Hacker Valley

Coming Home to West Virginia; Saving a 1860’s Family Home.

“Coming home to West Virginia” is how David Cutlip described the adventure of saving his Great Grandfather’s log cabin constructed in the 1860’s. The story spans 4 generations, crosses state lines and brings new life to a beloved log home.

cutip-house-fall

The Cutlip Reconstructed 1860’s cabin in Beverly, West Virginia.

This story begins along a rural road in what is now Webster County, West Virginia with  Marion Wilson Cutlip who built a log home in the mid 1860’s. The cabin is made from hewed poplar logs that grew on the 250 acre farm near the community of Hacker Valley. Marion,his wife and four children were the first to call the cabin home, but not the last.Little did Marion know that he had creating a home that would last for over 150 years and would pass to his Great Grandson. Living and working the land as farmers,the family eventually out grew the small log home that measures only 16′ x 23′ feet. So, in the early 1900’s additions and siding were added, hiding the hewed logs from view. In the 1970’s, the house was no longer occupied  daily and this is how it appeared for the remainder of the years it sat on the farm.

cutlip-family-home-before-siding-is-removed

Cutlip family home Webster County, West Virginia 1860’s before moving the logs to Randolph County, West Virginia in 2007.

Years passed, the farm and home were eventually sold out of the Cutlip family.Times change and members of the family moved away from West Virginia looking for better opportunities, including Davids family. David returned to West Virginia to attend college at Davis and Elkins College, and visited the old home place many times while a student. His love of family history and the families ties to the house continued to grow until adulthood. While living and working in Ohio, he never forgot the house from his childhood or the way West Virginia made him feel. In 2007 the farmer who then owned the house allowed Dave and his wife Patricia to purchase the home back and the real work began.

 

log-cabin-set-up-on-new-foundation

After tare down and the reconstruction of the Cutlip log home with help from Mark Bowe.

By the end of 2009 David and Patricia began the work of finding out if the logs of the house were salvageable. As with all houses of this age, water and bugs (termites here in W.V.) can wreak havoc on old logs. With some searching the couple found a nice location for the future log home outside the small town of Beverly, West Virginia. Then they found Mark Bowe the owner of “Antique Cabins and Barns” in Lewisburg, West Virginia who would be charged with dismantling and moving the heavy logs. Mark  Bowe (before “Barnwood Builder” Fame) found the project promising and within a few months had his crew (some that are still members of the “Barnwood Builders” television show today) dismantle the house. By the end of the first week the 150 year old logs were dismantled, loaded and trucked away to a storage yard in Lewisburg, WV.

Nearly two years later Mark and his crew delivered the logs from the Lewisburg log yard to the new home site where a new foundation had been constructed.The work to construct a new log home continued over the next 5 years. As this was not David and Patricia’s primary home they took their time to make their dream retirement home come true. In the end the home is the perfect balance of old and new features,that keeps its warm rustic appeal.

david-cutlip-patrica-mays-thomas-powers-and-christopher-powers-at-the-cutlip-family-home-jan-17

David Cutlip, Thomas Powers, Patricia Mayes with Christopher Powers at the back addition of their log home in Beverly, WV Jan 2017

dave-cutlip-home-close-up-jan17

Front yard view of Cutlip log home with additions Jan 2017

To the log home,the couple added space to the small original floor plan. They added a modern kitchen, dinning room,a study, two bathrooms and quest room to the design. They were able to keep the historic feel by reusing many of the features from the log cabin, such as the hearth stone and fire-place surround that David remembers as a child. Dave and Patricia have added antiques and family heirlooms to the decor of the home.These additions make a warm and inviting space that honors the generations of his family that worked the land so hard to create this log home.

fireplace-at-cutlip-home-jan-17

Living room with Hearthstone and fireplace surround from original house build by David Cutlips Great Grandfather in the 1860’s.

 

new-kitchen-addition-dave-cutlip-home-jan-17

Modern Kitchen addition added to the Cutlip/ Mayes home with a light and airy feel.

new-dinning-room-addition-with-fire-place-dave-cutlip-home-jan-17

Gas log fire-place behind antique farm table in modern addition of the Cutlip/Mayes log home.

master-bedroom-sitting-area-view

Master bedroom with sitting area in 1860’s portion of the house.

