Lisa Discovers Family History in Liberty, Missouri
Last week my husband John and I went on a fast and furious trip to Missouri. We had a mini-reunion with some of his family. So, Not only did I learn a more about his family history, but also about American Pioneer history as well. The first leg of our trip started in Liberty, Missouri, just outside of Kansas City as this is where my husband's adoptive father was born and raised.
John has told me for years that his father's roots go way back to the pioneer days with a log cabin built in the early 1820s and it still stands today. Well, to my surprise the Daniel Hughes Dog Trot Cabin is not only still standing, but it is also part of the Shoal Creek Living History Museum.
My father-in-law Daniel Hughes' Great Great Grandfather also named Daniel Hughes came to Liberty, Missouri and received acreage from the government (as many pioneers did) in the Homestead Act. The agreement was, you would have five years to improve the land with a home, crops or cattle and at the end of those five years, the government would give you the land.
Daniel Hughes settled on the land in 1824. The Dog Trot log cabin (Dog Trot Cabin is where usually 2 cabins are connected by a common roof) is made up of 3 cabins, the kitchen (which was always separated from the other rooms for fire safety reasons), then the weaving cabin (a gathering place for the family) and a sleeping cabin. Over the years the cabins were enclosed and connected with siding, wood and plaster to make one large house. But the old cabins where always just inside the walls of the newer home.
In the 1970's someone wanted to develop that land and "Grandma Hughes" (my father-in-law's mother) figured it was time to sell it, but on one condition. She told the developers that just under the surface of that house was the original structure of the cabin that was built in the 1820s. Her condition was: take the siding off the house to expose the old cabins. Then move the cabins carefully down the road to where the town of Liberty was developing a "living museum", only then she would sell the land. I am amazed at the foresight that woman had as she made sure to preserve her husband's family's original home.
Now, as you enter the park it looks like a little village and the Hughes' cabins are the first stop! Volunteers are dressed in period clothing demonstrating different skills and talking about the pioneer lifestyle, including my father-in-law's 2nd cousin Kitty. She tells the visitors the history of the cabin and also demonstrates how to play the Dulcimer.
Sadly, we lost my father-in-law a few years ago, but we were blessed to have my mother-in-law Lori on the trip with us along with my sister-in-law Jayme and her husband Joe. When some of the volunteers working at the park realized Lori was married to the great-great-grandson of the man that built the original cabins they were so excited and honored to meet her. It was great to see them treat her like a rock star. In the little country store, we met another relative working as a volunteer. It was all such a wonderful experience and it made my heart smile. I'm so blessed to be a part of this family.
You could easily spend a full afternoon at this park. Below is a picture of the beautifully recreated Watermill.
Here you can see the watermill and the 2-story Marshall's office and jail on the right with a church in the background.
Here's another volunteer dressed in period clothes with his horse.
This is the town seamstress' house. By the size of the house, it looks like she did quite well for herself.
That is only a few of the buildings at The Shoal Creek Living History Museum. It includes 21 structures including a schoolhouse, an old country store, the local tavern, blacksmith and a mansion from the mid-1800s and more. Seventeen of the 21 buildings are original buildings and were relocated from the surrounding areas dating back from 1807 to 1885. Seriously, if you are ever in the Kansas City/Liberty, Missouri area this is a must to check out!