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Family heirloom joins log cabin collection

In a rare donation to the period-accurate exhibit, Brookhaven’sFoster Smith Log Cabin now holds a cherished piece of one LincolnCounty family’s history.

Bogue Chitto’s Mamie Hemphill, 90, on Friday donated a handmaderocking chair to the cabin, making a hard choice to put the antiqueon display for generations to enjoy. The toddler’s chair was madein the early 1920s by her grandfather, Heuck’s Retreat’s CouncilNordan, Sr., from trees he cut down on his property and an enduringpiece of leather, cured in a nearby creek, from the farm.

The small chair is still as sturdy as the day it was made, andhas remained in use throughout Hemphill family for almost acentury.

“It was awfully hard to give it up, but I finally did,” Hemphillsaid. “The only place I’d though about giving it to was Brookhaven,and I’m proud that it’s there.”

Hemphill said she has kept the chair with her throughout herlife, with children and grandchildren using it until growing toolarge and returning the heirloom to her. With her 91st birthdayapproaching next month, however, Hemphill said donating the chairto the log cabin was the only way to be fair.

“There is too many in the family wanting it, and I couldn’tdivide it between all of them,” she said. “In one month, I’ll be 91years old, and I’m getting on up there. I wanted to keep thechildren from having a problem with it whenever I’m gone.”

Brookhaven Trust Vice President Rita Rich said the rockingchair, which is one of very few items ever donated to the logcabin, makes a fine addition to the historically accurate displaywithin. Although the cabin originated in the 1820s and the chairwas crafted around 100 years later, the production method was stillthe same, and the chair matches nicely with the cabin’s otherfurniture, she said.

“They would have had those back then, probably more so thananything else, so it’s in keeping with the decorum,” Rich said.”Now, it can be enjoyed by everyone who visits the cabin.”