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He Rebuilt This Civil-War-Era Cabin Log By Log


You know what they say, “One man’s trash….” For John, what his neighbor saw as an old dump deserving of being burned to the ground, he saw as a restoration project!

John spent 15 years building his own home, so he had the skills necessary to head over and take the old cabin down log by log and haul it back to his homestead. He and his wife then spent 2 years putting it all back together. The home was built in Minnesota by a Kentucky solider who fought for the Union and was no longer welcome back home after the Civil War. If you’re curious about the restoration, you can watch Faircompany’s mini documentary at the end of the post.

In keeping with the times, the home has no electricity or plumbing, but kerosene lamps, a wood stove, and a kerosene cooking stove keep the place warm and functional. There’s an outhouse and rainwater collection system to provide some water for washing dishes and outdoor showers. Unsurprisingly, there’s no wifi connection either.

You can enjoy a slice of pioneer life by renting the spot on Airbnb! It sleeps up to four in the two queen beds in the upstairs loft/bedroom area. It may be just what you need to disconnect!

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Settler’s Off-Grid Cabin Rental in Minnesota

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Images via John/Airbnb

You’ll notice the home has no insulation, but stays warm via the wood-burning stove.

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Images via John/Airbnb

Vintage elements, including kerosene lamps, are everywhere.

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Images via John/Airbnb

There’s a kerosene stove in the corner for cooking.

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Images via John/Airbnb

Windows open to let in the breeze.

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Images via John/Airbnb

Two antique beds upstairs with new mattresses.

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Images via John/Airbnb

Quilts add to the charm.

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Images via John/Airbnb

Cozy kerosene lighting.

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Images via John/Airbnb

The lovely front porch complete with rocking chairs.

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Images via John/Airbnb

Wood is supplied for cool-weather stays.

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Images via John/Airbnb

The surrounding 40 acres are gorgeous!

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Images via John/Airbnb

As are these night-sky views.

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Images via John/Airbnb

VIDEO: Joy of rebuilding a settler cabin log-by-log

Highlights:

  • Cabin from 1870
  • Mother bought it for $20 in 1984
  • Transported the logs via hay wagon to homestead 1 mile away
  • Rebuilt from ground up over 2 years
  • No electricity or running water
  • Rain barrel for washing dishes and outdoor shower
  • Kerosene lamps and stove
  • Wood burning stove
  • In Minnesota
  • Now an Airbnb rental
  • 40 acres of woods and meadows surround the cabin

Learn More:

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Our big thanks to John for sharing! 🙏

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Natalie C. McKee

Natalie C. McKee

Natalie C. McKee is a contributor for Tiny House Talk and the Tiny House Newsletter. She's a wife and mama of two little kids. She and her family just purchased a small fixer-upper and are starting a self-sufficient homestead on their happy little acre.
{ 8 comments… add one }
  • Avatar Marsha Cowan
    July 29, 2020, 12:50 pm

    Fabulous! Absolutely fabulous! And kudos to the soldier brave enough to fight for his beliefs. He was a great log builder, too, as is the current owner a great restorer. Thanks for this story and pictures of the lovely cabin.

    • Natalie C. McKee Natalie C. McKee
      July 30, 2020, 9:21 am

      Yea I can’t imagine! He fought for the “wrong” side and couldn’t go home. What a champion!

  • Avatar Claude
    July 29, 2020, 3:01 pm

    Beautiful setting, I give him a A+ for a super job, lots of courage and hability.

    • Natalie C. McKee Natalie C. McKee
      July 30, 2020, 9:20 am

      Same!

  • Avatar Anion
    July 29, 2020, 3:44 pm

    Sometimes I think about the hardiness and resourcefulness of our pioneer/frontier ancestors and am awed–and moved almost to tears. The idea of the soldier painstakingly cutting and hewing each log and plank to build his home, of his eventually (hopefully?) putting his children to bed under a roof he made himself, the family sitting together around the stove in the evening talking or reading… How hard but how rewarding life must have been then, and how incredibly brave of the original builder and so many like him to set out into the wilderness and make a home for himself.

    That sort of thing used to be taught as admirable in schools all over America: our frontier spirit, our determination, our willingness to get out there and do what we need to do, our refusal to let others tell us that we “can’t.” I wish it still was. I’m proud of my American frontier ancestors and the legacy they left for all of us–the legacy that lives on in amazing projects like this one!

    Big kudos to this gentleman for what he did. He recreated a slice of living history for all of us to admire and enjoy. What a lovely little cabin, and what a beautiful history it demonstrates! (I wonder if he has reached out to local schools or historical societies and such to see if they want to bring students there during the days it is unrented, so they can see and learn from it?)

    (Sorry, I’m feeling a little down and philosophical today, and this cabin just really struck me.)

    • Natalie C. McKee Natalie C. McKee
      July 30, 2020, 9:19 am

      It’s incredibly inspirational! I have a tiny homestead with goats, chickens, ducks and quail — and a garden. There are days I’m so beat by all of it, and I think of our ancestors who did all that and more, in the wild, with no running water or electricity or “Great British Baking Show” to watch at the days’ end! They’re amazing.

  • Avatar Sherry
    July 29, 2020, 6:07 pm

    This is just fabulous, I love log cabins and so wish I could live in one. There is a site called *Barnwood Builders* all about log cabins and how they take them down and use the logs in other cabins to preserve the logs of the past generations….fabulous show. Even lace curtains on the windows by the bed, my favorite. John is a brilliant man along with his wife to accomplish this fabulous cabin of the past. Hope they have many many years to enjoy it.

    • Natalie C. McKee Natalie C. McKee
      July 30, 2020, 9:17 am

      Oh that sounds like a fun site! I need to check it out.

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