ABOUT THE PROJECT
The Grant and the Students
This museum exhibit and its accompanying website were funded by a $10,000 grant from the Council of Independent Colleges through a project called “Humanities for the Public Good,” designed to involve undergraduate students in Public History projects of benefit to the community. The initial community partner for the exhibit was the Etowah Valley Historical Society, then the Bartow History Museum and the Cherokee County Historical Society also came on board as partners. All three organizations have been extremely generous in sharing their archives, images,
and artifacts with us.
Under the direction of Dr. Donna Coffey Little, Professor of English at Reinhardt University, the project was conducted by six student interns in Fall 2019 and five in Spring 2020, most of them participants in Reinhardt University’s new Museum Studies Minor.
The fall interns were Abigail Merchant, Branden Blackwell, Kimberlee Smith, Raynah Roberts, Amber Evans, and Jessica Landers.
The Spring 2020 interns were Abigail Merchant, Branden Blackwell, Raynah Roberts, Gianna Sanders, and Joshua Carver.
Dr. Donna Coffey Little (right) and students researching the exhibit.
The Digital Exhibit
The Digital Exhibit (the website you are viewing) was designed, curated, and edited by Dr. Pam Wilson, Professor of Communication and Media Studies at Reinhardt University, and her team of students enrolled in COM 306, Integrated Multimedia Storytelling, during Spring semester of 2020: Kimberlee Smith, Amanda Betlere, Danielle Christopher, Sara Humphries, and Kam Walters.
Slideshow: Click right arrow to see more images!
Walking the Walk: How 11 Students Researched the History of a Mountain
In the Fall of 2019, these students researched the lives and writing of the three women writers, Rosa Pendleton Chiles, Frances Elizabeth Adair, and Corra Mae Harris, as well as the history of Pine Log Mountain. They went on numerous field trips, including a driving tour of the mountain, the Bennett Store and Salacoa Valley, several cemeteries, the Corra Harris Cave, the Sugar Hill ruins, the Etowah Valley Historical Society, the Etowah Bush School, the Bartow History Museum Archives, and an overnight trip to the University of Georgia Special Collections. They also had six guest speakers and conducted oral interviews of several community members.
In Spring 2020, the students continued to research in various archives and interview community members as they began to put together the materials for the exhibit.
We hiked a number of sites on and around Pine Log Mountain, looking at everything from mines to caves to ruins to cemeteries to fire towers. We explored several creeks that flow off of the mountain, including Pine Log Creek and Stamp Creek. The water is impossibly clear.
We visited Lake Arrowhead, a man-made lake in the mountain’s east valley. Underneath this lake are the ruins of Lost Town, a Cherokee village and later an Appalachian settler community.
Guided by a Native American petroglyph expert, we set out to find the cave that one of our forgotten women writers had discovered. It had originally been filled with Native American artifacts dating back over a thousand years. Most of us went into the cave. We did not find any artifacts, but it was a memorable experience.
We hiked to the ruins of the Sugar Hill convict labor camp, where over a hundred inmates had been interned from 1874-1909, working in the iron and manganese mines. The atrocities at this camp were one of the reasons the convict lease system in Georgia was abolished by the State Legislature.
We hiked to a 19th-century mill site along Stamp Creek where it comes off of Pine Log Mountain. It was originally a grist mill, then it became a sawmill and later a carriage and coffin factory.
We visited the only known still-existing slave cabin in Bartow County. Our guide, Alexis Carter-Callahan, director of the Etowah Bush School, helped us understand the African-American history in the area.
We took an overnight trip to the University of Georgia in Athens to visit its Special Collections. By consensus, we ate that night at the Olive Garden.
The University of Georgia is a lot bigger than Reinhardt, but we found our way. We were excited to discover that the UGA archives had an exhibit on the convict lease system in Georgia, one of the very things we had been researching.
At UGA’s Hargrett Rare Book & Manuscript Room, each of us had requested that materials be pulled for the topics we were researching. Abigail, Amber, and Branden were researching Corra Harris. Kimberlee was researching lynching in Georgia. Raynah was researching moonshining, and Jessica was researching convict laborers.
It was amazing to touch historical handwritten documents by some of the authors we had studied, especially the original suicide note written by Lundy Harris, husband of writer Corra Harris.
Among several other archives, we visited the Etowah Valley Historical Society in Cartersville, our community partner. Here, we looked at original letters by Corra Harris.
We learned in our research that Reinhardt College students and faculty in the early 1900s had an annual Pine Log Mountain Day, when they would climb to the summit. We had several Pine Log Mountain Days that we will never forget.
Dr. Donna Coffey-Little
Professor of English
7300 Reinhardt Parkway
Waleska, GA 30183
Our museum exhibit at Reinhardt University will not be open until after the COVID crisis is over, probably in the Fall of 2020.