The sun had just peeked over the hillside, casting tall shadows against the dewy spring grass. From the hill behind the simple one-roomed cabin, a woodpecker called to his mate with a rhythmic "rat-a-tat, rat-a-tat". Birdsong filled the cool morning air and travelled through the little valley on a gentle breeze.
As the sun rose higher and the dew began to dry, the calm of the morning was interrupted by the firing of a long rifle in the woods at the top of the ridge. "I guess we'll be having squirrel or rabbit for dinner" thought Sarah.
With a basket of garments held on her right hip and a wooden bucket in her left hand, Sarah gathered up the front of her her skirts, with the two fingers she had free, so she wouldn't trip as she walked down the cabin steps to the spring house below. There, after setting her laundry on the ground next to the old wooden washtub, she sunk her wooden bucket into the clear, cold water that bubbled up from beneath the earth. She ducked her head as she carried the bucket out of the springhouse and poured the sparkling water into the tub. She would repeat this several times before climbing the stairs to fetch the water she had left boiling on the iron cookstove.
She wrapped the homespun fabric of her apron and skirt around the boiling kettle's handle to keep from burning her hands, taking the hot water back down the stairs to add to her wash tub. From the top of her basket, she picked up a small parcel - a block of soap wrapped in parchment. She unwrapped the precious bar of soap, one of just five blocks that she had been able to pack to bring with her on her journey, last year, by wagon, from the the port city of Philadelphia where she had lived as a child.
In the coming months, she would have to make her own soap from ash and pig fat, but for now, she rationed this bar and enjoyed one of the few remaining luxuries of her past life.
Sarah and Elias had survived that first winter of 1768 here in this wild land, far to the west of everything they had ever known, partly on the provisions that they had packed in their wagon but mostly on the grit they had both possessed. Hunting was plentiful in the colony and Elias had been able to keep them supplied with meat. What they had not been able to bring with them, they supplemented with goods they could buy at the tavern/general store a mile away.
Ten years prior, there had been no homesteads in the area. But in the subsequent years, land was purchased from the native peoples and settlers began building new lives here in the heart of the territory known as Penn's Woods.
Arriving early the previous summer, they had hand-built their simple cabin from the ash trees they had felled for that purpose. Sarah started a garden with the seeds they had brought with them and they worked together to fence in a small parcel for the cow and two pigs they would buy from neighbors later that summer. Three hens and a rooster had accompanied them on the journey... supplying just enough eggs for an occasional breakfast or baked good. Sarah tended those hens and rooster each day and by summer's end her flock had grown enough to keep them well supplied in eggs and chicken meat........
about the time, Old Job, was a mere sapling -
a family arrived here from another life, left behind "back East" to begin a new life here in the wilds of Pennsylvania.
For years I have imagined stories about the people who might have first settled here on this farm... the people who would have first called our old log cabin "home." Many of you have expressed an interest in the history of this structure. Over the years historical restoration experts have dated the structure to some time around the mid-1760's. While not the earliest structure in our area, but is certainly one of the earliest.... and certainly one of the very earliest still standing.
We have done our part in assuring the survival of this wonderful piece of history over the years with several restoration projects aimed at maintaining the structure's integrity.
It is our educated belief that the cabin started out as a simple one-room cabin (the lower right hand portion in the photo below).
The structure was built on top of a spring, so that the basement is a spring house.
At some point, fairly early in its life, a second room was added beside the first (the first, pictured below).
That second room contains a tiny, curved stairway, obviously built for the short-statured people of colonial times,
that leads up to two upstairs rooms.
A second stairway leads to a tiny attic space.
Amazingly, this structure, without running water and only rudimentary electricity (of course, added many years later) was inhabited well into the 1960's. We had the pleasure, two summers ago, of meeting some members of the last family to live there. What fascinating stories they told!