From a photograph by Solomon D. Butcher of four daughters of rancher Joseph M. Chrisman, at their sod house in Custer County, Nebraska. From left to right, Harriet, Elizabeth, Lucie, and Ruth. Photographed in 1886.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Exploring the Barker's Mill Community

Adventures in local history


It's hard to describe what I've been doing in my blogging time. lately. It's been both fascinating and frustrating. I began with a topic that I thought would be quite simple, and instead, it has branched in a dozen different directions.

It started in early April when I got an e-mail from a reader of the blog. He suggested that I might enjoy visiting the Chapel Hill Church and cemetery in the Barker's Mill community of southeast Christian County, Kentucky.

I found the Barker's Mill Road on my map of Christian County, and late one afternoon, I drove down there. I should have left earlier in the day, because it took longer than I expected to reach the area. It was quite dark by the time I crossed the bridge over the West Fork, and I didn't even see the church and cemetery. I was too busy following Barker's Mill Road, I guess.

I was a little surprised when Barker's Mill Road went over a large 4-lane highway, but I knew it had to be I-24. The subdivisions surprised me too. Soon, my road intersected with a heavily-traveled road whose name I recognized -- Tinytown Road in Montgomery County, Tennessee.  I followed it to Fort Campbell, and went home from there.

I learned a few things on that trip, even though it was too dark to see much. I learned that the southeast corner of Christian County is much closer to Clarksville, Tennessee, than it is to Hopkinsville, Kentucky. I also learned that the West Fork is a river of some consequence. And I learned that on the backroads, there's no indication of the state line between Kentucky and Tennessee.

On my several trips to the area since then, I had plenty of daylight. I enjoyed driving the roads of the area. I saw the remains of Barker's Mill, and I visited the Chapel Hill Church (originally called Carneal's Chapel). The Chapel Hill cemetery is probably the most peaceful, beautiful country cemetery I've ever visited. I will write more about all of this later.

I drove into southern Todd County and saw some of the fine farmland and old country mansions in that area. I also located Glenburnie, a large plantation home that is on the historic register and saw other large, old homes on the Christian County side of the West Fork community.

Glenburnie was the home of one of the Barkers who once owned Barker's Mill, so I decided to do a little research about the Barkers. It turns out that there is a good deal of information about the Barker family on internet genealogical sites, in old books available through Google, and in the Christian County history books that I own myself. It has been fascinating to learn about the generations of Barkers who were wealthy landowners and prominent citizens of the West Fork area. I see their history as not just a story of Christian County, but a story of the South.

That brings me to the point where I am currently. I've been writing and writing about the Barkers, and if I ever get all those words condensed down to something of a reasonable length that might be of interest, I'll post it.

Related post:
Barker's Mill in Christian County, KY

2 comments:

Lesa said...

This is one of the most beautiful areas around! It's so peaceful! I have family buried in the cemetery and I have visited there several times this spring! I put several of these pictures on my blog. Did you take pictures up close to the church? I had an unusual experience when I did...

Genevieve said...

The first time I went out there, I did try to peer through the windows of the church on one side, but the hedge kept me from getting close enough to see well. I didn't approach the church closely at all from the front or from the other side. I think I discovered the surveying stake about that time and wandered over there.

Lesa's photos

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CONTENTMENT: Keep your heart free from hate, your mind from worry, live simply, expect little, give much, sing often, pray always, forget self, think of others and their feelings, fill your heart with love, scatter sunshine. These are the tried links in the golden chain of contentment.
(Author unknown)

IT IS STILL BEST to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasure; and to be cheerful and have courage when things go wrong.
(Laura Ingalls Wilder, 1867-1957)

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