The C. A. Nothnagle Log House, (also known as Braman-Nothnagle Log House) is a historic house on Swedesboro-Paulsboro Road near Swedesboro in the Gibbstown section of Greenwich Township, New Jersey. It is one of the oldest surviving log houses in the United States. The oldest part of the house was built sometime between 1638 & 1643 by Finnish settlers in the New Sweden colony, & Scandinavian ironware from the 1590s is still hang around the fireplace. The fireplace, probably built of bricks brought over to North America as ship's ballast, is asymmetric & placed in a corner of the cabin.
The original cabin measures 16 by 22 feet, which indicates that the builders were relatively well off; an average sized dwelling of the period was 12 by 12 feet. It is built of oak logs, & two logs were removable to provide ventilation in the summer. The logs were double dovetailed to provide a close fit, & gravel was pounded between the chinks in the logs. No nails were used in the original construction; hardwood pegs were used as fasteners.
There is no ridgepole in the roof. People lived in this part of the house until 1918. A large addition to the original cabin was constructed in the early 18th century. A wooden floor was built over the original dirt floor around 1730.
According to popular folklore this is the house where, the Jersey Devil originated with a resident named Jane Leeds, known as “Mother Leeds”. The legend states that Mother Leeds had twelve children &, after finding she was pregnant for the thirteenth time, cursed the child in frustration, crying that the child would be the Devil. During 1735, Mother Leeds was in labor on a stormy night while her friends gathered around her. Born as a normal child, the thirteenth child changed to a creature with hooves, a goat's head, bat wings, & a forked tail.
Growling & screaming, it killed the midwife before flying up the chimney & heading into the pines. In some versions of the tale, Mother Leeds was supposedly a witch & the child's father was the Devil himself & some legends state that there was subsequently an attempt by local clergymen to exorcise the creature from the Pine Barrens, or that the creature proceeded to kill local children.
The house itself is also disputed as Paulsboro is not near the modern day pine barons; however, skeptics point out that the bine barons and the forest contained in it were much larger in the 1700s. Additionally, a home in Atlantic county New Jersey was registered as being occupied by Jane Leeds. In-fact the area is now know as “leeds point”.
The house was added to the National Register of Historic Places in April 23, 1976 & is still privately owned. The cabin is opened for tours by appointment through the current owners, Harry & Doris Rink, who reside in the adjoining structure.
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