Bitter because it brought a remembrance of the tortuous Trail of Tears, a shameful debacle in American history that cost so many innocent lives.
Bitter because the historic old structure on Red Hill Valley Road in southern Bradley County died a slow death at the hands of nature, age, weather and human neglect.
Bitter because time destroyed what man could have saved.
Yet sweet because the dissassembling of each decaying log brought volunteers a step closer to rebuilding the historic landmark so that its rightful place in Bradley County history can be maintained and its memory preserved.
Yet sweet because the decision to return the structure to bare earth shows a renewed commitment to give the rustic icon a rebirth, one that will make it better and one that will send a message of hope to future generations.
Yet sweet because the action affirms people still care, that they are willing to work together to achieve a common good and that anything is possible when hearts and minds of a collective conscience choose to work in unison rather than apart.
We hope you saw our story and photographs published on the front page of the Feb. 24 edition. As written by Managing Editor David Davis, some 30 volunteers with big hearts gathered at the Flint Springs site to take the cabin to the ground, but they did so respectfully while preserving a deep measure of integrity for the history and symbolism of the tiny structure.
Volunteers came from Ocoee Region Builders Association, Eagles Landing Worship Center, Flint Springs Ruritan Club and a group of inmates from the Bradley County Jail. Central Park on Inman Street provided food for the day of labor.
One of the leaders was Dennis Epperson, representing Dennis Epperson Custom Homes and Developments. Last year Epperson contributed countless volunteer hours in trying to save the little cabin. We applaud his sentiments in choosing to return this historic one-room home to the living.
“Preserving the cabin will give this and future generations a better understanding of how our forefathers lived,” he said. “It is good to see so many people who understand the importance of keeping our past alive and who want to be involved in preserving the cabin.
As the cabin was dismantled, good (reusable) logs were placed into protective storage to keep them safe until the historic rebuilding. Damaged logs were taken to Tindell’s Building Materials in Cleveland. From there, they are being taken to the company’s log home products division in Sevierville where they will be replicated at no charge.
It is an endearing community effort that started four years ago with the backing of several leaders like Michael Willis and former Bradley County Commissioner Lisa Stanbery. The project was later supported financially and through materials by Volunteer Energy Cooperative, Richmond Construction, Vulcan Materials and the county commission, among others.
Local historian Debbie Moore has provided its history whose authenticity is yet another reason for the cabin’s preservation. It is believed the original structure was built by Andrew McDonough, a wagon maker in Apison, in the early 1820s. It was originally a two-story log cabin and later scaled back to only one story by a man named Roy Sedman. His son later donated one room to Bradley County to stand on Ross’ farm.
And the rest is history, one whose evolving chapters will eventually include the restoration of this comforting little corner of our past.