The Memorial Pioneer Log Cabin
and the Pioneer Museum
The Memorial Pioneer Log Cabin and the Pioneer Museum, situated on the fairgrounds of the Steuben County Agricultural Society in Bath, have been thoroughly and tastefully renovated this year by Richard and Alice Sherer and Jim Hope working long hours since April 20th to complete the restoration.
The Society bought the materials for the improvements. Dick and Jim installed new panels and mounted exhibits all around the interior of the Museum. They divided the new wall display area into sections for items related to Home, to Farm, to Trade, and to the Bath Fair. One of the items is an old iron two-piece spoon mold. Dick cast a set of spoons with the mold and has them arrayed by the mold. On the wall next to the entrance are clustered the framed portraits of past presidents of the Society. In the center of the room is a case with award ribbons from the Bath Fair going back to the year 1854. In other cases there are locks, foot warmers, carpenters tools and surveying instruments. Also in the Museum is an 1800 wooden mouldboard plow, and an l800 wooden cultivator. There is even a side-hill plow manufactured by the Hardenbrook Company in Bath.
In the Pioneer Log Cabin the Sherers cleaned and polished the utensils and furniture. Adam Haverling's desk is there with old books and a small tin Betsey lamp on top, and writing equipment on the desk surface. Dick even discovered how to open the three secret compartments in the desk.
At At one end of the cabin is a great open fireplace that goes up into a stick chimney. Hanging across the breast from a pole are trammel hooks carrying an iron kettle and iron griddles. In front on the hearth are several reflector ovens, toasters and even a spherical cast iron coffee bean roaster. This year you can walk farther into the cabin and see the old utensils at a closer range.
Along the side of the cabin opposite the entrance is a large box carried by small solid wooden wheels. It is made of 2" thick, oak planks dovetailed together at the corners. The lid is held by heavy wrought iron hinges and a hasp. This strong box was used in the first bank in Bath to protect valuable papers.
At the other end of the cabin, which could have been a sleeping area, there is a rope bed and a chest. Nearer the center of the single-room cabin there is a large loom and spinning wheel. All around the walls fastened to the logs are cards with the names of the members of the Steuben County Agricultural Society who each contributed a log for the construction of the cabin in 1884.
The Memorial Pioneer Cabin was built by the Society on their fairground to honor the early settlers and to serve as a place to save and show the articles used by the early residents of Bath and Steuben County. So many items were contributed that the cabin became filled, and in 1949 the Society built the Pioneer Museum close by to house their growing collection.
The Sherers have discovered several fascinating relics stuffed away out of sight. From under the bed came a triangular box. Inside was a similarly shaped hat box and inside it was a War of 1812 cockade hat. Last fall Jim Hope and Dick discovered the acquisition book kept by the Society at the time the Memorial Log Cabin was built. It lists all of the early gifts beginning with a wooden wagon spring from Captain William Helm's wagon that he used on his trip from Virginia in 1801.
Just in the time that Alice and Dick have been cleaning and sorting, more contributions have been given to the Museum. One of them is a primitive tub made of wood that was used to bathe babies and children. The Sherers made new identifying cards for each item so a viewer can read the use of each commonplace or strange device. Also listed on each card is the name of the contributor of that article.
Be sure when you go to the Bath Fair this year that you visit the beautifully refurbished Cabin and Museum and stop at the booth of the county historical societies in the Exhibition Hall nearby to see the displays and to meet Dick and Alice.
The fair at Bath this year will be the 137th in a series of continuous annual fairs of the Steuben County Historical Society.