Friday, April 24, 2015

Michael Burton and other CSHS members Visit New Echota

April 23, 2015 Michael Burton

I and several other CSHS members visited with  Ranger David Gomez at the site for over three hours. He is a most knowledgeable and informative scholar of this period of history and the structures involved in that time.

Close inspection of the various log structures at the site and information from the ranger led me to a number of conclusions that are subject to change, but which I believe will give us guidance in our reconstruction of the Avery Vann log cabin. A log structure very similar in size and design lends credence to the idea that this was part of a number of Trading post/Inn establishments built in the area about 25 miles apart which would have been a days ride. This structure had a much different form of dove tailing for the corner joints and was slightly smaller in width (16 feet versus 18 feet). It had a large rock chimney on the outside with keystone arch fireplaces. The logs were in much worse shape than the Vann house although they had been soaked in creosote before they were reassembled. The structure bulged considerably in the center and will require a threaded steel bolt to prevent collapse. Ceiling joist were exposed and at one point had been scabbed with pegs. 

There was no window glass in any of the log structures. They were small windows about 2’ x 3’ with shutters made out of rough cut lumber  as were the doors. Hinges were hand wrought steel strap hinges. The sills of all structures were made out of 12” x 12” sawed beams and it appears all structures were elevated higher above the ground than Vann cabin and had rock pillars cemented to look like stacked pillars. None of the other cabins had been water proofed except for the porch floors which had Thompson Water Seal applied. The houses were treated for termites.

Chinking has been an issue for us. Several cabins had no chinking. One was chinked with cement which had shrunk. Another had 1” x4” beveled boards covering the cracks on the inside.  Another was paneled with rough cut lumber of various dimensions.

The other big issue for us is the way our logs have been cut in various remodeling of the old hotel. The second floor east wall has a very large door and two large windows cut out of the logs. The window openings on the North and West sides  upstairs are larger than any windows at New Echota. The down stairs is much the same with the West wall cut up with a door. Only about  20 % of the logs in the South wall remain because that wall had been removed in order to build the brick chimney on the inside during the hotel period. Plus there is a door cut into the remaining logs. Very unstable structure.

The bottom floor of the Vann house “floats”. It is not connected to the walls properly. The Ranger had never heard of this and this may be an anomaly caused by replacing the floor or who knows?

The Inn had a steep stairs and stoop over the outside door. Everything had cedar shakes which were rated for 20 years. Black oak shakes have been know to last over 50 years but are hard to come by. 
.Cabin Interpretation

The cabin is to be reconstructed as a Vann Store/Inn that would have been used as a place to buy supplies while journeying and to spend the night in the model of the New Echota Vann Store/Inn. It will have two windows on the North, East and West  walls top and bottom with no glass panes, covered with rough wood shutters and approximately 3’ x 3’. There will be a front and rear door on the bottom floor and a rear door on the top floor. There will be a stair case to the door on the second floor with a stoop. There will be a front porch on the bottom East side. Hinges will be hand wrought steel. All roofs will be wooden shingles (Cedar shakes or hand made.) 

There will be a large stone chimney on the South wall with large fireplace constructed with a key stone arch.

Ceiling joist will be exposed hand hewed beams. I suggest we chink the walls with new cement/ rubber mix that would mimic a mud moss mix and would shrink and expand with the wood. Heat and air would be impractical and disruptive, but several hidden electrical outlets would facilitate the educational purposes (kiosk/hologram). Visitors to New Echota are down but I think Cave Spring could be a better draw if we had these bells and whistles.

The cabin needs to have new stone piers and new sills (12” x 12 “ beams). The logs that have been butchered in the past need to be replaced especially on the East Wall and the South Wall. They do this in New Echota by jacking up the upper logs and then putting in the replacement. Expensive with a construction crew. Can be done with volunteers but time consuming.

Radical idea:

If the cabin was moved 20 feet or so to the West it would allow for the building of new stone piers, the placement of new sills and the reconstruction of the large stone chimney. This would also greatly enhance the appearance of the cabin as there would be some green space at the front and room for a lovely porch. It would also give greater separation from the post and beam “Pavilion” that would present both structures in a better light. A new floor is required in the cabin because of the “floating nature” of the present floor. note: All log structures at New Echota were moved there.
Everyone should be looking for period furnishings: tables, chairs, lanterns etc.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

What a day for Cave Spring!

Almost 100 people showed up with tools and work gloves to be a part of the community event on April 11, 2015. Young and old, black and white, men and women, deaf and hearing were all willing to get dirty and scratched in the effort to reveal the Avery Vann Cherokee Log Cabin. First there was Gorg Hubenthal, Tripp Johnston, Eric Gresham and their friend scaling 40 foot ladders at 6:30 AM to the top of the structure in order to remove the old tin and the three large dormers. Lester Tierce and son, Jason, supplied their magic machine “The Lull” and expert operation to help the workers maneuver and to remove the roof of the second addition in about four hours.

