Cherokee Place Names, Part 8

Cherokee Place Names, Part 8

Tulula Creek joins the Sweetwater Creek to form the Cheoah River at Robbinsville, North Carolina. Once, it was spelled Tallulah Creek, and about 10 miles southeast of Robbinsville, on the creek, was the old Cherokee town of Tallulah or Tulula. We have already taken a look at Tallulah Falls, Georgia. Some writers have speculated that the word Tallulah may have come from the Creek word talwa [town], more specifically from the Okonee dialectical form talula. We are not likely ever to know the real truth about that. During historical times, the Okonee would not have been this far into the mountains, but there were Creek towns here before the Cherokee pushed them to the south and west by the year 1600. I notice that the word “tulula” has come to have an unsavory meaning, possibly originating from a misspelling of Tallulah Bankhead’s first name.

Sweetwater Creek, a few miles east of Robbinsville, is one of the headwaters of the Cheoah River. On this creek is the community of Cheoah. Here was the old Cherokee town of Tsiyohi [“otter place”], for which the community and river are named. [Cheoah is pronounced “chee-OH-uh.”] Perhaps we should determine just how long this particular site has been continuously occupied; it may have been at least several hundred years.

In Oconee County, South Carolina, was another Tsiyohi. The name survives here in Cheohee Creek and Cheohee community. A third Tsiyohi was somewhere on a creek at Cades Cove, Tennessee, but it does not seem to have left any place names there, so far as I can tell.

Chiaha, Cheaha, and Chehaw, all found in Alabama, bear a superficial resemblance to Cheoah and its variants, but these are actually Muskogean names, not Cherokee.

Entering what was once the Cheoah River, now Lake Santeetlah, on the west side is West Buffalo Creek.  Somewhere on that creek, likely now under the lake waters, was an ancient Cherokee village called Yansai [or Yvsai or Yunsai, “buffalo place”], whose name had already been translated into Buffalo Town before 1799.  Buffaloes [actually bison, of course] had long ago been present even in the mountains of western North Carolina, the last ones apparently disappearing westward by about 1760, but they were not forgotten to the Cherokee.  However, this creek actually takes its name from an ancient legend about a buffalo who lived under the water near the place where the stream emptied into the river.  Santeetlah is not derived from a Cherokee word.   From Lake Santeetlah onward, the Cheoah River is reduced to a dry streambed, water coming only after heavy rains or in the handful of days annually in which water is released from the Santeetlah Dam.

In the northwest corner of Graham County, forming a few miles of the North Carolina-Tennessee border, is Slickrock Creek.  It enters the Little Tennessee downstream from the Cheoah Dam.  The name is a translation of  Nvya Tawisgvhi [nvya, rock; tawisgvhi, slippery or slick].  There are several other streams of the same name, for example, the one a few miles northwest of Brevard, NC, but this is the only one that I have been able to verify as having the name translated from Cherokee.

Iotla Creek joins the Little Tennessee River at what is now the Iotla community. It stands on the opposite side of the river from the creek’s mouth. That location would have been a near ideal spot for a Cherokee town, and I think it was. In the lists of old Cherokee towns appears one Ayahliyi or Ayotlihi or Ayoree.  That name translates to “offshoot place” or “sprout place,” probably in reference to its being a colony from a larger town such as Nikwasi, which lay only a few miles to the south. Iotla’s present pronunciation [“eye-OH-la”] is a rather good English approximation of the Cherokee “ay-o-tli” [sprout]. The survival of the -tl- in the spelling gives further credence to my suggestion.  Bartram’s list included the town of Jore, and there is some indication that it may have been on Iotla Creek.  I believe that Jore is a corruption of Ayoree.

Those mountains that Bartram called the JoreMountains are now known as the Nantahala Mountains.

A few miles west of Iotla is the Burningtown community and Burningtown Creek, in Macon County’s Burningtown township.  On the creek, there was recorded a Cherokee town called Tikaleyasuni, which meant “place where they were burned” or something close to that.  Linguistically, it contains the Cherokee elements that would justify that conclusion.  So far as I can determine, there does not exist any historical information that might explain the name, so we assume that the town may have been near (but not on) a place where there had been a forest fire at some time in the past.

