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“Swedish” Log House (Josh's Cabin)
Driving to Wilmington one day about 1950, state archivist Leon deValinger spotted this old house in a field near the junction of U.S. 13 and U.S. 40 in New Castle County. It turned out to be a one-room log cabin, 14 × 18 feet, with three small windows and a door (a second door has been cut in). It had been abandoned for about thirty years since its elderly African American resident, Josh, had died. White oak logs were hewn on two sides and chinked with clay mixed with rye or oat hulls. V-notching was crude. The interior showed fifty-five layers of plaster, suggestive of great age. Stairs to the loft were carved from a single log. C. A. Weslager undertook an archaeological investigation in 1951–1952, one of the first digs at a log cabin anywhere (his classic book is The Log Cabin in America, 1969). Under the floor were bones of various animals, including rats, and 244 buttons from generations of human residents. Clay pipes dated the house to the second half of the eighteenth century. To Weslager and deValinger, the importance of such Delaware log houses was the evidence they provided of the Swedish origins of log architecture in America. Josh's Cabin was far too young to be Swedish, but Weslager believed it reflected Scandinavian influences (see also Bird House, WL2.2).
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