This reconstruction depicts one of the log cabins as it would have appeared on the Chief Joseph Vann's Springplace Plantation. A plantation was more like a small town than just a single house. in all there were 96 structures on the Vann estate. In addition to his fine home there were many cabins, some to house his 110 African slaves and others for hired help. There were also barns, smokehouses, corn cribs, a grist mill, a sawmill, blacksmith shops, taverns, a peach kiln, and whiskey stills. There were also 1,133 peach and 147 apple trees and about 800 acres of cultivated land. All in all, Joseph Vann's business and farms were estimated to cover more than 4,000 acres in the Cherokee Nation.
Forced from their home on a cold March day, just because they were Cherokee, Joseph Vann and his family fled north to a farm he owned in Tennessee. In 1836 the Vanns made their way to Webber's Falls, Oklahoma at the southern end of the new Cherokee Nation. In the 1940s the federal government made restitution totaling nearly $20,000 to Joseph Vann for his Georgia holdings.
This exhibit in the Chief Vann House Visitor Center Museum looks more like a chapter out of Gone with the Wind than Dances with Wolves. Studying the Cherokee can dispel many stereotypes of Native Americans. The Cherokee's first known encounter with Europeans was Hernando DeSoto's expedition in 1540. Within the next three centuries Europeans came to the eastern United States in ever increasing numbers and native culture began to give way to a more European lifestyle.
Around the time of the American revolution, bows and arrows were replaced with rifles, and mud homes (called wattle and daub) were replaced with log cabins. The more advanced Cherokees lived lifestyles far more sophisticated than many Whites, and the more well-to-do among them built vast plantations which were worked with slave labor.
In 1832, Georgia instituted a system of land grants, enabling white citizens to purchase lottery tickets for the chance to win 160 acres of Indian land. During this time Georgia passed several laws specific to the wealthier Cherokee. A Cherokee could not testify against a White in court, nor could a Cherokee employ Whites. Joseph Vann unknowingly violated these new laws when he sought to hire a White overseer for his Springplace plantaion. Because of this infraction, Col. William Bishop, the head of the Georgia Guard, sought to claim Joseph's house for himself in March of 1935.
Spencer Riley, a White boarder who was renting from Joseph, claimed that he had won the house in the 1832 Georgia land lottery. A gun battle erupted in the house between the claimants. On orders from Bishop, militiamen wounded Riley and placed a smoldering log on the stairway to smoke everyone out. The charred flooring is still visible on the landing of the house.
In addition to the museum, the Visitor Center has a gift and book shop, restrooms, and an outstanding video which tells some of the Vann House story.
Tuesday - Saturday: 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Sunday: 2 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.
When I first saw this classic mansion it was a huge disappointment to me. That's because I was about 8 years old, and I was told we were going to see the home of an Indian Chief. I expected a teepee - not a two-story brick house.
I was at the Vann House most recently on the first week-end in March, and now at age 60, I find the place utterly fascinating. It shatters the stereotypical image of American Indian life, and to visit it is both an eye opening and a moving experience.
Called the "Showplace of the Cherokee Nation," the Vann House is perhaps the best-preserved Cherokee plantation home. It was built by James Vann, the son of a Scottish trader and a Cherokee woman. Vann became an influential Cherokee and gained great wealth by placing various businesses along the Federal Road which forked through the Cherokee Nation in the early 1800s. Brick for the house was made of clay found on Vann's plantaion; lumber was cut from his own forest and sawed at his mills; nails were hand made from his blacksmith shops. The labor was provided by his more than 100 black slaves. At the time Vann moved into the mansion with his 2 wives and 9 children, March 24, 1805, he was one of the wealthiest men in America.
James Vann, who lived a rather violent life, was murdered in 1809, and his son, Joseph inherited the house. Joseph, called "Rich Joe," proved to be an even better businessman than his father. He became a leading and respected voice in the Cherokee Legislature.
Despite his wealth and influence, Vann was forced to leave his home and move to "Indian Territory" in present-day Oklahoma in 1832, during the inmamous "Trail of Tears," one of the darkest hours in American history. More of that in the next tip.
