History of DeKalb
County Alabama - History of Sequoyah Caverns
The property that includes
Sequoyah Caverns was obtained by Abner Ellis through the
provisions of the Homestead Act of 1862. Ellis began
homesteading proceedings in the 1800's and obtained the land
patent to the cave property in 1890. In exploring and
developing the property, Ellis and his bride, Harriet Serena
Hawkins, discovered the Caverns and became interested in
them. During his exploration of the Caverns, he found salt
troughs, cooking pottery and other artifacts in the large
entrance room. Because of this, and the smoke blackened
walls and ceiling, he named it the Cherokee Cooking room.
Ellis was extremely interested in the youth of his day and
on weekends they would congregate at his home, located
almost at the mouth of the cave, and would explore the
Caverns with him. During this period and through the ensuing
years, the artifacts were carried away by these young
explorers and those that followed them. It is a known fact
that both the Cherokees and Creeks lived in the cave.
Names, initials and dates going back to 1824 have been found on the cave
walls and formations. Old timers in the area say they have been there as
long as they can remember. On one large column, now named the Sam Houston
Column, is inscribed "Sam Houston, 1830". This is believed to be authentic,
and could well be, as Sam Houston lived with the Cherokee Indians for some
years and the story has been passed down that he married one of Sequoyah’s
Early white settlers held square dances and old time "singings" in the Caverns for many years and explored them by torchlight.
The cave is shown on official TVA maps as Ellis Cave after it’s original owner. However, in 1963 when its present development was started by Clark Byers and Alva Hammond, they named it Sequoyah Caverns after the famed Cherokee. There is no definite proof that he ever entered the Caverns. He did teach and live in the area and in all probability visited with the members of his tribe that lived there.
Today the Caverns are beautifully lighted. The conducted tours, taking approximately 45 minutes, traverse smooth and almost level walk-ways through a veritable "fairyland" of beautifully colored formations and looking-glass rimstone pools.
An authentic log cabin, built during the early 1800’s has been given to the Caverns by the descendents of L. Russell Brown, an early pioneer of the area. It has been moved piece by piece and carefully reconstructed almost on the site of the original Ellis home. The cabin is now a museum of early American artifacts.
Sequoyah Caverns...conducted tours traverse smooth and almost
level walk-ways through a veritable "fairyland"
of beautifully colored formations.
Sequoyah Caverns and Ellis Homestead
1438 County Road 731
Valley Head, AL 35989