For more important legends localized in Georgia see the stories Yahula, The
Nûñnĕhĭ, The Ustû′tlĭ, Âgan-uni′tsĭ’s Search for the Uktena, and The Man who
Married the Thunder’s Sister. White’s Historical Collections of Georgia is
responsible for a number of pseudo-myths.
C HOPPED OAK : A noted tree, scarred with hundreds of hatchet marks, formerly in
Habersham county, 6 miles east of Clarkesville, on the summit of Chattahoochee
ridge, and on the north side of the road from Clarkesville to Toccoa creek. The
Cherokee name is Digălu′yătûñ′yĭ, “Where it is gashed with hatchets.” It was a
favorite assembly place for the Indians, as well as for the early settlers,
according to whom the gashes were tally marks means of which the Indians
kept the record of scalps taken in their forays. The tradition is thus given
White (Historical Collections of Georgia, p. 489, 1855) on some earlier
Among the curiosities of this country was the Chopped Oak, a tree famous in Indian
history and in the traditions of the early settlers. This tree stood about 6 miles
southeast of Clarkesville, and was noted as being the Law Ground, or place ofsoutheast of Clarkesville, and was noted as being the Law Ground, or place of
holding company musters and magistrates’ courts. According to tradition, the
Chopped Oak was a celebrated rendezvous of the Indians in their predatory
excursions, it being at a joint where a number of trails met. Here their plans of
warfare were laid; here the several parties separated; and here, on their return, they
awaited each other; and then, in their brief language, the result of their enterprise was
stated, and for every scalp taken a gash cut in the tree. If tradition tells the truth, and
every scar on the blasted oak counts for a scalp, the success of their scouting parties
must have been great. This tree was alive a few years since when a young man,
possessing all the prejudices of his countrymen, and caring less for the traditions of
the Indians than his own revenge, killed the tree girdling it, that it might be no
longer a living monument of the cruelties of the savages. The stump is still standing.
D EAD M AN ’ S GAP : One mile below Tallulah falls, on the west side of the railroad,
in Habersham county. So called from a former reputed Indian grave, now almost
obliterated. According to the story, it was the grave of an Indian who was killed
here while eloping with a white woman, whom he had stolen from her husband.
F ROGTOWN : A creek at the head of Chestatee river, north of Dahlonega, in
Lumpkin county. The Cherokee name is Walâsi′yĭ, “Frog place.” The name was
originally applied to a mountain to the northeast (Rock mountain?), from a
tradition that a hunter had once seen there a frog as large as a house. The Indian
settlement along the creek bore the same name.
H IWASSEE : A river having its source in Towns county, of northern Georgia, and
flowing northwestward to join the Tennessee. The correct Cherokee form,
applied to two former settlements on the stream, is Ayuhwa′sĭ (meaning “A
savanna”). Although there is no especial Cherokee story connected with the
name, White (Historical Collections of Georgia, p. 660) makes it the subject of a
long pseudo-myth, in which Hiwassee, rendered “The Pretty Fawn,” is the
beautiful daughter of a Catawba chief, and is wooed, and at last won, a young
Cherokee warrior named Notley, “The Daring Horseman,” who finally becomes
the head chief of the Cherokee and succeeds in making perpetual peace between
the two tribes. The story sounds very pretty, but is a pure invention.
N ACOOCHEE : A village on the site of a former Cherokee settlement, in a beautiful
and fertile valley of the same name at the head of Chattahoochee river, in White
county. The Cherokee form is Naguʻtsĭ′, but the word has no meaning in that
language and seems to be of foreign, perhaps Creek, origin. About 2 miles above
the village, on the east bank of the river, is a large mound. White (HistoricalCollections of Georgia, p. 486) quotes a fictitious legend, according to which
Nacoochee, “The Evening Star,” was a beautiful Indian princess, who
unfortunately fell in love with a chieftain of a hostile tribe and was killed,
together with her lover, while fleeing from the vengeance of an angry father. The
two were buried in the same grave and the mound was raised over the spot. The
only grain of truth in the story is that the name has a slight resemblance to
năkwĭsĭ′, the Cherokee word for “star.”
N OTTELY : A river rising in Union county and flowing northwestward into
Hiwassee. The Cherokee form is Na′dûʻlĭ′, applied to a former settlement on the
west side of the river, in Cherokee county, North Carolina, about a mile from the
Georgia line. Although suggestive of naʻtûʻlĭ, “spicewood,” it is a different word
and has no meaning in the Cherokee language, being apparently of foreign,
perhaps Creek, origin. For a pseudo-myth connected with the name, see the
preceding note on Hiwassee.
