19 September 2016

A Brief History Of Long Branch Road Rush, KY

@ Teresa Martin Klaiber

This article was created for the 2nd Annual Long Branch Road Reunion located on Garner, Rush, Boyd County, KY

The history of our hollow has been home to families for over 275 years. Prior to the formation of either Carter County in 1838 and Boyd County, in 1860, recognizable family surnames begin to appear on what we now know as Long Branch Road.  Our “long” road still encompasses two counties.

Our well established cemeteries, alone, whisper of the history of the people who have helped build our neighborhood.  The earliest two known graves on our road are both children buried in different cemeteries in 1853.  The first is John Milton Banfield less than one month old and buried in Banfield cemetery in July 1853. The Banfield cemetery is on property owned by the Parker family in 2016. The 2nd  grave is James Calvin Clark, two months old in October of the same year, in Selbee Cemetery, which follows the same ridge line.  Between them stood the first known location of Greenhill Lodge where yet another child by the surname of Pence was buried in 1882.  Both Greenhill and Selbee are on property owned by the Leslie Blanton family today.  Other cemeteries read like a “who’s who” along the road as well. Beginning at the mouth and overlooking our road, the first known burial in Allan Prichard Cemetery is for Mary E. Prichard in 1873 (owned by Childers today).  Klaiber Cemetery aka Sexton Cemetery contains the early graves for the Hood and Howe wives of pioneer settlers when we were still Greenup County, followed by the Mayhew and Sexton families.  Our newest cemetery moving up the road is for the Tolliver family.   The last cemetery, following our road, is the burial place of “the McWhorter sisters,” Elizabeth and America, who lived modestly stringing their own leather britches and lay to rest on a hill on today’s Stewart property. Many of our pioneers lay in unmarked graves including those who called our road home at the county poor house (Parker property 2016).

Our portion of the county was originally part of the Richard Graham survey.  A massive amount of 70,000 acres later sold to our pioneers. Kentucky Legislature enacted its first road laws in 1797. Surveyors were appointed by the courts, and learned the task from each other.   An early map of Carter County filed at the state archives shows the mouth of our road at Garner Creek but does not continue up our hollow.  All males, sixteen years old or more, were required to work the roads (with exceptions of owners with slaves or those with disabilities approved by court).  Males were fined for every day absent from the work.  Mitchell Clark is cited as a chain carrier prior to the formation of Boyd County (died 1892, Klaiber Cem.).   The newly established court in Boyd County appointed Hiram Gallion to view a road “from the forks of Garner Creek to the Carter line in December 1865.  Hiram, buried in Klaiber cemetery, was the son of Thomas Gallion aka Sexton.  This was the first court order concerning the development of our road. The 1865 survey would follow the creek into Carter County.  The path to Denton by mule would continue thru woods and by trail.

Hoods, Howe’s, Banfield and Ross already had large land holdings along the creek. The Geological Survey of 1856 talks about ore beds being one hundred and five feet “higher” in the hills. It does not talk about the distance or the many farms that were tapped for the ore. According to the Survey Sandy Furnace on Bolt’s Fork was producing seven tons of iron in twenty-four hours.  James and Sarah Hood Howe watched as ore was taken from the ridge of their property and hauled over the hill.  Today you can still see the ore trenches along the ridge above Klaiber Cemetery.

          This author believes that the first school house was at Green Hill (Greenhill) on what we now know as Long Branch.  Farmers would collect enough funds to pay teachers in subscription schools.  In December 1869 Chrisley Banfield, among others, agreed to the terms of one James W. Mullan (as spelled) to teach a subscription school.  The one room Long Branch School would be established later on a lot of land that George W. Ross sold to H. P. Sexton in 1885.   The school was nestled at the edge of the then Mayhew property (left of Klaiber home drive and corner to Wright’s 2016).  Mae Harris Bryant (daughter of J. H. & Susan Eva Mayhew Harris) wrote a letter in 1957 stating “…I watched them move the Long Branch School house…” to what is now Robert and Jean Fannin’s property.  Teacher’s, at Long Branch School, from 1912 through 1957, when Garner School opened, include: Willa Ross, Mary and Amanda Burke, Edna Hatfield, Clarice Skaggs, Homer Pope, Pauline Davis, Dorothy Selbee, Gladys Manning, Elsie Klaiber and Elizabeth Miller.

