Jackson County Artifact Adds Mystery to History of the Region: What are the Symbols and Who Made Them?

History is sometimes slow to share its secrets, but it did recently for a rural Jackson County man while he was clearing an area of his property. As a longtime resident and avid artifact collector, he quickly realized he had found another unique piece to add to his collection of atypical North Georgia artifacts .

Jackson County and the surrounding area is rich with archaeological sites located along ancient pathways and waterways flowing to the Chattahoochee River, which traverses the length of the State on its way to the Gulf of Mexico. One nearby unique site that illustrates the ancient history of the area, is a rare structure composed of four earthen concentric circles, the largest being nearly 100 yards (91.4 meters) in diameter.

The equally unique seven-inch (17.8 cm) piece weighs only 23 ounces (652 grams) - a result of being composed of basalt, a soft volcanic rock that is easily shaped. Perhaps this is the reason the piece has seven facets, each presenting a different appearance depending on how it is viewed. Is it a bird, the profile of a face, something else, or all of these? Adding to the visual complexity are the incised geometric shapes and possible symbols on each surface. This leads to the questions of which orientation they should be viewed from and what they represent.

Big Serpent Mound, Ohio, McClen 1885 sketch. Credit: Indigenous Peoples Research Foundation. The diagram is an example of geometric shapes that may have different interpretations.

Trying to correctly answer such questions illustrates the difficulties associated with interpretative attempts. The brain is remarkable in its relentless effort to interpret what something is by sorting through vast amounts of accumulated information to resolve the problem. Its decision however is based only on information it has stored. While this is a simplistic explanation of a more complex psychological phenomenon known as pereidolia, it does explain why different people see different things.

To illustrate, if ten people were asked what the curved feature on the rock’s lower-left side represented, you could get ten different answers. If the participants visualized the profile of a human head, responses like mustache, mouth, or part of the nose could be expected; but if they were not aware that a volute fang shape is a diagnostic of a Mesoamerican deity, it would not be one of their answers.

Other orientations showing symbols.

While being a plausible explanation, the fang interpretation by itself is not conclusive. However, when combined with the elongated forehead and spiral earring, the rock decidedly takes on a Mesoamerican appearance. This is a view also shared by two Mesoamerican scholars after reviewing photographs of the basalt rock.

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Other telling indicators are revealed when compared to a Mayan artifact which recently made headlines. It, along with seven others (some of which were fashioned from basalt), were recently returned to Guatemala after being illegally imported to the U.S. Both examples show incised features that may represent the “V” and oval symbols which are found in North American symbolism and which are routinely interpreted as a “serpent swallowing an egg”.

Mayan artifact, Guatemala. Credit: Indigenous Peoples Research Foundation

Perhaps the most compelling evidence linking the ancient peoples of Jackson County to Mexican cultural groups, comes from Charles de Rochefort , a European who wrote of his experiences while touring the American Southeast in the 17th century.

Referring to his conversations with the area’s Indigenous people, he writes...

“These Apalachites boast, that they had propagated certain Colonies a great way into Mexico: And they show to this day a great Road by land, by which they affirm that their Forces march'd into those parts”. “The Inhabitants of the Country, upon their arrival gave them the name of Tlatuici, which signifies Mountaineers or High-Landers...”.

Rochefort also writes, “This people [Apalachites] have a communication with the Sea of the Great Gulf of Mexico or New Spain, by means of a River […] the Spaniards have called this River Rio del Spirito Santo” [Mississippi River].

Left: French Map demonstrating the Apalachites (Apalachee) locations in the South. Right: Spanish Map demonstrating the Apalachites (Apalachee) locations in the South. Source: The History of the Caribby-Islands by Charles de Rochefort, 1658.

The road Rochefort mentions may be what is referred to today in Georgia history as the “The Great White Path”. This ancient road, constructed of crushed sea shells, sand and clay, is believed to be generally followed Hwy 129 thru Jackson County on its westward course from the Atlantic coast.

Rochefort writes of other events of the Apalachite oral history , which should be of interest to Georgia history buffs. Interestingly, one of his tales, tells of people coming to their lands from the North, traversing their way along narrow mountain paths using camels, yes camels.

The Jackson County artifact illustrates that there are few clear answers when it comes to deciphering history, just more questions.