In the meantime, Board members Pete Mathis and Steve Craw were opening up the cabin, the work area and the lumber storage area. Board members, Billy Wayne Abernathy, Anne Montgomery and others were setting up tents, chairs and tables for the nurses and registration. Board member Chris Lemons was providing 100 warm sausage and biscuits and gallons and gallons of hot, black coffee with all the fixings. Board member, Linda Hall,supplied red warning flags and armbands to our safety folks who made sure no one was injured by falling debris  or big machinery. The nurses, Teresa Wood and Julie Fellers, pulled out splinters and patched a number of scratches, but only one injury required additional care. Sam Craw was helping his father remove the staircase from between the buildings when a board came loose throwing him down on his on his back on a pile of rocks causing bruising, but an X-Ray showed no  broken bones. Clint Maynard, after working five days doing construction was putting up scaffolds and tear off the north end of the roof. Charlie Malone and Nord Patterson were removing all the plywood covering the windows and removing the windows.

The Cave Spring United Methodist Church was well represented with Pastor John Page removing lumber while his wife Stacy and daughters Kasana and Marisa were pulling nails from the hundreds of boards as they came off the cabin. John Johnston, a spritely 69 year old, was at the ridge of the building removing 5 layers of shingles including tons of original wood shingles as was 67 year old Terry Lemons. Curt Burch found one shingle that had been stamped with a company name that we hope to research. He worked two days in some of the most difficult spots removing siding and flooring. John House had provided our large food tent and then worked in the grime removing lumber until he was covered in sweat and soot. Friends Larry  and Ann Gore drove up from Powder Springs to help move lumber and be on the safety team. Doyle Albritton and Tony Elicker represented the deaf community extremely well as they put in two days of hard work in some of the roughest areas with their good friend Eric Whitworth working along side them every step of the way. It was great seeing Lydia Trimble and her husband Ralph (my colleague from “Floyd College”) helping move lumber. Annie Shields who is reconstructing a 150 year old African American church in Texas valley brought her documentarian from Los Angeles to film a great deal of the process since some of the cabin materials will be recycled in their project.

David Stiles came all the way from Dallas, Texas to get a proper workout as he moved scaffolds and shoveled debris in the dumpster provided through Larry Hesterly. Randy Williams and his sister Susan cooked 25 gallons of Brunswick Stew that fed everyone at lunch. The smell of the wood fire and the stew cooking certainly was an incentive to work harder. Eddie did the important work of stirring the stew for 4 hours to prevent it from scorching. Former President, Peggy Allgood, provided water and other drinks  as did Linda Hall and others to help keep everyone hydrated. 

A small army of folks, Mike Atkins, Glenda Williams, Gola Burton, Lori Posey, Timothy Reeves, Shawna Rocka, Nell Mc Cain, Edda Hood, Eric Gresham, Haydon Yoder, Mike Ragland, Christy Stansell, Joseph Grigsby, Sandra Lindsey, LeAnn Watson, Stan Watson, Jan Musick, Kenneth Grindstaff and others who did not sign our register were removing siding, pulling nails, sorting lumber, stacking in wood bins. Let me know who is left off this list. I know there were many others working but did not get their names written down. A prodigious amount of work was done in 8 hours by volunteers that would have cost the community thousands and thousands of dollars if we paid someone to do it. At the same time, we had great camaraderie and a shared experience that will last a life time. There was not an ill word uttered all day. “What can I do now?” And “Can I help” were the by words for the day. A glorious day for the citizens of Cave 

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 1810 Vann Cherokee Cabin to be Unveiled at Community Work Day

Cave Spring, GA — The Cave Spring Historical Society invites the public to join the Cave Spring community for a work day to unveil the 1810 Vann Cherokee Cabin on Saturday, April 11, 2015.  
The Vann Cherokee Cabin was originally discovered beneath the dilapidated structure of the Green Hotel five years ago by a local citizen. Hotel rooms had been added to the cabin obscuring the original structure. After extensive research, the two-story, hand-hewed log cabin was verified to be built in 1810 by Avery Vann of the Cherokee Nation.
The structure is officially recognized as a historic place by the National Park Service. Additionally, the Trail of Tears Association officially recognizes the cabin as being located on the Trail of Tears.
Volunteers are asked to meet on Broad Street at the Cave Spring Square at 8 a.m.  Volunteers should wear gloves and bring hand tools for the demolition of the dilapidated structure outside the cabin.  
“The cabin needs a lot of work, but is in relatively good shape,” says Michael Burton, President of the Cave Spring Historical Society. “We are excited to unveil the historic cabin and hope to raise enough funds to restore the structure and open it to the public by next June.” The society’s goal is to fundraise $50,000 for building restorations.  
The Cave Spring Historical Society was originally formed to save and restore historical buildings in Cave Spring’s Rolater Park. The society along with local citizens continue to work together to protect and preserve historical buildings in Cave Spring. 
For more information about the cabin unveiling and community work day, contact the President of the Cave Spring Historical Society, Michael Burton,