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Preserving history to make it real

Austintown Historical Society seeking replacement wagon

January 22, 2020
Allie Vugrincic , The Town Crier

For the past 40 years, a large historic wagon has sat outside the Austintown Historical Society's log cabin on South Raccoon Road, but soon, that might not be the case.

The wagon, donated by the Austintown Lions Club about 20 years ago, is set to be picked up by the township and scrapped after two wheels broke in a recent repair attempt, said historical society president Joyce Pogany. She said when someone started to replace the deteriorating wheel, it snapped and the whole wagon went "kerplunk." She estimated the wagon was at least 100 years old.

The society is hoping that someone who has an old wagon tucked in a garage or barn would be willing to donate it, so a wagon can remain a part of the Log Cabin's display.

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Joyce Pogany, president of the Austintown Historical Society, talks about the old wagon that sits outside the Log Cabin on South Raccoon Road. In a recent repair attempt, the wagon was damaged, and now the historical society is looking for a new one.

Before the current wagon, another donated historic wagon sat in front of the log cabin for 20 years, until a car came around the corner and ran into the yard, striking the wagon.

"It was totally destroyed, so we had to get a new wagon. And now, here we are again asking for a donation," she said.

The Austin Log Cabin is home to myriad historic items, ranging from old photographs to school desks, clothing, and a wooden peg that once helped hold together Austintown's oldest tavern. The first floor is a primitive living space-a large fireplace stocked with old cooking tools and a wooden table, among other artifacts. Upstairs, there is a child's bedroom and a one-room school. Downstairs houses more treasures still: antique farm equipment, plows and push-mowers.

Almost all of the items were donated, Pogany said.

"We have been very blessed in Austintown," Pogany said. "People call and say, we have this or we have this and do you want it?"

The historical society always wants old and unique items, Pogany said. She said if they don't collect those pieces of history, "no one will."

"And then it'll be gone," she said.

Mary deVille, a member of the Austintown Historical Society and several other historical societies, said preserving objects such as the wagon and the Log Cabin helps people understand what life in the past was really like.

"History, the reality of history, you can see a picture of a log cabin in a school book, but to actually walk into one, that gives you a picture of how people actually lived," deVille said.

Mary's husband, Jack deVille, guides tours of the Austin Log Cabin 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. the first Sunday of every month from April to November. He said oftentimes, people tell him they've passed the cabin for 15 or 20 years and never stopped in.

"It's a look back in time," Jack said of the property, which is listed as a national historic site.

The log cabin was likely built before 1824, as the logs are locked with a steeple-type notch that was not used in Ohio after that time. The property on which the cabin was built was owned by Calvin Austin (for whom Austintown is named) who sold it to John Packard, a farmer, in 1814, according to historical society information.

The cabin was converted into a home and was set to be demolished until the St. Andrew's Episcopal Church "discovered" the cabin under layers of fake brick and renovations. Michael Antonoff then led an effort to save and preserve the cabin, which was dedicated on the Fourth of July in 1976.

The Austintown Historical Society also maintains the Strock Stone House on Mahoning Avenue. Free private tours of both houses are available by calling the historical society at 330-799-8051.



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