Submitted by Debby Carter, SHSA Librarian.
According to articles in the Sierra Star, the cabin that is now located at Fresno Flats Historic Park & Village (see map below) was originally located west of Highway 41 and south of Sugar Pine, and east of Silver Knob.
In 1969, a year after the Sierra Historic Sites Association (SHSA) was formed, the United States Forest Service contacted the SHSA and told them that they were planning to clear out an area which contained this cabin. If the association wanted to save it, they would have to go up and dismantle and move it ASAP. The USFS did not know who had built or owned the cabin; just that it was abandoned on USFS land.
The SHSA quickly formed a work party, went to the location, dismantled the cabin and brought it back to Oakhurst. At that time, they did not have anyplace of their own to erect it, so it was eventually erected at the Holiday Village at the corner of Hwy. 41 and Road 426.
Over the years, it became known as the Teddy Roosevelt cabin, with the assertion that he had slept there on his way to Yosemite, without any documentation to confirm this.
The Whitehead family owned the Holiday Village property, but had, over time, lost track of the fact that the cabin actually belonged to the SHSA, as did the SHSA. When they decided to remove that village to make way for newer structures, Kathy Whitehead Mussachio “donated” the cabin to the SHSA in 1983 in order to preserve it. She still says she does not know where it came from and how it got to be part of the village.
The cabin was moved, with the “Teddy Roosevelt” sign on it, to Fresno Flats, and its history was lost. It was subsequently used as the research library, the “Bottle House,” and the Gift Shop, among other things. Some speculated that it had been part of Miami Lodge and others said it was from Cedarbrook Lodge.
The truth is, it was neither of these, and, according to the records of his Yosemite adventure, had never been visited by Teddy Roosevelt.
I recently found an 1880 USGS Survey map (right) that showed a cabin and corral just east of Silver Knob (T6S, R21E, Sec. 9 & 10). I also found the record of an 1885 Land Grant for John H. Lowry that overlaps those two sections.
The SHSA would love to finally verify the identity of this cabin.
Anybody out there know of the John Lowry family and if this was, indeed, their cabin? Is there anyone around who was part of the original SHSA and remembers the acquisition of the cabin in 1969?
Any other information that might help identify the cabin would be greatly appreciated.
Follow-up to History Mystery #111: North Fork Trading Post
Thanks to all who commented on SNO’s Facebook page. The North Fork History Group will keep all the comments in our files for future reference.
Some of the comments are posted below:
Rose Davis Cobb
They had a full on grocery store, had a fresh meat case, ice cream case, farming and yard tools, feed for livestock, yard goods, farming and logging clothing, hardware. The Bests lived downstairs under the store. The tree was gone when the store burned as they had started putting in the sewer system, which I think was done by that time. The building on the inside had old wood floors and a screen door that slammed when you went in or out and a bench on the front “porch” that people could sit and visit or just rest.
I remember Mr Best having a store in that building when I was a small child.
Ysleta Kay Uzzell-Smith
I can still here the floorboards creaking as I walked on them. Carla and I would get a Pepsi and sit on the bench outside. I have some nickels that had melted together when the store burned
Barbara Hastings Williams
Loved that store, I do think of it often, that one store sustained us as it had everything. I remember the wood stove and how the men would sit around it in the winter time, summer time there were benches on the out side. Hot Shot would always greet us.
Barbara Hastings Williams so do I. It was a fun little store. And remember all the penny candy he had.
Sure wish there were more cameras back then.
Where I live now my grandpa got and started the Ranch in 1902.
I shared the post to North Fork Shared Memories and my Mom said the tree was still there when it burned.
I am pretty sure the sewer system was not in at that time…I believe that was put in in the early 60’s …… I remember the tree being there when the store burned, but was removed shortly afterwards……Mom had a beauty shop across the street, Georgia’s Beauty Salon, next door in the same building…(Narly Carrot now) was the bakery/ donut shop, Chuck Lotts brother owned that…further down (Health Clinic now) was the Old Coral Cafe, Post Office and the Courthouse/Library…I remember the windows cracked and the paint blistered on Moms shop…
Follow-up to History Mystery #106: The Adventurous Miss Kitty
Regarding our previous mystery of the two Kittys, Alan Pascoe was able to provide the following information, which he found on Family Search.
The woman who died in the Merced River in 1901 was not a Kitty, but Sadie Schaeffer. Kitty Tatch went on to work at the World’s Fair in St. Louis in 1904. She met and married a former British soldier named John Backhouse.
The other Kitty, probably Katherine Hasenzahl, was born in Germany and emigrated to the United States in the late 1880s.
Thanks, Alan, for clearing that up for us.