Survey of Historic Sites and Buildings
Though this National Monument is noted chiefly for its prehistoric Indian remains, it also has close associations with the phases of history treated in this volume. An English trading post was established at this site about 1690. Soon thereafter a number of the important Creek Indian towns on the Chattahoochee River, no longer free to trade with the English because of Spanish interference, moved into the general vicinity of the English post. The people of one of these towns, Ocmulgee, settled adjacent to the post.
Archeological excavation has shown that the post consisted of several log buildings surrounded by a stockade of upright logs. The stockade had five sides. Access through the longest of these, 140 feet in length, was provided by two gates. Two of the other sides were 100 feet in length; and two, 50 feet.
The remains of a wide trail have also been found. This trail, which ran parallel to the longest wall of the stockade and extended some distance on either side of the post, was a section of the Lower Creek trading path. Crossing the present State of Georgia, the path ran along the fall line from Augusta to Columbus and was the main route followed by the English traders. It likely was used by Henry Woodward, who in 1685 opened the trade with the Creeks on the Chattahoochee, and by a Colonel Welch, who in 1698 initiated trade with the Chickasaw of northern Mississippi.
Both the trading path and the post at Ocmulgee played an important part in the expansion of English trade and in the struggle between the Spanish and the English for control of the Southeast. The combined English and Creek force that in 1702 destroyed Santa Fe, a Spanish mission in north-central Florida, probably set out from Ocmulgee, as did possibly the English and Creek war party that later in the year defeated the Spanish and Apalachee force on the Flint River.
Col. James Moore's army of 50 Carolinians and 1,000 Creeks, which in 1704 destroyed 5 of the Spanish missions in the province of Apalachee and captured more than 1,000 Apalachee Indians, formed at Ocmulgee. The Creek war parties that destroyed two more Apalachee missions in June of that year were also likely from Ocmulgee. These campaigns forced the Spanish to abandon the province, which had supplied foodstuffs for both St. Augustine and Havana and served as a base for Spanish efforts to win over the Creeks.
The Ocmulgee trading post continued in existence until the Yamassee War (1715-17), when the Creeks, under "Emperor" Brim, killed off the traders scattered throughout their territory and attacked outlying settlements. They undoubtedly murdered the traders at Ocmulgee and destroyed the trading post. At the end of the war, the Creeks, fearing reprisal by the Carolinians, moved their towns back to the Chattahoochee River.
Ocmulgee National Monument preserves the remains of an unusual concentration of Indian villages. Excavation has indicated that the site was occupied by six successive Indian cultures, beginning about 8,000 B.C. and ending with the Creeks in A.D. 1717. Artifacts representative of all these cultures are displayed in the park's visitor center, which houses the largest archeological museum in the South. One earth lodge has been restored to appear as it did a thousand years ago, when the Indians used it and the seven mounds at the park for religious ceremonies. The outline of the trading post stockade is marked by horizontal logs.
Last Updated: 22-Mar-2005