Log cabin where Olive Osmond was born is dedicated in Idaho

Published: Monday, May 3 2010 12:00 a.m. MDT

Luke Waldron gets a high-five from Donny as he and his wife, Shayna, walk to the podium. The Waldrons donated the land and, with the help of many others, reassembled the cabin that was the birthplace of Osmond's mother, Olive Davis Osmond. The Osmond family dedicated the Samaria, Idaho, cabin, which is now a museum, to their mother on Monday.

Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News

SAMARIA, Idaho — About six miles southwest of Malad, Idaho, a girl was born in a log cabin on May 4, 1925. Eighty-five years later, seven of Olive Davis Osmond's nine children walked into the restored cabin. "This is so surreal," Donny Osmond said. "You can feel her presence here"

The Osmonds were in town for the dedication of the "Olive May Davis Osmond Cabin and Museum." The cabin sits on property donated by Samaria resident Luke Waldron, a local high school teacher and history buff. It is only about 200 feet away from its original location.

Waldron carefully took the decaying cabin apart about 20 years ago — numbering every log. The buyer of the logs never reassembled it and eventually it came back into Waldron's possession. Two years ago, he began restoring the cabin — hoping to have it done in time for a local visit and musical performance by The Osmonds — Second Generation.

That cabin didn't get finished by then, but a new goal to have it done by Olive Osmond's birthday this year was achieved with "a lot of community involvement," said Waldron — involvement that included seven Eagle Scout projects by local youths.

And so before noon on May 3, Virl, Tom, Alan, Merrill, Jay, Donny and Jimmy Osmond walked through the small two-room cabin. (Wayne and Marie were unable to attend.) Meanwhile, outside, Alan's son Nathan was singing a medley of Osmond hits to warm up the crowd.

Inside, Donny touched the old sewing machine stand that he and his brothers had carved their names into in the 1960s.

The reverential spirit inside the cabin changed suddenly when it was suggested that Donny give his nephew outside a hard time. Waiting for just the right moment as Nathan sang Donny's trademark song "Puppy Love," Donny jumped out of the cabin door and shouted, "Someone help him!" In a moment he was back inside, almost doubled over in laughter with his brothers.

For Merrill, the thing that touched him the most was the little red baby shoe that had been found at the original cabin site. "My mother, no doubt, wore this," he said.

There was a table that belonged to their grandmother. The original stove was in its place. Donny stopped near a piano. "This piano. This is the one where I learned how to play," Donny said. "I played chopsticks on this."

The cabin is restored to what it looked like in the 1920s and '30s when Olive's grandparents lived there. Her parents had a home in the foothills and they would visit often. A large rock from her parents' home was relocated in front of the newly restored cabin. On it is a plaque dedicated to "Olive 'Eternally.' "

In the cabin, Donny was sharing a joke about the small size of the cabin: "You can't say, 'Go to your room!' " Donny said, laughing with his brothers.

Ethel Morse Suttlemyer, 93, remembers the cabin. She also remembers the day Olive, about 2 years old at the time, was lost. Everyone in the community looked for her. "My brother Rich found her in the cornfield," she said. "I don't remember if she had fallen asleep or was just walking around."

The quilt covering the bed impressed Alan. It was made by fans — and he was touched by the love its making expressed. "She was like a mother to the fans," Alan said.

The cabin was built in the 1870s by Olive's great-grandfather, Thomas John Davis, a convert to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from Wales. His son (Olive's father) was also born in the cabin.

The time approached for the Osmond brothers to walk outside and express their thanks to the communities of Malad and Samaria for restoring their mother's birthplace. But brothers being brothers, they couldn't decide who was to greet the crowd, who would give the opening prayer, who would dedicate the property.

The crowd cheered as the brothers came out and then spoke in turn.

After the speeches, Virl walked over to the boulder where his mother played as a child. His brothers joined him and rested their hands on the rock. Virl then offered a prayer in dedication of his mother's birthplace.

e-mail: mdegroote@desnews.com

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