Originally created 02/20/00

Suspect sought in theft of historic log cabin



John Rhoads of Duluth, Ga., had a historic log cabin.

At least, that was until he decided to have it moved just one month ago to Columbia County from Spartanburg, S.C.

Now he is left with nothing more than an open field on his Martinez farm and several puzzling questions after what police believe were the bizarre workings of an at-large log cabin bandit.

"My brother had been by there not long after it happened," Mr. Rhoads said. "He called me and said, `I went by the farm today. Did you come get your log cabin?' I said `No.' And he said, `Well, guess what? It's gone.'

"I couldn't hardly believe it."

Mr. Rhoads said the cabin was built in the 1830s and had been purchased by him in Spartanburg for $10,300 to serve as a vacation home. At one time, it also would have been used as a tenant house for a plantation, he said.

Today, though, Mr. Rhoads can only guess at what it's being used for.

"Like I told the officer, people will steal them to use as a mantel piece, to face off another building or even to put a log building back up," he said.

With his filing of a report with Columbia County Sheriff's Office last Sunday, Mr. Rhoads now hopes to catch the thief.

"Probably the best chance we've got is if somebody ended up seeing somebody take it," Mr. Rhoads said.

In his police report, Mr. Rhoads stated that whoever entered his property, located in a wooded area near Blackstone Camp Road and Point Comfort Road along the Savannah River, took the cabin log by log. The logs, notched and numbered, had been disassembled so the cabin could be easily transported to Martinez.

There were 40 to 75 logs taken, some of which were up to 20 feet long.

"They had to have had a rig or either came in two trucks," Mr. Rhoads said. "There were some that they even used a chain saw on."

Mr. Rhoads said his Martinez property has neighbors, but no one reported seeing anything suspicious.

And now, the case has authorities just as confused.

"We see a lot of strange thefts with heaters or air conditioners being taken from homes," sheriff's Capt. Steve Morris said. "But as far as the actual home itself, that is rather unique. This is just a true testament that anything is possible."

Reach Preston Sparks at (706) 868-1222,Ext. 110, or preston.sparks@groupz.net.