Saturday afternoon after I returned from the local farm tour and challenge of the corn maze, I had to quickly get away from the apartment so the yard guy didn't inadvertently weed whack my car tires. I decided to take a drive around and run some errands. Errands done, I ended up on the north side of town near Lake Jackson Mounds. I decided to take a visit and look around the famous archaeological park, more than my previous visits.
I have more of a connection to the place than I care to admit, (assistance for research, ect…) even though I have spent very little time there. The Muskogee Creek word for the Lake Jackson Mounds are Okeeheepkee, which means, “disappearing waters.” Every few years, the lake waters disappear into two sink holes in the lake bottom, so the lake levels have been known to fluctuate from flood to dry mud bottom. It is a well-known event around Tallahassee that people will come out to watch when the cork in the aquifer becomes unplugged.
There has been some reinterpretation of what has been found at this site among anthropologists / archaeologists. But it is still under research so I won’t comment on that right now. It looks very promising.
This time at the Mounds, I decided to wander down the nature trial off to the side. I had never been down there before. It was called an interpretive trail, but the only interpretive signs were the general & generic metal park signs that all parks have, that describe things like the Southern Magnolia or Sweet Gum tree. And a couple temporary laminated pages about the exotic plant removal.
But one thing that caught my attention was that the park brochure mentioned earthworks and a grist mill that were constructed as part of Robert Butler’s plantation here in the 1820s. That’s all it said. But the wheels started churning in my head: where have I heard his name before? Where, or where? It slowly came back to me. I remember he was adjutant who recorded General Jackson’s orders to execute the two British citizens in the First Seminole War, Arbuthnot and Ambrister.
Butler, like many of the officers in Jackson’s army in the Creek War and First Seminole War, settled in the area that Andy came to conquer, and they were part of territorial politics and early statehood. Florida territorial governors like William Duval and Richard Keith Call were Jackson men from Tennessee, and so was Butler. Butler, was in fact, orphaned and raised by Jackson, and had close ties to Old Hickory. So it is no surprise that he might have named the large lake next to where he built his plantation after his adopted father, on the remains of Okeeheepkee Mounds and village.
I cover that in my video of my recent visit and walk down the nature trial. This is something that you do not usually learn in Florida history, and I did not see the park service show any of this on their signs or literature.
There is some county property to the south of the state park that has been preserved and supposed to have trails, but it was locked tight when I drove by.