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How one family with historic South Hall roots is honoring ancestors
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The Col. James Roberts Cabin's new home at the 168-acre park is a return to its South Hall roots. Smith said his ancestors lived in the cabin for many years until his second great-grandfather, Isaac Smith, moved his family to Gainesville in the late 1800s to take advantage of public schools there. - photo by Austin Steele

Descendants of the family who lived in a historic cabin now restored at a South Hall park have donated the first furniture for the ancestral homestead.

Doug and Kaela Smith, and Doug’s cousin Lynn Ball, donated two 1800s-style rocking chairs to sit in the Col. James Roberts Cabin at Cherokee Bluffs Park near Flowery Branch. Doug Smith’s third great-grandparents were Robert and Elmina Smith, and they lived with their six children in the cabin in the 1850s.

“The cabin is pretty much empty right now, and we wanted to just start getting some furnishings inside. We thought the rocking chairs would be a good fit,” Doug Smith said.

Elmina Roberts’ uncle was Col. James Roberts, the namesake of the cabin and a Revolutionary War veteran. The home was previously located at the intersection of Hog Mountain and Friendship roads, but it was threatened as development came in to the area. The Hall County Historical Society, Roberts’ descendants and community members helped save the cabin, which was dismantled, cataloged and reassembled at the park, which opened in 2015.

Some of the logs in the two-story cabin are originals, while others were not salvageable and have been replaced.

The historic cabin is a reminder of life during a much different time, Smith said.

“We take for granted having a warm home and clean water and hot water and food, and I think when you look at how these folks lived 200 years ago, they were lucky to have water,” Smith said. “They were lucky to have food. Heat was a luxury.”

The cabin’s new home at the 168-acre park is a return to its South Hall roots. Smith said his ancestors lived in the cabin for many years until his second great-grandfather, Isaac Smith, moved his family to Gainesville in the late 1800s to take advantage of schools there.

Smith and other family members are still working on putting together the pieces of the Smith and Roberts family history. Through his ancestry work, he connected with his cousin, Lynn Ball, and met her at the cabin’s original site.

Smith said one story about the cabin is that the family could hear gunfire from the Atlanta area during the Civil War.

“The amount of noise we had was probably very little, and we’re right on the Chattahoochee River, so that sound would have just come right up the river from Atlanta,” he said. “I think that is a great story to have, and you can imagine what the family was thinking to hear a full-fledged war going on 50 miles away.”

Cherokee Bluffs Park also has the Friendship History Room, which houses historical records and artifacts from South Hall.

The cabin and history room are kept locked for security, but a tour can be arranged by calling 770-503-3148.

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Doug and Kaela Smith, and Doug’s cousin Lynn Ball, donated two 1800s-style rocking chairs to sit in the Col. James Roberts Cabin at Cherokee Bluffs Park in Flowery Branch. Doug Smith’s third great-grandparents were Robert and Elmina Smith, and they lived with their six children in the cabin in the 1850s. - photo by Austin Steele
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