July 23, 2016

Partly sunny

‘In the spirit of our forefathers’

LIVERPOOL TWP. — If a settler from, say, the year 1810 had wandered into Mill Stream Park blindfolded on Saturday morning, he still would have recognized exactly what was taking place around him.

He would have heard the music of hammers and chisels ringing in the sweet spring air. He would have picked up the smell of fresh wood chips and sawdust on the breeze. The rhythm of a two-man crosscut saw, the solid bite of an ax into a log, and the voices of neighbors laughing and working together, all would be familiar to his old ears.

In the 19th century or the 21st, a good-old-fashioned cabin-raising still sounds the same.


Only the occasional rattle of a chain saw or rumble of a boom truck might’ve given the old pioneer’s heart a start.

“Hey, if they would’ve had a boom truck back in 1810, they would have used it,” Paul Schaefer said.

In celebration of Liverpool Township’s 200th anniversary, volunteers are building a 16- by 24-foot log cabin using native hardwood trees, materials donated by local businesses, and plenty of sweat equity.

“We wanted to make something that was going to last — in the spirit of our forefathers,” said Schaefer, who is spearheading the project.

The weekend cabin-raising follows not only in the footsteps of the township’s earliest settlers, but in the footsteps of parents and grandparents, who constructed a commemorative log cabin in downtown Valley City for Liverpool’s sesquicentennial in the early 1960s.

Three longtime township residents who were part of that celebration were invited to be the honorary first sawyers for the 2010 cabin: John Silk, Cliff Arick and Jack Mack.

“They said they were going to make sure the saw was nice and dull,” quipped Mack, 84.

Dull or not, he made quick work of the first log with Dave Vasel manning the opposite end of the two-man saw. This day, Vasel was joined by his four brothers — Jim, Tom, Dale and Richard — all of whom came to lend a skilled hand.

“Our dad was a house builder,” Dave Vasel said. “That’s where we all got our training.”

Each of the 20 or so volunteer builders quickly settled in to a job: working with hatchets and drawknives to strip bark from logs, moving them into place with the boom and skid steer, cutting notches, and fitting them together like Lincoln Logs.

Township residents Criss and Bob Dring looked on as the first logs were positioned on the concrete pad.

“We love history,” Criss Dring said.

Their son, Brent, who owns a tree service, cut some of the project’s 35-or-so logs from trees being removed from Myrtle Hill Cemetery. All the logs — each 10 to 12 inches in diameter — grew from Liverpool Township soil. They came from the Vasel and Schaefer family farms, as well as woods owned by St. Martin’s Catholic Church.

“They were wanting to keep it local, which is admirable,” Criss Dring said.

When complete, the cabin will feature a stone fireplace, a loft and a wood-shingled roof. Everything for the project has been donated, said Schaefer, a township trustee.

“They said: ‘What’s your budget?’ ” he recalled. “I said: ‘Nothing.’ They said: ‘You can’t do it for nothing.’ I said: ‘Watch us.’ ”
That’s the pioneer spirit.

There will be a public dedication of the cabin June 13, followed by the township’s official bicentennial celebration on Fourth of July weekend, said LaVerne Tolsma, president of the Liverpool Township Historical Society, which is organizing the event.

It’ll feature a parade, Civil War encampment, and lots of period crafts — butter-churning, spinning, and beeswax candle-making, added steering committee member Rose Austin. Bicentennial T-shirts and a 250-page updated township history book titled “Rural Reflections” are available at Valley Tack Shop, she said.

The cabin also will be a featured attraction during the annual Valley City Street Fair in August, which this year will host a performance by the United States Air Force Band.

Township resident Billie Conrad brought a little piece of history to the cabin-raising: the two-bladed ax her late father, Bill Riffel, likely used when he helped build the sesquicentennial cabin half a century ago. She hoped to get a picture of her using the ax at a Liverpool Township cabin-raising to place alongside a similar picture of her dad.

“He did this before I was ever born,” Conrad said. “This is just a way to honor him.”

On the Web: www.valleycitycelebrates.org.

Contact John Gladden at gladden@verizon.net.