Parker County Today April 2016 - Page 46

PA R K E R C O U N T Y T O D AY APRIL 2016 and big open house,” Mary said with a sense of satisfaction. The open house idea caught on and 36 years later has become a Texas Tradition here in Parker County. The Kemps started out opening up the cabin for school tours, allowing school kids to file through while they “oohed and awed” at the simple utilitarianism of the structure — to them a tangible portal to a way of life long gone. After a few years they opened the doors to the general public. Not wanting to interfere with Easter celebrations, in 44 the early years, the Kemps held their open houses in March. Then concerns over nasty weather caused them to move it up to April; the last few years’ events occurring the second Saturday of the month. And the scope has changed a bit. The once all-day affair is now a half-day afternoon event. “Half of my volunteers died,” Mary said. “It takes over a hundred volunteers to put it on the way we used to do it. They died, got old; it just got to where we couldn’t do it. When we had it open a full day, we would have three to four thousand people. Now we have about 1,500 people in four hours — still a good crowd. And some people come up to me and say: ‘I enjoyed this so much. This year it wasn’t so crowded.’” Nine rustic structures make up Kemp’s nostalgic Nebo Valley village. The pre-Civil War Shaw-Kemp cabin built in 1856 is the jewel in the Nebo Valley crown. A board-and-batten room was added on the west side of the log structure in 1876 — the coun-