Archeological and Historical Investigations at Florence Marina State Park, Walter F. George Reservoir, Stewart County, Georgia, Florence Site (9SW124) 1988-1990

Part of the Florence Site (9SW124) 1988-1990 project

Author(s): R. Jerald Ledbetter; Chad O. Braley

Year: 1989


During late fall 1988, archeological investigations were conducted at Florence Marina State Park, Stewart County, Georgia, prior to the construction of new visitors' use facilities. The work was conducted by Southeastern Archeological Services, Inc. (SAS), an Athens, Georgia consulting firm specializing in cultural resource studies. Limited previous investigations had demonstrated that the park contained remains of the former town of Florence and substantial quantities of historic Creek Indian and prehistoric aboriginal artifacts. The site was given the official number of 9Sw124.

The SAS investigations were designed to test the site further, particularly in the areas scheduled for development. Testing involved the excavation of backhoe trenches, shovel tests, and larger test pits (1 x 2 and 2 x 2 m). These test units produced abundant artifacts and several contained intact cultural features. During the final phase of study the location of the proposed interpretive center was intensively tested. In the initial part of this final phase, 104 shovel tests measuring 50 x 50 em square were excavated at 3 m intervals. This sampled approximately 4%' of the proposed building's location. This method also permitted a detailed reconstruction of artifact patterns within the area.

The distribution of Creek Indian artifacts showed several spots of higher density along the terrace edge which probably indicated the fonner location of Creek houses. Documentary evidence shows that these houses were part of a loosely knit community known as Sawokliutchi. Several items of English manufacture (ceramics and gun parts) date the Creek occupation to the first half of the eighteenth century.

Finally, the area to be covered with the interpretive center was hand-excavated. Excavation halted at the interface between the plowzone and the underlying sand, then cultural features were mapped and excavated. A total of 150 features were recorded within the large unit. Most of these were postmolds dating to the mid-nineteenth century occupation of Florence, but included in this number was a very large historic feature (Feature 50), which served as a refuse disposal pit. The ca. 1855 pit contained approximately 24,000 artifacts, many of which could be used in interpretive displays at the park. Archival research demonstrates that there is a wealth of information about the early days of Florence, and it is possible to reconstruct the original town plan from the documents. The proposed interpretive center will straddle the former boundary line between two town lots. A chain of title to these lots identified the former owners and their socio-economic standing in the community.

A cluster of prehistoric pit features was identified in the southern part of the excavation unit, and radiocarbon samples from three pits were analyzed. The pits date to the early part of the Mississippi period (about A.D. 950) and the ceramic artifacts belong to a poorly studied complex known as Averett. Significantly, no Averett sites were identified during a recent survey of Walter F. George reservoir (Knight and Mistovich 1984).

The results of the archeological and historical research show that intact deposits are present at 9Sw124, and the site is a significant resource. It is recommended that 9Sw124 is eligible for nomination to the National Register of Historic Places. The Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR) should work in conjunction with the US Army Corps of Engineers to ensure that 9Sw124 is protected from damage. Potential impacts include park development, the routing of new roads, parking lot construction, utility line installation, and landscaping. All of these activities have the potential for impacting significant archeological remains. If potential impacts can be identified and it is not feasible to avoid the impacts, then a program of archeological data recovery should be implemented. Finally, the DNR is advised to sponsor a systematic archeological survey of Florence Marina State Park to eliminate a piece-meal approach to evaluating the archeological deposits. If a systematic survey is conducted the DNR will know the precise locations of the most significant deposits, and can make plans accordingly.

Cite this Record

Archeological and Historical Investigations at Florence Marina State Park, Walter F. George Reservoir, Stewart County, Georgia, Florence Site (9SW124) 1988-1990. R. Jerald Ledbetter, Chad O. Braley. 1989 ( tDAR id: 427851) ; doi:10.6067/XCV8M0486F

Spatial Coverage

min long: -85.222; min lat: 31.602 ; max long: -85; max lat: 32.003 ;


General Note: The digital materials in this collection were processed by the Veterans Curation Program (VCP), and include the finding aid, original investigation report, oversized material spreadsheet, and scanned asset key. Additional digital materials held by the VCP include an accession number document, artifact & note inventory form, bag inventories, box labels, correspondence, deed books, document folder listing, feature forms, historic artifact analysis sheets, initial data collection, land grants, maps, newspaper articles, oversized material labels, personal notes, postmold forms, prehistoric artifact analysis forms, records removal sheet, shovel test documents, a signature list, sketches, survey documents, test unit forms, and vessel analysis forms. For additional information on these materials, refer to the finding aid.

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Contact(s): US Army Corps of Engineers Mandatory Center of Expertise for the Curation and Management of Archaeological Collections, St. Louis District