Many attend Dacula's Frontier day

DACULA - From the road, the residence at 2505 Braselton Highway doesn't look any different from the next. An attractive brick home sits inconspicuously, tucked behind a treeline atop a hill, on 4.3 acres of land.

This land, however, was once home to militia outpost Fort Daniel, built in 1913 to, according to its Georgia historical marker, "protect the frontier from Indians aroused by the British during the War of 1812." New evidence suggests that another Hog Mountain house, dating back to the 1790s, preceded Fort Daniel.

Despite its historical significance, historians say the site is being threatened by rezoning attempts and commercial development. To increase awareness and help raise public support, the Gwinnett Archaeological Research Society and the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation hosted the Frontier Fort Faire and Public Archaeology Event on Saturday. From 10 a.m. until rains forced everyone indoors about five hours later, visitors were treated to re-enactments and shown artifacts found on the land. What is believed to have been the fort's stockade and blockhouse were on display.

A storytelling center and other demonstrations gave those in attendance a glimpse at what 18th- and 19th-century life was like at Fort Daniel.

Doc Watson, proprietor of Mountain Angel Forge in Lawrenceville, amazed onlookers by pulling red-hot iron from the coals, using a hammer and anvil to mold the metal into all sorts of items, just like they would've done years ago.

Until recently, the roadside historical marker was the only indication that Fort Daniel even existed. In the last three years, archaeological digs have uncovered remnants including ceramics and glass, musket shot, a Spanish coin, jewelry and nails believed to have been used in the forts' construction.

Terry Jackson drove over from Marietta with his 4-year-old grandson, Bradley, because of his "abiding interest in history." Jackson has spent much of his life working in archaeology and, just last week, was by the Flint River at the site of Fort Lawrence.

Jackson said he has ancestors on both sides of the conflict and for him to be able to introduce Bradley to history at an early age is to "help introduce him to his family."

Landowner Ann Grant, 75, said she never really knew that her backyard was so full of history. Hoping to sell the property so she can be closer to her children in Henry County, Grant wishes Gwinnett County, which she said has sent two appraisers out, will buy the land and make it an archaeological park.

"Then they could save what relics are still back there for future generations," Grant said. "It's a beautiful site, really."

Jackson feels the same way.

"I just enjoy historic sites," Jackson said. "It's one of those resources in the community that are often underutilized. A place where we can go to learn about our own heritage."

Shannon Coffey, Fort Daniel Project historian, said Saturday's effort was "quite a success."

"We really have a cause, to save the site," she said. "We've gotten the community very excited and very motivated."

Friends of Fort Daniel was formed with the sole purpose of preserving the land. Coffey encourages anyone interested to attend the group's meeting at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center.

For more information, log onto www.thegars.org or e-mail Coffey at secoffey@bellsouth.net.