Historic Cabins A Family Hobby

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File photo of a log cabin (Photo Credit: Library of Congress)

File photo of a log cabin (Photo Credit: Library of Congress)

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CLINTON, Tenn. (AP) — Libby Bumgardner has cabin fever.

She and husband Harry are in the process of dismantling a pre-Civil War cabin located off Clinton Highway and moving it to their Claxton community residence.

When the Daniel Yarnell cabin is relocated and restored, it will join four other structures from East Tennessee’s distant past that are now on the Bumgardners’ property on Old Edgemoor Lane.

“I don’t know why I do this,” Libby Bumgardner said at first. But then she reconsidered and offered a compelling reason: “I’m doing this for future generations and to preserve the past.”

All of the current cabins on their property are open to the public, and school groups are welcome. The Yarnell cabin should be restored and ready for viewing late this summer, she said.

The Bumgardners’ passion for the past started in 1996 when they bought their Claxton property, which included a dilapidated two-story clapboard building.

Libby peeled back sections of clapboard on what she called that “funny-looking old house,” saw logs beneath and realized she’d uncovered a diamond in the rough.

Records show it was owned by Revolutionary War soldier David Hall and served as a tavern and inn on what was part of the main road between Knoxville and Nashville.

Built between 1798 and 1803, the property was purchased by Hall in 1803, and he and his wife and their 12 children lived next door in a similar cabin separated by a dogtrot.

That’s where the connection to Daniel Yarnell comes in.

David Hall’s daughter Elmira Hall married Yarnell, and they raised a large family in the cabin now being restored. The structure will be moved from Clinton to the Bumgardners’ Claxton property to become part of their collection.

The Yarnell cabin is steeped in lore and legend, and the exact date it was built is unknown, says Ralph Martin, another local history buff and member of the John Rice Irwin Chapter of the Sons of the Revolution.

The best guess, he said, is it was built around 1800.

One popular rumor is that Andy Jackson owned the cabin while he was a land speculator and before he became president, Martin said.

Another local historian, Sam Jennings, says it’s more likely that Jackson may have stayed at the cabin while on his way to his home in Middle Tennessee.

Another legend: One of the two chimneys was rebuilt, and the replacement bears the date 1865 on it. Martin said the story is that a cannonball fired from a nearby Union encampment destroyed the original chimney.

Regardless, this is an established fact, Martin said: Five of the Yarnells’ sons joined the Confederate army on the same day: Sept. 27, 1862.

For years, Mike Overton, who operates a large farm nearby, owned the cabin.

In March, a large oak tree fell onto its roof, extensively damaging it. “When I saw the tree on it, I said, ‘Oh no, I’ve got to save it,’” Libby Bumgardner said.

A deal was struck. The Bumgardners now own another piece of history to add to their collection.

They were at work on the Yarnell cabin last week, with Martin perched precariously on top, tossing down old wood and odds and ends salvaged from what’s left of the second floor.

Cabin logs worth saving will be numbered and lowered down one at a time so they will be restored in sequence. Libby said there are some 15 to 20 logs that can’t be restored due to damage and the ravages of time, and Overton has volunteered some replacement timber.

Family members and volunteers usually pitch in when it comes to restoration work, the Bumgardners said.

The Sons of the Revolution chapter will convene June 25 at the David Hall cabin, and many members will be decked out in historic outfits, Harry Bumgardner said. “Everybody is invited,” he said.

The Yarnell cabin should complete their collection, Harry Bumgardner said, but he said his wife still enjoys “driving around looking for old logs.”

(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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