In April 1819 the Mellons purchased their first farm ‘in a remote and unfrequented part of the country”. The only building on the property was a small log cabin in which the family lived until such times as they had cleared their mortgage.
Building a good log cabin took weeks of hard labour since it involved felling the trees, clearing away the brush and preparing the site. Once this was accomplished however, a cabin could be erected in a day with the help of neighbours ‘cabin raising’ (click images to enlarge).
The cabins were constructed of logs cut to the appropriate length and notched so that they fitted into each other at the corners. The crevices between the logs were filled in [chinked] with clay or mud mixed with stones and animal hair and sometimes this filling was coated with lime mortar. The doors were of hewn wooden planks pegged together and hung on wooden or leather hinges.
The log cabin reproduced in the Folk Park is similar to that in which the Mellons made their first home in America. Consisting of two rooms with one outside door and two windows, it had an upper floor or loft and a roof of wooden shingles. The fireplace was stone lined with a wooden chimney in the middle of the house plastered over with clay mortar. The floor was of logs split in two and planed on the flat side with an adze.
For many settlers such log cabins became life-long homes but for the more ambitious they were only intended as temporary dwellings for as long as it would have taken them to accumulate the money and tools to construct a more permanent home. The cabins were often extremely cramped, housing all the furniture and cooking equipment that whole families had brought from the East.
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