HALL COUNTY, Ga. - This cabin in the heart of Gainesville Georgia holds special meaning to County Cooley, “I guess the story starts with White Path and my dad.”
As a young man, Count Cooley didn’t know much about his family’s past. That changed when his father discovered their deep roots within these old wooden walls. “These distant cousins were visiting and they were saying ‘Don, do you know us?’ And he said ‘No’ ‘We know you’” Cooley remembers.
Don Cooley discovered his family was descendants of a Cherokee Chief named White Path, a tribal leader among 10,000 Cherokees forced to leave their homes in Georgia in 1830. White Path was among the nearly 4,000 Cherokees to die along the Trail of Tears.
Soon after learning of his ancestors, a twist of fate gave them a physical connection to their family’s history. Their neighbor was a 30 year retiree of the Georgia Department of Forestry. “When he heard about my dad, he said ‘Well, how would you like to go to Chief White Path’s home?’”
Don Cooley moved the cabin from Ellijay to the Northeast Georgia History Center in Gainesville and restored it for display.
“We always want to connect not only with the larger historical issues, but with a history that took place in our own backyard. Having the White Path cabin here in North Georgia allows us to tell the story of backyard history,” said Glen Kyle of the Northeast Georgia History Center.
Cooley hopes the cabin connects people to the history of the Cherokee people, “One of the things he said a lot of times was, ‘We are who we are because they were who they were.’ It’s a living history as far as I'm concerned. I'm doing as much as I can to pass that on.”
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