More interesting North Georgia artifacts can be seen at:

Featured Image: Multi-facet basalt artifact, Georgia, USA. Source: Indigenous Peoples Research Foundation


Palestine is a small region of land that has played a prominent role in the ancient and modern history of the Middle East. The history of Palestine has been marked by frequent political conflict and violent land seizures because of its importance to several major world religions, and because Palestine sits at a valuable geographic crossroads between Africa and Asia. Today, Arab people who call this territory home are known as Palestinians, and the people of Palestine have a strong desire to create a free and independent state in this contested region of the world.

Legends of America

Mysteries in American History

There are dozens of unexplained events and mysteries in American History. From ancient times to more recent events, questions remain unanswered, crimes were never solved, strange creatures lurk in forests and lakes, people go missing and are never found, the government is suspected of cover-ups, and accepted written history is often questioned. Some mysteries will, undoubtedly, never be solved, while others prompt new generations, with advanced technologies to search for answers yet more, remain the subjects of intense debates.

Why did the Anasazi people abandon their cities? What is the Moth Man? Did Meriwether Lewis commit suicide or was he murdered? Did the Romans explore America? What mysteries do the Nevada and Alaska Triangles hide? Does Bigfoot really exist? What is the legend of Dudleytown, Connecticut? Where did the people of the Roanoke Colony go? These and many more mysteries are explored in this section of Legends’ Mysteries in American History.

Pocahontas and John Smith

The first English settlers arrived in Jamestown colony in May 1607. That winter, Pocahontas’ brother kidnapped colonist Captain John Smith and made a spectacle of him in front of several Powhatan tribes before taking him to meet Chief Powhatan.

According to Smith, his head was placed on two stones and a warrior prepared to smash his head and kill him. But before the warrior could strike, Pocahontas rushed to Smith’s side and placed her head on his, preventing the attack. Chief Powhatan then bartered with Smith, referred to him as his son and sent him on his way.

Smith’s account of Pocahontas’ lifesaving efforts is hotly debated, partly because he wrote different versions of this initial meeting with Chief Powhatan. Many historians believe Smith was never in peril and the placement of his head on the stones was ceremonial.

Even so, if Smith’s explanation of the incident is true, he had no way of knowing about Powhatan ceremonial customs and from his terrified point of view, Pocahontas was undoubtedly his benevolent rescuer.

Hunting down runaway slaves: The cruel ads of Andrew Jackson and ‘the master class’

“Stop the Runaway,” Andrew Jackson urged in an ad placed in the Tennessee Gazette in October 1804. The future president gave a detailed description: A “Mulatto Man Slave, about thirty years old, six feet and an inch high, stout made and active, talks sensible, stoops in his walk, and has a remarkable large foot, broad across the root of the toes — will pass for a free man.…”

Jackson, who would become the country’s seventh commander in chief in 1829, promised anyone who captured this “Mulatto Man Slave” a reward of $50, plus “reasonable” expenses paid.

Jackson added a line that some historians find particularly cruel.

It offered “ten dollars extra, for every hundred lashes any person will give him, to the amount of three hundred.”
The ad was signed, “ANDREW JACKSON, Near Nashville, State of Tennessee.”

Jackson, whose face is on the $20 bill and to whom President Trump paid homage in March, owned about 150 enslaved people at The Hermitage, his estate near Nashville, when he died in 1845, according to records. On Monday, President Trump created a furor when he suggested in an interview with the Washington Examiner’s Salena Zito that Jackson could have prevented the Civil War.

Jackson’s slave ad is one of thousands being catalogued by the history department at Cornell University, which launched “The Freedom on the Move” project to digitize and preserve runaway slave ads and make them more accessible to the public.

“Our goal is to ultimately collect all the runaway ads that have survived,” said Edward E. Baptist, a Cornell history professor who is collaborating on the project with Joshua D. Rothman, at the University of Alabama, and Molly Mitchell, at the University of New Orleans.

Baptist said the ads provide rich insights into history.

“They are these little windows,” Baptist said. “I call them the tweets of the master class. The purpose is to alert the surveillance system that was the entire body of white people in the South to help this individual recover this human property.”

The ads often describe in detail the runaways: their skills, missing teeth, height, weight. They give insight into how enslaved people lived and carried themselves. The ads also provide a sense of resistance and defiance, along with harsh punishments. They describe recent beatings, scars and fingers cut off. In an ad dated June 5, 1788, that ran in the Virginia Herald and Fredericksburg Advertiser, a woman named Patty, who was about 18 years old and 5 feet tall, is described this way: “Her back appears to have been used to the whip.”

