Historic log cabin latest addition to Discovery Park of America
Posted: Tuesday, November 13, 2012 9:06 pm
If oral history is correct, the 17th president of the United States once slept in the bedroom of a log cabin now located in Discovery Park of America.
Discovery Park of America benefactor Robert Kirkland (left) and David Critchlow of Union City discuss one of the latest donations to the park — a log cabin from the 1800s.
Legend has it that Andrew Johnson was passing through Gibson County — reportedly looking for a drink — at the time of his overnight stay in the cabin in the second half of the 1800s. There is documentation of President Johnson’s visit to Gibson County on a plaque at courthouse square and he reportedly spent the night at the log cabin. However, the word-of-mouth history doesn’t shed any light on whether or not it was a drink-induced sleep.
The cabin will be part of the Frontier Village at Discovery Park of America, an education-entertainment-tourism complex planned for the 50-acre site between Everett Boulevard and the under-construction I-69. The multi-million dollar project, which is across the highway from Union City Second Baptist Church, is being underwritten, primarily, by the Robert E. and Jenny D. Kirkland Foundation.
The cabin was donated to the park by David Critchlow of Union City and his children, Julie Gresham of Jackson, Miss., Amy Cady of Meridian, Miss., and David Critchlow Jr. and Scott Critchlow, both of Union City.
The cabin’s origin
The log cabin, which is actually parts of two log cabins, was originally built in an unincorporated area of Gibson County commonly referred to as Georgetown because all the families initially living there had the George surname.
It was located on what is now referred to as the Old Dyer/Trenton Road and was owned by the late Charles and Clara Markham when it was purchased by the elder Critchlow around 1970.
Cabin on the move
Critchlow and his friend and local builder, the late James McAdoo, dismantled the cabins one log at a time and hauled them to Union City, where they were spread around the yard at Critchlow’s Lake Drive home.
For the next three years, the men rebuilt the cabin in the back yard — with a few menial tasks assigned to the four Critchlow children. Overseeing the reconstruction was a wandering goat named Mr. Grooms that was often seen climbing nimbly over every inch of the work site.
The cabin remained visible to passersby until very recently, when it was moved intact to its new home in Discovery Park.
Its new home
While the cabin hosted many family and neighborhood get-togethers through the years, the elder Critchlow said Discovery Park would be the perfect place for others to enjoy it in the future.
“James McAdoo and I put a lot of hours and broke a lot of bones getting that cabin moved and rebuilt and it has meant a great deal to me and my family for over 40 years,” he said. “Now, I think it’s time to share it with others. Besides that, Robert (Kirkland) has been pestering the hell out of me for years to donate it and, finally, I couldn’t take it anymore.”
Discovery Park chairman Jim Rippy said the cabin is highly valued by Discovery Park and very much appreciated.
“The Critchlow cabin is a wonderful piece of the history of this region and we’re delighted to have it at Discovery Park so this history can be shared with thousands of others,” he said.
He said the cabin will be positioned with other cabins and buildings that have been generously given by area families.
“These cabins will be used to re-create a mid-1800s settlement that will demonstrate what life was like for people living in this area about 150 years ago,” Rippy said. “We offer a special thanks to the Critchlow family for donating this special family heirloom.”
Published in The Messenger 11.13.12
Historic log cabin latest addition
to Discovery Park of America