A Little Bit of History on the 1840 Log Cabin
In 1840, just after the Texas Revolution, this one room log cabin was constructed under a lone mighty oak tree in an open field about five miles southeast of LaGrange, Texas. It was the homestead of a family that settled and farmed the adjacent land and housed three generations of hard working individuals.
Of particular interest is the fact that the pioneer woman of this cabin reared fourteen children under this roof with the help of three husbands during her lifetime and her descendants lived in the structure until the early 1950's.
The original cabin had a lean-to room added on to the back and a front porch with a wooden floor. The original roof was all wooden shingles and the original chinking was done with sandy clay and native sandstone. This was still intact when we located the cabin in 1993; but the porch had deteriorated and the lean-to had fallen. Someone had done a good deed and put a metal roof on the main cabin and saved it from damage.
We purchased the cabin and had it moved intact to New Tracks Ranch. Then came the long careful job of restoration. All of the chinking was removed, the sandstone saved for the return job. A thorough cleaning was accomplished by hours of scrubbing, scraping, and handwork with detergent, and finally with a power washer. After the cleanup being complete, the rebuilding started.
The staircase leading to the loft was worn considerably from the thousands of trips by the youngsters who slept in the loft on the floor on pallets. All of the flooring and rafters are original cedar, and the wall logs are oak. When the porch was rebuilt, we decided to add the rock floor for longevity.
The master bedroom and bath were added to the log cabin for convenience and comfort. The walls are native hill country limestone, chopped and then faced by hand with an axe. The exposed decking for the roof is cedar, cut from the ranch and sawed into boards as it was in this area in the middle 1800's. Cedar shingles top the decking as was used originally, and most lasted 75 to 100 years. For comfort and efficiency we added sheet insulation on top of the shingles and then a standing seam metal roof, all done by hand, for longevity. This type metal roof was quite common in the hill country in the late 1800's.
One might note the wavy glass panes in the windows, all of which are original to the cabin. The small rectangular window openings in the bathroom were added to duplicate gunports found in most rock walls of the early rock structures.
The fireplace is constructed of native hill country limestone and the firebox is lined with soapstone for its qualities of heat reflection and retention.
The furnishings in the 1840 Log Cabin are typical of the circa which one might have found in an elaborate home in the early 1800's in a country setting.
The primitive furniture is hand made from cypress and heart pine and was collected from areas of Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi and obtained from our antique collector friends, Joan and Curtis Moore.
The quilt displayed upstairs was pieced and quilted by Shyrle's grandmother.
The sign in the bedroom was from an old country store of the time period and Shyrle hooked the wall hanging sock piece in the bedroom from old woolen pants and coats.
The holder for the wash clothes and soaps in the bathroom was a child's cowboy bathtub.
The tall table in the keeping room was labeled as the hunt table for the purpose of laying the fresh killed game for processing when it was brought in from the field.
The spindles on the mantle were used to keep the rolls of yarn that had been spun for making garments.
The magazine holder was one type of cheese strainer.
The lamp fixtures were all oil or candle fed and has been electrified for convenience. Of special note is the lantern on the lamppost at the yard gate, being lighted with a reproduction of one of Thomas Edison's first light bulbs.
Much time, effort, and study has been enjoined in this log cabin to ensure its authenticity in its restoration and preservation.
We sincerely hope your enjoy it as much as we have in settling it on New Tracks Ranch.