Suwannee River Basin in a map of 1776

Welcome to the “Great Swamp of Owaquaphenoga whose Highland is inhabited by an Old Apalachean Tribe who keep the Avenue Secret”.

[Rio San Juan, or Siguane 1776, Map of the Southern British Colonies in America]
Rio San Juan, or Seguane 1776, Map of the Southern British Colonies in America

Maybe we can conserve the Okefenokee Swamp so it will be known to all in another 250 years.

The coasts on that old map are not bad, although the scale is off towards Cape St. Blas. I like “Broken Coast,” a name which seems to have fallen out of favor. That’s southeast from the Rio San Juan, or Seguane, which is the Suwannee River.

There is no mention of the Santa Fe, Withlacoochee, or Alapaha Rivers.

Of course, the GA-FL line wasn’t necessarily where it is now until the not-really-complete survey of 1799. The Orr-Whitner line of 1859 was not accepted by FLorida until 1861, by Georgia in 1866, and the U.S. Congress in 1872.

Maybe they got the scale way wrong and the High Land is Floyds Island, Billys Island, etc. in the middle of the Okefenokee Swamp.

Or if they got the scale right, the most upstream, western, reach of the St. Marys River is shown about where the Withlacoochee River runs southeast from the Okapilco Creek Confluence to the state line, so maybe they knew about that and thought it connected to the St. Marys.

Then the High Land is shown more or less where the Red Hills are from Thomasville, Georgia, south and east. Which is more or less where the Apalachee lived, between the Aucilla and Ochlockonee Rivers, with their capital at Anhaica (Tallahassee) when Hernando de Soto came by. The map seems to show the upper reaches of the St. Marks River where the Ochlocokonee actually is.

The Apalachee were farmers who grew fields of corn (maize) miles long, along with other food plants. Maybe those long fields were the Avenue.

Disease and local and colonial enemies had mostly wiped out the Apalachee by 1776. The British incited Creeks to harry them from the north, and in 1703 a few hundred English with a few thousand Creeks defeated the Spanish and Apalachee. Many were removed to Caroline, some merging with the Creeks.

Some, then Catholics, moved west to French Mobile in 1704. In 1763, “most of these Apalachees relocated to Rapides Parish in Louisiana. Today, 250 to 300 of their descendants still live there. They are the only documented descendants of any of Florida’s prehistoric native populations.”

I’m sure somebody who knows more can correct all this.

[A General Map of the Southern British Colonies in America 1776]
A general map of the southern British colonies in America, comprehending North and South Carolina, Georgia, East and West Florida, with the neighboring Indian countries, from the modern surveys of Engineer de Brahm, Capt. Collet, Mouzon, & others, and from the large hydrographical survey of the coasts of East and West Florida. Copy 3

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

You can help with clean, swimmable, fishable, drinkable, water in the 10,000-square-mile Suwannee River Basin in Florida and Georgia by becoming a WWALS member today!

One thought on “Suwannee River Basin in a map of 1776

  1. Fannie Marie Jackson Gibbs

    This is so fascinating. I am truly enjoying learning about our rivers and waters. Again. Thank you.


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