Stecoah Creek empties into Fontana Lake. Near the head of the creek is the Stecoah community. We have already seen Stekoa Creek in Rabun County. There were at least three Cherokee towns called Stikoyi, one of which was somewhere on this Stecoah Creek. The meaning of the name is unknown.  [Fontana is not a Cherokee word; it is an Italian word that means “fountain.”  The  lake was named for one of the several small towns now lying beneath its waters.]

Just north of Rome, Georgia, is Armuchee Creek and the Armuchee community. Somewhere on that creek was the ancient town called Aumuchee [probably for A-mu-tsi], which appears on some of the lists of Cherokee towns. I am not convinced it was originally Cherokee, and I know no way to translate it, but from its name we have the creek and community names.  Locally, the pronunciation is “ar-MER-chee.”

Canton, Georgia, is now said to be one of the fastest growing cities in the U.S. As I wrote these words in 2007, the Hickory Log Dam was just being finished. It will create a lake of some 370 acres to supply water for Canton and for parts of other counties. There was a Cherokee town on the Etowah River near Hickory Log Creek.Its name was Wa-ne-a-sv-tlv-yi. [Please understand that I separate some names into syllables to make them fit more easily into English-speaking mouths. So often do I see words thus hyphenated, that one would have the impression that American Indians speak only in unmodulated and monotonous syllables. If you hear some spoken Cherokee some time you will understand that such is not the case.] Hickory Log is a fair translation of the Cherokee name of the settlement, Wanei-asvtlvyi, in full. Wanei is the name given to the hickory tree, and asvtlvyi, in the old days, meant a place where there was a footlog for crossing a stream. These days, the modernized word is asvhdlvi, a bridge.

There are other places with this footlog element. One was Nah-tsi-asvtlvyi, a Cherokee town not so very far from Hickory Log. In this case, “nahtsi” meant pine tree. From the translation came Pine Log Creek and the Pine Log community and a wildlife area. Cherry Log community and creek had a similar beginning, from “gita’yvsv’tlvyi,” wild cherry log lying across.”

In Habersham County, on the Soque River, was the village Soquiyi. The meaning of the name has been lost to us, but I note that the local pronunciation of the Soque [suh-kwee’, accented on the last syllable] is surprisingly close to what would have been the Cherokee sounds. I remember visiting the site of this village more than 60 years ago. There were still markings and signs of a town then. I expect they have long since been destroyed to make way for the enormous development that has since occurred along and around what used to be Pea Ridge Road and vicinity.

In North Carolina, Chesquaw Branch used to empty into the Little Tennessee River from the north, but now Fontana Lake covers what may have been a historically interesting old Cherokee town in the vicinity of the mouth of the stream. It must have been gone by the time Bartram made his list of 43 Cherokee towns, but two hundred years earlier, de Soto’s chroniclers wrote about a rich gold-mining town called Chisca. Could it be the same? The Yuchi Indians living a short distance to the northeast of Stecoah told him the “province” of Chisca was over the mountains into what is now Tennessee. Of course, they simply wanted de Soto to get on his way and out of their area. So, who knows? Does Chisca lie under Fontana? Another mystery. What we do know is that Chesquaw is from the Cherokee Tsi-squa-yi or Tsi-squa-hi [“bird place”]. These days, it would be called Birdtown, but it is not the same as the Birdtown on the Eastern Cherokee Reservation.

If one follows the trail up Forney Creek from Fontana Lake for a few miles, rising a bit over 3500 feet on the west is Suli Ridge, seemingly dwarfed by the much taller Loggy Ridge just to its north and east.  “Suli” is the Cherokee word for “buzzard”, but I am not certain how the name came to be applied to that particular ridge, just a small ridge among more than a dozen of them within a few miles.

The French Broad River passes through Asheville and heads north to Hot Springs. Because of the rapids along this area, I doubt that any significant Cherokee settlement was to be found along this stretch. The Cherokee called this section Un-ta-ki-yo-sti-yi [or Vtakiyostiyi], with some accent on the second and fifth syllables. The name means “where they race,” referring to the rushing waters here; it survives in Tahkeyostee Park.