500 Cochise Trail, Chatsworth, Georgia, 30705, United States
Good for: Couples
501 Gi Maddox Pkwy, Chatsworth, GA 30705
Good for: Couples
864 Wilderness View, Chatsworth, Georgia, 30705, United States
Satisfaction: Very Good
Good for: Business
613 SOUTH THIRD AVENUE, Chatsworth, GA 30705
1279 Highway 411 S, Chatsworth, GA 30705
613 South 3rd Avenue
High atop Fort Mountain, and surrounded by the solitude of the Chattahoochee National Forest and the Cohutta Wilderness, is an unexpected jewel, the Cohutta Lodge and Restaurant. This could also be an accomodations tip, but I have not stayed here. However, on a few occasions I have been privileged to enjoy dinner at Cohutta Restaurant while also soaking in the splendid 180 degree panorama of the Blue Ridge mountains and valleys below. Any time of year the views are spectacular, but during the autumn foilage season they will take your breath away.
Favorite Dish: I came here the first time for the view, but returned for the food. The restaurant is open every day, and a buffet is offered on the week-ends, with a wide selection of meats, vegetables, salads and deserts. You definitely can't go wrong with the fried chicken, and the prime rib is sumptous. Their southern fried okra is done the way my Mama cooked it - absolutely delicious. Of course you'll want to wash it down with sweet iced tea. Have the banana pudding for desert and your mouth will thank you.
I love a good mystery and no where do I know of one more intriguing than that presented by the 855-foot-long rock wall, or fort, which stands on the highest point of Fort Mountain. American Indians were not known to build such forts and its origin remains a mystery.
One of the most interesting theories finds support from a letter in the files of the Georgia Historical Commission, written by John Sevier, Revolutionary War hero and first governor of Tennessee. Sevier recounts a 1782 conversation with Oconosoto, a 90-year-old Cherokee Chief. According to Oconosoto the wall was built by a fair-skinned people with blue eyes and blond hair. "They were a people called Welsh, and they had crossed the Great Water," Oconosoto said. He called their leader "Modok."
This story fits with the legend of Welsh Prince Madoc, who departed Wales after the death of his father, King Owain Gwynedd. When Gwyned died he left his kingdom to his 7 sons, who were to fight over who would become the new ruler. Instead of fighting, Madoc chose to take 11 ships and 200 people with him to seek their fortune beyond the Atlantic. According to legend, Madoc landed in what is now Mobile Bay, Alabama. The ships were sent back to Wales for more people and supplies, and Madoc and the 200 Welsh people with him were never seen again. There is some archeological evidence to support this story.
Indian tradition tells of the "moon-eyed" people traveling north and eastward along the rivers of the southeast, pursued by hostile natives, until they finally made their home in the then unpopulated mountain fastness of what is now north Georgia. Other forts similar to that found at Fort Mountain are also known on Lookout Mountain, Tennessee, and in other parts of north Georgia and Alabama. At Fort Mountain the Welsh settlers made their last stand. There they were pursued and slain by the Cherokees in large numbers, and the survivors were assimilated into the tribe.
Located 8 miles east of Chatsworth via Ga. Hwy. 52, is Fort Mountain State Park. Fort Mountain derives its name from an ancient and mysterious rock wall which stands at the highest point of the mountain. Situated in the Chattahoochee National Forest, close to the Cohutta Wilderness area, this park offers a variety of outdoor activities. Here hikers, mountain bikers and horse lovers will find some of the most beautiful trails in northern Georgia. Awe-inspiring mountain vistas, wild blueberry thickets, and sparkling mountain streams all add to make this a memorable destination for outdoor adventures.
Other ammenities in the 3,712-acre state park include:
17-acre Lake with Swimming Beach
Fishing and Peddle Boat Rentals (in season)
7 Picnic Shelters
Group Shelter (seats 80)
Miniature Golf (seasonal)
181 Fort Mountain Park Road
Chatsworth, Georgia 30705
Open daily, 7 a.m. - 10 p.m.
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