By: Debra Ullrick
For several years I lived in an original homestead cabin on a ranch in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. The ceiling was only six-foot four-inches high. Back then they built the ceilings low for heating purposes. Trust me, it worked. Talk about a warm…no…make that a sweltering house. Amazing how one small wood-burning stove kept us nice and toasty even in the below zero temperatures. That same practical ceiling also created a challenge for my 6’2” husband who wore a cowboy hat all the time. But he managed to cope.
I, however, struggled at times. Especially when frogs hopped across the carpet, or when I stepped on a stink bug who’d slipped inside through the broken chinking, or when I battled the many mice who inhabited the place. At first it was hard dealing with all the challenges, but then I grew to love the place and oftentimes wondered about the people who had lived there. What they were like. Where they came from. How they survived the harsh winters, and wishing the walls could talk.
Living there had piqued my interest in the history of Grand County where I lived on ranches for over 28 years. I contacted the historical society and acquired many books about Grand County. The house described in my story, A Grand County Christmas, stemmed from an actual cabin in that area. To make it more interesting, I combined the details of that cabin with a couple of other homesteads there, along with their history and some of the interesting cultures of the people who settled in that area. The more I wrote, the more I knew that I wanted to incorporate my own family’s heritage into the story, which was Germans from Russia. I’m so glad I did.
My 87 year old mom, who answered my many questions about our heritage, passed away two weeks ago. When, A Grand County Christmas, was completed, my prayer was that my mom would live long enough to read my story. God answered that prayer.
Is there any homestead or cabin you've visited that you wish the walls could talk?
Please leave a comment to be entered to win the Free Copy of "A Log Cabin Christmas."
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There is one log cabin that I've visited a few times over the past 20 years. I know why they built it where they did. It overlooks the most beautiful meadow and timber hillsides. It still has a wood stove and makeshift wood platform bed. The dirt floor is of course a highway for various rodents that scury about when you open the door. I would have loved to have met the people who lived there.
That's interesting about the low ceilings - makes sense. I've never lived in a cabin or known anyone who did but no doubt the whole setting would pique my interest too!
Debra, my heart goes out to you in the loss of your beloved mother. I'm glad she got to read your story in print before her passing. She must have been so proud.
Thank you all for stopping by. I’m thrilled that you did.
Becky, the cabin you described sounds absolutely beautiful...well, except the rodents. hehehe
Cindy, I've often thought about whether or not I would like to live in a cabin again. The answer is...YES! There's something so cozy and even mysterious about a cabin or an original homestead.
Keli, thank you for your sweet post about the loss of my mother. I was thrilled that she got to read my story before she passed away. And that was no ordinary feat for her either. She had to read through the tiny round magnifier in her magnifying glass. Yet, she didn’t let that deter her. She pushed through until she read the whole thing. *smiling*
Debra, I'm so glad your mother got to read A Grand County Christmas. That will be a sweet memory to help you over the coming months.
I admire you for battling those mice. I'm afraid of mice, and I might've seriously considered turning the place over to them and running away shrieking!
I've never visited a homestead or log cabin but I often wonder about "if these walls could talk." Just yesterday I wondered about my g-g-g-grandfather probably lecturing his son about spending his tuition money for a bicycle. How I would have loved to hear that conversation!
Debra, I am so sorry to hear about your mother. I'm sure her 87 years had many of them "smiling." My thoughts and prayers are with you.
hahahaha, Erica, what a hoot! I can just picture a herd of mice chasing you around a cabin and you screaming. hehehhee
Gilda, what an interesting name. Is it and your last name German?
Was tuition even a word back then? hehehehe
If only we could hear those walls talk. I wonder what stories they would tell. Would we have to mute most of the conversations? After all, can you imagine having several children all in one room, screaming, hollering, playing etc? Than again, if back then it was anything like it was when I was growing up, children were basically seen and not heard.
Oh the good ole days. hehhee Just teasing.
P.S. Gilda, thank you for your condolences and prayers. And yes, my mom lived in a cabin or two. The stories she told were fascinating to say the least. *smiling*
Debra, My name Gilda came from a 1946 Rita Hayworth movie titled "Gilda." She was a nightclub singer, dancer, semi-stripper. Now that's someone to be named after!(lol) My Mom went to see the movie and changed my name (if I was a girl of course) from Patricia Ann to Gilda. My last name from marriage is German and means "white Head" as so many Germans were blonds. I do believe tuition was a word in the late 1800's. If I remember correctly (I would have to go to the basement to get a copy of the letter), The Superintendent of VMI did use the word "tuition" in his letter regarding the situation. But it's been a long time so I may have insert my own word? I think I need a wall to talk to me!
