“If these walls could talk” should be the overall theme for the various historic buildings that grace the campus of the Stephenville Historical Museum. Several log cabins, anchored by the Carmack Cabin, are nestled close together. All have seen their fair share of historical events.
Erected during the early days of Erath County’s history, the Carmack Cabin was typical of log cabins of that day. One large room made up the dwelling and served many purposes that included being a bedroom, family room, and dining room. Next to the front door, a flight of stairs led up to a loft used for storage or sometimes as a family dormitory. A hand-hewn shingle roof covered the cabin. The logs used to build the walls were dovetailed so that each could be fitted closely to the next one. Chinking, a type of homemade clay-based cement, filled in the spaces between logs, keeping out the extreme weather as well as providing protection from hostile Indians.
One such incident happened in 1871 when Mrs. David Carmack and her young son, Columbus, were alone. A scouting party of Comanches entered the front yard. Mother and son took turns peering out through a small hole in the chinking. They could only watch as the Indians took the family horse that was tied to the porch post.
The cabin, home to several Carmack generations, was originally built close to the Corinth community about three miles west of Stephenville. Time passed until 1976 when three men—Joe Fambro, G. K. Lewallen and Jimmy Fleming—decided to exert their influence to have the cabin dismantled and removed to the grounds of the museum complex.
Lewallen donated the cabin which was on his property. It was accepted by the museum even though the building was in poor condition. Joe Fambro volunteered a crew to dismantle the weather-worn abode and transport it to its new location just north of the carriage house. The logs were carefully numbered and sketches made to ensure the dwelling could be reassembled. Jimmy Fleming took on the task of providing an appropriate foundation.
Funds to restore the cabin were donated by Carmack descendants and the Fruehof Foundation. Dan Young, along with Mr. & Mrs. Rick Wilson, took on the task of reconstruction. Logs from several other cabins in the community filled in the gaps where the original ones had deteriorated. The rocks, used to assemble a chimney for the fireplace, came from the old Masonic Lodge building close to downtown.
Dedication of the newly reassembled cabin took place July 3, 1977, with Mrs. Juanita Martin, chair of the log cabin committee, ringing a brass bell and Scott Allen delivering the keynote address to the assembled crowd.
Today, the cabin is full of pioneer artifacts for visitors to view when they are on a tour of the museum grounds. Everyone is welcome to stop, take a step back in time and listen to walls that still have tales to tell.
Sherri Knight is a director of the Stephenville Museum. As a research writer, she has two published books: Tom P’s Fiddle and Vigilantes to Verdicts. Her column will appear on the fourth Tuesday of every month.