Perusing newspapers and magazines from the 19th century always leads to unexpected treasures…such as these consecutive articles in an 1817 edition of The Literary Panorama and National Register. The first story reveals one incident of Cherokee involvement in the slave trade. Of course, many 19th century Cherokee leaders were wealthy, mixed-blood plantation owners living in Georgia, and slavery was part of that lifestyle. (See note below)
White Slaves in Georgia
Milledgeville, (Geo.) June 12.- Two persons armed, by the names of —Strobo and John Costello, were on their way, passing through the county of Jasper, on the 28th ultimo, inquiring for the road leading into the Cherokee nation, having in their custody five Spaniards in sailors' dress, whom they say it is their intention to sell to the Cherokees.
On inquiry, they say they purchased them in Telfair county, and that one of the two paid part down and gave his note for the balance of the consideration money, to which the other is a witness.-But the unfortunate persons in custody, intimate, in terms hardly intelligible, not being able to speak English, that they are from Europe, and being strangers in Pensacola where they landed, were decoyed by these two Americans out of town by fair promises; and having got them into their power, confined them in such a manner as to render resistance useless. “In this manner, it appears they have been driving these men on foot, (they on horse back and well armed) through the country—a country too, boasting of its liberties, and of the sacred rights of hospitality!
There is nothing in the appearance of these Spanish prisoners that indicates any mixture of African blood in their veins.
The second article recounts the discovery of mummified remains in Kentucky. Actually, during that time period, numerous well-preserved bodies were found in the caves and caverns of the Cumberlands and Central Appalachians.
MEMORANDUM of ANTIQUITIES. [From the New Jersey Journal.]
In autumn, 1810, was discovered in a cave, in Warren county, on the waters of the Caney Fork of Cumberland River, by a man who was collecting copperas and alum, a nicely wrought box of cane, which was under a small declivity in the cave, and completely covered with an incrustation of petrifaction supposed to be from the dropping and oozing of the water from the surrounding rocks.
The cane box was entire, and appeared to have underwent but little decay from antiquity.
Upon examining the contents, there were in it complete carcases of two human persons, one a male and the other a female— the male much the largest, but they were both thought to be fully grown.
They were in the first instance, wrapped with a coarse hempen twilled wrapping, which had been nicely woven in a twilled texture, and though having laid almost time immemorial, contained considerable strength.
In the second place, they were wrapped in a nicely wrought texture of plumage of a light brown color, tipped or tinged with a beautiful red and yellow, of a very fine, soft, texture.—Those plumages were tied nicely together with small hempen cords, in such a manner as to make one close strong covering.
Enveloped in those coverings or wrappings were the carcases; they were laid in a contracted position on their backs, their legs drawn up and their knees elevated. The whole of these carcases appeared dry, s somewhat resembling tanned leather, and nearly of the same colour. All moisture had entirely escaped from them—their bones had a yellowish complexion, but remained entire—their hair of a dark brown colour, fine and strait, but entire. Neither any part of the coverings or wrappings shewed any signs of petrifaction, though the cane box in which they were contained was completely incrusted with a thin shell of petrifaction.
Of what race these persons could have been, no person has heretofore pretended to form a conjecture, but one thing is certain, that they were of some race who had the knowledge of spinning and weaving; therefore we may conjecture, they were in some degree in a state of civilization. Inquiries have been made of the neighbouring ab-origines of the woods, whether they have any knowledge of any people of this description, or whether they have any knowledge of this manner of burial, or repository of the dead, practised by any of the Indian nations, to which they answer, they have not; but one thing is remarked by the ancient Cherokees, that a tradition has been handed down to them by their forefathers, that part of the country near where those carcases were found, was noted as a battle ground, where the ancient Cherokees and Shawnee Indians had many hard battles, or usually met and had their fights.