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Van Zandt County Log Cabin, Lost and Found


This old log cabin was found by Ken Baker when he was tearing down an old house in order to build a new one. They found that the house had been built around an old log cabin. Funds to purchase the historic structure were provided by Nettie Swinney in memory of her late husband, Darwin Swinney. The cabin was moved with the help of Northcutt House Moving. James Northcutt of Emory, the owner of Northcutt House Moving, made it possible for the Van Area Oil and Historical Musesum to move the cabin to the Museum grounds where it has been restored.

An old story about the cabin was recited by Alpha Rowan when she was 96 years old and living at the County Inn Nursing Home in Van in 1998. Mrs. Rowan told about the Old White Man who lived in the cabin. These are her memories in her own words: "Old Uncle Bee Jones and an Old Black Woman came from Georgia and built the log cabin. Uncle Bee and the Old Back Woman, that is the way he always referred to her, never his wife, had three sons, John, Charlie and Fletch. The Old Woman was from a slave family in Georgia. I don't know when they built the cabin, as it was before we moved there in 1908. John and Charlie were gone from home when we moved there, but Fletch was a young teenager. I remember that Uncle Bee had a long white beard that came almost to his waist. He always carried a walking cane and walked by our house ever few days going to his sister's grocery store. His sister had a grocery store west of where we lived in Owlet Green. Owlet Green had several small businesses at that time and also a liquor store.

"We did our washing at a well west of us on the way to Owlet Green and one time we had dropped one of my little slips on our way home from doing our wash. Uncle Bee found it on his way home from his sister's store, he picked it up and came to our door with it on the end of his walking cane and gave it to us. I will never forget his coming up to our door with my slip on the end of his cane.

"Uncle Bee died in front of the Galena Church. His son, Fletch, was still living a home at the time Uncle Bee died. Fletch sold the cabin to Ruff Browning but I don't know the date.

My mother, Burma Goode's sister and her husband, Dennis and Birdie Easley, bought the log cabin in 1919 and build the house around the log cabin. My anut and uncle raised their family there and I was in their home many times when they lived there. My Aunt Birdie's house had a porch all the way across the front of the house and a dog-run though the middle. The west front room was built around the log cabin. This is the accurate history of the log cabin. I remember it all as though it were yesterday."

Partial History of the Log Cabin from public records: The cabin was located on FM Rd. 1995, just off and east of Hwy 314, just out of Van, south of I-20. No one has been able to determine just when the log cabin was built or who built it. It may have been W.W. "Bee" Jones, a white man from Georgia, or T.F. Tolbert, a mulatto, who married Sarah A. Laroe, a mulatto, in Van Zandt County on 09 Aug 1874. It is possible that one or more of Sarah's children were Tolbert's who died before 1880. On the 1880 census, Sarah is listed as head of the household, a widow, 24 years old, with children John, age 7, Charles, age 5, Fletcher, age 2, and Felix, age 6 months, all listed as mulatto. W.W. Jones, age 40, white, single, head of household is listed on another household close by. It may have been Tolbert who built the cabin because Lora Easley Cole, daughter of Dennis and Bertie Easley, said that she had always heard that the cabin was built by a man who was "half white and half black."

W.W. Jones owned the land where the cabin was located in 1890 and he was listed on the tax roll of that year. The land consisted of 124 acres of the H. Peace survey, a total of 156 acres originally.

By 1889-90, the children are attending school and their guardian is listed as W.W. Jones and they are going by the name Jones. Descendants are still going by this name.

W.W. Jones called "Bee" was born 03 May 1840. Sarah died either 23 Aug 1893 or 28 Aug 1896. There are two markers for Sarah Jones buried beside several of her children in Bethlehem Cemetery. Bee died in May 1910 and is buried alone at Marvin Chapel Cemetery.

Following Jones' death, the land changed owners several times during the next few years. B.W. Gentry owned it until 1912 when the adminstrators of his estate sold the 124 acres to R. Morris. On 23 Sept 1913, R.F. Browning purchased the land from Robert and Ida Morris. In 1917, Dennis and Birtie Easley purchased the land and moved into the log cabin. Dennis immediately began building the house around the little structure. Lora Easley Cole was three years old at the time but remembered it well. In 1919, the deed to the property was finalized. The Easleys lived there until 1928 when Dennis died. He was buried at Marvin Chapel Cemetery. The land was split up among their children and sold off. The children were Allie, William D., Edna E. and Lora Frances Easley.

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This page last updated 06 October 2007

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