By Leland Debusk, Assistant Editor
Hood County News On-Line Edition – February 14, 2000
|The little cabin by the creek|
Virgil McIntosh preferred horse teams to cars, tractors Tolar resident Doug Johnson at the McIntosh cabin.Johnson’s wife Bobbie is McIntosh’s granddaughterVisitors would have enjoyed an idyllic and peaceful scene near Tolar in the 1880s. Setting snugly on shimmering Squaw Creek was a small rustic cabin of oak logs hewed from a nearby grove.Built in 1880, the cabin became the birthplace on June 6 of that year of a most interesting man: Virgil McIntosh. Though McIntosh, the grandson of prominent Tolar pioneer William G.W. “Billy” Powell, saw tremendous change in his 86 years, he didn’t embrace the new technology. McIntosh never owned a tractor or learned to drive. He used a team and wagon to make supply trips to Tolar, say family members.But years marched by and time took its toll on Virgil McIntosh’s birthplace, the cabin called McIntosh Place. Squaw Creek, once full to its banks, mostly dried up and the cabin began to collapse to the point of ruin.McIntosh’s grandson, San Angelo resident Ed Huston, and his wife Shirley, came to the rescue in 1998. After buying the property, they began restoring the cabin to its former rustic splendor with the help of friends and family members. The 16-month historical rescue project was completed last October. A page of Tolar area history has been rescued.The cabin is off Powell Cemetery Road just east of Tolar on the McIntosh property. The site is not open to the public.When built by Preston Achin McIntosh and Julia Powell McIntosh, the cabin was compact– 12 by 14 feet.When the cabin was restored, about 10 logs of the original cabin were included in the new building. Two logs were taken from the ruins of a log structure at the Farmer place, just west on the Henry Robertson farm. The rest of the logs (about 60) were cut from post oak, blackjack oak and elm trees from nearby groves owned by the Huston family and Steve Gardner. Stones used in the reconstruction of the cabin’s limestone fireplace and chimney were taken from an old fireplace and chimney at the Nix place two miles to the southwest. Lumber used in the cabin restoration, other than the cedar shingle roof and plywood floor, was taken from the second McIntosh residence just a few feet to the west of the cabin site.The first phase of that house was built about 1900.The site of the cabin was probably settled around 1875. Virgil McIntosh and his wife Maude Gertrude McIlroy McIntosh owned the property until Virgil died in 1966. The property then passed to the McIntoshes’ daughter, Ollie Blanche McIntosh Gardner. After she passed away, the property went to her husband, Steve Gardner. The Hustons came into the property after that.Virgil and Maude McIntosh have two surviving children: Floy May McIntosh Huston, 93, of Tolar; and Leslie McIntosh, 80, of Lewisville.Virgil was the third of five children of Preston and Julia McIntosh. Only two of the five children, Virgil and sister Ophelia, lived to reach 20 years of age. Two, one named Myrtle, died as infants. To the north, across pastures and oak groves, there is a gray, weathered tombstone in Powell Cemetery.”Myrtle F., daughter of P.A. and J.F. McIntosh. May 27, 1892 to June 11, 1892,” the inscription reads. It’s followed by the beautiful and poignant phrase, “Budded On Earth To Bloom In Heaven.”Floy Huston and her brother Leslie were born in the frame house built next to the cabin in 1900. She recalls that water for bathing, washing clothes and drinking was dipped from Squaw Creek next to the cabin. “Why, the water was sometimes so muddy that you could not see the bottom off the saucer that you were drinking from,” she said.A century faded and a new one advanced during Virgil McIntosh’s lifetime. Everything from automobiles and tractors to airplanes, threshing machines, electricity and television became commonplace during Virgil’s time. He lived to see men go into space, but died before the first moon landing.Yet, Virgil never fully adopted a fully modern lifestyle. He foresake the automobile in place of a wagon and team of horses. Even into the 1960s, he continued to plow with a team of horses instead of using a tractor, family members recall. Virgil was often seen driving his team and wagon into Tolar to pick up a couple of bags of groceries (and a glass of Garrett Snuff for Miss Maudie) from Virgil Goforth’s store.On Oct. 31 last year, dozens of descendants of Virgil McIntosh gathered at his birthplace to dedicate the restored cabin and to honor Floy Huston and Leslie McIntosh.Ed Huston was asked many times during the months-long project why he had taken on the restoration of the cabin that was his grandfather’s birthplace. “It’s important that we remember,” he told his questioners.On Oct. 31 last year, dozens of descendants of Virgil McIntosh gathered at his birthplace to dedicate the restored cabin and to honor Floy Huston and Leslie McIntosh.Ed Huston was asked many times during the months-long project why he had taken on the restoration of the cabin that was his grandfather’s birthplace. “It’s important that we remember,” he told his questioners.
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