Remembrance of Place: The Kibler Cabin
Part 5: Palmetto Trust takes ownership.
We concluded Part 4 with a pledge from the family of Marshall Kibler to donate the amount necessary to purchase the cabin from Shirley Bookman. That transaction has occurred and the Kibler Cabin is now owned by the Palmetto Trust. Unfortunately, as it stands now, we can only purchase the structure and facilitate it being moved.
Now that we have full control of the structure, and the availability of 2 years’ time to remove it from its current site, we have the freedom to study the structure in depth and see if we can unravel the mysteries of its unusual construction.
Helping us unravel those mysteries are two USC Public History Graduate Students (Janie Campbell and Cane West) who took this project on under the guidance of their professor Robert Weyeneth. The task that we needed the most was the history of land ownership of the property on which the Cabin stands so we can attempt to determine the timing of the various renovations the cabin underwent. What they discovered in the dark corners of Newberry Courthouse is remarkable.
The first grant of the property was 250-acre colonial grant in 1752 to a Margaret Brechter* (Actually Margaret Prester). Note*When researching the German speaking immigrants of the Dutch Fork, one must remember that the young English speaking clerk that wrote down their name probably barely understood their German accent. When my ancestor Michael Biedenbach came over, he was recorded as Michael Petebay.
In Feb, 1765 she sold the 250-acre tract to Henry Seithman who then split the property into north / South sections.
The southern portion was sold rather quickly to John Fellers in August of 1765. The Northern portion, of which this cabin is located, changed hands several times over the next 40 years. First to William Houseal in May of 1773, then to a Jacob Tarrer in April of the same year. Fredrick Tarrer purchased it for $1 in 1794. (we assume he was the son of Jacob) The deed mentions the “Potential for woods, timber trees and water profits” but made no mention of place of residence on the property. John Kibler then purchased the property from a Fredrick Tarrer in June 1804.
From this information, and especially the way Fredrick Tarrer (described as a resident of 96 district) describes the land, we believe that the northern portion was never developed with a homestead and instead used as an investment for the land speculations of the previous owners. It is not until the purchase by John Kibler in 1804 when there appears a family taking up permanent residence on the property.
So the conundrum: a structure that has the hallmarks of pre-revolutionary design placed on a property that doesn’t have any record of habitation until 1804? We might have an answer for that, but let’s address that later.
John Kibler raised a large family in this modest cabin but died in 1829 at the age of 60 years. By this time his original 125 acres had grown to a plantation with over 800 acres worked by 11 slaves. It appears his death was due to an epidemic of some kind since two of his sons died within 2 weeks of their father at the young ages of 21 and 24 and the house belonged to his wife Nancy until her death in 1837.
John and Nancy’s 21-year-old son William received the house and 397 acres at his mother’s death. We are fortunate to have a plat of John’s estate that is attached. We are also very confident that it was probably William who installed the upstairs coved ceiling and beautiful Pineapple wallpaper.
Unfortunately, William died young at 41 in 1857. However, he left a beautifully written will where he leaves the house and 450 acres to his young 16-year-old son. He also leaves one acre set aside for the cemetery that still exists across the road from the house where he would ultimately join his parents, brothers, sisters, wife and children.
Next part 6: More history unfolds