Builders to help save historic cabin

CLEVELAND, Tenn. -- Area builders say there's hope for a deteriorating 1820s-era cabin on property once owned by Cherokee Chief John Ross.

Last week, members of the Ocoee Region Builders Association looked over the 190-year-old cabin in the Flint Springs community, which sits in a field where Cherokee Chief John Ross once had a cabin himself

"It can be saved," Dennis Epperson, past builders Association president, said while walking through the log structure.

Current association President Charlotte Jones said members will volunteer to shore up the foundation and fix the roof.

"This is a nonprofit organization, so we are all volunteers," she said.

Local history writer Debbie Moore wants to have the cabin ready in October 2011, the 30th anniversary of the cabin's removal from Apison in Hamilton County to Flint Springs.

"In the meantime, I am going to be applying to get this whole area certified as a National Trail of Tears site," Ms. Moore said.

Flint Springs and other sites near the Red Clay State Historic Park have direct links to the last days of the Cherokee Nation in Tennessee before the 1838 Trail of Tears removal to Oklahoma, she said.

The cabin was built by Andrew McDonough, stepuncle of President Andrew Johnson, Ms. Moore said. Its site is where Chief Ross lived after leaving Georgia and before the Trail of Tears, according to a state historic marker.

In recent years, kudzu, insects and rot have damaged the logs and roof. One side of the cabin bulges outward. Pine shingles, which replaced the original shingles, have rotted.

Both Ms. Moore and County Commissioner Lisa Stanbery told the County Finance Committee last week that the cabin might not last much longer without quick help. The county voted $5,000 to begin restoration.

County Mayor D. Gary Davis, touring the cabin Wednesday, credited Ms. Moore for pointing out the need.

"The County Commission has committed a small amount of money to help get the restoration started. ORBA has stepped forward to volunteer some help," he said. "So, putting the two together, maybe we will be able to restore the cabin and keep it maintained for others."