Alley Log Cabin & Antique Tool Museum
ALLEY FAMILY HISTORY
Abraham “Abram” Alley was an original settler in Stephen F. Austin’s “Old Three Hundred” colony. Abram immigrated to Texas in the spring of 1822 from St. Genevieve, MO, with his two brothers, John and Thomas. They traveled by boat to Galveston Island and the remainder of their journey to the Atascocita Crossing of the Colorado River was by foot. There they joined a third brother, Rawson, on his land grant located on the east side of the river.
In 1835 Abram married Nancy Millar. During the Texas Revolution he enlisted as a volunteer guard under Captain William Walker. He was assigned to escort the women and children of Austin’s colony to the Trinity River in order to escape the Mexican Army’s advances through Texas. Before leaving, they burned all of the homes and other structures so the Mexican Army would not be able to use anything as a resource. This was known as the Runaway Scrape.
After the defeat of Santa Anna’s army at San Jacinto, Abram and Nancy returned to their land and rebuilt their cabin on the original site. He became a very active member of the community. He signed the petition for the new municipality to be called “Colorado” in 1837, registered the first cattle brand in Colorado County, served as a juror in the first term of District Court in 1837, and was appointed by General Sam Houston as President of the Board of Land Commissioners of Colorado County.
Abram and Nancy had nine children, five of whom survived into adulthood. Abram died in May 1862 and Nancy lived in the Alley home until her death in October 1893. Both are buried in the Alley family cemetery.
ABOUT THE CABIN
The two-room oak log cabin was built in 1836. The basic cabin is composed of a 16’ x 16’ room and a 16’ x 18’ room. The foundation logs, or wall stringers, are of rough cut oak approximately 8” tall and 15” wide. They rest on large sandstone blocks. The floor joists are oak logs, roughly hewed on the top face only. This can be seen beneath the floor under a Plexiglas cover. All corners and intersections of the logs are made in a square-notch manner. The side walls from floor level to rafter plates are about 11’ tall. The floor to ceiling height of the two rooms is about 8’.
The two fireplaces and chimneys are made of sandstone. The original window openings were probably wood board closures, windows were added later. The original doors were board and cleat rails. During improvements made in the early 1850s, paneled-style doors were added, as were the mantle and fireplace face, both made of walnut. The original floors of the two rooms are oak but were later covered with a broad width pine floor. The loft stair is of heavy oak treads and risers of the old box type construction. Some of the original roof rafters exist in the loft, others have been reconstructed. The original roof was most likely made of large split boards. It has been replaced with hewn wood shingles of the type used in the 1850s.
The porches the restored cabin were reconstructed to match the period. According to family history, the cabin was sided with pine lumber floated by raft from a large sawmill in Bastrop in the early 1850s. During this same period, another fireplace and three additional rooms were added. A photo of Nancy Alley hangs over the bedroom mantelpiece. The doll bed was made of native oak for their first daughter, Laura Ann. The trunk of Laura Ann’s husband, Timothy Wright, is located under the stairway.
The cabin stood on its original site from 1836 until 1976. It was then moved to Columbus, restored, and given to the Magnolia Homes Tour, Inc., now the Columbus Historical Preservation Trust, Inc.
ANTIQUE TOOL MUSEUM
The Antique Tool Museum opened in 1996. The small framed building was originally a store that sold school supplies and snacks to school children. It was known as “The Little Store.” Later, it reopened as “The Little Bakery.” The building was moved in 1978 to the present location to be used for storage by the Magnolia Homes Tour, Inc., now Columbus Historical Preservation Trust, Inc.
Various old tools are on display, including tools used in farming, ranching, and blacksmithing, oxen yokes, corn shellers, a wooden planter and wooden dolly, carpenter tools, wheelwright shavers, multiple types of plows, a German immigrant trunk, and other implements used in early Texas pioneer life. There is also an outstanding display of barbed wire housed inside, all of which was found in Colorado County.