Some ads included languages spoken beyond English: Dutch, French or African languages. Others offered evidence that escaped slaves were literate and able to write passes.

Teaching slaves to read and write was prohibited, especially after Nat Turner’s revolt in Southampton County, Va., in 1831, Baptist said. “There was a wave of anti-literacy laws. Slave owners knew if some men and women were literate, they could write passes to freedom.”

Some ads included the ironic clause “ran away without cause.”

“Ran away without cause,” Baptist said, “that means ‘I’m a good slaver owner I didn’t treat her with unusual cruelty.’ It’s hard not to make connections with the history of race relations in the United States. The whites need to define themselves as the virtuous ones.”

In many ads, the runaways were described as “mulatto,” or carrying with them “mulatto” children.
Sometimes they were described as cunning, insolent or “pleasant when spoken to.”

The skin colors ranged from light to copper colored to “perfectly black.” An ad seeking Thomas, who was about 30 years old when he ran away, described him as “5 feet five inches high, a light bacon color, stoutly made, full face, bushy hair, has a very slight stoppage in his speech, and has been badly whipped.”

Sometimes the ads gave hints of their hopes and aspirations — that they may have been headed for cities or nearby plantations where they had a mother or a father or a wife or husband or child.

A newspaper ad that appeared in July 1826, tells the story of Mary, who escaped with her baby on her back. By the time the ad appeared, four months had passed and the reward for her return was $20.

“RANAWAY, about four months ago the negra woman named MARY, aged about 26 to 36 years ordinary size having lost almost all her front teeth her under lip is thick and hangs down,” the ad said. Mary spoke French and English with “the same facility.”

In a few lines, the reader learns this about Mary: She had a baby, a small child 6 months old, “which she commonly carries with her.”

Most likely Mary was looking for her husband. “Said negra woman is very intimate with a negro named William, belonging to Mde Gaudin and both of them have had for a long time relations with the negro fisherman at the Bayou.”
The ad was signed E. FORSTALL.

Seven years before penning the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson placed an ad in the Virginia Gazette on Sept. 14, 1769, seeking “a Mulatto slave called Sandy.” Sandy, who was about 35 years old, was described by the future president as “inclining to corpulence.” His complexion was “light.” He was a shoemaker by trade and left-handed. He was also skilled at carpentry and “is something of a horse jockey.” The ad explained that Sandy was “greatly addicted to drink, and when drunk is insolent and disorderly, in his conversation he swears much, and in his behavior is artful and knavish.” Sandy apparently escaped with a white horse. He also took his shoemaking tools “and will probably endeavor to get employment that way,” the ad warned. The reward for Sandy was listed at $40.

A man named Antoine, who used the alias William, ran away Jan. 29, 1851. Antoine was described as a “journeyman baker,” about 40 years old, 5 feet 7 or 8 inches tall, “with yellowish complexion, strong constitution, large head, big nose, thick lips, large, flat feet.” The ad alluded to the pain of Antoine’s life in captivity. He had “a large burnt scar on the chest, a piece of one ear bitten off.” He spoke both English and French. Antoine was said to have a wife in New Orleans or Lafayette. The ad promised a reward of $35 for “anyone who will bring back slave to his master.”

White Settlers Buried the Truth About the Midwest’s Mysterious Mound Cities

Around 1100 or 1200 A.D., the largest city north of Mexico was Cahokia, sitting in what is now southern Illinois, across the Mississippi River from St. Louis. Built around 1050 A.D. and occupied through 1400 A.D., Cahokia had a peak population of between 25,000 and 50,000 people. Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Cahokia was composed of three boroughs (Cahokia, East St. Louis, and St. Louis) connected to each other via waterways and walking trails that extended across the Mississippi River floodplain for some 20 square km. Its population consisted of agriculturalists who grew large amounts of maize, and craft specialists who made beautiful pots, shell jewelry, arrow-points, and flint clay figurines.

The city of Cahokia is one of many large earthen mound complexes that dot the landscapes of the Ohio and Mississippi River Valleys and across the Southeast. Despite the preponderance of archaeological evidence that these mound complexes were the work of sophisticated Native American civilizations, this rich history was obscured by the Myth of the Mound Builders, a narrative that arose ostensibly to explain the existence of the mounds. Examining both the history of Cahokia and the historic myths that were created to explain it reveals the troubling role that early archaeologists played in diminishing, or even eradicating, the achievements of pre-Columbian civilizations on the North American continent, just as the U.S. government was expanding westward by taking control of Native American lands.