On the Tellico River, in eastern Tennessee, at the place now called Tellico Plains, lay the important Cherokee town of Taliqua [accented on the last syllable]. For a time, it was the most important Cherokee town. Its name is probably from a Creek dialect, and no Cherokee meaning is known. When de Soto passed through the area, the town seems to have been Creek and not Cherokee. Archaeological work in the Tellico Plains area shows that it has been occupied for about ten thousand years.

There was another town of the same name on Tellico Creek, near its junction with the Tennessee River north of Franklin, North Carolina. It was sometimes called Little Tellico, and there was another “Little” Tellico near what is now Murphy, North Carolina.

In Oklahoma, the Cherokee Nation’s capital was established as Tahlequah, now a city of about 15000 people, a bit more than a fourth of whom are American Indians. It took its name from the Taliqua in Tennessee.

Beaverdam Creek, which empties into the Soque River at Clarksville, Georgia, seems to be a translation, because one Cherokee town called Tsuyugilogi [“where there are dams”] stood somewhere nearby. More interesting is Oothkaloga Creek which passes through Adairsville, Georgia, on its way to the Oostanaula River. Another Tsuyugilogi was situated on that creek, near the junction with the river. The shortened form of the name of the town was Uy’ gilogi. In Cherokee pronunciation, the slight aspiration that replaced the -yu- would have sounded a bit like a -th- to an English speaker, so that Oothkaloga is a reasonable English attempt at the Cherokee word, and that is the real origin of the creek’s name.  There seem to be variant spellings of Oothkaloga:  Oothcaloga, and Oothcalooga.

Perhaps we need to explain. Cherokee is spoken with still lips. The mouth is held almost imperceptibly open. The tongue is held along the bottom of the mouth pressed against the lower teeth; it remains tightly in place as much as possible. The upper lip is tightened slightly across the teeth. Speaking may be done while breathing in or out; when expiration [“outbreathing”] occurs through the mouth and nose simultaneously in speech, certain sounds are clearly preceded by aspiration [that strong “h” sound], producing the “intrusive h” of Cherokee. Degree of h-intrusion varies widely among individual speakers.

The city of Adairsville takes its name from a Cherokee town which grew up around land owned by Walter John Scott (“Red Wat”) Adair, a grandson of Irishman James Adair and his Cherokee wife.  Red Wat was born in 1791, and he apparently moved into the area in the 1820’s.  He became a prominent leader in what was then the Cherokee Nation, in Georgia, and the settlement came to be called Adairsville before the white people took it over.   Adair was one of the signers of the “Turkeytown Treaty” of 1817.  As best I can tell, the family moved to Oklahoma, on the Trail of Tears.

We extend our deepest sympathies to the people of Adairsville and wish them the speediest possible recovery from the destruction wrought by the recent tornado [January 2013).

To the south of Adairsville, not far from Kingston, Connesena Creek empties into the Etowah River.   Upstream, the creek passes near Connesena Mountain, and a small branch flows from Connesena Spring into the creek.   A Cherokee family once living in the area were descendants of Dragging Canoe [Tsiyu-gvsini], the second part of whose name became Connesena.  Dragging Canoe was a chief of the Chickamauga band, very inimical toward the whites, in the period shortly after the Revolutionary War.  Conseen remains to this day the name of a prominent family of the Eastern Cherokee.   Dragging Canoe’s Cherokee name can be analyzed into <Tsiyu, “canoe”; and <gvsini>, “he is dragging it.”

I notice that there is a Lake Qualatchee a few miles northwest of Cleveland, Georgia. I have never visited the site. Bartram’s list of Cherokee towns included a “Qualatche,” but it was reportedly on the Flint River, too far away to have a connection with this lake. But, Mooney says a town called Qualatchee was somewhere on the headwaters of the Chattahoochee River. Not much else seems to have been written about the town, and I am not yet sure how the lake came to have its name.