An early building stood at the mouth of our road referenced as “McCormack Meeting House” (not to be confused with one of the same name at Summit) in court orders in the mid 1860’s.  As late as 1916 Martha Cox remembers walking or riding a mule down to pick up mail prior to home delivery.

The 1860’s were turbulent. Able bodied males were required to join the county militia and by 1863 they were required to sign the US Civil War Draft Registration.  Among familiar names are William Howe, H. P. Sexton, C. P. Banfield, George W. Ross, William Mayhew and other members of their respective families. 

In 1866 James W. Howe became the guardian of Isabelle Stewart daughter of Allen Stewart.  James had married Sarah Davidson Stewart (husband Henry Stewart) in October 1865 at William Hood’s house.  Shadrach Estep was the minister.  Probably not the first wedding on our creek, but one of the first distinguishable in our neighborhood. This little home sat on the edge of today’s Eastern Kentucky Development Company, about ½ mile up a deserted haul road between Pierzala and Klaiber’s.  In the 1940’s/50’s a sawmill was still working in that hollow. 

By 1870 families began to expand along our road.  In the 1860’s Phillip Howe moved into the one room log structure known today as 22937 Long Branch. It still stands. In 1899 the Jasper Sexton family moved into the cabin & Bonnie Sexton Moore’s mother Willa Mae was born there in 1902.  For a short while the Hazlett family lived in the cabin followed by the Jordans until 1944. 

Other names that we are still familiar with today begin to appear in the ‘70’s.  Henry Kane Lucas, great grandfather of Garner Lucas (1949-2008) settled on the creek.  James McWhorter, who served in the Civil War, married Margaret Davis in 1866 and moved with infants Elizabeth and America, on land on the left fork building a two story home that stood until just a few years ago. Pleasant Burke’s family lived in the large home for some time and for a few years in the 1970’s Earl and Mary Susan Warren Sexton occupied the house. 

The aftermath of the Civil War lingered well into the 1880’s.  Fraternal societies and granges began to form.  The Mutual Protection Society was formed.  Regulators roamed to “police” our area.  Among members of the MPS from our road I found: Nelson Sexton, Sherman Lucas, John Higgins, John Mayhew, John A. Klaiber, L. D. Sexton, W. T. Hood and many others from surrounding areas.

Chrisley Perry Banfield was appointed commissioner to purchase 118 acres from William Lewis Geiger for the poor in 1870 “on a fork of Garner Creek”.  Our road still had no name.  John Higgins was appointed the first superintendent. There were several superintendent changes during the 70’s including John D. Ross and James Leslie.  In the late 1870’s a fire destroyed the buildings.  At the time 62 “inmates” resided at the poor house (located where Parker’s home is in 2016).  A new two story log structure was built.  The home was almost identical to the Sexton home that stood for many years where the Blair family reside in 2016.  Among those who worked on construction of the home and out buildings were William Banfield, German immigrant John Andrew Klaiber, and William J. Ross.  The home had many residents over the years including at least one Civil War veteran, William Ball.  In 1909 the Poor House Farm was sold to Burns Banfield.  The residents were loaded on wagons and taken across the hill to Rush Station. The AC&I train picked them up and took them to the new county home located at Winslow. 

A group known as the Fish and Game Association had a few meetings in the building after the Poor House closed.  And in October 1930 the “Traipsin Woman” Jean Thomas, hosted the first festival in the house, though she advertised it as on the Mayo Trail.  Dorothy Gordon was the guest singer from New York as well as Jilson Setters.  The Governor of Kentucky was there as well as the Banfield children.
The records begin to reflect that residents on this branch of Garner live on “Poor House Road” in late 1879 and 1880.  In 1880 William Selbee was 15 and living with the Banfield family.  He would later marry and purchase property on the road.  Joseph Marcum, appointed blacksmith for the poor house, resided in what is now known as Marcum Holler (between the J. D. Klaiber and A. K. Blanton farm in 2016).  An early haul road up Marcum Holler crossed over to Bolt’s Fork and may have been how the ore was taken to Bolt’s Fork.