Today it’s difficult to grasp the size and complexity of Cahokia, composed of about 190 mounds in platform, ridge-top, and circular shapes aligned to a planned city grid oriented five degrees east of north. This alignment, according to Tim Pauketat, professor of anthropology at the University of Illinois, is tied to the summer solstice sunrise and the southern maximum moonrise, orientating Cahokia to the movement of both the sun and the moon. Neighborhood houses, causeways, plazas, and mounds were intentionally aligned to this city grid. Imagine yourself walking out from Cahokia’s downtown on your journey you would encounter neighborhoods of rectangular, semi-subterranean houses, central hearth fires, storage pits, and smaller community plazas interspersed with ritual and public buildings. We know Cahokia’s population was diverse, with people moving to this city from across the midcontinent, likely speaking different dialects and bringing with them some of their old ways of life.

View of Cahokia from Rattlesnake Mound ca 1175 A.D., drawn by Glen Baker (Image courtesy of Sarah E. Baires)

The largest mound at Cahokia was Monks Mound, a four-terraced platform mound about 100 feet high that served as the city’s central point. Atop its summit sat one of the largest rectangular buildings ever constructed at Cahokia it likely served as a ritual space.

In front of Monks Mound was a large, open plaza that held a chunk yard to play the popular sport of chunkey. This game, watched by thousands of spectators, was played by two large groups who would run across the plaza lobbing spears at a rolling stone disk. The goal of the game was to land their spear at the point where the disk would stop rolling. In addition to the chunk yard, upright marker posts and additional platform mounds were situated along the plaza edges. Ridge-top burial mounds were placed along Cahokia’s central organizing grid, marked by the Rattlesnake Causeway, and along the city limits.

Cahokia was built rapidly, with thousands of people coming together to participate in its construction. As far as archaeologists know, there was no forced labor used to build these mounds instead, people came together for big feasts and gatherings that celebrated the construction of the mounds.

The splendor of the mounds was visible to the first white people who described them. But they thought that the American Indian known to early white settlers could not have built any of the great earthworks that dotted the midcontinent. So the question then became: Who built the mounds?

Early archaeologists working to answer the question of who built the mounds attributed them to the Toltecs, Vikings, Welshmen, Hindus, and many others. It seemed that any group—other than the American Indian—could serve as the likely architects of the great earthworks. The impact of this narrative led to some of early America’s most rigorous archaeology, as the quest to determine where these mounds came from became salacious conversation pieces for America’s middle and upper classes. The Ohio earthworks, such as Newark Earthworks, a National Historic Landmark located just outside Newark, OH, for example, were thought by John Fitch (builder of America’s first steam-powered boat in 1785) to be military-style fortifications. This contributed to the notion that, prior to the Native American, highly skilled warriors of unknown origin had populated the North American continent.

This was particularly salient in the Midwest and Southeast, where earthen mounds from the Archaic, Hopewell, and Mississippian time periods crisscross the midcontinent. These landscapes and the mounds built upon them quickly became places of fantasy, where speculation as to their origins rose from the grassy prairies and vast floodplains, just like the mounds themselves. According to Gordon Sayre (The Mound Builders and the Imagination of American Antiquity in Jefferson, Bartram, and Chateaubriand), the tales of the origins of the mounds were often based in a “fascination with antiquity and architecture,” as “ruins of a distant past,” or as “natural” manifestations of the landscape.

When William Bartram and others recorded local Native American narratives of the mounds, they seemingly corroborated these mythical origins of the mounds. According to Bartram’s early journals (Travels, originally published in 1791) the Creek and the Cherokee who lived around mounds attributed their construction to “the ancients, many ages prior to their arrival and possessing of this country.” Bartram’s account of Creek and Cherokee histories led to the view that these Native Americans were colonizers, just like Euro-Americans. This served as one more way to justify the removal of Native Americans from their ancestral lands: If Native Americans were early colonizers, too, the logic went, then white Americans had just as much right to the land as indigenous peoples.

