For The Tribune
Anyone who attended Muscatatuck National Wildlife Refuge’s annual Log Cabin Day event Saturday quickly learned about what life was like back when things were not as convenient as they are today.
The event — conducted at the Myers Cabin at the park — celebrates the Myers family homestead and the way families used to live in the area back in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
The event featured the cabin, a station for kids to help construct a cabin, old-time clothes washing, butter making and apple peeling. Guests also were invited to have a bowl of ham and bean soup.
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Rhonda and Michael Mellencamp of Seymour brought their children, Ryan, 9, and Emma, 6, to see the all of the activities and history the event had to offer.
“We decided that we would bring the family and thought it would be something to do together,” Rhonda said while waiting on Ryan and Emma to peel an apple. “It’s definitely something the kids get to see to learn how things used to be.”
Emma had a simple thought about all of the activities she was able to take part in.
“It’s cool,” she said before requesting a trip to walk inside the cabin.
Upon walking in the cabin, the family was greeted by Muscatatuck volunteer Sally Crouch, who shared her knowledge about the cabin, owned by Louis and Nancy Myers around 1885. Nancy lived in the cabin until her death in 1948.
Crouch shared the story of how the family built the cabin with the help of Nancy’s brothers, raised five children and farmed the land around them.
Carl was the oldest son of the family and played an important role in helping the family keep their farm going. He quit school as a third-grade student.
“He was not formally educated but was self-taught and was a gifted horticulturalist,” Crouch said.
Carl later raised a successful orchard, famous for his peach and persimmon trees he sold across the state.
Crouch said she likes bringing the Myers family story to life.
“I like making it real for people,” she said. “Being the fact that this cabin was here and our local people lived here, that makes it so real, so it’s not something removed, and we can make it more real to understand.”
Crouch finished up a week of volunteering to share the same information with fourth-grade students. Crouch said it is important for youth today to understand how things were for people like the Myerses.
“It’s wonderful to try to bridge the past to children who will experience as many changes in their lives as Carl Myers probably did in his,” she said. “Since they’re learning Indiana history, it’s good to connect them to this reality.”
Dan and Judy Hudson of Roselawn were camping in the area and saw an advertisement for the event in the newspaper and decided to stop and see the event.
“Roselawn is halfway between Lafayette and Gary, and we saw the ad and decided to stop by,” Dan said. “The cabin was really interesting and something to see and see how they lived.”
Both agreed that it would be difficult to construct a cabin given the circumstances of the times in which it was built.
“I mean, there were no chainsaws or anything like that,” he said. “If it were up to me, I’d be sitting on that porch not knowing what to do.”