Debra, losing your mother is a tough milestone - hugs.
For seven years, my son's family lived in a cabin built at the time of the Matanuska Valley Colony settlement in Alaska. That house inspired my current writing project - how I wish I could interview the house about the family who lived there first!
hahaha Gilda, that is too funny!!! Named after a stripper. If a wall starts talking to you let me know and we'll call the paddy wagon ASAP. hehehhehe
It's funny that you mention a lot of Germans were white heads. I was born a "tow head". Whenever my mom got mad at me she would call me a little white haired goat. hehehe My hair eventually turned yellow, then dishwater blonde, and now it's mingled with gray.
According to dictionary [dot] com, the origin of the word tuition was:
1250–1300. Didn't know you'd get a history lesson, did you? hehehe Neither did I. hehe
Carole, you are so right. Losing my mother is a tough milestone. My only consolation is that she's with the Lord and I will see her again. For that, I'm truly grateful.
Wow, a cabin built way back then in Alaska. Such history to be told!! So get those fingers to typing so you can get that story published so I can read it!! *smiling*
So sorry about your mother, Debra. I can't wait to read all the stories in a Log Cabin Christmas. There is a little cabin near Concordia Kansas where my great-grandparents lived. It has been built on and remodeled and is now a nice two story house - but oh how I would love to see it as it was when they lived there long ago and learn about the history of the time period and my family.
Thank you, Cindy, for your condolences. Let me let you in on a little secret... I can't wait to read all the stories in A Log Cabin Christmas either. Since it came out, several major things have happened in my life. It will be nice to sit down and start reading them someday soon.
Can you do a search of your great-grandparent's house to find out the history on it? Bet you would have a blast doing so. *smiling*
I live in Vancouver WA so I have often visited the Fort Vancouver site and heard much of the history of the place. I think if would be great to hear the walls of any one of the buildings on site recount the history that they have seen.
I would love to have a copy of "A Log Cabin Christmas" ~ my parents and two older brothers lived in a log home before I was born. I would like to know what our 1940s home has seen from our hilltop. We bought it two years ago. Sorry in the loss of your mother. My son died unexpectedly the first week of June. Thankfully we were together for three wonderful days Memorial Day weekend. Our love for each other is my memory.
I'm sorry you haven't read the whole book yet, Deb, it's wonderful!
We spent our honeymoon in a log cabin. It was a lot of fun, except for cooking on the woodstove. Got it so hot in the cabin, we ran ourselves out into the snow!
I'm sure looking forward to this book now! All this fascinating history and little facts I am picking up about cabins each day - very fun.
If walls could talk I would like to hear what my great grandparents had to say about this new country they had come to. She was a mail order bride, he was a logger in Washington state.
I've never live in an log cabin but always dreamed of a log house. Thanks for sharing your experience.
So sorry about your mom, but so glad she lived long enough to provide you with some family history ad to read your story. May God cover you with peace and healing.
Gabby, Can you just imagine what those walls would say? Sounds like a place I would like to visit. I love history!
Lane Hill House, have you ever looked up the history of the house you recently purchased?
I'm so sorry to hear about the loss of your son. It's hard losing someone you love. I'm glad you got to spend some quality time with him before he passed away. How old was your son?
You're so right...love is a powerful memory!
Kayce, I can just picture you and Joe running out in the snow to cool off. We did that a time or two...okay...more than a time or two...more like 30 or 40 times. One time I got the wood stove so hot hubby had to remove a flaming log while wearing a plaster cast on his leg.
I'm sorry I haven't read it yet either. I sure can't wait!
Wow, Jules, I've never "met" someone who actually knew an actual mail-order bride! Have you written their story? I would love to hear it, where your grandmother came from etc! And I mean that sincerely!!!!
