Ralph Scurry had two motives when he decided to move and restore a cabin that was built in the 1700s from hand-hewn pine logs. He wanted to protect a structure that was historically significant, and he also wanted to preserve something that was a part of his family's heritage.
“I would rather not discuss how much I spent,” he said. “It was a significant amount, but it's more valuable to me than what it cost.”
The property where Scurry lives and the place where the cabin originally was located are about 4 miles apart within an area that used to be part of Edgefield County until Greenwood County was created in 1897.
Scurry, 67, believes that German settlers constructed the 20-foot by 20-foot log home around 1765. He's been unable to verify the precise date, but said a former park ranger at the Ninety Six National Historical Site looked at it and agreed with his conclusion.
Scurry's ancestors began using the cabin as a residence the 1850s.
“My great-great-grandfather, Jacob Rush Jr., lived in it and raised his family there,” Scurry said. “My great-grandfather, John Wesley Rush, was born in that cabin and so was my grandmother, Josephine Rush Bell. The last occupant was my great aunt, Mary Jane Rush Broadwater. She died in 1973.”
Scurry used to visit Broadwater and her husband when he was a child.
“I have loved that cabin since I was a little boy,” Scurry said. “I would go to that cabin and stay with them, and my great aunt taught me the love of family and history.”
Scurry dreamed of owning the cabin one day, and in 2011, a cousin, Bert Bailey, gave him the opportunity to take possession of the structure following a death in the family.
“The property it was on was going to be sold, and he gave the cabin to me,” Scurry said.
By then, the structure was significantly larger than it had been originally. It included a 20-foot by 10-foot addition in the back that dated back to the 1850s, and a 12-foot by 15-foot bedroom that had been constructed during the 1950s.
Scurry hired a professional house mover, Melvin Bradley of Saluda, to relocate the cabin. The residence had to be cut in half before it could be hauled to the more than 200-acre spread where Scurry lives with his wife, Nancy, in a house built in the 1930s.
“He (Bradley) moved the two parts in one day,” Scurry said. “I thought that the first part that was moved looked too wide to make it across a bridge it had to go over, but Melvin told me, 'I had a half of an inch to spare.'”
The bricks from two chimneys were left behind, and the roof's shingles, which were in bad shape, were discarded. But the rocks that made up the cabin's foundation were retained and transported to the structure's new site.
Scurry also had to hire a roofer, an electrician and a carpenter to work on the cabin. Added to the structure were railing on the front porch, a side deck, a back stoop and a residential steel roof. It took until October of last year to get everything done.
“I enjoy sitting on the porch now and watching the birds,” Scurry said. “I feed them about 50 pounds of food a week, and I see goldfinches, bluebirds and towhees.”
The cabin doesn't have any running water, heat or air conditioning. But it is a fun place where Scurry's eight grandchildren can play. Its furnishings include an antique wardrobe, a walnut table and deacon's and boot jack benches.
“It's possible that we'll fix it up more one day so it can be a residence for a grandkid,” said Scurry, who is the first vice president of the Old Edgefield District Genealogical Society and a member of the Edgefield County Historical Society.
Dede Biles is a general assignment reporter for the Aiken Standard.
STAFF PHOTO BY DEDE BILES Ralph Scurry enjoys spending time on the porch of cabin that he moved and restored. He believes the original portion of the structure was built in the 1700s.×
STAFF PHOTO BY DEDE BILES Ralph Scurry's research indicates that the original portion of this cabin, which he moved and restored, was built in the 1700s.×
STAFF PHOTO BY DEDE BILES Ralph Scurry’s research indicates that the original portion of this cabin, which he moved and restored, was built in the 1700s.×
STAFF PHOTO BY DEDE BILES Ralph Scurry moved and restored an old cabin that was built in the 1700s from hand-hewn pine logs to preserve his families heritage.×
STAFF PHOTO BY DEDE BILES Ralph Scurry wanted to preserve history and his family’s heritage, so he moved and restored an old cabin, originally built in the 1700s.×