Our recent article about the efforts of the Pigeon Historical Societies’ effort to move and restore two cabins though to be belonging to the 1860s colony of Ora Labora that was located near the town of Bay Port generated a lot of interest. We did a little research and it turns out there are a lot of pioneer log cabins located in Huron County. We were pleasantly surprised; we had thought that many of the log cabins that were in Huron County in the 1800s were destroyed in the great fires of 1871 and 1881. The following list of restored pioneer cabins can be visited especially during the summer season.
Bad Axe Pioneer Log Cabin Village
The Bad Axe Historical Society is the curator of the largest collection of authentically restored pioneer log buildings in Michigan. Located behind the Bad Axe City Hall, the pioneer log cabins make up a sort of mini-museum collection. The rustic cabins were donated and moved from various locations around Huron County. Each cabin contains antiques, household goods, and artifacts of the period. The Society has done an excellent job of preserving and presenting this collection of log structures.
The Ullrich Family Cabin (1873)
The Ullrich House was the first cabin brought to the Village by the Society in 1976. It was the home of Mr. and Mrs. George Ullrich and their 11 children. George and Magdelena immigrated to the United States from Germany in March of 1873 with 5 children, another child had died as an infant, and settled in Sebewaing, Michigan. There they had an additional 6 children and managed a farm. Local lore tells the tale that the 20X30 foot two-story cabin was built in one day in an effort similar to a barn raising. The museum’s contents contain much of the original furnishings of the Ullrich‘s.
The General Store
If you’re a history buff this example of an old-fashioned general store will not disappoint. Antique consumer goods donated by family members who once owned their own general stores in the area are on display. You can get the feel that stores like this were a social focal point for the entire community and some also acted as the local post office.
The Becking School (1895)
The Becking School was built in 1895 and it noted that his school was one of the last operating log schoolhouses in the region. The schoolroom depiction has been created to represent a composite view of what the 100 or so one-room schoolhouses in Huron county might have looked like. Period furniture, children’s desks, chalkboards, and books are all on display. An online search for Becking School places one possible original location south of Bad Axe in Colfax township, other results show its location in Sheridan Township.
William Schave Barn Museum (1872)
Built the year after the first great fire of 1871, when the building of barns overtook sawmills as the county changed from logging to agricultural. It’s one of the largest log buildings on the site. The inside display includes the tools and implements common in the late 1800s including bean sorters, milking machines, and horse tack. The barn was originally owned by William Schave from Port Hope and escaped being burned in the Great Fire of 1881 which ravaged much of the Thumb region. The barn is also a point on the Thumb Quilt Trail and displays the quilt block called Log Cabin.
The Linton Memorial Chapel (1883)
Originally the home of Robert Linton. The Michigan pioneer log cabin chapel depicts the rustic pioneer days of community worship in the Upper Thumb. The display includes an original Estey Reed Organ and many other donated artifacts from personal collections and churches of the late 1800s. The chapel is active and available for weddings for a $40 donation.
The Blacksmith Shop
A town’s blacksmith was akin to today’s local hardware store. It was critical in a growing agricultural community with its forge using coal or charcoal. The local blacksmith had the ability to make and repair farm implements, tools, nails, horseshoes, and chains. Many rural shops also repaired wagons and horse tack
The pioneer log village is open each Sunday during the summer from 2 to 4 pm between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Admission is free.
Port Austin Historical Society Leavine Log Cabin Exhibit
Located just east of Port Austin the port Austin Historical Society has a fine example of a log cabin from the late 1800s. The center is a growing collection of historical buildings and homes to the Leavine log cabin and barn. The two structures were once located on a farm and thought to be two barns connected. Upon closer inspection, the two buildings are found to be a 16×20 log cabin and a 16×22 log barn. The cabin is a fine example of living in the Upper Thumb in the late 1800s and has been restored with a porch and gardens.
