Has anybody seen one slightly used 140 year old farmhouse? Mine's missing

Here’s a weird one- somebody stole a house from me.

Due to a family real-estate shuffle this year, I ended up owning the house my father grew up in. Now, it was hardly in livable condition- for those interested in folk architecture it’s a squared-log dogtrot cabin with 2 front and 2 shed rooms and weatherboarding, last occupied about 20 years ago, and was built around 1865-1870. It was heavily damaged during a tornado a few years ago- one of the front rooms was pretty much destroyed and the ceilings and parts of the floor had largely collapsed in the other rooms- BUT- and this is the salient point- the logs of the other front room were still there, dovetailed, and solid as ever.

Today I went driving to where I grew up and there’s a pile of rubble where that house was. (No, there’s no way it was condemned- this is far outside of city limits and due to pines you can’t even see the place from the road anymore unless you’re looking for it, and there are abandoned houses all up and down that highway so nobody would have complained about it being an eyesore.) At first I thought it had collapsed or whatever, but as I went to examine it I noticed that the reason the tin roof was laying across the remains of the house was because SOMEBODY HAS TAKEN THE LOGS!

Now this is not an easy feat- those logs were heavy and dovetailed together. This would have been an all-day (at least) effort and would have required at very least a really big truck and probably heavy lifting equipment.

In a rare instance of intersecting lives my brother called me today because he was in town. I mentioned this and he told me that he’d had a phone call about the logs “back around Christmas” from a doctor who wanted to buy them to build a fence around his house in the suburbs. He had gotten my brother’s name and number from a neighbor/distant-relative up there who had no idea which of us currently owned the house (and at Christmas it was still in “estate of” my father). My brother said he had given the doctor my name and number, though I’ve changed phone numbers since then so perhaps he tried to call and couldn’t. He gave me the doctor’s name.

Now- had the doctor called me and asked I’d have gladly sold him the logs. There’s no repairing that house- and I would have even let him set the price- I’d have accepted anything reasonable. (What I really want from that place are the back steps- they’re crudely made of granite and fieldstone but my father and grandfather chiseled their names into it many many many years ago and I’ve thought that if I had anyway of transporting them I’d like to store them in case I ever build a house, then I’d incorporate them somewhere- if he could have gotten those steps to me I’d have given him the logs (all save for one or two which I’d like to use to make a bench, and there’s a couple still there, but anyway).

I don’t know it’s the doctor who got the logs, he’s just the only suspect. I am MAJORLY pissed off at the notion of somebody feeling they can help themselves to something that’s in the country and abandoned, which this is far from the first time that’s happened and I’m far from the only rural landowner to have this complaint. (Christmas trees, contents of old barns, pieces of abandoned houses, you name it- people help themselves from it if it’s outside of city limits as if private property is only for inside city limits.)

I’m trying to decide on how or whether to pursue the matter. Should I call the doctor and say “Pardon me, do you have my family’s homeplace around your pool or your begonia beds by any chance?” and if he says he does then follow up with “You do? Great! Now please pay me $3000 per log! HELL YEAH that’s an exorbitant amount, I agree, that’s why I want it bitch! You could have had it for next to nothing if you’d just asked me!” Of course he could be innocent, but even if he’s not unless he admitted it it would be next to impossible to prove, but I’m so majorly pissed off at whoever did this. I honestly think that lopping the hands off of thieves is one thing the Middle East got right- people who knowingly steal for any reason other than to keep themselves alive deserve to reside eternally in hell on the same street as Hermann Göring and Carot Top.

M,P, and IMS it.

So the Doc hired out the heist? Even in a medium sized burg, there can’t be too many companies that hire out for such salvage operations.
Seems to me that hiring a private dick could yield results pretty quickly; might be fun too.

Man, I’ve heard of people stealing the lawn (newly sodded), but never the house!

That is really some nerve, stealing your house.

