New Echota

On Saturday we had the pleasure of visiting New Echota State Historical Site near Calhoun. New Echota was the capital of the Cherokee Nation from 1825 until 1838, when U.S. government forces, under the command of Winfield Scott, rounded them up and forced their removal to Oklahoma. This is the infamous Trail of Tears, and a monument commemorates this as you arrive at the visitors’ center.

The flag on the left is that of the United Keetoowah Band, and the flags on the right are those of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and the Cherokee Nation, the three federally-recognized Cherokee tribes. (The United Keetoowah Band and the Cherokee Nation are headquartered in Tahlequah, Okla., while the Eastern Band is headquartered in Cherokee, N.C.)

A plan of the site. Alas, the Worcester House (8) is the only original building here. This was the home of Samuel Worcester, a missionary to the Cherokee and publisher of the Cherokee Phoenix (see below). Convicted by the state of Georgia for living in Cherokee territory without a license, Worcester appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which found the Georgia law unconstitutional, as it was the federal government that had the exclusive right to treat with Native Americans. President Andrew Jackson is reputed to have said in response that “John Marshall has made his decision; now let him enforce it!” Worcester went west with the Cherokee and died there in 1861.

Other buildings are reconstructions, like the Council House (3), where the Cherokee legislature convened…

…or the Supreme Courthouse (4), which doubled as a school.

What made this visit especially pleasurable was to see Reinhardt history graduate Cole Gregory, now employed with the state parks service. Here he is in the Vann Tavern (9), explaining how it worked (an interesting detail: a window on the back served as a drive-thru for people that the manager did not want coming in). James Vann was a Cherokee leader who owned several taverns; this one does date from the early nineteenth century but was originally located in Forsyth County and moved here in the 1950s.

The reconstructed Print Shop (11) represents the locale of the famous Cherokee Phoenix. A friendly and knowledgeable volunteer explained things to us. The newspaper was largely written by Elias Boudinot, who believed that relocation to the west was in the best interests of the Cherokee and who thus signed the Treaty of New Echota with the federal government. This “Treaty Party” represented a minority of the Cherokee Nation, and the signatories, including Boudinot, were assassinated not long after they arrived in Oklahoma.

You can buy a copy of Vol. 1, No. 4 in the gift shop. This one contains notice of Cherokee laws passed, news of ongoing negotiations with Washington, poetry, and news of the escape of some missionaries from Maori cannibals. As you can see, it is printed both in English and in Cherokee, using Sequoyah’s syllabary. (We learned that they type foundry had changed some of his characters for easier casting – and that archaeologists at New Echota had recovered a cache of individual letters [“sorts”] at the bottom of a well, into which they had been thrown by U.S. troops in 1838.)

We were pleased to find this book in the gift shop. John Ross was a Cherokee leader who opposed forced resettlement in the west; his house is in Rossville, Georgia, less than 1000 feet from the Tennessee state line. Jeff Bishop is Reinhardt’s new director of the Funk Heritage Center and, as you can see, an expert in Cherokee history.

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On our way home we stopped at the Rock Garden, situated behind Calhoun’s Seventh-Day Adventist Church. The Rock Garden is the creation of one DeWitt “Old Dog” Boyd, and features sculptures made up pebbles glued together to form miniature buildings. My favorite was this interpretation of Notre Dame cathedral, complete with flying buttresses, but I loved the whole thing – I respect anyone with the vision and the patience to realize art like this, like Howard Finster and his Paradise Garden.

Alumni News

Was pleased to get a visit this week from Chap Lindstrom. A math major, Phi Alpha Theta inductee, and member of Reinhardt’s baseball team, Mr. Lindstrom is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Applied Geography at Georgia Southern University, where he is doing his thesis on gentrification and the Atlanta BeltLine.

Alumni News

Pleased to get a visit today from history major alumnus Dylan Ellis ’14, who has left a teaching job at Pickens High School in Jasper, Georgia to train as an insurance broker. He continues to make music and to work for his family’s cleaning business. He and his wife Holly are expecting their first child in three weeks.

Alumni News

History major Owen Bagley ’13 has returned to campus as an admissions officer. He and his wife Lauren Bagley ’13 are expecting their first child in July.

Alumni News

I was pleased to chat with Reinhardt alumnus Andi Demçellari ’06 when he stopped by earlier this week. An Albanian by birth, Mr. Demçellari now resides in London, Ontario, where he works for Wolverine Industries (tagline: “we tackle your most complex aluminum projects”) and enjoys it very much. Business travel frequently takes him to Wolverine’s head office in Decatur, Alabama, and he was able to squeeze in a visit his alma mater this time.

Alumni News

Be it not said that our history majors lack a sense of entrepreneurship!

1. History major Jed Martin Mills ’12 started blacksmithing a while back, and with a friend has opened J and P Forge, where “we mix traditional coal forges and modern gas forges to heat steel and work it into functional items for the home, yard, or whatever else you can imagine. Everything is handmade with anvil and hammer!” He writes that “we started getting a lot of requests to do custom projects for folks so we figured we would give a small business a try.” Visit the J and P Forge Etsy shop to purchase items like these.

