Historic Log Cabin Receives
Reprinted with permission from the
(Richmond, IN) in ZEAL section, Page: 10,
Original print date: July 30, 2006; Author:
When work began on the site for the new Richmond city building in
1967, several older buildings had to be removed. Demolition began on
a double house that had stood on Fort Wayne Avenue for many years.
As the wrecking crews began to take off the siding, they uncovered a
startling sight. One half of the house was made of logs.
Recognizing the log structure could be of historical value, the
Wayne County Historical Museum was contacted. Its officials readily
agreed to have the log structure moved to the museum's grounds on
North A Street.
Area residents who were interested in Richmond's history had long
expressed a belief that there was a log cabin on the block south of
North A Street in the block between Fort Wayne Avenue and North
Third Street. After some research, it was determined the log cabin
had been built there by Solomon W. Dickinson in 1823.
Dickinson and his wife, Hannah, who was a Quaker preacher, were
married in 1811. An interesting description of their wedding was
recorded some years later.
"Solomon White Dickinson of the city of Philadelphia in the State of
Pennsylvania and his wife Hannah W. Antrim, having consent of
parents of the said city, having declared intentions of marriage
with each other before a monthly meeting of the religious society of
Friends, on the 2nd day of the 5th month in the year 1811 — they
appeared in a public meeting of the said Friends on Mulberry St. in
"On this occasion openly declared, 'he, Solomon White Dickinson took
the said Hannah W. Antrim to be his wife — promising with Divine
assistance to be unto her a loving and faithful husband until death
should separate them.'
"Hannah made the same Declaration. This was made before 50 Friends
Solomon lived in Philadelphia for 12 years after his marriage. He
decided to come "west to a Quaker settlement in Indiana, which they
had named Richmond." He was a merchant in Philadelphia, and his
trade was tinsmithing.
Tinsmiths were important in new settlements because they worked in
light metals. Blacksmiths worked with heavier metals and were kept
busy making plows and farm tools, shoeing horses and making and
repairing iron household items.
The tinsmith made items of tin and copper. His work included metal
cups and pitchers, lanterns, tin tableware and other items. Both
metal workers had plenty of work on the frontier, as the nearest
market was located at Cincinnati.
Upon arrival in Richmond, Solomon set to work immediately to build a
log house. Hand-hewn logs were prepared for the floor support and
the walls. Wood building materials were in great supply from the
forest that covered most of Wayne County. The logs ranged from 18 to
20 inches thick. Logs for the floor were spaced three to five feet
apart and sturdy boards placed on top.
The Dickinson homestead was the fifth house built in Richmond.
Richmond in 1823 was only a settlement, according to a written
account of the Dickinson family. It consisted of a few families
living in their covered wagons and camping.
Only a few log structures, such as the trading post, had been built
since the settlement was platted in 1816 and named in 1818. There
were plenty of business opportunities for ambitious merchants as the
Solomon added to his reputation for metal work when he invented a
new cooking stove. Cooking stoves for the kitchen were not used much
before 1830 because they were expensive and not readily available.
He received a patent for it and began manufacturing stoves in his
Richmond shop by 1835.
The advertisements asserted the new stove would save fuel and "save
Solomon and Hannah raised nine children in their Richmond home.
Family members lived in the home for several years. Some time after
the Civil War, additions were made to the house and it became a
double house with the second section the same size as the original.
In 1967 when the log house was discovered, it was relocated to the
grounds of the museum where it is now. The 20-ton house was prepared
and transported by the Oberle-Jordre Co. The stone fireplace was
taken later to the site. The house was completely restored and
furnished in the period of the early 1800s.
Several items belonging to the Dickinson family were given for the
house. They included a cherry frame rope bed in the "Cannon Ball"
style. It was used by five generations of the family. An interested
person gave a trundle bed that would fit under the large bed.
Chairs, an 1810 cupboard with dishes and other furnishings from the
family and friends of the museum completed the exhibit.
In 1969, the log house was ready for museum visitors. They could
view the lower floor and climb the narrow stairs to the second
floor. But for several years, the stairs have been too unstable for
people to climb. By the late 1990s, the house visibly needed repair.
Some of the old logs had deteriorated badly and something had to be
A plan for restoration was made and funds sought to replace the bad
logs and stabilize the building. In the spring of 2006, the work
began. It was completed in early June and will soon be open again
for viewing by museum visitors.
Amos B. Schwartz Construction Co. of Geneva, Ind., did the
restoration. Schwartz has had extensive experience in repairing and
restoring historic buildings, bridges and barns.
It is very fortunate that one of the earliest-built homes in
Richmond has survived and has been restored by the Wayne County
Historical Museum with gifts from the Dickinson family and other
sponsors. Visitors to the museum will be able to step into one of
the earliest homes of early Wayne County.
Pioneer Days in August would be a good opportunity to see the
restored Dickinson cabin and other interesting exhibits at the Wayne
County Historical Museum. Pioneer Days are Aug. 26- 27. A fun chuck
wagon dinner starts the festival at 6 p.m. Aug. 25 and will
highlight the history theme of early Wayne County, 1810-30.
For more information, call the Wayne County Historical Museum at
Carolyn Lafever, a volunteer at the Wayne
County Historical Museum, is the Wayne County Historian and author
of the "Pictorial History of Wayne County." Her e-mail is