A SHORT HISTORY OF FORT YARGO
(A lot of the information is from "Beadland to Barrow" by C. Fred Ingram,
who was the founder of the Barrow
County museum. His source text was "The early history of Jackson County" as
well as personal accounts of people in the area.)
Built around 1792 Ft Yargo has been a part of Winder history for over 200 years and still is a working part of the town. In its day it has been a place of legends, of protection, a home , and even a rental until around 1945 or so. Today it is a place to learn of the people who lived here after the Creek and Cherokees were removed.
Before this area was known as Winder, even before it was known as Beadland, it was the home of either the Creeks or the Cherokees depending on the fortunes of war. Located near what is now Athens and Church Streets was the Creek village known as Snodon. A Creek named Umausauga claimed an area south of Tishmagu now called Mulberry river and let no one pass without his permission. His home was located about 200 yards from Talasee Shoals.
In 1786 there arrived tree white men, Abednego Moore, Richard Easley and Josiah Strong from Effingham County. They set camp north of Mulberry river in hopes of making friends with the Indians for trade. With them they brought trade goods such as beads and cloth.
A few days went by before the whites saw Umausauga. Umausauga avoided the whites until one day while he was fishing with his hands and had caught several fish, Josiah speaking the creek language waded out and gave Umausauga some fish hooks so he could fish in deeper water. He thanked him in English. So started a long lasting friendship.
After the gift of some red cloth Umausauga offered to let the white men move over to his land on the south side of the river and they offered to buy some of his land. Umausauga led them to Calamit (place of rest) now called Statham on the farm of the late John Austin. Close to the crossing of the Monroe and Jefferson Rd. and Hog Mountain Rd. then the old Okoloco Trail. This is where the Creeks made treaties and confirmed trades with the Calumet peace pipe. Etohautee, an old man and Tata were to witness the trade. The old man to make sure it was done right and the boy to tell future generations. The witnesses were paid several yards of cloth and the boy was also given a Barlow knife. So for fourteen pounds of beads the white men received twelve and one half square miles of land they called Beadland.
The day after the trade nine friends and family joined the three men. They brought four horses, two wagons, four head of cattle, four sheep, six pigs, ten new rifles with powder and shot and tools. The new colony now had eight men and four women, six of whom had fought in the Revolution.
In 1792 the Humphrey brothers built four forts for protection from Indians, Ft. Strong at Talassee, Ft. Thomocoggan at Jefferson, Ft. Groaning rock at Commerce, and Ft. Yargo at Beadland.
They stayed at Talasee Colony until 1793 till they felt strong enough to settle in Snodon, it being some what isolated and hard to protect. At the request of Umausauga and Etohautee three white families moved to Snodon in 1793. The Drapers, the Scupeens and the Jacksons, ten or twelve families already lived in Beadland a half mile away. In 1794 the long awaited company of 127 men, women and children arrived at Talasee. Twenty-seven went to Beadland. Snodon and Ft. Yargo could now muster a fighting force of 98 men and half that many dead shot women.
In 1794 parties of Indians were traveling through the settlements. It was learned that this was part of a plot to kidnap Helen Draper, but the plot was foiled.
A brother of a murdered Bohuron chief set war parties to avenge his death. Notha and Tata Neva learned of the plans and went to Snodon/ Ft. Yargo with warning. Umausauga brought to the defense 21 of the whites' Indian friends. Josiah Strong was elected commander in chief. The whites were divided into three companies one each under Joe Lavender, Abe Trent and Ed Damron. Umausauga led the 22 natives and Ocean Scupeen (born in route to this land, hence the name) was one scout. Helen Draper called Powder , another legend of Ft. Yargo history, took charge of the women.
In 1810 Ft. Yargo and 121 acres were sold at auction for $167.00 to John Hill who lived there for a number of years. The family cemetery is near by in the Ft. Yargo park.
In the year 1927, the Daughters of the American Revolution (D.A.R.) took on the project to restore and preserve Ft. Yargo. Mildred Pledger and the D.A.R. placed a marker on the grounds which was latter destroyed. Led by C.O. Maddox, some citizens, the Kiwanis Club and the Lions club set out to preserve the fort. With the help of Senator Richard B. Russell about 1800 acres was purchased around the fort.
A number of legends and deeds surround the story of the fort. A Spanish prince fighting for the Creek, The Wog, two weddings red and white, A brave woman and a panther, even a lost treasure and much more.
Today local citizens, the park and a hiving history group are working on plans to restore Ft. Yargo and some of the out buildings. The park office has a schedule of living history dates where you might find out more of the afore mentioned legends. If you would like to help preserve and make history, contact the park, or the Friends of Ft. Yargo, And DO stop by to see where Winder got its start.
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