David and Patricia have collected a verity of antiques to decorate their home. With two interesting items that stand out when you spend some time in the log home. One is Davids Grate Grandfathers desk that was made on the Webster County Farm and the Linsey- Woolsey coverlets that his Great Grandmother wove from flax and wool from the family farm in the late 1800’s.

hand-made-desk-from-the-log-cabin-cutlip-home-jan-17

Hand made desk made by Marion Cutlip in Webster County, West Virginia. Shown in the home of his Great Grandson David Cutlip, Randolph County West Virginia 2017.

linsey-woolsey-coverlets-make-by-david-cutlips-great-grand-mother-1800-period

Hand woven Linsey-Woolsey bed coverlets made by David’s Great Grandmother on the Webster County farm, late in the 1800’s

It is heartwarming to know that both of these wonderful heirlooms were not only made by his family on the farm, but were made from products on that farm. The desk is made of poplar planks that were milled from trees that grew in the woods of the Webster County  farm. Marion Cutlip designed and constructed this desk to be used in this very same house. David said after our tour that with 6 people living in the 2 story, 16’X 23′ log cabin together “He thought that this desk was about the only space that his Great Grandfather had in the entire house”( and I do not doubt him one bit).

The coverlets were made by  Davids Great Grandmother. The family produced the wool from their own sheep and grew the flax that would be spun into linen for the coverlets.I was amazed at the coloring and detailed patterns of the Linsey-Woolsey blankets and can only imagine the time it took to make just one of these covers. In more modern times families who used this type of fabric and dressed in the bright patterns and plaids that could be woven on a family looms were thought to be poor. As the rich were able to buy fine imported materials from Europe. Today, any person who could master this art would charge highly for their fabrics and would be looked at as an artisan of the highest order. The skill of making your own fiber and fabric is a tradition that is long-lost in our day and age.

My visit to my friend’s home was such a wonderful learning experience. My family and I took away lots of great ideas for our own home remodel. We got to hear some wonderful stories about the people and history of our state and were reminded that it is possible to  bring together the past and the present and make a dream come true. David Cutlip and his wonderful wife Patricia Mayes have saved not only an old house from further deterioration but made a beautiful home from the dreams of a young man many miles from where he called home.

 

 

 

 

Categories: Barnwood Builders, Beverly West Virginia, cabins, Country life, DIY projects, family memories, Farming, Hacker Valley, heirlooms, Homestead, log home, Randolph County, Webster Springs, West Virginia | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Spring into the West Virginia Woods April 2014

I have been feeling under the weather for almost two weeks now. I got sick then felt good, not great, and then got worse. Not sure what is the cause but while I had three good days to hike and mushroom hunt I did take a few photos of some the signs of Spring.

I am also working on my wine… I did start the process a few days ago. Got the Dandelions picked and the “tea” made. I am hoping that as I am feeling better to get the fermentation started tomorrow and will write a post about it this weekend. I just feel that I should have had all this sickness over the winter and not while the sun is shining and the temps are in the upper 60’s and lower 70’s.

Well here is what I did see while out hiking, Hope it will tide you all over until the wine post !

Red trillium at Hacker Valley West Virginia

Red trillium at Hacker Valley West Virginia

Wild Blue Bells at Hacker Valley, West Virginia

Wild Blue Bells at Hacker Valley, West Virginia

 

Rock with american Flag, Hacker Valley, West Virginia

Rock with american Flag, Hacker Valley, West Virginia

Christopher playing with stick on logging road at Hacker Valley, WV

Christopher playing with stick on logging road at Hacker Valley, WV

 

 

Buckeye tree leaves begin to sprout

Buckeye tree leaves begin to sprout

 

double scarltet cup mushroom

double scarlet cup mushroom

Fairy Mushroom in the woods of West Virginia

Fairy Mushroom in the woods of West Virginia

group of tiny mushrooms at the base of a Poplar tree

group of tiny mushrooms at the base of a Poplar tree

Spike buck horns in the woods of West Virginia

Spike buck horns in the woods of West Virginia

bone with chipmunk teeth marks

bone with chipmunk teeth marks

Spring buds on Poplar tree

Spring buds on Poplar tree

Stone Bridge at jacksons mill

Stone Bridge at jacksons mill

If you can’t tell I have been working with the Macro setting on my Camera lately. I think that I have discovered the subject matter that speaks to me the most and that is my love of Mushrooms and Bones. This is the first good photos I have taken of them and I am sure as time goes on I will have a nice collection of photos. Here in the mountains of Appalachia I have thousands of opportunities to find photograph them. Over the years I have collected many bone from the wild and used them as subjects of hundreds of prints and drawings but now I have found that they make great subjects for photos too! So as summer progress I am sure to show off many more colorful Mushrooms and any odd bones I find. We can have SO MUCH FUN together looking closer at my world.

Categories: Appalachian Mountains, Christopher, family fun, Hacker Valley, Hardwood forest, photo review, Photos, West Virginia | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Ramps(wild Leeks) a West Virginia Tradtional Wild Food

Ramp digging  is a foragers delight and every spring we take off to the mountain to see if  we can find some of these smelly delicacies. The whole family usually goes and we share our bounty with friends and family. We spend about half the day collecting the onions and spent the other half trout fishing another wonderful natural food that we love.

