Waleska, Georgia, is a small city located just outside of Canton, Georgia and is a small town with little-known history. Despite its size, the city is home to a little-known gem called the Funk Heritage Center at Reinhardt University.
This heritage center has history from the Native Americans, specifically the Cherokee Indians, and the early European settlers of the Appalachian foothills. Displays include artwork, timeless artifacts, computer programs and an award-winning film. Due to the fine quality of these displays, the Funk Heritage Center was awarded the title of Georgia’s Official Frontier and Southeastern Indian Interpretive in 2004.
This museum and interactive timeline of history is more than just a building that sits on Reinhardt University grounds. Almost every day the center has children, specifically second through eighth graders, who come there on field trips and learn about what life was like for the Cherokee Indians and the European settlers. They learn about the ways the Indians grew as a tribe, where they migrated, and how the territory evolved as a whole.
The building sits on land once considered Cherokee territory. The Funk Heritage Center was named after the late Dr. James Funk. Funk owned a farm that stretched to about 400 acres and used some of the money he profited to helped jumpstart that heritage center. “He wanted to invest his money and inform people about this piece of history,” said Helen Walker, a member of the staff at the Heritage Center.
One popular feature of the center is the living historical figures that tell the stories they’ve learned. Kids and adults alike come to this heritage center to learn more about the history of this ancient piece of land. There are original 19th-century cabins, volunteers who act as blacksmiths who perform their work right in front of you, and informational guides that help explain along the way.
This building was not built here by coincidence. Before the city had an official name, it was named after a beautiful American Indian princess, Warluskee, the daughter of an Indian chief, Waleskee, who once lived in the area. Waleskee was always known for wearing feathers from Eagles he shot himself. Mr. and Mrs. Reinhardt were among the earliest settlers of Cherokee County and just so happened to live near Waleskee. They were favored by the Cherokee Indians for their kindness and respect towards them. Mr. Reinhardt tried to teach them about God.
In the 1830s, however, the U.S. government forced Warluskee and her people to move West. The girl’s friends, Mr. and Mrs. Lewis Reinhardt, decided to name their settlement in her honor. Every building that stands in Waleska today is all a part of the history between Cherokee Tribe and Mr. and Mrs. Reinhardt.
The Funk Heritage Center is truly and interesting and invigorating experience. It is recognized by the state as a trademark and center of high respect and prestige. Anyone who is slightly interested should check this place out as it truly captures the beautiful and alluring history of this town.