Home, home on the range,
Where the deer and the antelope play,
Where seldom is heard a discouraging word,
And the skies are not cloudy all day.
This is the chorus of the state song of Kansas. Most people, regardless of where they grew up, are probably familiar with it. But what many don't know is that the song was written by Kansas doctor Brewster Higley VI in the late 1800's in a cabin on the prairie.
Brewster built the cabin in 1872 just outside of what is now Athol, and began working as a country doctor serving the people in the area.
"Home on the Range" first appeared in the "Smith County Pioneer" in 1873, titled "My Western Home'. Over the years the song grew in popularity and verses were added or changed to suit the place it was being sung. But the iconic chorus has always remained the same. In 1947 it officially became the state song of Kansas.
While the song is still as well-known as ever, the cabin it was written in has fallen into disrepair over the past few years.
Luckily, trustees began fundraising about a year ago to give the cabin a much needed makeover.
In September 2012 the restoration process began. Land was taken out to create a handicapped ramp, the walls were torn down and the original logs were exposed once more, and all the ends have been braced to make sure it will stand for years to come.
"We've been really lucky," El Dean Holthus, one of the cabin trustees said, "we've had great weather and our construction crews have been speeding through the restoration process."
The reconstruction is expected to be completed by the end of next month, but after that there will still be a lot of work to do before it can be opened to the public.
"The nuts and bolts of the project are almost done," Holthus said, "but we still have to furnish the inside of the cabin as it would have been when Higley was living there."
Holthus is hoping that he will be able to find actual period pieces to put in the cabin. Or, that people will donate them to him.
"We're going to put out a list soon of everything we need, and the prices for them," he said, "that way people can just donate the money if they don't have the actual item and their name will be somewhere so everyone will know where it came from."
The best way to contact Holthus to find out what items are needed, or how much money something costs, is to e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
When the cabin is completed visitors will be able to walk around the whole area, except for the loft, and see first hand what it would have been like for a bachelor doctor living out on the prairie in the 1800's.
Page 2 of 2 - Holthus expects the cabin to be completed sometime within the next year, but has scheduled the rededication ceremony for October 2014.
"The reason it's so far out is because the Higley family hold their annual family reunion that weekend in Atchison, we've invited them to come out to the cabin for at least part of that time next year," Holthus said. "What better way to celebrate the rededication and restoration of this cabin than by having the ancestors of it's original builder here."