The 1880’s had “local reporters” who would send in community news to the Independent.  Sexton’s were making 1000 gallons of molasses at a new mill on the road in 1883.  In November of 1883 the paper reported “We are told that three barrels of molasses went down Garner the other day, in the time of high water.”

In the spring of 1882 typhoid fever was prevalent and raged into 1883.  The Independent reported that Dow Sexton was recovering from an attack of typhoid and pneumonia fever in June 1883. Not all things were gloomy in the 1880’s.  Wiser and Maggie Crum were married in 1887. Wiser had recovered from a terrible scalding on Williams Creek in 1882, while blowing out a valve he was firing at Clere’s sawmill.  The neighborhood had a “belling.”    The wedding was a huge community event. The young couple were treated to cow bells and a barrage of loud noise on their wedding night.   In December Crum was elected into the Mutual Aide Society aka MPS.

By the 1900’s James M. Klaiber had established a blacksmith business.  The blacksmith shop sat near a branch that flows into Long Branch on the right side of the lane leading to a rock quarry on the Reffitt/Blair property (behind and back left corner of barn (2016).   He kept up his tools and techniques through a subscription to American Blacksmith during the 1900’s. His desk was made from an old crate with drawers designed from cigar boxes. The shop was made from board sawed on the farm. His anvil was similar to a London Anvil mounted on a log stump. With the development of modern equipment, he was able to have a rotary blower. A ledger is in possession of the family.

The rock quarry was developed on the Sexton farm and many chimney and foundation stones were utilized up and down the road.  During the era of WPA a rock crusher was used to improve the road. Lon Boggs, living on the road in 1940 is listed as working as a machinist with the WPA. The quarry was leased to the county as late as 1946 for “crushing and ballast for county and state roads and to build tool buildings…”

The Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 allowed Kentucky farmers to grow hemp.  Hemp was grown in the field across from where Blair’s built their new home (2016).  The first and second annual Long Branch Reunion are held in this field today. By 1940 Federal Census continues to call the road “Poor House”.  It starts at the mouth with the surname Bolt and including families of Workman, Smith, Alexander, Click, Jones, Jenkins, Stewart, and others thus ending with McCormack (head of the hollow). Many are marked as renting.

In 1939 William Albert Brown (son of Thomas Brown and Olivia McGlothlin), a Spanish War (1898) Veteran was laid to rest in what is now marked distinctly as Banfield Cemetery. His death certificate states he was buried in Greenhill which is over the fence but on the same ridge. Brown married several times including into the Stewart and Mayhew family.  It is not clear if he actually resided on our road – at least until his death.

Gas and oil leases were and are popular and active along our road.  In 1938 Landon Klaiber, who had handled explosives while working for Ben Williamson applied for a license for Klaiber Explosives Company.  The business address was Ashland but the explosive material must be made and stored elsewhere. “…nature is buying and selling of wholesale and retail dynamites, powder, gelatin and other high explosives of all kinds and makes including blasting supplies used in connection with said explosives and with hauling and transporting of said explosives …likewise the preparation of explosives for purpose of shooting and exploding same in gas and oil wells, mined and other places…” Klaiber and the Weddington sisters, who were also partners, built a facility on the edge of the property where his father lived on Long Branch.  Today the hollow stands behind where the 2016 Long Branch Reunion is held and is still called “Powder House Holler.”

Hunters are rarely discouraged.  The game association continued meeting after vacating the poor house. Their next cabin was on the cliff across a swinging bridge on what was the Dowdy property.  The hunters named it Camp Schroeder.  At the time they were members of the Eastern Kentucky Coon Hunters Association.  They hunted mostly squirrel and never saw any deer. Because it was hard to access, about 1944, they rented property to the right going up Klaiber Cemetery hill.  Art Damron, (who worked for Glenn Judd, father of “the Judd’s”) bought two box cars and hauled them from Ashland.  They had a porch, an old gas stove and they had the creek for a swimming hole. One box car survived well into the millennium.  In just a few years (1947/8) they moved once again “up the road” and leased from Frank Stewart, for 99 years, for $15.00 and a milk cow.  They had a block machine at Pollard and when one of the members was available would make each block by hand and haul them out.  The Ashland Women’s Club had several “adventures” and had their lunches in the building.  Among the last members was Roy Rice. They tried to revamp the building but it was vandalized and Rice’s son cut and lost use of his arm on a window. These little camps were the forerunners of what is now the Blue Ribbon Fox Hunter’s Association in another area of the county.    The last building on Long Branch still stands on the right of the lane going to Keith Blanton’s home.

