Hello Friends and Family,

Pioneer Living History Museum, Part 8

Link to this year's index by clicking here.

This home is part of the "Ranch Complex". It was moved to this location from Gordon Canyon near Payson, AZ. This type of construction was typical in northern and eastern parts of Arizona where timber was more readily available.

Inside you can see the fireplace, which would have been the focal point for the family, providing both a cooking fire and heat during the cooler months. If you look carefully at the flooring under the table, you might spot the wooden pegs holding the planks in place. This was a common practice in the more arid parts of the state and often used in adobe homes.

A cabin this size would have been suitable for a family of four to six people. The parents would sleep on the bed, the kids on pallets or quilts on the floor. These could be rolled up and stored under the bed during the day. Although some of the furnishings may have been made at the carpenter shop, I suspect the chest was manufactured elsewhere and shipped here (maybe a Sears & Roebuck product). You can also see the wooden pegs in the floor beginning under the bed and leading to that chest.

In back of the home, we see a spring house. This is a reconstruction of the original and would have been situated on a small creek where cold water would flow through the spring house. Its two-foot-thick walls provided insulation. Dairy products and eggs would be kept cool here — the equivalent of a prairie refrigerator.

Also nearby was a root cellar. This structure is partially underground, providing a reasonably uniform temperature during the winter for storing root crops such as potatoes, turnips, carrots, beets, and onions. Additionally, the pioneers might have stored jarred preserves and jams, salt meat, salted fish, winter squash, and cabbage. This root cellar is a reconstruction of one found on the property where the ranch complex home stood originally.

Also on the ranch complex was a pigsty AKA a hog pen. It was a small-scale system of pig farming to provide meat for the table throughout the year. In addition to meat, it was also a source of fat for rendering into lard.

And here we see an iron pot that was likely used for rendering that pig fat into lard. At the time, lard was used as a cooking fat (such as shortening is used today) and as a spread like butter. According to Wikipedia, "It is an ingredient in various savory dishes such as sausages, pâtés, and fillings" and "Lard may be rendered by two processes: wet or dry. In wet rendering, pig fat is boiled in water or steamed at a high temperature and the lard, which is insoluble in water, is skimmed from the surface of the mixture or separated in an industrial centrifuge. In dry rendering, the fat is exposed to high heat in a pan or oven without water (a process similar to frying bacon). The two processes yield somewhat differing products. Wet-rendered lard has a more neutral flavor, a lighter color, and a high smoke point. Dry-rendered lard is somewhat browner and has a caramelized flavor and has a lower smoke point."

A nearby neighbor is the Ashurst Cabin, the original 1878 boyhood cabin of Henry Fountain Ashurst who was later elected by the Arizona Legislature as the first U.S. Senator from the state. Wikipedia describes the Senator thusly, "Ashurst had an affection for oration, as expressed by his statement, 'I simply love speaking — just as one may like maple syrup, Beethoven, Verdi, or Longfellow, Kipling, or Shakespeare — one hardly knows why.' This combined with his courtly manners and impeccable attire earned Ashurst a reputation as the Chesterfield of the Senate. The New York Times said 'Sheer eloquence is best personified in the present Senate by Ashurst of Arizona — the debonair, balm-tongued chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Without losing one whit of his eloquence, or missing or misquoting a classical phrase, Ashurst can run the range from buffoonery to some of the most challenging remarks heard in Congress.'"

The structure was moved from Ashurst's childhood home in Nevada to this location. It was dismantled then moved, piece by piece, from a box canyon via a 200-foot steel cable tramway, which the Museum built for the purpose of rescuing the cabin from ruin. The building was donated by Babbitt Land and Cattle Company. The restoration was financed by Modern Pioneers' Life Insurance Company.

To be continued...

Life is good.

B. David

P. S., All photos and text © B. David Cathell Photography, Inc. — www.bdavidcathell.com