Friday, November 14, 2014

Circa 1825

I've had so many questions from visitors--as well as online--about our plans for the oldest structure on the farmstead. . .The Everett-Short log home is actually one of our favorite projects. . .Dated 1825, it's almost 200 years old. . .Once completed, we'll have the perfect place to interpret local 19th century history. . .In 1823, William Hector moved his family living in  Missouri to a log house built on an ancient Indian mound just east of Big Lake and close to present-day Dell. . .They were of Native American blood but living as whites. . .William knew the area well. . .It had been the hunting grounds of his people for many years. . .When Missouri made it unlawful for Native Americans to live in their state, the Hectors decided to move to Arkansas. . .The land was swampy and dark from the heavy forests and no drainage. . .but it was here that they made their life and were joined by others as the US government relocated thousands of Native Americans to Oklahoma. . .In the 1830 US Census, William states that he had numerous slaves under his roof, when in fact, he was hiding many who were able to break away from the Trail of Tears. Escaping from boats on the Mississippi River, officials weren't keen on chasing them into such rugged country. Most were able to hide for years. Many families today are descended from those Native Americans. 
Everett-Short Dog Trot Log House, 2009

The logs are salvaged, enough to reconstruct one pen at the Duncan Farmstead
The right pen reconstructed at the Duncan Farmstead
Log housing was a part of our Delta history for another 100 years. Most Dell residents do not realize that many homes at the turn of the 20th century were of logs. Vast forests covered the area, so it was only natural that the houses were constructed of materials at hand. Early pioneer log homes such as the Hectors were also available.  When my grandparents Earl and Alice Magers came to Dell in 1916, they moved into an existing dogtrot style log house north of Dell, close to the old Mooney Cemetery. Mamie Magers Griffin remembered the house well. One side of the dogtrot was the hub of their family life. It was heated with a large fireplace. Food was prepared in the room and most family activities took place there. When it came time for bed, the entire family slept in the second side of the dogtrot. A fire in the smaller fireplace helped keep them warm and cozy at the beginning of their slumber. But, by morning, the fire was gone. As long as she and her sister, Naoma, remained in bed, all was fine. But, once those little feet touched the cold floor, neither of them wasted time running to the kitchen where breakfast was being prepared. . .During the hot, humid summers, all the windows and doors were left open. Much of the housekeeping work was done on the central open porch between the two rooms. Churning butter, cleaning vegetables, canning and many other tasks were carried on outside of the hot rooms. "If there was any breeze at all, the porch was the coolest place to be." (Aunt Mamie, 2002)
The Everett-Short structure comes to us with it's own history. Originally located in Prim, AR it was a two pen dogtrot style--such as the one the Magers family moved into at Dell. The walls were constructed of hand-hewn logs. The Fransus M. Everett family lived there for many years. When Shirley's father (Everett's son) took over the farm, he turned the home into a barn for his livestock. Eventually, Shirley Everett Short inherited the farm. Over the years, the barn was abandoned. It sat silently deteriorating as time went by. The Shorts then faced the hard decision of a high cost restoration or a demolition of a part of their family history. The Rural Arkansas Magazine article presented them with a third choice--the one that brought Dave and Shirley to the Duncan Farmstead one hot August day with the offer of a donation of their historic structure.
While the deterioration was too extensive to move and reconstruct the home as it was originally built, plenty of the logs were salvaged for a single pen structure.
Now located at the Duncan Farmstead, the Everett-Short log home will serve as a lasting legacy from the descendants of Fransus M. Everett (Shirley's grandfather) but will also be a tribute to the pioneer settlers of our own early Delta history. . . We have such a rich history that few know. . . .Thanks to Shirley and Dave Short. . .John and I now have the opportunity to tell the story.

You'll find more stories, links and photos of the original building and it's move to Dell at the DUNCAN FARMSTEAD WEBSITE. . .There you'll also see what a long way we've come.
We've been very blessed with interest and donations for our living history museum and wish to thank everyone for their contributions--large or small. . .We consider them all a legacy left for future generations. . .a legacy that won't be lost. . .LIFE IS GOOD. . .isn't it?