Early Settlement

The natural resources of the Heritage Area have supported human settlement for roughly 12,000 years. Artifacts and archaeological study suggest the area was an important trading, hunting and recreation area.  It may have served as a buffer between the Creek and Cherokee nations and supported safe transportation along the South River. The extant archaeological sites and historic structures illustrate the complexity of Native, African-American and Anglo communities.

Evidence of settlement in the Heritage Area offers fascinating insight into the daily lives of generations past. The landscape was dotted with stone quarries and rural farms and remained sparsely populated well into the 20th century.  Many of these farmsteads exist today and can help us understand rural, subsistence living.

The oldest home in Rockdale County and the oldest homestead in DeKalb County are located within a mile of each other on opposite banks of the South River. The land that lays between the Aaron Parker house and the Lyon Farm  is little changed from the time that the settler families lived in these homes. This link is easily explored on the modern-day PATH hike-bike trail.

In contrast, the Flat Rock community was settled by emancipated slaves from neighboring farms. The creation of this community and its survival during the Jim Crow-era, segregation and the Great Migration are a testament to the human condition.