FFA Milton High School Log Cabin

I went to Milton High School in Alpharetta, Georgia, and even worked on restoring the 1935 log cabin that sat on the grounds there. Phil Thomas had started at Milton in 1971 and when seeing the disrepair of the cabin decided to take it on as a huge project.

Phil said, “I had just completed my first year of teaching in Fulton County at Ridgeview High School, the newest High School in Fulton County. I was now at the oldest high school in the county, built in 1921.

The parking lot was not paved and there was a log cabin in front of the school. That afternoon, I interviewed with the principal of Milton High School, Gus Letchas.

He told me that his Social Studies Department Chairperson had moved to a new High School and that he would like for me to serve as the new Social Studies Department Chairperson. After a short interview, Mr. Letchas took me on a tour of the school.”

Upon investigation of the cabin, he found that window panes were broken, many boards on the front porch were missing, there was no front door, and when he stepped inside noticed that the wooden ceiling was sagging in the middle. It did not appear to be safe.

I was initiated in the Cabin as member of the Future Farmers of America in my 8th Grade Year. Mike Alberson (Cotton) was our President, Mike Smith was the agriculture teacher. My Horse I was on was named Lucky , My Wife took the picture before the Old Soldiers Day Parade it was around the 130 th Anniversary of the Sherman March in 1864 (1994 ).

Gene Findley (riding the horse in photo)

The Future Farmers of America (FFA) Log Cabin was built by the students of Mr. Pierce Elkins during the 1934-35 school year. Around 100 students, ages 14-18, and many folks from the community chipped in labor and materials. Bob Nesbit gave the school permission to cut trees off his property, where North Point Mall resides now. The students downed the trees, hauled them by wagon, peeled the bark, and notched them for installation.

The main room to our cabin is 28′ x 40′; the kitchen 12′ x 12′; front porch 10′ x 30′ and the back porch 7′ x 12′. The attic over our main area will be used for sleeping quarters and storing supplies.

Kermit Sutton, F.F.A. Reporter (January 31, 1935)

A local mason, Mr. Roe Johnson, constructed the foundation and the beautiful, large fireplace and chimney. The cabin was used by the school and community for meetings, social gatherings, sock-hops, and even a prom through the years. Phil Thomas, in 1972-1973, took over the Social Science Forum at Milton, a group of students that had an interest in history as well as other Social Studies classes.

Carroll graduated from Milton High School where he was a member of Future Farmers of America and help construct the log cabin now being preserved by the Alpharetta Historical Society. After high school Carroll enlisted in the U.S. Navy and served on the island of Guam. Carroll returned to the Roswell/Alpharetta area and began working in the furniture industry.

Excerpt from Carroll E. Byers obituary (He died October 15, 2021 at 93)

I was part of this group and we went on several field trips to visit historical sites including The Atlanta History Center, The Etowah Indian Mounds, The Van House (the home of Chief Van, the Chief of the Cherokee Indian Nation), and to Dahlonega. Georgia (site of the first gold rush in the US).

The club was also interested in the local history of Alpharetta and what had been Milton County, where the school got its name.

Much of this interest came from reading The Foxfire Book series, a compilation of articles written by High School Students in Raburn County in North Georgia. These students, with direction from their teacher, published Foxfire Magazine. This magazine had a national circulation.

Milton started offering a class on local history taught by Johnny Tolbert. The growing interest in the log cabin sparked some clean-up days around the cabin. Phil Thomas and Leon Cole (Band Director) both wrote for grants in 1973 from The Georgia Commission for Bicentennial Celebration.

Both received these grants and Mr. Cole used his to buy musical instruments of the colonial period and to obtain costumes of the same for his “Colonists” band group. Mr. Thomas used his to start repairs on the cabin.

Members of the Social Science Forum began working on the cabin repairs including Doyle Tatum, Tim Worley, Miles Holcombe, Wayne Chambers, Kirby Martin, Bill Oster, Joe Oster, John Oster, Chris Chapman, Alan Massey, Mike Ivey, Ernie Todd, and Tim English.

A new front door was made and hung, all the windows were replaced with the expertise of my Dad, Ira Tatum, the sagging ceiling inside was jacked back into place and re-supported, the front porch rotten posts were replaced.

Johnny Tolbert was given the job of finding the artifacts to go in the cabin. The Fulton County Maintenance Department agreed to have a new roof installed on the Log Cabin. We found a great resource for lumber at Ford Densmore’s Saw Mill on Red Road just above Alpharetta. They had piles of wood, that were scraps for them. They said we could have anything we could find. I took many loads from there, to the cabin, in my Dad’s pickup truck. Leon Cole had some money remaining from his grant which was used to install shutters on the windows to prevent the windows from being broken again.

By 1975 the work was completed, even some landscaping and a nice walking path from the school. The Social Science Forum organized an open house for the public. Gary Fouts organized a square dancing group

(which I was in, my partner was Lori Christopher) that practiced on Saturdays at the cabin and performed that day. We had demos of cooking food in the fireplace, churning butter, quilting, hewing logs, shaving the bark from logs with a draw knife, making candles and soap, making brooms and shuck mops, and more. The Kettle Creek Stompers also performed.

Purpose of the Museum. Many times the youth of today seem to be caught in the rapidly moving future of the 20th century, and lacking knowledge of their past. The students of Milton High School and members of the Social Science Forum are proud to say that we have slowed down to take a look at the past and to show what we have discovered. The purpose of the log cabin museum is to show the past as it was. We also hope to bring about an interest in our past heritage and a sense of pride.

Lynn Bullock, President of the Social Science Forum (from the Ole Milton Museum Program)

In 2017 the Cabin had been saved by the efforts of the Alpharetta and Old Milton County Historical Society from demolition. Milton High School had moved to Crabapple years ago and a new school was being built on the grounds.

They built a foundation on the old Beaver’s property, a former Milton principal, that was going to be a cut-through road. They re-designated the property as parkland and moved the cabin. The mover was so good that he placed a cup of Coke in a folding chair before they started and upon arrival not one drop had spilled.

George Jones is the only living student to have built the log cabin. Jim Spruill was in charge of the move and ongoing renovation of the log cabin. Tim Worley’s brothers were FFA members during their time at Milton High School.

Phil Worley was president of the FFA his senior year of 1965-1966. John Worley was president his senior year also, 1967-1968. They both recall having the Future Farmers of America meetings in the log cabin. They both went on to careers in Agriculture, spending the majority of their time with the University of Georgia.

On Saturday, October 16, 2021, they had a re-opening of the cabin which included some brief remarks by Jim Spruill, the Alpharetta mayor (Jim Gilvin), Donald Mitchell (Alpharetta Mayor pro team), and Phil Thomas.

We got to see the basement historical society office and storage area and the great job they had done to the cabin so far. “Old School” the old-time rock and roll music combo of Phil and Logan Thomas entertained us with some great tunes.

Phil Thomas, former principal of Milton High School, and Tim Worley were instrumental in supplying me with facts for this post. The Alpharetta and Old Milton County Historical Society are still in need of donations to help continue the cabin renovation.

Author: Doyle

I was born in Atlanta, moved to Alpharetta at 4, lived there for 53 years and moved to Decatur in 2016. I've worked at such places as Richway, North Fulton Medical Center, Management Science America (Computer Tech/Project Manager) and Stacy's Compounding Pharmacy (Pharmacy Tech).

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