Log Home Dream Adjusted for a New Reality 

by Rick Denton, Retired President, Honest Abe Log Homes

David Denton is my 49-year-old son. He celebrates his 50th birthday this year. His log home sits on our family farm, next to mine and his sisters’. The three log homes comprise our little family complex. My wife, Wanda, and I always wanted our children close. We have certainly been blessed having our children and grandchildren next door. And, we have all enjoyed living in our log homes, forty years for Wanda and I. Life has been full for us, and our family and our log homes have been a major part of it.

All three log homes have been family do-it-yourself projects. It’s how we wanted it. We worked tirelessly together on them. Today, we have a lifetime of memories linked to our three-log-home family complex on our little farm in Moss, Tennessee, close to the Honest Abe Log Home business complex where I spent my career.

The photos accompanying this article are recent photos of his 21 year old log home. The log home itself looks almost exactly like it did when newly built back in 1999. However, a book could be written about what the logs have witnessed over their 21 years if they were humans. Dave has quite a story. His life journey has not been what Wanda and I envisioned for him after his birth, childhood, and early adult years.

Dave married his high school sweetheart right after he completed college. Although he wanted a career with Honest Abe Log Homes, things did not work out in that direction. He and his wife settled into a new conventional home and successful jobs nearby in Cookeville, TN.

Two years later, he suffered a tragic and life-changing motorcycle wreck on Dec. 15, 1995, leaving him handicapped with a traumatic brain injury and also some physical disabilities. It’s a remarkable miracle of God that he is alive today, having died at the wreck scene, revived there, life-flighted to a trauma hospital, staying in a coma for months and enduring two years of acute rehab to re-learn everything all over again: how to breathe, set up, eat, swallow, walk, use the bathroom, talk and everything else he’d learned already from his birth and childhood days. He had his family with him 24/7 through all this.

He had badly wanted to build a log home before his wreck. He’d worked summers for Honest Abe and fell in love with log homes. We were jointly building a log home rental in Gatlinburg, Tennessee when he wrecked. Four years to the day from the day he wrecked, he and his wife moved into their new Honest Abe log home.

Our family and his wife’s family decided to undertake the project of building them a log home near us in Moss, Tennessee. That way both families could share in helping them with anything they needed. However, his wife left him in 2004. Living alone in his large log home was too much for him in his handicapped condition. Wanda and I moved in with him after he badly broke his ankle in a fall down the basement steps. We stayed a couple of years, then built an assisted living apartment attached to our log home, in which he lives today. Our second child, Dave’s other sister, rents his log home today as she makes some changes in her life.

Log homes may not appeal to everyone. I certainly learned that in my career, having heard the majority of the national home market express this. However, for those that do like log homes, like my son, Dave, they are unique, one-of-a-kind homes. Because we heard this so often, the marketing team at Honest Abe chose a slogan reflecting this, “It’s what you always wanted.” We heard this so often from log home prospects like my son, Dave.

Dave is unable to remember lots of things today due to his brain injury. However, any topic related to log homes brings a gleam or sparkle to his eyes and he launches into a conversation about the unique and distinctive feelings of living in a log home. He loves to talk about the details of kiln drying and manufacturing the pre-cut and numbered logs and their unique features that result in a distinctive, one-of-a-kind home.

Although he no longer lives in his beautiful dream log home, his assisted living apartment is completely “log-homey” in feel and decor style. He loves it almost as much as this 1999 log home built for him. He loves to talk with anyone about his love of log homes, his building experience with his own log home and his summers working for Honest Abe Log Homes.

Truly, it was what he always wanted!

 The eagle, a family’s emblem

those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. – Isaiah 40:31 


As soon as we got to the Chattanooga Trauma Emergency room after Dave’s wreck, the team of doctors working on Dave told us they could do nothing for him. The head neurologist called me aside and told me to prepare everyone for Dave’s death. His brain stem had been sheared off and numerous other tears were all over his brain. He said Dave’s brain had bounced around inside his skull, essentially making it impossible for the brain to tell his body to function. 

We did not know what to do except to appeal to the Lord for a miracle. The doctor and nurse staff had, it seemed to us, given up. We immediately began praying. Our church family went into prayer. Person after person called their family, friends and church bodies.

