South Bend Log Cabin
Anne (Silvis) Hollis Living There in 2004
Ann Hollis at Silvis Cabin - July 2004
By A.J. Panian
Leader-Times, Kittanning - July 23, 2004
A log cabin in South Bend Township has been occupied by people since it was built in 1831. Ann Hollis, 59, not only grew up in the cabin, but she also remodeled it in the 1980s and currently rents it out to those in need of a rustic, simple home.
She sees the cabin as a true relic of the past that's worth preserving. "Absolutely," Hollis said. "I think of how we didn't have a lot of money, but you con't imagine the amount of love that was in that house." "We raised our own chickens for eggs, our own milk cows, our own beef, our own pigs, and we would sharecrop with nearby farms."
The cottage-style log cabin, built by John Wherry, Esq., originally was located roughly a mile from where it stands today. According to Hollis, logs used to construct the house were hand-cut, stacked and cemented together by a combination of corn cobs, mud and horsehair."
"That's all they had at the time; they didn't have the cement and the things we do nowadays," Hollis said. "Nothing has every been done with the logs, as far as preserving them. It's an extremely hard wood."
Wherry soon gave the house to a man named Raul Rupert, who promptly disassembled the cabin one log at a time and rebuilt it at the current location which at the time was the farm property of his father, George. "He hauled the logs by horse and buggy," Hollis said.
After the house was reassembled, George Rupert died and it was put up for sale. Raul's only child, daughter Hallie Rupert Silvis, bought it for $175.
Fitted with a large porch extending the entire front side of the cabin, the first floor contained a kitchen and living room separated by wooden board walls on the third floor, and sleeping quarters were on the second. The home became a haven for future generations of the Silvis family. Hallie and husband Reuben Silvis raised eight children there.
"Hallie was an only child, and she got the house, then married Reuben," she said. "After all of their children got married and moved out, my mother and father, Eugene and Ruth Silvis, moved into the house after they got married in 1928." Eugene and Ruth Silvis subsequently raised Ann and her nine silbings there.
My mother was a school teacher originally at Olivet, South Bend and other area schools at the time, and back then you could teach school and go to college at the same time," Hollis said. "It was during that time that she met my father." Ann lived there until her 1964 wedding, and Eugene and Ruth lived there until 1983.
Growing up, Hollis remembers the home as a gathering place for the neighbor kids. "We would sled ride in the wintertime, the neighbor mothers would send things to make ice cream and and mother would make it for all the kids in town. In the summertime we would play games."
It was also a widely-used place to hunt deer and small game. "We would have to do what they called a roster, if you had so many people hunting in a party, then you had to write up a roster. We had people from all around come there to hunt," Hollis said.
After she was married, Hollis said she would return to the home just to be together on Sundays.
In the mid-1980s, Hollis purchased the deed to the house from cousin Harriet Beighley in 1984 and started the task of bringing the home up to date. "This house stayed the same until I bought it," Hollis said. "We added a 12'x8' addition and a downstairs bathroom."
Wood used for the addition was stained to match the color of the original wood to maintain the rustic look.
"Inside there were never any actual cabinets when I was growing up, just a big solid hutch," Hollis said. "That was removed and my father put in steel cabinets." Hollis subsequently replaced the metal cabinets with a knotty pine cabinet. "I wanted to maintain the older cabin look," Hollis said. Wallpaper was applied to the entire interior and electricity and plumbing was also installed.
"We had the inside all gutted out as far as the ceiling goes, because it had dried and grown apart with the heat and the dampness", said Hollis, who replaced the entire roof with knotty pine., as well.
Despite renovations, Hollis said, the original fireplace used to provide heat to the interior is in place, though it is no longer used. "It's only 18 inches wide and approximately 12 inches deep, but the heat that it threw out was amazing," Hollis said. "In the kitchen, we heated with a coal cook stove. At the time I was growing up there, there was no bathroom and no running water."
The family had access to a natural spring water reservoir nearby for their water. "It's located up on the hill in the woods," Hollis said. "To this day, people who live there use that water as long as the two springs that feed into it are kept clear."
Aside from new grouting installed between the log walls for preservation purposes, Hollis said all of the remodeling done on the inside can be removed with relative ease for tenants wishing to displace the home's original look.
Hollis's daughter, Brenda Hollis Ferguson, lived there until 1993, and a family currently inhabits the cabin today.
"I don't charge that much rent, but I want people in the cabin who will take care of it," Hollis said. The family I have in there now is doing real well with it."
Silvis Log Cabin in 2004