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Cherokee Place Names, Part 6

Cherokee Place Names, Part 6

Not too far away [from Warwoman Dell], near Chechero Road, is Stekoa Creek, which empties directly into the Chattooga River. It takes its name from the Cherokee village of “Sti-ko-yi,” which was built on the banks of the creek. I know of at least two other villages in North Carolina that had the same name; one of them was on the Stecoah Creek that empties into the Little Tennessee River in Graham County, NC, and nearby is the community of Stecoah.   Unfortunately, the original meaning of the name is lost and no Cherokee speaker can remember it or analyze it.  [I have seen some attempts to relate it to the Eastern Cherokee word <usdiga>, baby, hence Usdiga’yi, “baby place,” but there are no historical references to be found to justify that speculation.]

As for Chechero Creek and Road, the name came from the Cherokee town of Chicherohe, which seems to have been somewhere on Warwoman Creek; the village was destroyed during the American Revolutionary War, and all that can be said is that it was probably inhabited by the Lower Cherokee.  The name is pronounced locally as “Church-a-roe” or “Churchy-roe,” accented on the first syllable.  However, this pronunciation, like so many others, is changing as newcomers gradually displace the mountain people.  We have no means of knowing the original Cherokee pronunciation; only the spelling Chicherohe survives  so far as I can find.

That name Chechero is one of many that I am still researching. Among others: Waleska, Chenocetah, Noontootla, and Cartecay. Waleska  [or Walaska] is a name which appears on the 1835 Henderson Roll, as a resident of Georgia.  Local stories say the town was named for him.  I will be happy to hear from anyone who has any linguistic or more detailed historic information on these names.  Incidentally, there is no Chenocetah, North Carolina, as used by Diana Palmer [of Cornelia, Georgia, where Chenocetah Mountain is located] in her novel Before Sunrise.   There are stories that Chenocetah came from a Cherokee word meaning “looks all around” or the like; that is unlikely to be correct.  [Chenocetah is pronounced locally as “CHIN-uh-SEE-tuh” or “CHEN-o-SEE-tah.”]

An old Cherokee word for the sumac [various red-fruited species of Rhus] is talani.  I now believe that Talona Mountain, just south of Ellijay, Georgia, took its name from a long-forgotten Cherokee settlement called Talaniyi [“red sumac place”], which the white people translated and wrote as “Shoemack” or “Shoemeck.”  Until now, Talona had remained in my list of “Still researching” place names.

Over in Oconee County, South Carolina, on the Chauga River, near Walhalla, is the Chauga Narrows. I have heard that this is a “doozy of a destination” for whitewater rafters, with a drop of 25 feet in a 200-foot run. One source says the name Chauga is “Indian” for “high and lifted up stream.” I doubt that the Cherokee had a name for the river itself; they were more inclined to give names to places along rivers rather than to the rivers themselves. Well, the writer did get the translation partly correct; Chauga is a white man’s rendition of the Cherokee word “Tsogi,” which was probably pronounced “Chawgi” by some of the people. It simply means “upstream.”  The old Cherokee village of Chagee [Tsagi or Tsogi] was somewhere on the river, exact location unknown,  I have seen some respected authorities who believe the name is a rendition of  “tlayku”—or its modern rendition of “dlayhga” [“blue jay”], but I don’t agree. And, by the way, the name Walhalla is not of Cherokee origin; it was so named by the original German settlers of the area.

Seven miles north of Walhalla is Issaqueena Falls.  The local story, another of those creative legends not based on facts, is that Issaqueena was an “Indian Maiden” [or, sometimes, a “Cherokee Princess”] who risked her life to warn white settlers about an imminent Indian attack, or who leapt with her lover from a rival tribe to their death at the Falls.  The truth is that the name is a transplanted Choctaw word [“isi-okhina,” deer creek] from Mississippi’s Issaqueena County.  The legend of the warning may have some vague factual basis, but the Indian maiden’s name was not given until 1895, when she was called Cateechee in an essay.  It was not until 1898 that Cateechee became Issaqueena in a poem, the duality explained by saying that Issaqueena was a Choctaw captured by the Cherokee and given the name Cateechee among the Cherokee.  Both the poet and the essayist owned up to inventing the two names out of thin air, although the poet seemed to know that Issaqueena did come from the Choctaw language.  So it is that there is the pleasant community of Cateechee a few miles to the northeast of Clemson, South Carolina, and a dozen miles or so east of Issaqueena Falls.

