MCHS hits homer with newly rebuilt Moreland cabin

MCHS hits homer with newly rebuilt Moreland cabin

Image Credit: Dave Mast

In 1816 John Hughes ventured into Wayne County, ready to build a new life for himself and his family. In doing so, he hewed some logs to build a log cabin he could call home. Hughes’ home was one of the first built in Wayne County and possibly the first built outside of Wooster.

Little did he know then that his log home would become a treasured piece of the Moreland Community Historical Society’s campus in Moreland.

The Hughes cabin was located on the farm of Terry and Laura Gilmor, having survived five generations of Gilmors, let alone Hughes’ 17 children. The family began tearing the structure down in 2015, and because it has been plastered with decades of plaster, wood and additional items that covered up the fact it was a cabin, the family had no inkling what lay beneath the outer layers. When they discovered the log cabin, they informed the MCHS they were tearing it down, and the society leaped at the chance to expertly tear down the cabin piece by piece, carefully labeling each piece so it could be reconstructed exactly as it once was.

“The Gilmors came to us and said we have exactly two weeks to remove it if we were interested, which we obviously were because of how old it was,” said Dave Bricker, MCHS member. “It was a challenge, but once we actually knew what we had, it would have been tough to let it go.”

The process of tearing down and rebuilding the home took time. The time line to restore the cabin was pushed back when the church beside it became a priority because of decay there. The project faced further delays during the pandemic, but eventually, everything came together. The cabin now really stands out for those traveling state Route 83 through Moreland.

The goal of the society was to recreate the home as close as possible. There are some changes. Rather than make the loft extend the entire length of the roof as it once was, they decided to make it a partial loft to showcase the roof.

The wood logs, which are believed to be oak, have been stained dark brown and make a vibrant contrast to the light-colored chinking between each log. The chimney was erected from stones collected from the property of David Mann. Thus the chimney is built from authentic Wayne County stones. The window frames are made of sassafras wood with wavy glass panes giving the windows that old-time look.

The doors to the cabin are made of Osage orange wood, a very sturdy and beautiful wood that was donated by former member Paul Snoddy, who recently passed away.

“It’s a neat way to remember Paul and his commitment to the community,” Bricker said.

The giant iron hinges to the doors came from Daniel Traber of Colonial Homestead.

MCHS member Gail Miller said they will add some old furniture purchased from Colonial Homestead, which will include a rope bed, a large kitchen table, a cradle, chairs and other authentic additions that will give the cabin a frontier homestead cabin look.

“They are all early to mid-1800 items,” Miller said.

In recreating the cabin, the members decided that rather than cut corners, they wanted to do it right and pay a little more to make the cabin historically accurate and pleasing to the eye.

“I think people would be hard-pressed to find a better-looking cabin than this,” Miller said.

Bricker said the process commanded the work of many professionals and plenty of volunteers. With beams weighing nearly a ton apiece, it took plenty of manpower, and Bricker said it makes you wonder how pioneers in the early 1800s were able to piece a log home together without the advantage of today’s machines.

“It makes you appreciate the building of something like this even more,” Bricker said.

Bricker went on to note that Levi Hostetler has been an instrumental figure in making the cabin come to life, with Fred Donley also playing a major role early in the process.

“He helped us better understand the process and the importance of numbering and recording each log and taking photos so we would know exactly where each piece went,” Bricker said.

In the ongoing effort to rejuvenate the Moreland historical campus with meaningful buildings they hope will be put to good use, the MCHS members hope to continue to create a place where learning about the area and nation’s history can take place.

Miller said the hope is they can connect with history teachers in area schools to set up one-day field trips where students can gain insight into the past.

“Bringing the buildings to life is only part of the equation,” Miller said. “We want to put them to good use so they are a valuable part of the community.”