Historically Close, but just on the Outside

Charles Sweeney. Not a name with whom most are familiar. I hiked the short trails around his cabin, more of a nature walk. As I dug a bit deeper into Charles and this cabin, I noticed a few things about how he is always close, but never quite in the inner circle, never in the main area.

  • On the Appomattox Court House National Park, His cabin is one of the spots to stop and enjoy some history. But the cabin is not on the main grounds. It is just over a mile or so north of the place where Lee surrendered to Grant. Yes, there is a trail, but there is no parking lot, no main sign, and no direct connection to the surrender itself.
  • Charles, though I am sure very important in his day, is more well known historically because of his cousin Joel Sweeney. Joel travelled the world and popularized the American Banjo.
  • Some records show Lee stayed in the Sweeney Cabin the night before the surrender. But oh so close. Not Robert E Lee, it was General Fitzhugh Lee (a Calvary General and cousin to Robert E Lee).
  • It officially, his residence was part of Clover Hill, a small community. But when Clover Hill was restored, and made a little village to visit just down the street … the Sweeney cabin remained on its original spot.

I don’t know everybody, for there are a lot of everybody out there (bad grammar, but you get it). But I know most don’t enjoy time and time again being left out, or getting close but still not getting on the inside.

We can’t all be A-listers, headliners, and talk of the town. And that’s okay. It has been said God must love ordinary people because He made so many of them. We can all make an impact, leave a mark, and connect with others. Joel may be the famous Sweeney, but Charles built a home that has lasted through the centuries.

Feeling on the outside? That’s okay. Maybe God has a reason for you to be there, a person you need to care for, and a blessing you need to be. And on the outside, look for me, cause I’m out there with you. And sometimes, I really like it.


The hike was enjoyable, and the small flowers were in bloom around the field. Combined with the Ferguson Wildlife Trail, was a short loop of under three miles. I parked at the Artillery Field and enjoyed the warm day.

2 thoughts on “Historically Close, but just on the Outside

  1. Hi. I found this post on your blog by pure chance today while bored at work. I went looking for this cabin in particular because I used to live in a now-nonexistent house that used to be adjacent to, and within 30 feet of, the Sweeney cabin. I grew up in Appomattox and spent many years of my childhood living right next to Sweeney cabin, and even snuck in once through the rear window. This was while the original planks assembled the house, before the restoration project turned it into a modern Ship of Theseus. Anyway, I stopped there a couple years ago one summer afternoon on which I visited Holliday Lake for nostalgia’s sake, and stopped right on Sweeney Ln as I remembered the little while house I used to live in. But as I stopped and noticed the house was no longer there–only the Sweeney cabin–it filled me with a sense of emptiness. A tie to a past I relinquished any claim to before I was even a teenager. That part of my past, my childhood was gone; Removed entirely from my personal timeline, leaving the Sweeney cabin and the single, solitary memory of sneaking into the rear window as the sole memory that still had physical evidence it ever happened. Fatalist nonsensical ramblings, perhaps, but interesting to me all the same. I still have photos from my childhood of this place.

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