The box car clubhouse was rented to Rosa Sammons family for a short time after the hunters moved up the road.  She drew her fresh water from the spring which is still crystal clear in 2016.

In 1950 there were seventy-three dairies in Boyd County.  The mid-fifties changed federal/state health department regulations and production standards. Today you can still see the milk houses left standing on our road.  The bulk truck rumbled, daily, down our road. Compton (Tom & Claudia), Dowdy’s (Thomas &  Sarah), Diamond (Ova & Dovey) and Klaiber (J.H. & Elsie) all had small milking operations at one time. The largest and last milking operation to withstand and improve their milking equipment and barns was Klaiber’s. Most farms along the road raised beef cattle.  From the beginning of the county in 1860 farmers were taxed by the hoof for horses/mules, hogs, cattle and sheep (apparently goats were not worth counting even in those days!).  Tax records show most of the farmers had a few sheep on their properties.

The fifties health regulation requirements included cattle to be tested for tuberculosis and brucellosis (Bangs Disease).  Hydrophobia was also a huge problem and rabies clinics were set up. When a case of rabies was diagnosed, the local health department was required to quarantine the area for a month. The new regulations were a few years too late for the Jones family.   Four-teen year old Charles Jones was out hunting rabbits (they lived in Ashland at the time but had ties on the road) and was dog bitten in late November 1942.  He suffered until January of ’43.  There were no measles vaccines during this time either.  Arthur Jones, just two years old, died in Ashland from the disease in 1944 and once again the family brought another child out for burial.  They, along with other children including Lottie, were children of John and Goldie (Walker) Jones.  Lottie married Norman Lucas, grandson of Henry Kane Lucas.  In January 1967 a case involving a fox on Garner, Route #1 caused two children to have the anti-rabies series.  The fox attacked several cattle and two or three dogs.

When the county began to make improvements to the road in 1955, including rerouting of portions of the creek, right-of-way deeds still included the words “Poor House Branch”. The Tennessee Gas Transmission Company began running lines across several of our properties in 1957. 

We were not the first to get amenities such as electricity, telephones or county sewers.  We do qualify for having one of the last party lines in the county.  Outhouses are a novelty now. Neighbors still get a good laugh from pranks. In the 60’s at least one outhouse was placed in the middle of the road during Halloween.

 Hunting season is still an important ritual.  In the fifties the hills were full of grouse and quail. They are all but gone today.  Turkey had been hunted to extinction by our pioneer families, in our hills, and you never saw a deer.  Deer slowly began to repopulate in the 1970’s and by the 1990’s we all began to see turkey in our fields.

Compton, heirs of Tom, began to subdivide their property in the 1990’s and a new road was created off Long Branch, called Deer Creek Estates.  In May 1998 the family defaulted and the surveyed lots were sold at auction by Brooks Wells.

As time pushes each day into history there are still weddings on the road. In 2012 The Tuzik- Pierzala wedding took place in the field in what was known as the Elisha “Lige” Sexton inheritance until the 1930’s. Other families have lived near the cliffs of that lane including Stapleton and Workman.  In 2014 the lane finally was properly named “Walnut Grove Lane.”

     The road has always flooded and residents know how to time getting in and out. In 1880 H. P. Sexton wrote on May 2nd “Dear son, I got myself to answer your kind letter…hale storm the 24 day of April. Very high water…” Christmas Day 2015 was the first winter flood that our generation can remember.  We were hit with one of the worst floods preceded by a hail storm this year.  Most homes on the road had to have replacement roofs. Lanes eroded and Stewart’s bridge was severely damaged. Flood waters entered the Vanover residence causing severe damage.  “God willin’ and the creek don’t rise” our community will continue to thrive for another two hundred seventy-five years.



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