Texas

#ThrowbackThursday: Log cabin finds permanent home in North Texas

This 19th century log cabin has been in the Taylor family for more than 100 years. At one time, 12 people lived in it.
This 19th century log cabin has been in the Taylor family for more than 100 years. At one time, 12 people lived in it. Courtesy

The little one-room Wilson cabin housed a dozen people at one time and was part of an illegal brewing operation during Prohibition.

Now called the Taylor Homestead, the 19th century cabin will be permanently installed in the Denton County Historical Park, just around the corner from the square in downtown Denton.

“It’s so exciting because it’s still intact and hasn’t had any alterations done to the original,” said Peggy Riddle, executive director of Denton County Museums. “You can see the craftsmanship that went into these early structures.”

Riddle said the cabin is a good fit in Denton because it reflects the homes of the county’s earliest settlers.

The 16-by-16-square-foot log cabin was dated to 1868 using dendrochronology, or tree-ring dating, by Dr. David Stahle, professor at the University of Arkansas, Riddle said.

The cost for moving the log cabin and barn from Corinth to Denton was $32,000. Another $60,000 to $75,000 will be spent on foundation work and restoration, Riddle said.

The cabin should be in place within the next month on the corner of Carroll Boulevard and Sycamore Street in downtown Denton.

“We are going to keep it very sparse; we aren’t going to do anything too fancy to it,” she said.

Restoration will include a new rock foundation, patching and adding new mortar in the walls, cleaning and adding a new roof, Riddle said. The cabin should be placed on its new rock foundation within the next month on the corner of Carroll Boulevard and Sycamore Street, in downtown Denton.

Riddle said the tin roof will be replaced with fire-resistant wooden shingles more like the original wooden roof. Windows will be repaired and electricity added for lighting.

Inside, there will be a bed, a fireplace to show how the former occupants cooked and kept warm and a cupboard to show where they kept clothing and supplies.

An upstairs half-loft is too low for standing, so Riddle said this is where she thinks the children slept. A kiln, thought to belong to the original occupant, William Wilson, was dug up on the land and will be reconstructed and put near the cabin.

Riddle hopes to have a volunteer work day to get the community involved in the project. She will need people to help with restoration, adding mortar and cleaning up of the cabin.

It will be 2017 before the cabin is finished and open to the public, Riddle said.

One of the cabin owners claimed his father brewed beer on the land during Prohibition.

“This had been on our wish list — to get a log cabin,” said Riddle. “It just so happened that everything fell into place.”

Originally built in 1800s

According to a report compiled by the Denton County Office of History and Culture, original occupant Wilson, born in 1833, moved from Indiana to Texas with his wife, Susanah. At 21, he bought the land in Corinth in 1854, and became one of Denton County’s earliest potters. Wilson and his wife had four children on the land and were thought to have fostered another.

The land and cabin changed hands several times and was sold to John Taylor and wife Ida McDaniel in 1895.

The couple moved to Texas from Georgia with three children: William, Mary and Elena. They went on to pack the house with enough children to field a baseball team, having seven more: Janie, Annie, Lillie, James Otis, Vernon, Thelma and Robert.

John built a log barn close to the cabin in 1907, Riddle said. After John and Ida died, Robert continued to live in the cabin and farmed the land until he died in 1992.

Robert’s nephew, Foy Taylor, son of James Otis and Ruby Jane, was born in the cabin, and claimed that his father brewed beer on the land during Prohibition. Foy Taylor and his family kept the cabin on their land, but did not live in it.

Taylor began plans to donate the cabin to the county before he died in 2014. His son, Boyd Taylor, took over and helped officially give the cabin to Denton County last year.

Azia Branson: 817-390-7547, @aziabranson

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