Benjamin Fraseur Cabin
It was built in 1842 by Benjamin Fraseur, one of Cedar County’s earliest settlers west of Tipton and served as his primary residence for some time. In 1975 it was moved to Massillon Park in northern Cedar County and restored for the bicentennial celebrations the following year. After 30 years in this location it was becoming too much to care for in that location and some vandalism had occurred. For these reasons it was donated to the Cedar County Historical Society and moved to its current location, which at the time had been recently acquired by the society and was the first building in our Prairie Village. As part of the move the cabin was placed on a short limestone foundation. This feature was not original to the cabin as it was a wood floor initially, however, it was determined that the limestone, that fell in line with available materials of 1842, would help preserve the cabin by keeping it away from the moisture associated with sitting on the ground in the varying Iowa climate.
In 2012 new restoration efforts began with a thorough inspection of what needed to be done. It was determined the roof, a new log to replace a dry rotted one, a new floor, and chinking would be necessary. In 2013 the shake roof was replaced with the new roof estimated to last at least 25 years. At the same time the wood floor was replaced as well. In 2016 we replace a couple of logs, as a second one was showing signs of dry rot as well, and the chink was completely replaced in side and out. We did use a modern composite material that can expand and contract with Iowa weather conditions as the original chink material, some combination of mud and horse hair, needed to be replaced annually. The modern material was applied in the traditional manner that was likely used when the cabin was built but will protect the logs and interior better. After the chink was in and dried the cabin then received 2 coats inside and out of a moisturizing spray mixed by the craftsmen we hired. This was done to help moisturize the old wood and help prevent further dry rot or insect infestation.
As you approach the cabin one of the interesting characteristics about it, is the ability to see the marks in the logs where Benjamin Fraseur used a hatchet or axe to trim down the logs into the square shape that they are. These same markings can also be seen on the inside walls and beams for the ceiling. The interior is decorated with an antique rope bed complete with feather ticks and handmade quilts. A small cabinet is mounted on the wall behind the small table and benches that would tightly seat 4 adults. We also have a stove, kitchen items, rocking chair, baby cradle, and a couple of hand-woven rag rugs to add some charm. The cabin is equipped with an attic or small loft that would have been where the children slept probably on palettes of straw and quilts. Outside the cabin we have established a small plot of native grasses and flowers that the settlers would have seen upon their arrival to the area.