A step back in time: 1800s all about spinning wool, churning butter

Visitors to a local wildlife refuge near Seymour received a picture of how early settlers of south central Indiana dealt with day-to-day life.

Muscatatuck National Wildlife Refuge’s annual Log Cabin Day Festival on Saturday featured numerous activities highlighting life in the early 1800s.

“It’s awesome,” said Beth Walker of Seymour, who attended the event with her family. “I think the event is great. It gets them out of the house and off the computers.”

The Log Cabin Day Festival, conducted on the second Saturday of October each year, is organized and run by the refuge’s nonprofit friends group, Muscatatuck Wildlife Society.

[sc:text-divider text-divider-title=”Story continues below gallery” ]

“We tried to find activities that everybody could enjoy that showed how people used to live,” said Sally Crouch, a member of the group.

That included demonstrations about spinning wool, churning butter, washing clothes, music and cornhusking.

There were plenty of activities for the young. They could learn how to make dolls from cornhusks and make miniature brooms the way pioneers would have made them. There also was a demonstration about making quills from turkey feathers.

“We’re going to let them try moving buckets of water and logs for a fire, as well, to see some of the chores children would have had to deal with,” Crouch said.

Cainen McCrory said he enjoyed helping cook the most.

“I don’t think I would have liked playing these games if I lived back then. I think I’d rather be at home playing video games,” the 8-year-old said.

The Myers Cabin, built in 1885 and inhabited by the Myers family until the 1940s, is the focus of the festival, which attracts visitors from near and far.

“I think it’s a great activity for families,” Lara Wheeler of Seymour. “It’s enriching and fun, and it’s close, so that’s nice.”

The Myers Cabin is named after the Carl Myers family. The farmer and tree nurseryman was born in the cabin in 1904 and lived there until he was 19.

Members of the Myers family were present Saturday at the event.

“It brings back a lot of memories,” said Joy Ray, Carl Myers’ granddaughter. “I remember playing in the cabin and the barn back there. It’s emotional to think that they don’t live here anymore.”

Ray said she enjoys seeing so many people get enjoyment out of the cabin and the fact that the cabin has become a teaching aide for children.

“They need to see how people lived in the past back before all this techno stuff,” Ray said.

Volunteers also cooked lunch for visitors, offering ham and beans and cornbread for a goodwill donation.

The day’s activities also featured games and crafts at the visitor center, and an area normally closed off to the public was open to allow guided views of the bald eagles that call the refuge their home.

“It takes a lot of work, and we could always use more help out here at the refuge,” Crouch said.

Anyone interested in volunteering at the refuge may call Donna Stanley or call Linda Sullivan, vice president of the friends group, at 812-523-3674.

“Volunteers can do lots of things — working with kids, helping around the visitor center, helping with festivals and a lot more,” Crouch said.