Elkton Log Cabin Museum
This 18 x 22-foot Michigan pioneer log cabin was built by Enos Mayhew in 1865 just north of Pinnebog. It consists of two stories with an upper dormer design similar to the Baur and Notter cabins near Pigeon. It was donated by Dr. & Mrs. Henry Schoenhals of Port Austin to the Elkton Historical Society. In 1987 it was dismantled, moved, and restored at the southeast corner of Ackerman memorial park in Elkton. The cabin is maintained by the Elkton Historical Society. Limited hours of visiting. Free admission. Call before you visit.
LaGrassa Cabin Huron City
This Michigan pioneer cabin is the oldest building in Huron City Museum complex and perhaps the oldest surviving log structure in the Thumb. Mitchell and Delia LaGassa built it in 1837 when they were married. They raised 17 children and celebrated their 75th wedding anniversary at the homestead.
The log cabin survived the 1871 and 1881 fires that raced through the Thumb due to its safe location near Grindstone City. The structure was moved several times before Annabel Phelps bought and placed it behind Seven Gables. She used it as a teahouse and guest house. Carolyn Lucas moved the log cabin to its current position near the village museum when she started the Huron City Museums in the 1950s.
Related Michigan Pioneer Cabins History Reading
The Faded Glory of Huron City Michigan – Michigan small towns have a special place in the hearts of their inhabitants. However, some towns slowly fade from their once-busy streets to a scene resembling a stopped clock. No longer functional but certainly recognizable. One such town is Huron City, Michigan.
Pinnebog is a Tiny Taste of the Michigan Thumb – This little four corner settlement was first called Pinnepog, (Chippewa for partridge drum). However, there was another Pinnepog five miles north on Saginaw Bay, so this one changed to Pinnebog (“a high sounding and dignified way of saying pine bog”).
The Ora Labora Experiment by Florence McKinnon Gwinn – The Ora Labora Experiment is an excerpt from a common historical document that has been scanned and re-published numerous times on the Internet from the “Pioneer History of Huron County” – 1922 by Florence McKinnon Gwinn, Caseville, Michigan. Some researchers consider this work the starting point for further research of the colony
The Old Michigan Barns of Huron County – The massive wooden Michigan barns, once prevalent in the Upper Thumb. Most of the barns in Michigan’s Upper Thumb were built after the great fires of 1871 and 1881. Unless they were diligently maintained are slowly rotting away. Today’s steel pole barns can be quickly put up and don’t require the massive beams that were taken from Michigan’s old-growth forests.
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9 thoughts on “The Michigan Pioneer Log Cabins of Huron County Michigan”
One of the few e-mails I look forward to seeing! Thank you for spreading Huron county history!
Thanks for the kind words. Still sending out only once per month.
I believe my grandfather, Herbert McCreedy, was born in a log cabin near Fairgrove in 1900. I always imagined it looked just like these. When I mention this fact to people they sometimes give me a dubious glance. Now, I have wonderful visual proof of the existence of such cabins in existence at that time in the Thumb. It always amazed me that my grandfather, born in a log cabin, lived to see a man on the moon.
Thanks for the kind words. We try to offer a glimpse for those of us who are naturally curious.
What a wonderful publication. We have traveled Michigan extensively but not so much in the thumb. Will have to explore it this summer.
If you visit the thumb, you will have to stop back and let us know what you through of it.
The “General Store” on the grounds behind the Huron County Hall was actually the home of Joseph & Frances (Maikrzek) Bureiza, Jr. It was built by Frances’s father, Michael Maikrzek as a wedding gift. It was originally located on Tomilson Rd, west of Rapson, Huron County. It was discovered after the twin brothers, Julius & August (sons of Joseph & Frances) died and the new owners tore off the lapstreak siding. Moved to the County site by the Bad Axe Historical Society.
On June 5, 2021, The Polish Genealogical Society of Michigan dedicated a historical plaque to honor Parisville & the hardy Polish settlers that made it their home. Parisville was established in 1856. The plaque is located on the southwest corner of Atwater & Parisville Rds, across from the historic 1876 Parisville Hotel.