Monday, August 17, 2009

John Goodwin Swartz Myers' log cabin

John Goodwin Swartz Myers was born December 26, 1834 in South Carolina, the son of George and Leodicia Conwill Myers. He came to Itawamba County in 1858 with his widowed mother and siblings in a wagon train of settlers from Newberry District, South Carolina. This caravan, which also included the Shumpert and Elliott families, stopped and settled in the Carolina community of western Itawamba County. It is likely that the families in the caravan followed the migration of Joseph Goodwin Conwill and his wife Mary Shumpert who came from Newberry to Itawamba County in the 1830s.

According to a granddaughter of John Myers, the five families of the caravan bought 160 acres each of adjoining tracts of land. The men then went together and built log cabins for each of the families. One of these log cabins was purchased by my husband and me in 1976, disassembled and moved down the road from Carolina to the Peaceful Valley community where the logs were reassembled in a little "holler" of land on Pennington-Sloan property.

In 1860, the census-taker found the Myers family in Itawamba County:

Richmond post office
John Myers 25, single, farmer, born South Carolina
Lodica Myers 59, born South Carolina
Mary 28, born South Carolina
Joseph 22, single, house carpenter, born South Carolina

Neighbors were David and Isabella Shumpert, Ephraim and Elizabeth Wiygul, Rhoda Shumpert, and John and Susan Adderholt. In the previous 1850 census, the Myers family can be found enumerated in Newberry, South Carolina.

John Myers was appointed postmaster in 1861 at Bolands, a community now extinct but formerly existed in the Carolina-Evergreen area of Itawamba County, and also served as justice of the peace. John married Mary J. Shumpert. His brother, Joseph, never married and died during the Civil War. The Myers family still has a diary and some letters that Joseph wrote back home to his mother before his death.

John died September 25, 1927 and was buried in the Shumpert-Myers Cemetery near his original home in Itawamba County. Below is a picture of John, provided to us several years ago by his granddaughter Mrs. R. P. Rainey, daughter of John Elliot Myers.

As indicated above, the logs from the Myers log cabin were disassembled for the move, but only after first being numbered and color coded by my husband in order to facilitate reassembly in their new location. It was a hot summer day that bicentennial year of 1976 when the logs were slowly and tediously moved via trailers. Several tires went flat before the heavy logs could be unloaded near their destination.

Below, my mother and Aunt Tootsie look over the reassembled logs from the cabin's interior. The reassembly and subsequent roofing of the cabin was supervised by my grandfather Fessie Pennington, a retired carpenter. Notice in the bottom photograph that the chinking of the logs had begun. By this time, my husband was in law school and had little spare time to work on the cabin. It wasn't until the mid-1980s that the cabin was finally finished, complete with a stone chimney, sleeping loft and a front porch. Later, a kitchen was added to the rear along with a great room, but the front room of the original cabin is everyone's favorite part.

Today, our son Penn lives in the log cabin while attending school. I am sure that John Myers would be pleased that his family's log cabin is being put to good use. Interestingly, there is a connection to the Myers family other than through the log cabin. John Myers' son, George, was married to Anna Luna Davis, daughter of James William Anderson Davis and Annalizer Morrow, and sister to my great-grandfather James Kelly Davis. I find this interesting because these two families lived in separate parts of the county, one in Carolina-Evergreen and the other in Tilden-Fulton, separated by the Tombigbee River. Like the Myerses, the Davises were also from Newberry, South Carolina originally, but the Davis family left Newberry around 1800.


Kirk Robinson said...

Great article, Mona. From the past years, your husband has come up with some interesting projects...

Anonymous said...

My aneurysm repair went well -I guess! You know insurance policies: in and out. Had the stent "installed" Fri. morning and left the hospital Sun. afternoon. Happy to be home, but it is going to be a long hot "rest of August" - Ron and the Min Pin took me for a walk down to get the mail (about 180/90 ft.roundtrip!) and it wore me out. I'm following drs. orders, and I do thank each of you who kept me in your thoughts and prayers - this meant a lot to the family. BTW, our architect son got to see inside the new "heart tower" - 3 yrs old - of Harris Methodist Hospital downtown where I was in recovery. He is associated with the architectural firm who designed this addition - his main jobs have been on Oncology projects and one is due out shortly. Sounds like we are all doomed to cancer when he tells of the number of hospitals that are dedicated to Cancer patients. If they continue to enlarge this place, we'll have to buy a train ticket to reach inside!! Bless each of you. bettye

Arvel said...

Bettye....great to hear you are back and doing well. I really enjoy you comments.

Janice Tracy said...

What an interesting post, Mona! You and your family should be so proud that you have preserved the history of John Myers and his cabin.

Don Dulaney said...

Love the pics. and Great to know the history of the place.I had know Idea. G post!

Anonymous said...

I've sat and looked/studied those powerful logs that went into restoring this piece of history by you and Mike. That "board" as depicted in the photo of your mom and Anut Tootsie had to be from some massive tree. I assume that when Mike re-built the cabin, he electrified the place so that you could have lights and some other modern conveniences although it doesn't look like that he made had places to build a bathroom and such!, OR can we be pleasantly surprised to find a genuine "flusher" in there somewhere?? I do hope that this cabin will be around for many generations of your descendants to use while attending college.

I'm setting here laughing about experiences of our oldest son's college days in the early '70's when he wanted to prove he was a man "on his own" and went out and rented a farm house ($5. a month) outside Commerce, TX to get out of the dorm. That winter was blistering cold and I think there had to be holes in the walls as wide as these unchinked logs as you show. Almost died that winter. . . And, I can just imagine that old farmer laughing about his city slicker "down there freezing". Ah, what our kids do while growing up. bettye

Mona Robinson Mills said...

Bettye, the cabin does have modern conveniences added! Later, after the original logs were reassembled to form the front room, Mike purchased another log cabin with smaller logs and in not as good shape as the first one. These logs were used to create a back room, and the front and back log rooms have a connecting area constructed from regular materials that includes the kitchen and a bathroom. It really is an inhabitable log cabin.