Henry County Historical Society Log Cabin
The log cabin is located at the Henry County Fairgrounds south of Napoleon on State Route 108. It was built between 1840 and 1860. It sat on the banks of the Maumee River along County Road Z in Napoleon Township. Originally constructed as a two-story cabin with chinking, the cabin today has only one story with a loft because it had collapsed during the move to its present site at the Fairgrounds. The fireplace and chimney had to be completely re-built. The Historical Society decided to place the fireplace to the side of the house and to enlarge it to fit the space in the wall where some logs had been cut to install a large door. The cabin features, among other things, a working cider press, a pleat maker, and various cooking utensils.
Hours: open during the Henry County Fair, and for special events
HISTORY OF THE LOG CABIN(Written by: Genevieve Eicher, 1986 Secretary, Henry County Historical Society)
Originally, the cabin sat on a site on a farm in Section 26, Napoleon Township. This farm was part of the Ohio Canal Lands and was owned by the State of Ohio until 1848 when the State sold it to Seth Hopkins. In 1850 Daniel Fribley purchased the farm and in 1852 he sold it to Daniel Kelly who retained ownership until 1853. Addison Childs purchased it that year and re-sold it in 1856 to Joseph Ritter. Nathaniel H. Hartman purchased the 120 acre farm in 1860 and in 1874 split the acreage and sold 80 acres to John Snyder. Snyder in 1877 sold Lydia Hartman 0.4 acres for road rights to her land along the Maumee River. In 1881 Snyder sold 100 acres to Henry Vajen. Samuel Hartman in 1881 sold 20 acres to Charles Belknap. The Vajen farm stayed in the Vajen family and is presently owned by a descendant of Henry Vajen, Mrs. Josephine Harmon. The log cabin donated to the Henry County Historical Society by Harry and Josephine Harmon was built by either Joseph Ritter or Nathaniel Hartman, but the exact year of erection is not certain. An interview was conducted with Horace Tanner, in 1933, and according to Tanner’s father Joseph Ritter built a log “first” cabin on the bank of the Maumee River but this cabin was abandoned later. Ben Tanner was once quoted as saying that the two-story log house setting along the ridge, trail (now County Road Z) was built in 1865-66 by Nathaniel Hartman. Other old-timers interviewed in 1933 did not dispute this date. There has been no written verification of this date. Dating the erection of a log structure is a difficult task unless private or public records pin-point the date. Most of the log structures still standing in this part of Ohio were built between the War of 1812 and the Civil War years. The Vajen cabin had a second floor that was reached by a set of stairs made of native lumber. Through the years there has been controversy whether the log house was the Vajen or the Hartman house. It appears that either name is correct.
DONATION OF THE CABIN
In 1971 Josephine and Harry Harmon donated the cabin to the Henry County Historical Society. Josephine is a direct descendant of Henry Vajen and his wife, Katherine Schweibert Vajen. Henry’s son, Henry C. Vajjen, was born in 1873 in Freedom Township and was married in 1901 to Caroline Genuit and their wedding was held in the log house on the Vajen farm. It is thought that the Vajen family lived in the log house until the brick house was built in 1909.
MOVING THE CABIN
Although the cabin was donated in 1971 it was not moved until August 6, 1974 when Harmon Movers, Napoleon, moved it down County Road Z to Huddle Road and then to it’s present site on the Henry County fairgrounds. Prior to the November 1971 meeting of the Trustees of the Henry County Historical Society, the Commissioners of Henry County had given permission to put the cabin on a site selected by the Henry County Fair Board Directors. It was up to the Historical Society to surround the site with a fence and to keep up the structure. It was stressed that this was to be a temporary location and the cabin could be moved by the Historical Society at any time in the future. Although the cabin had been moved on August 6, 1974, it was placed on jacks and left waiting for work to start.
OBJECT OF THE RESTORATION
The stated object of the project of restoration of the log house was to restore it as closely as possible to the era in which it was built; and to furnish the structure as authentically as possible.
On March 8, 1976 Mel Lanzer’s workmen began the task of putting the house on its foundation. The cabin was to be finished in time for the July 4, 1976 Bicentennial celebration at the fairgrounds. In late March, 1976 the workmen went to lunch and returned to find the log house all collapsed and lying on the foundation in a heap. The Trustees of the Society met immediately and decided to re-build with the usable logs, to obtain more logs, and to construct a one-story log cabin with a loft. A rail fence was erected in May 1976 to mark the site line. A campaign for money to help pay for the fireplace brick was suggested under the title of “A Dollar a Brick” and the public was able to help in the cabin restoration. Curtains were donated for the windows. Shelves were built; and a bed that had belonged to the Palmerton family was given for cabin use. Evergreen trees were donated for the cabin yard. Modern convenience came to the cabin when a ‘‘necessary" was placed at the rear of the cabin. Donations from members and the public have helped to furnish the cabin. Donation of other suitable items is always appreciated. Future plans for the cabin include the building of a loft with a removable ladder. The fireplace construction and the concrete floor makes it possible for the fireplace to actually be used for cooking and heating. The cabin has been used as a meeting place for the Historical Society, for programs and special times such as the Henry County Fair displays.
Many individuals and business firms have aided the Historical Society in restoring the log cabin and furnishing it. Each one is thanked for helping preserve Henry County history.
The Henry County Commissioners and the Henry County Fair Board Directors have aided much by their continued interest and support in the restoration of the cabin and for providing a site for it. The Henry County Historical Society members are very appreciative of those who have helped so very much.
|©2011 Henry County Historical Society|