Location of Cahokia, East St Louis, and St Louis sites in the American Bottom (Map courtesy of Sarah E. Baires)

The creation of the Myth of the Mounds parallels early American expansionist practices like the state-sanctioned removal of Native peoples from their ancestral lands to make way for the movement of “new” Americans into the Western “frontier.” Part of this forced removal included the erasure of Native American ties to their cultural landscapes.

In the 19th century, evolutionary theory began to take hold of the interpretations of the past, as archaeological research moved away from the armchair and into the realm of scientific inquiry. Within this frame of reference, antiquarians and early archaeologists, as described by Bruce Trigger, attempted to demonstrate that the New World, like the Old World, “could boast indigenous cultural achievements rivaling those of Europe.” Discoveries of ancient stone cities in Central America and Mexico served as the catalyst for this quest, recognizing New World societies as comparable culturally and technologically to those of Europe.

But this perspective collided with Lewis Henry Morgan’s 1881 text Houses and House-life of the American Aborigines. Morgan, an anthropologist and social theorist, argued that Mesoamerican societies (such as the Maya and Aztec) exemplified the evolutionary category of “Middle Barbarism”—the highest stage of cultural and technological evolution to be achieved by any indigenous group in the Americas. By contrast, Morgan said that Native Americans located in the growing territories of the new United States were quintessential examples of “Stone Age” cultures—unprogressive and static communities incapable of technological or cultural advancement. These ideologies framed the archaeological research of the time.

In juxtaposition to this evolutionary model there was unease about the “Vanishing Indian,” a myth-history of the 18th and 19th centuries that depicted Native Americans as a vanishing race incapable of adapting to the new American civilization. The sentimentalized ideal of the Vanishing Indian—who were seen as noble but ultimately doomed to be vanquished by a superior white civilization—held that these “vanishing” people, their customs, beliefs, and practices, must be documented for posterity. Thomas Jefferson was one of the first to excavate into a Native American burial mound, citing the disappearance of the “noble” Indians—caused by violence and the corruption of the encroaching white civilization—as the need for these excavations. Enlightenment-inspired scholars and some of America’s Founders viewed Indians as the first Americans, to be used as models by the new republic in the creation of its own legacy and national identity.

During the last 100 years, extensive archaeological research has changed our understanding of the mounds. They are no longer viewed as isolated monuments created by a mysterious race. Instead, the mounds of North America have been proven to be constructions by Native American peoples for a variety of purposes. Today, some tribes, like the Mississippi Band of Choctaw, view these mounds as central places tying their communities to their ancestral lands. Similar to other ancient cities throughout the world, Native North Americans venerate their ties to history through the places they built.

Editor's Note: The original story stated that William Bartram's Travels was published in 1928, but these early journals were actually published in 1791.

Miami Indians

The Miami natives originally lived in Indiana, Illinois, and southern Michigan at the time of European colonization of North America. They moved into the Maumee Valley around 1700. They soon became the most powerful American Indian tribe in Ohio. The Miamis spoke an Algonquian dialect, and were thus related to the Delaware (Lenape), the Ottawa, and the Shawnee.

The Miami were allies of the French until British traders moved into the Ohio Country, around 1740. The French forced the British out of Ohio, and the Miamis allied themselves with the French again until the British victory in the French and Indian War. As French trading posts turned into British forts, many Miami natives moved to present-day Indiana to avoid further battles with the more powerful British. During the American Revolution, the Miami, who were especially fearful of additional white settlers moving into the Ohio Country, fought with the British against the United States. After the defeat of the British, the Miami natives continued to fight the newly-formed United States.

Little Turtle was a great leader of the Miamis, with affiliations to the Eel River tribe. He helped to lead a force of Miami and other American Indians to victory over two United States armies. They defeated the army of General Josiah Harmar in 1790 (Harmar's Defeat) and the army of General Arthur St. Clair in 1791 (St. Clair's Defeat).

General Anthony Wayne defeated the Miamis and other American Indians with Ohio lands at the Battle of Fallen Timbers in 1794. The Miamis, along with other American Indians living in Ohio, were forced to surrender most of their Ohio lands with the signing of the Treaty of Greenville. In 1818, the United States forced the Miami to give up their last reservation in Ohio. Many of the displaced Ohio Miami settled in Indiana, but, once more, the U.S. federal government removed some of them to Kansas during the 1850s, while others were permitted to remain in Indiana.

Descendents of the Ohio Miami are members of the federally-recognized Miami Tribe of Oklahoma, and of the unrecognized Miami Nation of Indiana.

