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Core samples at Cave Spring cabin indicate it may not have been built by Cherokee Indians

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CAVE SPRING — The history of a cabin in Cave Spring has taken a new twist with the completion of a scholarly report asserting the structure was not built by Cherokee Indians.

“The log structure encased inside the Green Hotel is not a Cherokee-era structure,” according to a report by University of West Georgia professor Georgina G. DeWeese. “The log cabin structure inside the Green Hotel is a post-removal, Euro-American structure and should be interpreted as such.”

DeWeese says it was built during the late spring/early summer of 1839. By that time, the Cherokees had already left Georgia on the Trail of Tears.

The DeWeese report based its conclusion on the dating of 20 pine core samples taken from the original logs.

The report conflicts with one done by archaeologist Pat Garrow, who conducted digs around the cabin in December 2012 and dated window glass shards to a range of 1810-1823.

Garrow wrote that an observable factor in favor of the earlier date is the “relatively crude construction of the corner joints on the cabin. The corner joints at the Chieftains site are extremely well made dovetail joints while those at the Cave Spring cabin are more crudely formed dovetail joints.”

Garrow had previously attributed an 1817 construction date for the building that now houses Chieftains Museum, which at one time was the home of Cherokee leader Major Ridge. The newer date for what Cave Spring leaders have dubbed the Cherokee Vann Cabin isn’t sitting well with locals.

“There is nobody who knows the tribes of Georgia better than Pat Garrow,” said Dianna Edwards Haney, a past president of the Cave Spring Historical Society.

For much of the past seven years, those associated with the cabin said it was built by Avery Vann, a Cherokee. It has been recognized as a historic structure by the National Park Service and the Trail of Tears Association.

At this point, it is not clear if the DeWeese report will affect that status.

Billy Wayne Abernathy, current vice president of the CSHS, said he was aware of the DeWeese report but said she never actually tendered a copy to the society and had not spoken with representatives of the society in several years.

Abernathy said surveys prepared for the Gold Lottery in 1832 did not show a building where the cabin now sits. Abernathy said that field books prepared for the lottery do show a number of improvements on the 40-acre land lot, but not specifically where the cabin sits.

“I think it was built by David Vann in the 1830s maybe,” Abernathy said. David Vann was the son of Avery and Margaret Vann. He later became a sub-chief of the Cherokee nation.

“This thing does have a lot of history,” Abernathy said. He pointed out that in 1830 a number of homes in Cave Spring were burned down and an original cabin on that site may have been among those that were burned.

Garrow’s report indicated some of the improved lots could have been mislabeled as unimproved.

Sandra Lindsey, director of the Cave Spring Downtown Development Authority, and member of the Greater Rome Convention and Visitors Bureau Board said she still believes the cabin has Cherokee roots. “Either way it’s still a historic cabin,” Lindsey said.

In the meantime, the Cave Spring Historical Society has voted 12-1 to take down the addition to the old Green Hotel/cabin structure that sits next door.

“We can’t leave it like it is because it’s dangerous,” said CSHA President Loring Kirk

Abernathy said it will be taken down piece by piece and labeled just as the original cabin was and stored until the society decides what to do on the site.

“What we can’t re-use we’ll hopefully sell and raise a little money out of it.” Kirk said.

Haney said she would like additional studies on the structure to be undertaken before it is taken down. Kirk said the site would certainly be available for additional archaeological studies once it is dismantled.

Abernathy said he expected that demolition work would get underway within a couple of weeks.