Georgia Genealogy Trails
"Where your Journey Begins"
|Rome's Establishment and Early Days|
|Towns, Hamlets and Villages|
This county was laid out from Cherokee in 1832. The principal streams are the Oostenaula and Etowah, which unite their waters at Rome, forming the Coosa.
Rome is the county town, at the junction of the Etowah and Oostenaula rivers, situated upon several high hills, and commands a fine view of the mountains. Distant from Milledgeville 176 miles.
Rome, in the opinion of Colonel A. J. Pickett, whose researches into the early history of Georgia and Alabama are highly interesting, occupies the site of an Indian town formerly called Chiaha. De Soto took up his quarters in this town in 1540, according to the following statement, which is extracted from an account of De Soto's travels, written " by a Portugall gentleman of Eluas emploied in all the action, and translated out of Portugese by Richard Hacklvyt. 1609."
(Transcriber's Note: Original spellings kept!)
The Gouernour departed from Guaxule, and in two daies journie came to a towne called Canasagua. There met him on the way twenty Indians, euery one loaden with a basketful of mulberries; for there be many, and those very good, from Cutifa-chiqui thither and so forward in other Provinces, and also nuts and plummes. And the trees grow in the fields without planting or dressing them, and as big and as rancke as though they grew in gardens digged and watered.
From the time that the Gouernour departed from Canaaagua, hee iournied fiue daies through a Desert; and two leagues before he came to Chiaha, there met him 19 Indians loaden with maiz. which the Cacique had sent; and they told him on his behalfe that he waited his comming with twenty barnes full of it: and farther that himselfe, his Countrieand subjects, and al things els, were at his ser- uice. On the 5 day of June the Gouernour entred into Chiaha : The Cacique voided his owne houses in which he lodged, and receiued him with much ioy, saying these words following:—
" Mightie and excellent Lord, I hold mytelfe for so happie a man in that it hath pleased your Lordship to vie me, that nothing could have happened vnto mt of more contentment, nor Oiat I would haue esteemed so much. From Guaxule your Lord- thip sent vnlo me that I should prepare maiz for you in this towne for two months. Here I haue for you 20 barnes full of the choicest that in all the Countrie could be found. If your Lordship bee not entertained by me in such sort as is fit for so hie a Prince, respect my tender age, which excuseth me from blame, and receuve my good wil, which with much loyaltie, truth and sinceritie, I will alwaies shew in anything which shall concerne your Lordship's seruice."
The Gouernour answered him that he thanked him very much for his service and offer, and that he would alwaies account him as his brother.
There was in this towne much butter in gourds, melted like oile; they said it was the fat of beares. There was found also great store of oile of walnuts, which was cleare as butter, and of a good taste, and a pot ful of honie of bees, which neither before nor afterward was seene in all the Countrie.
The towne was an Island betweene two armes of a River, and was seated nigh one of them. The Riuer diudeth itselfe into those two branches, two crosse-bow shot aboue the towne, and meeteth againe a league beneath the same. The plain betweene both the branches is sometimes one crosse-bow shot, sometimes two crosse-bow shot ouer. The branches are very broad, and both of them may be waded ouer. There were along them verie good meadows, and manie fields sowne with maiz; and because the Indians staied in their towne, the Gouernour only lodged in the houses of the Cacique, and his people in the fields: where there was euer a tree euerie one tooke one for himselfe. Thus the Camp lay separated one from another, and out of order. The Gouernour winked at it, because the Indians were in peace; and because it was very hot, and the people should haue suffered great extremitie if it had not bin so. The horses came thither so weake. that for feeblenesse they were not able to carrie their masters; because that from Cutifa-chiqui they alwaies trauelled with verie little prouender, and were hunger statued and tired euer since they came from the desert of Ocute; and because the most of them were not in case to vse in battell, though need should require they sent them to feed in the night a quarter of a league from the Camp. The Christians were there in great danger, because that if, at this time, the Indians had set upon them, they had been in euill case to haue defended themselues. The Gouemour rested there thirtie daies, in which time, because the Countrie was very fruitful!, the horses grew fat. At the time of his departure, by the importunitie of some, which would haue more than was reason, nee demanded of the Cacique 30 women to make slaues of. Hee answered that he would conferre with his chiefe men. And before hee returned an answere, one night all of them, with their wiues and children, forsooke the towne and fled away. The next day, the Gouemour purposing to goe to seeka them, the Cacique came vnto him, and at his comming vsed these words vnto the Gouemour:
"Mightie Lord, with shame and feare of your Lordship, because my subiects, against my will, haue done amisse in absenting themselues, I went my way without your license; and knowing the errour which I have committed, like a loyall subiect I come to yeeld myselle into your power, to dispose of mee at your owne pleasure. For rnv subiecls doe not obey mee, nor doe anything but what an Vncle of mine commamleth, which gouerneth this Countrie for me, vntill I be of a perfect age. If your Lordship will pursue them arid execute on them that which for thoir disobedience they deserue. I will be your guide, since at ihis present my fortune will not suffer me to performe any more.'1
Presently the Gouemour with 30 horsemen and as many footemen went to seeke the Indians; and passing by some townes of the principall Indians which had absented themselues, hee cut and destroyed great fields of maiz: and went vp the Riuer, where the Indians were in an Island, where the horsemen could not come at them. There he sent them word by an Indian to returne to their towne ana leaie nothing, and that they should si>ue him men to carrie burdens, as al those behind had donej for he would haue no Indian women, seeing they were so loth to part with them.
The Indians accepted his request, and came to the Gonernour to excuse themselues; and so all of them returned to their towne. A Cacique of a Prouince called Coste came to this towne to visit the Gouernonr. After hee had offered himselfe, and passed with him some words, of tendring his seruice and curtesie. the Gouemour asking him whether he had notice of any rich Countrie, he said yea; to wit, that toward the North there was a Prouince named Chisca; and there was a melting of copper and of another metall of the same colour, saup that it was finer and of a farre more perfect colour, and farre better to the sight: and that they vsed it not so much because it was softer.
And the selfe-same thing was told the Gouemour in Cutifa-chiqui: where we saw some little hatchets of copper which were said to haue a mixture of gold.
But in that part the countrie was not well peopled, and they said there were mountaines which the horses could not passe; and for thatcause, the Gouernour would not goe Irom Cutifa-chiqui directly hither. And hee made account that tranelling through a peopled countrie, when his men and horses should bee in better plight, and hee were better certified of the truth of the thing, he would returne toward it by mountaines and a better inhabited countrie, whereby hee might haue a better passage. He sent two Christians from CJiiaha, with certaine Indians which knew the countrie of Cliisca, and the language thereof, to view it, and to make report.
De Soto then broke up his
camp, recrossed the Oostenaula, and marched down the west side of the Coosa,
leaving the generous people of Chiaha well satisfied with presents.
Rome has a number of handsome private dwellings.
The Etowah House is eligibly situated near the railroad and steamboat landing, and is conducted by an obliging gentleman.
At the last session of the Legislature, a town opposite to Rome was incorporated by the name of De Soto.
Hillsborough is opposite to Rome.
The town of Cave Springs is in the southern portion of the county, near the Alabama line.
Source: "Historical Collections Of Georgia", by George White, 1855
Transcribed and Submitted by Brenda Wiesner