The Auld House was the 1880s family homestead of the Alexander Kennedy Auld Family. The piñon pine log cabin was built by this Texas pioneer family along “The Divide,” the highest point of the Edwards Plateau. Located near Leakey in Real County, the 14’ x 47’ structure is thought to be the largest piñon pine cabin in Texas. It was constructed of large-trunked logs from an archaic stand of piñon trees (dating from the ice Age) on a ridge on the Auld Ranch. In 1977, son Dan Auld, who bequeathed the cabin to the Botanical Garden, recalled the process of building the home: “My father and a group of young Scotchmen cut these piñon logs for this home up on top of one of the hills on the ranch, carried them to the valley, put them on ox carts and carried them to the present location.” This Auld forebear was killed when he fell from his horse and was dragged to death. His widow, Susanna Lowrance Gibbens Auld, stayed on the remote ranch and raised seven children by herself.
The house itself was ideally sited, located on the protected base of a 300-foot cliff where a natural spring and fern bank had formed. Mrs. Auld kept milk, butter, and eggs in a cool niche above the spring. Comanche Indians, who had long used the cliff site as a campground, would still come to camp there. On horseback, they would peer down at the Auld Homestead but never bother the widow or her children.
In 1996, the daughter of Dan Auld, Joan Auld Powell Hallmark, acted on her late father’s bequest of the homestead to the Botanical Garden. Botanical Society Board Member Cecil Jackson, whose avocation was log cabin restoration, proudly guided the reconstruction of the cabin at the Garden. It was just the type of early Texas architecture that founders of the Garden had in mind when they planned to have structures representing Texas’ geographic diversity in the 11-acre Texas Native Trail.