Cape Girardeau, Mo. A Jackson resident fighting Alzheimer’s may be losing control of his memory, but he’s holding on tight to what he knows and loves.
Bill Beussink, 84, a former bricklayer who built homes on the side, is helping his son-in-law, Earl Bennett, complete the restoration of a cabin built from 100-year-old oak logs. Beussink and his family discovered the logs about 20 years ago on the property of his grandfather, Henry Arnzen, while tearing down his termite-infested home.
Beussink said none of his family knew the log cabin, built in 1902, had been covered up when Arnzen constructed a new home in 1917.
“When they discovered the logs, me and my brother got in there, got a beat-up trailer and hauled the logs to a vacant building,” Beussink said. “There’s nothing hard about it; it’s all fun for me. But I was 20 years younger then.”
Until this summer, the logs have been stored in a workshop belonging to Beussink’s uncle near Leopold, Mo. A company in Jackson finished putting up the logs this month.
“They were on concrete, so there were no chance for termites,” said Beussink’s daughter, Kim Bennett. “They were well taken care of.”
According to Earl Bennett, fewer than five of the logs were unusable.
Beussink and his son-in-law will now turn to completing the exterior of the cabin — putting up walls, chinking the logs together and erecting trusses to install a new roof. With cooperative weather, Earl Bennett said, the cabin could be complete within five weeks. If it gets too cold, chinking becomes nearly impossible, he said, so project completion would be moved to the spring. The pair is considering hiring a professional to complete the chinking process.
In its original state, the log cabin could fit two families, as the home was built with a middle wall that formed two rooms. The cabin had no windows, just small openings to look out of, and minimal amenities. During the restoration project, Beussink and Earl Bennett hope to install electricity and keep the cabin spacious, with only one room.
“My vote is for an indoor toilet,” Kim Bennett said.