The Journal
The Latest from the History Center
Newsletter June 17th - 21st
June 23, 2019


The regular school year may be over but that doesn’t mean the programming stops! This past Friday the History Center hosted day campers from Hart County for a Blacksmithing program presented by our Director of Education Ken Johnston, followed by a scavenger hunt of the Galleries and White Path Cabin. Over the course of the demo the students learn about the importance of the blacksmith trade on a farm or in a community, learn exactly what a blacksmith does and doesn’t do – does make tools, doesn’t make swords! – and watch a common kitchen tool, a pothook, made in real time while they watch – and the pothook is then given to the group to take back to their camp! At the end of the demo Ken also tells them where to look in the cabin and galleries to see things that a blacksmith would have made or repaired, thus forging a connection between the live experience and the exhibit experience. So despite the Summer heat we’ll keep the forge fired up!

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We'd like to introduce you to our wonderful interns and apprentice!

Lesley Jones is a graduate of the University of North Georgia with a degree in History. She has had an impressive academic career and will be continuing her studies as a graduate student at UNG. Lesley began as an intern in our archives and is now our Archives Management Apprentice! Be sure to check out her From the Archives articles in every newsletter.

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Yovani Lopez is a senior at the University of North Georgia studying Digital Arts. He was born and raised in Gainesville, Georgia and has a passion for photography, design, painting, and drawing. Over the summer he will be taking archival photographs of Hall County, assisting in our oral history project, and assisting in our film productions.


Jonathan Houston is interning in our archives at the direction of our Apprentice Lesley Jones. He enjoys learning about history, visiting museums, fishing, research, and collects action figures and comic books. Jonathan's projects in archives will allow us to share more of our collection with the public!



By David French

Most people are familiar with Indian Removal and the Trail of Tears. But some may not have heard about the central roll Hall County played in the first court case to tackle the issue of Cherokee sovereignty.

The Cherokee Constitution of 1827, which established a three-branch system of government at the capitol of New Echota, was viewed as a major obstruction to Georgia’s westward expansion. In response, the Georgia Legislature voted to extend the legal jurisdiction of the state over the entirety of the Cherokee Nation. Georgia also annexed large tracts of land into the counties of Carroll, DeKalb, Gwinnett, Hall and Habersham. The legislature further declared the laws of the Cherokee null and void, effective June 1, 1830.

In 1830, a Cherokee man named Utsi'dsata, or George Tassel (sometimes interpreted as “Corn Tassel”), was accused of “having waylaid and killed an Indian” within the lands recently annexed to Hall County. Tassel was arrested by Georgia authorities, and brought to Gainesville for trial.


Principle Chief John Ross hired local attorney William Underwood to represent Tassel. Underwood argued that Hall County did not have the jurisdiction to hear the case, as Cherokee sovereignty was established by federal treaty. Therefore, the extension of Georgia laws over the Nation was unconstitutional. Despite this, George Tassel was convicted and sentenced to death.

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Governor George Gilmer

The appeals process instantly began. On December 12, 1830, the federal Supreme Court issued a writ of error, preventing further action by the lower courts until the case could be examined. But George Tassel’s case would never be heard by the Supreme Court. Governor George Gilmer received notice of the writ on December 20, and instantly called for an emergency joint session of the Georgia legislature. The result was a resolution to “communicate to the Sherriff of Hall County by Express… [and] ensure the full execution of the Laws, in the case of George Tassels [sic].”

On the morning of Christmas Eve 1830, George Tassel was led to the gallows, erected just south of Gainesville, by Sherriff Jacob Eberhart. A large crowd had gathered for the occasion despite the miserable weather. According to an eyewitness account published in the Gainesville Eagle in 1888: “The prisoner was ordered by the sheriff to get up and stand upon his coffin [which was on an ox cart]… the ox cart was driven forward leaving the body suspended in the air… within twenty minutes the doctor in attendance pronounced him dead.”

The case proceeded before the Supreme Court, but with George Tassel dead, the court found the case without merit (lacking a purpose). Georgia had faulted the law, and in so doing “won” its first battle with Cherokee sovereignty. But this was only the first round in a struggle that would not end until Worcester v. Georgia, and the ultimate expulsion of the Cherokee from the state.

For further reading, check out The Legal Ideology of Removal by Tim Garrison and The History of Hall County Georgia, Vol I. by James Dorsey.