Some miles further north are Lake Jocassee and the Jocassee Gorges.  An elaborate legend exists here, which manages to incorporate nearby Cheohee and Georgia’s more distant Nacoochee; it tells of another Indian maiden and star-crossed lovers.  Quite possibly, the name may have some Cherokee roots, but I cannot analyze it and I know of no historical or linguistic basis for saying that it meant “place of the lost one.”

Tiger, the town and the mountain south of Clayton, are said to have taken their name from an old Cherokee man [or, more likely, a Cherokee family] who lived there, probably on or near the mountain. At some time before 1857, the district of Rabun County near the mountain was called the “Tiger District.”  I have now been able to confirm that Tiger was on the 1835 Henderson Roll, he lived in Georgia, and that his wife was “Oo-tee-wa-kie”; they went on the Trail of Tears and were living in the Delaware District of the Cherokee Nation, Indian Territory [now Oklahoma] in 1851.  Tiger’s Cherokee name was spelled Clen-ti-gee on one document, clearly an attempt at spelling the Cherokee “Tlv-da-tsi,” which translates to “Panther” or “Tiger.”  [Tiger was obviously an English translation of his Cherokee name.]  Tiger descendants still live in Oklahoma.

Down at Tallulah Falls, the Tallulah River joins the Chattooga River to form the Tugaloo River, eventually reaching the Atlantic Ocean as the Savannah River.

Tallulah is said to mean “the terrible.” It doesn’t, of course. Not even close. Worse yet, though, we don’t know what the original word meant. The name came from a small Cherokee village far up the Tallulah River, its site long since covered by Lake Burton. It is possible, just barely, that the village [“Ta-lu-lu,” with the accent on the last syllable] was given its name for the sounds of a certain kind of frog, or that Tallulah comes from the word “a-ta-lu-lu,” which means something like “unfinished, or incomplete.” Another  possibility is that the name is from the Creek word Taliwa, which in some dialects, was pronounced almost like Tallulah; “taliwa” is the Muskogean word for “town.” Perhaps the town was taken from the Creeks by the invading Cherokee. After considerable research, I have come to think that Tallulah may possibly be from the Muskogean word “talola”; it has the two root elements <tali>, “rock,” and <ola>, “makes a noise.”  That supposition would tend to be reinforced by the existence of Tallulah as the name of a Madison County, Louisiana city.  I have found that city’s name spelled as Tallula on an 1862 map.  It supposedly was named for a former woman friend of the engineer who was constructing the Vicksburg, Shreveport and Texas Railroad there in the late 1850’s.  For a Choctaw woman’s name, Talola would probably have meant “bell,” because <tali> came to mean metal as well as rock, after the coming of the white people.  As a Muskogean name for the Georgia waterfalls, it would have been translated as “noisy rocks,” a very fitting name before the dam destroyed the thunderous sound of the falling water.  That roar was said to have been audible clearly for many miles around in those days.  The Cherokee knew the falls as “U-gv-yi,”  but that name is lost and it has no meaning known to even the most fluent speaker of Cherokee.

Some writers have said that Tallulah, Louisiana, was named for Tallulah Bankhead, but it bore that name at least forty years before Miss Bankhead was born, daughter of the Speaker of the House of Representatives [1936-1940) and granddaughter of a Senator.  I am one of those who long believed that she was named directly for Tallulah Falls, but she seems to have had a grandmother for whom she was named.   [Further research shows that Tallulah Bankhead’s grandmother, Tallulah James Brockman, was born near Greenville, South Carolina, in 1846, within traveling range of Tallulah Falls, and that the Falls became a tourist attraction well before 1846.  My educated guess is that Miss Bankhead’s grandmother was actually named for Tallulah Falls.  Moreover, the grandmother would have been only 12 or 13 years old at the time of the naming of the Tallulah waterstop in Louisiana, unlikely to have had any connection with the Louisiana city.]

