Mayhew Cabin, Otoe County, Nebraska
The Mayhew Cabin was built in 1855 from hand hewn cottonwood trees and served as the home of the Mayhew family until 1864, when the cabin and surrounding property were first sold. The property continued to change hands through the end of the 19th century until 1937, when owner Edward Bartling had the cabin moved to prevent its destruction by a highway project. During the move, the cabin underwent restoration, exposing its original 1850s exterior materials. The authentic “old fashioned” look facilitated Bartling’s desire to open the cabin to the public and develop his property as a tourist park. In addition to restoring the cabin, Bartling had a cave built underneath the cabin to help interpret the Mayhew family’s rumored association with the Underground Railroad. The cave consists of a cellar and connecting tunnels, sleeping quarters, and a tunnel exiting to a nearby ravine. Although the Mayhew’s role in helping slaves escape to freedom was never proven, the cave was intended to provide the public with an avenue to experience the more legendary aspects of the Underground Railroad firsthand. The cabin remained open to the public from 1938 to 2002 as the “John Brown’s Cave” tourist attraction.
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