Early Settlers near Pine Log Mountain: in Waleska, the Salacoa Valley, and Lost Town
Pine Log Mountain (center, between Talking Rock and Sutalee) was a prominent geographic feature on this 1842 Georgia map by Morse & Breese.
The Town of Waleska
When Lewis Reinhardt (1804-1884) and his wife, Jane Harbin Reinhardt, settled the Pine Log Mountain area in 1834, it was still part of the Cherokee Nation, although white settlers were increasingly encroaching into the mineral-rich area.
The town of Waleska, first settled in the 1830s by the Reinhardt, Heard, and Rhyne families although not incorporated into a town until half a century later, was named after a local Cherokee man named Oo-Warluske (sometimes spelled Walesca). The Cherokee Fourkiller family occupied the land where Reinhardt University was later established.
Lewis Reinhardt and fellow settlers began to build roads, grist mills, stores, and even a post office. The first establishment
Reinhardt built was the small church that later became known as the Briar Patch Chapel, now located on Route 140 at the intersection of Land Road.
The Reinhardt family and the Cherokee Indians reportedly had a friendly relationship. They traded and learned from each other for several years until the Cherokee were forced to leave on the Trail of Tears in 1838.
In his diary, Nathaniel Reinhardt, Lewis Reinhardt’s son, reflected on his family’s move to Cherokee County:
“When I was thirteen months old, we moved in the early part of the year 1834 from Hall County to Cherokee County, my father having bought lands there. And he built a mill on Shoal Creek and opened a small farm. At this time this portion of the county was settled almost entirely by the Cherokee Indians for whom Father ground their grain, and bartered also with them to some extent.”
Lewis Reinhardt and the Pine Log Road
This 1836 document shows the origin of what is now Georgia Route 140, which
used to be called the “Pine Log Road.” The road, laid out by Lewis Reinhardt and several others, was designed to connect
the communities of Red Bank (present-day Canton) and Pine Log and to intersect with the Tennessee, or Sally Hughes, Road going north to Coosawattee and New Town (or New Echota), the capital of the Cherokee Nation.
Some version of the road probably already existed to connect the Cherokee villages at Hickory Log and Red Bank with Pine Log Village, but Lewis Reinhardt and his colleagues created it as an official public road in 1836.
In 1835, Lewis Reinhardt and his family bought a large portion of land on Pine Log Mountain road slightly down the way from his first settlement. The land was undeveloped, so he lumbered the wood and began building on the property, which included a house for him and his family.
Following the government’s decision to move the Cherokee Indians, many soldiers who came to remove the Indians found their way to Lewis Reinhardt’s land and stayed as guests in his house. Eventually, he decided to invest in the influx of travelers and built the “House of Entertainment” in 1839. According to his son Nathaniel’s diary, Reinhardt housed “soldiers, travelers, and stockdrovers” at this inn.
Following this, Lewis Reinhardt’s influence over industrial and agricultural growth in Waleska grew tremendously. Nathaniel Reinhardt wrote in his diary: “This year he made a large crop of corn. He hired a great deal of work done on his farm. He kept up some fish traps on Shoal Creek in which he caught a good many fish.” The “House of Entertainment” is from a 1940 Atlanta Constitution article.
The Atlanta Constitution, 28 July 1940
Image courtesy of Larry Vogt.
1836 Road order, Cherokee County, Georgia.
Captain Augustus Reinhardt
Augustus Reinhardt, one of Lewis Reinhardt’s sons, was the co-founder, together with John J. A. Sharp, of Reinhardt College. Born in 1842, he was just 19 years old when he enlisted in the Confederate Army, commanding a company of 145 men until, in 1863, his unit was decimated in the Battle of Baker’s Creek in Mississippi. Reinhardt himself was shot in the knee and, after making his way home, never returned to military service. He later became a lawyer and a prominent politician in Atlanta.
John J. A. Sharp married Lewis and Jane's daughter Mary Jane Reinhardt. Both men were passionate Methodists and passionate about education, and in 1883 they founded what is now Reinhardt University. The Reinhardt University Archive holds Augustus’ original diary from 1878 to 1880. Primarily a spiritual journal, the diary reveals a man who was fervent in his faith. On December 16, 1879, Augustus wrote:
“Today has been a day of sore temporal trial. Still, God, I know, has not turned a deaf ear to me but has heard my humble cry and in His own good time will fully answer. They are but blessings in disguise. I will trust Him though He slay me.”
Courtesy Reinhardt University Archives
The Salacoa Valley
Salacoa is the English form of the Cherokee “Sa-li-quo-yi,” meaning “bear grass place.” Salacoa Creek, with its source in what is now Pickens County, creates an isolated valley to the northeast of Pine Log Mountain as it flows towards the Coosawattee River in Gordon County.
"On that creek, probably near its head, there used to be an old Cherokee village for which the creek took its name. Probably the Indians who settled the village were impressed by some large stand of bear grass that grew in the immediate area.
On many old maps, Salacoa Creek appears prominently, even when few other landmarks in the Cherokee lands are shown. "
John Currahee, Chenoceta's Weblog
Salacoa’s Collins Family Reunion (1935)
“They were a people who experienced all the joys and sorrows of pioneers – a people who had the courage to follow where duty called and who never wavered, no matter what the fates had in store for them.”
This is the description given to Salacoa’s first settlers by Frances Adair in her novel, A Little Leaven.
