Lake Seminole Cemeteries

LAKE SEMINOLE CEMETERIES

HistoricSites-AdjacentToWoodruffResevoirBefore & after pictures of the cemeteries.

Credit should be given to Cindy Sloan, as she obtained the below COE documents and shared it with my sister.
Many thanks to Cindy Sloan!

Also, Many Thanks to Peggy Venable for the River Basin Surveys (Smithsonian) Document!
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According to Wikipedia, Lake Seminole is a reservoir located in the southwest corner of Georgia along its border with Florida, maintained by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.  The Chattahoochee and Flint rivers join in the lake, before flowing from the Jim Woodruff Lock and Dam, which impounds the lake, as the Apalachicola River, formed on the state line between Florida and Georgia, near the town of Chattahoochee, Florida, by the confluence of the Flint and Chattahoochee rivers. The actual confluence is submerged in the Lake Seminole reservoir formed by the Jim Woodruff Dam.

Would not have thought to look under Lake Seminole Reservoir to locate the cemeteries until I received the below COE documents (thanks to Cindy Sloan).  By flooding the area, it eliminated problems with Indian land near to where the Chattahoochee and Flint Rivers met (where the Creeks Indians lived), and it was another method in the extermination of Indians (99% of the moved graves were marked ‘unknown’).

The Indian Cemeteries of Martin and Byrd were flooded to create the Lake Seminole Reservoir.    Byrd and Martin Cemeteries were (supposedly) “Disinterred” by Army Corps of Engineers.  They may have simply flooded the area (6), and our ancestors could still lie in their grave sites at the bottom of Lake Seminole.    An Indian mound can be seen under the water near there.  Maybe this is why we have not been able to locate the grave sites for John Andrew Byrd and Francis Marion “Frank” Martin.   Because they could still be located at the bottom of Lake Seminole Reservoir, or moved as “unknown” to one of the two disinterment sites in 1952-1953.

Per this document:  Narrative Appraisal Report – Proposed Sites for Cemetery Relocations – Jim Woodruff Dam and Reservoir Project – Chattahoochee, Florida

Reinternment_Sites_infoCOE
Excerpt from COE appraisal document
 We believe the proposed cemeteries were selected so they would be closer to other family members in Donalsonville, GA, Seminole County, GA;    Donalsonville was once a part of Decatur Co, GA).  Wiki on Donalsonville, GA.
1.  Fourteen (14) MARTIN graves from the Martin Chapel Cemetery, per COE Appraisal, were to be relocated approx. 5mi northeast, to the Spring Creek Cemetery in Donalsonville, GA.  A permit & $15/grave was required.   No records were found on this transfer with the church and caretaker, and the Martin members of the church died, however, the permit was found in COE documents.  No Martin graves are listed, however, the church had Martin members, and there is a memorial stone (see below picture) .Click here for listing of Spring Creek Cemetery graves (including the Martin memorial marker).

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02 April 2015:  My sister visited Spring Creek Cemetery, located the memorial stone (near edge of woods) and searched for the (14 Martin Chapel Cemetery) graves supposedly moved here.  NO graves were found near the stone.

SpringCreekCemetery_Martin_MemorialStoneMar2015
SpringCreekCemetery_Martin_MemorialStoneMar2015

 

2.  BIRD/BYRD Family Cemetery:  16 graves from the Bird Cemetery under Lake Seminole Reservoir, per COE Appraisal, were to be moved approx. 2mi N to the Galilee (Baptist Memorial) Cemetery, also in Donalsonville, GA.   Click Here for picture/location.  Also Here.

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02 April 2015:  My sister located and visited the Gailee Memorial Baptist Church and cemetery  (Donaldsonville, Seminole County, GA), and searched for the (16 Byrd Cemetery) graves supposedly moved here. A memorial stone (like at Spring Creek) has been found there, however, nothing else was found indicating the 16 Byrd Cemetery graves were moved here.

Photo of memorial stone by Martha Sellers Bryson

ByrdCemeteryMemorialMarker

GaileeCemeteryChurchSign
GaileeCemeteryChurchSign
GaileeChurch
GaileeChurch
Gailee Cemetery
Gailee Church Cemetery

An inventory of Gailee Church Cemetery was taken by Mr & Mrs A C Hutchison & Don Brock  on 8 Jul 1957.   It lists NO Byrd graves, and NO memorial stone.

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Jackson County Cemeteries
Hayes Cemetery Survey of Jackson County Cemeteries

Cemeteries of Decatur County
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BOTTOM LINE
AFTER SEARCHING BOTH CEMETERIES,, NO PHYSICAL EVIDENCE WAS FOUND (OTHER THAN THE COE DOCUMENTS AND ONE MEMORIAL STONE AT EACH CEMETERY), THAT THE GRAVES FROM LAKE SEMINOLE RESERVOIR WERE PHYSICALLY MOVED AS STATED IN THE COE DOCUMENTS.  WE BELIEVE THAT 14 MARTINS AND 16 BYRD GRAVES MAY STILL REMAIN AT THE BOTTOM OF LAKE SEMINOLE RESERVOIR IN THE MARTIN CHAPEL AND BYRD FAMILY CEMETERIES.