Spring ramp digging Chritopher holding a the frist ramp

Spring ramp digging Christopher holding  his frist ramp

I know some of you are wondering what a Ramp is and what we use it for so I will explain that and share a few ideas on how to use them also.  Ramps are a wild leak or onion with a flavor like garlic when cooked and hot like a green onion if eaten raw. They are found all over the eastern united states but few states love and dig them like West Virginians. They grow in the higher elevations of our woods and are a bulb  that tends to grow in clumps of 5 or six. The leaves are broad and have a distinctive red seam down the center to the root bulb. The bulbs are traditionaly dug in early spring and  before the bulbs flower and the leaves grow to large and tough to eat.

Wild ramps under a tree

Wild ramps under a tree

This is what ramps look like after digging and cleaning

Ramps ready to clean look like green onions

Ramps ready to clean look like green onions

washed, roots removed and ready to eat

washed, roots removed and ready to eat

The Ramp does have one draw back its smell. It is extremely strong, turning  many people away from eating it… think fresh-cut garlic but 10x stronger… So when handling, eating or cooking the ramps that we collect we all “STINK”. It is actually joked about and people who do not like the smell have been known to leave a kitchen or home because of the pungent odor.  But, the rest of us who love them know and love that smell, it means that a dinner of fried, steamed, or raw ramps is on the way to the table. In our house, we use some of our collected Ramps for Easter dinner, it is my way of giving thanks for spring and a way to share them with a crowed of friends and family.

Basic preparation of ramps is simple, wash, remove roots and tough outer skin, (it appears brown), chop and cook. Our family likes to eat the leaves as well as the bulbs but this is a personal choice and does not add to the over all flavor of a dish. If the person is not used to eating greens it is not nessicery to force the issue. In certain recipes like soup I do skip using the greens because it does turn soup a bright green color.

Our families traditional preparation is to take whole ramps about  1/2 of a pound or all that will fit in a skillet and about 1 Tablespoon bacon grease and saute them together. Ramp bulbs are hard so I add about 1/4 cup of water to steam the bulbs and keep the greens from burning or getting to brown,watch and stir, adding more water as needed to soften the bulbs until translucent… and serve.

Ramps with bacon grease and water steaming away

Ramps with bacon grease and water steaming away

Most of the families we know serve their ramps with potatoes of some kind.We usually serve them with baked ham and hash browns, brown beans and corn bread.This is our southern style Easter dinner.I personally also like just brown beans, ramps and corn bread and a little ketchup to top it off for an easy dinner.

Their are hundreds of other ways to use the “Ramp” and her are just a few ideas that we use all the time to enjoy these wonderful little treats.

I  make a Stromboli with ramps that my husband and I just love for an afternoon lunch.

base for stromboli

base for Stromboli

Using store-bought pizza dough, I fill the bottom of buttered sheet pan and cover it with  ham from the deli, ( I like smoked ham for this), then  shredded Swiss cheese (about 2 cups) then 6 to 8 diced rump bulbs, then a layer of corned beef for the deli, about 1/4 of a pound. Then roll up the dough jelly roll style and bake in the oven at 350 for 25 to 30 minutes until out side of dough is golden brown and cheese looks melted.  We serve ours with a Mariana sauce on the side for dipping.

We also make a potato and ramp casserole that is very good in the fall and uses frozen ramps. They freeze well and store for about a year without any loss of flavor or crispness. Do not precook or blanch the bulbs. They need to retain their texture or they will be mushy when thawed. In most cases ramps can substitute for onions in any recipe the only thing that our family has had any trouble with is meat balls.Ones that are fried, not baked. It appears that the ramp is not able to withstand the temperature needed to cook meatball this way without scorching. It can make a meatball taste terrible to have a scorched ramp all through the meat. Yuck.

Ramp Casserole

4 or 5 diced potatoes

10 to 12 diced ramp bulbs

1/2 lbs pork sausage

3 beaten eggs

1 cup shredded cheese… cheddar works well

8 slices of bacon fried and crumbled

1/2 cup diced ham

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/3 cup milk

Peal  and boil diced potatoes until barely tender to a fork,  drain.

Steam chopped ramps in large microwaves safe bowl cover with plastic and steam for 2 min. and then add potatoes to bowl.

Fry sausage drain add to bowl, fry bacon drain crumble and add to bowl.

Then add ham, all eggs beaten, salt, pepper and milk  mix well,

Pour into 9 x 13 baking dish and top with cheese, bake uncovered for 30 minutes  at 350 deg.

Next spring If you are lucky you may find me and my family with ramp hoe in hand standing on a hillside in the spring sun laughing and talking about fish and the smell of ramps. It is a gift that I am able to do so much foraging here in these mountains. Spring is only the beginning and I will looking forward to summer berries and fall fruit.I am blessed with everything  that the earth gives to us freely to enjoy.

Categories: country cooking, family fun, Foraging, Hacker Valley, organic foods, ramps, State Park activities, West Virginia | Tags: , , , , | 15 Comments

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