Vaughan's legacy endures at Red Top

Posted 1/8/19

Known for his love of history, Sherlin Brooks Vaughan's legacy endures at Red Top Mountain State Park. The Cartersville resident died Jan. 1 at the age of 86.In the 1900s, Vaughan was the driving …

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Vaughan's legacy endures at Red Top


Known for his love of history, Sherlin Brooks Vaughan's legacy endures at Red Top Mountain State Park. The Cartersville resident died Jan. 1 at the age of 86.

In the 1900s, Vaughan was the driving force behind the relocation of his childhood home — which turned out to be an 1860s log cabin — to the Acworth venue.

"He was a Southern gentleman," said Vaughan's niece, Joyce Swinford. "… He cared about his history, his background. He was humble, real polite. He just thoroughly thought it was the thing to do. It was his homeplace. He wanted it to be enjoyed and be restored.

… He just had the drive to do that. It just makes you have a great feeling to know that that's being used for special events [at Red Top]. I've been to some of those, and I think, 'I can't believe it.' He was steadfast on getting that done."

Teaming up with Vaughan, Guy Parmenter and the Etowah Valley Historical Society helped turn his dream of restoring the homeplace into reality.

Calling him a "gentleman," "generous" and "thoughtful," Parmenter shared Vaughan "appreciated and loved his family" and was "proud of his heritage." Currently a member of the EVHS' board of directors, Parmenter served as chairman of the organization's board during the cabin relocation project.

"All of us working on this project knew it was Sherlin's desire to see the cabin in its original state, and we all aimed to please," Parmenter said. "Mr. Vaughan contacted me in April 1993 about preserving his boyhood home, the original construction being a log cabin. His parents had purchased the home in the 1940s before the end of WW II. This home had been vacant for many years and was at the time used for hay storage.

"His plans were to sell the property and his concern was that new owners would destroy the house. I asked permission to go look [at] it and some time for EVHS members to discuss it. After the call, I drove out to see the house on Vaughan Road, just east of Peeples Valley Road. It was indeed an old vacant farmhouse at the end of its life span. Upon examining the house up close and peeling away exterior siding, the log cabin was exposed. It was indeed a two-room log cabin with a dogtrot plus a couple of rooms added."

After EVHS' president at that time, J.B. Tate, suggested contacting Red Top's management, Parmenter shared the park's leadership — initially reluctant — was eventually interested in the possible acquisition.

"On Aug. 5, 1993, a large contingent of DNR [Department of Natural Resources] management and historians from throughout the state, representatives from the U.S. Army Corps of [Engineers], Sherlin Vaughan and EVHS members, including myself, met at Red Top [to] define the overall objective, discuss every possible way to move the cabin and preserve it, determine the final site location at Red Top and to assign various responsibilities going forward," Parmenter said. "It was determined that EVHS could move much quicker than the state with all the legal matters involved, therefore we were assigned the responsibility of accepting the donation on behalf of the state.

"This included contracts, appraisals and insurance. Within a month, work was underway removing all but the original cabin. On Friday, Dec. 17, 1993, the final logs had been transported to Red Top for storage, a task that could not have been completed without the help of volunteer employees from Georgia Power, AT&T and Atanta Gas."

Calling the results "well worth the wait," Parmenter said the project, which lasted longer than anticipated, was dedicated Oct. 18, 1997. Situated near the old park office building — currently in the process of becoming an office/interpretive center — the Vaughan cabin serves as the centerpiece for numerous events.

"The Vaughan Log Cabin creates an excellent feature for our programming at Red Top Mountain State Park," Red Top Interpretive Ranger Serella Sevanko said, adding the cabin initially was dismantled log by log then rebuilt. "The cabin allows us to help guests explore more about pioneer life and about the community who lived at Red Top prior to the Allatoona Dam being constructed. Red Top Mountain used to be a pioneer iron mining community. Although we have a rich history on Red Top Mountain, we do not have any cabins left standing at Red Top. So the donation of the Vaughan Log Cabin was a great boon to us.

"The cabin is the focal point of several yearly events, including Summer Bluegrass, Pioneer Spring Cleaning, Harvest at the Homestead and Christmas at the Cabin. We also have programs about pioneer life that are often requested by school and Scout groups. All of these events and programs include a tour of the Vaughan Log Cabin with knowledgeable rangers and volunteers to help [guests] better understand what the world was like for pioneers. Guests get to see and touch artifacts, learn about the home, attend demonstrations, ask questions and try out pioneer skills."

To capture his fellow preservationist's excitement over the culmination of this effort, Parmenter shared Vaughan's dedication speech — “We were happy to donate the cabin and we are very happy with the outcome of this donation, how it looks today. The work and planning was difficult, and we realize that. We are thankful that we could do it. We are just happy that this old house got moved over here to this beautiful site here in Bartow County. We hope that the visitors to this park will enjoy not only the park but this cabin and get a look at how people lived in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Again, we thank everybody that had a hand in this. Thank you!”

Born Sept. 4, 1932, Vaughan served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War, retired from Lockheed Martin Corp. following 31 years and was a member of Cartersville First Baptist Church. He is survived by Marie Garrett Vaughan, his wife of 60 years. Parnick Jennings Funeral Home & Cremation Services was in charge of Vaughan's funeral arrangements.