David Leitch Cabin


Information submitted by Steve Battistone, President of the Campbell County Historical & Genealogical Society

 

 

David Leitch Cabin 17 Nov 2017

The Campbell County Historical & Genealogical Society is exploring the possibilities of establishing an open air Heritage Park to serve as an educational and informational repository of historical artifacts, documents and structures for use by both the casual and serious scholar the history of the region. The center would include one large structure to house our ever-expanding library and museum center collections and a number of small historically significant structures to showcase specific topics. Both indoor and outdoor educational classes would be presented for the public covering general historical subjects such as log cabin construction, agricultural changes, urban center developments and transportation and more specific subjects like Wiedemann Brewery, Wadsworth Watch Case Co., Newport Mineral Water Co., the beaches of Bellevue & Dayton, Gubser’s Mill, Donaldson Lithographing and Bruce Lovins Parade Saddles.

The motivation for this center comes from the renewed interest in the log home of Major David Leitch. Major Leitch developed the first settlement in Campbell County in about 1790 and chose to make this his home. He had a home built for himself and his new wife on the east bank of the Licking River in the area we now call Wilder. At the time of his death David owned 13,800 acres of Campbell County property. This is a tract from the Licking River to well past US27 and from I-275 to Claryville. David died in 1794 and his widow, Keturah Moss Leitch, married James Taylor, the founder of Newport. When her real estate holdings were united with his, they controlled the vast majority of all the property in Campbell County. Therefore, this little cabin becomes a springboard from which so much of our County was born.

It is incredible that this home still exists in 2018 and was actually being occupied up to the late 1990’s. Unfortunately, the home has not been maintained and has fallen in to disrepair. The windows are broken, the foundation is slipping and the siding which has protected the logs for so many years is falling off. But the bones of the structure are strong, and restoration is possible.

The Historical Society is committed to restoring and saving this valuable piece of Campbell County History. Consequently, we have established an informal committee to investigate ways to accomplish the restoration. The committee is comprised of members of the Historical Society, professors representing the History, Anthropology and Archaeology departments of Northern Kentucky University, Historic Preservation professionals and related trades people.

Along with multiple departments at NKU we are developing a plan to perform an archaeological survey of the property. We know that David owned slaves and can only assume that there would have been a barn for livestock, slave quarters, a garden and perhaps an orchard on the property. We are hoping to find remains of an outhouse, an outdoor kitchen and a midden along with tools, horseshoes, coins, buckles or buttons.

Our plan is to first and foremost find a location to relocate the cabin. The owner is very interested in seeing the cabin restored but has other plans for the property, so it must be moved. In searching for a location for the cabin we realized that, by itself, the cabin won’t generate a great deal of interest from the general public and that managing the cabin from our already cramped space would be onerous. Therefore, we have decided to expand our search for a location that could accommodate not only this cabin but also a building to house an expanded library and museum center, archival storage space, classrooms and a meeting room and other historically significant structures.

Once established the Center would be open and available to the public. All would be encouraged to research the veteran files, the maps, the cemetery files and family files in our library and to explore all the displays in our museum and outdoor structures. We would continue to hold our monthly educational meetings and would begin conducting specific topics in the classrooms. We would encourage field trip visits tailored for young people from all the area schools. Special events would be held periodically to remember the role Campbell County has played in the history and development of this region, the State of Kentucky and the western expansion of the United States. Overall this will be an interesting and exciting vehicle to intrigue and educate the community in the knowledge of our historical heritage.

The anchor building for the Campbell County Heritage Park will be one large structure to house our Library and Museum Center and other areas associated with this operation including storage facilities, classrooms and a meeting room, a gift shop and some offices.

The Library space would be enlarged to accommodate not only our growing collections but also computer workstations and tables to provide researchers the space necessary to review the files and pieces they are examining.

Our current Museum Room is very small and cramped. Many important topics are abbreviated or omitted because of a lack of space. The new Museum Area would be considerably larger to properly showcase all the topics relevant to the evolution of Campbell County.

A Gift Shop would be established to sell merchandise related to Campbell County or by Campbell County artists and craftsman and our growing number of print publications and digital format media.

Classrooms, Meeting Rooms and Office space would be included for expanded educational presentations that would be provided for schools, senior and juvenile groups, and our monthly membership meetings. Office space would service the needs of small operational tasks and our monthly Board meetings. The meeting space and the classrooms would be available for use by other organizations or the general public on a rental basis.

Storage space is extremely important to this type of operation. Archival storage would be added for documents in the Library Room and sensitive or gentle artifacts from the Museum Center. Additional storage and workshops would be used to store rotating displays and for prepping or cleaning new artifacts or items going on display or coming off display.

The Museum displays will employ technological and interactive displays to entice visitors to explore all the background and sidebars relating to a subject either in our Library or at one of the other buildings on the site. There is new technology being developed that could allow us to have James Taylor make a presentation about the founding of Newport or Samuel Bigstaff making his sales pitch to General Sheridan for the location of the Fort Thomas Military Post. We can allow visitors to locate their home on a large County map and learn what has happened in history at that location.

 

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