Batesville Herald Tribune, Batesville, Indiana

November 1, 2013

Tepee adds to landscape of family farm

Diane Raver The Herald-Tribune
The Batesville Herald-Tribune

---- — Paul Gausman has worked his whole life in the building trades. A few years ago, he embarked on a new venture, building a tepee on his property.

“Aaron Gausman, 23, my grandson, was interested in Indians when he was little. He drew bow and arrows and buffaloes, and he gave me the idea,” the Batesville resident reveals. “I was always interested in Indians, too. I always read about them.”

As the U.S. Army veteran was clearing out paths in his woods, “I saw a level spot and thought it would be a nice place to build a wigwam.” Through this experience and research, he realized what he was really thinking of was a tepee. “A wigwam is a permanent dwelling place. A tepee was used when Indians went on a hunting trip or took distant travels. They made their poles and had their canvas. When they moved, the horses would pull the poles.

“Aaron got on the Internet and got the information, the plans and where to buy the canvas.

“We got all the poles, cut and skinned them .... My grandson helped cut them and bring them up to the barn.” The 85-year-old’s sons, Scott, Andy and Tony, also helped. “They built a platform to set the tepee on. I had the idea, but they did the work.

“The poles on the back side of the tepee stand straighter up, but the ones on the front have more of a lean to them. The reason is you get more room in back when you’re standing up.”

A firepit or campfire area was built in the center of the structure. Flaps on the canvas can be closed when it rains, and “when you build a fire, you open the flaps, and the smoke goes out.”

He says, “Where the tepee stands, I planted walnut trees (years ago) and now they’re 30-40 feet tall. I’m still planting and adding” to the landscape, which includes transplanting ferns and planting flowers along the trails.

“I love trees and love to be in the woods. That’s another reason I’m interested in tepees and Indians.”

Now Gausman can share his interests with his grandchildren. “Aaron spends a lot of time out there” by the tepee. “One of my granddaughters went out there one night and came back inside because she saw a spider.”

He points out, “I really love to build .... I started out at Dunlap’s at age 17 as a carpenter. When they built houses back then in 1945, you did everything” from the ground up. He also did bricklaying. “I always liked what I did, and the days always went by fast.”

Wife Marilyn announces, “He built this house (where the couple lives) and completely redid the barn.” She also reveals another one of his hobbies, making walking canes.

Gausman explained how he got the one he was using. “I was working in the woods. Since I’m getting stiff and stumble around, I picked up this stick. I walked around with it all day and then brought it home. Later, I looked at it and thought it would make a good cane.”

The woodworker admits, “It’s interesting building things for yourself, but I always took just as much pride in building things for others.”

Diane Raver can be contacted at or 812-934-4343, Ext. 114.