Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Arnwine Cabin Part 2

"In the summer of 1933, amid the agony of a national depression, the Tennessee Valley Authority began to acquire land in the rocky, sloping meadows of upper East Tennessee. Its purpose was to create a storage reservoir and hydroelectric facility at the confluence of the Clinch and Powell rivers, the northeastern tributaries of the Tennessee. Thus the federal agency began a course of action which transformed thousands of human lives and effected multitudinous environmental and economic changes, the repercussions of which are still being felt today." (McDonald and Muldowny p.3)

This quote from Michael J. McDonald and John Muldowny's book, TVA and the Dispossessed, describes the conditions that set the stage for the little Arnwine cabin to be moved from the shores of the Clinch River in Grainger County and eventually be placed in John Rice Irwin's Museum of Appalachia.

When Dave Tabler mentioned that he was going to the Museum Of Appalachia's Fall Homecoming, I told him to be sure to see the Arnwine Cabin. This tiny one room log cabin is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It is a little piece of history and it belonged to my family. I was sure that he would not want to miss it. So, when Dave asked me to write about the history of the Arnwine Cabin, I thought it would be an easy task. After all, I had been to the cabin several times, I knew a bit about it, I had some records and the recollection of the stories that my Grandmother told me. Easy peasy, right?

First, I wanted to go back to the museum because all the pictures were of the side door or of a new door that was added to the cabin. So, on Friday, my daughter, my granddaughter and I drove up to the museum. I had to climb back in the weeds next to the fence to get a picture of the front of the cabin. I should have taken this as a hint that this was not going to be as easy as I had thought, but in for a penny, in for a pound. After all, it was a beautiful Fall day in East Tennessee and I was having a great time with my daughter and granddaughter.

I had already obtained a copy of the application for placement on the National Register of Historic Places. They date the cabin from the late 1700's to the early 1800's. The builder of the cabin is listed as old Wes Arnwine. Now, the problem is that are are no records of a Wes Arnwine who could have built the cabin during this time period, so who actually built this cabin?

Since I know who lived in the cabin last- Aunt Lisa Jane and Polly Ann Arnwine. I am tracing their family back to learn who could have built the cabin.


  1. Polly is said to be the daughter of John Arnwine and Chole Rector.

    "Our subject, John Arnwine, came to what is now McMinn County before 1819
    and as an old deed says, purchased his first parcel of ground from the
    Cherokee chief "Falling Water" and his daughter, Betsy McIntosh; 300 acres
    for a rifle and a horse. John later obtained land grants from the government
    and purchased other tracts until by 1850 he owned over 3,000 acres, covering
    most of the northern end of McMinn county. By his industrious nature (and
    the benefit of slave labor) he became one of the wealthier men in McMinn
    county, Tennessee."


  2. The Mary (Polly) who was the daughter of John Arnwine and Chloe Rector was born long before the Polly who was the last of the two sisters who lived in the Arnwine cabin. This Mary (Polly) was, according to her death certificate), the daughter of William Arnwine and Mary Rector. She lived until 1931. She lived in Grainger County all her life.

    This family is related to the Arnwine family that moved to McMinn County. The are both descendants of James Arnwine and Roseanna Beeler.

  3. I think Mary Rector was the wife of Daniel Arnwine and the grandmother of the Mary (Polly) who was the last to live in the cabin. I think Mary's parents were William Arnwine and Mary Dyer.

    Thanks for the blogs on the cabin ... they are wonderful!

  4. That is what I understand also. Mary (Polly) and Eliza Jane were the last two family members to live there. Parents William Arnwine and Mary Dyer. They are listed as parents on Polly's death certificate, but I have not been able to locate a death certificate for Eliza Jane.