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Seminole County history column begins this week. Read on.

Beginning this week the Donalsonville News proudly presents a series of Seminole County history columns written by local historian and author Joyce Kramer.

Joyce has lived her entire life on the water’s edge. Therefore, when her husband Dale, and she decided it was finally time to fulfill their dream of going down South, they chose Georgia and Lake Seminole. Now, 29 years have passed and she doesn’t know where the time went! It seemed to have happened so fast! Writing and history have always been her passion. She feels like a detective when she begins researching into the past. She can search for answers to questions for up to a year! Then, she enjoys sharing her findings with other folks.

Joyce has been a columnist for a long time, writing for local newspapers everywhere she lived, including The Post Searchlight in Bainbridge. She also has received several awards in journalism from the Georgia Press Association, with one first place and several second place, as well as numerous honorable mentions. 

Her work has also been published in magazines such as “Georgia Backroads”, “Georgia Magazine”, “Guideposts” and numerous wildlife and travel publications.

She has been the southwest Georgia correspondent for Reiman Publications, which publishes: “Country Living”, “Country Woman”, “Taste of Home” and several other magazines. 

Joyce commented, “I enjoy giving back to my community. As a member of the Spring Creek Volunteer Fire Department’s Ladies Auxiliary, I enjoy helping these well-trained men and women who protect us down at the Lake. They have literally saved my life, twice! At one time, I wrote about the SCVFD in local publications. For this I received an award from the fire department.

I now look forward to sharing with you, the history of Seminole County. The heritage here is very interesting and goes deep into the human soul. I will start my writings, telling about our history from the pre-historic Indians who called this area home, to more modern Indians and on to our founding fathers and also modern happenings like new businesses and facilities in town. I look forward to meeting and learning more and more each day.”

Searching for Lost Souls – Part 1

by Joyce Kramer

I am so excited about sharing stories with you. They will be all about Seminole County, her history and the folks that have settled here. We will be digging down deep into the past, starting at the best place, which is down by the Woodruff Dam. Here, the first signs of life in our area were discovered. As time goes on, we will work our way all over our land and waterways. But first, we will uncover our colorful Indian heritage which is so special that it inspired the name, Seminole County.

The earliest evidence that has been collected suggests that the Ancient Indians came over from Europe around 8000 BC. With the advent of DNA, anthropologist have been able to discover many similarities to very ancient man, and some remains found in our area. They were game hunters and most likely came here from Western Europe during the Ice Age.

 At this time, there was an ice cap on the north Atlantic Ocean and it may have permitted early humans to move back and forth between the northern European and North American continents, by walking and paddling across in dugout canoes. They would have survived by eating fish and sea mammals along the way. This would have been at the beginning of the Archaic Age on our continent, from 8,000 BC to 1,000 BC.

With findings in the Upper Chattahoochee River Valley, suggesting that hunters came to this region for game, they would have also migrated down the Chattahoochee to the warmer lands here. As these humans adapted to our area, they would have had a migratory pattern that maximized access to food. Most likely they moved to our warmer location during the Winter months. 

Seminole County was an ideal place for these bands of hunters and farmers. The County’s network of creeks and wetlands provided a variety of animals and edible plants. As the ancient tribes moved around, they created natural pastures for deer, bison and other game to feed in. Therefore, the landscape that the early European settlers found when they arrived, had been in the making for thousands of years by ancient travelers to what is now our home.

One of the best ways of finding out about ancient civilizations is by studying the pottery that they made. A popular type of stoneware that has been discovered all over Georgia, especially in our area, is associated with the Deptford culture. These ancient tribes set up relatively small villages where the houses were round, built out of saplings and dried, tall grasses. It seemed as though these ancients wanted a more sedentary life. However, growing crops for food was something that came about slowly. Therefore, when the food became scarce, the tribes moved on.

Archeological evidence also connects us to the ancient Indians known for being the mound builders in the Early County area. Most of these structures that were found are small and were used for burials. However, some larger mounds were built for use as shelters and  meeting places. Therefore, folks could walk inside of them. Also, several of these were added on to by future generations, making them quite large. 

Evidence shows that the Swift Creek Indian culture grew between 250 AD to 750 AD and had lived all over our area of the southeast. Archeologists believe that when this civilization was at its peak, some 2000 folks lived here. It is not known, why after it peaked, it began to fade away and then was completely gone. 

The largest Swift Creek town and ceremonial site is at Kolomoki Mounds. Also, some of the oldest known examples of Swift Creek pottery and Swift Creek culture, have been found in the northern part of Seminole County and southern Early County. Swift Creek ceramics were among the most ornate ever created in North America. They were made by first carving the designs on wooden paddles, then stamping wet pottery with these paddles. 

During this same time, the first Muskogee Indians entered Georgia. They migrated here from the Lower Mississippi Valley. The Seminole Muskogeans eventually formed provinces where there was a large town that was like the capital city. From here, the tribe was governed. These were usually located in the bottom land of a major river, like the Chattahoochee and the land where Seminole County is located.

We now have come to a point in time when the white man’s influence is seen across our area.  Next, we will meet with the first archeological expedition that found evidence of our very first settlers.

 

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