive battle on the 8th. The Americans had double ditches which were not discovered til they got up to the first, the first who attempted to storm the works were driven back with great loss. A second attempt was made, which met a similar fate, when the Commander in Chief went forward with his best troops, who met with a greater loss, he was killed and the next in command. The ground appeared to him covered with dead wounded and the British had many wounded who retreated in action or were carried off. - Col. Benjamin Hawkins to Gov. Peter Early, February 12, 1815.

The British brought the stunned chiefs and warriors back to the Apalachicola River after the battle. They had witnessed a slaughter even greater than the one Jackson had inflicted on their own countrymen at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend, Alabama.

They remained loyal to the British during the months following the Battle of New Orleans, but with less enthusiasm than before. 

Please click here to learn more about the Battle of New Orleans:

Sunday, January 4, 2015

First U.S. settlement was in Georgia?

St. Augustine, Florida
An array of cities and communities lay claim to being the "first" settlement or "oldest city" in the continental United States.

St. Augustine and Pensacola, both in Florida, engage in a bit of friendly rivalry over which is the nation's oldest city. The first settlement at Pensacola Bay, the remains of which have yet to be found, was planted by Tristan de Luna in 1559. The colony was a disastrous failure and was soon abandoned, with the modern city of Pensacola dating from a second more successful attempt in 1699. St. Augustine, meanwhile, was founded by Pedro Menendez in 1565 and has been there ever since. At 450 years old, the historic old city has been occupied for about 134 years longer than Pensacola.

Fort Caroline
Reconstructed French fort in Jacksonville, FL
Other communities also claim to be the "first." Paris Island, SC, for example, was first settled by France in 1562, the same nation that built Fort Caroline in Jacksonville, FL, two years later.The first English settlement in the United States was Sir Walter Raleigh's Roanoke in North Carolina, but its population disappeared in a mystery that has never been solved.

 Finally there is Jamestown. Established in 1607 it was the first permanent English settlement in the United States. The Pilgrims of Plymouth Rock were latecomers among early settlers, not arriving in Massachusetts until 1620.

The Georgia Coast
While each of these settlements has its own claim to fame and while St. Augustine is without doubt the oldest continuously occupied city in the United States, none of them was the actual first.

There were American Indians here for thousands of years before the arrival of the first European explorers, of course. Others believe that Vikings visited New England or even made it as far inland as Minnesota and Oklahoma!  There is a popular old legend in Alabama and other states that Prince Madoc of Wales explored and planted settlements long before Juan Ponce de Leon discovered the land that would become the United States in 1513.

Savannah River
With due respect to all of these claims and communities, the actual first recorded European/African settlement in the continental United States was in Georgia.

Named San Miguel de Gualdape, the colony was founded by Spanish explorer and slave trader Lucas Vasquez de Ayllon some four decades before either Pensacola or St. Augustine.

Ayllon had heard glowing reports of a wonderful land somewhere northwest of the Bahamas that was ideal for settlement and populated by American Indians of giant stature that would make desirable slaves for the Spanish. He sent an exploring party of two ships to find this land and report back. The scouts sailed north from Great Abaco Island in the Bahamas and reached land on June 24, 1521, at a place they called the Jordan River.

Coxspur Lighthouse with Tybee Island in the distance
No one knows exactly where the Jordan River was located. Some have speculated that it was either the Santee or Waccamaw Rivers in South Carolina, with the latter appearing most likely. The explorers captured 60 Indian slaves and took them back to the Spanish settlements in the Caribbean where they told fantastic stories of a marvelous new land.

Lucas Vazquez de Ayllon signed a contract with the King of Spain in 1523, agreeing to settle this new land. He second a second exploring party out in 1525 as he assembled the people, livestock and materials needed to found a permanent colony.

San Miguel was somewhere in the marshes
and islands of the Georgia coast.
The major expedition assembled by Ayllon consisted of 6 ships, 600 colonists (including women and children), cows, sheep, pigs and around 100 horses. The colonists included African slaves. Owned by Ayllon and other wealthy participants in the venture, they became the first slaves introduced into North America by Europeans.

The ships set sail in mid-July 1526 and reached land on August 9. The flagship Capitana immediately ran aground and went to the bottom, taking with it vital supplies for the success of the colony.

Ayllon was disappointed with the true appearance of the coast, which differed dramatically from the glowing descriptions provided by his exploring parties. Quickly deciding that the Jordan River was not suitable for permanent settlement, the conquistador sent out additional scouting parties to find a better place. Based on the reports of these explorers, he ordered a move south to the coast of what is now Georgia.

Looking downstream toward Sapelo Sound at Darien, Georgia.
There in September 1526, the Spanish established the city of San Miguel de Gualdape. The exact site has not been found but most scholars believe it was either on Sapelo Sound or Tybee Roads.

The situation quickly became desperate. The loss of so many supplies in the sinking of the Capitana doomed the colony and the settlers were stalked by hunger and disease. The local Guale Indians decided they didn't like the Spanish and soon started to attack them. The African slaves joined in, staging uprisings and setting fire to the homes of colonists. Ayllon died of an unknown illness and the town descended into chaos.

Unable to feed themselves or withstand the cold winter, the colonists gave up. They began to evacuate San Miguel in late October and the last of them sailed away in November 1526. The city of San Miguel de Gualdape, the first Spanish settlement in the continental United States, lasted only two months.

The site that caused such difficulty for Ayllon and his colonists is somewhere in the coastal islands and marshes of Georgia. The entire coast is now a major tourist destination that is noted for its historic sites, beautiful vistas and eco-tourism opportunities. Savannah and the islands of the Georgia Coast are widely regarded as one of the most beautiful places in the world.

To read more about some of the locations mentioned in this post, please follow these links: