The Legend of Sautee and Nacoochee is well documented. The first White settlers, coming up the Unicoi Trail, now known as Georgia Highway 17, heard the story as they stopped to rest in the shade of the giant white oak, still standing adjacent the Old Sautee Store. (Hwy 17 & 255).
One among them, George Williams, a young lad at the time, retold this story in his memoirs. The Cherokees considered themselves to be a superior race, as indeed they were. Handsome, tall and intelligent, they even had an alphabet, the first in America. They were not nomads, they built log houses and tilled the soil. They had but one grievous fault. This superiority was allowed to show. Naturally, this did not endear them to the neighboring tribes. One of these, the Chickasaws, was constantly at war with the Cherokee.
However, there were moments of relative calm. During one such truce, a band of Chickasaws was allowed to cross over Cherokee land, provided they stay on the Unicoi Trail and rested only at designated spots. One such spot was where two trails crossed at the junction of two lovely valleys, the same place where - a century later, a young George Williams stopped. As the Chickasaw band rested, in the shade of the giant oak, around them gathered curious Cherokees, trying to get a closer look at the dispised Chickasaws. Soon they were trading insults and obscenities. The Cherokees were hoping to bait the Chicasaws into making an overt act. But, the Chickasaws were too cagey to be trapped by such obvious maneuvers.
One of the Chickasaws stands aloof from this bickering. It is Sautee: young, handsome and a chief's son. He dreams of the day when he will be chief. And has the authority to negotiate permanent peace with the Cherokees. Some of this greatness must have shown, for Nacoochee, the Cherokee chief's 16-year-old daughter, is so taken by this handsome stranger that she stares unashamedly. Then their eyes meet. The magic alchemy of love does the rest. Not one spoken word - and yet a tryst was made.
That night Nacoochee steals away from her father's log house to meet with Sautee, under the giant white oak, now known as the Sautee Oak. By this time, they are helplessly and hopelessly in love. The rest of Sautee's party, counsels against this madness. No good could come of this flagrant violation of their truce. If Wahoo, the girl's father, learned of this meeting, all would be doomed. But, then, as now, teenagers feel they must defy the establishment. "Run, if you must," Sautee tells his followers, "but, I remain here with Nacoochee. Together we will make Wahoo understand. This must be the first step to a lasting peace between our two nations."
[End of Excerpt]
To read entire story and find out how this story ends, click on the web site of Old Sautee Store.
Dot, of Strolling Through Georgia, visited the mound (that is the burial place of Sautee and Nacoochee) and snapped a few pics of it and the area. Check them out - there is also a link to this story in her post.
Thanks for the pics and story link, Dot.
Eddie over on the Chickenfat blog has written a great post to compliment this one! He has a lot of family from the Helen, Ga. area. He includes photos of the area and also a few tales of the family and people who once lived there.
Read the post: Helen, Georgia and the Sautee Valley.