The Phillip Goertz Log CabinAround the year 1860, the Phillip Goertz family built a two room dog-trot log cabin near Walnut Creek. This home had a profound influence on the future of the community. The Pioneer Log Cabin became the center of social life and the place were religious services were held throughout the early years until a permanent church was built in 1877.
After the Rockne Historical Association (RHA) was formed, Fred Goertz told the members about an old barn on Sylvester Goertz’s place that he was sure had historical importance. Indeed its authenticity was verified as the former log home of Phillip Goertz by his grandson, Alfred Goertz. He remembered his older brother Robert always saying that part of the barn was Grandpa’s (Phillip Goertz’s) house.
One room of the former home had been moved to the Peter Goertz property to be used as a corn crib. Peter was the son of Phillip. The other half had been given to Catherine, Peter’s sister. None of those logs remain today.
The property now belonged to Sylvester Goertz’s daughter and son-in-law, Olin and Sandra Foust. They donated the one room log cabin to RHA with the stipulation that it had to be moved. This was an exciting discovery; a home that existed over 130 years ago. It was a place where just about all our ancestors visited; praying together and discussing the future of their community.
The idea of restoring the one remaining room and reconstructing the rest of the dog-trot home to look as much like the original as possible developed. The original foundation where the home was built was still visible and could be used for exact measurements.
Finding a suitable location for the cabin became a priority for RHA. On June 24, 1992, Charlie and Marian Hilbig Nelson donated a lot near the church. It was donated in memory of Sylvester and Clara Kadura Hilbig and named Hilbig Park after Hilbig Park School that the children of the community attended from 1894 to 1900. Anton Hilbig and his wife Carolina donated the land for the school "because of their love and affection for education," the deed states.
Obtaining the land was just the beginning. The big metal roof, that had protected the logs and other rooms and pens in the compound had to be removed. Fences, tin, and every kind of debris needed to be cleared away along with tall weeds and brush. Marvin Bartsch and Curtis Goertz did most of the hard work, sometimes putting in 20 hours on a weekend.
In the mean time, a drive way and fence were put in at Hilbig Park. Mesquites were cleared and the foundation readied for the log cabin. Curtis Goertz reported that 17 people donated a total of 331 hours to do this work.
On November 18, 1993, three years after RHA learned about the log cabin it was moved, in tact, to Hilbig Park. Thanks to professional mover Frank Victorin, who was meticulous in every detail, and Murray Callahan, Charlie and Marian Nelson, Edgar Leonhart, Marvin Bartsch, Thomas Goertz, and Ira, the tractor driver, that first step was accomplished.
Fred Goertz, great grandson of Phillip Goertz, was hired as construction supervisor. He and Charlie Nelson worked together alone and with volunteers for two years to restore and rebuild the log cabin.
Under the leadership of Marian H. Nelson, the Phillip Goertz Log Cabin was moved, restored, furnished and dedicated on October 15, 1995.