Maintaining the cabin’s 19th-century charm was the easy part for the Donelsons, who are Lewis and Clark period re-enactors. Jan Paul often plays Captain Meriwether Lewis with a group called the Discovery Expedition of St. Charles. The Donelsons brought their furniture from their previous home in St. Louis to the cabin. “It seems like everything we had prior to moving here fits, as if we’d been collecting things all those years just to put it in this cabin,” Jan Paul says. In the living room, he displays a replica of Lewis’s captain’s uniform, which he wears during re-enactments. There’s also a hand-carved paddle he uses on the Missouri and Columbia Rivers and a feather quill used for journal writing during the re-enactments. “Each item has a story of its own and a memory to go with it,” Jan Paul says. The items look perfectly at home in the cabin.
The Donelsons are passionate about their cabin and about its importance as a living piece of history. “This place whispers to me every day, of where we have come from,” Jan Paul says. “Not everyone who crosses our threshold feels the connection, but for those who appreciate the sense of place, time and heritage our forefathers gave us, they find the cabin a comfort. They feel that warm embrace of romance from our heritage.”