First, thanks to all who participated either in preparing or presenting and also to the 85 or so folks who attended the Dade Historical Society's Cave Symposium. The library was comfortably filled with lots of old friends who might never have seen each other in the light of day. It was evident from the hubbub that the cavers were excited to see each other. Most of the time when I am in a public setting in Dade County I know at least half of the folks in the room. This was not the case with my caving comrades. They all knew each other and we, the hosts, were playing catch-up to get to know our guests.
Marion Smith, chief speaker for the symposium, is such a unique man with so much history and caving to share that one hour was not long enough to scratch the surface of his diverse knowledge. He taught me numerous things about the caves of Dade County that I did not know. We at the library and the historical society definitely want to get Marion back in Dade County with his slides so we can help him to digitize them for posterity.
Cave panelists, from left, Marion Smith, Marty Abercrombie, Ken Pennington, Jerry Wallace, Kathy Mackay, Steve Davis and Jim Youmans.
All of our participants were wonderful and just right for our event. Thank you to all of them. It was good to see the old friends get together and reminisce and tell tales on each other. Jerry Wallace, one of our cave panelists, remarked to me that this was like “getting the band back together.”
This week is of course the 18th anniversary of the destruction of the Twin Towers in New York City. It is hard to believe that a whole generation has been born and graduated from high school since that tragedy happened. Our world changed forever on that day.
This week is also the 156th anniversary of the Civil War coming to Dade County. Approximately 40,000 soldiers and untold numbers of animals and artillery pieces moved through Dade County. I won’t write at length about this since Joy Odom (one of my partners in history) just finished a comprehensive series on what happened here and I did a similar series several years ago. It is worth noting that we (Dade) were the first place in Georgia that General Sherman sent troops. He did send his brother-in-law, General Hugh Ewing, down the top of Sand Mountain to make a ruckus by blowing things up and starting fires. So maybe we were the beginning of the March to the Sea.
The soldiers headed toward Dade from the Bridgeport and Stevenson campaigns. Some came from the south into Rising Fawn. Some came across Sand Mountain from Stevenson and came down at Brown Gap. Another batch came up Sand Mountain from Nickajack Cave through the coke ovens and down the mountain at White Oak Gap. Can you imagine moving the troops, animals and gun up through that gulf in less than three days?
The last group came into Dade County via Whiteside and moved through Murphy Hollow and Hooker. The ones in the north end headed toward Wauhatchie, Brown’s Ferry, Lookout Mountain and Chattanooga. The weather wasn’t as hot as our last few days, but if I remember correctly it was pretty warm in the day and cool at night, and it was very dry that fall.
There are more stories to tell of times gone by and those of us who love history will continue to tell them so that we will not forget what it took to get us to today. The Historical Society has another genealogy workshop planned in a month, but for now are digging into the Wreaths Across America Project-Dade County. If you live in Dade and have a relative who is buried at the National Cemetery in Chattanooga, then please refer to last week’s history article and send Gail Hedden the name of your relation. Help us to get a comprehensive list of anyone buried there with a connection to Dade County.