National Park Mystery Photo 4: What Cabin Is that Yonder?

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of cabins scattered across the National Park System. But some are more significant than others.

Some helped shelter slaves on the Underground Railroad, some marked a homesteader's scrappy existence, some witnessed the births of great men and women. Do you know the story behind this cabin?


My Guess is Cades Cove, Great Smoky Mountains NP

Nope, it's not in Cades Cove. Want to try again?

American Camp, San Juan Island WA.

The shutters indicate a coastal location...2 fireplaces...Acadia National Park..? Cape Hatteras ?

Nope, and nope.

It reminds me more of Virginia, maybe Appommatox?


Good guess, but no.

Ike's home at Gettysburg?

Ummmm, no.

Clearly it's colonial in age with 9 over 6 window panes. The shutters would have been standard for the time. My guess is the back extension was not original to the structure but was added before 1825 or so. I still say somewhere in Virginia but there are just too many parks to go through them all.

I like your thinking....

I once got to take a one-session survey course about colonial architecture at Colonial Williamsburg while on vacation there. Taught me a lot about how to look at buildings. Still want to go back some day but it's a long way from Katy, Texas. I enjoy your writing.

Thanks for the note, Texas Gal. I'd give you a hint, but suffice to say that you're in the ballpark.

Texas Gal, your analytical approach to ID-ing the mystery structure puts me in mind of a project I got involved in during a summer I spent in Parke County, Indiana a long time ago. Under the direction of the eminent cultural geographer John Jakle, a bunch of us University of Illinois graduate students looked at every single rural residence in the county and classified them according to type/style and various characteristics of interest. After a few weeks, we got pretty good at it. If you're familiar with the works of Robert Bastian and Douglas Meyer, you have a pretty fair idea of what we were doing.

BTW, is the Katy Rice Harvest Festival still being produced every year?

Still in full swing every autumn. Always a good time with goodies and folks you only find here in Texas.

Is it the birthplace of Robert E. Lee?

Not a bad guess, but not the right one. Lee's birthplace was much more substantial. You can see it here.

Let's see...It's either Frederick Douglass or Harriet Beecher Stowe birthplace. Kurt, this one is tough!

Neither one, I'm afraid.

Patrick Henry birthplace?

Right state, wrong answer.

Kurt...last try! Booker T. Washington National Monument!


The house at Guine Station where Stonewall Jackson died ?

Stonewall Jackson memorial?

Congrats to Mark and Dottie, who, just minutes apart, figured it out.

The formal name for the building is the "Stonewall Jackson Shrine." As the Park Service explains things:

The "Stonewall" Jackson Shrine is the plantation office building where General Jackson died. The office was one of several outbuildings on Thomas C. Chandler's 740-acre plantation named "Fairfield." This typical frame structure saw use primarily by the men for recreation as well as for work. Chandler kept records in the office and one of his sons once practiced medicine there, but with three of the Chandler boys away serving in the Confederate Army, the building no longer witnessed its ante-bellum level of activity.

The office stood bare, except for a few items in storage, when Jackson's ambulance arrived. Although offered the use of the Chandler house, Jackson's doctor and staff officers chose the quiet and private outbuilding as the best place for Jackson to rest after his long ambulance ride. If all went well, the general would soon board a train at Guinea Station and resume his trip to Richmond and the medical expertise available there.

Today, the office is the only plantation structure remaining. The Chandler house burned at some point after the Civil War, and its shell was dismantled in the early 1900's. Once established as an historic "shrine," the office underwent restorations in the 1920's and the 1960's, and still retains about 45% original fabric. The National Park Service has augmented some of the items used during Jackson's stay with other pieces from the era, along with a few reproductions, to recreate the scene of those tragic last days of his life.

Jackson's doctors and staff officers both worked and relaxed in this room during the General's stay. Five different physicians examined Jackson, and these men probably discussed their conclusions here over cups of coffee. Jackson's chief surgeon, Dr. Hunter H. McGuire, was the only physician present the entire six days. McGuire had performed the surgery on Jackson in a field hospital near Chancellorsville where he amputated Jackson's twice wounded left arm and removed a ball from the General's right hand.

Jackson's chaplain, B. Tucker Lacy, had a brother who owned a house near the hospital, and took "Stonewall's" severed limb to his brother's family cemetery for burial. Lacy comforted the pious Jackson, holding devotions with him for the first two days spent at Guinea Station, but the chaplain soon returned to army headquarters. He requested that General Lee send another doctor to relieve the weary McGuire, who tried to provide round-the-clock care. In their conversation about Jackson's condition, Lee told Lacy, "He has lost his left arm, but I have lost my right arm."