Thursday, September 26, 2019

Log Cabin Stories

September 25, 2019


I just read the current issue of the Caesar Creek Pioneer Village Log.

I note you are updating your log cabin house stories.

I’d like to help by offering the following.  Maybe pick and choose parts of it.

Dan Collett cabin.  His wife was Mary Haines.  They were my g-g-g grandparents.

In 1750, Joshua Haines, my g-g-g-g grandfather, his brother, and an 18-year-old surveyor, G. Washington, bought 1120 acres on Bull-skin Run in VA, now, West Virginia.  On Memorial Day, 2019, I found Mary’s 1753 log cabin birthplace inside an old frame house on the south side of Bull-skin Run.  It is a few feet SW of the Haines Mill, rebuilt after being twice burned by the Union Army because it was a main source of Confederate flour.  In 1781, Hopewell Meeting Quaker Mary Haines, my g-g-g grandmother, was kicked out of Meeting for “marrying out of unity”.  She was re-instated in 1797, after most of their kids were born.

On June 1, 2019, I stood by the Meetinghouse SE of Burlington, NJ, where Quaker Richard Haines, Mary’s g-grandfather, was buried.  He was born in England in maybe 1665, was baptized in the Anglican Church then, but he and his parents were Quakers when they boarded the ship “Amity” for America in 1682. 

An Episcopalian, and never a Quaker, Revolutionary Private Daniel Collett’s five Quaker daughters-in-law placed his bones in Caesar Creek Quaker Cemetery in 1835, three years before his kids started Jonah’s Run Baptist Church-with two Quaker-style front doors, and a partition down the middle-where I will tell more Collett stories during a Historic Marker Unveiling at 2 pm on Sat. Sept 28, 2019.  Please come. 

On Memorial Day, 2019, our daughter took a photo of me standing under the sign, “Headspring Farm”, near Summit Point, now West Virginia, maybe eight miles NE of Winchester, Virginia.  In 1774, my g-g-g-g grandfather, Moses Collett, Revolutionary Dan’s father, walked west from north of Baltimore, MD up the South Fork of Bull-skin Run to the headspring, where he rented 200 acres, for life, from George Washington.

I and others are still trying to decide whether Collett’s came from France, as stated on the gate post of the Collett-McKay picnic site; or from England, as now seems likely.  If England, our ancestors were more exciting.

Jonathan/Sarah McKay Collett were my g-g-grandparents.  My wife, Barbara, and I now live in the 1818 National Register of Historic Places, Underground Railroad Stationhouse, at 9363 New Burlington Road, a mile west of the original site of Caesar Creek Quaker Meetinghouse.  The house was built by 22 just freed Virginia slaves brought here by Sarah’s parents, Moses and Abigail Shinn McKay.  Earlier tonight, my wife and I sat on a log from your Dan Collett log cabin that’s now on our kitchen porch.

The 1823 marriage of Jonathan and Sarah was the first of four marriages in seven years between the two families.  In 1866, partly to see who returned from the Civil War, they had a picnic on the second Saturday in August.  I am now the family recorder for that annual picnic.  At the 150th picnic, still held on family land at 5353 Gurneyville Road, two miles east of Caesar Creek State Park, 300 persons came from 20 states.

When their kids started to leave home, Quaker Mary Collett begged them to move into slave-free land, north of the Ohio River, and not stay with their cousins in Kentucky.  Joshua Collett, their oldest son did that, after visiting Ky cousins-whose dad had fought with George Rogers Clark in taking Vincennes-Joshua studied law in Cincinnati, before being one of the first four persons to start Lebanon in 1802, where he soon became a circuit judge.

Dan learned to read after he was married.  I haven’t found where he ever owned any slaves; they did bring Black Dan with them.  Dan was sheriff of Jefferson County, Va. in 1814 when they sold 236 acres there on a three-year mortgage, and bought 2356 acres here, along with son, Jonathan, on a three-year mortgage.  I’m still looking for where they got the 236 acres.  It appears as if they traded 1 acre in Virginia for 10 acres here.  I now own their 80 most southern acres here.

If Dan received the 100 acres a Virginia Private was eligible for, I haven’t found it.  In 1815, Dan/Mary bought 1300 acres adjacent on the east to the first 1,000 acres-where the Collett-McKay picnic is now located-Moses McKay bought in 1805 from Nathanial Massie, the first surveyor in the Northwest Territory.

I have a book Rev Dan borrowed from a no longer Wilmington library in 1815.  Published in London in 1800, it is a story of someone walking around central Africa in 1797 and 1798.  In 1921, Rev Dan was the first president of the Clinton County Bible Society.

Now, please help me decide how to publish the following:  Despite what my Collett cousins, Wallace and McKay wrote, if Dan Collett built the log cabin you have, I think he built it on Levi Lukens’ land, on the east end of Lukens’ 1,000-acre 1812 purchase of Virginia Military Land Grant 575…

Instead, I think it’s one of six log cabins built by/for former slaves on Collett land.  In 1839, the next generation Daniel Collett bought 4+ acres from Lukens.  It included that cabin site on the south side of, now SR 73, and the site of Jonah’s Run Baptist Church and cemetery on the north side of SR 73.

Oh, in 1907, Howard Collett wrote that he got the heirs of that Daniel Collett to sell the cemetery and church site land to the Jonah’s Run Trustees for $1.00, but I haven’t found where anyone recorded that transfer.

Oh, oh, in 1959, when I was helping to manage Collett Farms, Wallace told me to stop at Charlie McCoy’s house-your log cabin-to get $10 monthly rent.  But, if he didn’t pay, Wallace said to not keep a record.  At that time, neither I nor McCoy’s nor Collett’s knew it was a log cabin.  It was just where the Collett blacksmith formerly lived beside his forge in a barn.

Later, Wallace offered Charlie’s kids two house lots anywhere on the farm.  They now live in new houses on your cabin’s former site, and on the adjacent two-acre lot.

There’s more Collett stories… including Wallace, while Chairman of the American Friends Service Committee went into China the year before President Nixon, whose mother’s ancestors were early members of, now, your Caesar Creek Quaker Meetinghouse.  Oh, Mary Haines Collett’s relatives started holding their annual Haines family reunion at your Caesar Creek Quaker Meetinghouse in 1850, 16 years before Collett’s and McKay’s started their annual picnic.


Oh, oh, last Sunday after church, my wife and I were distributing invitations to neighbors to attend the marker unveiling.  When we saw a couple in the Jonah’s Run cemetery, we stopped to get acquainted.  Wow, did we! 

The wife was standing by the spire of Lt Colonel Hiram McKay, who enlisted as a Corporal, and was killed in the Civil War when he was twenty-seven.  The husband was taking her photo, and she was holding McKay’s officer’s coat and his sword!!

And, we soon learned, she and I are McKay third cousins.  We brought them over to our house, built by our mutual g-g-g grandparents.

© Copyright 2019

What fun, Howard Doster




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