The history of the Gosnell cabin originates 200 years ago. The cabin, with original dimensions of twenty-five by eighteen feet, was built out of twelve-inch thick by eight-inch wide beams of heart pine, and it was built to last.
Gresham Callahan is the first attributed inhabitants of the Gosnell log cabin. According to a log cabin historian, the cabin initially started in the Cherokee Indian style of construction and was finished using the English method. In other words, the cabin was begun by an Indian and finished by a white man. Also, the cabin originally had a dirt floor that was later jacked up and a wooden floor added.
Gresham Callahan first appeared in the record books on the 1810 census. This indicates that he was a resident of Greenville County after 1800, but before 1810. Apparently, Mr. Callahan had a number of different monikers, one of which was "Old Indian."
The cabin was originally located in northern Greenville County, within a short distance of historic Poinsett Bridge. Poinsett Bridge was completed in 1819, and the cabin was used as the construction headquarters while the bridge was under construction. Poinsett Bridge is the oldest bridge still standing in South Carolina.
At some point the ownership of the cabin passed to John H. Goodwin. In 1875 John Goodwin sold the cabin and 300 acres to Rev. John Jack Gosnell for $351.00. Three generations of Gosnells lived in the cabin until 1941.
The Boy Scouts bought the property for a camp in 1927. The last member of the Gosnell family to live in the cabin, Luther Gosnell, served as the caretaker of the property until his death in 1941. The name the Boy Scouts used for their new camp was derived from Gresham Callahan. The name chosen was "Camp Old Indian."
The dry accounting of dates and numbers do little to reflect the colorful history of the Gosnell log cabin. At a meeting on Aug. 10, 2008 with several granddaughters of Luther Gosnell (Carol Gosnell Long, Tammy Poore Mason and Kathy Gosnell Janson) the ancient walls of pine echoed again the joys and sadness of life as it will never be known again in Greenville County.
Perhaps as many as ten babies were born in the cabin. Luther's wife, Lizzie Dill Gosnell, died of measles in 1928 while sitting in a chair in front of the fire. An uncle had his leg amputated on the kitchen table (the table was carried out first).
In 1941 Luther has an epileptic fit in front of the fireplace. The attacked prevented control of his body and his spasms drove his legs into the hot fire. It was three days before anyone found him and he died of gangrene in the old Greenville General Hospital.
Life was tough in the foothills of Greenville County. Bears in search of food frightened little girls who peeped out at them through the chinks in the logs while remaining deathly still. Panthers, rattlesnakes and copperheads added to the danger.
Luther made his living as a farmer and a rock mason. There are rumors that he was a moonshiner and a bootlegger. The main meal for his family was corn meal and water, which also happen to be the main ingredients for corn liquor.
After 1941 the cabin remained on the Camp Old Indian property. It fell into disrepair and the camp did not have the resources to keep it up. Sam Phillips, Dave Chesson and Tim Brett were instrumental to having the cabin removed and restored at the Mauldin Cultural Center grounds. The cabin is undoubtedly one of the oldest remaining structures in Greenville County.
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