Pioneer History by Richard C. Schmal

Log House Preserved

(from the Dec. 28, 1994, Lowell Tribune, page 16)

Earlier this month several hundred spectators enjoyed "Christmas at Buckley" at Buckley Homestead County Park just east of Lowell. They enjoyed first-person performances in several buildings, including the one room schoolhouse, the kitchen and the log house on the hill.

The log house was featured in newspapers in December 1975 with the story of its discovery about seven miles east of Lowell, near State Rd. 2. "LOWELL -- A bit of history has been saved. A log cabin, located seven miles east of Lowell will be salvaged, restored, and maintained as an historical landmark. The Three Creeks Historical Assn., serving West Creek, Cedar Creek and Eagle Creek Townships, has adopted the preservation and restoration project as a primary effort during the United States Bicentennial year," read one account.

The house stood on property owned by Mrs. Harold Dinsmore, where the secret of the logs was hidden until Ray Alyea of Hebron began to tear down the home at the direction of the owner. He found the old logs hiding under imitation brick siding and wood siding, halted the work and notified Mrs. Dinsmore of his discovery.

She received several offers for the purchase of the old building but decided to donate it to the Historical Assn. in the interest of historical preservation, with a suggestion that it be placed close to the original site.

During the years since it had been built, a kitchen and bathroom were added to the rear of the home, and when these were bulldozed, the old logs were revealed. The original part was 28 feet by 18 feet in size and 14 feet high, larger than the typical homes of pioneers. There was a loft in the building, where evidence of trapping was found, the land being fairly close to the edge of the original Kankakee Valley Swamp.

The logs, ranging in size from four to twelve inches in width, were shaped with pioneer tools and caulked with mortar of sand, fine shells and prairie grass.

Matt Bryant, a former vice president of the Historical Assn., dug deep to research some of the history of the land and of the log house. He discovered that pioneer Ashbell Goodrich purchased 80 acres of the land from the United States government in 1839 for the sum of $100, a transaction which took place only two years after the founding of Lake County.

On Apr. 11, 1840, Goodrich sold the land to another pioneer by the name of Matthews. On Aug. 20, 1846, the land was sold to pioneer William Holmes for $125, and Holmes deeded it to his son Robert Holmes on Nov. 30, 1863. It is believed that the Holmes family built the log house.

Early settler Daniel Garner paid $1,600 for the land and the home on Jan. 22, 1870. A later record shows the title under the name of William Fisher, who deeded it to his daughter, Belle Fisher Hayward.

The item in the 1975 newspaper continued: "The historical association considers the cabin a rare find and plans to make its preservation and restoration a prime project in coming years. Finding a suitable location for the cabin is the first goal of the association. Funding to help with its restoration is sure to follow."

Finding a proper site for the log house proved to be quite a problem for the historians, but during those years plans were being made for two new Lake County Parks in South County, The Grand Kankakee Marsh Lake County Park, and the Buckley Homestead Lake County Park, so the historical group decided to donate the building to the Lake County Parks and Recreation Dept. At first a decision was made to dismantle the building and rebuild it at the Grand Kankakee River, but the final decision moved it to the Buckley Homestead. The building was carefully dismantled and stored for a time by the park department until the necessary funds were budgeted, and the log home was rebuilt in 1983 at Buckley Homestead, now serving to anchor the Pioneer Farm near the "back 80."

Since that time, the log house has been the scene of many historical programs, including some sponsored by the Three Creeks Historical Assn. On many weekends, members of the park staff have shown the building off to visitors who enjoyed hearing the stories of the pioneers who lived in such homes.

Through the years, many busloads of schoolchildren have taken field trips to the homestead, walking the trails and enjoying a living history lesson given by an interpreter at the log house.

A plaque there has this inscription: "Log house donated by the Dinsmore family in memory of Harold H. Dinsmore to the Three Creeks Historical Assn., who in turn donated it to the Lake County Parks and Recreation Dept. for preservation of local heritage."

Last updated on December 10, 2001.

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