The Christian Null Cabin

& Restoration by Local Volunteers & the City of Springboro

The Null Cabin built by Christian and Charles Null in 1798, is the first permanent structure built in the Springboro area and the oldest such cabin in its original location in Warren County. The cabin was saved from destruction and extensively rebuilt in 1995 and 1996, by many community volunteers, first among them, Gil Morris and Charles Logan. 

In 2011, the City had major elements of the cabin restored and preserved, including log caulking, clapbord siding, window caulking, sash sealing and storm gutter work. Work was performed by an area firm noted for accurate historic restorations, Architectural Reclamation. 

In the pioneer days of southwestern Ohio, log cabins were a sign of permanent settlement required for securing land grants, but they were not considered permanent structures unless they had clapboard siding on them within five years. 

Christian Null’s pioneer story* found in the Null file in Lancaster, PA: prepared by "Aunt Sarah" in 1915:

    "Great Grandfather, Henry Null, was born in Germany in the year 1735. In 1740, his parents came to America. They settled on a stream in Pennsylvania, named the Swatara. There were seven children in the family; five sons, and two daughters. Their names were John, Nicholas, Balser [Henry], and one brother that Father did not know his name. The sisters were Mrs. Brenner and Mrs. Gunckel. Great Grandfather was the youngest of the family. When he was 20 years old, he left Pennsylvania and went to Rockingham County, Virginia. He married Miss Harmon; and his children were born and brought up in Virginia. He had sons, Jacob, George, Henry, Charles, Christian (Grandfather) and Adam. There were four daughters; Mrs. Hoffman, Mrs. Keyser, and Mrs. Handspiger. One daughter, named Elizabeth, a girl of 15, perished in a storm on the Blue Ridge mountains. The oldest son, Jacob, died in the Revolutionary War.

    "In 1792, Great Grandfather gave Christian (Grandfather) $500 and told him to travel until he found a better farming country than Virginia. He went to a town on the Monongahela River where the emigrants loaded their flat boats to float down the Ohio River to settle on the Kentucky shore. When he arrived at the town, a number of families were loading a boat to go to Kentucky. He asked them to take him along, and he would help them work; but they refused as he was a stranger. Their last excuse was that they had no room for his horse; and he could not go without it. The women spoke up and told the men they could make room for his horse, and take him on board. The men on the flat boat knew but little how to manage it, and Grandfather was on but 3 days until he had the helm of the boat. One day, the horses got to fighting and kicked a board loose at the water's edge. The water poured in; the women screamed; the men were frightened. When Grandfather saw the board was not quite knocked off the pins, he let himself down over the side of the boat, and told a man to hand him an ax. With the first lick, he knocked it back on the pins. He pounded the board back into place, and told the men to caulk the seam and bail out the water.

    "He went with the boat as far as Maysville, Kentucky. There, he left them and stopped to visit with some friends. He stayed there for several years, working his way. When the Indians were defeated by General Wayne and it was safe to go to Ohio, Grandfather went there and traveled over part of the country, and bought land near Springboro, Warren County, Ohio. He cleared some land, built a log house, and sent word to his Father that he had a home for him. His father sent word that he would not come to Ohio unless Christian would come back to Virginia, help him sell out and move him to Ohio. Grandfather rode back to Virginia, helped his Father sell out, loaded the wagons; and started for the Ohio home. After some weeks of travel, they arrived safely at the new home. His [Christian's] brother, George, died in Virginia, and his wife and children stayed there. Two sisters, Mrs. Keyser and Mrs. Handspiger, remained in Virginia. One sister, Mrs. Hoffman, and the other brothers went to Ohio."

"I write this from hearing Father tell about the Null family.”  -  Signed: "Sarah A. Null"
(*Thanks to Robert Sharp for his wonderful family history site which includes the Null family.)

Recent Restoration of the Null Cabin

Dallas Bogen wrote a series of monographs on Warren County history including the following story on the restoration of the Null Cabin in 1995-1996: “Christian Null Homestead Is A Springboro Landmark.” (Below are pictures of restoration work in 2011.)

“A grand celebration was held Sunday, August 18, 1996, at the old Christian Null homestead, located high atop a picturesque hill in a portion of the Heatherwoode golf course, just south of Springboro, Ohio. 

“The Springboro Historical Society, a fairly young organization, accepted the challenge of restoring this two and one-half story log house to its original condition. Many objections were raised regarding the project. However, with the vision and perseverance of the local Society, plans were made, executed, and today stands a monument to the past, which everyone can be proud of.

“In February 1995, two members of the Society, Charlie Logan and Gil Morris, introduced a plan to the Historical Commission, of which they are members, to completely renovate the decaying Null dwelling. In turn, the Commission presented their plans to the Springboro City Council, and approval was given. City Manager, Ed Doczy, paved a way for the project, developing a viable financial plan. 

“Before the project got underway, an estimate of $200,000 was given to the Society for restoration of the building. However, Charlie and Gil accepted the monetary challenge and the job was done for less than $25,000.

“Actual renovation began in March 1995. Volunteer work crews from the Springboro Historical Society, the Historical Commission, and Springboro City Council worked Saturdays throughout the on-going process.

“Charlie and Gil worked every Tuesday and Friday, weather permitting. They were joined in late March, 1996, by Paul Travisano, who had moved to the area from Chicago. And a tip of the hat to Charlie's daughter, Jane Perkins, for her part in the project. In all, more than 60 volunteers helped in the renovation.

“One of the first jobs, and most assuredly the most difficult, was to place the dwelling back on its foundation, which was a mere four inches off. One reason given for this misalignment was the large earthquake of 1811. (New Madrid Earthquakes, 1811-1812.)

“Charlie and Gil hooked the old building up with cables and ingenious contraptions. Constant pulls were given. Finally, with one extra large groan, it slipped perfectly back into place.

“The inside has been completely redone. Five sections of logs were replaced on the east side. Most of the foundation was rebuilt, and the ground floor in the main room was restored. In this room is a giant fireplace that a person can stand upright in. All the windows and doors were replaced. 

“A porch was built onto the west side and both exterior wings were re-boarded.

“In late 1995, Chris Payne, a Springboro High School sophomore, organized a group of scouts and their parents to do the chinking.

“Gil and Charlie also used juvenile offenders assigned by Lebanon courts as workers.”

By Dallas Bogan, Warren County, Ohio and Beyond (Bowie Maryland:Heritage Press, 1979) page 15.

See this monograph and others on Warren County history at the Warren Co. Ohio GenWeb project.

(Images are from restoration work done in 2011.)

The Nulls were associated with the United Brethren in Christ Church. See more about the history of the church, the Clear Creek Chapel Cemetery and some of its early members in Springboro & Clear Creek Township on our page named, United Brethren in Christ Church.

© 2011-2018