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American Lives

Atlanta Pioneers: AHC's Wood Cabin (Georgia)

by Laurie Stevens & Atlanta History Center, 4 September 2021

 

Atlanta History Center's Wood Cabin
Photo © Atlanta History Center

The 'Wood Family Cabin' which sits in the grounds of Atlanta History Center in Atlanta, GA, is a highly noteworthy example of a log-built structure. It was erected during a period in which this area of northern Georgia formed part of the European settler frontier.

The cabin was originally located about one mile (1.6 kilometers) to the south of the Chattahoochee River, and approximately two miles (3.2 kilometers) from the site of the Creek Indian settlement of Standing Peachtree. Its late nineteenth century history is tied closely to the life of one Elias Wood and family.

Born in 1807 in South Carolina, Elias Wood, his siblings, and their mother moved to Georgia, possibly in 1824. They first lived in the community known as Simsville, about two miles (4.5 kilometers) south of the cabin's original site.

Atlanta History Center's Wood Cabin
Photo © Atlanta History Center

It was there that Elias Wood first met and later married the daughter of Andrew and Mary (Gibson) Oliver, Martha Jane Oliver Sims, a widow with two children. Together, they were parents to nine more children. By 1840, Elias is listed on the census as living in Georgia Militia District 469 of DeKalb County along with eight family members and (unfortunately) one slave.

Between 1805 and 1833, the state of Georgia held eight land lotteries which parceled off Creek Indian lands to white settlers. For an average price of seven cents an acre, common Georgians could amass a sizeable land holding.

In each lottery eligible participants (families consisting of a husband, wife, and at least one child; every widow with children; and every white male who had lived in Georgia for at least one year) applied to the state, which entered their names on sheets of paper deposited in one drum while the lot numbers of the eligible properties were placed in another drum. The number of times a participant's name was entered into the first drum was dictated by age, marital status, war service, successful participation in previous lotteries, and years of Georgia residence.

Atlanta History Center's Wood Cabin, by Laurie Stevens
Photo © Laurie Stevens

Andrew Jackson's victory over the Creeks during the War of 1812 (1812-1815) effectively helped to eliminate the Creeks from the state. The 1805, 1807, 1820, 1821, and 1827 lotteries involved Creek lands; the 1820 lottery involved Creek and Cherokee lands; and the two 1832 lotteries and one in 1833 involved Cherokee lands.

The land on which the 'wood cabin' originally sat was ceded to the state of Georgia from the Creek confederacy by the 'First Treaty of Indian Springs' on 8 January 1821. The Land Lottery for this area, now known as District 17, took place later that same year.

It was during a similar land lottery in 1847 that Elias Wood purchased Land Lot 251 in District 17 (which included land as far east as the current Atlanta History Center campus), but the cabin itself may predate that event by some decades.

Atlanta History Center's Wood Cabin
Photo © Atlanta History Center

Like many pioneer settlers in the area, Elias Wood farmed for his family's needs. At his District 17 home, he grew wheat, Indian corn, and rye, as well as raising a few sheep and some pigs. He also kept bees which produced honey and wax.

During the American Civil War, Sherman's army came by the wood cabin on its march to take Atlanta. They confiscated all of the family's food stores and animals, as is recorded in Southern Claims Commission documents.

At some point (estimated to be around 1872), Elias Wood and his wife, Jane, built a large Victorian-style home on the original property into which they incorporated the existing cabin as the kitchen wing. Elias died in 1873, aged about sixty-six. Jane continued to live there until her own death in 1889.

Atlanta History Center's Wood Cabin, by Laurie Stevens
Photo © Laurie Stevens

Carl Hartrampf Jr and his son, Carl III, rediscovered the cabin in 1996, now largely concealed within the Victorian house on what was by then Hollywood Road in north-west Atlanta. Carl purchased the rights to remove the cabin from the house. The logs were disassembled and relocated to Winfield Farm at Scaly Mountain, North Carolina.

In 2014, the cabin was relocated again, from North Carolina to the Atlanta History Center's campus. It now sits deep in the woods along the Swan Woods Trail, again on former Creek Indian territory. A forest opening provides a dramatic setting for the cabin in the peaceful woodland of ten acres (four hectares).

Atlanta History Center's Wood Cabin, by Laurie Stevens
Photo © Laurie Stevens

The rich history of the Creek, the early development of Atlanta's Buckhead neighborhood, and the Wood family are all interpreted as part of programming and special events for the cabin.

The old logs which were cut for this cabin some two hundred years ago have borne witness to tremendous change: settlement and trade, the Creek who were driven away, the coming of the railroad, the Civil War soldiers who passed this way, the growth of Buckhead, and more.

Today the cabin can be visited on Atlanta History Center grounds in Atlanta, GA.

Three photos on this page are copyright © Atlanta History Center and are re-used with permission, along with original text. Additional text by P L Kessler.

Main Sources

Atlanta History Center

New Georgia Encylopedia

Gigantino, Jim - Land Lottery System. New Georgia Encyclopedia, 28 September 2020 (accessed online 1 September 2021)

 

Images and text copyright © Laurie Stevens except where stated. An original feature for the History Files: American Lives.