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New Jerusalem

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It is a little known fact that the Six Pointed Star was the symbol of the Anatolian Christian Church until the 1500s when Sephardic Jewish refugees adopted it from Anatolian Christian refugees as the symbol of Judaism. Both oppressed peoples came to the Appalachian Mountains to create a new world, where brotherly love and tolerance would prevail. Imperial greed destroyed their dream.

In its examination of several legends associated with the Ark of the Covenant, the second season premier of the History Channel’s “America Unearthed” on December 30, 2013 mentioned the term “New Jerusalem” several times. People interviewed on the show placed this legendary town in Ireland, the Virginia Piedmont, Ohio, Iowa and the Southwest Desert. There really was a New Jerusalem’s in North American history, but it was not in the places mentioned. Also, it was possibly not a specific town, but a region containing many villages occupied by Sephardic Jewish, Christian Anatolian and North African refugees from the Old World.

On July 30, 1492 Their Most Catholic Majesties, Queen Isabella of Castile and King Ferdinand of Aragon expelled all Jews from their kingdoms. Isabella and Ferdinand had been pressured for some time by the head of the Spanish Inquisition, Tomas de Torquemada, to expel all Jews and Muslims from their realms, who refused to convert to Catholicism. They held off until after conquering the last Muslim kingdom, Granada, in January 1492. Castille and Aragon had borrowed immense sums of money from Jewish bankers in their realms, Italy and France. They did not want to antagonize the bankers until victorious. Their proclamation of expulsion also negated all debts to Jewish bankers in their kingdoms, unless they converted to Catholicism.

There was no Kingdom of Spain at that time. The pronouncement had no legal authority in the kingdoms of Navarre and Portugal. However, the Roman Catholic Church, its Inquisition, plus Isabella and Ferdinand continued to put pressure on Portugal’s and Navarre’s kings until that made similar proclamations later on in the decade. Initially few Jews were expelled from these other two kingdoms. Navarre covertly became an “underground railroad” for escaping Jews. By the mid-1500s Navarre would become one of the most Protestant nations in Europe, until conquered by Spain.

The Jewish refugees from Spain became known as Sephardim, from the Jewish word for the Iberian Peninsula, Sefarad. The most fortunate ones ended up in Turkey, where they were welcomed by the sultan as important assets for his empire. They were also welcomed in Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, some principalities in Italy and some provinces in France.

In France, the Sephardim changed their names to French forms that would not be immediately recognized as Jewish. Those Sephardim, who later migrated to the Netherlands and Scotland, also changed their names to blend in with the locals. A surprisingly large percentage of famous persons in the early history of North America carried cryptic Sephardic names. These names include Franklin, Crockett, Boone, Adair, Reno (Reneau~Renaldo,) Ross (Rozanes,) Moser (Moses,) Marion (Moreno,) Perry (Perez,) plus many others. Even Jean Lafitte, the Louisiana pirate, was a Sephardic Jew.

The situation for Sephardim in Western Europe changed radically with the rise of Protestant Christianity. Martin Luther and early Anglicans were not particularly fond of Jews, but the other denominations of Protestantism interpreted the Bible as to say that it was their responsibility to protect the Jews. As Children of the First Covenant, the Calvinists believed that “righteous Jews” were also destined for heaven. Calvinist Protestants called Protestantism, “the Second Covenant.” By 1550, the Sephardim and Calvinist Christians had become staunch political, military and commercial allies.

The decline of French Protestant fortunes in France in the late 1500s caused a massive emigration of Sephardim to Protestant Scotland and the Netherlands. Almost immediately, plans were hatched to establish new homes for the Sephardim, in the Irish province of Ulster, west of the Blue Ridge Mountains in New World and on the tip of South Africa. The dark complexions of many South African Boors is due to their Sephardic Jewish heritage.

Six French Protestant survivors of the Fort Caroline massacre (1565) traveled up the Altamaha River in Georgia and settled in the Georgia Mountains. At that time, it was the proto-Creek Kingdom of Apalache. They converted the King of Apalache to Protestant Christianity and became his key advisers. The king then invited Protestants, Sephardim and Christian Anatolians from eastern Turkey to settle in the northern areas of his kingdom (present day SW Virginia, NE Tennessee and western North Carolina) which were under-populated. He viewed them as a barrier against aggressive tribes from the north.

While the Turkish Muslims welcomed Sephardim into their empire, they were at the same time committing horrific atrocities against the Christians of eastern Anatolia and the Middle East. During this period millions of Christians in eastern Anatolia (Turkey) and the Middle East were massacred, enslaved or exiled in order to reduce the percentage of Christians in the Turkish Empire to a minority. In three days, over 250,000 Christian men, women and children in one small province were killed by a Turkish general’s command. The exiles fled westward into the Christian regions of the Mediterranean Basin, Balkans and Russia. In the 1500s, the Six-Pointed Star, symbol of the Anatolian Christian Church, was adopted by the Sephardim as the symbol of the Jewish faith. Prior to that time, the Menorah was the primary Jewish symbol. This is a little known fact.

