Henry Cooper Log Cabin Museum opens doors for summer
PARKERSBURG — People came Sunday to one of the area’s oldest museums, with many looking to learn a little bit about local history.
Visitors came to the Henry Cooper Log Cabin Museum in City Park for the annual Henry Cooper Day to enjoy tours and refreshments Sunday.
The Centennial Chapter of the Daughters of American Pioneers (DAP), which operates the museum, greeted guests and answered questions as people made their way through the two-story log cabin at the center of City Park looking at the various items on display.
“We are now open every Sunday throughout the summer from 1-4 p.m.,” said organizer Charlotte Modesitt. “It is another season for us, hopefully it will be a good one.”
The cabin has been open for tours during the summer months since 1910. At one time, the DAP’s membership was close to 200 and they had the cabin open four days a week. Nowadays, they have a smaller membership base and can only have enough people to have the cabin open on Sundays, Modesitt said.
Some people have come to look at the genealogy book and find their family names.
“There is over 1,000 last names from the local area of people who are related and people find that fascinating,” Modesitt said.
Other people are interested in the museum’s collection of artifacts.
“People are fascinated that every artifact was donated by local families over the years,” Modesitt said. “Nothing was purchased or brought in from somewhere else.
“It is interesting to know that it all came out of local families’ homes. Everyone seems to really enjoy that fact.”
The cabin, which was originally built in 1804 by Henry Cooper, has been a local landmark for years. Henry Cooper Day is the official beginning of the summer season for the museum.
The cabin originally stood on Elizabeth Pike in the Mineral Wells area. Cooper built the cabin on a plot of ground which consisted of several hundred acres over 200 years ago in 1805 when this area was still part of Virginia.
In August 1910, the city of Parkersburg purchased the cabin for $400 from Cooper descendants F.L. Barnett and M.L. Lemasters to be preserved as a specimen of early architecture of the white settlers in the region. It is believed to be the first two-story cabin in the local area. The cabin was dismantled log by log and rebuilt at its current location in City Park.
The cabin is divided into two sections. The first floor houses items from 1800-1865, including furniture, toys, cooking utensils and more. The second floor houses items from the Victorian era, from 1865-1910, including dolls, furniture, clothes and other items.
The cabin is in need or repairs. It has suffered water damage, causing logs to deteriorate. Some estimates say that around 60 percent of the logs will need to be replaced.
Work has begun so the cabin would be able to open this summer. However, Modesitt said there could be a chance the cabin would have be closed for a year or so in the near future so extensive repair work could be done.
“It will all be done to save the cabin,” Modesitt said. “This summer we are open.”
Organizers are working to update the genealogy records to reflect the recent generations that have been born and the additional family connections now in the area. They are always amazed by the number of family connections to the Coopers around the area as well as people who can trace some part of their family history back to Cooper or his family.
Many people look through records to see if they might have a connection to the Cooper family. Karen Stoy, of Vienna, brought in family from out of state to see the cabin Sunday.
“They both like history so we are doing a little visit,” she said.
She saw notices that the cabin would be open and decided that was where they were going to go. Her husband’s sister’s husband has an interest in log structures.
“If he sees a log structure, he likes to see how it was built,” Stoy said. “We thought he would like to see this.”
Lynda Stear, from the Allentown, Pa., area, said it is a good seven hour drive to get to the Mid-Ohio Valley area. It has been a few years since they have been to this area.
“The cabin is beautiful,” she said. “My husband built a log home and he was interested in seeing this.
“This is really old. We are always interested in looking at log homes since he built one.”
Both were also interested in the local history on display.
“It is so great that local people donated all of these things,” Stoy said. “It gives it a lot of interest.”
The DAP also offered visitors baked goods and other refreshments on Sunday.
While admission was free Sunday for the season opening, admission for the rest of the summer will be $1 for adults and 50 cents for children each Sunday during the summer. Private tours are also available by calling 304-428-3145 and a time can be set up if they can’t make it on Sundays.
“The museum is all about sharing with the community,” Modesitt said.