Update 2016:  We have requested COE to use (non-evasive) ground-penetrating radar to locate the 31 graves, that they claim were moved, or the 31 graves must remain at the bottom of
Lake Seminole Reservoir in Area 6.
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“The Seminole lake and Dam are like like the one in Libingston,
Texas.  It sent Chief John Blount and all the old Indian graves down
the trinity and into the Gulf of Mexico.

It is also certain  more than two Apalachicola Ancestral graves were destroyed by the Seminole Dam that took Econchatte  Micco’s Red Ground Town and parts of Ocheesee. and Neamathla’s Fowltown reserve. ”   Mary Sixwomen Blount

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Byrd Cemetery and Martin Chapel Cemetery Disinterment Sites

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On the below images, click to View.
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ByrdCemeteryP-8 ByrdCemeteryP-9
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ByrdCemeteryP-1

 

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An inquiry was made to see if the Creek Nation has any records on these cemeteries, since they lived in the area.
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I spoke to & emailed the Creek Nation’s preservationist  to see if they have any info on the two churches & cemeteries under the Lake Seminole Reservoir.  Odette said that the Corps of Engineers should have known names of the graves in 1953, & the Creek Nation might have some info, however her reply states they have no info.  I really appreciate Odette’s below reply.
——————reply received————————-

Hello, Tim. I apologize for not being able to help you with your search. We have absolutely no records of where any pre-removal cemeteries were. How deep is this reservoir? Unless it is very shallow, the graves probably are no longer there. I doubt that the corp. of engineers would have taken such care as to lay them aside, then rebury them at the bottom of the reservoir. They were probably dug up during the excavation and either moved , as they claim to have done, or given to a university or museum for research. It’s also possible that they were simply bulldozed with no regard for their significance. Again I’m sorry I have no way of helping you from here. Have you searched any old newspapers for the time period of when the reservoir was being dug?

Odette Freeman
Historic and Cultural Preservation Department, Manager’s Assistant
Muscogee (Creek) Nation
PO. Box 580 | Okmulgee, OK 74447
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Odette,

I very much appreciate your help and your reply.

It was another extermination of the history of this particular area, where the Chattahoochee and Flint Rivers meet.  I had ancestors who lived on both sides of the Chattahoochee River (FL and GA) in this area, on Econchattimico’s reservation/ land.

Asked COE to verify and locate the graves they moved (14 from Martin Chapel & 16 from the Byrd (Bird) Cemetery), since our physical searches only turned up one memorial stone at each cemetery, with no associated graves found in either cemetery.

Thanks again very much for your invaluable help.
Blessings to your lodge.
Tim McDaniel – Tustinuggee Thlocco
JacksonCountyCreeks.org
====Feedback from Cindy Sloan==================
The moving of the graves took place when the dam was built, back in the 1950s. It is doubtful there are any more records than I already received that have been shared by Nadine Standland. You can write, but I don’t imagine they will be able to verify exactly what graves were moved and their final interment within Spring Creek Cemetery. It is a huge loss that there are not more definitive records for each of the graves. My understanding is the markers on the graves, from what I read of the report, did not give a lot of information. If you are able to get more information from the Corps of Engineers (COE), I’d love to see it. What I received was more than Nadine had ever located in her search. There were some surveys done of some of the cemeteries in the 1950s. It was a limited survey of Jackson County cemeteries: http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~fljackso/hayes/main.html
Thank you Cindy!
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August 2015 UPDATE:  A second research trip was completed during the week of 10 August 2015.  Results include:

–   FL_BlountByrdJamesHallEconchatti_Research
–   Lake Seminole Cemeteries_COE_microfilm_12Aug2015
–  Governor_Richard_K_Call_Journal
–   Excerpts from The Chattahoochee River
–  Pictures taken of documents during the Aug. 2015 research trip.
–  Pictures taken during research trip.

2016 Update:  18 February –  COE Microfiche documents received.   ( 75 pages – includes church Permits).  Note that some images from the 12 Aug 2015 are included in this scan.  This scan has more than 3 times the number of images, and of better quality.

     17 March 2016:  Research Trip was made to obtain Civil Action 327 records, & on 18 March, traveled to cemeteries for physical searches of  any evidence that 14 to 16 graves were buried near each memorial stone, took pictures.  Visited National Archives in Morrow, GA & took pictures of original Civil Action 327 documents (& original pictures of cemeteries before & after removal).  Invited COE to help determine where the graves could be, however, they claimed too little notice & a lack of travel funds.  They have refused to technically confirm the graves are actually located in the Spring Creek & Galilee Cemeteries, rejecting a request for ground penetrating or other non-evasive means to confirm the graves’ locations.  2016 Research Trip Images & Photos

     Click Here for images of the Byrd and Martin Chapel Cemeteries (before removal), and the Spring Creek and Galilee Cemeteries, immediately after relocation, and what the sites look like in 2016.

It was a convenient excuse for destroying Indian graves, mounds, artifacts and taking their land.  Thanks to all who have helped in this endeavor, including Cindy Sloan and my local congressman’s office (the only reason COE responded to my requests for information).

Flooding the area was another method of extermination of the Indians, their graves, history,  and artifacts.

Because the Corps of Engineers has yet to technically confirm that the graves were actually relocated, the 31 graves could still remain at the bottom of Lake Seminole Reservoir.  Only the memorial stone remains at the Spring Creek and Galilee Cemeteries, with no markers for the 31 moved(?) graves.
– Tustinuggee Thlocco

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The Forgotten Muscogee Creeks