Bradley seeks to save John Ross cabin site

CLEVELAND, Tenn. -- The Bradley County Finance Committee is recommending the use of $5,000 to stabilize an 1820s-era log cabin on farmland that once belonged to Cherokee Chief John Ross.

The money would keep insects, rot and kudzu at bay while a committee looks for restoration grants, officials said.

The committee recommended moving $5,000 from the current Bradley County Commission budget into the budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

The committee also recommended moving a similar sum from this year's budget to the coming year to buy recording equipment for the commission meeting room.

Both recommendations must be approved by the full commission.

Commissioner Lisa Stanbery and local history writer Debbie Moore made the cabin request Thursday.

Comparing photos, Mrs. Stanbery said, "Three and a half years ago we had three or four logs impaired (on the cabin). Now we have 12, and we are losing a corner."

Members of the Ocoee Region Builders Association have indicated they will help shore up the cabin, Mrs. Stanbery said.

Soil work is needed to stop water from pooling against the logs and creating decay, she said, and a rotten roof needs to be replaced.

Mrs. Moore said the National Park Service is interested in the south Bradley County region around the cabin and other historic sites related to the Trail of Tears, the forced removal of Cherokees from the Southeast to Oklahoma in the 1830s.

A local commitment, she said, could open the way for grants and private donations.

The cabin, originally built in Apison by a cousin of President Andrew Johnson, was moved to the current site decades ago and given to Bradley County, Mrs. Moore said.

The logs were arranged to resemble the former cabin on the site where Chief Ross lived just before the Trail of Tears, she said.

Mrs. Stanbery said an expert has estimated that after a year to 18 months, the cabin could be beyond repair.

Even without the Cherokee connection, the 190-year-old cabin should be saved as a part of local history in the Flint Springs and Red Clay region, Mrs. Moore said.

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