Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Puckett Cabin

The Puckett Cabin has been preserved by the National Park Service as an example of an early mountain homestead along what is now the Blue Ridge Parkway. It's fairly representative of 19th century mountain cabins, a small structure built of hewn logs, one room with a loft.

The chimney and fireplace, which would have served as heat and cookstove, is built from local stone, and the adze marks remain clearly visible on the logs. It is a home that was built entirely of local materials, using primarily hand labor (note the lap-siding in the gable ends). My grandparents began their lives together in 1898 in just such a home.

This cabin gets its name from being the home of "Aunt" Orelena Puckett during the latter years of her life. Born about 1837, she married at 16, and bore 24 children, none of whom lived beyond infancy. Sometime after age 50, she became a midwife and assisted with the birth of more than 1000 babies over the next half century. The last was born in 1939, the same year in which "Aunt" Orelena died at age 102.

Do you think the pain of losing all of her own children was softened by delivering healthy babies and watching them grow into adulthood, to become parents and grandparents?


  1. What an interesting and thought-provoking post. I suppose people spent much of their time outdoors, tending animals, growing produce, making only needed a roof over their heads when they slept. Or when they huddled together in winter. As someone who has no children myself and who works looking after disabled children I think I can understand Aunt Orelena's dedication to her vocation.

  2. What a different life in a beautiful place. 24 children lost! I wonder if she lost her children because of the living conditions.

  3. I do hope helping deliver all those babies helped somewhat. Likely the reason for losing the children would be correctable with today's medicine.

    What is truly amazing is that she could have had at least 24 pregnancies and still lived to such an age, especially in those days. I love old cabins like that.

  4. It's hard to imagine 24 pregnancies -- and to lose them all. Probably more commonplace than we realize today.

  5. well at least she held babies in her arms all her life....