Public Can Help Restore Historic Cabin


Those who've never been to a chinking party will get a chance to attend one in May at the Rim Country Museum.

Probably the closest analogy to a chinking party is a barn-raising those once-upon-a-time, semi-social events where folks gathered to help a neighbor build a barn in a day or two. In this case, Rim country residents are invited to participate in the final phase of the reconstruction of Pappy and Mammy Haught's log cabin on the grounds of the museum at Green Valley Park.

The cabin, which was donated to the museum in July, 1999, was originally built around 1910, said Sharesse Von Strauss, director of the Northern Gila County Historical Society, which operates the museum. Volunteers are currently reconstructing it on a site at the museum between the original forest ranger garage and residence.

"Normally, the museum works in an orderly, carefully planned manner," Von Strauss said. "In this case, the cabin was going to be torn down, so we put the cart before the horse and accepted the cabin prior to having a ... place to rebuild the structure."

The cabin, which was in excellent condition, was photographed, site drawings were made, and then each log was tagged before it was carefully dismantled and moved to the museum where it was stacked and stored in an adjacent parking lot. Once reassembled, the final step will be chinking filling the gaps between the logs with a mixture of mud, stone, straw and miscellaneous materials, Von Strauss said.

The cabin, which was built by Henry "Pappy" and Sarah "Mammy" Haught, was moved to the museum from the Dick Williams' place on Tonto Creek according to longtime Rim country resident Donna Garrels, whose husband Ralph is Sarah Haught's grandson.

Henry and Sarah Haught came to the Rim country from Texas with a wagon train in the summer of 1897.

"The trip from Oklahoma territory across New Mexico into Arizona territory was a long and hard one," according to a Haught family history compiled by Garrels. "We don't know how long it took our travelers to reach their destination, but toward the end of the trip they were detained for about three days ... in the White Mountains (when) Mammy gave birth to her fifth child."

The baby, a daughter named Irene Million Champion, was just 10 days old when the Haughts reached northern Gila County that August.

Sometime in the early 1900s, when "Million" was a young child, Sarah and Henry moved to land owned by Elam Boles on Robert's Mesa where they built "a house of logs with a dirt floor." The logs used for the house were quite probably moved twice and used to build other homes first four miles east to Tonto Creek in 1909, near where Zane Grey would eventually build his cabin, and then, when their spring dried up, to the Williams Place.

The general area is about a mile north of Kohl's Ranch.

"They tore down their house and took the logs with them," Garrels said. "The house (they built) had no windows or ceiling just rafters.

"Their furniture was all handmade, their mattresses were made of straw, and a wood fireplace was used for heating and cooking." Lighting was provided by homemade candles, although sometimes they had to make do with pine knots burned on the stove.

When Sarah and Henry bought a 144-acre ranch in Green Valley in 1911, they finally left their log home behind.

"Somewhere in time, as the cabin stood on the Williams property, it was turned into an above-ground storage cabin," Von Strauss said. "A ceiling was added to the cabin, atop which was applied approximately eight inches of mud mixed with wood chips and other materials. A high-pitched roof covered all."

In a two-part series on the Haught family beginning Sunday in The Rim Review, local historian and columnist Stan Brown notes that by adding the ceiling, the temperature inside was lowered to allow cool storage of meats and produce.

With reconstruction nearly complete, Sarah and Henry Haught's old home will soon provide visitors "a real slice of living history," Brown said. "This is how many pioneers lived in the 19th and early 20th centuries."

But first, the chinking has to take place.

"We can't set a date just yet, because chinking is weather-dependent," Von Strauss said. "We need a forecast of two weeks of clear, rainless weather so the material can cure properly."

When that happens, Rim country residents can do more than just see a slice of history they can roll up their sleeves and live it.

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