In January of 1660, Frenchman Edward Graves penned a letter telling of the wonders of Melilot, which may or may not have been located in present-day Gwinnett County. Graves, seemingly a bit of a know-it-all, was correcting accounts of the area written two years prior by an exiled Huguenot priest in a book about the Apalache Kingdom. The letter, recently rediscovered in Waycross, recounts a history of the region which is mysteriously missing from Georgia history books. Thank goodness for a recent Examiner.com article that gives all the juicy details of our region's ancient past. Can we brag that parts of metro Atlanta are older than Jamestown?
According to the article, which nicely sums up seven pages of French, the first Atlantans might have first been Floridians. As early as 1566, six survivors of a doomed French colony at Fort Caroline, presumably around present-day Jacksonville, set up shop in Apalache and took to calling it "French Florida." Apparently a bastion for wayward survivors of lost colonies, a handful of ex-Roanoke colonists rocked up in 1591 to add a bit of British flair to the place. Thirty years later a shipload of Brits arrived to trick out the "city" of Melilot with all the creature comforts of the 1620s, so basically a church.
At some point in the early-1700s, Melilot disappears from European maps. The historians are speculating that its ruins are located somewhere in present-day Little Mulberry Park, in northern Gwinnettia. There's no telling what happened to this mysterious pre-Atlanta, but it's a real shame the French didn't stick around the area longer than they did: Atlanta's baguettes could be world-class, and the Frenchies could have made a killing on rents.