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By Lesley Jones

From the Archives this week is the Janome ‘New Home’ Model 539 Sewing Machine, sold by the Gainesville Sewing Center & Stereos (that later became the Home Sewing Machine Center.) The store was owned by Northeast Georgia native Frank Youngblood, who continued to service sewing machines after his retirement in 1993. Mr. Youngblood was a military veteran and ran several successful businesses throughout Georgia and southern Tennessee.

The Janome Company was formed in 1921 in Japan. The word Janome means “snake eyes” because of the bobbin that the machines use resembles a snake. The Janome Company is still in business today and their sewing machines are available in over 100 countries!

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Open Reception & Presentation for New Special Exhibit
July 2nd at 7:00 PM

The process of Indian removal in the 1830s that culminated in the Trail of Tears was not merely struggles between personalities and legislatures. Indeed, the mechanisms by which the United States enabled and justified removal were fundamentally in the judiciary. This exhibit will explore Georgia v. Tassels, Cherokee Nation v. Georgia, and Worchester v. Georgia. These three cases not only set the stage for Cherokee removal from Georgia, but in many ways defined the differences between two divergent, but often similar, cultures.

As lead partner for this exhibit, the Northeast Georgia History Center will host an opening reception on Tuesday, July 2nd at 7 pm. Dr. Jamie Mize, will give a presentation on Cherokee Removal, focusing on the politics and personal dynamics of the Treaty Party led by Major Ridge. Admission to this event is free to the public, courtesy of the Georgia Humanities.

Dr. Jamie Myers Mize is a historian of American Indians of the Southeastern United States, specifically the Cherokees. She received her BA in history from Truett-McConnell University, her MA from the University of North Georgia, and her PhD degree from the University of North Carolina-Greensboro. Her research focuses on Cherokee masculinity and how gender expectations informed Cherokee men’s political decisions during an intense period of American colonialism in the late-eighteenth and early-nineteenth centuries. She has taught courses on American Indian history, the history of global indigenous peoples, early and modern American history, and twentieth century world history.

Special Exhibit: Court Cases of Cherokee Removal in Georgia
July 2nd - 10th
General Admission

This exhibit will be on display at the History Center for a short time only, from July 2nd to July 10 when it will travel to the Chieftain’s Museum in Rome. It will return to Gainesville for Native American Heritage Month in October.

New Gainesville Chautauqua 2019 Season: The 1830s – a Decade of Removal
July 9th and August 13th
$6 cash/card at the door or Free for Museum Members

Our Chautauqua series for the 2019 season explores the decade of the 1830s; the years that saw the passage of the Indian Removal Act and its implementation, and the treaty negotiations between the Indian Nations and the Federal Government - whether perceived as realistic or perceived as forced. We’ll hear from a Chief who looked to make the best deal as quickly as possible, a Chief who delayed removal as long as possible, and the President who sought to ensure removal as essential to his view of the United States.

July 9 - Choctaw Chief Greenwood LeFlore - portrayed by Matt House

Chief Leflore negotiated and signed the treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek within four months of the passage of the Removal Act, thus securing the best lands in the Indian Territory for the Choctaw – and then stayed behind in Mississippi while his tribe went west, taking U.S. Citizenship and becoming a wealthy cotton planter who owned 400 slaves and 15,000 acres of land.

August 13 – President Andrew Jackson – portrayed by Ken Johnston

Andrew Jackson, the man perceived in the popular imagination as being almost single-handedly responsible for the Indian Removal Act and the resultant Trail of Tears. Jackson could be ambivalent regarding Native Americans, treating the Red Stick Creek as enemies at Horseshoe Bend, while the Cherokee and Choctaw as allies at Horseshoe Bend and New Orleans, respectively. Whether Jackson viewed Indian Nations as enemies or allies, though, his first and overriding priority was White settlement and expansion; and as Jackson saw it the Nations had best accommodate Removal for their own good - regardless of how the Native American Nations themselves saw it.

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For more fascinating photos and information on our region's past, follow our social media!



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Students of the Wolffork School in the Wolffork Valley of Rabun Gap, Georgia pose for a photograph in 1890.

The Northeast Georgia History Center at Brenau University - 322 Academy St NE Gainesville, GA 30501 - 770.297.5900 -