For those of you who have read more than one chapter of this blog, you may recall that a friend of my grandfather built a log cabin on Pine Branch, a small creek that flowed into Pine Eddy, and when this friend shared his Kinniconick retreat with the Lobitz clan, he became a legend. I did not have the pleasure of meeting this man but in stories my family told and retold he was simply called “Bathiany”.
Those stories about the man have stayed with me. He was a bachelor and he loved nature, and somehow he discovered a remote vacation spot in eastern Kentucky. The Kinniconick Hotel, built in about 1850 on the banks of the creek for which it was named, drew folks from as far away as Cincinnati. Bathiany traveled to Vanceburg by train and then by horse and wagon to the wilderness hotel. The old hotel stands to this day.
My guess is that Bathiany was born in about 1860, and his first adventures in Kinniconick country may have occurred late in the nineteenth century. Perhaps he met one of the Bate family during a stay at the hotel and visited their place on Pine Eddy. At some point in time he purchased several acres from the Bates and had his cabin built, a genuine log cabin made of chestnut logs.
The original structure was not large, perhaps sixteen feet wide and thirty-two feet long. Later, he added a spacious screened porch and that addition made it possible for most of the Lobitz family to congregate for summer vacations, a dozen or more, some on cots set up on the porch. Many years have passed since I slept in Bathiany’s cabin but I can see every detail to this day.
Two double beds, one single and one roll-away accommodated six. A wood stove in the kitchen connected to the fireplace chimney, and a sink with a hand pump provided water from a well. Oil lamps gave us light and enhanced the warm and cozy feel of living in the wilderness. An outdoor privy was located nearby, as well as a tool shed where dry wood was stacked.
This photograph, taken sometime in the mid-nineteen twenties, records some of my family with Bathiany at his cabin. Unfortunately, just a corner of the cabin porch is visible in the background, but my grandfather’s touring car is parked there, and in the line-up, from left to right, are: my Grandfather, Bathiany, my Dad, and my uncles Edward (Dup), Bill and Howard.
My earliest memories of the place go back to the mid-thirties, and then around1940 Bathiany was gone and his cabin was owned by a Norwood, Ohio family. The Sankers were good folks and they were happy to rent the place to us, so I recall many happy days in that rustic retreat on Kinniconick over the span of twenty years. Chapter Nineteen of this blog is entitled “Camaraderie” and is dedicated to the memory of annual weekend trips with my Dad and two favorite Uncles.
I believe it was in 1943, during the War, when Mom and Dad and I joined Doc and Ruth Snavely for the Labor Day weekend at Bathiany’s cabin. Fred Snavely was a dentist in Cincinnati and he and his wife became my parent’s close friends. Because they were so close, and because I came to love them, I always called them “Uncle Doc” and “Aunt Ruth”. They were wonderful people to be around.
That night it began to rain. And the foul weather continued, not a down-pour but a steady, cold rain, so we did little fishing on Sunday. A big fire in the fireplace kept us warm, and then we discovered some entertainment. An ancient wind-upVictrola had survived the great 1937 flood, when Bathiany’s place was under several feet of water. Dad repaired it, attaching a tin can to the armature, and it produced a rather tinny sound, a sound we found hilarious. Caruso and other opera stars were included in the stack of records but my favorite was a rendition of “Whispering”, a 1920’s hit that lives on to this day.
One more favorite experience at Bathiany’s cabin occurred in about 1945 or 1946, shortly after my sister Betty and her husband Jim Geers were married. Betty adored the rustic countryside, old farm houses, lamplight and woodfires, and of course she had the strong ties to Kinniconick that we all shared. Jim rented the old cabin from Mr. Sanker for one week in June and the three of us spent idyllic days, in perfect weather, on the creek and on woodland trails. We discovered that Pine Eddy was full of delectable panfish when we decided to try some flyfishing there for the first time. Fortunately, I had my fly-tying kit with me because we ran out of the best flies, the ones that attracted bluegills, warmouth, sunfish, rock-bass and pumpkinseed. Jim and I scaled our bountiful catch, and then Betty dipped them in cornmeal and fried them in bacon drippings. I have no doubt that Betty would have been happy to live out her life in that little corner of the world.
Bathiany’s cabin is gone, ever since one year in the 1960s when someone purchased it and took it apart, one log at a time, then reassembled it, who knows where? If only that someone could know how the place provided so much happiness to so many people, and how it inspired a kid to follow in the footsteps of its creator, how the kid became a man who built his own cabin deep in those wooded hills, overlooking a wonderful creek in Kentucky.