Pioneer Log Houses in Kentucky
The log cabin is as much an image as it is a building. It evokes thoughts of maple syrup and the American frontier. It is an important setting in the stories of real and fictional people such as Abraham Lincoln, Daniel Boone and Uncle Tom. Perhaps because of this, people give the log cabin a status no other type of house enjoys. Demolitions of 200-year-old houses suddenly stop when logs are discovered. The reality is more complex than the popular image of the log cabin in a small clearing. Log houses range from crude huts to fancy plantation houses. City houses, churches, jails and courthouses were also built of logs.
This essay by William J. “Bill” Mcintire addresses the complexities of the log cabin through a focus on the earliest log houses in Kentucky and serves as an introduction to the origins, construction, forms, finish and furnishing of log houses in the frontier and early statehood period, from 1770 to 1800.