By Barb Johnson
There are many attractions in Hope during Heritage Days, but one place that gets lots of visitors is Norman’s Log Cabin. Even though it has been a popular place since Heritage Days of 1974, many people are unaware of the story of why that cabin is located beside the Norman Funeral Home.
Back in 1973, a home was being torn down on the property of the Marshal Vogler farm about 2 ½ miles north east of Hope. Inside the building a log cabin was discovered. Eugene “Shiner” Norman, the local mortician, offered to purchase the cabin and have it moved into town. During the dismantling of the cabin the date 1837 was found carved into one of the logs which led everyone to believe that the cabin was originally constructed in that year. The pieces were hauled into Hope and the reconstruction of the cabin began in March of 1974. It was completed in August, furnished with family heirlooms, and was ready for visitors for Heritage Days that year. It is hard to imagine how many thousands of people have visited that cabin during the three decades it has been open.
But many want to know who built the original cabin. There is no way to know for sure, but the history of the land on which it stood gives us an idea. On November 5, 1834, the 80 acre section of farmland was recorded as sold to Christian Spaugh (then spelled Spach) for $1.25 an acre with the $100 full payment being made. The following September, Christian and his wife, Nancy, sold the 80 acres to William Spaugh, who is believed to have been their son, for $136. The following August, 1836, William sold the land to his cousin, Timothy Spaugh. Because of the slight increase of the cost of the land, it is suggested that the cabin was not built until Timothy owned the land (1836). That makes the date of 1837 for the cabin’s construction logical.
Timothy owned the land until his death in 1885. He had been married to Elizabeth Robbins in 1840 and was married a second time in 1847 to a Catharine Phillippe. By his will he left the west half of his property to his son Ezra Spaugh. Ezra and his wife Martha (Roller) owned the land until July 19, 1924 when they sold to Lewis M. Vogler, better known as Marshall who is known in the Hope area as one of the local “Corn Kings” of that era.
When you visit the cabin, think of the size of the cabin and realize that it would have been home to a family. Because of the date, it would have been much like the cabins built by the early settlers in Hope who arrived as early as 1829. You will find no running water, electricity, or furnace for heat. We would be uncomfortable there, but at the time, it was a fine home.
The log cabin is furnished with antiques from the Norman family collection. The sofa was the property of E. A. Norman, who began the funeral home business in 1880. The bed, table, and chairs belonged to Ed LaMar of Bartholomew county, the grandfather of Mrs. Eugene Norman. And the clock on the mantle was owned by Jerry George, the town blacksmith for years.
If you have not been inside Norman’s Log Cabin, talk to John and Morris Norman at the funeral home and ask to take a peek back in time.