Salacoa Valley was first settled circa 1840 by the Mahan Family, who came from Virginia. After news of the rich farmland and picturesque landscape traveled back to relatives and friends, many others soon made the journey to Salacoa Valley. One such family was the Collins Family (pictured here), who came around 1846.
Photo courtesy of John Bennett Jr.
View of Salacoa Valley from Bennett’s Store
As Frances Adair put it, “news of the arrival of old Virginia neighbors traveled like forest fire through Salacoa’s red hills.” As those “old Virginia neighbors” arrived one by one, the present-day road seen in the background is likely close to the route they would have traveled back in the 1800’s. Along this main route, many staples of the community began to pop up, such as general stores, churches, a school, and even a courthouse.
Photo by Abigail Merchant.
Goshen Baptist Church in Salacoa Valley
As the population of the Salacoa Valley grew, certain places sprang up as a “community hub.” In particular, the church and the general store were considered the lifeblood of the community. This photo depicts Goshen Baptist Church as it was around the 1930s, although the building dates back much further.
Photo courtesy of John Bennett, Jr.
Lost Town, which since the 1970s has been underneath Lake Arrowhead on the east side of the mountain, was a Cherokee village before it was a settler town. It was a remote location even for the Cherokee, and it appears that a number of the Cherokee who lived there in 1835 (see census excerpt, right) had emigrated from points farther east where the white settlers had already encroached.
The census list, taken from Charles Walker’s Footsteps of the Cherokee, shows some of the Cherokee who lived in Lost Town, how much land they occupied, and their land's value at the time of the Cherokee Removal.
John B. Puckett of Lost Town
John B. Puckett bought the Lost Town property in 1853 and built a large two-story house, the ruins of which now lie beneath Lake Arrowhead. A chimney is visible when the water is low. There were also five small houses in Lost Town used for tenant farmers, as well as two log cabins on the side of the mountain. The Puckett Cemetery still stands on a ridge above the lake. Corn, cotton, oats and sugar cane were grown in the fertile valley along Lost Town Creek, and there was a huge apple orchard. The Pucketts owned a store in Canton where they sold surplus crops. John B. Puckett played the fiddle, his friend Grady Moore played the banjo, and square dances were held in the Puckett house.
Information from Carol Sue Puckett, “The History of the Puckett Family in Waleska” and Robert Puckett, Richard and Elizabeth Puckett (unpublished manuscripts).
Obediah Savannah Puckett
Obediah Savannah Puckett was born in 1864 in Lost Town. His cousin, William Bird Puckett, also known as “Doc,” was John B. Puckett’s son, born in 1853. He inherited the Lost Town property. He was also part-owner of a drugstore in Canton, as well as a policeman and a “revenuer” who helped catch moonshiners.
The Pucketts appear to have been on both sides of the Moonshine Wars.
He had a brother known as “Crazy Dick” who made moonshine and died in the Cherokee County Poorhouse.
There was another brothernamed Leonidas, whose “mind went bad” and who was “kept for a while in a log cabin behind his parents’ home in Lost Town.”
Another Puckett descendant known as “the outlaw Will Puckett” also made moonshine and was said to have kept his “second wife” in a cave by Shut-In Creek.
Information from Robert Puckett, Richard and Elizabeth Puckett (unpublished manuscripts).
The Town of Pine Log
Photo courtesy of Bartow County History Museum.
Pine Log Methodist Church Tabernacle and Cabins
Photo courtesy of Flickr.
Pine Log United Methodist Church, 2006.
The town of Pine Log, several miles west of the Cherokee Pine Log Village, was settled in the late 1830s by families who had migrated from the Abbeville and Pendleton County, South Carolina, area: the Upshaw, Baker, Ellis, Barton, Smith, King and Johnson families.
The original families purchased the land from Georgia Lottery “fortunate drawers” without ever having seen it. They were indeed fortunate. The land turned out to be fertile and good for farming.
Many of these families owned small numbers of slaves.
The first project the citizens of Pine Log undertook was to construct The Pine Log Methodist Church in 1834-1835. A white frame church was constructed a decade later. For an image, click here.
This sketch on the upper left shows the church's “Tabernacle,” an open-air place of worship also referred to as the “Barn,” which was constructed in 1888. It was a Camp Meeting arbor under which the local churches could meet during the summer season for revivals.
The color photo, left, shows the 1844 church as it appears today. The church still stands and continues to host a Camp Meeting every summer.
The group of cabins, below, are among the many cabins surrounding the Tabernacle that have been used by families who camp there during the revivals and camp meetings. They are still on the site today.
Photo courtesy of Pamela Wilson.
Family cabins at Pine Log Methodist Tabernacle and Camp Meeting site.
Louisville and Nashville Railroad
Pine Log was a thriving town from the late 1830s until the late twentieth century.
When the Louisville and Nashville Railroad came through in 1906, it became a railroad town. Like the Western & Atlantic and the Iron Belt Railroad, the L & N linked Pine Log Mountain’s mines with markets across the country.
The towns of Aubrey, Wofford’s Crossroads, and White were also on the L & N route on the west side of the mountain.
Photo by Samuel W. McCallie in Geological Survey of Georgia, Bulletiin No. 34, Report on the Slate Deposits of Georgia, 1918.
Pine Log School and College
Pine Log School, also known as Pine Log College, was chartered in 1904. Like Reinhardt College, in its early days it served students from the elementary level through the college level. It had its own brass band, called the “Cornet Band” and taught everything from Greek to Zoology. It was in use until 1940.
Photo courtesy of Bartow County History Museum.
Pine Log School and College circa 1918