A Landing a Day

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Posts Tagged ‘Moniac GA’

Moniac and Saint George, Georgia

Posted by graywacke on January 1, 2017

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now pretty much a once-every-four-or-five days blog), I have my computer select a random latitude and longitude that puts me somewhere in the continental United States (the lower 48).  I call this “landing.”  I keep track of the watersheds I land in, as well as the town I land near.  I do some internet research to hopefully find something of interest about my landing location.  To find out more about A Landing A Day (like who “Dan” is) please see “About Landing” above.  To check out some recent changes in how I do things, check out “About Landing (Revisited).”

Landing number 2317; A Landing A Day blog post number 748.

text-boxDan:  Today’s lat/long (43o 26.229’N, 96o 34.897’W) puts me right on the border between Florida & Georgia, but evidently in Georgia based on the title of this post:


A closer look confirms my Georgia landing, right in that peculiar southern bulge in the southeastern corner of Georgia:


Here’s my local landing map:


I’ll back out a little for another look, showing I’m not far from Jacksonville:


My watershed analysis is straightforward.  I landed right next to the St. Mary’s River, which discharges to the Atlantic Ocean:


Because I’ll be discussing the Okefenokee Swamp in a little bit, I added the Suwanee River, which drains most of the swamp.  St. Mary’s drains just a little.

It’s time for my Google Earth (GE) spaceflight into the “Georgia Bend,” as the southern bulge is known.  Click HERE, enjoy the trip, and hit your back button.

I have pretty good Street View coverage of my landing:


And here’s what the Orange Dude sees:


I don’t have to go far to get a look at the St. Mary’s River:


And here ‘tis:


So of course I went to Wiki to check out the towns of Moniac and Saint George.  I’ll start with teeny Moniac. 

Moniac is an unincorporated community along the St. Marys River, part of the “Georgia Bend” (the “tail” of Georgia that sticks further south than the rest of the state).  The area was an early trading post in the 1820s; the settlement’s name comes from an Indian chief whose entrance trail to the Okefenokee Swamp passed near by.

The population in 1904 was estimated to be 400.  According to the 1910 census, the population was 184.

Pretty funny.  Wiki says nothing about the population after 1910.  If I were to draw a graph of population vs. time and extend the line, the population went to zero a long, long time ago.

Here’s a GE shot of today’s downtown Moniac:


I’d say that zero population estimate looks about right . . .

One other thing.  I found an article by Lois Barefoot Mays in CharltonCountyArchives.org that disputes Wiki on how the town got its name:

Charlton County’s 1972 history book states that the town of Moniac got its name from a prominent Indian chief whose trail of entrance to the Swamp passed that way. Since then, printed documents have been found that show that Moniac was in fact named for a man who probably never came near this territory.  He was David Moniac, a Creek Indian.

Moniac was a West Point graduate from southern Alabama who fought with the U.S. Infantry in the Indian War (aka the Florida War or the Seminole War) of 1836.

David Moniac was the first Indian to be admitted to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He received the appointment to West Point in 1817 (at age 15).  He graduated as a 2nd Lt. In July 1822.

He was killed in Florida, after achieving the rank of Major.  He was leading a regiment of Creek Indians against the Seminoles (the enemy tribe in the Florida War).

Way to go, Ms. L. Barefoot Mays, for correcting the record.  Could you please dive into Wiki and make appropriate changes?  I’m totally with you.

One more thing about Moniac.  Here’s a historical marker:


So a surveyor (Andrew Ellicott) built a mound marking the east end of the straight-line border between the US and Spanish Florida.  According to a treaty between the US & Spain, the line was to run from the confluence of the Flint & Chattahoochee Rivers, extending east southeast to a point marking the headwaters of the St. Mary’s River (which is where Mr. Ellicott placed his famous mound).

Here’s a GE shot showing the Mound’s location:


And a map showing the western end of the line:


And the eastern end of the line (at Ellicott’s Mound):


So, Mr. Ellicott canoed/trekked up the St. Mary’s and built a mound of earth at the only dry location he could find in the general vicinity of the headwaters of the river.  He designated this as the eastern end of the survey line.

He then marked out a straight line, running approximately 158 miles:


Imagine doing this in 1800!  Dense forests everywhere; no roads, no modern surveying instruments (let alone GPS!).  He really knew his astronomy, and used the stars to determine his location.  But I can imagine starting at one end, and then being a few thousand feet too far north when you reached the other!  But no.  He nailed it.

