Another 18th century WV frontier cabin we’re working on. This time it has to move…

This log cabin has been used as a barn for a long, long time. But we believe it was a primitive 18th century log cabin dwelling originally. We have to move this structure of the current property, which sits very close to the site of the frontier fort known as Thompson’s Fort – somewhat of a fortified home, located in Pickaway, West Virginia.

The view fro the cabin looking towards Pickaway, WV and the site of what was known as
Thompson’s Fort.

Thompson’s Fort is mentioned several times in the old Rev War pension applications. However, archaeologists believe it was more of a fortified home rather than a fort complex with a stockade. This structure is within a 150 yards or so of the supposed fort location. I don’t doubt that this had a connection to the fort. This appears to me to have been an early dirt floor log cabin, of the kind with a clay and wood fireplace, one door, and likely one window.

The front of the cabin, where some of the chinking has been preserved, and the original awesome door is still in place.

Early frontiersmen were notoriously skilled with an axe, and supposedly could erect a primitive log cabin in two days, using just two skilled men with axes. This is likely the size and layout of what such a cabin would be.

A close up of the chinking. A homemade mixture of clay, mud, grass, rocks, whatever….

We know this cabin was not built as a barn because it still retains some original chinking. Log barns were not chinked. Also it still has a the wonderful original beast of a front door, with hand carved wooden hinges.

Original puncheon board door constructed with wrought nails, and hand carved wooden hinges.

I’m not sure where these logs are headed. It is probably unlikely it could be rebuilt as-is. Two of the walls were exposed, and they’re pretty rotten. Though the insides look good. We’ll see….

One of the two well preserved walls, which were covered by the barn. 2 other walls weren’t so lucky.
V notched logs

The TV show Barnwood Builders was actually scheduled to film this little cabin, but it got rained out, and they never showed interest again.

You can see a primitive small flue hole for a fireplace in the back wall, and a window to the left of that. I’ve found other examples of that design on early one-story primitive dirt floor style log cabins.

Very small primitive fireplace opening, likely with a clay and wood fireplace and stones stacked inside for an interior hearth. Small original window to the left of the chimney, of which I’ve found several examples in period drawings.

This may have originally served as a frontiersman’s hunting/trapping cabin in 18th century Monroe County.

Update, December of 2021: I subsequently figured out, this was most likely a smokehouse, thus explaining the chinking. It was attached to a large log plantation a stone’s throw away – probably the same family who had the fort nearby.

7 thoughts on “Another 18th century WV frontier cabin we’re working on. This time it has to move…

  1. Thanks for sharing, love all your posts. I’m especially interested in the early cabins and how they were built and the history that is known.

  2. Thought you might be interested in attending this event…it’s about a 2-hr drive from Union and only a few miles down the road from my house. You mentioned Fort George on the Bullpasture…this is it:

    On July 20, Greg Adamson will once more be joining us for an evening of information on the Indian activity on the Bullpasture River in the Clover Creek area of Highland County.
    Meeting at the site of Fort George, at 6:00 we will walk to the site of the Fort, possibly visited by George Washington during the French and Indian War.
    We will also visit the nearby site of the Estill Gristmill (1740) that was owned and operated by the McClung family.
    At 7:00 Greg will give a presentation in the Clover Creek Presbyterian Church on houses and tools covering around 16,000 years of Indian history.

    If you want to attend, let me know. I’d be happy to meet you! FYI, I grew up in Union; Connie Copeland is my sister.

    Nancy (Martin) Vance

  3. That sounds great, and I’d love to go, but I’ll be on an airplane heading out to Montana on that day…. That’s a beautiful area.

  4. Very good example of a primitive frontier cabin. Are you familiar with the work and writings of Eric Sloane? If not, his work and books would be of great interest and help to you in your projects, as they have been in my own. He was a kindred spirit and extremely knowledgeable about early/pioneer American homesteading, tools, culture, etc. All of his books are still in print and can be found on Amazon. Just bought another one last week. See:

    • I was just reading an article about Eric Sloane the other day. I’ll have to get some of those….. Thanks.

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