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Archaeologists Find Artifacts At Restaurant Site

March 20, 1985

RINGGOLD, Ga. (AP) _ A place believed to have once been the site of a 19th-century tavern is on its way to becoming a Waffle House restaurant - but not before yielding some Indian artifacts.

Archaeologists uncovered a variety of memorabilia during a recent three-day dig at the north Georgia location of a settlement established about 1808 by Richard Taylor, an influential Cherokee leader.

The site at the intersection of U.S. 41 and LaFayette Street will be bulldozed this week to make room for a new Waffle House restaurant near Interstate 75.

But first, the restaurant company agreed to permit archaeologists Raymond Evans and Vicky Karhu to dig through the property.

″Waffle House has been very cooperative,″ said Evans. ″They didn’t know that there was anything on the site until ... last week. They only bought the property last week.″ Although getting through only about 10 percent of the lot, the archaeologists found bits and pieces of dishes used in the 1800s, a bear tooth, pieces of glass from a liquor bottle and bricks that showed evidence of fire from when Gen. William T. Sherman’s troops burned the tavern in 1863.

″Most of the stuff in this area is about eight inches deep and at around a foot you are completely through the occupational area. In most sites, that is unusual,″ said Evans. ″The kind of stuff we’re finding here are the kinds of the things that you would associate with eating and drinking, so we think we are on the site of the tavern.″

The excavation was initiated by the Catoosa County Historical Association and supported by a private grant administered by the Association for the Preservation of Cultural and Natural Resources.

Born in what is now Polk County, Tenn., in 1789, Taylor established his settlement in Cherokee land along the old Federal Road linking Nashville and Augusta, Ga. He was a government Indian language interpreter and a confidant of Chief John Ross before the forced removal of the Cherokees to Oklahoma on the Trail of Tears in 1838.

His property was then sold to whites in Georgia’s land lottery, and the excavation site was occupied by a private home until Waffle House bought the lot.

It will take several months to catalog and analyze the bits of china and metal, and Evans and Ms. Karhu hope to publish their findings in the Journal fo Cherokee Studies.

The historical society is discussing establishing a marker to note the spot, and the Catoosa County Chamber of Commerce may set up a display of Indian artifacts from the site in the old Ringgold Depot, which was built before the Civil War.

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