2. History major Trevor Rhodes ’12 stopped by last week. He and some friends have also started a small business: Gearcraft Holsters. If you want to pack in comfort and style, you could do worse!

3. Dual history and business major Alex Bryant ’15 has founded Sarcraft, a “wilderness skills school and outfitter that empowers people with the knowledge, confidence, and gear to prevail in whatever circumstances they may find themselves in, come what may.” Check out their website, where you can sign up for their courses or purchase gear.

Alumni News

1. After working for several years in Los Angeles for DeBlase Brown Eyerly LLC, Reinhardt history major Tyler Lemen ’13 has returned to the area and is now an owner and manager of Rice Sushi restaurant. He will be marrying his fiancée Kaydee Whipple this week in Mexico.

Photo: Tyler Lemen

2. History major Dan Audia ’08 worked for the Office of Admissions and then the Office of the Registrar at Reinhardt. In 2014, he accepted a job in the admissions department at Georgia Gwinnett College, and in 2015 he got an offer he couldn’t refuse to work as an admissions counsellor and STEM recruiter at Kennesaw State University. Since then he has been promoted to Admissions Director for MBA Programs at the Coles College of Business at KSU.

Photo: JG

I was pleased to have dinner with Mr. Audia in Kennesaw last night – and especially pleased that he credits his success to the skills he learned as an undergraduate history major!

3. History major Lindsay Taylor ’10 taught at Dorchester Collegiate Academy, a charter school in Dorchester, Massachusetts before moving back to Georgia in 2015. Since then she has been teaching history at Wheeler High School in Cobb County. Last fall, Ms. Taylor was inducted into the Marietta Athletic Hall of Fame for her achievements as a soccer and basketball player for Marietta High School (two sports she continued to play at Reinhardt).

(Click on the link for a photograph from the Marietta Daily Journal.)

4. History major Lance Patrick ’06 recently received a JD degree from Emory Law School. He worked for the Office of the District Attorney for the Appalachian Judicial Circuit, and as of last year is now with J.M. Heller Law Firm of Canton, Georgia. His practice areas include criminal defense, bankruptcy and debt relief, and wills and trusts.

Photo: Heller Law Firm

Lindy Smith, 1993-2017

Sad news: I have been informed that Lindy Smith, a former Reinhardt student, died last November at the age of 24. I had the pleasure of teaching Lindy in one of my classes, and she came with the history club to hear Ken Wheeler speak at the Rock Barn back in 2014. She also worked at Cabela’s, and was very helpful to me when I made a major purchase there in 2015. She will be missed. Requiescat in pace.

Georgia Regional PAT Conference 2017

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On Saturday, April 1, Reinhardt student Kyle Walker, alumnus Alex Bryant, and Prof. Jonathan Good traveled to Macon to participate in this year’s Georgia Regional Phi Alpha Theta Conference. Many thanks to Abby Dowling and John Thomas Scott for their hard work in putting together a good one. Mercer last hosted this conference in 2011, and it was a pleasure to return, as the Mercer campus is gorgeous, especially in the spring. The papers I heard were all very good – especially Kyle’s, who spoke of how the domino theory of Communist expansion in southeast Asia was applicable to Indochina only, largely on account of all parts of Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos all having been part of the French empire. Communism did not spread beyond these places because Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Burma, etc. had different histories (i.e., communism and nationalism did not converge there, as it did in Indochina). Plus, the US commitment to containing communism entailed a great deal of support for the non-communist governments of these countries, which helped to protect them from that particular ideology. This was the silver lining of the Viet Nam war – it didn’t prevent the North from taking over the South, and from backing the Pathet Lao and Khmer Rouge as they took power, but it did prevent the spread of communism beyond Indochina.

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Kyle Walker ’17 at the Georgia Regional Phi Alpha Theta Conference, Mercer University, April 1, 2017.

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Participants in the “Eastern Front” session: chair Joshua van Lieu (LaGrange College), MiKaylee Smith (LaGrange), Daniel Garrett (LaGrange), Kyle Walker (Reinhardt).

The plenary session at lunch featured a very interesting presentation by Maurice Hobson of Georgia State University, professor of history and African-American studies, whose book The Legend of the Black Mecca: Myth, Maxim and the Making of an Olympic City is about to be released by UNC Press. Dr. Hobson’s talk, entitled “Using Hip Hop as History: From the Black New South to the Dirty South,” referenced W.E.B. Dubois, Atlanta’s first black mayor Maynard Jackson, the 1996 Summer Olympics, artists like OutKast and Goodie Mob, the Atlanta Child Murders, and Hobson’s own personal history, to demonstrate how not all African-Americans were uplifted by Jackson’s post-segregation New South.

Georgia Gwinnett College (home of former Reinhardt professor Pat Zander) has agreed to host this conference next year.

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Alex Bryant ’15 and Kyle Walker ’17 flank a Mercer bear.