Sherrey, I would love to live in another log house. One ranch we were on, the house we lived in was a huge log house. It was nestled in the trees three miles off the main road and 58 miles one way from the closest town. I had no phone and a one-year-old daughter. That was an experience and a half. *smiling*
I would love to live in a log cabin or house.I think they are so beautiful.So sorry for the loss of your mother.Thanks...firstname.lastname@example.org
Is there any homestead or cabin you've visited that you wish the walls could talk?
Well LOL! As a teenager we did some fun stuff at my girlfriends house and I'm glad the walls can't talk!!!
Thank you, Anonymous, for your sweet condolence and for stopping by.
hahahahaha What a hoot, Beverly. I think we all would hate the walls to talk about our teenage years. Yikes! Loved, loved, loved your comment!
I used to live in a house that was built in 1906 in a small town, I wold love to have heard what the walls had to say.I'm sure it has many a story to tell.
I am so sorry about your mom. My own mom is entering her last days, too. It is a hard time.
My husband and I became friends with Jeanne Vandervert who lived in a good sized log house that was inlarged from an old log cabin over the years. It is located just out of Sunriver, Oregon and has since been taken apart log by log and redone into a new house. But it will never be as special as it was. We got to go in it with her and hear some of her stories first hand. The Vanderverts were one of the earliest families to settle the area and some of their possesions are in a Bend, Or. museum. We have a carved bed from that house, given to us by Jeanne. A treasure to us.
Years back we became friends with Jeanne Vandevert from one of the early families to settle the Sunriver, Or. area. Next to her home was their earlier log home left vacant yet full of memories and stories. She not only shared stories, she gave us a wonderful old bed from that home that we treasure today.
I am looking forward to reading "A Grand County Christmas". I am almost to that story in the book.
Our recently married daughter and son-in-law are in the process of building a small cabin in Eastern Oregon. We are enjoying being involved in the process and since the walls do not talk we will document it's story with photos! When I am finished reading "A Log Cabin Christmas" I will pass the book along to my daughter!
I was born in my Grandmother's house and lived there until I was about 5. I would love to have been able to go back in time to meet my Grandfather who died before I was born and to learn all the family history of that old home. So sorry to hear of your Mother's passing. I lost my Dad 11years ago and understand how difficult it is to lose a parent. Like you, I have the hope of Heaven that makes it easier. Margie in SC margie at mijares dot net
There is a sod house in Nebraska that we have visited and I would like to have heard the joys and sorrows that the family living there went through. What hardy pioneers!
I have asked about the history of our home, especially photos, and haven't found out about it. I am going to keep asking! (We were told our property and the one next to it were bought together for $44K less than we paid for it, but it is ours!) My son was my firstborn at 19, and he died of a heart attack two days before his 50th birthday. I am thankful for him. The Lord has given me peace and I trust Him.
We live in a cabin (not log) in the woods. It was a fixer upper and once while remodeling we found a large bird in a wall. Not sure how it got there the house was build in the 70's so strange it hadn't smelled.
Debra you've been in my prayers since your mother's passing. I know it's a hard time.
Hey, Deb. My mama has rented a cabin in the Colorado Rockies for 31 years. It was built in the '30s and is very sturdy. Although it's not winterized, it stays pretty warm until the biting temps come (below 20). I know its history and the same family has owned it since it was built. Its about 600 sq ft, so it's a challenge when my brood visits, but we love "the cabin". We have a favorite hiking trail that ends at several falling-apart homestead cabins built in the early 1840s. A woman lived alone for several years in one of them. Her story is remarkable! I would love to have "A Log Cabin Christmas". Thanks for this offer!
When out riding 4 wheelers with my husband we came across what was left of a homestead. It was in such an isolated, desolate area we wondered who had lived there and what their lives had been like! We contacted the Bureau of Land Management but were unable to get any information. I guess our imaginations will have to suffice!
Interesting re: the reason for low ceilings as I grew up in home where my grandfather homesteaded (1881)- when he built a home in 1904 it had 11'3" ceiling height - the theory being that germs were in the warm air - which, of course was well above heads of people! Supposedly this was to keep all from getting sick!
I would looovvveeee to win A Log Cabin Christmas!! I have already read it 9purchased in advance!:) but would love to give it as a gift. I found the quilting elements of one story to be interesting. Also learned a new word for the floors of cabins (had never heard this word before) that word was used in at least 2 of the stories. It escapes me right now!?
Wow, lots of comments. I think it's cool that all of the authors autographed it. :)
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