T ALKING R OCK : A creek in upper Georgia flowing northward to join Coosawatee
river. The Indian settlements upon it were considered as belonging to
Sanderstown, on the lower part of the creek, the townhouse being located about
a mile above the present Talking Rock station on the west side of the railroad.
The name is a translation of the Cherokee Nûñyû′-gûñwani′skĭ, “Rock that
talks,” and refers, according to one informant, to an echo rock somewhere upon
the stream below the present railroad station. An old-time trader among the
Cherokee in Georgia says that the name was applied to a rock at which the
Indians formerly held their councils, but the etymology of the word is against
this derivation.
T ALLULAH : A river in Rabun county, northeastern Georgia, which flows into the
Tugaloo, and has a beautiful fall about 2 miles above its mouth. The Cherokee
form is Tălulŭ′ (Tărurĭ′ in the lower Cherokee dialect), the name of an ancient
settlement some distance above the falls, as also of a creek and district at the
head of Cheowa river, in Graham county, North Carolina. The name can not be
translated. A magazine writer has rendered it “The Terrible,” for which there is
no authority. Schoolcraft, on the authority of a Cherokee lady, renders it “There
lies your child,” derived from a story of a child having been carried over the
falls. The name, however, was not applied to the falls, but to a district on the
stream above, as well as to another in North Carolina. The error arises from the
fact that a word of somewhat similar sound denotes “having children” or “beingpregnant,” used in speaking of a woman. One informant derives it from tălulŭ′,
the cry of a certain species of frog known as dulusĭ, which is found in that
neighborhood, but not upon the reservation, and which was formerly eaten as
food. A possible derivation is from a′tălulû′, “unfinished, premature,
unsuccessful.” The fall was called Ugûñ′yĭ, a name of which the meaning is lost,
and which was applied also to a locality on Little Tennessee river near Franklin,
North Carolina. For a myth localized at Tallulah falls, see number 84, “The Man
who Married the Thunder’s Sister.”
In this connection Lanman gives the following story, which, notwithstanding its
white man’s dress, appears to be based upon a genuine Cherokee tradition of the
During my stay at the Falls of Tallulah I made every effort to obtain an Indian legend
or two connected with them, and it was my good fortune to hear one which has never
yet been printed. It was originally obtained the white man who first discovered the
falls from the Cherokees, who lived in the region at the time. It is in substance as
follows: Many generations ago it so happened that several famous hunters, who had
wandered from the West toward what is now the Savannah river, in search of game,
never returned to their camping grounds. In process of time the curiosity as well as
the fears of the nation were excited, and an effort was made to ascertain the cause of
their singular disappearance, whereupon a party of medicine men were deputed to
make a pilgrimage toward the great river. They were absent a whole moon, and, on
returning to their friends, they reported that they had discovered a dreadful fissure in
an unknown part of the country, through which a mountain torrent took its way with a
deafening noise. They said that it was an exceedingly wild place, and that its
inhabitants were a species of little men and women, who dwelt in the crevices of the
rocks and in grottoes under the waterfalls. They had attempted every artifice in
their power to hold a council with the little people, but all in vain; and, from the
shrieks they frequently uttered, the medicine men knew that they were the enemies of
the Indian race, and, therefore, it was concluded in the nation at large that the long-
lost hunters had been decoyed to their death in the dreadful gorge, which they called
Tallulah. In view of this little legend, it is worthy of remark that the Cherokee nation,
previous to their departure for the distant West, always avoided the Falls of Tallulah,
and were seldom found hunting or fishing in their vicinity. 34
T OCCOA : (1) A creek flowing into Tugaloo river, in Habersham county, with a
fall upon its upper course, near the village of the same name. (2) A river in upper
Georgia, flowing northwestward into Hiwassee. The correct Cherokee form
applied to the former settlement on both streams is Tagwâ′hĭ, “Catawba place,”
implying the former presence of Indians of that tribe. The lands about Toccoafalls were sold the Cherokee in 1783 and were owned at one time
Wafford’s grandfather. According to Wafford, there was a tradition that when
the whites first visited the place they saw, as they thought, an Indian woman
walking beneath the surface of the water under the falls, and on looking again a
moment after they saw her sitting upon an overhanging rock 200 feet in the air,
with her feet dangling over. Said Wafford, “She must have been one of the
T RACK R OCK GAP : A gap about 5 miles east of Blairsville, in Union county, on the
ridge separating Brasstown creek from the waters of Nottely river. The
micaceous soapstone rocks on both sides of the trail are covered with
petroglyphs, from which the gap takes its name. The Cherokee call the place
Datsu′nalâsgûñ′yĭ, “Where there are tracks,” or Degayelûñ′hă, “Printed
(Branded) place.” The carvings are of many and various patterns, some of them
resembling human or animal footprints, while others are squares, crosses, circles,
“bird tracks,” etc., disposed without any apparent order. On the authority of a
Doctor Stevenson, writing in 1834, White (Historical Collections of Georgia, p.
