Littler Cabin

Originally from near Bussey, IA, this two-story cabin was built sometime between 1867 and 1869. Benjamin Littler was born in Indiana in 1848, then came with his family to Iowa in 1866. Three years later, he married Martha Jane Smith (born in Virginia in 1850). The couple had five children.

The cabin boasts a wood floor, two doors, a stairway to the attic room, and a cast iron wood stove, making it different from many cabins built in the era. Behind the cabin, you’ll find a lye vat, used to gather rainwater from the gutters and mix with wood ash to create lye – an essential ingredient for pioneer women to make their family’s soap supply. Although not original to the Littler’s, the vat was constructed by MCHS after the cabin was moved to the site.

The granddaughter of Benjamin and Martha donated the cabin to the MCHS in 1962 and it was one of the first buildings moved to the Nelson Pioneer Farm. The cabin was deconstructed and moved piece by piece to its current location, then put back together again.

A Note to Photographers

Please call our Director Mac at 641-672-2989 or email her at to get permission to come take photographs of the property. This is not an open site and permission is necessary so we can let our property caretaker know.