There is a delightful legend about one Chief Grey Eagle–whose rough granite throne was until recently on the campus of Tallulah Falls School–incorporating an ill-fated romance between a white man and a beautiful Cherokee woman, Lover’s Leap, and that sort of thing. I like the story. I have sat many times in Grey Eagle’s chair. I have even looked over Lover’s Leap from the rim of the gorge and I have looked up at it from the depth of the rocky gorge. Unfortunately, the story is just a legend with not a whit of historical truth. But, still, what stories could Grey Eagle’s chair tell us? [There is some information about Grey Eagle on this Ancestry.com page, but I cannot say how accurate it may be.]

Over in Walker County, GA, is Lula Falls, a shortened form of Tallulah as is made more evident when we observe that the older spelling was Lulah Falls.  However, the town of Lula, GA, took its name from Miss Lula Phinizy, whom the engineers who founded the town admired, so it is not connected with Tallulah.

Terrora, as we have already seen, is the same word as Tallulah, but from that now-extinct Cherokee dialect which had the r-sound and not the l-sound.  On old maps, one finds the Tallulah River shown as “Terrura Creek” or some variant of that.   A 1775 map based on actual surveys by Mouchon shows a village called Taruraw in the vicinity.

Chattooga River, famous for its rapids and as the site of the filming of Deliverance, takes its name from “Tsa-tu-gi,” an old Cherokee village on the river. Just as we have taken Cherokee place names, they often took whole villages from other tribes and kept the previous name. Most frequently, they pushed Creek Indians out and to the west and south; that appears to be how Tsatugi came to be a Cherokee town. The word has no meaning in Cherokee, and whatever it once meant in Creek has long since been forgotten. Further evidence for this notion can be found in Georgia’s other Chattooga River, the one that empties into the Coosa at Weiss Lake in Alabama; keep in mind that the Cherokee word for a Creek Indian was “Ku-sa,” from which we get Coosa. And, let’s not forget Lake Chatuge, on the Hiwassee River. [The town and the Georgia part of the river–which rises in the mountains of Towns County, Georgia–are spelled Hiawassee, with two a’s, and the river is spelled Hiwassee once it crosses into North Carolina, with only one a.  Both are from the Cherokee “a-yu-wa-si,” which means a meadow-like place, or a place with mostly low plants and few trees. The pronunciation of HIGH-uh-WAH-see is reasonably close to the old Cherokee word. More often than not, I hear it pronounced Hi-WAH-see, though, more like the North Carolina river’s name.]  On some old maps, “A-yu-wa-si” is distorted into Euphasee as the name of the Hiwassee.

Recently, I drove near the Virginia community of Hiwassee, spelled the same way as the river in North Carolina; so far as I can tell, it is named for that river.  This latter Hiwassee lies near the New River, which, oddly, is said to be the second oldest river in the world.

Warwoman Creek empties into the Rabun County Chattooga River near Earl’s Ford.

The Tugaloo River is mostly just Tugaloo Lake now, but, in the days before so many dams, it was obvious that the Tallulah River joined the Chattooga to form the Tugaloo, which, somewhere downstream, picked up enough tributaries to become the Savannah River. The name is pronounced “Too-ga-low” [rhymes with “whoa”] by most of the people who live near Tallulah Falls. I am not at all sure what the old Cherokee name [“Du-gi-lu-yi”] may have meant. One writer suggests it may have something to do with a place at the forks of a stream, which is supported by the Muskogean word toklo, two.

A few more miles downstream from Tallulah is Yonah Lake. “Yo-nah” is the Cherokee word for “bear.” Over near Cleveland, GA, is the conspicuous Yonah Mountain. Looking at it, one would think it by far the highest mountain in White County, but it isn’t even close. I don’t know how it was that white people came to call it Yonah Mountain, either; the old Cherokee name for it was “Ga-da-lu-lu.” No one remembers why or what the name meant, and in the days when anyone did remember, no one wrote it down anywhere, so we are not likely ever to know. There is some evidence that one or more Spaniards lived on or near the mountain, for some time, around 1670, mining gold.

A little west of Hiawassee, we came to the Brasstown Ranger Station. Not far away is Brasstown Creek, and, to the south is Georgia’s highest peak, Brasstown Bald [4784 feet]. No one would suspect that Ellijay and Brasstown have a common Cherokee origin of their names.  We’ll need to explain.