By the way, Andrew Ellicott had quite the resume:

  • He completed the unfinished Mason-Dixon line
  • He surveyed the limits and street plans for Washington DC
  • Performed a topographical survey of the Niagara River and Niagara Falls
  • Plotted a road from Reading PA to Erie PA (a straight line distance of 250 miles). For those of you who (like me) are familiar with the ridges of central Pennsylvania, you realize the difficulty of this task (think about the PA Turnpike and all of the tunnels).
  • Surveyed the boundary between Alabama and Florida (the 31st parallel).
  • Surveyed the boundary between Georgia and North Carolina, which was in dispute.

Time to move on to Saint George.

Saint George has very little internet presence (aka, it’s hookless).

Of some (but not much) interest is the Wiki-noted fact that St. George has the southern-most post office in Georgia and that St. George Elementary is the southernmost school in Georgia.

From VanishingSouthGeorgia.com, this photograph by Brian Brown is of the afore-mentioned southern-most elementary school:


Hard to argue with the sentiment (although in our current political climate, I often wonder).

(Never fear, ALAD Nation!  I will not – I repeat – will not – begin talking politics!)

Anyway, I was curious about the name “Saint George” (Wiki has nothing to say on the king_george_iisubject).  After all, the State of Georgia was named after King Georgia II, hardly a Saint (king of England from 1727 to 1760).  He was quite the fru-fru dude (as shown to the right).  He hardly looks saintly!

There’s a Saint George, Utah, but that was named after Mormon Apostle George A. Smith.  George was Joseph Smith’s nephew and (according to the Mormon hierarchy) is one of 13 Apostles who preside below the Mormon top gun aka the Prophet aka the President.  This hierarchical structure is present to this day.  Anyway, during George Smith’s time, the Prophet was Brigham Young.  I don’t believe that the Mormons typically bequeath sainthood on their leadership . . .

But there is an actual Saint George, who I assume the town of Saint George, Georgia was named after.  From Wiki:

Saint George; AD 278 to 303); according to legend, was a Roman soldier of Greek origin and officer in the Guard of Roman emperor Diocletian.  Diocletian ordered his death for failing to recant his Christian faith.  As a Christian martyr, he later became one of the most venerated saints in Christianity.

Saint George is the patron saint of England. His cross forms the national flag of England, and features within the Union Jack of the United Kingdom.

During my internet perusing, I came across the fact that the settlers of the Georgia Bend region were overwhelmingly of British origins (although I can’t find the reference now); so it’s the official ALAD position that Saint George was named after Saint George.

I came across VanishingSouthGeorgia.com, and this photo by Brian Brown of a house in Saint George:


It was identified as a “great example of so-called Cracker-style architecture” common in Northern Florida and Southern Georgia. 

This definitely rang a bell for me, so a quick ALAD search took me to my Bronson, Florida post, which contained this picture of a strikingly-similar house:


From my earlier post:

This picture was labeled “Classic Cracker House.”  My only knowledge of the term “cracker” is that it is a derogatory term applied to southern whites (mostly poor, I assume).  But I did a little research.  From Wiki (under “Florida Cracker Architecture”):

Florida cracker architecture is a style of woodframe home used fairly commonly in the 19th century, and still popular with some developers as a source of design themes. Florida cracker homes are characterized by metal roofs, raised floors, large porch areas (often wrapping around the entire home), and straight central hallways from the front to the back of the home (sometimes called “dog trot” or “shotgun” hallways).

Then I looked at the Wiki entry for “Florida Cracker.”  Here are some excerpts:

The term “cracker” was in use during the Elizabethan era to describe braggarts.  The use of the word is documented in William Shakespeare’s King John (1595): “What cracker is this … that deafens our ears with this abundance of superfluous breath?”

By the 1760s the English, both at home and in the American colonies, applied the term “cracker” to Scots-Irish and English American settlers of the remote southern back country, as noted in a letter to the Earl of Dartmouth: “I should explain to your Lordship what is meant by Crackers; a name they have got from being great boasters; they are a lawless set of rascals on the frontiers of Virginia, Maryland, the Carolinas, and Georgia.

