Peek Inside the Cabin

Step inside the Williams' cozy log cabin. It's a cool Autumn day, so Sarah and daughter Mattie are doing the dishes inside after the family meal. There is a fire burning brightly in the fireplace, and the big iron pot holding the leftover stew from supper is still hanging over the coals. You can almost smell how good it was!

There are lots of things to look at in the scene below that tell us about what it was like to live in a log cabin. There are also hidden items and secrets you can find by mousing and clicking over the scene. See if you can find them all. There are helpful hints below!

Hint: another light source!
Hint: it’s underground! Hint: don’t burn yourself!

During mealtimes and at bedtime, the cabin must have seemed rather cramped. For a family of nine, the cabin was very small. There was only one room, measuring about 16 feet wide by 15 feet long. That's about half the size of a modern school classroom! Imagine nine people living, cooking, eating, and sleeping in that space. More than likely, there was an upstairs loft where several children could sleep, and also an outdoor porch, where the family could do tasks and get some fresh air, particularly during the hot summer.

During the winter, the cabin would have been cozy and warm, with both the fireplace and cook stove for heat and for cooking meals. There was no glass in the windows, however, so Sarah would close the wooden shutters to keep out the cold air. There was also no indoor plumbing-no bathroom or running water for bathing and drinking. The family had to go outdoors for these necessities and haul water in barrels from a nearby creek. But all in all, it was a good, solid home for the family.

The imaginative scene shown at the top of this page was painted by archeologist and artist Frank Weir. He planned this scene based on the artifacts and evidence found by the archeologists working at the cabin site. While most of the artifacts were found in broken pieces, the archeologists were able to fit them together, analyze them, and determine what the objects were. For example, there were many tiny pieces of blue and white china representing the beautiful dishes that Sarah and Mattie are drying. There were several rusted pieces of metal that were actually parts of the rifle shown hanging over the fireplace. There were many heavy pieces of cast iron that were from the pots and kettles used for cooking in the fire and from the cook stove. There also were pieces of crockery jugs and hundreds of glass fragments from medicine bottles, like those shown on the mantel.

From all these tiny bits and fragments, big stories can be told about what happened in the past. That's why we like to say that archeology is the science that makes history!

There is a secret hiding place in the cabin! Can you spot it? Hint: it's underground. Mouse over the scene to find it, then click to learn more.
The Williams family also hid a very special item someplace in the cabin. Can you find it? Hint: don't burn yourself!
There is no electricity in the cabin. What did the family use to light the cabin when it was dark? Hint: the fireplace is a good guess, but there's another light source.
Sarah and Mattie are being very careful with their dishes. Can you discover where they came from?
The archeologists also found an 1877 dime near the fireplace. Was the coin placed there for a special purpose, or was it dropped by accident and lost?

Texas Beyond History
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November 2014

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