Area log cabins donated to help recreate what life was like 150 years ago
By Kristen Miller
FOREST CITY, MN It’s been 150 years since the original Forest City Stockade was built by residents to protect them in the Dakota Uprising.
Today, a group dedicated to recreating life as it looked in 1862, are restoring old log cabins, some of which originated in the Dassel and Kingston areas.
The most recent addition to the stockade has been a log cabin that was moved from its home on the Paul and Lynda Huseby residence on the north side of Spring Lake.
Readers may recall this cabin being featured in the May 28 edition of the Enterprise Dispatch after it was relocated.
It is undetermined when the building was actually built, but it was possibly around 1872 when Olof Halstinson was granted ownership, according to John Carlsted, whose grandfather was the second owner of that farmstead in 1877.
The log cabin was eventually used as a granary, which is indicated by the rusted metal covering the chinking between the logs in order to make it “grain tight,” noted Bob Hermann, stockade committee member, during a recent tour.
Since its arrival in late May, the stockade’s master builder, Chuck Fuller, has been busy reconstructing the log cabin and turning it into a leather and harness shop. The goal is to have it complete by the Rendezvous, which begins Saturday, Aug. 18.
“[Chuck] used his skills and expertise to make it something beautiful once again,” Hermann said.
To turn it into a usable structure resembling an 1862 building, it was given a new roof, doorway, porch, and some new siding on the front.
“We try to leave the logs exposed as much as we can,” Hermann said.
“It’s come a long way,” he commented, adding that before the building is complete, it will have hand-split shingles laid on the roof, which is what would’ve been used in 1862.
Visitors who visit the Stockade during the 29th annual Rendezvous, Saturday through Sunday, Aug. 18-19, will see Jeremy Kuhn of Grove City demonstrating his leather craftsmanship. He specializes in harnesses and for horses and other leather items.
Each building at the Forest City Stockade represents the business and lifestyles of 1862. During the annual Rendezvous and Pioneer Christmas (second weekend in December) is when the grounds comes to life showing what life was like 150 years ago, Hermann explained.
Other local buildings
The stockade has become a place where log buildings that otherwise would be destroyed come to have a new life.
The chapel, for example, was just three days from being burned to the ground, Hermann explained.
It was because of a conversation Hermann had with fellow Kingston Lion Lowell “Butch” Engelbrekt, that the original 1887 Andrew Engelbrekt family farm home was saved. Butch had told
Hermann looked at the home, once located in Kingston Township, and found the logs were in really good shape and would be a great addition to the stockade.
Lowell was so proud that the logs could be used at the stockade, he then gave them $500 to help recreate what is now the chapel. He also made the four stained glass windows that complement it.
The stockade’s doctor’s office was also derived from a log cabin that was once situated one mile north of Dassel on Highway 15. The vertical logs came from the former home of John Kopecky.
Russ Christiansen of South Haven was the one who purchased the building following a fire that destroyed a portion of it. He eventually donated it to the stockade.
In 2010, Kopecky, who had been living in Utah, requested assistance from the Dassel Area Historical Society to locate the home that was removed from the property years earlier.
Kopecky was then directed to the stockade, where he would find remnants of his former home.
“It was so neat [for John] to be able to find it and see we had given his home a new life here at the stockade,” Hermann said, adding that it was emotional for both Kopecky and Hermann.
“When you get to see people’s reactions to retrace that his home was here it’s very emotional,” Hermann said.
History of the Forest City Stockade
The Forest City Stockade, as it stands today, began as a restoration project by Meeker County for the state’s bicentennial in 1976.
The original stockade was constructed Sept. 3, 1862, by the residents of Forest City to protect themselves during the Dakota Uprising.
Early the next morning, soon after 240 people sought refuge, the stockade was under attack.
At the site of the stockade, the memorial reads: “The Indians were driven off, but a state of siege existed for 10 days before the people were relieved by Company B of the 8th Minnesota Volunteer Regiment.”
After the stockade had served its purpose, the wooden walls came down and the area was left as a field until the stockade was resurrected again in 1976.
The stockade was built to correspond with its original dimensions with a perimeter of 120-square-feet and 10-foot logs that sit above ground. This year, those logs are being replaced a $4,000 project that includes replacing the existing logs with treated material, Hermann explained.
The bicentennial project also included the construction of a two-story log cabin that was furnished with artifacts. Sadly, Hermann reported this original museum had been a victim of arson in May 1999, but has since been rebuilt.
In addition to the stockade itself are the many buildings that have been reconstructed to resemble historic Forest City as it was in 1862.
For more information on the Forest City Stockade, check out the web site at forestcitystockade.org.
The stockade is located on Highway 24, a half-mile south of Forest City.