Where Its At

Trying to find places on maps can become confusing. I knew that this house was on Duers Mill Rd. because I saw a road sign, which I have to admit is a rarity because so many of them are missing in rural areas. When I did the first internet search, it indicated that there is a Duers Mill Rd. in Robertson County, TN but I didn’t think that I drove far enough into Tennessee. Even when consulting Google Maps, it just didn’t look right. So I pulled up a Simpson County map and there it was, Charlie Butts Rd. which I turned off onto Duers Mill Rd. Also, I did drive into Tennessee to find Duers Mill Rd. and I’m almost certain they were connected long ago; on the Kentucky side, there doesn’t appear to be any evidence, just a sharp curve where it probably went straight into Tennessee.

When viewed from the road, this house seems a lot bigger than it is. I discovered it about a year ago on one of my outings; if it’s a nice day, I will take a road that I’ve never traveled which is how I discover most old houses. It was pretty exciting to find a log house since they’re a rarity. They’re either gone or hidden under clapboards, such as Simpson County’s most famous log structure, the Sanford Duncan Inn. I’ve included a link of how it appeared before it was restored: http://www.kentuckytourism.com/things_to_do/featured_attractions/sandford-duncan-inn/5278/. Underneath the clapboards or weather boards is an excellent example of the earliest type of vernacular or folk architecture in Kentucky, the log house. Since trees were plentiful when Kentucky and Tennessee were first being settled in the 18th and 19th centuries, it was logical to use them to construct living quarters. Most probably started out as simple 3-sided structures, with one side being left open so that the smoke from the fire could escape and to provide shelter from rain. As time progressed and the settlers prospered, sturdier and roomier structures were built, usually adding to the already existing house and also clapboards which added protection and also “gussied”it up.

As with most examples of folk architecture, this place has some unique features. It’s a dog trot with the adjoining structure only being single story. I’ve heard of saddlebag and dog trots but never a saddlebag dog trot. Unfortunately, I couldn’t tell if the one story originally had a second story. Another interesting aspect is that it faces away from the road, though in the same direction, towards the Red River. Normally, old houses would face the road which leads me to speculate if there was another road. As for its age, I’m guessing that it’s early 19th century even though you can see the adze marks on the logs. Traditional log structures were even being built into the 20th century, usually as dependencies on a farm. Rather than the tin, the roof would have had wood shakes and if you look closely, you can see some used as filler between the logs. The adjoining structure might have been used as a kitchen because it seems that there might have been a root cellar underneath. In another one of the photos, there is a bulldozer so I’m afraid for its existence. It could easily be disassembled and reassembled on another site, thus saving an early and unique part of Kentucky architectural history. I’m hoping to visit our county archives to see if I can find out something about it which I will post here.

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4 responses to “Where Its At

  1. Very interesting, Pam, and the photos are terrific, as usual. One point about the way old houses faced. In very early houses 1700’s or so, in PA, and probably down here, since people came here from PA, VA, etc., they would always face their houses south, for the sun. The roads weren’t as important to their siting as getting as much daylight as possible in their few, and usually small windows. Often “roads” weren’t there per se, being just wagon trails or paths from farm to farm. Did the place you wrote about face south? Both of our cabins face south, as did our place in PA.

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    • I came across your postings this morning and enjoied the tour you provided in an area I
      am interested in seeing. I am researching this area as the site my Great Great Grand-
      father Thomas Howlett Hunter and his wife Martha Allen Hunter lived and worked.
      The time of them being there would have been the years before the Civial War to just
      after it. Thomas & Martha raised a family in the area of Keysberg, Ky. and ministered
      a Cumberland Presb. Church in the community. Martha Allen, one of seven childern was the daughter of Dr. Beverly A. Allen an early resident in this area. He owned alot of property along the Red River. I have many court records recording the ownership
      of property settlements after his death.
      Do you think the old church you have photographed is a Cumberland Presb. church?
      I am looking for the graves of Thomas & Martha Hunter and I think their graves are in
      that area somewhere. I have been told there is an Allen family cemetery close by.
      My name is William Hunter

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      • Mr. Hunter,

        I am sorry that it has taken so long for me to reply to your posting. One of my other passions, besides photography and old architecture, is gardening. Since March, my free time has been consumed by caring for my gardens which are filled with varieties of heirloom flowers and roses. Now that the days are growing shorter and colder, I will be able to devote more time to this blog, hopefully.

        To answer your question about the church in the photograph, there was no signage to indicate what denomination it once was. My guess from looking at the architectural elements that it was constructed after the Civil War. Have you since found any information concerning where you great great grandparents are buried? Also, I’m glad that you enjoyed my postings.

        Sincerely,

        Pamela

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