Pioneer Log Cabin Project
Perhaps some of you have already seen some of the photographs posted on Facebook of our pioneer log cabin. Whether or not you know about this project, I want to share with you how this all came about and how the project began.
As a child I have always been fascinated with cabins after being exposed to a friend who restored an old stone structure into his cabin and home. Growing up during the hippie era, it was common for people to take found objects or structures and create a simple dwelling from them. This has always inspired me to do something similar.
A number of years ago an acquaintance purchased a log cabin and had it restored on a piece of family property and he uses it for a quiet getaway, family functions and an occasional party. I had expressed interest in his project and when he came to me and asked if I was interested in a pioneer log cabin, my immediate response was yes, of course. Well, I looked at the cabin which was only seven miles from my home, but soon found out the property had been sold and the cabin no longer available. I assumed that project was gone and I just forgot about it until six years later he asked again if I still was interested in that pioneer log cabin. Apparently, the property went back to the original owner and was very interested in having someone make something of the cabin.
About five years earlier, I purchase six acres of rural property with the intent of building something when and if the opportunity arose. Well I met with the cabin’s owner and I purchase just the cabin for a dollar with the agreement that I would take the cabin down and relocated it to my property. The property and land belonged to a gentleman named Harold Loeffler. Harold knew nothing about the cabin as he purchased it for farm land and was not particularly interested in the actual homestead. Harold cared enough about the land and the cabin to retain the existing trees and home site, but really wanted someone to save and preserve the cabin as he knew it was in poor shape and would be destroyed if someone did not take on the project.
To say that the old pioneer log cabin was in bad shape may have been an understatement. Like many old buildings, this pioneer log cabin had seen many generations of alterations, remodeling and reconstruction. Each generation added another layer until the cabin was only visible through a small spot where the siding had been removed. It had become completely uninhabitable in the condition that it was and would require complete restoration to save it.
Harold was also gracious enough to give me time to do what needed to be done, which now I can really appreciate as it is taking a lot of time just to get to the original log structure. I spent all last summer deconstructing and disposing of the layers of generational material. During the winter I made very little progress as the snow and cold made working conditions difficult. I have since resumed the process deconstruction again this spring.
Since there was no one that knew any history of the cabin, I set out to see what I could find. This pioneer log cabin was in Faribault County, Minnesota so I solicited help from Lola Baxter at the Winnebago museum to help do some research. She was able to find land records stating that the original claim was given to a Civil war veteran as payment for service then sold to a Norwegian immigrate in 1870 by the name of Sven Wroolie. There is no specific record of when the cabin was actually built, yet there was recorded a $500.00 loan in 1874 so we assume that may have been used to build the cabin.
I was recently at a community meeting and mentioned that this pioneer log cabin was built by Mr. Wroolie and learned that this cabin belonged to my friend, Les Curry’s great, great grandfather. Since then I have been able to get additional information and a written description of the cabin by some family members. In any case when the cabin is done it will most likely have to have a photograph of Sven Wroolie somewhere on the walls.
Recently, I also purchased a second log cabin from Wisconsin and will marry the two cabins together into a log home. The project to engineer two pioneer log cabins together will take some time and is not a project for everyone. This is a labor of love and a desire to preserve some of the history of the past and to reuse materials that would most likely be destroyed. The long-term objections is to build an off-grid home from these two log structures that we will rent out for people who desire some solitude and the experience of log home living. I will try to keep you posted in future articles as progress continues.