Hales Corners Historical Society
5885 South 116th Street, Hales Corners, Wisconsin 53130

  W. Ben Hunt
Ben Hunt Cabin


Ben Hunt                                
Hunt Cabin


"Hunt influenced thousands, no tens of thousands of people.  When you have a person with
that much influence on so many people, he's important."
  - Alan Pape, Log Cabin Expert 

W. Ben Hunt (1888-1970) was born in the town of Greenfield, Wisconsin.  He and his wife came to Hales Corners in 1920 to live in the house he had designed on Janesville Road.

Ben Hunt was a leader in the outdoor movement and in the reintroduction of pioneer skills.  He introduced subjects such as rustic woodworking, whittling and carving, metal working, and historic Indian crafts and lore as hobbies and handicrafts for fun and leisure-time activities.  He was  involved with the Boy Scouts on a local and national level. 

Ben Hunt and his cabin are known throughout the world.  His writings, with his knowledge and homespun philosophy, have been printed in 26 languages.  He wrote more than 20 books and 1000 magazine articles.   Under the pen names Lone Eagle and Whittlin' Jim, Ben Hunt was a regular contributor to Boy's Life magazine, the official publication of the Boy Scouts of America.

Thank you to Marquette University archivist Mark Thiel for compiling a biography of Ben Hunt.  Check it out!  The seven-page narrative contains photos, a list of  books written by Ben Hunt, and other interesting information.  Dated May 2010.

Photographs taken by Hunt are available on-line

You can see some interesting photographs of Native Americans taken by Ben Hunt.  They are available in Marquette University Raynor Memorial Libraries' Bureau of Catholic Indian Missions Digital Collection.   There are
images of Black Elk and relatives (Oglala) wearing traditional dress in South Dakota; Frank Clearwater (Ojibwa), playing a flute in Wisconsin Dells; a 9-image sequence of an unidentified Ojibwa Indian building a birch bark canoe in Wisconsin; and two images of Hunt.  To access the photos, go to http://digitalmarquette.cdmhost.com/  and search using the keyword "Ben Hunt."

Did you know Ben Hunt, or learn from him?

If so, please let us know!  Write us at the above address (or e-mail us) and tell us your recollections of Ben Hunt and your personal experiences with him or his writings.  If you have old issues of Boys Life Magazine, the Historical Society would be pleased to add them to the society's collection.  Donations can be left at the circulation desk of the Hales Corners Library (marked as a gift to the Historical Society), or mailed to us at the above address.

fireplace mantle
pipes
pump drill


THE BEN HUNT CABIN

The main cabin (16 x 28 foot) was built during the summer of 1924.  Ben Hunt, his brother, and father-in-law built it on Hunt's property on Janesville Road. They used only hand tools, beginning with sawing the logs to size right up to nailing down the last shingle.  The main cabin was built of tamarack logs.  Over the years additions were built from utility poles.   The cabin became a gathering place for Ben's friends to socialize and pursue their hobbies.  Young people were welcomed to learn from Ben and share his interests.
In 1986, the Ben Hunt cabin was moved one-third of a mile from its original site.  It is now located southwest of the Hales Corners library on the grounds of the W. Ben Hunt Center (5885 S. 116th Street, Hales Corners) and is owned by the Village of Hales Corners. The Hales Corners Historical Society is responsible for the preservation and upkeep of the cabin, and members of the Society serve as cabin guides. The cabin contains interesting artifacts and memorabilia related to Ben Hunt and native people.  In January 2005, the cabin was designated a local historic landmark through the efforts of the Hales Corners Historic Preservation Commission. 

Dugout Canoe is on Display

On display in the cabin is a dugout canoe made by W. Ben Hunt.  Hunt made the canoe in 1945 from a basswood tree found near "Mud"(Upper Kelly) Lake.  The canoe was made from a 14-foot length of the tree trunk which weighed one ton.  Digging out the interior of the log was accomplished using an axe, adz, and Indian crooked knife.  When it was finished, the canoe weighed only 175 pounds.

In June 1998 the canoe was donated to the Hales Corners Historical Society by Wayne Boldt.  The canoe had previously been in the possession of Boldt's late father, Alton Boldt, who was a close friend of Ben Hunt.  Stop by the cabin and see this interesting artifact!

Visit the Cabin!

      
entrance
           
The cabin is open to the public on the first Saturday of the month from
May to November, 1 - 3 p.m., (on July 4th open 12-3 p.m.) and in
December in conjunction with the Village of Hales Corners' tree lighting
ceremony.  Groups are welcome to schedule special tours at other times. 
There is no charge for tours, however donations are always welcome.


 Hunt Cabin Reservations
The Hunt cabin may be used without charge by non-profit groups
which serve a civic, cultural or educational purpose.  The
cabin
reservation form is available here
in text format.  For  information
contact Priscilla Riebs by phone (414) 425-3312
or e-mail.


W. BEN HUNT from Whittlin' Jim to Lone Eagle
by
Alan J. Strekow and Robert Zeit

The first-ever book about Hales Corners' most famous resident was published in June 2012 by local authors.  It contains 120 pages and more than 250 color and black and white photos and illustrations.  For a picture and information about the book (pdf file) click here.  To obtain a copy, go to Publications.

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