Sylvest House: example of dog trot log cabin
of the Capital Resource Conservation and Development Council
view of historic site
The Sylvest House, once located
in Fisher, Louisiana, has been moved to the rural, wooded setting of the
Washington Parish fairgrounds in Franklinton. While modest in design,
this late 19th-century example of a dog trot log cabin is constructed
of small and medium sized round logs with saddle-notches at their corners.
Built in 1880 by farmer Nehemiah Sylvest, the Sylvest House stood as the
home of the Sylvest family and is considered an excellent representative
of the local history of Washington County because of its simplistic style
and design. While other parishes had been adequately explored and settled
Washington Parish at the time was at best frontier-like. Washington Parish
was the center of a vast wilderness area and remained largely uncultivated
until 1900. Local historian Daunton Gibbs wrote, in A Brief History
of Washington Parish, "Most of the land owners were stock raisers
with a few acres of land in cultivation." Therefore crude log cabins seem
to have been typical of the time and place. The house itself has an early
20th-century kitchen attached to the back of the rear gallery.
Ultimately the Sylvests had 12 children. According to the 1880 federal
census, Sylvest was a 35-year-old farmer. His wife Lenora, then 25 years
old, was listed as "keeping house." They had been born in Louisiana,
and both of their fathers had come from Portugal. The 1880 Agriculture
Census provides detailed information concerning Sylvest's farm as of
that date. He owned a total of 160 acres, of which 15 were under cultivation.
The value of his farm, including land, fences, and buildings, was $400.
His livestock consisted mainly of 25 swine and 15 barnyard poultry.
Not much additional information is available on the Sylvests. Like most
of the rest of the 1890 census, the data on Washington Parish was destroyed.
As of 1900, there were eight children, ranging in age from three to
18, living in the household with the parents. Since the Agriculture
Census data for 1900 was destroyed, there is no information available
on the farm as of that time.
The Sylvest House is located at the Washington Parish Fairgrounds
in Franklinton. It is open for events and by appointment only for groups.
Contact the Washington Parish Tourism Commission at 985-735-5731 for