Spring Field Trip to Tuttle Cabin

The sun was shining and it was a beautiful week to host the Second grade students from Lincoln Elementary and Pella Christian Grade school at Tuttle Cabin. This event took place on the last week of April, 2018.  The students participated in a living history demonstration at Historic Pella Trust’s Tuttle Cabin located at 608 Lincoln. The cabin is known as the birthplace of Pella and was built by the area’s first homesteaders.  Thomas and Nancy Tuttle built the cabin in 1943. HP Scholte purchased their homestead claim to build the city of Pella. It was located between two major rivers and it was excellent ground. Soon 800 Dutch people moved to Pella from St. Louis.

The students enjoyed the hands on activities planned by chairperson, Jan VandenBerg. They divided into groups to go to the 6 stations. They were introduced to Mrs. Tuttle, a young 21 year old bride, played by Lil Terpstra. Lil told them a wonderful story of early pioneer life, building the cabin and hunting for berries and food in the woods. She explained how the early settlers would put their initials on a honey bee tree, and how that was respected by the neighbors as their property. Mrs. Tuttle told the kids about needing to stay alone at the cabin to protect it from claim jumpers while Thomas traveled 9 days for supplies.  She taught the children about the Native American tradition of planting the “3 sisters” A technique of putting corn in the center, pumpkins around the corn and pole beans. She explained how these foods were dried to preserve them and a favorite pumpkin dish prepared right in the pumpkin. Each student planted 3 beans in a pot to grow at home. The next booth was taught by Joyce Spur, Carol Hoeksema and Dixie Roorda. It was about doing laundry on a washboard, and the students participated by cleaning some clothes using the washboard and lye soap. The lesson also included math in calculating how much the water buckets weighed, how many socks were in a family in a week and about the dangers of the prairie life including heating the water.

Marbles were another station, Bert Terpstra, Lila Turnbull, Dixie Roorda and Susan Bracken were the instructors for this activity. The kids played a game of Marbles with authentic clay marbles provided by Joyce Spur. After the game they used clay to make their own marbles.

Inside of the cabin, Jan Vandenberg visited with the students about Mr. and Mrs. Tuttle while they sat on the floor in front of the cozy fireplace. She talked about making food and eating venison and squirrels. She told them about clearing the land and building the cabin. She explained the beneficial factors of owning a cat for rodent control and companionship, while she held a toy kitty through her presentation.

The final activity was upstairs in the cabin with Glenda Noordsy and Lila Turnbull. The kids enjoyed learning about spinning yarn, dyeing it with natural foods such as walnut shells. They got to feel the washed and unwashed wool, the unwashed wool had natural lanolin oil in it. She talked about weaving and wool socks.  They also visited about repurposing old clothing into quilts and rugs. The fascinating rope bed was a favorite of everyone’s and there were many giggles at the thought of using a chamber pot. It was not unusual for the whole family to sleep in the one room together. A ladder was once the only way up and down into the loft and a door covered the opening to keep heat downstairs during the day and let it rise at night. The students really enjoyed the cabin tour and historical presentations.

Bruce Haustine and Jennifer VanKooten dressed in vintage attire and represented the Historic Pella Trust while helping with the activities. Bruce even occasionally shared a tune on the harmonica adding to the historical ambiance. A class picture was taken in front of the newly donated high wheel wagon.