Travel back in time with Pioneer Open House at the Village at Hawk Creek

By COLBY DENTON
Posted 10/24/18

Are you a fan of history?   The Village at Hawk Creek, a settlement consisting of  19th century structures, is holding its Pioneer Day Open House on Saturday, Nov. 3. The day …

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Travel back in time with Pioneer Open House at the Village at Hawk Creek

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Are you a fan of history?   The Village at Hawk Creek, a settlement consisting of  19th century structures, is holding its Pioneer Day Open House on Saturday, Nov. 3. The day will  feature demonstrations, live actors and music from the time period.

The open house is also intended to serve in remembrance of the late owner Thomas P. Newman. His wife, Sally, is now the owner and operator of the facility. She  is looking forward to seeing the community come out and  children learn how people lived long ago.

“We bought four buildings from the E.L. Ross family,” Newman said. “My husband bought the barn. They put the last piece of the roof on right before last year’s open house.”

Hawk Creek features a statue of a hawk perched over a fountain at the village’s entrance, which draws water into its basin from the nearby creek.

This event will serve as the third open house held at Hawk Creek. While the buildings have existed for over a century, some have only been at Hawk Creek for around five years. Others have been there since 1969. After purchasing them, Thomas deconstructed the cabins, marked them and reconstructed them after transporting them to his land at Hawk Creek.

The buildings include a church, which was the first building Thomas reconstructed; a barn; corn crib; smokehouse; sorghum mill; tavern/halfway house; homestead; and even a sugar cane press as well as several other small structures. Eight of the buildings are wooden.

Since owning the buildings, Newman states she believes some of them are incorrectly marked such as the corn crib. While the building does resemble a corn crib, it has a divider in the middle, which could indicate the building was used as a barn for livestock. This is further vindicated by the numerous holes along the bottom exterior of the “corn crib.” Newman says the holes are meant to hold long pegs alongside one another. Hay could be placed on the pegs, thus creating a giant manger spanning the length of the building for livestock to eat from.

“These are very interesting buildings with a lot of history,” Newman said. “The homestead itself came from somewhere between Ooltewah and Cleveland.”

Whenever anyone showed interest in history, Thomas would talk to them about his first cabin. After some conversations, some people even offered to sell Thomas their own cabins  from the time period, as long as he’d deconstruct and reconstruct them.

One of these cabins Thomas purchased was a small, two-story building that he designed to resemble a halfway house/tavern. Over a century ago, there was a famous halfway house in Cleveland where miners on the copper road could rest for the night as they brought their wagons through the area loaded with copper. The Hawk Creek halfway house is modeled after this particular building. The church at Hawk Creek was originally E.L. Ross’ family home as well.

“We wanna preserve Hawk Creek so people can use it for educational purposes,” Newman said. “Thomas said, ‘We do this for the children. I want them to know what their heritage was. I want them to know how much strength, creativity and curiosity these people had.’ So the reason for having this open house is not only to see this history, but also see how people did what they had to do. Some of these designs are ingenious.”

Aside from a few family members, Newman is the only worker. Despite this fact, several historical experts, including blacksmiths and woodworkers, have returned year after year for Pioneer Day.

Newman said people have told her their  grandparents shared stories of living or attending school in buildings such as these.

Upkeep is the most important issue facing Hawk Creek, as certain places in the wooden structures need replacing as well as general sweeping, cleaning and pest control.

If interested in learning more, go to its Facebook page at “The Village at Hawk Creek” or call 423-472-8696.

Pioneer Day Open House begins at 10 a.m. and runs until 4 p.m. It is located at 345 Johnston School Road, McDonald, Tennessee.

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