Read the story of the eagle painting

My Honest Abe family began praying…dealers all over the nation and their church families. Suppliers and their church families. The emergency room telephone never stopped ringing (before the days of cell phones.) Hundreds of these people started calling and/or coming to the emergency room. The staff had to tell me to limit our family visitors in order that the other ER patient’s families could be comfortable. Then, these families started praying for Dave.  Wanda dove into the Scripture. She claimed verse after verse. She was led to verses that told us to praise God during this time. We did not know how to do this because we were torn with grief, heartache and pain. Yet we tried. We found ways to praise Him. We found songs. We found the little chapel tucked away at the end of a hallway. We told visitor after visitor of our petition to God for a miracle. We claimed verses and gave him praise for the answer He was going to give us. No one came to visit us that we did not share our story with…praise. Days stretched into weeks. Still Dave lay in a coma, hooked up to a breathing machine. No response for any doctor to see. They held out no hope. They said his brain would eventually swell inside his skull, causing so much pressure that he would die from it. Amazingly, this never happened. They monitored his brain pressure 24/7 and it never got outside normal. No surgeries. They said there was nothing they could do with a surgery. Too much damage. Yet, when we visited with Dave, we detected him attempting to work through his coma. An eye movement. An extra little squeeze with his hand as we held it. The doctors said we were imagining it and felt pity for us.  While Dave lay in his coma hooked up to what seemed hundreds of tubes, and the machine monitoring and pumping all the time. Wanda hung a card on the monitor machine with a beautiful eagle painted on it. The Bible verse printed under the eagle scene was “Isaiah 40:31, but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” The eagle became our sign, our emblem or symbol. Many times we placed our hand on the eagle card as we prayed over Dave. Everyone who came to visit us in the hospital heard about and saw our eagle card hanging over Dave. We took most of the ER visitors to see Dave laying there lifeless (only three people could go every four hours, and we’d rotate them in and out). Eventually my brother took our story to an artist friend he had. She drew a pencil drawing of Dave from a pic I had in my files. We hung it in the waiting room. I’m sending this pic with this writeup but cannot see anyway to use it. You may know how to work it in. Either way is fine with me.  Dave’s recovery was so very long! Two years drug by as he re-learned everything; how to breathe, open his eyes, swallow, sit up, eat, arm and leg movements, wheel chair, walk using cane, walk with no cane, etc. Slowly, very very slowly. Our little family became worn out, but we tried to praise God through it all.  He progressed to Trauma/Stepdown. Then he spent months in Acute rehab. Then months in a nursing home. Our family made the commitment to stay with him 24/7. We wore down physically. His wife’s family was right there with us through so much of it all. When insurance money ran out, we moved in with him and his wife in their newly purchased home in Cookeville.  Kim Pennington Grace, the mural artist, and Dave’s former sister-in-law, saw so much of the eagle card and eagle promises we claimed and prayed. When the many long hours, days, months and years passed and decisions were made to relocate Dave and his wife and build a log home located directly between both the Denton and Pennington families, she determined to paint the mural as a tribute to his miracle. She worked tirelessly, painting and re-painting it to get it just like she and her sister wanted. It remains on the bedroom wall although her sister divorced Dave a few years later.  Dave never fully recovered. We didn’t get our complete miracle. We lost our original son. The version of Dave we have today is different. It has been 25 years. He seemed to peak out in his recovery and start declining a few years ago. That was when I chose HA retirement. Today, it’s getting very hard for Wanda and I to take care of him. He never got his short term memory and logic making abilities back. The eagle remains our emblem.

Honest Abe Log Homes created the floor plan for the David Denton cabin. The home was manufactured by Honest Abe, where Dave’s father Rick, was the president for three decades. The home is constructed of Eastern White Pine D-Logs with a butt-and-pass corner style. A portion of the interior has a heavy-timber roof system with exposed beams. There’s a screened-in porch to the rear that overlooks the Tennessee Highland Rim. The photos on this page were taken in 2020, some 21 years after the cabin was constructed.

In January 2002, Country’s Best Log Homes featured Dave’s home in their national magazine with photos taken by Roger Wade, styling by Debra Grahl and an article written by Donna Pizzi describing the log home and the experience in building it.

Request Free Info From Honest Abe