Proof of New Jerusalem

If there was a specific place named “New Jerusalem,” it was probably a large town built of brick by Christian Anatolian refugees near present day Knoxville, TN. This town was visited by English explorers Gabriel Arthur and James Needham in 1673. The tower of its church contained a bell about eight feet tall.

Radiocarbon dating and analysis of tree rings of mine shaft timbers in the North Carolina Mountains show that by 1600 there were European miners living in the Andrews Valley of Cherokee County. Similar dates have been obtained from mine shafts near Mt. Mitchell, NC and a silver mine at the base of Fort Mountain, GA.

In 1610, the Inquisition arrived in Cartagena, Colombia, which had a large Jewish population which was protected by local officials until then. Thousands of Spanish and Portuguese Jews poured out of Colombia and into the Caribbean Basin. From there, Jewish and French Protestant pirates transported them to the mouths of either the Savannah or Ashley Rivers. From there the refugees made their way to the Appalachian Mountains through friendly Native provinces that also despised the Spanish.

There are several, credible eyewitness accounts of the Sephardic communities of New Jerusalem. They date from the mid-1600s to the 1790s. A Sephardic gold mining village was unearthed during the Georgia Gold Rush in the late 1820s. A Jewish wedding in 1615 is memorialized on at boulder at 5400 feet in the Great Smoky Mountains. Hundreds of late 16th century and 17th century artifacts have been found in the Southern Highlands. Most are ascribed to the de Soto Expedition in 1540, but probably are from the Sephardim. A Jewish girl’s name, Liube, and the date 1715, are even inscribed on one of the famous Track Rock Gap (GA) petroglyph boulders. The inscription’s significance was missed by the South African archaeologist, Johannes Loubser, who studied the petroglyphs. Ironically, Loubser is also a Dutch Jewish family name, derived from the same root word as Liube.

Thousands of families in northwestern Alabama and northeastern Tennessee carry Sephardic family names and have Mediterranean features. Most think that these Semitic traits are Native American in origin. Apparently, the influx of Ulster-Scot and Anglo-American settlers into the Southern Highlands after the Revolution caused most Sephardim to relocate to northwestern Alabama on the frontier between the Chickasaw and Creek Nations. Ironically, many of the Ulster-Scots were themselves of partial Jewish heritage, but their families had forgotten it . . . or perhaps were deep family secrets.

In the late 20th century, many of these families, living immediately south of the Tennessee River in NW Alabama, started calling themselves, Echota Clan Cherokees. However, the Cherokees never lived in the area of Alabama mwhere the Echota Clan Cherokees are based and their presence in Alabama as a whole only dates from after the Revolution. Prior to late 20th century, these families called themselves Black Dutch, which is the English translation of the Dutch slang word for a Sephardic Jew, Svart Duits. In north-central Alabama, Sephardic descendants still call themselves, Black Dutch. Most of the Black Dutch families are now at least nominally, Protestant Christians.

America’s true history concealed

The dream of a New Jerusalem for Sephardic refugees was crushed by the territorial ambitions of Great Britain and France. Throughout the 1700s Great Britain and France forced Native American tribes to choose one side or the other to avoid destruction by both sides. It is quite possible that many Sephardic settlements were massacred by roving bands of warriors on their way to strike the Native allies of either France or Great Britain. The young Sephardim and Anatolians were probably taken as wives, concubines or adopted sons and daughters.

After Great Britain defeated France in the Seven Years War, its historians quickly began re-writing the history books to state that the region west of the British North American colonies was occupied solely by indigenous peoples prior to the arrival of the victorious British Redcoats. This was to cement Great Britain’s claim to all the land between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mississippi River. All the archives, describing in detail the European colonists, who started settling the region 125 years before the word, Cherokee existed, were conveniently forgotten.

New England historians continued the process by maintaining the myth of Anglo-Saxon pioneers conquering the wilderness AFTER the American Revolution. This myth is particularly odd because John Mitchell’s famous 1755 map of North America specifically states that the Holston and Toe River Valleys in Tennessee and North Carolina were settled at least as early as 1650.

Late 20th century historians and archeologists in North Carolina elaborated on the Anglo-Saxon myth by creating a new history of the Cherokee Indians, which had them living at the exact same locations as the 17th century Sephardic, Anatolian, French Huguenot and English villages, for 10,000 years. At some point in the future, too many people will have read the eyewitness accounts of the Sephardim in New Jerusalem and the whole myth will come tumbling down . . . just like the Walls of Jericho.

Information in this article was obtained from the new report in Access Genealogy, entitled, “Mediterranean Colonists in the Southern Appalachians.”

Humorous Postscript: When growing up, my grandmother and great-aunt on the Caucasian side, constantly dwelled on the great glory of being descendants of the Morels, a (supposedly) French Huguenot family that helped settle the Colony of Georgia. They owned Ossabaw, Wasau and St. Catherines Islands and were prominent leaders of Savannah until the Civil War. Guess what? Turns out that Morel is also a Spanish Sephardic name, derived from Morelos! OMG! Readers wishing to ask Richard Thornton questions concerning architecture, urban planning or Native American history may contact him at



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