Do you know where the doctor lives? Is he in the phone book? Perhaps you could drive by sometime and see if he is now sporting a lovely fence. I know it would be difficult to prove they are your logs, but if you see the fence you might feel more confident about confronting him, and if he doesn’t have a fence or piles of logs, you might feel better about assuming he is innocent.

If he is innocent (or you know, you believe he is reasonably innocent based on a lack of visible logs on his property), you might then contact him to let him know that unfortunately the logs are not for sale because they have been stolen. I don’t know why the doctor would know anything about this if he is really innocent, but I guess there’s an outside chance that he might have heard mention of someone else wanting to stake a claim on your logs, and will be full of righteous indignation that another person stole the logs out from under him. I’m not really sure what would happen then, but if you’re involved it will probably result in an entertaining story.

Sorry about your house. :frowning:

Yeah, probably would. Not worth the money though.

I’d drive by his house and see whether the logs are in his yard before I even tried to talk to him. If he actively has the logs on his property, it will be a bit more difficult to deny he was involved.

If you can’t see the logs on his property, your inquiries might need to be a bit more discreet to discover who does have the logs.

I whitepaged his address. It’s a home in a upscale bedroom community of Montgomery and in the county where I grew up. At some point I’ll do that, but this is one I’ll probably just let go since I’m hoping to leave the state soon anyway and certainly had no use for the damned things. I’m just more aggravated by the general principal of it. (Too bad Google Earth isn’t a little more high power and a whole lot more recent* or I could find out right now. :wink: )
*The Google Earth image of my place has a truck I traded in 2003.

Oh, come on. You drive every day by a house that’s turning into a pile of logs. Nobody seems to care. You make a couple of phone calls, and find out that even the current owners don’t seem to care. So, having made the appearance of an effort, you go get the logs, which nobody has made even a pretense of caring about in 20 years…

And for this you deserve Carrot Top? For eternity?

(My aunt once found out who owned a house that had been falling down, for years and years, around a very handsome front door. She located the owner and asked if she could buy some pieces of the house from him, and he said he didn’t care, it was a shack, and she could take anything she wanted. So she grabbed a truck and her sons and went and got the front door, which she had made into a cabinet. A couple of years later the guy who owned the house got in touch with her and said, essentially, “Hey, lady–I didn’t say you could take the front door!” She replied that he’d said she could take anything she wanted. “But not the front door! That was valuable! It had [some kind of] glass.” She knew that; that’s why she wanted it. He wanted his door back. She told him it was too late, she’d had it made into a cabinet, and had incurred certain expenses in so doing, and besides she liked it and he’d said to take whatever she wanted. Apparently he never forgave her.)

A better way of saying it might be

You go onto land that DOES NOT BELONG TO YOU. You take logs THAT DO NOT BELONG TO YOU without the permission of the owner WHO YOU HAVE NOT CONTACTED. You are a thief. You have trespassed, you have violated the property rights and the right to just compensation of a person who owes you nothing and you have turned it into an ornament. The fact the house has not been lived in for 20 years is irrelevant- IT IS MY PROPERTY to let decay or to burn down or to give out to friends as really odd Christmas presents. Were I an intimate acquaintance of a freelance Byzantine Emperor I’d give whoever orchestrated it a choice of losing one eye or one thumb (both of either would be a bit extreme, for I am not without a sense of fairness), break three of their ribs, have them spend a night in a Jonestown Appreciation Storage Unit, and then send them on their merry way after they’ve paid me whatever I deem the property is worth. I detest thieves, trespassers, and any who place their superficial happiness over the rights/property of others.

But I like dogs.

It’s certainly wrong, but it’s also dead common in any place rural enough that they won’t be seen doing it. It’s even worse in reverse. A friend of mine had a hunting property south of here. One summer while we were going camping, we discovered that someone had installed five large beehives next to the trail from the pasture down to the campsite.

I’d be as indignant as hell if it happened to me.
Take some time and think about whether you want to pursue it.

Just call the sheriff. Sooner is better than later, legally speaking. Just say, “Hey, ol’ son, I think my house was stolen.”