Among some Floridians, the term is often used as a proud or jocular self-description. Since the huge influx of new residents (mostly northerners) into Florida in the late 20th and early 21st centuries, the term “Florida Cracker” is used informally by some Floridians to indicate that their families have lived in the state for many generations. It is considered a source of pride to be descended from “frontier people who did not just live but flourished in a time before air conditioning, mosquito repellent, and screens.”

Other Floridians (and white southerners in general) find the term highly offensive and insulting.

Well!  I certainly learned something . . .

Back to now.  Also by Brian Brown (the fellow who took the picture of the Cracker house in St. George) is this shot of the St. Mary’s River:


Speaking of the St. Mary’s, here’s a Wiki map:


Interesting that the river stops exactly at Ellicott’s Mound, eh?

From Wiki about the river:

The Saint Marys River (sometimes misspelled as St. Mary’s River) is a 126-mile-long river that forms a portion of the border between Georgia and Florida.   It is named after the Irish Saint Mary.

Now wait a minute!  “Misspelled as St. Mary’s River?!?”  You may have noticed that I have been consistently “misspelling” St. Marys as “St. Mary’s” throughout the post At least “St. Mary’s River” is grammatically correct!  For the record, my ALAD spreadsheet calls the river St. Mary’s!  And I will belligerently continue my misspelling ways.

So how about the Okefenokee Swamp?  I’ve featured it before, but thought that this time, I’d be a little more geologic.

From Wiki:

The Okefenokee was formed over the past 6,500 years by the accumulation of peat in a shallow basin on the edge of an ancient Atlantic coastal terrace, the geological relic of a Pleistocene estuary. The swamp is bordered by Trail Ridge, a strip of elevated land believed to have formed as coastal dunes or an offshore barrier island.

This is just the kind of geologic mumbo jumbo that gives my science a bad name!  I don’t even know what they’re talking about!  (Oh alright, so maybe I have a clue, but the wording is way too obtuse). 

So, peat (an accumulation of decaying vegetation) accumulated in a shallow basin over the past 6,500 years.  But the rest?  I need to understand it a little better, and pass the information along to my readers.

I found an on-line book:  “A Tide-swept Coast of Sand and Marsh: Coastal Geology and Ecology of Georgia” by Miles O. Hayes, Jacqueline Michel.

In the book, I garnered the following information:

The swamp formed in a low area landward (to the west of) a sandy ridge that is the remnants of an ancient barrier island system that was deposited when sea level was much higher than today.  This former barrier island is today called the Trail Ridge.  The Ridge is composed of sand and trends north-south:


The barrier island was deposited some time between 1.0 and 1.7 million years ago when sea level was as much as 95-100 feet higher than today. 

The swamp is underlain by a vast deposit of peat, composed of >70% organic matter.  After a period of weathering, this organic material becomes a waxy brown mass with the consistency of peanut butter.  The peat accumulated over a period as long as 1 million years. (A little more than Wiki’s 6,500 years, eh?)

These deposits have been studied extensively by geologists, because its origin is likely similar to the origin of the extensive coal beds found throughout the world.

This got me thinking.  Back in the Carboniferous era (spanning 60 million years, from 360 million years ago until 300 million years ago), incredible thicknesses of coal deposits were laid down all over the world.  Ergo, the name “Carboniferous.”  And essentially all of the world’s coal is the same age.  Why is that?  Why aren’t there younger coal beds? 

Well, I found a post by science blogger Robert Drulwish (on NationalGeographic.com) entitled “The Fantastically Strange Origin of Most Coal on Earth.” This is a great post, and definitely worth the read!  He answers all of my questions about the origin of the world’s coal beds (and will answer yours as well, I’m sure)!  Click HERE.  Please.

If you refuse to so click, I’ll at least tell you this:  It turns out that the Carboniferous was a wet warm era with lots of treeish plants that grew quickly and died young (thus allowing for large accumulations of organic detritus).  But more importantly, the strain of bacteria that today breaks down organic matter was absent!  These bacteria have been present ever since 300 million years ago, and effectively nearly eliminate extensive accumulations of dead plant matter.  How about that . . . 

I’ll close with a couple of GE Panoramio shots of the St. Mary’s River.  First this, by MappyB:


And then this, by Mr. IPhone Tommy:


That’ll do it . . .




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