You remember that Ellijay is from Cherokee “e-la-i-tse-yi,” the “e-la” part of which means “earth” or “ground,” the “i-tse” means “new” or “green,” and the “-yi” means “place.” One can interpret the word to mean “place of green plants” or “new ground” (a place recently cleared for planting, where new green plants are sprouting). There were several places in the old Cherokee country that bore just the name “I-tse-yi,” roughly equivalent to the English “New Town.”

Now, it happens that the Cherokee word for “brass” is “v-tsai-yi.” [Remember that pronunciation of “v”? And the “-tsai” is roughly “chy” to rhyme with “shy.”] White people mistook Itseyi to be Vtsaiyi, and they do sound a bit alike. So, anyway, several villages named “Itseyi” came to be translated as “Brasstown.”

Gumlog Creek empties into Brasstown Creek. Not too far away are Gumlog Mountain and Gumlog Gap. Gumlog is a not very good translation of the name of the little Cherokee settlement that used to be on the creek. The village was called “Tsi-la-lu-hi,” from the word “tsi-la-lu,” sweetgum tree, and the “-hi” was the “locative” [= “place where”] we have seen before in the form “-yi.” Then, Tsilaluhi, the Cherokee town, really meant “sweetgum place” or “sweetgum town.” Well, by gum, at least they got the “Gum” right.  Once, there was a Gumlog Community in the area, but I do not find it on the maps anymore.  Another Gumlog Community has arisen in Franklin County, Georgia, but I do not know how it came by its name.

Over to the west of Brasstown Creek is Track Rock Gap. The trail there used to have a kind of soft soapstone rocks [greenstone] on both sides of it, and all sorts of scratchings and carvings had been made by Indians passing that way, resting en route. I do not know how many of them still exist, for I have not been there since childhood. I hope the State has made some effort to preserve them. Despite some fanciful interpretations by archaeologists, they were probably just ancient graffiti. There is an interesting story of one outline of a large foot, more than 17 inches long, complete with six toes. Perhaps a Bigfoot? The Cherokee name for the place was “Da-tsu-na-lo-sgv-yi,” “ a place where there are tracks.”

Just west of Blairsville is the Nottely River and Nottely Lake. The river continues on northward and empties into the Hiwassee a short distance west of Murphy, NC. Long ago, the small Cherokee settlement of “Na-du-tli”  [sometimes written Natuhli] lay on the river bank just inside what is now Cherokee County, NC. The village was another of those taken from the Creeks by the Cherokee, and the name seems to have been another forgotten Creek word; once again, the Cherokee just kept the name after driving the Creeks out. From this village came the river’s name. Contrary to some publications, Natuhli did not mean “daring horseman.” [The Cherokee “tl-“ sound is something like an English sound “hl-“; it is even more like the correctly pronounced “Ll” in Welsh “Llewellyn.”]

South of Blairsville, just north of Neel’s Gap, there is a Nottely Falls on Shanty Creek. Just downstream from the falls, Frogtown Creek [which I have mentioned earlier] empties into Shanty Creek.

Along or near the Nottely River is the present Notalee Community, which, I assume, takes its name from the river.

Just east of the river, toward the southern part of Union County [GA], is the Choestoe Community. Its name came from the Cherokee “Tsi-stu-yi” (from “tsi-stu,” rabbit, with the locative “-yi,” together meaning “Rabbit Place” or “Rabbit Town”–there is nothing about “dancing” in the original name).  Locally, it is pronounced CHO-ee-STOW-ee.  The same word appears in South Carolina as Choastea Creek, in Tennessee, near Benton, as Chestuee Creek, and, in Unicoi County as Chestoa.  In Cherokee mythology, Rabbit was a wily trickster, like Coyote was to the Western Indians. In fact, most of the Br’er Rabbit stories originated in Cherokee myths. [Does anyone remember that especially pleasant movie, Song of the South, with its Br’er Rabbit stories? Apparently, Disney thinks it politically incorrect to release it or allow it to be sold on videocassettes or discs. It does not seem to me that anything in the film is demeaning to anyone, but I suppose that not everyone agrees with me.]