A historic pioneer cabin is getting a second life in Newton.
“We wanted it to be on the town square so it would be a gift to the community for generations to come to honor the faith and the sacrifice and the amazing cooperative spirit of the early settlers of Newton,” said Heidi Hodgson, the head of the historical committee for the Newton camp of the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers.
Built in 1886, the cabin was a community effort to provide housing for a newly arrived immigrant family. According to Hodgson, at that time in Newton, settlers were living what they called the United Order. Through this system, residents would donate things like land, food and other goods to help families in need.
The Ole and Johanna Larsen family were the ones who first occupied the cabin. Ole lived there until he died. Hodgson said the Larsen’s widowed daughters continued to live there after his death.
In 1939, Fred and Nettie Hansen bought the cabin. Their son, Junius, was one year old at the time. Junius is the last person alive who lived in the cabin and will attend the celebration this weekend.
The cabin remained in the Hansen family until 2011. At this time, it was going to be demolished but was instead donated to the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers. Hodgson and other volunteers numbered the logs, bundled them up and stored the bundles on her property.
“We thought that we would be reconstructing it very quickly, but we needed to find a place to put it,” Hodgeson said.
Finding a place for the cabin proved to take longer than expected. Land was eventually donated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints so that the cabin could be placed on the town square. Once all the associated legal work was taken care of, reconstruction finally began on July 1.
“The thing that I love so much is that in 1886, the land was donated by the church, essentially, and the cabin was built for these immigrants who had nowhere to go,” Hodgson said. “The reconstruction of it on the Newton town square is on land that was donated again by the church 133 years later and it was rebuilt by volunteers from the community.”
According to Hodgson, descendants of the Larsens raised all the money needed to restore and rehome the cabin. The Daughters of the Utah Pioneers will cover the cost of maintaining the building, she said.
One of the many volunteers who has been helping with the project is Hodgson’s 15-year-old son, Jonathan, who said he has mixed feelings about rebuilding the cabin.
“I kind of hate it, but it is really cool at the same time,” Jonathan said. “It has been cool to see how fast it is going up, but it is tiring.”
Jonathan hopes having the cabin will help others in his community be more aware of the struggle the pioneers went through.
“It might help people be more historically minded, think about it more and what everyone back then had to go through to build it,” Jonathan said.
Hodgson said a quote she loves from the Cache Valley Historical Society is “history must be touched to be understood.”
“I want the rising generation and visitors to recognize the sacrifice and the courage and determination of the early settlers of Newton and our valley and how their work made our lives so much easier. We built on their shoulders,” Hodgson said.
A dedication ceremony for the cabin with speakers and musical numbers will kick off the Newton sesquicentennial celebrations this weekend. The ceremony will be 5 p.m. Friday on the town square, and Hodgson said the cabin will be mostly complete at this time.