Bill Marquis, a history buff and restoration contractor, had noticed the cabin back in 1986 located on a nearby property and was wanting then to restore or move it. In 1995 he rescued it from a certain death by fire and obtained permission to remove the cabin--which he did--piece by piece to his property about two miles away. He restored it with loving care during the evenings and weekends. What he hadn't been able to use of the original cabin he "created" from other old looking wood, maintaining all the historical features as close as possible. All this work was purely for the love of history, and the costs of restoration came out of his own pocket. The photos above were taken in October of 1996.
By mid-May of 1997, Bill had finished the roof and was starting on the stone chimney located on the right as you face the cabin. Once the chimney was finished, he added flower beds around the front and sides of the cabin edged in the same type of stones. A stone fireplace with a heavy wooden mantel had been completed also. Several special-made glass windows were added as well as the front doors. With the addition of a stone sidewalk embedded with fossils, the work was nearly completed.
The cabin is open to the public as a museum so others can visit, get a real life feel of a by-gone era and see Bill's display of arrowheads, coins and other artifacts that he has dug up over the years. There are also period memorabilia in the cabin that lend a feel of "living" to the cabin--you can almost smell the stew cooking.
In 1999, a split-rail fence was added around the cabin. Now when visitors come by they have a place to "hitch their horses".
Bill is collecting donations to get three historical markers. On sale is a wonderful print of the cabin drawn by Bill's wife, June Marquis that will help with the markers. Bill also restored The Christal-Burnett School House which is sitting in the heart of Ponder, TX.
The Christal Cabin or now Vaughan-Christal Cabin is thought to be the oldest house in Denton Co. When Bill did some digging through the local historical records he found that a man named
Reuben Vaughan sold the cabin and the land in 1853 to Silas Christal for $500. Originally, the cabin was built about 1839--making it older than Denton Co. itself. At that time the cabin actually was in Wise Co., when the boundaries changed, the cabin became part of Denton Co. It's probable that someone before Rueben Vaughan built the cabin. In 1859 Jeremiah and Burk Burnett lived with the Christals; by 1860 they moved to their own place. Silas added the left side of the cabin in 1879.
For a gorgeous site to see native Texas wildflowers, visit the cabin in April and May. The area surrounding the windmill is as wonderful as visiting a botanic garden with all the colors, sizes and shapes of flowers and plants growing in harmony among the rocks and trees.
Silas Christal and his wife, Elizabeth Burnett , a 1st cousin 2 x's removed of Burk Burnett who later became the noted rancher of the 6666 Ranch , moved with their 12 children from Macon Co. MO to settle in Denton (Wise) Co. Here he built, nearby the cabin, a grain mill on the east bank of Denton Creek to process the wheat that was well suited to grow in the area or process corn, according to another story. This mill came to be known as Christal's Mill. By providing a very useful service, Silas Christal helped to open the western part of Denton Co. to settlement although there were still an ocassional Indian raid and two of Silas' sons were later to become casulties of one of these possible raids. Go to the Christals or see the Christal Descendants for more on the Christals.