658, 1855), and after him Jones (Antiquities of the Southern Indians, 1873), give
a misleading and greatly exaggerated account of these carvings, without having
taken the trouble to investigate for themselves, although the spot is easily
accessible. No effort, either state or local, is made to preserve the pictographs
from destruction, and many of the finest have been cut out from the rock and
carried off vandals, Stevenson himself being among the number, his own
confession. The illustration (plate XX) is from a rough sketch made the
author in 1890.


Bureau of American Ethnology nineteenth annual report Plate XX.


(From sketches the author, 1889. Portions cut out vandals are indicated lighter shading)

The Cherokee have various theories to account for the origin of the carvings, the
more sensible Indians saying that they were made hunters for their ownamusement while resting in the gap. Another tradition is that they were made
while the surface of the newly created earth was still soft a great army of
birds and animals fleeing through the gap to escape some pursuing danger from
the west—some say a great “drive hunt” of the Indians. Haywood confounds
them with other petroglyphs in North Carolina connected with the story of the
giant Tsulʻkălû′ (see number 81).
The following florid account of the carvings and ostensible Indian tradition of
their origin is from White, on the authority of Stevenson:
The number visible or defined is 136, some of them quite natural and perfect, and
others rather rude imitations, and most of them from the effects of time have become
more or less obliterated. They comprise human feet from those 4 inches in length to
those of great warriors which measure 171⁄2 inches in length and 73⁄4 in breadth across
the toes. What is a little curious, all the human feet are natural except this, which has
6 toes, proving him to have been a descendant of Titan. There are 26 of these
impressions, all bare except one, which has the appearance of having worn
moccasins. A fine turned hand, rather delicate, occupied a place near the great
warrior, and probably the impression of his wife’s hand, who no doubt accompanied
her husband in all his excursions, sharing his toils and soothing his cares away. Many
horse tracks are to be seen. One seems to have been shod, some are very small, and
one measures 121⁄2 inches 91⁄2 inches. This the Cherokee say was the footprint of
the great war horse which their chieftain rode. The tracks of a great many turkeys,
turtles, terrapins, a large bear’s paw, a snake’s trail, and the footprints of two deer are
to be seen. The tradition respecting these impressions varies. One asserts that the
world was once deluged with water, and men with all animated beings were
destroyed, except one family, together with various animals necessary to replenish
the earth; that the Great Spirit before the floods came commanded them to embark in
a big canoe, which after long sailing was drawn to this spot a bevy of swans and
rested there, and here the whole troop of animals was disembarked, leaving the
impressions as they passed over the rock, which being softened reason of long
submersion kindly received and preserved them.
W AR W OMAN ’ S CREEK : Enters Chattooga river in Rabun county, northeastern
Georgia, in the heart of the old Lower Cherokee country. The name seems to be
of Indian origin, although the Cherokee name is lost and the story has perished.
A writer quoted White (Historical Collections of Georgia, p. 444) attempts to
show its origin from the exploit of a certain Revolutionary amazon, in capturing
a party of Tories, but the name occurs in Adair (note, p. 185) as early as 1775.
There is some reason for believing that it refers to a former female dignitary
among the Cherokee, described Haywood under the title of the “Pretty
Woman” as having authority to decide the fate of prisoners of war. Wafford once knew an old woman whose name was Daʻnă-gâ′stă, an abbreviated form for
Daʻnăwă-gâsta′yă, “Sharp war,” understood to mean “Sharp (i. e., Fierce)
warrior.” Several cases of women acting the part of warriors are on record
among the Cherokee.