Community tours history at museum

PARKERSBURG – People came Sunday to one of the area’s oldest museums, with some looking to learn about the area’s past while others were searching for family connections.

Many visitors came to the Henry Cooper Log Cabin Museum in City Park for the annual Henry Cooper Day to enjoy tours and refreshments.

The Centennial Chapter of the Daughters of American Pioneers, which operates the museum, greeted guests and answered questions as people made their way through the two-story building looking at the various items on display.

“Things are going great,” said Charlotte Modesitt of the Daughters of American Pioneers. “We have had a beautiful day and a wonderful turnout.

“We are really pleased. It is a great start to our season.”

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 apart 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 to 1865, including furniture, toys, cooking utensils and more. The second floor houses items from the Victorian era, from 1865 to 1910, including dolls, furniture, clothes and other items.

Living history reenactor Patty Cooper, who was dressed in period garb and helping conduct tours, said volunteers have spent a lot of time relabeling the exhibits and getting other work completed around the cabin to prepare for the summer season.

Organizers 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.

Ron Walter, of Ravenswood, was going through the genealogy records on site with one of the DAP volunteers.

“I have wanted for years to come and take a tour,” he said. “I thought this would be a good time to do it.

“I have some Cooper relatives I would like to see how I am related to them.”

With a number of activities going on throughout the park Sunday, Modesitt said they had a steady number of visitors come through the cabin.

“I am happy,” she said. “I hope the rest of the summer goes like that.”

Rob and Shelly Gorrell, of Parkersburg, know Modesitt and are kept up-to-date about what is happening at the cabin.

“We are both very interested in history and local history is always nice to see,” Rob Gorrell said. “It is a nice day to get out and see it.

“They have done a great job of cleaning it up and reorganizing it.”

Modesitt tells them what is going on at the cabin, Shelly Gorrell said.

“I come down to get caught up,” she said. “Things always look better each time I come down.”

The couple were taking time to look at the museum’s extensive button collection.

“I tell people that this is truly a community museum, because everything in it was donated by local families,” Modesitt said. “I think that makes it extra special and people should feel that it is just a part of our area.”

The DAP also offered visitors baked goods and other refreshments on Sunday.

While admission was free on Sunday for the season opening, admission for the rest of the summer will be $1 for adults and 50 cents for children each Sunday from 1-4 p.m.