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Luray History

First Home in Russell County


      During the winter of 1870-71, the log cabin home of Jonathan Wesley Van Scoyoc, a Civil war veteran, and his wife, Margaret, was completed south of the creek that meanders through the valley just north of Luray, Kansas. The family, which also included a 3 year- old son, had arrived in Kansas in the spring, coming originally from Ohio via Illinois, and settling in the area of Coon Creek, about one-fourth mile north of what was to become the community of Luray. Upon arrival, they first lived in a dugout home on the side hill just west of where the cabin was later built.

        The pioneer home, one of the few log cabins ever built in the area, and considered to be the first log-cabin home in Russell County, was constructed from timber along the nearby creek. The original portion consisted of one room and a fireplace. As the family increased in size, more room was necessary and a stone one-room addition was built about 1875. Four more children were born at the cabin, one of which died and was buried on the side hill near the old dugout.

        The log home was also used as a meeting place for church services. An itinerant pastor came through once a month and the settlers would come to hear his sermons.

        An abundant supply of buffalo and wild turkeys helped with the food supply, and it was told that Indians often passed along west of the log cabin. Mr. Van Scoyoc operated a lime kiln north of the cabin on the south bank of Coon Creek.

        A historical preservation project was undertaken by the Luray Lions Club in the late 1950's, when the log cabin and fire place were moved 1/2 mile south from the original location to the roadside park along K-18 at Luray. The cabin was dismantled, with each log being numbered and recorded, and then moved to the new location for reconstruction. After two years of volunteer efforts, preservation of the first Russell County home was completed in 1960. The cabin is open for walk-in visitors where one can only imagine life of one of the very first families to come to Russell County and the beginning of the community of Luray.




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Charma Craven