Log cabin creations are a tribute to pioneer settlers

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 26 November 2014 at 12:00 am

Photo by Tom Rivers – Al Capurso of Gaines has created several mini log cabin scenes as tributes to pioneer residents in Orleans County. He is pictured with his latest creation. He has donated the log cabin dioramas to the Cobblestone Museum, Clarendon Historical Society and the Holland Land Office Museum.

Photo by Tom Rivers

Photo by Tom Rivers – The Clarendon cabin (above) bears the name of the town’s founder, Eldredge Farwell, who discovered Clarendon in 1810 while looking for his brother Isaac’s lost horse. He traced Isaac’s footprints along the border of Sandy Creek and was impressed with the waterfalls in Clarendon.

Photo by Tom Rivers

GAINES – In the spring Al Capurso was out in his backyard with a knife, cutting down thick grape vines that were wrapped around trees.

Capurso studied the thick vines and noticed they bore semblance to mini logs. His mind and hands started working, and began building a small log cabin. It sits on a shelf in his kitchen, a tribute to pioneer residents who settled in the area about 200 years ago.

Capurso has a strong interest in the county’s pioneer history. He and his family put up a historical marker on the Courthouse Lawn last year for William McAllister and his wife, who were Albion’s first settlers in 1811, building a log cabin where the current County Clerks Building stands.

Capurso also did the research and convinced the local and federal governments to name Gilbert Creek in Gaines and Carlton in honor of another pioneer.

With the grape vines, Capurso cut them in 7 and 9 inch chunks and created a mini log cabin. He notched the wood, made a roof out of bark, and put in windows and doors. He added corals for livestock, a swing for children, and a wood lot. He even planted trees around the sites.

It takes Capurso about a month to make the scenes, and he has donated three of them to historical organizations. As he makes them, he finds himself transported to about 200 years ago, when the area’s first settlers were tasked with surviving in the wilderness.

“Everything back then was ‘make do,'” he said. “You made do with what you had.”

Capurso has given log cabin dioramas to the Holland Land Office Museum in Batavia, the Clarendon Historical Society and the Cobblestone Museum.

Farwell saw the waterfalls as a potential source of power for business. He moved his family to Clarendon in 1811 and built saw and grist mills. The town was originally named Farwell’s Mills but was renamed to Clarendon. Farwell was from Clarendon, Vermont.

Farwell also had six children when he moved to Clarendon. Capurso added a swing by the miniature cabin.

“I dedicated this one to children who grew up as pioneers in the wilderness,” he said on Tuesday at his Gaines home on Route 279.

Capurso is a volunteer at the Cobblestone Museum. He gave the museum a cabin that made in honor of John Proctor.

John Proctor is often referred to by historians as the Paul Revere of Ridge Road. On a December night in 1813, he rode by horseback on the Ridge from Gaines to Clarkson to warn of the approach of British and the Indians after the burning of Lewiston.

The following morning he joined a regiment that was headed to Lewiston. The regiment would capture the enemy quartered at Molyneaux Tavern. A historical marker on a large stone on Route 104 shares the story of Proctor. The stone is on the south side of Ridge Road, a few houses west of the Route 98 intersection.

Capurso would like to build a full-size replica cabin as a tribute to the pioneers. That would be about 20 feet by 20 feet. He would need to find a site and volunteers for the project.