The guest speaker, Eugenia Cavender, was introduced by second vice president Bob George.
Cavender is a retired librarian and immediate past president of Friends of Red Clay. She has been working on the Trail of Tears for 15 years; and is a docent with the Friends of the Vann House.
She stated her great-great-grandmother was full-blooded Cherokee. She received her formal education from Georgia College in Milledgeville, Ga., and Vanderbilt University. Her husband, Bill, is a member of the Dalton, Ga., SAR chapter and gave greetings to the chapter.
She gave an inspiring talk on the Chief Vann House. During the 1790s, Chief James Vann became a Cherokee Indian leader and wealthy businessman. He first established a mill, trading post and slave cabins.
In 1803 he hired a German, Mr. Vogt, to build a new house. It was completed in 1804, and they moved in 1805. Here he established the largest and most prosperous plantation in the Cherokee Nation, covering around a thousand acres. Eventually it had 42 cabins, six barns, five smokehouses, a gristmill, a blacksmith, a foundry, a trading post, a peach kiln and a whiskey still. At peak, he had 1,133 peach trees.
Vann had three wives; Jennie Foster, Elizabeth Thornton and Margaret “Peggy” Scott. He was known to have a fierce temper when drinking, and was described once as “a rip-roaring rascal.” He did care for his mother’s people, the Cherokees.
After coaxing the Moravians to Georgia from North Carolina, he had their mission built on his property. His primary purposes were to Christianize the Indians, and to educate the children. His daughter, Sally, was among the first students. Also among the students were such notable Cherokees as Elias Boudinot, John Ridge, Stand Watie, and James’ youngest son, Joseph.
Chief James Vann was fatally shot at Buffington’s Tavern in 1809. He was 41. His youngest son Joseph inherited the mansion and plantation.
Joseph was also a Cherokee leader and became even wealthier than his father.
The Vann Family lost the elegant home and plantation during the Indian Removal in the late 1830s, rebuilding by the Cherokee Territory in Oklahoma.
Today the Chief Vann House is operated by the Georgia State Parks and Historic Sites, and is open Tuesday through Saturday, and on Sunday afternoons. Special tours are given, especially the Christmas Candlelight tours where one can see the entire house which features beautiful hand carvings, a remarkable “floating” staircase, a 12-foot mantle and many fine antiques.
President Van Deacon called the meeting to order, Joe Brock gave the Invocation, Deacon led the pledge to the U.S. flag, Tommy McLain led the pledge to the Tennessee flag, and Dave Whaley the SAR flag pledge.
The guests introduced Jim Cooke, secretary of John Sevier Chapter; James Carter, registrar of John Sevier Chapter; Sam Norman, guest of Bill Hamilton;and John Humberd, son of Milton and Susan Humberd, and wife, April.
One new member, Larry McDaris, was sworn in and his membership certificate presented by Stan Evans.
Deacon gave the history of the Society rosette, and presented him a rosette as a new member. He said a few words showing his appreciation for those helping him become a member of this prestigious Society.
Deacon commented on several issues. He mentioned an online system where the members might prefer to pay for their meals.
He announced the chapter’s Executive Committee was meeting every Thursday morning, primarily to arrange for the Col. Benjamin Cleveland statue unveiling event on April 19.
The statue is in its final stages in Atlanta. Claude Hardison reported a granite base was being prepared for it.
Under Officer Reports, Hamilton gave the Treasurer’s Report and stated both the general and statue accounts were in good shape.
Whaley as Americanism Committee chairman, reported the chapter has a poster contest this year. The chapter voted to support the contest monetarily. Whaley also reported the chapter has an entry this year in the Knight Essay Contest. Both entries will compete at the State Convention, and if winning there, will progress on to National.
Evans reported on the upcoming National Society Spring Leadership/Trustees Meeting in Louisville, Ky., March 1 and 2. This is one of several times each year the national committees meet and work their issues.
Evans reported he would be addressing the National Museum Board Committee, with hopes of borrowing several Revolutionary War rifles and other period pieces for the Museum Center at Five Points’ upcoming exhibit on Benjamin Cleveland and the founding of Cleveland, set for April 19 through July 13.
TNSSAR Vice President and chapter member Hardison reported on several upcoming events, including the John Sevier Chapter’s George Washington Birthday on Feb. 15; the Tennessee Society’s State Convention in Chattanooga March 15-16; a patriotic activity slated on March 1 at Chattanooga National Cemetery including several veteran organizations; and a request made by John Sevier Chapter requesting photos of the chapter events.
Hardison reported the Col. Benjamin Cleveland Chapter now has 162 members, and the second place chapter only had 98 members. Regarding this, Evans commended the efforts of Dave Hicks and Brock in retaining all but four members after the annual dues were paid. This was an unbelievable accomplishment, especially in a chapter with this large of a membership.
With no further business, Deacon proceeded to close the meeting and lead the Recessional.
Brock delivered the Benediction. The closing gavel was struck and the meeting adjourned.