Military Career

In 1813, Crockett joined the Tennessee militia as a scout and fought against the Creek Indians in Alabama. He participated in the Indian massacre at Tallushatchee in retaliation for an Indian attack on Fort Mims.

During the War of 1812,਌rockett re-enlisted as Third Sergeant under Captain John Cowan. He went to Spanish Florida to help Andrew Jackson clear British forces, including British-trained Indians, from the region.

After being discharged in 1815, he returned home, where his wife Polly soon died. He remarried, moved his family to Lawrence County, Tennessee, started several businesses and began his political career.

3 Norway&rsquos Weapon Graves

In recent times, researchers have investigated the weapon graves of Norway. The tombs contained arms carried by the deceased during their lives. Researchers found a remarkable story. Although Norway was far away from Rome, there was a connection, especially with weaponry.

Graves dating to the time when the Roman Empire flourished contained weapons reminiscent of Roman legionnaires (swords, lances, shields, and javelins). However, when the empire collapsed around AD 500, the axe suddenly became a popular burial weapon.

This was odd. Ancient Norwegians fought like the Romans&mdashon battlefields with rules where axes had no place. Researchers suspect that this weapon became the favorite after a more brutal turn of events.

After the empire&rsquos demise, the consequences hit Norway badly. Major alliances crumbled, and distant enemies were no longer the main target. The country descended into chaos, warlords popped up like mushrooms, and everybody fought each other. The axe was perfect for domestic guerrilla warfare that probably saw raids, violent clashes, and attacks on leaders and their homes. [8]

VIEW: Mysterious Stone Pillars Photo Gallery

“Who made it? How did it wind up in northern New Mexico? What does it mean?” asked Louis Serna.

A northern New Mexico native who was born and raised in Springer and Cimarron, Louis Serna has spent his retirement writing about the people and places that make-up northern New Mexico’s history.

“This has been my life you know, so to speak, history and exploration,” said Serna.

As he looks at images of the first stone pillar he found at a Cimarron business, Serna’s excitement is easy to notice. He calls the mystery behind the stone pillars one of New Mexico’s most intriguing, comparable to “Mystery Rock,” or what some know as the “Los Lunas Decalogue Stone” on Hidden Mountain in Valencia County.

“It had some meaning to somebody, and the big question is who?” said Serna of the pillars he’s interested in.

Serna’s questions, along with the mystery he’s now found himself in the middle of, began on July 7, 2013, in the lobby of the St. James Hotel in Cimarron.

“I was walking around the lobby there, kind of looking for anything of interest,” said Serna.

That’s when Serna says he noticed a single, white stone pillar tucked away in the corner.

“I looked at it and with my previous experience, Middle East experience, I noticed that there were symbols on there that certainly did not have anything to do with New Mexico,” said Serna.

Serna says the hotel’s front clerk told him the pillar was a “Santa Fe Trail marker.”

“I knew that it wasn’t that, so I went back to it, and I looked at it all around, I took pictures of it, and I thought to myself, ‘Wow, here is a real mystery,’” Serna recalled.

While land grants were also common in the area, Serna doesn’t believe the pillars marked the boundary of any land grant, either.

Serna’s photos show the stone is covered with symbols that are carved into the rock. Predominantly, each side features a Templar cross. Serna believes the crosses are a major indicator that the pillars are from Middle East.

“I think that it was made in the Middle East and brought here, at some expense, at that time,” Serna said. “Then, when it was brought here, instead of dropping it off on the East Coast or in the Gulf of Mexico, or in the Pacific, it was brought all the way through the country, into northern New Mexico.”

While history mainly points to New Mexico’s first known foreign settlers coming from European countries, Louis thinks the Spanish and other Europeans didn’t make the pillar either.

“Since the theme is the Templar cross, then I think we’re talking about Jerusalem, the Middle East, the (Solomon) Temple,” said Serna.The Stone Pillar’s First Appearance

In an effort to figure out the stone pillar’s history, Louis says he then tried to figure out how it got inside the lobby of the St. James Hotel. That’s when he contacted one of the hotel’s former owners, Ed Sitzberger.

Serna said Sitzberger detailed a story from 1987 involving a local rancher who’s said to have brought the stone to the hotel after finding in the nearby forest.

“Around Cimarron there are very large ranches, cattle ranches, and one of them was owned by the McDaniel family,” said Serna. “And at one time, Milton McDaniel had been the head of that ranching operation.”

