“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Ottawa in Franklin County, Kansas — The American Midwest (Upper Plains)

Dietrich Cabin, 1859

Historic Ottawa Tour Stop 8

Dietrich Cabin, 1859 Marker image. Click for full size.
By William Fischer, Jr., July 16, 2013
1. Dietrich Cabin, 1859 Marker

Dietrich Cabin
In 1854 two German brothers, Jacob and John Dietrich, arrived in America after a fifty-three day voyage by sailing ship. They settled first in Connecticut and were joined the following year by their sister Elizabeth and Jacob's bride-to-be, Catherine Jackel. Jacob and Catherine were married on February 18, 1855.

In 1857 the young couple decided to push still farther west. Arriving at Westport with their little daughter Barnetta Dinah, they bought a team of oxen and wagon for a trip that brought them to Franklin County, Kansas Territory.

They stopped one night on a hillside to camp, and were so impressed by the beauty of the location that they decided to make it their home (as shown in the modern panoramic photo of the view from the original cabin site, at right). The exact site was three miles south and two and one-quarter miles west of the present town of Princeton.

They built a cabin in 1857, soon after selecting their site, but this first home was burned the next year by a prairie fire. Because they also lost most of their worldly possessions, Catherine worked for a neighbor for their room and board while Jacob cut the logs and earned money for the new cabin, which they built on the original site in 1859. This is the cabin that was moved to Ottawa.

In June of
Dietrich Cabin (1859) and Marker image. Click for full size.
By William Fischer, Jr., July 16, 2013
2. Dietrich Cabin (1859) and Marker
1863, Jacob Dietrich became ill and died of pneumonia. He was buried in St. Boniface Cemetery, Scipio, a Catholic mission parish southeast of present day Richmond. Then began the grim struggle for Catherine and her family to remain on this raw frontier.

To earn money she found it necessary to walk six miles to and from Ohio City to get the laundry that she did for the county officials.

In 1865, Catherine married Jacob Puterbaugh, a friend of her late husband. They had one daughter, Addie. Catherine was again widowed in 1873. Despite all the hardships, Catherine carried on and reared her children to become useful citizens.

John, the eldest, became an educator and superintendent of schools. Charles farmed locally and was an Ottawa merchant. The youngest, Frank, taught at Ottawa University and later became a U.S. Circuit Judge. Catherine Jackel Dietrich Puterbaugh lived to be nearly ninety-three and is buried in Mt. Hope Cemetery in Chicago.

Over the years, the Dietrich cabin was used as a farm house, and was made larger by the addition of several rooms. The entire structure was covered with siding, which preserved the logs against the weather. After being abandoned as a dwelling, the cabin was used to store hay.

The hillside on which the cabin originally stood afforded a wide view over a beautiful timbered valley, with a spring nearby to provide water. At the foot of the hill ran the Humboldt Trail, which in 1858 became a government mail route from Leavenworth to Humboldt. This trail passed through Prairie City, an early-day settlement southwest of present-day Baldwin, and on through Ohio City, later to become the county seat of Franklin County for a short time. Crossing the prairie south and west of the Dietrich cabin, its course is still visible, marked by deep-washed gullies resulting from the ruts made by heavy wagon wheels.

This photo, taken in 1959 prior to the cabin's move into Ottawa, shows an early porch and the nailer strips which held the modern siding, which has been removed.

The cabin is about 18' x 20' and built of hand-hewn native walnut, with the corners dovetailed and double mortised. The walnut rafters are unusual in that they are cut on a slant, being much wider at the eaves than at the peak. An eight-foot deep porch along one side completed the cabin. This porch became a haven for the travelers who stopped for food and shelter from storms. The Dietrichs allowed many of them to roll up in their blankets and spend the night.

In 1959, Mrs. Elsie Gault, a grand-daughter of Jacob and Catherine (above [photo]) gave the 100-year old cabin to the Franklin County Historical Society. She is shown here with a stone, dated 1868, from the icehouse which stood near the cabin and was destroyed when Douglas Road was improved. The stone is displayed on the cabin's fireplace mantel.

Through the volunteer assistance of T.J. Bivins, Wellsville, the cabin was moved to Ottawa's City Park and restored in 1960-61. The cabin became a focal point of Franklin County's celebration of the Kansas Centennial in 1961.

Modern-day photos of the loft and hearth of the Dietrich Cabin as it is used as a museum. For Dietrich Cabin open hours contact the Old Depot Museum.

The Dietrich Cabin stands today as a memorial to a courageous couple who suffered severe hardship of the Kansas frontier with the hope of building a better life for their children. It is a tribute not only to them, but to the hundreds of other early pioneers in Franklin County.

Visit the Old Depot Museum
135 W. Tecumseh
Tuesday-Saturday 10-4 Sunday 1-4
Erected by Franklin County Historical Society, Franklin County Convention & Visitors Bureau, and Others.
Location. 38° 36.632′ N, 95° 16.084′ W. Marker is in Ottawa, Kansas, in Franklin County. Marker is on Main Street south of 5th Street, on the left when traveling south. Click for map. Marker and cabin are in Ottawa City Park. Marker is in this post office area: Ottawa KS 66067, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Ottawa Carnegie Library (within shouting distance of this marker); Civil War Memorial (within shouting distance of this marker); Main Street, 500 Block South and City Park (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); Main Street, 400 Block South (approx. 0.2 miles away); The Franklin County Courthouse (approx. 0.2 miles away); a different marker also named Franklin County Courthouse (approx. mile away); The Down Town Ottawa Historic District (approx. 0.3 miles away); Pickrell Building (approx. 0.3 miles away). Click for a list of all markers in Ottawa.
Also see . . .
1. Franklin County, Kansas, Historical Portal. (Submitted on August 15, 2013, by William Fischer, Jr. of Fort Scott, Kansas.)
2. Visit Ottawa, Kansas. (Submitted on August 15, 2013, by William Fischer, Jr. of Fort Scott, Kansas.)
3. Franklin County, Kansas, Official Website. (Submitted on August 15, 2013, by William Fischer, Jr. of Fort Scott, Kansas.)
Categories. AgricultureEnvironmentMan-Made FeaturesSettlements & Settlers
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by William Fischer, Jr. of Fort Scott, Kansas. This page has been viewed 233 times since then and 36 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on , by William Fischer, Jr. of Fort Scott, Kansas. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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