Eufaula’s Peruvian roots?
When your wide awake at 3 am drinking coffee, and you find yourself reading doctoral theses at the University of Kentucky about the Chattahoochee River, this is what you find. A footnote leading to Richard Thornton!
First, most of us have heard some version of this history. “The Creek / Muscogee tribal town of”Eufaula” was originally located on the western side of the Chattahoochee River in the late 1700s and early 1800s. There was a ferry used to cross the Chattahoochee, which transported people, livestock, and goods across the river to a village named Tapamana”. Modern-day Georgetown being on the east side and Eufaula as we know it on the west.
The important Creek Confederacy tribal town of Eufaula was located on the western side of the Chattahoochee River in the late 1700s and early 1800s. It operated a ferry, consisting of timber rafts, which transported people, livestock and goods across the river to the village of Tapamana, or the same from the east bank to the west bank.
At Abbeville high school the official version was a European explorer was being led by an Indian to a village on the west bank of the river. A huge tree was across the river (impossible), and the guy asked what is this places’ name, and the Indian waved and said in broken English “you follow” and there you go, that’s what we named it.
Note Coach Dale’s version is probably not what really happened.
Most of Eufaula’s Creek/Muscogee occupants moved to the Indian Territory in 1836 and founded the city of Eufaula, Oklahoma. Some Creeks remained and took allotments in what is now Barbour County and in the northern part of Henry County. This is how my family got their land near Edwin. A poor disoriented Irishman following Beaver Creek (named for beaver) met a Muscogee maiden whose father and brother had died, and at that time a woman could not hold title to land. Thus a husband was needed, alas the name O’Carroll appears on the allotment.
In the year following this allotment agreement with the Creeks, the city of Eufaula, Alabama was founded near the location of the original Creek tribal town. Almost immediately after the Creeks left, a ferry was established by white settlers at the same location, because there was a ridge next to the east side of the river, where tow ropes could be anchored. Think the bluffs you see when you cross the bridge going to Georgetown to eat at Michelle’s.
The name “Tabanana” or sometimes, “Tabanache” means the descendants of Tapamana was what Georgetown’s original name was. So where is the original “Tapamana” and where did that name come from? Strangely you will not find anything similar to that word in a Muskogee-Creek Dictionary. However, if you look into a Shipibo/Conibo — Español Dictionary from Peru, you will find that “Tapaman” is the plural in Panoan for a type of timber raft, used to ferry people across rivers. “Tapamana” would be the place where those rafts are stored. Or what we know as Georgetown.
Eufaula or “UFaula” is not what it seems as well. This name first appeared on a map of Georgia by the Spanish in 1615. A guy named Richard Thornton who is President of The Apalache Foundation and Tribal Historic Preservation Officer for the Coweta Creek Tribe has done a lot of research on this topic and is worth reading. If I understand his argument, the place names are like a trail. At some point, a group of Peruvian explorers settled an area in eastern Georgia as shown on the map. At another point, these people moved west and settled in the area near Eufaula and Georgetown and thus named them using words from a distinct dialect only found in Peru.
I just stumbled across him by way of the University Kentucky, not sure how to credit that link. But I am glad I did and had no idea we may have some Peruvian roots. I’m going to visit this guy and talk about this in person and see what else we might discover.