Serna says Sitzberger told him McDaniel “had gone up into the Valle Vidal area” to “look for grazing land he could lease from the state for his cattle.”

“While (McDaniel) was up there, McDaniel says he had found this stone and not knowing what it was, or who it belonged to, or anything else, he loaded it in the back of his pick-up and brought it into town, into Cimarron,” said Serna, retelling the story he heard from Sitzberger.

Serna says Sitzberger told him that he kept McDaniel’s stone pillar in the lobby of the hotel as something to display for the guests, or a “conversation piece.”

“It’s been there ever since,” said Serna, even though he said the hotel has changed ownership several times.

After KRQE News 13’s story first aired on May 23, 2017, an individual claiming to be a member of the McDaniel family contacted KRQE to dispute the narrative Serna offered on the original discovery of the stone pillar in St. James Hotel. The person claimed the stone was initially “found” on McDaniel family property, and was not found in the Valle Vidal region. The individual declined to provide a timeline of the discovery, or any further information for publication.

It’s unclear how accurate the St. James Hotel stone pillar origin story is, or exactly where the first stone came from, but Serna says he hasn’t gotten much more help from others in attempting to figure out the stone’s history – besides the one story he claims Sitzberger told him.

“I’ve been doing this now for four years,” said Serna. “I don’t know why there’s this reluctance to get into this.”

Serna says he’s tried to get help from archeologists at the University of New Mexico, the Office of the New Mexico State Historian, historians with the Bureau of Land Management, even local religious organizations like the Freemasons. However, Serna says no one has been that interested.

“Unless that object was what they call “in situ,” or “in place,” then they really don’t have interest in it because it could be a hoax, it could be whatever,” said Serna of his experience working with university archaeologists.

Finally, Serna says he reached out the U.S. Forest Service. That’s where the mystery deepened.

A Second Pillar, In Situ

“To say the least, I was amazed,” said Serna.

An archaeologist with the Questa District of the Carson National Forest found a second white stone pillar, similar in size and with similar markings in the area of the Valle Vidal, Carson National Forest.

“(The archaeologist) said it’s in a small cemetery,” said Serna, who won’t say exactly where it was found, for fear that others might vandalize the statue.

While the second known stone pillar is surrounded by what appear to be grave stones, Serna doesn’t think the pillar is a grave stone.

“Oh no, it’s absolutely it’s not,” said Serna. “For one thing, you know, obviously there’s no name on it and no birth date, no death date, no nothing like that.”

Serna also thinks that the other surrounding grave stones can be explained by superstition. He thinks settlers and fur trappers of the past may have thought the stone signified sacred ground, then buried people near the pillar.

“Everything about it just screams that it’s from the Middle East,” said Serna, of both of the pillars.

Louis believes both pillars carry religious symbols, starting with the peaks bordering the top of each stone.

“If you see pictures of the temple, I’m talking about Soloman’s Temple, you see these parapets at the top of it,” said Serna.

Serna says he has shown the photos to a rabbi in Albuquerque as well, who raised his own theories.

Pointing to a cup on one of the sides of the pillar sitting in in the St. James Hotel, Serna believes it might be a menorah.

“The earliest menorah had only two candle holders on it,” Serna said he was told by the rabbi he spoke with.

A small circle towards the top of the pillar at the St. James Hotel might also be an Egyptian sun symbol, according to Serna.

“Or, the all-seeing eye,” said Serna.

On the pillar still standing in the wild, Serna says an eight-point star is evident.

“The eight point star is an ancient symbol,” said Serna. “The Templar Knights, when they started their crusades, they took their eight-point star as their badge.”

So what does it all mean? Serna thinks the pillars could be a message.

“I think it’s a message, it’s a message for somebody that was to follow,” said Serna. “Possibly a colonization effort, and possibly, with that in mind, I think to myself, ‘Well, if I was going to do that, I would leave a marker for describing whatever.”

Serna can’t be sure though.

“I’m not an archaeologist, but since I don’t have archaeologists helping me, I had to kind of develop a theory about all of this and I’ve done that,” said Serna.

He now hopes other historians can help him solve the mystery.

“You can see by the white hair that I’m not getting any younger,” said Serna. “I would love to be able to solve this before I’m done.”

If you want to contact Louis Serna about the mysterious stone pillars, you can email him at [email protected], or find more contact information, including his phone number on his website.

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