If he doesn’t seem interested, I’d next place a call to the local TV station’s “we’ll help you resolve an issue” program (Channel 7 here has one called “Seven on Your Side.”) They’d probably love an oddball story like this. They’d also mprobably call the sheriff to ask how the investigation was going.

The sheriff will probably call you back. That would be a good time to mention what your brother said.


Here in New England people are stealing stone walls that have been in place for 200 years. Apparently 200 year old rocks have acquired a certain patina that some folks just have to have.

Construction materials gets stolen all the time in urban and rural America. New or old they take off with it. You should file a police report and tell them the person that had asked about the logs. Hand mortised 100 year old cured logs will be very identifiable. I would look locally also. Call up log cabin building companies to see if somebody sold them some old cabin logs. It’s about catching them right, not about what they sell for, and you want the stairs back if they exist.

I haven’t. Sod is freakin’ heavy - who steals sod?

And it may be worth quite a bit. Lots of people will pay good cash for the type of logs you’re talking about. Here’s a link to an article about somebody who paid $4,000 for the logs from an old cabin:


You might have received considerably more, depending on the condition, coloring, length, species of wood etc.

If the doctor has them, you’d best be sure where they are and give the authorities the location before you contact the doctor to live out your revenge fantasy.

My folks (well, Mom only now) owns 40 acres in northern Minnesota for hunting purposes and Xmas tree gathering purposes. When they bought the land there was a rusted out trailer home circa 1960 off the end of the road, pretty much covered by trees and branches.

Two years ago the guys went up there for their usual week of Oreo cookie and beer no dead deer fun only to discover the trailer had been completely ransacked. The shed my dad built was also broken into.

Every piece of aluminum and cooper “they”, whoever “they” were, was gone. The trailer windows were broken on the ground, frames gone. Door torn out. Dad had some copper tubing in the shed - gone. Aluminum lawn chairs - gone.

The two main issues about the robbery -

  • The trailer was 200 yards from the road, completely nonvisible, and the entrance to the property gated and locked. The lock was not tampered with and gate just fine. So whoever took everything either came from the other side of the 40 on snowmobile/ATV and then drove everything back out through the crick, deadwood, steep hills - or - they hauled everything down to the road over a very closed, potholed road
  • The trailer was infested with anything it could be infested with having sat there pretty empty for over 20 years. We knew there were hornet nests, raccoons, mice, rabbits, and we had found bear tracks around the trailer on numerous occassions. The floor was rotted through in places, the ceiling falling down with moldy insulation, and the stench was horrific.

My dad was pretty sure he knew who did it (the same jerk who killed the albino deer with a semi automatic sigh), but could never prove it.

I’m another poster who’s going to speak up to say that this may well meet the criteria for grand theft. There’s a huge market for naturally aged, weathered wood. People make faux antiques out of it, or simply great furniture or house/property decorations.

Additionally, it’s my understanding that logs of the size and quality that you’re describing are very, very hard to find new cut these days.

All of this combines to make it something that I think that the sheriff in the area would investigate. If, as you believe, someone had to hire a carting company to retrieve the logs, it should be a pretty simple thing to investigate.

The house may well have been as worthless as you claim - the wood in those logs is not.

There was a mid-1860s loghome like mine a little to the north of us a few years back. Hand-hewn squared logs, just like in my house.

They tore the whole house down and cut the logs into 5’ sections to serve as fireplace mantels for a housing development in Texas.

My barn’s structure is 100% hand-hewn oak beams and I have been approached a number of times about selling the lumber in it, but it won’t happen in my lifetime.

I would call the Dr. and pretend you never saw that the logs had been stolen. Just say, hey I just got your number from my brother and I was wondering if you are still interested in buying these logs? See if he still offers to buy them, or if he makes an excuse. If he still seems genuinely interested in buying them it might rule him out. If he acts guilty on the phone and says he doesn’t need them anymore, say you would be happy to go to the place and see what’s left for him, etc. Press him on it a little and see what he says. Might save you a trip to his house.