We all love a good mystery story, but we’d love it if someone could solve this one for us!
We know the cottage is on the land that was owned by Pastor GJ Rechner. And we’re pretty sure it was there in 1860, when he sold the land to the newly-formed Strait Gate congregation. But who built it? And when?
Some say the cottage was built in 1848, before GJ Rechner arrived in Light Pass. This theory is supported by some of the architectural features of the cottage, which are typical of an early mid-century construction.
Perhaps the cottage was already there when GJ began renting the land from Carl Weber, sometime after he arrived in Light Pass in 1850 to take up the position of teacher. (Later on he bought the land, and in 1860 sold some of it to the newly formed Strait Gate congregation.)
GJ Rechner built the cottage when he rented the land. Is this likely? As the teacher, he was already provided with a free residence in which he, his new wife Bertha and their growing family lived. Perhaps he built it for his parents and sisters, who came from Germany to join him in 1854. One account says that when they arrived after their long journey and saw their new residence, they cried in despair! We hope that was not our beautiful pug cottage!
Some locals say that he did build the cottage, and that the larger room was added to accommodate the Strait Gate congregation whilst they waited for their new church to be built. But other documents say they were given permission to use the school for their services, so would not have needed the cottage.
The building of the cottage was a co-operative effort, as was often the case in early pioneer days. The early German community in the area had many skilled carpenters, and the construction of the cottage certainly shows evidence of fine craftsmanship and a good knowledge of building techniques used in German fachwerk buildings. So, whoever decided the cottage should be built, it is likely they enlisted the help of others.
The difficulty with delving into history is that memories, written stories and documents can give quite different accounts. A generation or two back, and we could have asked someone who knew for sure, but that chance has gone, and we are left trying to puzzle it out and search for clues. Do you have any ideas? Perhaps you are the person who has the key to unlock this mystery!