Cryptures July 2016

Cokes Chapel had its beginnings in 1833 under a muscadine grape arbor at Burt Hill farm, located at Vineyard crossing better known today as the intersection of Lower Fayetteville Road and Georgia Highway 154. Pioneers held church here for about nine years when on April 6th, 1842 Mark Smith offered a 200 square yard patch of land just down the road to the east. It is uncertain if Mark was a member of the congregation and not clear why Stephen Howard was mentioned in the deed, but the “Cokesberry Chappel” was to be the center of the land with privileges to a spring that was there.

Mark Smith was a relative of Nathaniel Smith who was apparently a wealthy land owner in Coweta County, Nathaniel passed in 1831 and Mark may have been his son. Mark inherited a fair amount of money and possibly some land. Some of this land was that small patch in the 1842 deed sold for $25 or an equivalent of $735.25 today.

On the land that Mark Smith sold to the congregation there was a log cabin. No one is quite sure who introduced the log cabin to America but evidence points to either Scandinavians or Germans. They were widely spread all across the country and varied greatly.

In 1830 the population of Coweta County was around 5,000 people and by 1840 the population doubled. Typically the log cabins in that era were either 20 feet by 20 feet or 20 feet by 16 feet. The logs in the south were typically squared and set upon stone foundations or stone pilings. A cabin could be built in a day or two by 20 to 30 men from all over the county, and it would have been a great social event like a barn raising. The sills would have been massive oak logs which could have been felled and hewn then brought to the site by oxen. The walls would have been pine because pine grows straight as an arrow. In all likelihood, the cabin would have had a door in the front and one in the back with leather strap latches and a window or two. It could have had a hard pack floor or a wood floor. The logs would probably have had dovetail ends and mud and moss to chink between the logs. The roof would have been wooden shakes of oak, chestnut or cedar. There is currently no mention of the details of the Cokes Chapel cabin. You’ll have to use your imagination to picture it.
It has been said in a poem about Cokes Chapel that the cabin was dark and damp. It was lit by an oil lamp or two and may have been heated by an iron stove or a hearth. The congregation met in this log cabin for eight years when they decided to build our beloved old chapel in 1850.
 
In June, 2016 I became very curious about some apparent stones or bricks extending from the western front corner of the church to the area of the cemetery, so curious, that I decided to unearth them. To my surprise, I found what appears to be the foundation stones for the back wall of our old log cabin. The length of the stone foundation is 20 feet and they are good sized stone which would have borne the weight of the log wall.
 
This fall when it is cooler I will be probing the soil to try to find the other foundation stones and the hearth. If I do find them they will be unearthed so everyone can see where our log cabin church was. Please be sure to stop by the site and take a look at our archaeological dig. I would also be happy to walk you through the cemetery and introduce you to past members of our congregation.
 
Thom McCague , thommc49@gmail.com 
 

Leave a Reply