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Right in Your Own Backyard…

Sightseeing in the north Georgia mountains. Site of Trahlyta’s Grave and Lydia School.

It’s amazing sometimes the things you’re unaware of right in your own backyard. I’ve always been interested in history. Especially local history. I’m fascinated by the lives our ancestors led. Where they lived. How they worked. What they ate. How they played. Since we moved here to north Georgia, we’ve been doing even more exploring than we have in the past. There’s so much more history here it seems.

Sightseeing in the north Georgia mountains. Site of Trahlyta's Grave and Lydia School.

One of the things I enjoy most about blogging is all the wonderful comments I get from people and I love visiting the blogs of my commenters. About a week ago I saw a comment from Olivia at That Rebel With a Blog. I was intrigued and jumped over to her blog where I read about something I’d never heard of before — Trahlyta’s Grave.

I mentioned the story of Trahlyta to BeeBop and he suggested that we drive over and find the site last weekend. Trahlyta’s Grave is located about 9 miles north of Dahlonega, Georgia, at the junction of Highways 19 and 60. It’s literally in the middle of the intersection of the two roads.

Trahlyta's Grave

Trahlyta’s story, according to the historical marker at the site, goes like this:

Trahlyta's Grave Historical Marker

This pile of stones marks the grave of a Cherokee princess, Trahlyta. According to legend her tribe, living on Cedar Mountain north of here, knew the secret of the magic springs of eternal youth from the Witch of Cedar Mountain.

Trahlyta, kidnapped by a rejected suitor, Wahsega, was taken far away and lost her beauty. As she was dying, Wahsega promised to bury her here near her home and the magic springs. Custom arose among the Indians and later the Whites to drop stones, one for each passerby, on her grave for good fortune.

The magic springs, now known as Porter Springs, lie 3/4 miles northeast of here.

There was something vaguely haunting about the place. And, of course, we each left a stone for Trahlyta.

We left the site thinking we’d look for the magical Porter Springs. After all, the marker said it was only 3/4 mile away. We drove down Highway 60 for a short distance and spotted Porter Springs Road. Sorry to say we didn’t find the springs. I really wanted to splash around in all that eternal youth magic, too.

Just a few yards after we turned onto Porter Springs Road, we both spotted a tiny little building on the left and immediately thought it was an old country church. But at second glance we realized it was an old one-room schoolhouse! I just love this stuff, so BeeBop pulled off the road and I grabbed my camera.

Lydia School, Dahlonega, Georgia

It’s called Lydia School and it was established in 1890. The structure was renovated in 1984. I wish it had been open so I could have taken photos inside. Lydia School was even more difficult to find information on than Trahlyta. Here’s an excerpt about it that was in a book preview on Amazon.com. The book is “I Remember Dahlonega.”

Loudean Jarrard Seabolt – “I started at Lydia School when I was five years old and went through all seven grades there. School started at eight o’clock and we weren’t dismissed until four o’clock, so during the winter months many students left home in the dark and didn’t arrive home until the sun was setting. That seems like a long day compared to the hours students are in school today, but we had two thirty minute recesses and a full hour for lunch. We didn’t have individual desks. We sat on long benches with our feet dangling in the air, boys on one side of the room and girls on the other. We wrote in our laps. There were no free textbooks back then, so we children had to work during the summer earning money to buy our own books.

Indoor plumbing was unheard of, and there weren’t even any outhouses when I first started at Lydia School. At recess time the girls headed in one direction to a wooded area, and the boys headed in another. We had to carry water from the spring for drinking and washing up. There was always a big bar of Octagon soap on hand to clean our hands and keep the “itch” away.

The teacher kept a hickory stick on her desk to use when needed, but she usually tried other kinds of discipline first. One day I had been talking my head off despite all her warnings. Finally, in exasperation, she drew a circle on the board (a big space painted black on the boards of the wall) and told me to go stand with my nose in it until I thought I could control my tongue. The chalk dust kept irritating my nose and making it drip down the board. It seemed like hours before I got to go sit down again!”

What a different experience from schools today!

If you’re in the north Georgia mountains sightseeing, biking, canoeing…all those things that people flock to the mountains for, be sure to stop by and leave a stone for Trahlyta. Then run right on down the road and see Lydia School. It’s a fascinating look back.

I’d love to know more about the Cherokee princess Trahlyta and also about Lydia School. Anyone have more information?

Other posts that mention Trahlyta’s Grave or Lydia School:

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  1. so much fun and interest in digging up, or rather, discovering things in your own back yard … that’s one good thing about the south, so much history and lore, nothing to bore us

  2. What an interesting post. It is so much fun to just explore the region around you. Glad you gave us this insight on your area.

  3. GREAT story! You had me all the way through. Love the pics! Wish I were there to see and appreciate with you. I love old schools and churches and what a great legend! Thanks for sharing!

  4. It is fun to find local interesting historical stuff nearby. We aren’t too far from Natchez and love to do the Trace. Great post.