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07 April 2006 - Friday

     Our main object this day was McMinn County, Tennessee where we would hopefully find some interesting information about our Douglass ancestors starting with our 5th great-grandfather Robert who in 1787 had come into the upper part of east Tennessee from Virginia.  Eventually he and his son John (4th great-grandfather) finally settled in McMinn County around 1822.  The Douglass homestead was originally located near the site of the ancient Cherokee town of Conasaga, said to have been visited by DeSoto and his expedition, June 1, 1540.

     We drove north from the campground for about 45 minutes to the tiny village of Cog Hill that is made up of no more than a dozen homes.  We were aware that John Douglass had owned a gristmill and a sawmill here along the Conasauga Creek and upon his death in 1863 his son-in-law William Cass became the proprietor.  Since it had been 184 years since the Douglass family had come here we did not have any high expectations of finding any outstanding landmarks of their lives.  Boy, were we wrong!  Immediately upon entering Cog Hill we were presented with the site of the old Cog Hill mill.   Although it is doubtful that the dilapidated building presented to us was the original it surely could have been the one operated by John’s son-in-;awWilliam Cass.

Cog Hill Mill, McMinn Co., TN

      After taking some photographs we proceeded over to the Cog Hill Baptist Church where the caretaker proudly showed us around the inside.  We were prepared to take some more photos of the Douglass family gravesites but as a result of our conversation with him we determined that we were at the wrong church!  He kindly gave us directions to the Old Salem Baptist Church located just a few miles away.  Here we were happy to find the Douglass burial plot and surprised at the good condition of the 150 year old stones.  Before we departed we walked the cemetery looking for other kin but didn’t find any.  

      By mid- morning we were back on the road to Athens, which is the county seat of McMinn County.  Upon reaching the courthouse we were happy to see a sign that there was a room for the


McMinn County Historical Society located in the basement of the building.  We found the room and as luck would have it Ms. Marion Clark was present.   She assisted us as we searched for any information on the Douglass Family.  Much to our surprise the society did not have any specific genealogical information on our ancestors so we promised to send her what we had after we ended our trip.  As it was now time for lunch we left a donation and walked up the street to a Mexican restaurant that had been recommended by Marion.

       By 12:30 pm we were on the road again looking for Interstate 75.  On the way out of town we spotted a huge Wal-Mart up on a hill off to our left.  Fred shouted for a camera so he could take a picture of the massive structure.  We decided at that moment that a Wal-Mart stop was in order.  At the store Fred was informed that we were shopping in the world’s third largest Wal-Mart Super Center.

3rd largest Wal-Mart in the world

     As we had no other visits planned until Texas we looked forward to several days on the big highways rather than the small back roads we had enjoyed so much up to this time.  By about 4:00 pm we had entered Alabama, the ninth state along our route west.  After a stop at the visitor center we decided to drive to Birmingham and camp for the night at the Oak Mountain State Park.  Most campers are well aware that locating campgrounds in a State Park can sometimes take one on a fairly lengthy drive through the park.  The planners of this state park seem to have accomplished this and then some.  After driving several miles we finally came upon the park office. Upon inquiring about a campsite we were directed to the campgrounds located another 6 miles down the road!   Along the drive into the park we were impressed with the beautiful and finely appointed horseback riding center.  The park also has a marina, petting zoo, tennis and 18-hole golf course.  When we finally arrived at the campground we were given a site that wasn’t much more than an untidy gravel parking space in a generally crowded and downright unattractive RV loop.  Oak Mountain deserved our rating of a “ 2 “ because it appeared to us that Alabama should attempt to provide campers with facilities as good as what is maintained for golfers and horseback riders!      

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