The Old Log Cabin

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On the 15th of June, 2011, my friend Matt and I drove over the Cascade Mountains to do a little scouting for this year’s deer season.  It was our intent to do some trout fishing as well as go on a long hike into our hunting area to check for deer and make plans for the upcoming season.  We were going to stay in an old cabin for two nights...

John Fredrick Timms was born on March 4th, 1849 in Hanover, Germany.  He was one of 6 children.  At 17, he and his brother William moved to America to avoid going into the German Army which was mandatory of every young man.

They ended up in Wisconsin where William eventually stayed but John Fredrick moved on westward by wagon train and ended up in the little town of Sprague, Washington Territory.  He got a job hauling people and freight between the towns of Walla Walla, Cheney, Harrington and Sprague.  Fred, as he became known, took up a homestead half way between Harrington and Sprague in an area known as Lord’s Valley.  He built a comfortable one room log cabin and settled down.

On April 28, 1884, Fred married Mary Hellinger and she moved into the cabin with him.  Their first three children, all girls; Maria, Emma and Nellie, were born in that cabin.  Fred and Mary sold their place in 1889, the year Washington became a state, and moved a little farther south to the town of Garfield.  Five more children were born after the move.

In July of 1921, Fred fell off a ladder and broke several ribs.  A week later he died.  Mary Timms died in April of 1950.

But the cabin remained... abandoned in the late 1800’s and left to the ravages of nature.  Stan Wills of Sprague drove by that old cabin with the roof caved in, many times before he looked up the owner of the land and inquired about it.  He learned that the cabin was going to be destroyed and he asked if he could have it.  He was given the cabin on the grounds that it be removed.

In 2000, Stan started the process of removing the old cabin.  He took it apart log by log and labeled each one.  Stan, over 60 years old, did the entire labor without the use of modern tools.  He wanted this old cabin to be as original as possible.  After taking it apart, Stan transported all the parts to his ranch just outside Sprague.

It took Stan four weeks to reassemble this old cabin, all by hand.  He lifted each and every log into place by hand without the use of any modern machinery.  He cut any pieces of new material with a hand held cross cut saw.  Stan put the cabin back together in just a bit over 4 weeks, working primarily in the evening after a day’s work.  He had to scrounge extra “old” logs and timbers from around the county to complete it.  Stan lost 20 pounds during that 4 week period. 

He then chinked the logs with sheered sheep’s wool and let it sit over the winter to settle.  The following summer, he spent 6 full weeks adding mortar to each and every crack, making the cabin air and water tight.

Stan chatted with the land owners, neighbors and did enough genealogy research to find out who had built the old cabin and found out there were descendants still in the area.  He contacted the grandson of Maria Timms who was born in the cabin and he came out for an emotional reunion with the old cabin his grandmother was born in.

During the past three days, Matt and I had the privilege of staying in that old cabin.  We spent two nights in it and I can’t tell you how great a feeling that was to be in a part of history.  I want to thank Stan Wills for his dedication to rebuilding that old cabin and for allowing us the privilege of staying in it.


groovy mike's picture

Finally saw it with my own eyes

I finally saw this cabin with my own eyes and it is everything that teh photographs show and more.  A real work of art.  I would not hesiatet to spend the winter in it if I needed to!  Great job Stan!

hunter25's picture

Great story and I love all

Great story and I love all the facts that were brought into it about the history of the cabin and the family that lived in it. My family has an old log cabin that my grandfather built back in the 30's but that's not even close to this ones age. I love the look of these old ones and have been checking out many to use as a design for when we get started builing our own here in Colorado. There are many out here in various states of collapse all the way down to just a foundation left. We plan to build a loft in ours as well to add a little space for sleeping but other than that it will ahve a very similar look. We have a bunch of ideas including using original logs from various other cabins we have access too. I haev found a bunch of petrified wood and some large labs of rocks with fossils we plan to incorporate into some of it also. 

Thanks for a great story.

ManOfTheFall's picture

That was one of the better

That was one of the better stories I have read on here yet. No real hunting story there but a great piece of history and one that will live on through the ages I'm sure. Thanks for the story. It was greatly appreciated.

Ca_Vermonster's picture

That's a very neat story. 

That's a very neat story.  Cool of him to take that on as a project and reassemble the cottage.

It makes me laugh, looking at the size of that cottage, and what we have for houses today.  My wife and I went looking at houses last night, because we now have 2 children, and feel we need a bigger house.  We looked at a 1,900 sq ft house, and my wife thought it was too small.  If only we had lived in the 1800's, wonder what those people would have done with "only" 1,900 sq ft... lol

I love old historical stuff like that.  There are so many untold stories out there, and it's nice to see someone give them a voice.  Thanks for posting this.

groovy mike's picture

I think Stan did all of that work ALONE!

In case anyone here didn’t pick up on it , it is worth pointing out that Stan not only restored this cabin, taking it apart piece by piece – moved it to his property – and reassembled it in order to save and preserve it.  And as far as I know he did all of that work ALONE! It looks GREAT inside and out.  The last time that I saw it in photographs Stan was working on getting the walls up when it was about 95 degrees in the shade.  I knew he was tough from hunting with him, after that I knew he was crazy too.  There is a lot more room inside than I thought there would be.  He has decorated it very comfortably in a perfect style for the 1800s (except for that cast iron radiator).  The hand laid fieldstone hearth is perfect for that little stove.  I bet the nights could get chilly and a small fire would warm up the one room shelter admirably on those winter nights.  Thanks for sharing the pictures and for sharing the story with us!