The lovely grass-covered mound that sits on the former property of a Georgia governor looks like a picturesque hill where one might like to have a picnic, helped in no small part thanks to the quaint white gazebo that crowns it. But this low berm is actually a burial mound that once held at least 75 bodies. Or at least it’s the replica of one.
Georgia’s Nacoochee Mound was first brought to modern attention when a farmer who owned the land on which it sat began accidentally digging up graves nearby. He had built a little gazebo on the summit to take advantage of the mound’s lovely little height, but it soon became apparent that his pleasant hillock was actually a mass grave. In 1915 archaeologists organized by an organization that would come to be part of the Smithsonian Institute began to excavate the burial site, uncovering the remains of at least 75 people, members of the Mississippian culture that once inhabited the area. In addition to the bodies, researchers found pottery and jewelry buried as symbols of status.
It was also believed that a later Cherokee settlement had taken up residence in the area, founding a town known as Gauxule, turning the burial mound into the site of the main hall and a sacred, ever-burning fire. However, site analysis that took place in 2004 showed no sign of this habitation ever occurring.
Since much of the mound was disturbed by the excavations, a replica of the original mound was installed on the site, along with a gazebo, which had become fairly notorious locally. Now the old burial mound is once again a lovely hill decorated with a gazebo.
In March of 2018, the mound became part of the Georgia State Park system. A new park called Hardman Farm includes this mound and gazebo, as well as the dairy farm it sits on and the Italianate home across the street. The last owner was the family of Dr. Lamartine Hardman, Georgia’s governor from 1927 to 1931, namesake to the park.
Know Before You Go
At the intersection of GA SR 17 + GA SR 75The site is just outside of gorgeous Helen, Georgia.