Jim D’Angelo, President and Site Archaeologist, The Fort Daniel Foundation
Email Address –email@example.com; Cell – 404.906.4832; Home – 770.339.4553
Tucked away in an unassuming private backyard of a private residence on Braselton Highway (old Hog Mountain Road), on the highest point of Hog Mountain, lies the remains of what is Gwinnett County’s earliest historic site – Fort Daniel. In an effort to preserve this valuable archaeological site, Gwinnett County has purchased the site so that it can be developed not only as an historic site, but as an archaeological research park for the County’s students. Efforts to save and develop the site have been the goal of the Gwinnett Archaeological Society (GARS) and the Fort Daniel Foundation, Inc. (FDF) [formerly, The Friends of Fort Daniel] since the local archaeological society, a chapter of the Society for Georgia Archaeology, began its study of the site in the fall of 2007. In 2009, with a grant from The Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation, the Landscape Architecture Group, jB+a, inc. developed a master plan for such a park.
In order to promote their preservation efforts and educational plans, GARS and FDF have, since 2009, held an annual “Frontier Faire” complete with community archaeology opportunities for students and adults, with participation by students and faculty from four colleges and two grade schools [University of GA, Georgia State University, Georgia Southern University, Georgia Gwinnett College, Fort Daniel Elementary and Twin Rivers Middle Schools]. Supervised by several participating Georgia Council of Professional Archaeologists (GCPA) archaeologists, as well as the Site Archaeologist, Jim D’Angelo, investigations at the site have been carried out with the intention of building awareness and increasing public support of archaeology and of this important part of Georgia’s and US early history.
First built sometime in the early 19th c. (best estimate is about 1806), “the fort at hog mountain” was originally a frontier fort located near the juncture of two treaty lines that separated the early settlers from the Cherokee to the west and north, and the Creeks to the west and south. The location of the fort was in the southwest corner of Jackson County, which became part of Gwinnett County in 1819. Therefore it is believed to be the Gwinnett’s oldest historic site. During the Creek Indian War (an extension of the War of 1812), the original fort, which was still in use by local militia, was reconstructed by order of Maj. Gen. Allen Daniel in the fall and winter of 1813. Beginning in January of 1814, the new “Fort Daniel” was the staging ground for construction of a road thru Creek territory to Standing Peachtree (military name, “Floydsville”) where another fort would be constructed (Fort Peachtree) in order to float supplies down the Chattahoochee River to Fort Mitchell in support of both the Georgia Army and US Army under General Jackson operating in Mississippi Territory against the Creek Red Sticks. The road was the original Peachtree Road. More on Historical Background.
Archaeologists have unearthed artifacts including historic pottery, black bottle glass, clay pipe fragments, musket balls, musket flints, wrought and machine-cut nails, and a 1776 Spanish coin. Just as important, remote sensing technics employed by participating universities and archaeological excavation have determined the footprint of the fort. This plan, exhibiting a square stockade with two, diagonally situated, block houses, conforms to a plan for frontier forts devised by President George Washington, and delivered to the Governor of Georgia in 1794 by Washington’s Secretary of War, John Knox.
Through the combined efforts of local archaeologists, historians, scholars, and history lovers, GARS, a chapter of the Society for Georgia Archaeology, was formed in 2003 in an effort to promote research into and protection of archaeological sites and artifacts in and around Gwinnett County. The group hopes to encourage interest from Gwinnett’s citizens and the archaeological society at large, while they document Gwinnett history as it relates to both historic and prehistoric sites. A major goal for the group is to increase public awareness and maintain financial support for their preservation, education, and research efforts. As advocates for site preservation, they encourage their members and the community to attend public archaeology events and to report looting or vandalism of archaeological sites to the proper authorities. Members of GARS carry out scientific investigations of archaeological sites under professional guidance. Whether archiving, excavating or compiling final reports – all GARS’s efforts adhere to the same standards as those followed by Cultural Resource Management (CRM) professionals. GARS also strives to make archaeological news and related historical studies available to members and the public through its newsletter, the Gwinnett Archaeology Bulletin. For more information, or to donate to GARS’s efforts, or to become a member – please visit its website at www.thegars.org.
As a project of GARS, it was clear to members that the archaeological investigations at Fort Daniel coupled with the need to preserve and develop the site would be beyond the scope of the mission of the society. Thus, in 2009, interested GARS members and non-GARS members from the local community formed the “Friends of Fort Daniel” to promote, management, preserve and development the site. Perhaps the most important accomplishment of the “Friends” was to nominate the site to the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation’s list of 10 Places in Peril for that year. The site was listed, and the prize was a grant of $10,000 from the Trust, matched with in-kind donation from the Landscape Architectural Group, Jb+a of Atlanta, who completed the plan for a proposed, Fort Daniel Historic Site and Archaeological Research Park. The Friends soon incorporated as the “Fort Daniel Foundation, Inc.” a non-profit 501c3 corporation. For more information, to donate to the efforts of the FDF, or to become a member – please visit our Support page.
Dr. James J. D’Angelo has over 40 years of experience as an archaeologist, and as a college and university teacher. With degrees in Philosophy, Religious Studies, and Archaeology, his academic and work experience includes teaching at several colleges and universities in New Jersey, California, and Reno, Nevada. At the University of Nevada-Reno he was Director of the Program for Adult College Education (PACE) and Assistant Professor of Philosophy.
At the same time Dr. D’Angelo ran his own consulting firm doing prehistoric and historic archaeology in New Jersey, and in the Great Basin (Nevada and surrounding states). He came to Georgia in 2000 and worked for TRC Environmental for 9 years as a staff archaeologist doing projects mostly in the Southeastern USA. Between 1974 and 1980 he was on the staff of the Joint Expedition to Caesaria Maritima in Israel, and from 1981 to the present has been on the staff of the Joint Expedition to Khirbet Iskander in Jordan, where his efforts have focused on Early Bronze Age cemeteries and cultic installations.
As part of the purchase of the main Fort Daniel tract by the County Commissioners, the Foundation has entered into an agreement with the County in which the Foundation becomes responsible for insuring and maintaining the property, including the dwelling of the former owner, conservation of Fort Daniel’s artifacts, and development of both the property and an educational program that benefits the community. The educational program will include a minimum of four public events at the site, including the popular GARS and FDF Annual Frontier Faire, as well as other educational initiatives with local schools and Scout groups. In 2016, the County purchased an additional 4.5 acres of adjacent land, thus doubling the size of the Fort Daniel property. For maintenance and capital improvements, the County contributes an annual stipend, and allows the Foundation to rent the living quarters of the former “Grant” house. For its program needs, the Foundation depends mainly on volunteers and fund-raising activities. In 2013, the Foundation was awarded a total of $5,000, in two separate grants, which it has been and is using for educational materials and for finishing the spacious basement of the house, where an archaeology lab, meeting area, and storage facility has been provided.