Cabin has new home in Holbrook park

Thursday, October 13, 2005
The Historical Society of Furnas and Gosper Counties conducts a ceremony to dedicate the little log cabin in Holbrook to the pioneers who settled the two counties and to historians committed to preserving their stories. (Connie Jo Discoe/McCook Daily Gazette)

HOLBROOK -- Maxine Brandt Purinton of rural Cambridge remembers the little log cabin as "one destination for playing," as she grew up in the hills northwest of Holbrook. Now, the cabin, sitting on a new concrete pad in the Holbrook City Park, can be a destination for hundreds of children playing in the park and for scores of tourists on historic U.S. Route 6.

Maxine's family lived in a house over the hill west of the log cabin, and the cabin was often the destination for play days for Maxine and her sister. Maxine remembers that a school mate's parents -- Guy and Edna Powell -- lived in the cabin when they got married in 1915, before Maxine and her sister turned it into their playhouse.

She remembers losing something through a crack in the cabin's wooden floor.

"At that point, it had a wooden floor," Maxine said, although the cabin had only a dirt floor after it was moved into Holbrook in 1932.

The older grandchildren of Pat and the late G.O. Stevens laid a braided rug on the dirt floor in front of the cabin's fireplace when they played in the cabin near their grandparents' house on the highway in Holbrook in the 1980s. "They built a little fence around it, and pretended they were pioneers," said Pat's daughter, Janet Stevens Werkmeister of McCook, whose three sons played in the cabin.

John Warburton, a cousin of the Werkmeister boys and another of Pat Stevens' grandsons, rebuilt the cabin's fireplace last summer, after the cabin was moved -- again -- this time to a permanent location in the city park.

William Pennington built the cabin in 1874, about 14 miles northwest of Holbrook, near the site today of the Medicine Creek Dam, on the old Fort McPherson Trail.

Robert Trosper, president of the Furnas/Gosper Historical Society, said that Pennington built two rooms and covered the logs with sod. "The size of the log house is 17x17 1/2 feet," Trosper said, "which, by today's standards, would make a tight fit for a family."

Sam Selby bought the cabin in 1880, and in 1932, a new owner, A.D. Lord, moved it into Holbrook. "He moved it piece by piece and numbered each log," Trosper said, "to make sure to get it back together right." Lord operated a business, called "Indian Bend," out of the cabin.

A.J. Phillipson bought the cabin in 1957. Recent owners Bob and Nancy Anderson donated it to the historical society, which had it moved about a quarter of a mile east to the cement slab in the city park.

Robert Trosper led the dedication ceremony for the little cabin in the city park on Saturday, Oct. 8. "We are here today because someone took an interest in preserving a piece of history," Trosper said. "Today, we gather here to witness another historical event in this log cabin's life."

Repairs, restoration, preservation -- all of this by volunteers who, Trosper said, unselfishly took the preservation upon themselves.

Trosper said, "The log cabin cannot express its appreciation, but I can. I speak on behalf of the officers, directors, members and volunteers of the Historical Society of Furnas and Gosper counties, and I would like to extend our complete satisfaction and appreciation for all that has been done."

Trosper and unofficial project chairman Vaughn Cross hung a plaque from the Nebraska/U.S. Route 6 Tourist Association -- which promotes travel along U.S. Route 6 -- designating the cabin a "site of interest."

"This is a very unique designation," Trosper said, "because the cabin is the first place to receive this recognition on a road system that stretches 3,652 miles."

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