Saving Ursa History: Log cabin preserved for move

The Smith Family cleared the land and built this log cabin along a stage coach route from Quincy to Warsaw

It's hard to find real log cabins built by pioneers back in the 1800s. Most have been torn down over the years, before anyone really knew of their historical significance.

But not in Ursa, Illinois. North Adams Historical Society Second Vice President Susan York still marvels at the treasure trove of history hidden beneath the crumbling weatherboard and plaster that covered this 164-year-old log cabin South of town.

"It is amazing that something that was built in 1848 has survived," York said.

Long before the Tri-States was linked with highways and bridges, the Smith Family cleared the land and built this log cabin along a stage coach route from Quincy to Warsaw.

After several owners, the home was abandoned.

More than 150 years later, a local land owner considered tearing down the old structure. But when members of the North Adams Historical Society discovered paneling was hiding the logs of the old cabin, they stepped in to save it.

Volunteers began work back in January. They've peeled off the old weather board from the outside and stripped plaster from inside. The plan is to move this historic cabin to a new donated location on Highway 96, North of Ursa to serve as not only a museum, but as the headquarters of the North Adams Historical Society.

As you can imagine, it's going to take a lot of precise work in order to move this 164-year-old log cabin to its new location on Highway 96. First volunteers had to excavate dirt from under the cabin to allow for I-beams and braces to be placed underneath. The the building was jacked up to allow a trailer to go underneath the home.

Once the cabin makes its trip down the highway, passersby will be able to appreciate the historic treasure that's been hidden for more than 150 years ... and appreciate what pioneers went through to settle this land.

"I marvel at howe perfectly the corners are pieced together. I can't duplicate it today with all the power tools," Society President Ray Muegge said.

"Our ancestors accomplished so much in such a short time in settling this land and this cabin represents the effort and the emotion that it took to live in this area," York said.

A local landowner donated the cabin and the land for the new museum to the historical society. He wishes to remain anonymous.

Now local residents and ancestors of the original families who called the cabin home are sending donations to help restore and conserve the home for future generations.

PBS television crews with the show Illinois Stories plan to be on hand for the actual moving of the log cabin, set for Friday.