Archive for Monday, March 5, 2012

Cabin where state song was written receives grant

The exterior walls of Dr. Brewster Higley’s cabin still stand in Smith County. A rusted buzz saw blade notes 1872, when the cabin was constructed.

The exterior walls of Dr. Brewster Higley’s cabin still stand in Smith County. A rusted buzz saw blade notes 1872, when the cabin was constructed.

March 5, 2012


— Kansans are being asked to help pay for repairs to a 140-year-old cabin where Brewster Higley wrote the lyrics for what would become the state song, "Home on the Range."

The cabin still stands along Beaver Creek in Smith County but it is badly in need of repairs and renovations.

The Kansas State Historical Society recently announced a $24,600 grant to help with the restoration but supporters say it will take an additional $50,000 to fix the cabin, The Wichita Eagle reported.

In the fall of 1872, Higley, a frontier doctor, wrote a six-verse poem he called "My Western Home." It was later set to music and became "Home on the Range."

Kansas Sens. Bob Marshall, R-Fort Scott, and Allen Schmidt, D-Hays, recently co-sponsored a Senate resolution that recognizes the historical significance of the cabin and encourages Kansas students and others to help raise money for its restoration.

Kansans who want to help have three ways to contribute to the effort.

"Coins for the Cabin" asks Kansas students, their teachers and families to donate a few cents or dollars to the restoration fund. Letters were sent last week to each of Kansas' 293 school districts asking for help.

"If each student in Kansas collected $1 in this effort, there would be adequate funds to begin restoration of the cabin," said El Dean Holthus, whose aunt and uncle, Ellen and Pete Rust, owned the property for nearly 75 years.

Others can buy a $75 limited edition print of the cabin from Gary Hawk, a Western watercolor artist from Iola. Or donations can be sent to the Ellen Rust Living Trust in Smith Center. Donors who contribute $500 or more will receive a collector's handmade model of the cabin.

Last spring, Orin Friesen at the Prairie Rose Chuckwagon Supper near Benton started a campaign for the cabin that raise more than $25,000, mostly from the Wichita area.

In August, Marshall contacted Holthus to help create a statewide approach to the campaign.

Holthus said the money raised so far will pay to remove dirt on the north side of the cabin and for landscaping for 15 acres immediately surrounding the structure. Additional funds would be used to provide a security system and purchase historically appropriate items for the cabin.

Most of the improvements are expected to be made by July 4, in time for a 140th celebration of the cabin, Holthus said.

The Ellen Rust Living Trust has money to maintain the property but not for the improvements, Holthus said.

A benefit concert by the Prairie Rose Rangers is scheduled for 7 p.m. March 24 at the Smith Center High School in Smith Center.


hitme 6 years, 2 months ago

Let's move it to the same site as the unhistoric depot , here in Lawrence; we'll have a big party then a big bonfire as we say good-bye to both of them.

Paul R Getto 6 years, 2 months ago

Very cool. I hope they get some money to restore this.

Lawrence Morgan 6 years, 2 months ago

I completely agree. If everyone who contributes to the Comments section in the Journal-World gives what they can, that would be a great start.

And Agnostic, thank you for that wonderful link to the earlier story. I also noted the referral to the Wichita Eagle story, which had even more to present.

It is true: Home on the Range I've heard all over Europe when I was there and it's in Africa, too.

This is a public place that has to be saved and renovated.

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