Hewn logs and dove-tailed corners identify this cabin as the typical mountain home of the 19th century. Most cabins were basic 1 or 2 room structures, built off the ground on piers of stacked rock to protect from pests and provide storage or shelter for domestic animals. Cabin builders might use durable timbers such as locust or chestnut nearer the ground and softer woods higher up where they were protected under the eaves. Gaps between logs were “chinked,” or filled with a mixture of mud and straw. Chimneys in Appalachia were almost always of fitted fieldstone or river rocks. Roofs might be covered with shakes, long rough shingles split from sections of log with an implement called a froe. This cabin may have had a puncheon floor, but many had hard-packed dirt floors.
Log cabins in early Appalachia developed from a combination of the German, Scots-Irish, English, and Scandinavian cultures that migrated to this area, with some Native American influences as well, according to “Historical Survey of Log Structures in Southern Appalachia.” This photo was taken prior to 1905, as Sidney S. Young, the older man standing at the corner of the cabin, died that year at age 81. At left is his son, Columbus Young (1866-1941); the woman in the doorway is his wife Sarah Ann Davis Young (1862-1925). His mother, Sidney’s first wife Anna Buchanan, died in 1874. The woman in the hat is unidentified. The Youngs lived on Mine Creek Road. Does anyone know where this cabin stood?